Monday, June 7, 2010

The sharing of bad habits, and a little knowledge

Project: Lots of Mugs and shaping paddles for the CJCC
Media: The Fountain (which I have now lost track of how many times I have viewed - Best Movie Ever!)

Just re-wrote what I was going to post, it was turning into a rant about teaching and politics. - you are welcome.

A little while back I was privileged to be asked to come and demo my work for the Yellowhead Regional Arts Festival in the community of Edson, west of Edmonton. I was looking forward to this because not only did I get to demo my work (pure vanity) but its a nearly 500km trip, and I would have a little solitude while driving.

I also listened to the new Gorillaz - Plastic Beach album about 10 times on the way up. Great album, lots of energy. Got there in plenty of time to check in to the Lakeview Hotel, which surprisingly is nowhere near a lake, nor does it have much of a view. Unless you count overlooking a vacant lot and a Shell station as a "view".

I spent my first evening judging the work that was entered for the festival. I did bring my camera and took pictures of the Red Brick Art Centre & Museum but of course forgot about taking any pictures after that (Dumbass tourist).

The next morning I had a live critique with all the artists and we even had the time to discuss individual techniques and ideas about their work. Lots of heart in all the work, lots of detail and my most often worded advice was be more aggressive. I particularly remember an agate-ware piece that was a little muddy but quite lovely.

Photo: Lisa Wilkinson

Then we got to the demo, while I rambled on about tips and techniques, bad habits, good habits, movie references, etc until I bored everyone silly.

Photo: Lisa Wilkinson

I was also able to show my agate-ware technique in combination with the faceting technique that I like to use.

Photo: Lisa Wilkinson

Agate-ware is basically mixing two or more colors of clay in a marble pattern before you construct your piece. My tips on that would be not to mix the colors too much and always cut-down/sand the surface to bring out the colors better.

I quite enjoyed meeting the potters of Edson and hope I encouraged them to try new things and experiment with the diffferent techniques I was able to show them. Thanks to Lisa for sending me the pics and keep looking at those Beardsley prints. :-)

On my travels home I took a relaxing detour and stayed with my friends Jens and Alice who have some land near Busby. I got to visit with the dogs,

... play "count the fish" (can you see the black ones?) ...

... and go quading, which I haven't done in a very long time.

A restful and relaxing end to my "working weekend" and it made the drive home the next morning even more peaceful. I listened to The Fountain sountrack all the way home and I even had a rainbow show up.

Then 2km from home my engine light came on and when I pulled into my driveway my waterpump exploded.

The End.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes shit just blows up

Project: The 9 cam|mandments
Mood: shit blowing up and breathing problems=not happy
Media: Apocalypshit by Molotov

So I have been working on this interesting little semi-sacreligious project for a local company called Cam Industrial. They have a series of "cam|mandments" for their staff to follow to be more beneficial in their jobs and to foster positive interactions with their customers. I have been working on a desk-top model and a full size 14" x 20" tablet for each cam|mandment. There will be more than one set in the end so I have made a mold of the original, good thing too.

It took forever for the mold to dry in our crazy weather, and the first cast almost as long. The customer is getting anxious, and I tell him its finally ready to fire and he will have it soon. I set the kiln, put the tablet in place and hit the start button. Its late, 3 in the am so I head to bed.

In the morning I get up to check the kiln, its off, but its cold . . . shouldn't be that cold so quickly?!? I open the lid . . .

WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!! I've been burgled!!!

I close the lid, hope for a sudden dimensional shift into another universe where it didn't blow up, and open the lid again. Grinning like an idiot.

Maybe in a bit.
Bell tower & sniper rifle?
Hate guns, and do we even have a bell tower in Calgary?
How about just walking away for now?

The worst part is telling the customer that they have to wait while I figure out how I fucked up, and to make sure it doesn't happen the next time. I'm pretty sure I set the kiln but forgot to reset the automatic cycle so instead of the kiln starting at a low temp it started at a high temp. Thus turning the piece into pieces.

Going for a grogged sculpture body clay with the longest firing cycle on my kiln. I shall also sacrifice some single-malt to the kiln gods, burn some incense, etc.

Anyone know any virgins?

Mmmmm Sacrelicious.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pottery Open House at the Calgary Jewish Community Center

Project: Beads, Casting, Grant writing, throwing.
Mood: Erratic.
Media: Gorillaz new single Stylo, which I am playing over and over again until the new album, Plastic Beach, comes out.

Yeah, I really hate that picture of me too. Nerdlinger!!

Anyway, come one come all to the open-house on Sunday March 7th from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Both myself anf the other instructor Whitney will be doing demos and there will be some pre-fired ceramic bowls and tiles for you to decorate for free.

