Sunday, December 5, 2010

Glue and Snow

Pomegrenade: one component of a current sculpture that is almost complete.
Ceramic with encaustic, acrylic paint, and iron oxide stain.

Another sculpture in progress - hoping to finish this one up later this morning.

That's Chris in the photo on the left, cooking dinner, yet again. It's been a week like that, with him doing dinner duty several nights. The work hours that I have been keeping are insane and if it weren't for Chris cooking, I'd probably be on a steady diet of Chobani and hot cocoa. The veggie tacos and a half hour walk in the damp moonless night were a much needed break from studio tasks. A good night's sleep was welcomed as well and now I find myself taking time for a quick blog entry before hitting the studio again this morning.

This past week was a convergence of deadlines. Grades were due, budgets as well, and projects for my two MFA classes need to be presented in less than two weeks. Most people I know are well on their way to preparing for the holidays: mailing out cards, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts, and shipping goodies to far off friends and relatives. My only saving grace on that front is that my shopping is all done. Albeit, the gifts are sitting in a bag without the attention of colorful papers and bows to transform them into gift-like delights. I will get to that, eventually. First, I have three sculptures and two or three tapestries to finish by the 18th. I look forward to hopping into holiday mode on the 19th.

Yesterday was a fully productive day in the studio. I have been looking at six separate pieces of work, each unfinished. The past fourteen weeks have been devoted to these specific pieces but it is difficult to get my head around the finished concept when they are in pieces rather than whole and complete. The steps for each piece have to be done in a specific order, no jumping ahead. As usual, things don't go as planned. After painting the acrylic onto the pomegrenade sculpture, I needed to attach the tops to the bodies. In the past I used "ducocement" and this time around, tried a superglue gel. Well, superglue is not so super, and the ducocement back-up did not cement the pieces even after an hour and a half of attempts. The toppers are just too heavy and awkwardly imbalanced.

When Chris returned from his Saturday morning vigil at Flatiron Corner, he offered to go to the hardware store to purchase some epoxy for me. I had already been there earlier in the morning buying all sorts of strange items which set me behind in the studio over an hour. He returned with 30 minute epoxy but mentioned that there was a 15 minute epoxy. Seeing how it is dreadfully painful for me to sit still 30 minutes while holding two ceramic pieces in the exact same position (times four!), I cried out for the quicker dry time. Back to the hardware store he went.

I had used epoxy in the past but was avoiding it. I am a messy worker and mixing the two ingredients is not the most graceful task. Extra glue spills out of the tubes, I get it on my fingers, it stinks, and on and on. But you know what - it worked perfectly. I had four tops to attach to the base sculptures. I mixed the glue, set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes, applied the glue, attached the pieces, and held them exactly 15 minutes each. Simple. Now why didn't I just do that in the first place? It was all over in a little over an hour and I was then onto the next step. Phew.

My Saturday was divided by work on three sculptures. Due to some structural issues my original plans needed to be changed. Clay is a tough medium in that you can spend hours sculpting a piece or wheelthrow your best-ever pot only to remove it from the kiln to discover a nasty huge crack. And that is what happened with each of these three sculptures, on some level. I have had issues with this particular clay, but, I like the texture and how well it takes glazes. On the sequential sculpture one component was damaged enough to have to re-sculpt. It was minor though, time wise (perhaps another three or so hours), but on the larger pieces, I needed to find a way to work with the cracks. The cracks aren't big enough to cause worries of the piece falling apart, but it did make me have to rethink the next part of the process, which originally was to glaze and fire to full temp. Ultimately, I decided that one piece would do well with paint rather than glaze and re-fire. Why risk it when I can get a similar effect with paint and a filler to disguise the small crack, which seemed inconsequential overall as far as durability. But who knows what would have happened with higher kiln temps and further shrinkage. The larger sculpture I just couldn't imagine any other way than fired to temp. I ultimately decided that it was worth the risk. Will I be happy in the end with my decision? Time will tell.

Folks who work with clay will most likely understand my dilemma. It is tough to put so much energy into a piece not knowing for sure if there will be disappointment or joy when opening the kiln lid. The anticipation is a real booger.

Enough said. I am going to shower and get rolling here.

Oh - snow coming in for tomorrow. According to the weather forecast, anyway. it's one of those quirky-type storms where the bad weather rolled off to the east only to be pushed back at us where it will swirl a bit around our downeast region before pushing its way back out. Severe weather warnings are up. Could it mean, possibly, a snow day? The first of the year? I am kinda, sorta, (alright, jump-up-and-down do a snow-dance kinda hoping) hoping that it is. I would love the extra day to be in my studio. The trade off is to make up the day at the end of the school year - a beautiful, warm, sunny spring day spent in the classroom beyond originally contracted days. But - the trade off is worth it for one or two days a year; to nab that extra hour of sleep after the phone rings, watch the wind knock around the flakes, listen to it whistle, and to be inside toasty warm, in slippers and PJ's, by the fire, drinking cocoa.

Of course, the actual version would be me in messy work clothes flitting around like a worker bee to get some work done, then outside every so often sweating it out while shoveling snow and trying to free the car for next day's travel. But I prefer to imagine the above, more romantically-stated version!


onedia said...

Your energy and focus are amazing to me. Life is easier with a good partner. Looking forward to seeing the finished sculptures.

Owl Who Laughs said...

It is an honor to be involved, even peripherally, in the wonderful energy of creation that has been taking place in Wheelock Studios here in Lubec. Fantastic artworks are coming out faster than Santa's elves can make toys!


PS: hello to oneida!