Face off

Mar. 17th, 2019 01:47 pm
offcntr: (rainyday)
Yesterday was a struggle. After building the head, one piece at a time, I couldn't get it right. Cut the front of the face off twice to rebuild, put on the muzzle, then cut the whole head off and shortened the neck an inch. And it still didn't look right.

I finally put on the ears, threw plastic on it, and called it good. But I also wedged up some more clay and rolled out an extra slab, just in case.

Today I came back rested, and with new eyes, and realized that, though the cranium was all right, the face was still too long, and the muzzle way oversized. I cut the whole face off, shortened it by half an inch, paddled new slab into place and sculpted a smaller, correctly tapered muzzle. The last thing I did was trim a half inch off the circumference of the ears, reshape and roll the edge. And I think I've got it right, finally.

Sorry for the dearth of process photos. As I got more and more stressed, I forgot to take pictures, and by the end of the day, I just wasn't happy with what I'd finished. (Hence the radical face-ectomy today.) I'm much happier with today's progress; think I'm gonna clean up the studio and do some simple, repetitive production throwing tomorrow.

The end?
offcntr: (live 2)
Made a lot of progress today, after a fairly rocky start yesterday. I wound up recycling the whole first batch of slabs, because they were too thin to hold their weight. Made legs from thicker slab, then left them and some slab to set up overnight. Today I face the prospect of figuring out how to put them together.

In the past, when I've made quadrupeds (both elephants, as I recall), I've build the torso, let it stiffen, then attached legs and flip it onto its feet. Couldn't do that here, since I'd built the legs first, so I connected the hind legs together with a belly slab, did something similar with the front legs, then linked them together. Afterwards, it was a matter of adding shaped pieces, one at a time, to define the fairly complex curve of back, hips and shoulders. I'm using another roulette for texture, this one a fairly coarse hair pattern that works very well at hiding seams and paddling.

A pretty good day two. Wrapped the neck in a produce bag and threw plastic over the whole thing for the night.

offcntr: (live 1)
Starting a new slab project in the studio this week, a sculpture for Ceramic Showcase next month.

What do you suppose it will be?

Oh, all right. It's another bear.

Cry wolf

Mar. 14th, 2019 01:11 pm
offcntr: (live 2)

Linda Williams is a colleague at Club Mud who builds beautiful wall-mounted face-vases. Beautifully serene humans, cats in several sizes, even a grizzly bear, pressed from slab into molds she's made from her original sculptures. This year, she's adding some canines: a coyote, and this rather enormous grey wolf, here in its first pressing.
offcntr: (rocket)

It's a bear! Of course, it's a bear. What do you expect in this family? In this case, it's a baby present for a potter from my studio who should be delivering any minute now...
offcntr: (rocket)
Somebody is getting the stuffing knocked into them.

Maybe it's a turducken?


Mar. 12th, 2019 09:34 pm
offcntr: (Default)
My new Envirovent arrived Friday afternoon; all shiny and new and... uncorroded. Isn't it pretty?

It took most of Sunday afternoon, and a good bit of Monday to install. First I had to patch the holes in the bottom slab, then drill new holes, in a different diameter and configuration. Then I had to mount the fan on the wall, where I discovered that the old vent used 4" ducting, and the new one only 3", so I had to scrounge up some insulation to pack around the pipe, and I still need to jury-rig a collar and vent hood on the outside of the wall to keep the fiberglass in.
patches to patchesdrill makes dust

After that, it was a matter of connecting the bits. Screwing the hose clamps tight, to connect the dryer duct to the fan, and to the "plenum cup" that goes under the kiln. Threading the spring onto the monopod and the pod into the cup and then--the hardest part--lining the darn thing up so it's tight against the bottom of the kiln, right in the middle, where the new holes are drilled.

After that, it's just reassembling the kiln, stacking and aligning the rings, latching them tight, putting the circuit box back on and connecting the wiring. (One of the trickier bits, as these first-generation computer kilns aren't as well designed. I had to figure out how to stuff three thick wire leads into a screw block designed for at most two. Took sleeping on the problem to realize the trick is to untwist the twisted wire leads, making it easier to pack them into the crowded space.)

Lastly, reattach the lid, put in the peephole plugs, and test the fan. Which you do by turning it on, then putting a lighter next to each of the holes in the lid and watching the flame get sucking into the kiln. Which it did. Success! And I'm no longer tripping over kiln parts in the middle of my studio.

