Thursday, June 28, 2012

An idea

            Glass is neat stuff. I love the way it is transparent or translucent. For the most part, clay is an opaque medium. (There are notable exceptions - Google Margaret O'Rorke if you want to see some amazing translucent porcelain!) Glass, on the other hand, lets light all the way through it.
            I've been thinking about glass for maybe a year now. I'm curious about working with it; I'll probably try sometime. I used to be afraid of the idea of working with glass, because you have to get it hot to make it move. Now that I've gotten used to the burners on a gas kiln, however, I'm not afraid at all of the little propane torches used to make beads. Glass blowing is another beast, but having stoked a wood kiln near the end of the firing, I'm figuring I could be ok with a big glass kiln too.
            I'm thinking of what I could make with both glass and clay, in one piece. I don't know how feasible it is to attach glass to clay. But glaze is basically glass and it sticks just fine... so maybe there is a way to get more normal glass to stick to fired clay. And if there is, well then one could make all sorts of neat things!
            So here's my latest crazy idea. I want to make wine glasses out of clay. Doing this with clay in the first place is probably kind of silly, because a) wine glasses need to be super thin to be nice, and it's much harder to make things that are super thin than things that are, well, normal pot thickness; b) it's much harder to make thin things with multiple parts, like a stem plus a foot plus a cup, which is what wine glasses are; c) if I want the glass (goblet? if it's not glass, can I call it a glass?) to be translucent then I'd better make it with translucent porcelain, which is harder to hand build with too. So basically it's a silly idea. But, I want to try it anyway. Because if it works it will be really, really cool.
            And then I had my idea. What if I use normal clay, or whatever clay I want I guess, and just make the stem and the foot out of clay? And then make the cup part glass? Or get a glass artist who actually knows how to do it to make the cup part - that might be a better idea since I don't know how to do that really. Then I could make the stem the shape of a tree, and the glass part could be colored glass, in fall colors so that it's like the leaves of the tree. The foot part would have the tree roots.
            Here's a sketch I made of this idea:

            You might want to click on the picture and look at it in a larger size so you can see it better. Now, this particular idea of the tree glass is a little complicated because I don't know how you'd make the glass cup so that it fits inside the tree branches, and I don't know whether it's possible to melt the glass just enough to make it stick to the clay without slumping in an unattractive way. A simpler idea that might be a better place to start would be to make a clay foot and stem that does not wrap around the cup part so much, so that the cup can basically be set on the stem without having to be the right shape to nestle in. I might come up with a theme other than the tree that doesn't involve so much nestling.
            This idea is so exciting! But I think I need to find a glass artist to collaborate with. Don't get me wrong, I fully intend to spend some time playing around with glass myself. I'm interested in collaborating with someone who knows what they are doing, however, as I think two people with differing expertise might be able to craft more exciting and awesome things than one person familiar with one medium.
            What do you think, readers? I know you are out there because I can see the statistics on Blogger. I want to hear what you have to say; otherwise it's like I'm talking into a vacuum here. You don't have to know a lot about clay to have interesting ideas I'd like to hear about. Or questions... I'd love to answer some questions!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pictures of an exhibition

            And now, the post you have all been waiting for... pictures of the show! This post is all about my work, and the next one will be all about the work of others in the exhibition. Enjoy!
            The view through the doorway: The Meeting House Gallery has two rooms that are connected to each other, one large and one small. My display is in the smaller room, but you can see it through the door.

            The view through the window-shelf: The wall between the rooms in the gallery has two windows with shelves that objects can be placed on. For this exhibition only one of them was used, and I had fun peering through it at my display.

