Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drilling Holes in Stones

For Robyn, who will find it is easier than she thinks. We took these pictures in a hurry but I think they show well enough how I do it.

These are cheap bits but they work, I use the smallest one. The key is to drill down S-L-O-W-L-Y. And make a stone holder from scrap wood.
These stones probably came from Michaels craft store, maybe from their floral department. I think they are the kind you put in a jar to hold flowers straight up. The green ones are a fairly soft stone, the black is harder. They have some stones that look like flattened shiny marbles and I don't have any luck with those.
This is my set-up. The drill press isn't a real expensive one but the key to success is the wooden stone holder. The slot in the center is where you wedge the stone in to hold it steady. Susan dreamed this contraption up and it works great.
Mr. Safety has his gloves on and he's wearing his Mr. Safety glasses. You could use something else besides your finger to hold the stone in place but there's a limit to how girlie I'll get.
It is slow going, V-E-R-Y slow. I just use V-E-R-Y minimal fingertip pressure on the drill. When I do the black stone Susan sprays water on the stone while I'm drilling, but the green stones don't seem to need it. She's suggested oil (as in cooking oil) instead but I don't want to mess up the wooden stone holder.
This is what happens when you go too fast or get too close to the edge. Here you can see the narrowing down of the slot for the stones.
Drilled stones. And for you, Robyn, the metric side of the ruler!

Monday, September 29, 2008

On Sunday Mornings

First, gather up the good stuff.

Then eat breakfast.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Dude Brother

On the left is a piece Susan has insisted on keeping. Several people who have seen it have asked "Does he have a brother?" Maybe.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pod Invasion

What are these things anyway? I've seen them for sale at Michaels but I found mine. I took the bottom two pictures over a year ago and tweaked them too far with a photo editor and of course I didn't save the originals. Susan gnashed her teeth and told me they'd have to be displayed with all their neon splendor because she couldn't get them back to anything normal. I told her only arty people looked at my blog anyway so they'd like my colors.

The other pictures I took this summer, the location is a turtle pond in a public area that I'll keep secret so as to protect my turtle buddies. And my pod source. I'm basically a sneaky guy but if you ever come to Austin and buy me a few margaritas....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A New Dude

I'm going in two different directions now but my mojo is coming back. Susan laid down the law and I now have to be out of the house and at school at least two days a week. She said that keeps me from putting a harsh on her mellow. I had to ask her to interpret that one.

One of my classmates asked me if I was still making "dudes". Yep, sure am and here he is, unfired and drying. The "sandcastle" in the second picture is going to be history by the end of the week; after studying the picture I saw I wasn't actually going in the direction I thought I was. Course correction has been made.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Susan - Inch by Inch

EJ gave me Inchies (1" squares) to work on, some were watercolor paper, some cardstock, some thick cardboard-like. I'm not very enthused, they are just too small and fussy to work on. But, trying my best to get a good score in "Plays Well With Others", I get started.

Step 1. Use double-sided re-positionable tape to fasten the Inchies down so they can all be worked on at once. I may not be enthused but I am efficient.

Step 2. Spritz with water then attempt enthusiasm by flinging blue ink on them.

Step 3. Becoming a little more enthused, whip out the heat gun to dry them faster. Mistake. Re-positionable tape doesn't hold onto wet Inchies.

Step 4. Add some yellow.

Step 5. Think about adding some orange, need a clean cup. Improvise by just puddling it on the plastic on the table. In this photo you can view the paint-covered stick (from a previous project) on a paper towel. It actually wasn't supposed to be there but because I laid it down on the paper towel when it was wet it stuck to it when it dried. When I frantically grabbed a paper towel to blot up the ink that overshot the Inchies (see Step 2, word "fling), the stick came along with it.

Step 6. Final product (last step was adding metallic copper).

Don thinks they look like Earth shots from a satellite. I'm liking them better than I thought. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with them.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The GorillaPod Camera Dance

I've been asked to explain what I meant by this in a previous post: "... gorilla-grip type little tripod".

The GorillaPod by Joby. I gave it to Don for Christmas last year. Small enough to fit in the pouch on the front of his bike, small enough for me to jam in my purse. I use it a lot with the legs just bunched together to help hold the camera steady, sort of like a short monopod.

Blogger seems happier today but I'm still not doing much Blog Wrangling for Don today. By the way, one of my official titles, other than Blog Wrangler, is Don's Handler.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Google and Blogger Have a Cranky-Pants Day

Susan, the Blog Wrangler, speaks:

1st, the printer refused to cooperate and made grinding noises. Lifting it up a few inches and dropping it down finally jiggled something back into place so it would copy (it's a 3-in-one) but it wouldn't print. You'd think a 5-year old cheap printer would be more dependable, wouldn't you? Re-set, fiddle, clear printer cache, reset, gnash teeth. About an hour later I finally realized I had jiggled the connector cord loose on the back. Crisis averted.

