Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adorn Me

I went to AdornMe in Houston a few weeks ago. When I first heard about it I thought it was called "Adore Me" and couldn't figure out how that went with jewelry making but thought I could probably get a lot of attention there since it's mostly women attending.

Unfortunately, most of the attention I get is because
1) I need a lot of help and
2) I bring a lot of tools to share.

I've taken great classes from people like Richard Salley and Thomas Mann and for the first time, from Mary Hettmansperger.  The piece above is from one of Mary's classes, a small copper pendant made with a technique using black gesso and silver embossing powder.

I'm not sure what will happen to all these class samples but I'm thinking they will get incorporated into larger pieces that will become small wall sculptures. Or become jewelry for the Little Dudes.
Or become Give-Aways, hung with invisible fishing line from a tree or bush. Or, given my tendency to schedule too much for myself, will just get tossed in a drawer.  Susan tells me that when I die she's going to pay for my funeral by advertising a big "Stuff Sale" where people will pay a fee to pick through all the drawers of my stuff. She figures she'll make enough to put me in the ground and then do her grieving in Tahiti. Cold woman!

Still mapping.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Give Away Or Never Let Go

When we moved  (and did major downsizing) I had to give up (and throw away) a LOT of stuff. Rusty, cruddy, gnarled stuff I'd collected for years. I did manage to set aside 3 small boxes worth of selected pieces. 

Never look back on what you left behind,
only look forward to what you can start collecting all over again.
Susan just grits her teeth when I say that but she's the one that taught me that men don't go to estate sales and garage sales and antique fairs to go "shopping" -- they are going "hunting".  She hates to drive my car so that's a good place for me to hide stuff I capture.

For a long time I made a lot of ceramic boxes, mostly with open tops and bottoms.  The goal (somehow there is always a goal there but maybe that's just an easy way to say "I don't have a real plan") was to stack them up in a window on their sides so they would look like ruins of a city but you would still be able to look through them. 

This give-away is still there after 30 days.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ludvig and Mapping

Ludvig is at the gallery.  I tried a different clay for the heads this time but managed to keep them from blowing up in the kiln.  It still isn't the exact mix I want but I'm working on it.  He's holding a little shell in his hand.

I'm still doing maps.  What size is this? What color of ink do you use? Why is the paper rippled? How do you get that shape? Inquiring minds want to know and I will tell all, as promised.

The size is 6x8 inches, the paper is from a Strathmore Drawing paper tablet. When Susan puts the pictures on the computer she usually does a rough crop to eliminate the edges of my sloppy photo so the actual image you see might not show that proportion exactly.

We set the tablet open on the kitchen counter with a piece of aluminum foil under it and a piece of foil under the top clean page.  When we have finished drinking coffee for the day I take out the wet coffee-loaded filter and put it down on the page. Randomly, just where it wants to go.  During the rest of the day we sometimes push down on it. Sometimes the grounds spill out.  Sometimes we splash a little coffee back on it.  Look at the map above and you'll see a vague filter shape starting at the bottom left.

The next morning the filter is taken off, foil put down on the other side of the tablet and the damp page flipped over and a fresh page is ready for its filter.  At the end of a couple of days some of the pages will be totally dry so their foil can be taken out but the stack will still be several days worth high.  The pages are very rippled because they dried with a wet blob on them.

Susan tried ironing them.  Nope, didn't work.  She tried ironing them with a damp paper on them.  Smelled just like fresh coffee but totally diluted the color.  We've been given ideas about how watercolor artists "stretch" wet paper but haven't bothered to buy expensive paper. Yet.

The ink? Just fine point Sharpies and (preferably) Pigma Micron pens or Faber-Castell Pitt pens.  Once every page in the tablet has some stain marks on it and the whole table is dry I can start marking on them.  This series of maps needed a unifying element so I started by making dotted lines through every page first.  No thinking allowed!

Susan has told me to read the book The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet and the map illustrations look really cool but I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

However, I have taken time to watch the movie The Grey with Liam Neesom.  It's the movie about guys trapped in the wilderness as they are stalked by wolves.  I learned a valuable lesson watching that movie:  Never take a leak in the woods at night.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Children, Lost and Found

Lost Childhood: Galveston, 1900
In 1900 a horrible hurricane tore across Galveston Island, Texas. On the west side of Galveston, at 69th Street on the seawall, was St. Mary's Orphanage, established by Catholic Sisters of Charity. The two dormitories were home to 93 children and 10 nuns.