            The next images were taken on Wednesday, before the opening, so the other sculptures in the room were not in their final positions. This is the view as you enter the room:

            And as you walk around the piece:

            A closer look:

            You might have noticed a white tag in the pictures of the stump. That is the tag for the label information so that the gallery knows what the title of the piece is and how to spell my name. I was silly and forgot to remove it for the picture - it wasn't there in the actual show, however. The real label is mounted on the pillar and looks much nicer.
            Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sculpture on the Green reception

            The opening reception of Sculpture on the Green at the Meeting House Gallery was on Friday night. There were lots and lots of people; thank you everyone for coming! It was exciting to see so many people interested in the show. If you are one of the people who weren't able to come to the reception, the show is still open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 - 4, until July 8th. I won't be there, but my art will!
            I also enjoyed meeting other sculptors. My work is the only piece using clay in the show; everything else was metal, wood, found objects, etc. I love to see art made with other media, because I feel that the different techniques used and the qualities of various materials can inform my ideas and use of clay. Clay is great for imitating or implying other materials; that is one of the strengths of the medium.
            And now for the part you are all waiting for - the pictures! Lots of people in the gallery:

            People looking at my piece - many people wanted to look up close to see all the details:

            This fellow is from the New Marlborough newspaper, and he took pictures of my work. Maybe I will become famous in New Marlborough! Or at least be mentioned in the newspaper; that would be exciting.

            All in all, it was a wonderful evening. It was fun to see people engaging with my work and talking about it among themselves. It was fun to talk with them about it, too! I often am nervous to start conversations in a crowd of people I don't know, but when I am asked about my work I have plenty to say.
            You can expect more pictures here over the next few days, both of my work and that of the other sculptors in the show. I won't say what days I expect to have new posts; it seems that when I specify a particular day I somehow never manage to post on that day, but usually the day after.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sneak Preview

            Wednesday I went to the gallery to help finish setting up the show, but it turned out I was mostly unneeded so I took a lot of pictures of my piece. I won't post pictures of the whole thing until the show has been open for a few days... you should come see it in person! But here are some close ups of the dragons.

            The opening reception is tonight from 5 to 7. Come to the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough and see some clay dragons, and a lot of other cool sculpture both indoors and out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wednesday Traveling Thesis... on Tuesday

            On Sunday I drove from Maine to Massachusetts to set up in the Meeting House Gallery. I left later than I wanted to because the larger of the two pedestals Mr. Riverdragon and I worked so hard to build didn't fit in the car. Thankfully we were able to just partially disassemble it and make it fit. I took the hammer and nails with me in anticipation of putting it back together as part of setting up the show.
            It turned out that getting it out of the car was also a problem, because Mr. Riverdragon was the one who made it fit in there, and he didn't tell me the secret trick to get it out again. So I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to wrangle the thing out. But! I succeeded, and then successfully put it back together, good as new.
            On Monday, I got up in the morning and headed over to the gallery to set up. It took seven hours to set up the display. This sounds like a long time, but it is actually significantly better than the first time I set it up. A wonderful friend of mine came over to the gallery and hefted the big tree trunk all by herself to get it into the gallery for me. That trunk weighs something like ninety pounds, and I really can't carry it myself. It feels kind of funny to have built something that weighs nearly as much as I do. I made it, but I can't carry it around.
           I like the gallery a lot. It has nice wood floors and these pillars around the room. It is in the basement of a large building, so the pillars are necessary structural things, I'm sure, but they divide the space nicely. At Simon's Rock I positioned the display in a corner, but far enough from the wall that people could walk around all sides of it. This time, I positioned it near a window. The gallery is only open three days a week, so the window will allow the plants to have light regardless of the gallery lights being on. There was a pillar that could be considered in the way, but I just wrapped the sheet around it and made it part of the display.
            Here are some progress pictures I took while setting up.

            You might notice that the plants are different than the ones I used in December. Here's a shot of some of them hanging out in the motel overnight:

            The plants I used last time mostly belonged to the housekeeper of the building the display was in, who kindly allowed me to borrow them for my exhibition. The other plants that were mine unfortunately did not travel well - they were root bound and I didn't have time to re-pot them before the road trip, and they just got sadder and sadder until they died. So these are new plants, that I intend to actually take care of now that I'm living in one place reliably for a while.

