Thursday, August 14, 2014

Murals for the Classroom

These are photos of a mural I worked on for a friend. I will be working in her classroom this coming school year and I thought it'd be fun to add some color to the walls in a bit of a different way. 

I still can't seem to upload sharp images through the blogger app, which is pretty annoying. For now these will do, and maybe when everything else is put together I'll be able to snap a couple better shots. Just wanted to share them now because I had such a  fun time painting them and am so excited to share them with people!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Glaze Kiln Results

Just an update on the castle projects, since I realized I never ended up posting what they came out like after the glaze kiln. The kids did a great job layering on their underglaze, and I had given each a quick dunk in the clear glaze before firing. I think the glazes help to highlight all the ways in which students chose to build and add onto the basic castle tower structure.

Students each spent 1-2 classes building their pieces, and I let them dry for over a week before firing to prevent warping.

Exterior staircases were an easy way to finish off the towers and blend in where students attached the sides together.

I like the fence/gateway this student built to make her project look finished.

This piece was built by one of my youngest students, who was very creative in her explanation of every castle feature, from the stairs, to rock ladders, gardens, and more.

If you look closely, there is a floating bunk near the top of the center tower in this primary-color themed complex.

These were pendants that students created during our first class together. Somehow they got lost in the studio shuffle, and suddenly reappeared at the end of our semester.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Clay Castles and Heart Vases

My Fun With Clay Group spent a couple sessions working on these beauties.  They are waiting to come out of the glaze kiln (fingers crossed all's well!) but I couldn't wait to share a couple pictures of their work so far! 
Once I showed them how to shape a cylinder using a cardboard tube, the kids really took off with their own ideas! Each one is so unique-wish more of the pictures I took had come out-but I will try to share the final results when they come out of the glaze kiln.

They also worked on sort of Jim Dine-inspired heart vases around Valentine's Day, and they went to town experimenting with stamps, texture, and color!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Studio Update

Since my last post, I have been spending a lot of time working in my studio, so I thought I'd share a more recent view of how the bench is working out. 

This picture was taken first thing this morning, before I had my tea and got started working. I like being able to leave projects in-process out and accessible. Anyways, there are a few things I've added that seem to be working out well, including a cast iron swing-arm plant hook that holds the flex shaft motor.

 The plant hook belonged to my grandmother, who gave it to my mom, who recently found it in storage and gave it to me! 

The lamp was a project I helped my dad design, using some welded, and some cold connections to help it adjust and swing wherever I need light. It stared with a standard drafting lamp, but the only parts we kept were the shade and cord kit. 

Most recently, I added some small Command hooks for wall storage, and a saw blade holder made from scrap wood, drilled to fit clear plastic tubes of saw blades in various sizes.  The saw blade holder reminds me of a test tube holder you might see in a lab. To keep the saw blade holder from getting knocked over, I added a couple of those Velcro picture hanging strips to hold it to the wall. 

I want to post photos of the pieces I made today, but it will have to wait until there is more daylight. It was a busy day in my studio!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Photo-full Post to Catch Up with the New Year

It's been quite a while since I last posted, so I thought I'd include some of the art/making/things that I've been up to lately.  

Let's start with some student artwork! 

These were some underwater/coral reef sculptures that my clay class worked on, using slab, coil, and pinch pot techniques.  

They also got to finish adding detail to their Gnome Homes and Fairy Houses with underglaze. A few even decided to paint in features like wall art and big screen TVs inside.

One of my students wanted to make Christmas tree ornaments for her family....

...while another made a little snowman sculpture with hollow pinch pots scored together.  I get so excited to see what comes out of the kiln, especially when the kids are as enthralled with the process as I am.  I can't wait to see what they'll make and discover this year!

In other news, I have been busy in my own studio over the past few weeks as well, working on making the space more functional for the many projects I put it through.  It started with a workbench update using some lumber and metal pipe that my dad and I put together over a weekend and installed from wall-to-wall.  The bench is about two feet deep, so that as I build in more specific wall storage, I will be able to easily grab whatever tools or supplies I need.  

The bench is supported underneath by strips of wood along the walls that I caulked and painted to blend in with the wall, as well as in the front by two pipes and four fittings from Home Depot.  At the store I learned that yes, they do charge per cut on pipe-ugh!  

I am lucky to have people in my family who weld, as my dad was actually the one who put the shelf up top together for me from half-inch square steel rod.  The whole time he reminded me that I could be welding the shelf together myself..."it's easy," but explained that for the sake of time and getting the project done, he didn't mind doing it.  (I didn't mind either, as I haven't ever welded more than one ugly blob on the back of a sculpture, and that was over ten years ago.)  He's right though--I should get on that, so I can start doing some of this bigger metal stuff myself.  Next time...

This area looks sooo much cleaner in this picture, from when I first set up the bench and hadn't yet unpacked all my tools and projects.  It was great for finishing up Christmas presents for my sisters, and I like being able to leave a project in process on this side of the bench while I move back and forth with work on the other side, where my computer's currently set up.  

Some rotary bits, solder, books and goggles, ready to go.  

I've been getting used to another new tool on my bench for the past couple of days--a Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter--and have been using it to test out some ideas and possibilities.  This is an image I cut out for one of my sisters whose into insects.  I am thinking about some light fixture ideas, it's just pinned up here cuz I thought it looked kind of neat.  Some other things I am thinking might happen with this machine....etching resist w/ vinyl on copper (lamps? jewelry?) stencils for monoprints and screenprints...template and parts cutting for student projects (save my hands from scissor cramps and x-acto disasters-heck, yes!)