Inside out

Mar. 12th, 2019 12:02 pm
offcntr: (rocket)
More pictures from my mystery project. Still not sure what to make of it. Seems... twisted?

What do you think?

offcntr: (rocket)
nor mice
This is not a mouse.  Though the cat doesn't believe me. She keeps trying to steal them.

What do you suppose they are?
offcntr: (rocket)

It's a severed head!

(Hint: It's not a severed head.)

The mystery deepens...

Show time

Mar. 9th, 2019 03:10 pm
offcntr: (live 1)
My friend Shelly has a show!

It's called Singing the Animal, Singing the Earth, and it's at Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 E. 15th Ave., Eugene through March 22. Featured are drawings and sculptures by Chris St. John, as well as her brilliant animal sculptures, including this happy boi!

Stage two

Mar. 9th, 2019 02:56 pm
offcntr: (rocket)
the pot thickens
Mystery project, stage two. Looks like jammies to me.

All set

Mar. 8th, 2019 01:57 pm
offcntr: (Default)
Finished setting up the (snow-delayed) Club Mud Studio Sale. One-of-a-kind, demo, clearance and slightly seconds pottery, at tremendously accessible prices.

The sale is open from 9 am to 4 pm Saturday, March 9, 2019 at Club Mud, 1910 E. 15th Avenue, behind the Maude Kerns Art Center, in Eugene.
offcntr: (Default)
Just shipped off this special order.

Who's a good boy then? Who?

You are!
offcntr: (rocket)
Working on a new construction. It appears to be... a slab piece? We'll have to see what develops.
offcntr: (Default)
I was recently asked by a member of the Art Center board whether I could help with a restoration. A wonderfully wonky mixed-media sculpture from 1982 had turned up in deep storage, somewhat the worse for wear. It needed a little wood restoration, which is outside my skill set, but also had about five ceramic bits--two hemispheres and three flanges--that were broken or missing, and another hemisphere that had come off, but looked like it just needed to be re-glued.

The original work sculptors had been woodworkers, I think, so they'd turned all the parts in wood, then made molds to cast the ceramics. Fred asked if I knew any wood-turners at Market who could make the molds, and I pointed out that it would probably be just as easy to fabricate the pieces on the wheel. Which is how I spent most of Monday morning (before the power failed) while firing my kiln in a snow storm.

The hemispheres were simplest. Open the clay down to the wheel-head, pull up and in, collar and narrow the top until it closes, not unlike how I throw cat banks and salt/pepper shakers. The tricky parts is getting the dimensions right, but I sacrificed a plastic binder cover to make templates, and used a pair of calipers to check dimensions. I had less shrinkage to deal with, because I'm using white earthenware (necessary to get the proper glaze colors), and since there's no shrinkage between dry and glaze fired, I can actually adjust measurements by sanding if necessary.
enough, including spares
The flanges were a little trickier. Center the clay, open again down to the wheel head, spread the clay out. At the correct width, split the clay, with some coming up to form a short cylinder, the rest moving out to make a flat skirt. Again, check measurements with calipers for diameter, ruler for height, and template to set the curved transition. Made three to cut six, and used a fourth, unsuccessful attempt to calculate shrinkage (Marking a six-inch span that I'll then measure at leather hard.)

I created a template on the computer to show me where to cut down the thrown pieces, sized using the shrinkage from above. I centered each piece, using the bulls-eye circles on the template, and using a combination of eye-balling and ruler, and a very sharp fettling knife, I cut six half-square flanges out of the three originals. Now it's time to dry, while I chip out broken bits and compare glaze samples. I'll be using commercial glazes from Georgies, I think, rather than trying to mix my own.
offcntr: (Default)
Or doesn't, actually.

This is a first-generation Skutt Envirovent. It mounts on the bottom of the kiln, draws out sulfur dioxide and other nasties as they burn out of the clay during firing, sends them through aluminum dryer venting to the outside. Mine came, used, with the also-used kiln I bought last year.

It worked, kinda. I mean, there was still some sulfur smell, so I tended not to work in the studio while firing. Also, it was really noisy. This last firing, the noise quotient jumped substantially, and it began to vibrate so badly that it shook one of the peephole plugs out onto the floor, where it broke. I had to shut it down for the rest of the firing.

On Tuesday, I dismantled the kiln to get at the vent, then removed the squirrel-cage fan from its mounting. And found this.

For one thing, a good third of the fan vanes are missing. Just broken off and gone. I suspect that's why the thing was always so noisy and underpowered. I think it was broken when I got it. What made the vibration worse was that the cast-metal mount that holds the motor to the fan housing has also broken in two places, so the whole thing rocks and wobbles.

