Monday, February 24, 2014

The Art of Film

It is that time of year again, the Sedona Film Festival happening in my hometown. Here I am in my  shirt  from years past.
This is their 20th anniversary.
 I have been here all those years. I used to volunteer dating back to the days when we only got to preview the movies at 8 am. Now that is true love of film and a limited budget! I kind of miss the good old days when I worked together with all my buddies.Things change. Now I pay my money and stand in line with all the other film aficionados.I have seen four performances thus far. Only Le Weekend impressed me. Film as an interpretation of life, or why do people hurt the ones they love? Sadly, I see that often enough around me.
Film is such an interesting art. I dabbled in theater at Northwestern. I graduated from  UCLA, located in the land of film. Living in Venice Beach for many years, I always saw stars, or lived next door to them. But we were cool, so we ignored them. Much as I take a lump of clay and transform it into my piece of fantasy, so can these actors take us with them to another place. Film, yet another creative art form.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gems and Minerals and Jewelry

Here I am at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show last week. I create and sell jewelry  myself. Making my own beads from porcelain clay, I then stain them in a blue, green, or brown oxide.When high fired they are strong and durable. I string them with chips  of crystal, and some type of Arizona bead for spacers. Long necklaces and short; bracelets; and earrings make up my  line I call "Jewels". That gives me a good reason to head down to the fantasy world of the Tucson Gem Show in February. People come to buy and sell from all over the world. 
I remember back in the 1970's when I first visited. Then it was all focused in the Convention Center. Now the whole town has venues. To get inside the tents takes a resale license. Other outdoor booths will take anyone's funds. It is a rush to find those good deals that will make my jewelry glow. Of course, buying a bauble or two for myself is to be expected. Temptation abounds! This picture below really shows off the richness and sparkle that were present at this show.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Unloading the kiln

Here it is! The magic is revealed as I unload the kiln. The end result of a month or more of hard work. This is a photo of the second shelf down. The posts  you see with the holes are called the furniture, on which the shelves rest.
My heart always beats faster at this moment. Will there be success? Are the colors what I wanted? Are there any flaws that will make it not refined enough to sell in the gallery?  I do everything my experience teaches me  to insure the best results. I like what I see here.
 However, there is always the element of chance in high fire ceramics. The clay is a large factor. Is there a hidden weakness that will result in a crack? Then there is the application of glaze. Did I put on the right consistency? Did I rub too hard at a drip and leave that spot bare? An important  question is whether or not the kiln gods are smiling that day. Yes, we  clay artists are superstitious folk.  I did have an unexpected crack. I can live with that. It is a good firing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

High Fire in my Kiln

Today is an exciting day. This is what my kiln looks like when  still red hot. It is full of glazed pots that have been firing for many hours. My kiln is an older model, electric, not a computerized model like is currently used.I am in charge of how I choose to fire. 
I  use a high fire porcelain clay body, which has a smooth surface after glazing with my choice of turquoise, blue, or clear glaze. This is my second, and final, firing.
The  first firing, called the bisque, makes it dry and hard enough, or vitrified, to apply the colorant.Some shrinkage occurs.There is still some porosity, hence it can absorb the glaze.Once it is in that form, I can dip each pot into the liquid glaze, containing various chemicals and oxides.Their melting point is a temperature of 2236 F. At that point, there is a small triangle, called a cone, resting on a sensor rod.When it melts, the lever falls, the kiln shuts itself off. The results will result from my skills, and the luck of the kiln gods.
I will leave it alone overnight. Slowly I will pull out the white peeps in front, crack the lid, and bring it to room temperature. Finally, I will see my results...