I also made a basic cuttable file for a tunnel book that includes scored sides for accordion folding.  I am thinking it could be good in the future if I have an older class, but I could probably modify it for younger students, too...there are possibilities.  I put together a quick demo of the idea below.  

I think this could be a good way to reinforce background, middle ground, and foreground, as well perspective, possibly value, using collage and drawing.  I have seen examples around the internet that focus on haiku and storytelling, so that would be a great use for this project.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sideboard Saved

After selling the hutch that was in our kitchen when we moved here, I searched Craigslist and consignment shops for a long time, looking for a piece to go along a big wall in our eat-in kitchen. Finally, I found one with potential for just over $100. 

The buffet was made of mahogany by the Drexel furniture company sometime in the 1930s-1940s. I know mahogany is a great thing to find and refinish, but this piece had some serious dents and scratches all over the place. Since it was solidly built, though, I thought it might have some potential.

I left the thrift shop tchotchkes behind and took the buffet home to begin the repairs. I removed the hardware, filled dings and scratches and gave these areas a light sanding before applying the Stix primer. I had half a quart left from a family project, saving me money, and it also kept me from having to sand the entire piece before painting. 

While the Stix coat dried, I worked on salvaging the hardware. I did a magnet test to find out if it was plated or solid (solid-yay!) and then mixed up a batch of vinegar, hot water, and salt to remove some of the gunk. This solution is actually what I use for cleaning my silver jewelry after soldering, and I like it because I always have it on hand. 

I left the handles in the pickle solution for about 45 minutes, and took pieces out one-by-one for a final scrub with Barkeeper's Friend and an old toothbrush. While it was really good at removing the black gunk, the pickle also pulled the copper color to the surface of the brass and gave it a bit of a pink tinge. The scouring powder and toothbrush took care of this, and I was left with a warm glow on all of the pieces. Yes, it was time-consuming, but I love how they came out. 

I gave each piece a quick wipe with some Pledge, which is actually a pretty hard wax. I am hoping that it will keep these looking good at least a little longer than they would otherwise. 

I wanted a very matte finish on this sideboard, but I was hesitant to go the chalk paint route, because of the waxing/buffing step and questions about the durability of these products. After talking to the owners of my local Benjamin Moore store, I came up with an alternative that I think worked out pretty well in the end.  In the past I've used Benjamin Moore's Advance line that I've used for furniture, but I thought Advance was just a little too shiny, even in satin.  

Instead of a regular-finish paint or something fancy like Advance, I just stuck with a Fresh Start primer tinted to the color I wanted-a soft grey without any odd undertones. I brushed on two coats of the grey Fresh Start and let it dry.  Lastly, I followed this up with two coats of Benwood Acrylic Polyurethane in "flat" finish, using a small, foam roller. The final product seems like it will hold up well, and the finish is very warm and soft looking, not shiny, but not dull, either. 

I'm not quite sure what to do next as far as a runner, lamp, etc. to go on top of the buffet, but I like how the painting above also has a lot of blues and grey tones in it as well.  

From start to finish, this was a worthwhile project, despite the elbow grease and time required. The buffet was $110, and paint/supplies were another $50, but I don't think I could get something like this for that price anywhere else.  Come to think of it, since I sold the previous hutch for $150, I am actually only out $10 if I factor this into my project costs/totals! That is nuts...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Peacock Pottery

My clay class worked on painting and finishing up their peacock bowls last night. (We said they were "peacock-inspired" or "magical peacocks" because we didn't use real peacock feathers...). This lesson was prompted by a link I found on Pinterest to this site: Peacock Palooza Mixed Mediahowever, I am not sure if it's the original source or not-there weren't any steps or details.  

After making a basic pinchpot, students added and shaped the bird heads and made holes around the back to later hold feathers. They worked on making them as smooth as possible so the painting process would be easier.  Once fired in the bisque kiln, the pots were painted with black, green or violet acrylic paint, and sparkly details were added with metallic paint. Kids then got to hunt and dig for their favorite feather combinations. A dot of glue held each feather in place once the final feathery composition had been arranged. 

This one has a feathered crown. 

We brainstormed some ideas about what we could put in our bowls....bracelets, barrettes, rings and well as what NOT to keep in our bird bowls (food and candles-stay away!)

All the birds, tucked in to roost!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bedside Table Goes Green

This is a wrap-up on how my bedside table turned out, after having the piece on my to-do list for pretty much a year.

After many struggles, gobs of goo, and a broken bottom shelf, it started to look like the end was in sight.

I replaced the broken wood, and filled the cracks with wood filler, before giving it a darker final coat of "primer" (in this case, leftover "Newburyport Blue" flat wall paint, mixed with white primer.  

This, I think, could very well be referred to as this tables "ugly duckling" phase.  It's gotta get bad before it can get better, right?  Oouffff.....

The table and I went indoors for the glossy green coat--Benjamin Moore's Advance Water-based paint in "Celtic Green."  Then I added a knob from Anthropologie that is pretty sweet--made from a geode!  It looks soooo much prettier in person, too--the outside has swirls of blue and the same green that's in the table, and the center is cloudy, purply-grey quartz.

It was dark out by the time the table was dry (and unstinky) enough to put upstairs next to the bed, so lighting was a struggle.  I topped it with the piece of glass my friend had gotten cut to fit the table many years ago.  It's nice to know that I won't have to worry about the tabletop getting scratched by my books, phone, etc. every night.