2nd, my phone stopped make a ring tone. I could only tell a call came in by hearing the phone ring in another room. Found the instruction book, the ringer switch is under a panel I have to take off with a tiny screwdriver (which I have!). Reset the ringer, no luck, decide to just turn up ringer volume on phone in other room. Crisis diverted.

3rd, while dealing with the silent-ring phone I tested it by dialing from my cell phone. It would ring once, answer, and immediately go to a fax tone! We don't have a fax machine attached, we don't have any cordless phones attached, it is a single land line. This has happened several times before and AT&T has no idea why. It will quit happening in a day or so, in the meantime no one can call in. Maybe the moon was full? Crisis may disappear.

4th, and more to the point, Google and Blogger had an extremely Bad-Hair Cranky-Pants day. Ate up posts, made pictures disappear, changed dates, made garbage of editing. Even my Google Images refused to cooperate and show any images. Log in, Log out, repeat again and again. Several times Blogger took me to my (private) blog even though I'd logged in with Don's name and password (good thing we don't keep secrets from each other).

Went to a Help Forum and saw that lots of people were having similar problems, but none like my log-in problem. Posted the problem. Eventually got a response from Google to try Google's Browser (Chrome) instead. I don't think so! If Google is causing the firestorm I sure don't want to throw more gasoline on it. Finally solved problem by doing System Restore back one day and then clearing Cookies and Temporary files. Crisis averted.

Now that it's all over and I only wasted about 6 hours of my day dealing with it all, I have told Don that I will not be putting up any more posts for a few days, that Blogger and his Blog Wrangler need to have some Time Out. He's off to school today, I'm off to the ArtonWindsor group, hoping for better karma all around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dance As If No One Was Watching

The big question here is: Why do we bother to have Olympics when we have this?

Matt is here, and Mary Ann is here and she's put us all together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


We are fine here but Hurricane Ike slashed a lot of damage to the Texas coast areas. I made this guy last week before the storm actually hit. This weekend, while he was drying he cracked badly so I had to trash him. He, like the cities on the coast, will be rebuilt.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dispatch to LA

Susan: I made a trade promise: Three technique questions answered in exchange for posting three of my stencil graffiti pictures. I'm a big fan of clever Street Art (yeah, I know --it's really just rude graffiti, illegal, tagging, destructive, messy, yada yada yada) but I can't help it, I still like it. I promised three pictures but I'll give up four. Now Mary Ann of the fantastic Dispatch from Los Angeles blog owes me one.

The church graffiti was on a church and it was only about 2" high. The dancer was nearly life size, as was Balloon Man, who is definitely telling me a story about something very interesting. The last one I call Dumpty Man and he is saying "See what happens when you put lipstick on a pig!"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Speaking Terms

We are talking to each other. I am telling him that he'd better behave with the Kiln Gods, who are very unforgiving.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ishmael Soto

Not long ago I was talking to Ishmael Soto, one of my clay sculpture instructors, about the building of his studio. He said he built the studio with a 22 foot high ceiling. When I asked him why he built the ceiling so high, he said "So my spirit can soar!"

Here's hoping your spirit soars today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Remember

On 09/11/2001 there were three attacks made on America, including the Pentagon, where we lost a family member.

Today the Pentagon Memorial will be dedicated. The Pentagon Memorial Fund was founded by family members of the 184 men, women and children lost at the Pentagon on 9/11. It is a non-profit, tax deductible organization. The Fund was created to raise the private funds necessary to design, build and maintain the Pentagon Memorial.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Robyn's Influence Again

My mud is speaking to me -- finally! Metal on the body is a scrap piece I found. Susan calls these pieces (see previous) "Mailbox Men". Once more Robyn and I travel similar paths, only in my case I'm not putting ephemera inside the piece, just on the front or top. Maybe it's a "guy" thing. Or more likely, I'm not as creative as Robyn. Yet. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Creative People

Ha! Robyn gave me a Brillante Weblog Award but she wasn't aware that I had already received the award (July 21), thanks to Sherry at Got Art?. Was it good to receive the award the first time? Definitely yes, because I was just about at the point where I thought no one saw my blog, no one cared about what I did, and there was no reason to keep on blogging. Once I got the award I realized someone was looking and decided to keep going. This was all to Susan's dismay because she does the photos and usually types up what I want to say, grumbling most of the time about what I'm saying as she trims out all my excess pontificating. Thanks again, now to Robyn, for keeping me honest in my blog.

