8 Oct 2012

Day two and three.

Posted in Art making

Where did I leave off? Friday and Saturday were more Notstock festivities. More students with thoughtful, curious, interesting questions. Really good stuff. The entire event was terrific – beautifully organized, great students, wonderful atmosphere, good music. Here’s a video from the local news.

This photo was at the beginning of day two, just as the first students were unloading from one of the many school buses that arrived Thursday and Friday. Often the room as shoulder to shoulder with students and artists!

The piece I started the previous day was beginning to look like a greyhound. The dowels will be the supports for the legs.

Now with a change in posture, added legs, changed gait and more length in the body. Keep working…

This stage is about were the piece is right now. I’ve begun to hollow out the head and legs.

It’s a spur of the moment piece – not the way that I usually work with reference photos, a maquette, and sketchbook work. But, hey, I’m liking it. (It might need a rider…) I’m anxious to unwrap it in the studio. See it with fresh eyes. I’ll try to photograph and share the steps to finishing this piece in case anyone is interested in seeing that.

Such a great experience. I’m exhausted. And with that, I did learn – hopefully learned – that I’m not 23 years old anymore. Living on caffeine and sugar no longer works for me. McDonalds isn’t real food. Little Debbie isn’t breakfast. I need to drink water. And take a multivitamin occasionally. That combo, along with restless hotel sleep, equalled a funky chest cold. I deserve it. I should take better care of myself.

My Greyhounds are working dogs. They remind me to take breaks. Personal assistants.


4 Oct 2012

Day one.

Posted in Art making

I’m here in Minot for Notstock at Minot State University. Today was an interesting day.

Along with a bunch of other artists, we’re set up in the student center. The raku kiln is firing outside the door, plus live music and all sorts of art related activities. High school students have been bused in all day. They buy (I think?) white tshirts and the screen printing artists help them make their own custom Notstock shirt. Kendra has her potter’s wheel spinning making wonderful pots. I’m working on a sculpture of a Greyhound.

It is pretty cool.

So then I started the sculpture around 9 AM. I brought my own clay and supplies like pipe for the armature, canvas covered board to work on, tools, etc. Standard working stuff. What didn’t have was a work table. No big deal, they’d provide one for me.

At home in my studio, I use a cast iron table. It came from the printing press that printed the Bowman County Pioneer. i think it was used for typesetting – when papers were printed with hand set type. This thing is heavy with thick caster wheels. I can wheel it around the studio. But it does not go on outings.

So back to today. They found a standard college sculpture stand for me to use. Good deal. “That’ll work,” I think. It’s been used but that’s the way it works, being a college and all. I look at the top. It is a little loose. Must be the screws. I have a screwdriver. No problem. I tighten the screws. I’m a little concern that the top is made of particle board…

Oh well. Onward!

I C-clamp my board with armature to the top of the sculpture stand. Time to pile on the clay. I’m making a life sized greyhound coming out of the wall – different pose than the one on this site, but similar. I’m about 75 pounds of clay and 4 1/2 hours into this when I hear a tiny little “creak”.

Then the screws in the particle board top gave way. The entire sculpture, all the work, a half of a life sized greyhound’s worth of clay, toppled to the floor with a loud Crack! and a hearty Thud!

The entire room, packed with students and artists, fell silent. I felt their eyes on me.

“All part of the Process!” I say. And the room returns to their artistry.

“crap” I think for a second. Can’t be precious with clay. Power of non-attachment stuff. Sigh.

So I started over.  After the awesome helper from the ceramics department led me to the Starbucks for a nerve-calming, non-flavored latte and a quick trip to Menards…

What a day. Tomorrow Ill take some photos.

27 Sep 2012

Silken Windhound.

Posted in Art making

This spring I was asked to participate in the Born To Run Global Sighthound Rescue portrait auction. Normally I don’t do these things. Portraits cause angst. But I like the person who asked so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’m glad I did!

