"the artist has one function--to affirm and glorify life."
- w. edward brown

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Its done!!!

I opened the kiln this morning and I was so happy with the results! I had glazed a lot of my work because the intro students hadn't and we needed more work for a full firing, so I had the majority of my work in this firing.

My stuff came out so well, I cannot even describe it! I didn't sleep well last night because I was nervous and excited, but this morning, I was so relieved... It actually was amazing, and I was highly complimented by my prof for both my work and my time spent doing the firing...

Now all I have really is some final projects in my drawing class, a paper to finish for Modernism Art History, and Exams to study for... oh, and my BFA review... I'm a little nervous about that, but I should be alright. Hopefully...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Almost there!

Well, its 6:30 and the kiln is finally up to about 2500 degrees! That means, soon, the firing will be over!

Well, at least the kiln pyrometer reads 2500, but its old and off by about 300 degrees, so its getting there.
At least cone 8, the physical temperature gauge we use in the kiln itself, is starting to melt and arc over... yeah lots of technical stuff, but its fun.

And I got a lot of homework done during my times when I wasn't burning myself... yeah I really did that too. Not too big, but about a dime sized spot on my arm where I accidentally toutched a spy hole plug (glowing red mind you) against my forearm (and it wasn't on purpose either, completely accidental... guess I'm a clutz). Not my brightest moment, but it woke me up real fast and caused me to focus extra hard. Good thing we have a first aid kit down here.

But I'm alright and its almost light! Have a great day

Kiln fun

Well, It's late and I'm alone in the art basement... and the kiln is still on and getting hotter, which is good.

I've turned up the heat on it, actually turned the pressure up, allowing more gas to get to the burners, making it get hotter, and I have closed the flue a little bit, so that the reduction starts. What that means is that the gas dosen't all burn in the kiln because I'm reducing the amount of oxygen that is able to enter the kiln, and because of that, the gas has to get the oxygen from somewere to combust, so it begins to take it from the compounds in the glazes and in the cly body, causing different compounds to form than would in a oxidation firing, where the oxygen is left free...

needless to say, its pretty complicated chemistry that's happening... but its really cool to understand the reactions and stuff...

So while I sit and monitor the kiln and make sure everything is staying where it should, as it tends o fluctuate a little at this stage, I am getting some homework done. Lots of fun stuff happening... I'l be sure to let you all know how it goes. hopefully there will be some good pieces in this firing!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fun times in the Ceramics Studio

Ok, well, now that my anger at the clay has subsided, and it seems to be doing things that I want it to, I thought I'd post again about that part of my life which is overwhelming, the Ceramics Studio.

After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Tim and Pat's, the food was excellent as was the company, and a nice relaxing evening, Friday morning came around, and I knew that I was going to need to head back to the studio to get back to work.
So after clearing the driveway with Dan and Mike, and engaging in a little snow combat, Mike was kind enough to drive me back to Calvin where I could recommence the studio stuff.

I spent Friday afternoon finishing glazing my work and prepping kiln equipment for the stacking that was to begin on Saturday. O ground down some shelves, applied kiln wash to the shelves (that keeps work from fusing to the shelves if a glaze runs) and sorting the work by height.

After that, I went home, ate some dinner and went to bed... Exciting night, no?

On Saturday, I was back in the Studio, and was working on my own pieces, and when Prof. Greidanus came in we stacked the kiln together, as it is a huge job for one person. The two of us got everything stacked and placed correctly by 4:00 pm and at that point I was really tired... kiln shelves are extremely heavy by the way, and awkward to place. Not easy work, rather strenuous actually...

An then today, after going to church this morning, I met with Professor Greidanus at the Studio at 1:00 pm and we ignited the burners, and while a little nerve wracking, as it is a lot of gas in those pipes and a little daunting when you think about all the work in the kiln, everything went smoothly and the kiln is now firing nicely.

Now comes the fun part, tonight, late or rather early tomorrow morning I get to go in and turn up the gas, start the reduction and monitor the firing... this is all extremely exciting, and kinda cool to have this responsibility... needless to say I'm stoked!

So, for now, I'm finishing papers, working on HW for tomorrow, and getting ready for tonight. I may take a nap later, to have some energy for the early hours.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I hate clay (no I don't)

I hate what happens when you literally spend two months working on a ceramic sculpture, working on making it look good, making it look nice, taking the time drying it out slowly, fixing issues that come up when it dries, only to have it crack up the side in the kiln...
I'm rather furious right now... at myself, at the clay, at the stupid sculpture...
But, I may be able to work on fixing it, maybe I can epoxy it together, but I'm not too sure, I think it may be beyond help... I want to throw it out... but it was so good!!! ARRGH!!!

Now, I have the joy of instead of needing to finish two sculptures for my final review this semester (not to mention my drawing final projects), I need to add at least one more on there so I'll have enough work for my review... I think I'm going to bring a pillow and sleep in the ceramic studio tonight, at least, work till I can't stay awake and then fall asleep and wake up for class tomorrow morning... It looks like I'm doing an allnighter in the Art Department... thankfully it's Thanksgiving soon.

But the kicker is that on Friday, I need to get back to Calvin, no rest for the weary, and load the big gas kiln and fire it... oh the joy of holiday weekend working!

And yet, deep down, it really is a blast working in the studio and firing the kilns... and I do love the clay, except when it's not doing what I want.

Oddly enough, only ceramists have this problem, what other media, when they've 'finished' a work do they put it in a fire where it can explode, and then glaze it where it can ruin the surface, and then put it in a hotter fire where it can stick to the kiln shelves, explode, be hit by another exploding piece... I'm crazy to think that I will be doing this for the rest of my life...

Ok, that was an emotional and frustration load that I kinda just puked up... eww, puke.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Ok, so I'm up early, and I'm ready to go to the studio. As this is on the downward slope towards Christmas, I have lots to do and never enough time. But my Northern Renaissance paper on Albrecht Durer is done, and I'm feeling good about that. So now its off to produce work....
I hope nobody gets a case of the Mondays today!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


If there was such a thing as Art Trivial Pursuit, I think I could kick its game board butt... no joke. Maybe I'll make this version...

Here would be some questions:
1) In traditional Western iconography, which saint is shown by a wheel?
- Why that would be St. Catherine, as she was to be martyred on a spiked wheel, but when she touched it, it fell apart... she was then beheaded.

2) Name at least 4 of the items associated with the Passion of Christ that are shown in Western Christian art.
- Why those would be the scourge (aka. whip), the cross, the nails, the hammer, the pliers that pulled the nails out, the sponge, the lance, the plaque on the cross... that's about it.

3) Which artist/engraver made self-portraits that depicted himself as Christ in such ways that papers written about said images would be extremely difficult to write and confusing conclusions would be drawn about said images?
- Right, that's Albrecht Durer... and my paper is still not finished.

better late than never...

Ok, so since the entire family is blogging, and I'm kinda out of the loop, here it is, the Blog of Bob... just don't expect too much, I do have exams and BFA reviews coming up, but I'll do my best...

Right now, I'm taking a break from typing a paper on Albrecht Durer and one of his self portraits depicting himself as Christ....

The difficulty I'm having is deciding how to discuss this issue. Is this really a very heretical thing that should not be done? Or rather is it a pious attempt to understand what Christ was going through?

Anyway, I hope the paper sounds decent...
And its almost Thanksgiving!! Yeah for a short week of classes!!