Friday, August 31, 2012

circuits and other meltdowns

It is a good thing that the circuits for the kiln were replaced along with those for the kitchen because they were both melting with the rubber panel behind them. The electrician reconfigured the circuit board and the kiln repair was completed on Tuesday. We tested the kiln up to 1100 degrees to make sure the circuit didn't trip but I have yet to run the kiln all the way up. The circuit was still heating up even at that point so I'll be sure to be home when it runs!  I am moving along with my glazing and writing my critical theory paper due tomorrow. The rebuilt large abstract work is nearly dry. The swan is in for its third firing. The mirrors and woodwork for its base are cut and just need assembling.

melted circuit board
On a sad note, I had to have my cat put to sleep last night. I waver between tears and knowing it was the right thing to do. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer on August 8th and was really struggling. He was with us 17 of his 18 years as the kids grew up. It is hard to stay focused. This Labor Day weekend will be all about labor as I try to get my work finished before meeting with my mentor mid week.
Zenith, RIP

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Piece rebuilt & kiln issues

Nearly two weeks later (while moving the swan along), I've rebuilt the piece that was destroyed. It is larger than the last one and has a few additional separate pieces. One extends down the center, one will suspend off the side, and another mounts upward on a rod. The piano wires will be attached after firing with green plastic fittings. It is 14" diameter by 24" high.

A new controller for my kiln was installed yesterday but unfortunately it is still tripping the circuit breaker. I just hope it can be fixed without too much more expense and be up and running this week. I've arranged to have my smaller kiln re-wired so it can also be hooked up to the same digital controller. This will be such an improvement over the manual switches!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Color on swan

Under glaze color finished; ready for bisque fire. Designing wall mount.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bound Swan

Today, I finished hand building the tied up inflatable swan. It is 15"l x 12"d x 7"h and will be mounted from the wall on a puddle shaped sconce (still to be created).

swan & model, head
swan & model, tail
After the kiln was unloaded, I started it back up and found the hold setting not functioning. It continued to climb over 500 degrees in one hour and obviously had malfunctioned, which explains why my work blew up.  The pile of pots had much thinner walls and survived. It remains to be re-fired; with luck, I'll be able to reconstruct the parts. Since the ramping feature on the kiln was primitive, I'm having a digital wall controller installed which I hope will have the capability to also run my mid sized kiln (which is currently manual).  This may not be possible because it runs off four wires instead of three.  I'll have to wait at least a week for the kiln to be back up and running. Sometime down the road, I'll have to have the lid repaired as well; rust flakes fall down and melt into the glaze.  Buying a new kiln is out of the question right now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

lost piece!

I just opened the kiln that miss fired and found my large figure had blown up.

Monday, August 13, 2012

pedistal sketches & kiln trouble

These are the sketches I've drafted of pedestals for two current pieces. I've sent them off for bids at a couple of places and will contact some other welders. 

The large kiln was loaded with the first two pieces (squashed pots and figurative form) but I fired off the third piece in the smaller kiln yesterday first because I'd be home during the day to turn up the switches. My large kiln has a electronic ramp; nothing like the new digital kilns which gives more control, but at least I don't have to be there to turn it up. Even though it has been triple digit temperatures for days, I candled the kiln over night and set it to ramp up this morning. Maybe that wasn't the best idea. At noon, after a couple hours of work in the studio I noticed the kiln had quietly stopped running. The circuit had tripped at 1040 degrees so I reset it and left to teach a couple of classes. When I returned 5 hours later, it was 100 degrees in the studio and the kiln had just shut off again. It had only gained 50 degrees all that time.  There is obviously something wrong!  I tried resetting the breaker but after 45 minutes, even though it was running, the internal temperature had dropped 50 degrees.  Hopefully it can be fixed soon.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Next piece

This piece will be suspended on the rod like a vagabond's pack.
Last Wednesday was the first meeting with mentor Jann Nunn at her Oakland studio.  Since my work was still "green" and fragile, I wasn't able to transport it. We looked at some artists' work on-line she had pulled together, and discussed issues I am concerned with.  Even though it feels like I am continuing in several directions at once, there are things I feel that are necessary to resolve in order to move forward. So far, I have created one large pile of squashed pots and two figurative pieces. Next I will be pursuing the bound swan. Beneath it all, and an important element I need to address, is the presentation of the work: how can I display the work so the pedestal is seen as integral to the piece?

Yesterday I purchased some clear lucite discs and tubes (to the tune of $96) which I put together as stands for two of last semester orbs.  They really seem to hover now; a technique I may use for future presentation.  For the works in progress, I have done some loose sketches which will be firmed up and given to a metal worker to fabricate some cage like pedestals. I've built the newest piece on a board propped at an angle so the figure appears to be going uphill.  I brought the large mass of squashed pots to Sacramento to be bisque fired yesterday but while trying to load it in the kiln, it came apart in sections (the pots probably shifted during transport) so the form eventually was narrow enough to fire in my kiln. Back it went, saving me the $90 firing fee.  I just hope I can get it back together properly! My first two pieces are loaded in the kiln and are air drying. It can't be rushed because I'll encounter cracking and they'll explode if the thick walls are not dry first. The triple digit temperatures were are having should help move them along although I don't look forward to starting up the kiln!

Also in the past week I squeezed in a trip to Santa Barbara and LA to help my partner with his parents and to go to the Getty to see Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages. I can't say that I found the exhibit enlightening. Although I studied a 14th century manuscript for my senior thesis at Yale, I was surprised at how miniscule most of the illuminations were. The most engaging show was on Messerschmidt and his impact on contemporary artists  There was a fantastic Tony Cragg sculpture and terrific works by Tony Bevan.

Yesterday I learned that my dear cat that I've had for 17 of his 18 years has stomach cancer.