Sculpted this during my stay at Ullevaal in Oslo this summer. The mold is a two piece, with ears cast separately and applied. Porcelain is a tough, inflexible clay to work, but it has nice properties when scrubbed during the glaze staining.
Last spring during a visit to NY I overshot my stop on a subway train in Queens. Since it was only one stop I decided not to bother with taking another train in the opposite direction, but rather just exit the station and walk back to my destination above ground. Before I left the platform, accidentally arrived at, I glimpsed this interesting view of intersecting rails, glinting under lightbulbs receding into the distance of the large, Manhattan-bound tunnel.
Small mistakes, such as not getting off the train in time, give new opportunities if you remain open to them.
Another nostalgic painting inspired by a photo of my father and grandfather, c. 1980. At that time we liked to camp at a place called "Dog Hill", which the family named unofficially. These names stuck naturally, probably getting sealed by a simple conversation, when grandpa, trying to clarify a spot he was discussing "You know, where we camped a few weeks ago with the dog."
The other great place to camp was "Rabbit Ridge", again named unofficially. That would have been named very long ago, but probably due to a similar exchange-- "You know, that ridge where the rabbit hunting is so good..." This area of the Wyoming high desert is so sparsely populated, even names are rare, requiring unofficial names to describe vast areas.
The trailer in the painting was my immediate family's, used very much during the 1970s. It was a 1950s Shasta, a classic. The interior woodwork of these trailers endears them to fans. The pickup camper on the left still exists, my uncle having used it as a hut when he built a cabin near Medicine Bow about 10 years ago. The last time I saw it one of the windows had blown out--shucks! The elements take their toll out there.
Canal Street was once a canal, filled in centuries ago. For a long time it has been a busy street of industrial shops and honking trucks, every inch of asphalt and grimy facade worn by no-nonse commerce. I soften the brooding street of dark edges with soft steam and a damp atmosphere.
The foreground is still, hardly a sign of life, the layup rail yard nearly empty of trains. Is it early in the morning, or late in the afternoon? The view is from the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens. The immense energy lies across the river, where the vanishing point of perspective points to midtown Manhattan. Yet more energy hovers above in the background, the heady clouds ready to congeal into a humid summer storm.
This, my most recent painting, shows a view of Broadway outside the Strand Bookstore. The Empire State Building looms above the angling, one way street.
8th Ave is awash in winter slush and the glaring light of Gray's Papaya, a shop known for its cheap, standing-room-only hotdogs. It's harder to find such places these days, real estate prices favoring corporate chains.
Beware of Dog
This fence, based on my old neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, would probably not hold a determined guard dog.
The lights of Harlem's Apollo Theater warm 125th Street. Up here the sky is larger, and crisper, as Autumn sets in.
Christmas lights adorn Little Italy, a famous, but very small neighborhood.
Coney Island Projection
If you see this from an angle you will see a portrait of a sideshow personality.
A bright patchwork of signage downtown.
A wild west mural festoons the side of a trash collection truck on its runs in the garment district. It is interesting to contrast the myth of the west, with its wide open space, with the closed-in urban windows in the background.
The Seven Line, an elevated train, runs out to Flushing, Queens. It's a very long ride, passing through dozens of countries, each stop marking a different ethnic neighborhood.
Radiator, a cup in a rough stage. I made a press mold of an individual segment, then press cast multiples, cementing them together in leatherhard stage.
It started as a work about the relationship between the circle and square, but has morphed into thoughts about radiating heat. It's a heck of a lot of work so far, and figuring out how to cast it (after it is smoothed out a lot) will prove a challenge.
Tor has recovered.
He has gone through three firings and one glazing. I'll put him through the rigors of the furnace one more time, I think, to glaze his eyes. His skin color glaze proved successful enough.
Last week he, Borgnine, and the Brain suffered a mishap regarding an expanding foam casting experiment. The whole thing was a disaster. The foam did not separate from the glassy surface, even though I sprayed with "Pam", the special grease product that I remember from childhood commercials, which I bought in Sweden in the "American Section."
Ceramics, or at least casting, involves moments of panic, followed by detachment and patience.
I spent quite a bit of time scraping off the foam from Bognine, to get him ready for the exhibition. The other two, I just put aside, thinking maybe I would just burn the foam off in a kiln firing. Then I got the answer: I just put them in the wood stove! noxious plastic foam carbonized in a few hours, burning away. I let them cool down within the stove, and no harm was done.
Round Moon, bisque
Cuneiform cup, original ripped from cast.
Together cup, a plaster draft. I wanted to make a Frankenstein Monster-type of cup, patched together with every means: twine, rubber, tape, staples and tacks.
The finished Borgnine Toothpick holder. The skin colored glaze recipe:
1 half transparent earthenware glaze to one half colored glazes, made with an equal blend of red, bordeaux, and metal brown. Eyebrows: sort metal. Used the same glaze on Tor.
border of thinness (cranium c. 5mm--maybe a bit extreme?)
stain: thin sort metal glaze, half normal to half water
sort metal pensel glasur on eyebrows was thinly applied to greenware before firing
two layers sort metal pensel glasur applied in two coats to bisque
plaster engraving for embossed stamp for press molded pieces
stained sort metal glaze dripped and wiped to greenware before firing.
This suffered ruination, typical to the process of ripping the original clay model from a two-pieced plaster mold. Nonetheless, it is interesting, a natural ruination that one would see in a real Olmec head, thousands of years old.
ripped-off layer reveals the additive process of making models from clay (as opposed to the preferred way of sculpting them from plaster.) Clay affords additive as well as subtractive sculpting. If something has to give when prizing apart the mold halves, the model breaks--preferable to the plaster mold, I think.
stain of half transparent/half bordeaux glaze was thickly dipped and wiped. hard to see color before firing.
Press-molded, two halves built.
When mold is wet after casting it, I like to press mold it to test it. It will take days for the mold to be dry enough for the slip casting process.
slip cast greenware--finally!
This casting is extremely thick, having sat overnight (no slip left to pour out!) I did this because I was so tired of wasting hours, ripping a too-thin and wet casting to pieces. It worked out--though obviously next time I need more patience, waiting a good several days for the plaster to dry and become porous enough to suck slip properly.
Accidental ruination behind the seam--somehow it looks natural. It was due to a mishap, when the plaster leaked into the other, nonexistent half of the mold. I managed to save the whole project by just pouring the second half later, the accidental plaster fuzing to the intentional mold half.
Press molded from two mold halves.
The shape of the cup might be conical enough for a one-piece drop mold--but the beans probably have too many undercuts even so. After the trials in the jungle of the Olmecs, I didn't want to press my luck, so I opted for a two-piece, with a built handle.
The other day I watched The Devil's Rain. I had not seen the film since it was in the cinemas, where I saw it as a boy when it came out in 1975. This ultimate of cult films (a B-movie both about a cult, and having a cult following), made an indelible impression on me during my single viewing of it, from the opening credits of Hieronymus Bosch details and infernal groans, to the ghastly and colorful finale.
The film is panned almost universally by critics and their laity alike. Yet it has an appealing cast: William Shatner (when he was a jobber, a journeyman wandering in the wilderness between the original Star Trek and the later films.) John Travolta, humorously, is touted in later marketing of the film, though at the time he was unknown, playing a mute, cameo-like role. And of course the jobbing actor of all time, Ernest Borgnine, makes the film, playing the leader of a Satanic cult, as well as the horned one himself, sporting makeup that would obliterate the visage of a lesser actor. Borgnine is always great. So versatile and pliable was he, able to play both sides of the spectrum, from saintly and humane, to the maniacal and deranged.