Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rebirth of a Studio Companion






In October of 2007 I was doing one of the last firings in my Paragon Kiln for the upcoming Open Studios Show. The kiln was full of glazed bas-relief tiles and I because the glazes that I had been experimenting with were more interesting at higher temperatures, I decided to let the kiln "soak" after it reached my customary temperature. (A soak is when you hold the kiln at a certain temperature without going higher so that the glazes or clay have an increased vitrification.) I maintained a temperature of 2200 degrees f. for twenty minutes.
The next day when I opened the lid, to my horror, I looked in at kiln shelves that had bent and sagged into each other. There were blobs of what were suppose to be tiles that looked like lava rocks full of bubbles. After removing the shelves and the contents, I checked for further damage to the kiln. Four of the five elements would not turn on because they had broken.
I bought the Paragon Kiln in 1972 and had used continually for 35 years. There was always a quality of the work that came out of this kiln that I could never seem to duplicate from the other two kilns that I had additionally acquired during that time.


During part of those 35 years, became known for my ceramic, cobalt glazed purple and white cows and I had fired so many of them in that kiln that the inside has developed a blue patina. From this kiln came 90% the artifacts for my Artifact Project.
I have three kilns and so I decided to use the other two and try to get new elements at some point for the Paragon Kiln later. I had also transitioned into producing bronze sculpture a few years before and was doing less ceramic sculpture.

Recently, I decided it was time to revive the Paragon Kiln and while checking the internet for element prices and repair, I came across a technique that someone described in which you heat the broken element with a butane torch and then while hot, twist the ends together. The elements become very brittle after years of use and the heat makes them flexible.

Well, I thought that it was worth a try and I repaired all four elements, testing them as I went. They all seemed to heat up fine. Yesterday was the true test as I decided to fire six artifacts. I opened the kiln this morning and there they were with that very particular cobalt blue that I can not seem to get in the other two kilns. I did some calculations and I also realized that the kiln had sat dormant for a little over 1000 days. So I welcome my special life-long studio companion back. I am sure that I will have to replace the elements soon, but for now, I get the predictable results that I have for so long depended upon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Datura Magic


The datura in the front garden had a tinge of violet around the outer inner part of the bud last night and I have not seen it this intense of a color before. I decided it would be a good night to photograph it opening. I have watched the datura bloom open many times before and it is something that leaves me transfixed.

The sequence from close spiral to open flower only takes about a half an hour. Even before it is open it begins to emit it's amazing scent which drifts in the evening air.

The open flower has ten points around the outside of the bloom. When studying the unopened bud one can see that the spiral is made up of five outer points and five inner points. The flower bud expands and the spiral unwinds until the inner points suddenly release their hold and the flower literally pops open and then one can see it slowly move as it continues to expand to full.

One of the most impressive elements of the bloom is the spiral. This shape is so familiar to us from nature in the form of shells, flowers, cactus spine arrangements, our milky way galaxy, our inner ear, and many more. The flower bud is upon first inspection a right handed spiral, but a closer look reveals that it makes a turn in the center and spirals back out. This type of configuration is known as a double spiral and has some symbolic significance which represents an evolution and then an involution, or a coming into being and then back out. A metaphor for life and death. But the most magical aspect of this datura blooming is that these five interlocking spiraling lines traveling in and then back out again are but a single circular line. The line around the edge of the flower. Amazing to think that it grew folded that way.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Room Without a View February 4, 2010


The Building is now as high as it is going to be and the crane
is coming down in a few days. This is a composite photo made
up of 43 images taken from my studio window.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Different Perspective


On Tuesday, January 12 at 3:30, I had the great opportunity of being invited by a friend of mine named Paul who has been working on the building across the street from my studio on Lawrence Street, to climb to the top of the crane with my camera. As I have watched the construction of this building when it started last January 2009, I was very intrigued as I saw how they put the crane together and I thought at the time how nice it would be to get to go to the top and take a panoramic photograph.

Paul and I climbed the crane at 3:30 in the afternoon a section at a time until we reached the top. I stood on the top platform and took 121 photos in sequence looking down and then up the horizion and then turning so that each photo overlapped, continued until I had turned 306 degrees. I wanted to get all of the skyline that I could, so I moved a bit to get my camera over and under parts of the crane knowing that this would cause some construction problems with the panorama. As you can see in the photo the crane is chopped apart a bit and there are a few floating pieces. I just left these, as I thought it was rather interesting. I would like one more try to photograph from this place and remain in the same spot. This way, the crane would be reconstructed in the completed panorama. I am using a program called AutoPanoPro and it took the computer almost two and a half hours to construct the Panorama. I then used Photoshop to touch up and remove a few things (there are always things that need to be corrected by hand).
On the same day, I took some other additional photos to show three dimension and I will be putting these together and posting them here later on. It was a very exhilarating experience
because of the height, and exposure and also to see my neighborhood from such a different perspective











Above is a photo of the my studio showing
the crane in the background. This photo was
taken in November, 2009.


I made it to the top and I must say that it made my legs skake a bit to look down.














Paul was nice enough to stay after work and accompany me to the top.
















Below is a second version of the same 121 photos. With the program AutoPano Pro, I have the option to choose what part of the spread I want to become the center. Notice the difference between this photo and the one at the top of this post.