The winner asked for a likeness of her Silken Windhound, Neeka.

Neeka is beautiful! Never done a Silken Windhound however. Challenge!

Here are process shots. The piece is drying now and will need to be fired then finished. I’ve done a bit a sculpting beyond these photos and an really pleased with myself.

I will post the finished work in a couple of weeks.

26 Sep 2012

Mask a day

Posted in Art making

During that vast dearth of blog posts earlier this summer, I failed to mention the Mask A Day project I worked on in May. Mask A Day in May. Sounds easy! It wasn’t what I expected…

Let’s see. May has 31 days. 31 masks. No problem.

Except making time every day for a month? What was I thinking? Super difficult.

For the first seventeen days I followed the rules. One mask each day.

Then I missed a day thanks to a trip to Rapid City, South Dakota. So I made two masks to make up for the missed day.

Then meetings and working at the library. My mask making goal fell apart.

Did I get to 31? Yes. But not by following the “rules” I’d set out for myself.

But it was fun. I’m going to try again later this winter.

Still not finished firing and finishing the masks however. Getting closer…

25 Sep 2012

Never gets easier.

Posted in Art making

Has to be done. Mr. Hammer is a handy tool to have around. Cracked boxes, bad glazes, warped plates. Time to make some shards.

Mr. Hammer.

Cracked box, box with bad glaze, warped plates.



Another whack.

Next up boxes. Take a deep breath.


Fodder for the garden…

23 Sep 2012

I love packing peanuts.

Posted in Art making

Packing peanuts fall into the category of Necessary Evil. They are a relatively inexpensive ingredient in the recipe to create the safe arrival of sculptures. Therefore I try not to talk bad about them. Or think about the environmental impact. Or how much space they take up in the packing room.

Because they do make my life easier.

So this blog post is a Salute to Peanuts. And let’s throw bubble wrap in there too. And sturdy cardboard and sheet styrofoam – don’t want to leave them out. All important ingredients.

Here’s how I package work for shipment. The photos show a large memory box.

Step one – bubble wrap. What you’re seeing here is three layers of small bubble wrap + 3 layers of big bubble wrap. All snugly wrapped with that sticky plastic stuff that likes itself so much it only sticks to itself. Plastic wrap? I think thats what it’s called. I used to use tape, but clear tape isn’t easy to see being clear and all. We don’t want to damage the art when we’re using scissors to unwrap these pods. So sticky wrap it is.

Ah-ha! There’s the sticky wrap in the photo above. I’m going to use clear tape to assemble the box, and there’s a box cutter for the styrofoam sheets, and a scissor incase we need it. Side note: see how the handle is chewed? Sterling did that… sigh… I miss that hound….

Next choose a sturdy box. I like to use new boxes. Nice new clean sturdy box and the UPS delivery person will treat it better? Not sure but I’ve had more than one postal/deliver person comment on the crispy clean boxes that I lean that way. No proof, of course. I’m going with it anyway.

I line the box with 3/4″ or 1″ styrofoam sheets. Here’s the bottom.

All snug and happy.

Then I measure for the sides. I save time by using the same sized boxes so I know these measurements and can cut quantities of styrofoam ahead of time.

One box lined with styrofoam. I also cut a top piece too.

About this time I’ll have to take a break to let greyhound(s) in or out. Annie and Sage have this drill perfectly synchronized. At this point Annie will want to go out. Sage will want to come in. They will feel differently exactly 32 seconds after I’ve resumed packing the box. So it’s best to wait at the door until they sort it out.

Here’s where the peanuts come in – generous layer at the bottom. Then shake the box a bit so they settle. Next is the bubble wrapped work leaving plenty of space around the piece to handle the shipping intact. This one above is a little close. I try for 4 inches around the work.

Then more peanuts, shake shake, next piece of the memory box, and repeat.

Here’s the box with memory box wrapped in bubble wrap plus styrofoam sides, plus packing peanuts all up the top. I shake to settle the entire thing, add more peanuts if needed. I want the box to have a little bit of give, but not too much to that the work bounces around.