We have also scheduled a ton of day and evening ceramic classes for kids and adults starting in April. Here are the links for the KIDS CLASSES and the ADULT CLASSES.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You want me to do what?

Project: Donation piece for Team Docktor
Mood: Grinning
Media: Kingdom of Heaven Love Ridley Scott films! I would also sell my soul for five minutes with Eva Green. Its the eyes, yeah . . . nice eyes.

One thing about being an artist is that you are constantly being hit up for donations. I used to give multiple pieces a year to auctions, etc. and never has it helped my business and in most cases it ended up benefitting no charity at all. I have rules now, first, I only donate one piece a year. Second, if you cannot provide me with a donation receipt then guess what, you are not a real charity organization then are you. Third, if you got a big fat arts grant to run this arts project/arts auction, pay yourself and everybody else involved but still want your artists to donate their product/time for nothing . . . see that lake over there . . . go jump in it.

That last one happens ALL THE TIME, the second one almost as much. There are loop-holes though, if I know you and your charity and believe in it, I will donate. In the end the donation itself is the important thing. In the past I donated a piece to my friend Lori to help fund her goal to join the Follow the Women Bicycle tour. This year I am donating a piece to the Team Docktor ArtforMS fundraiser. Art forMS, an art exhibit and fundraising event in support of the MS Society of Canada. I have finally finished making them a vase, sprigged with gears and knotwork and with a few choice Latin phrases. Here is a sneak peek, taken with my cell phone (regular camera batteries are dead).

Just know that if I donate a piece for a fundraiser, I believe in it, throw all your money at it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What is a "Weekend"

Project: Read the list below :-)
Mood: Too busy to have a mood
Media: Spartacus - Blood and Sand. A redheaded Lucy Lawless + full frontal nudity = The best show ever. Apparently there is a plotline and people talk and act and stuff too.

Sometimes the only notice I have that a "weekend" is going on is the Facebook status and Twitters of my friends turn to "Can't wait for the weekend" or some such thing. I do take the odd day off but myself, and most artists I know work everyday, mostly because we have no choice. Especially in this economy.

Here is a taste of my current to do list, in no particular order;

- Finish Debbie's urn, all done but having trouble with the locking mechanism.
- Work on treasure chests for Tup and Mess' kids, designed but not started.
- 9 Cammandments project for Cam Industrial, Large tablet and table-top model, sculpt originals, cast molds and produce from casts.
- Throw 30 bowls and make 30 trivet tiles for Calgary Jewish Centre open house on March 7th.
- Package and ship orders for the ceramic shop and the toy shop.
- Make more ceramic Rayguns, Dave wants to buy one.
- Re-vamp grant application for March 1st. People casting project.
- Make more beads for store stock, running really low.
- Figure out why one of my galleries, after a year, still does not have me on their website?
- and much more . . .

Even with all that, I'm so behind on my bills its not even funny. This last Xmas season was the worst ever, I made about $10,000 of new work for galleries in addition to the $20,000 out there in consignment limbo. In the end two of the shows I PAID to be part of didn't break even for me, a gallery went bankrupt (owing me money), and so far I have received $75 in cheques from galleries . . . yes, seventy-five dollars. My priority next Xmas will not be with the galleries and I will use this years example to remind them why.

Anyway, dwell and die or move and survive. I will be adjudicating the ceramics component of the Yellowhead Rotary Arts Festival and giving a demo of my work up in the Edson/Hinton area. I am also scheduled to teach more classes at the Calgary Jewish centre in April, more info coming soon. Some new Items are coming into my toy store too so that will keep me busy.

At times like this i think of my favorite quotes.

"To survive is not enough"

That is from the "Sunset Warrior" cycle by Eric van Lustbader (Yes, he wrote some science fiction). I always had that quote hanging at my gear station when I was a firefighter, kept me alive once.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"I Am Andrew's Medulla Oblongata"

Project: Setting up the new Blog
Mood: That feeling that you get just as you fling yourself off the cliff, just before that "WTF" feeling sets in.
Media: Blackadder Goes Forth

I've blogged before, but that was more like therapy. Its still therapy, but I want to be a little more informative to my friends and my customers, as well as the world at large.

I am an artist, what that means is variable depending on whom you speak too, so maybe this little blog will help. I'm planning on not only giving a step-by-step description of some of my construction processes but also whats involved in the design aspect of it. There will also be ranting, humor, a little whining every now and again (not too much I promise), and also some entertainment.

Let's start with a little movie trailer, I'm looking forward to this - just to laugh my ass off.