            The plant that is placed in the bottom pool is actually a calla lily. I'm really excited to have that plant because it will have beautiful white flowers if I treat it right. Also, conveniently, it likes having its roots submerged in a bog-like situation. So it's perfect for my display!
            On Wednesday I'm going back to the gallery to help set the lights and check on things to make sure they are all working right. I'll also take some pictures of the finished product and share them here, so check back soon! I'm thinking I'll post on Wednesday, but if not, definitely Thursday.
            If you are in the Berkshires for the next two weeks, come see the show! I'm not the only sculptor there, and it's promising to be a really beautiful exhibition! Come to the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough, MA, from 11-4 Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from June 22 - July 8.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday Traveling Dragons

            Today's Traveling Dragons post does not have a picture. That is because I am too busy building pedestals and running around packing to figure out what the dragons are up to. What am I building pedestals for? My thesis is moving, again! (For more about my thesis, start with this post, and then try the other posts labeled "thesis" to get a more complete explanation.)
            I have a story to tell about my thesis. One day during the exhibition at Simon's Rock, I was feeding the fish in the large pool of my thesis. These fish were remarkably shy, and I discovered that the only way to get them to come out was to turn down the gallery lights and put out some food. So I was doing this in the evening when I thought no one would want to come look.
            And then someone walked up and said, "Hi! Is this your display?" And I said, "Yes, it is! You caught me feeding the fish, but if you're willing to stay for a few minutes, I can turn the lights up when they are done eating and then you'll be able to see it better."
            So she stayed. She read the myth on the wall, all of it. (A lot of other people who came to the exhibition did not.) She walked around all sides of the display and looked at every part of it.
            And commented, "You know, I have this gallery..."
            That lady was Elizabeth Lombardi of the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. (That is a town not far from Great Barrington, which is where Simon's Rock is located.) She seemed excited about my thesis, and we agreed to keep in touch, with hopes of showing my sculptures again at the Meeting House Gallery this summer.
            That time has come! The show is entitled "Sculpture on the Green," and there will be sculptures by nine artists including myself. I will be traveling down on Sunday and setting up my work on Monday, and then the opening reception and beginning of the exhibition is on June 22. The reception is from 5-7 pm.
            I am so excited that my thesis will be reaching a wider audience this summer!

            So, the details again: Sculpture on the Green at the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough, MA. Opening reception June 22 from 5-7 pm. Duration of the show is June 22 - July 8th; the gallery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.
            Website of the gallery:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


            The lupines are blooming here in Maine. A good excuse to try out some of the vases I made back in February!

            This is a Dragon and Clouds vase, and it is currently showing at the Deer Isle Artists Association show, Spectrum. If you are in the area, you should go to the gallery and see it in person! 
            Actually, a number of things are blooming around here. The peony next door is currently blooming with flowers bigger than a dinner plate. That's my hand in the picture, for size. 

            The peonies outside my door, on the other hand, are covered with nice fat buds that will hopefully open eventually.

            The chives are blooming. I didn’t know before this spring that chives are even prettier than they are tasty. They have these great purple blooms that I didn’t want to cut, just in case they don’t like being cut flowers, so that I don’t lose a single one. The narcissus came and went, as did the lilacs. There are also flowers that I don’t recognize at all. 

            I am very fond of growing things – vegetables or flowers or trees or whatever strikes my fancy. There’s something magical about nurturing living things and watching them grow. Plants are about the right speed for me – I can largely ignore them while I do other things, and then surprise! They flower, or there are suddenly cucumbers in the garden.
The more I think about making fountains, the more I think of ways to incorporate plants. I just can’t imagine having running water without having green growth, too.
 But then I think about maintenance. Water plus plants often equals algae – usually fairly undesirable. If I have access to the fountain with plants in it that I made, I can keep tweaking things until it works right and remains stable, like my fish tanks. But if I don’t, say if I sell the fountain to someone else, then they get the job of taking care of it. Is there anyone besides me who would be willing to learn how to take care of plants in running water just because it’s pretty when it works?