Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Acla Family

The Acla Family has gone over to Austin Art Garage. Go here if you are interested. (If their website isn't updated yet, email them to nudge them along.) I am very, very happy that my blog readers appreciate and value the work I do and I am very, very happy to read all the positive coments.  Thank you.  To answer the questions some people have asked me:
  • No, I don't have an Etsy shop. Yet.
  • No, I don't sell these ceramic sculpture pieces myself.
  • Yes, they are for sale at Austin Art Garage.
  • Yes, you can buy them even though you don't live in Austin. 
  • As long as I have a gallery that accepts these pieces I won't sell them on Etsy. There have been some pieces that are of a different style that the gallery hasn't been interested in so far. Those might go to Etsy in the future. You'll be the first to know.
The next answer is for the people who have asked me why I keep selling through a gallery that, by the nature of gallery business, keeps a large percentage of the sale money:
  • Joel Ganucheau and Jake Bryer, owners of the gallery, have been supportive of me and my work from the very first time I showed it to them. 
  • Their gallery is devoted to presenting the work of emerging artists at reasonable prices.  I'm an emerging artist. I don't have a long art resume, I don't have an entourage, I don't have an art ego, and I'm willing to make my art affordable. 
  • I wanted a gallery to handle my sales because I did not want to have to deal with the sales aspect and all the miscellaneous details like shipping, storage, tax records, receipts, etc.   

The Acla Family is actually named for A-ustin C-ity L-imits A-gain. Yes, it's that time of year, when music lovers head to Austin and we try to figure out different ways to get around town and avoid the traffic jams and road closures.

The four close-up shots are all of Acla4 and he is the only Dude I have photos of from all four sides.  I thought you'd be interested it what he really looks like. I don't have photos of the other Dudes, except for what's on the Austin Art Garage website, because I was in a hurry to get them over there. And I'm moving on to other work. But don't worry, eventually more Dudes will show up.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dudes, Phase Two

Remember those Dudes from a few days back? The ones with pale blue? No more pale blue - that glaze has been fired to clear gloss, best seen on the chest of the 2nd Dude from the left on the bottom row. But this is only Phase Two of a Three stage firing. They will change appearance again with their 3rd firing. I can only hope that the Kiln Gods and Goddess are happy with me and that The Dudes will survive their firing looking like I want them to.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Responders

Susan's sister works in our city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and they sponsored a public Open House this weekend. Who are our First Responders? Police, Fire, EMS, City Employees, trained Volunteers, and many other individuals and groups who spent a Saturday morning putting on a great display of their efforts to protect us from anything and everything, including ourselves. Shown above is a very proud little girl with her father. The event included many activities for children so many of the First Responders had their families out there, in fact we got a chance to visit with our Police Chief and his family.   

When you dial 9-1-1 in Austin the call might be routed here. This photo shows only about a third of the room.

Austin has helicopters, motorcycles, horses, boats, dogs, and bicycle patrols, along with the usual police cruisers.  This pretty much covers our hills, roads, parks, lakes, and city streets. I did learn that we have three separate kinds of K9 dogs - the kind that does rescue and recovery, the kind that searches for drugs and the kind that searches and chases down criminals. Each group is trained separately for their specific skills and they don't mix. 
One activity they sponsored was an opportunity to use "Fatal Vision" goggles. These are used to blur your vision and distort your  perception to give you an idea of how alcohol and drugs can affect your actions. In the videos below I have the goggles on, am driving a "car", and then trying to pass a sobriety test. We laughed and the very vocal spectators were amused but drunk drivers are not funny. Not. At. All.

Monday, September 20, 2010

At Ease, Dudes

These little Dudes are not going to look pale blue and grey when they are done. This is just what the initial glaze treatment looks like and the clay will get a different color also. Glazing on ceramics can be deceptive in the early stages because the color of the unfired glaze can be totally different from what the fired glaze turns out to be.

I'm experimenting with a different shaping technique for some containers. This is my first try (unfired). We'll see.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Weekend

This is Austin, my city. Early, very early on Sunday mornings I head out on my bike, riding north toward the Turtle Pond on the University campus. 

We have a pedestrian/bike bridge over Town Lake which has been renamed "Lady Bird Lake" but anyone who's been here for a while often has a hard time remembering to say that and besides, since we already have a Lake LBJ, why didn't we name this one "Lake Lady Bird"?  The city is belatedly adding on an extension (seen in the background) so that anyone crossing the bridge can continue on to north side of the city, especially on to Whole Foods where coffee waits for me on the way back. 
The people in this house must have been watching too much HGTV and think this thing is will give the house curb appeal in spite of the burglar bars on the windows.
At the pond the pods are still there and so are my turtles. This guy definitely remembered me, because he disappeared under water as soon as possible.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Proud Papa Tie

We are just now getting around to looking at the very few pictures we took in Washington DC this spring. If you've been keeping up with the blog you know that Susan will talk to anyone about anything, especially strangers. She also has a very sharp eye and notices a lot of things I totally miss. 

 Like this man we passed on The Mall. All of the sudden Susan isn't next to me (we used to watch a TV show called Without A Trace, it is sort of like that with her).  I turn and see her talking to this man and the next thing I know she's taking his picture.  She told him he wouldn't show up on my blog but his daughter would and he just beamed! She gave him my Moo card so he could look for it.  Sorry, Papa, that it took so long to get the picture up.