Then I add the top sheet of styrofoam and paperwork for shipment.

Next the box is closed and taped. I like lots of tape – minimum of three lines of tape each way. Ready for shipment!


20 Sep 2012

Shooting rabbits.

Posted in Art making

The clay ones, of course. With a camera.

These are the rabbits on the tops of the tall 2×2 inch wide boxes I’ve been making lately.

One of the challenges of the internet medium is that size and scale is not always readily apparent. Clever camera angles can making something small look enormous.

I used to shoot everything in a black to white background absent of other objects to interfere with the pieces. Then I’d hear “I have no idea how big this was!” at shows. Careful use of items in the photos does wonders to emphasize scale.

When I purposely play with scale – like making a huge bunny – I want the viewer to be able to understand even if our main method of communication is through photography on the internet.

Yes, the large bunny does have a top 🙂

18 Sep 2012

My desk gets cleaned off. Here’s proof.

Posted in Art making

So thats what the surface looks like? Huh.

Nothing like a book on hoarding to entice me to pare down the art supplies and truck a load (or two) to goodwill.

The book was, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. If you are looking for some motivation…

17 Sep 2012

We’ll see.

Posted in Art making

In a fit of craziness, I registered for a pottery class at the local University. I’ve been thinking about learning the potter’s wheel for years. This seemed like a good time as any.

Big changes this year. Mostly on the “personal life” front, but also a big change on the schedule. No Dewey Beach for me this year. No rushing for months to prepare for the eminent deadline. No loading the vehicle within an inch of it’s transmission’s life. No big drive halfway across the US (Oh I’ll miss those Chicago toll booths…).

Instead of Dewey Beach I’ll be a visiting artist for Minot State University’s NotStock/Potstock event.

I’m going to miss seeing everyone at Dewey Beach.

So back to the pottery class. I registered at Dickinson State. Again. Because I’d been there before in the early 90’s.

I have the ID to prove it. (That photo! Why didn’t someone tell me? I must not have had any friends?! This is what life was like pre-Nirvana. Hello, Aqua-net.)

I went to class. As we went around the room each of the students were supposed to talk about their background in clay. I’ve never had a real clay class beyond the workshop at the Archie Bray Foundation. I was a printmaking major after all. This clay thing was supposed to be a sideline.

At this point we are about four weeks into the semester. My new potter’s wheel is set up in the basement of my house – no room in the studio. I’m practicing in every spare moment I can muster.

And it is not too bad. Challenging. Really challenging. Like learning to play the piano and shift a manual transmission at the same time.

At this stage, most everything I make is throw back into the recycle pile. I’ve kept a few as a record of progression. Not sure this experience will produce good pots yet.

I’m optimistic. Like all of my favorite projects I feel strongly that “we’ll see” is the best description.


29 Jul 2012

Why North Dakota?

As I try to get into blogging – trying to stick to a schedule here – I thought I’d write a little bit about my love/hate with North Dakota. I’m going to try and keep the whine out of this.

Why do I live here again? Family. Stability. Big Skies and Wide Open Spaces. Clean air. Oh yeah… that’s it.

I have a restless feeling. One of those feelings a vacation cannot cure. I try to fight it – push it down – but it keeps coming. I need to make a change. Or make a big body of work .

That body of work would be based on the sketches I’ve been working on for a year and a half. A North Dakota themed show – greyhounds and such – but about North Dakota nonetheless. I shake my head – seems like a lost cause. Where is the audience for that work? If it isn’t Badlands, Rodeo or “Western” it has no validity in any of the “local” gallery or art outlets. Those places have to keep the lights on. They need what sells in this market. I get it. I understand.

Not my audience.

Oh well. Wouldn’t change it if I could.

But I’m going to make that work just because I want to. Even if it sits in crates in my basement.


25 Jul 2012