In theory, it's an easy fix, if I can get the parts. Take off the fan wheel and replace. Repair the mounting with some JB Weld (a metallized epoxy used in engine rebuilds). Put it back together and away we go.

Except. One of the disadvantages of this design, which Skutt addressed in Envirovent 2, is that the fan is constantly exposed to hot, corrosive gasses. (Water vapor plus sulfur dioxide yields sulfuric acid.) The hex nut set screw holding the fan in place is corroded to the point that no key will fit it, and the angle is completely wrong for drilling out the the nut or using a screw puller. Even if I could get the set screw out, I suspect the whole hub is welded onto the shaft. I can't think of any way I can get them apart that doesn't involve cutting off the shaft, which would render the motor unusable.

It's frustrating, because everything else about it is fine. The mounting plate and aeration box is stainless steel, and in fine shape. The elbow is heavy-duty cast aluminum, the exit duct stainless as well (and tough, to boot, it took a lot of banging to get the dents out of it when I bought it). The motor runs fine. It's just the bits closest to the kiln that are shot. (The newer design mounts the fan on the wall and runs a duct to the kiln. Presumably for just this reason.)

I hate to admit it, but I don't think this is fixable. I've put in an order for a new EV 2 with Georgies; weather permitting, it'll be on the truck from Portland next week. $491 just went out the vent-hole, and the studio is closed until then, as the kiln is sitting in inverse order, in a stack in the middle of the floor.

ETA: Well, it wasn't broke when I bought it. When I picked up the piping to take it outside, a whole bunch of little vanes and a lot of rust fell out onto the floor. So still very broken now.


Feb. 26th, 2019 08:07 am
offcntr: (berto)

Well, the power went out around 11:30, wasn't restored until after 4:30. Didn't affect the firing--the kiln is natural-draft--but it did kinda limit what I could do to pass the time meanwhile, mostly because the Art Center WiFi went down with it, and I can only sit in a folding chair and read for so long.

So I shoveled their sidewalk and handicapped ramp, squelched around the neighborhood, and made the acquaintance of this fine fellow, who was quite sad to find the gallery closed.
offcntr: (berto)
This is the view from the courtyard doorway at Club Mud right now.

I'd say I'm here at least until the kiln is done firing. Possibly longer...


Feb. 25th, 2019 07:04 am
offcntr: (berto)
Finished loading the big glaze kiln yesterday afternoon around 3 pm, grateful to be indoors, as it was bucketing down rain outside, some of it running in to flood the south edge of the kiln room floor. (Fortunately, all the kiln shelves are up off the floor on cafeteria trays, so stay dry.)

By 8:30 pm, when I came back to light the burners, the rain was mixed with sleet, nasty, cold and wet. Wasn't too worried, though; the weather online said it'd turn to rain, tapering off around 7 am.

Woke up a little after 3 am to use the bathroom, and this was my view out the kitchen window.

That's a good four inches of snow down, more coming, fat, wet flakes.

We'd planned on me taking the van down to fire, as Denise needed the car for a meeting later today. Immediate change of plans. The car has four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes; the van, not so much. I tossed and turned for about half an hour, decided I wasn't getting back to sleep, so rolled out again at around 4 am. Swept off the car, loaded up, and headed out. Slowly.

Surprisingly, River Road was actually plowed, up to the city limits (about two blocks south of our driveway). Didn't know Eugene even had snowplows, but saw the trucks coming up the northbound side as I turned onto Beltline. Beltline wasn't bad, though I kept it under 40; Delta Highway was much worse, so I came off at Sixth Street rather than continuing on to Coburg Road. Probably a good idea, though between snow and construction, the off-ramp was a definite challenge. One lane was cleared on Sixth, possibly by the EmX bus; Franklin was rather better, though Villard and 15th were ruts in snow, and I made the first tracks across the Maude Kerns parking lot.

It was 4:45 when I finally got here, to nice orange heat in the kiln. Had body reduction around 6:15, and the firing seems to be tootling along nicely. Also? As of 7:30, I measured six inches of snow on top of the kiln yard fence, and it's still snowing. Good thing I brought extra fruit and granola bars. I'm not going anywhere.

ETA: Aaand then it slowed down. Cones 04 and 1 dropped in good order, but it took forever to get to cone 4, even longer to 8. But the top and bottom stayed even, so I was reluctant to mess with it. Finally got cone 10 at 7:45 pm. Went home, had supper, and went straight to bed.

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