P.S. We have no idea what his name is or anything about him, other than that he was wearing a black suit, a yarmulke, and this beautiful tie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seth's StudioScapes

A while back Seth asked me if I would give him some feedback for The Pulse. When Seth asks, I just say "When do you want it?" and don't even worry about the What or the Why.  The photo on his website was taken about 10 months ago so I thought I'd update you with what my studio looks like now.

Actually, my studio is one side of our garage. Susan's car has permanent dings in her door because she has to squeeze her car into that side. If you compare the photo on Seth's blog and these photos you'll see that I've acquired a new bulletin board and added more stuff to my shelves. The other studio area I have is inside and I share it with Susan. That's where I do my jewelry work and where my Bisley is.

 I'm still working on Little Dudes. These are the first two (unfired) I've made in about 5 months -- I'm back!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Remember

At the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial the benches representing the victims that were inside the Pentagon are arranged so that when you read the engraved names you are facing the Pentagon's south facade, where the plane hit; the benches dedicated to the victims aboard the plane are arranged so that when you read those engraved names you are facing skyward along the path the plane traveled.

Susan's step-brother's bench is here.  We remember.

The Memorial was not paid for by the government or by your tax dollars.  The Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc. was incorporated in May 2003 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to raise the private funds necessary to design, build and maintain the Pentagon Memorial.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain

It rained a lot this week. A LOT.  It rained very hard Tuesday night and kept us awake - a metal roof is nice but when it's torrents of water coming down it can be pretty noisy.  The video above is from Tuesday afternoon on a nearby street. Our soil has a lot of caliche, which is clay-like material, in it. When it is hot and dry (our normal summers) the clay dries up and shrinks up and this jiggles the underground pipes into awkward positions. When the rain comes and washes away chunks of the clay, the pipes sometimes break and the result can be ... Old Faithful!

Or worse. Sewage is flowing into some of our creeks because one lift station was hit by lightning and another one was flooded out. Times like this sort of force you to be a little more humble about your ability, or lack thereof, to control your environment. Weather happens.

We had about 9-10" of rain in our neighborhood, some areas got nearly 15". One of our neighborhood access roads will be shut for a few days until they clear out a 600-lb boulder from a slide area, it hit a car but fortunately the airbags in the car prevented serious injury. This happened about an hour after both Susan and I drove down the road.

The biggest problem with all this sudden rain is that we have very quick, heavy flash flooding over a lot of roads. TexDOT (Texas Dept of Transportation) employees work hard and fast to put up "High Water - Do Not Cross" signs and block off problematic roads. 

The Caution slogan everyone is taught is "Turn Around, Don't Drown". Unfortunately, we've had at least one death already, from a woman who DROVE AROUND the barricades and past the flashing police cruiser. Inexcusable and thus twice as tragic.

Rescue crews have been working hard, searching for people whose cars were washed away, pulling people out of flooded homes and moving people out by helicopter.
This week-end the temperature projection is high 90's with humidity in the 90's, but little chance of rain. Say a blessing for the people who invented air conditioners.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Enhancing Your Retirement

In a previous life my business card included the initials ChFC after my name. That meant I was a Chartered Financial Consultant and was able to help you set up a financial plan for your retirement.  I studied on weekends for over 3 years to take the tests required to earn those initials. For your benefit, and yours alone, I will give you the sum total of all my knowledge:

Pay off your credit card debt now. And don't let it happen again.
Prepay against your mortgage.
Stop buying so many pairs of shoes. You can only wear one pair at a time anyway.
Don't eat out so much.
Don't go to the movies, use Netflix instead.
Use the library instead of buying so many books.
Save your money.

Thanks to Mabel Dean's clever advice I now can save money on paper towels. We always try to buy the kind that is perforated to be half sheets and Susan swears the manufacturers cheat and set the perforations  up so as to make you tear off two sheets. In Phoenix I was in a class with Mabel and saw how she brought in her small paper towel roll. Yes! As soon as I got back to the room I got out my jeweler's saw and went to work on the roll I had.

Susan says that not only does it make it easier to pack up for art supplies, it can also function as elephant toilet paper, just in case you find an elephant that needs some.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's Labor Day Weekend

Susan speaks:
It's Labor Day weekend.
Are we making any progress here?
Will this help?
We can only hope.

P.S. Does this blog entry have anything to do with Don?
I'm the Blog Wrangler so I can do anything I want with the blog.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fire Ants

A little-known fact about me: I am a certified Elementary Education teacher.  Part of knowing how to teach kids involves knowing what they will eat. Or won't eat. Here's a recipe I can make that they will eat:

Make some celery chunks.
Push peanut butter into the groove.
Put raisins on top of the peanut butter.
---->  Ants on a Log

But, Ants on a Log are what sissies up north have. Down here in Texas we do it differently:

Make some celery chunks.
Push peanut butter into the groove.
Put red hots on top of the peanut butter.

-----> Fire Ants on a Log

The ants that live in the Northeast (and maybe the Northwest) are wimps.  Fire Ants are voracious and if you've ever absently-mindedly stood still too long near one of their mounds you will learn a painful lesson. They are not Red Ants, they are Fire Ants, because their bite burns like hell.

The Fire Ants are larger-than-life sculptures at our Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a part of a special exhibit of the Texas Sculptor Society.  The statue to the left in the top picture is life-size so that should give you an idea of the size of these sculptures.  If Fire Ants were actually this large I'd use a bazooka on them. And no one would live in Texas.

Getting near their mound isn't the only way to be attacked.  If you've just stood still too long on the sidewalk, they'll find you. They have an organized attack plan in which they swarm up your leg and wait until they have a full regiment in action, then they all start biting at once.  Mean little suckers.