Here, listed again are the original blogs (and the reasons) I passed the Brillante Award on to:

Andrea - Hula Seventy, for creativity and photography
PK (Paul) - BibliOdyssey, for depth of material
Kate - The Department of Me, for beautiful photography
All Things Bright and Beautiful, for blogging tips
Andrea Joseph's Sketchblog, for creativity and artwork
Dijanne - Musings of a Textile Itinerant, Susan's choice for creativity
Project Rungay, (yes, that's spelled correctly) Susan's choice for irreverent and withering slaps at creative endeavors (and yes, I have watched the TV show and it is like watching a train wreck)

Back in July I hadn't locked into Robyn's blog, Art Propelled, but it would definitely be on my Brillante list now, along with a few others that Susan and I have recently taken note of:

Michael - Scribblings of a Creative Junky, for artwork and because he has the guts to wear a kilt
Mary Ann- Dispatch from LA - for writing, photography, and artwork
Nico - Mail Art, because it's global and I'm curious to see how far it will go
Tara - A Speckle of Twisted Whimsey, for creativity and artwork
Jo - MyStory - stunning photography and artwork

My list of Favorites-Blogs has about 20 entries, Susan's has over 50 entries. If your blog isn't listed here, it's not because it doesn't deserve a Brillante Award, it's just because this entry is getting too long (and Susan is saying "Enough for now!!!"). In her spare time I'll get her to add these to the sidebar of this blog.

Flattering as the award is, in actuality it is a viral nuisance and has no sponsor. So what? I'm more than happy to "nominate" other blogs and let them know of their mention in my blog but, like Robyn, I won't perpetuate the nuisance rules. Please feel free to copy this logo and nominate yourself or anyone else you think deserves mention. In other words, pass it forward.

Elbow Relief

About six years ago when I started hammering on copper and learning how to weld I was also learning how to play golf. One piece of practice instruction I got was "Go out to the driving range and hit a hundred balls every day." So I did. At night I was in a class where I hammered a lot on copper. All this after over 30 years when the heaviest thing I lifted every day was a pencil.

Susan calls my elbows "The $2,000 Mistake" because that's how much I spent on physical therapy and doctors within two years. There is nothing wrong with hitting golf balls and whacking on metal, just be sure you are practicing good ergonomics. It will save you a lot of pain and money.

Today, I still have pain but have backed off the cortisone shots and am working out with light weights under close supervision. And, I have Rene to help me. This is a shot of Rene (before we planted the Spring Garden) working on an area next to our driveway so Susan can easily park her car at an angle. We wouldn't have to do this if I hadn't taken over her garage spot for my studio. Rene lifts and carries and does all the stuff for me that I probably could do if I was 25 years old and hadn't trashed my elbows. He has family back in El Salvador so we hope they'll get a chance to see this picture.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Robyn's Influence

One of my favorite blog friends is Robyn, who has a great blog and makes fascinating totems. You can see a lot of them on her Flickr site and I spent a lot of time reviewing them the other day. It was time well spent because I think I'm getting my clay groove back.

This unfired piece is only about 8" high. I've always had a problem transitioning from the head to the body of the piece -- what to do about the neck? Robyn's totems gave me the inspiration and solution for this piece. Thank you, Robyn, for helping me find a direction to move in.

Late editing: I just checked this entry and the photo looked bad. I took it in a hurry at school so Susan tweaked it to clean up the background. But it wound up looking wrong. So I had her change the hue and replace the original photo with this one. The clay is called Longhorn Red, not Baby Poop Brown.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Going Nowhere Fast

One of my early welding pieces, it's about 4 feet across, hanging on our stairwell wall. It was originally designed to be the body of a figure that would have a ceramic head but I so far I haven't made one that seems right. It pretty much sums up my creative endeavors so far this month.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hand Made

I've hit creative quicksand, I'm avoiding the ceramics lab, and obviously I'm getting nowhere real fast.

Susan spotted this handprint on a truck while we were in New York City. She sees things everywhere that I never even notice. Back in June I posted about the Graffiti Guy she found. The odd thing was that he was only about 6" high, in the middle of a busy street, we were on the second floor of the museum, and she still spotted him.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Little Guy

Sometimes all I have to do is look at my scrap metal and a piece will turn into a person before I know it. Then, it's just a matter of waiting until the right ceramic head appears. I don't design the heads with the scrap metal pieces in mind. But, when the right combination happens, you just know it. It speaks to you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Uno, Dos, Tres

I've started back in ceramics after four months of not getting my hands dirty in clay. The heads weren't that hard to make and I really like the little points on top, in fact, I've already got some variations thought up on those. Glazing or stains are yet to be decided on.

When the three are together I like the aura they have. But the expressions aren't right, it's like they don't have any mojo yet. I'll be working on that, eventually (I hope) it will happen.