As the winds increased and the water began to surge over the seawall, the nuns gathered the children around and led them up to the second floor of the girls' dormitory. They all heard the crash of the boys' dormitory as it collapsed and was carried away by the flood waters.

Each nun took clothesline rope and used it to tie between six to eight of the youngest children to themselves, hoping to protect them. Three of the oldest boys climbed onto the roof of the orphanage.

The death and destruction in Galveston was unbelievable. More than 8,000 died and their bodies were littered throughout the city. All 10 nuns and 90 children died in the storm. The sisters were buried wherever they were found, each with the children still tied to them.

Today, where St. Mary's orphanage once stood, there is a Walmart.

I made this piece in 2010 and Seth Apter chose to include it in his book, The Pulse of Mixed Media. Seth is an extremely talented artist and I appreciate greatly his generosity in letting me share my art with you.

Yes, this was previously posted last year. It's time to revisit it, for several reasons. 

One reason is that when we were in New York City last spring Susan took a bunch of pictures of people wearing bright colors.  Because our life has turned upside down (The Big Move) in the last year she didn't bother to look at all of them until recently.  This one caught her eye and was an eerie echo of the Lost Childhood: Galveston piece shown above.

 Now more about the ceramic pieces.  I have a lot of them.  Sometimes we call them The Children, sometimes we call them The Little Sweaters, sometimes they are The Sweater Children.  

They didn't start out to be children, they started out to be a Dude with a sweater on. That idea crashed to earth really fast but the shape intrigued me so I made several more.  Once you have several similar pieces looking at you it becomes time to listen to what they are saying.  And while you are listening to them, you are listening to NPR news.  So, in reality, they didn't start out to be the Galveston children, they started out to be the Poverty Children.  The statistic was this:

26% of the children in the state of Texas are living in homes
that have incomes below the national poverty level.
The plan was to make an installation of 100 of them, 26 with the darker oxide shadowing on them (top left in the picture above) and the other 74 with just the plain white clay.  To me that mean that the 26% didn't have a chance to be as clean as the others. Unfortunately, after I got about 60 made I realized that people might misinterpret it as indicating skin color.  No, that wasn't it, but I let the project go. 
Then Seth gave me a goal of a piece for his book and I knew I wanted to do something with the Children.  Susan and I pondered it for several days and came up with several ideas.  One was to take some that were really damaged-looking and have them represent the children used as soldiers by the Rwandan government. Another idea was to glaze some of them bright red and yellow colors and have them represent the 33 children who died in 2011 because they were accidentally left in a locked car on a hot summer day. Another idea was to have them surrounded by pairs of baby shoes. The shoes would actually be bigger than the little sweaters and the size juxtaposition would question whether the sweater was for a doll the child had or were the shoes just out of proportion.
Finally, I thought of the story of the children in Galveston (where I was born) and created the nun and arranged the right number of children and that was that.
And now the reason for revisiting the piece:  What should I do with all the other Sweater Children I made?
They are no longer lost.  They will be found. Someone will find them and wonder Who? Why? What?
We were in New York City this January. Yes, we try to go at least twice a year. January is a good time to go because the bad weather keeps the amateurs away and the museums are uncrowded.
 I took some with me to be placed in the city. It's a hard thing to do there because the "See something, Say something" mantra makes me a little spooked about putting something down in public.  But I persisted. These pictures are near the bears at The Met.
These pictures are in the subway stop at the Natural History Museum.  In the first picture you can see me nicely bundled up, getting ready to head on out to wait for a bus, Sweater Child placed.
And here we are, 6 hours later, on our way back. 

Some Sweater Children have been given to other people to put in secret places.  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 15, 2013

AdornMe and Rudie

I was supposed to take doo-dad stuff to AdornMe to make into jewelry. I never know what that means but usually what happens is that I never use my stuff because I learn how to make new and different doo-dads.  Above is what I took.  Below is part of what I actually learned how to make.  Eventually I'll have more to show you.

One of my classmates was very talented Liz from Chicago.

And of course my good buddy Janis was there. She concentrates very hard. She also raises chickens when she isn't making jewelry.

Just to keep my life really scrambled I do both jewelry and ceramics.  Rudie has gone to the gallery.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Women and Equality

Today is International Women's Day.
Today 60% of those living in poverty are women.

Dorothea Lange took this timeless photograph during the Depression. The image and following information are from from the Library of Congress:

The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month's trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).