The Art of Steel in Kensington

I wrote last week about Wayne Cambern’s show at the Boston Street Gallery.   While I was there,  I got a tour of the building that houses the gallery and met the owners, Jeff Harris and his wife Maria who are artists themselves.

Jeff works in  wood and steel stock.  His massive sculptures fill half the gallery and his studio and workshop are in the rear.    The building itself has an interesting history.   Built in the 1880’s, it housed a coffee roasting factory that supplied the US armed forces during both world wars.  Kensington used to be full of factories  Now, many of those former factories are finding new lives as art galleries and artist studios.

Jeff started out as a photographer but soon moved on to other mediums.    He told me that his first love was wood and he still works with the material.  But he found it too limiting for what he wanted to do, so  he started working with steel stock.

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Steel Stock

When I saw Jeff’s work I assumed that I’d find torches in his workshop.  How else could he get those bends and shapes?

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The answer?  A big vise and some simple tools.  No heat except to weld pieces together.

 

Vise
Jeff’s vise

UpstairsClassroom

Jeff and Maria also give painting classes on the second floor of the building although they are more for fun that for “serious” art.  For more information, go to the web site, to http://www.artwithspirits.com.

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Take some time to visit the Boston Street Gallery And for updates, follow the Twitter Feed

Wayne Cambern at the Boston Street Gallery

Two weeks ago, I hopped the Market-Frankford El to the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia in search of the Boston Street Gallery.  The Boston Street Gallery is about a mile from the York-Dauphin El stop.  I had occasion to visit this neighborhood on a regular basis in another life, but I had not back for many years.  It certainly has changed.

 

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I went to the Boston Street Gallery to attend the opening of a show called Lyrical Perceptions which includes work by Wayne Cambern.   I met Wayne at the open pottery studio at Fleisher Art Memorial.   Like me, he was getting back into pottery after a multi-year hiatus.  But his primary interests are drawing and painting.   So I jumped at the chance to see his other work when he told me about the show.

 

The urge to make art has been with me for as long as I can remember.   I love color, design and craftsmanship in its many manifestations.  I hope this quest to make something that qualifies as art speaks to the viewer. –Wayne Cambern

My big regret in writing this post is that my pictures simply cannot convey the mastery of Wayne’s drawings and portraits.   In order to get the full effect, you will have to visit the show which runs until December 1, 2018.  In the meantime, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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This Week

A bunch of pictures from this week

Wind Challenge Matthew
Matthew Borgen

Caught the  Wind Challenge Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial

Took pictures of the many mushrooms that have popped up in my neighborhood after last week’s rain.

Flowers are beautiful even when they’re dying

Helped kids paint pumpkins at Palumbo Recreation Center

Some Pottery in Progress

Saw some new (to me) Murals

And met some incredible artists and makers at Philadelphia Open Studio Tours at the Bok Building.  This deserves its own post.  Stay tuned,

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Last week, a reader warned about the application of a  toxic herbicide called glyphosate to wheat crops rendering all but organically grown wheat safe to eat.  I decided to read up on glyphosate.  The Food Babe blog  pointed out the dangers posed by this chemical, citing a report by a group called Food Democracy Now.  (Read the report here.) But the Snopes.Com site argues that the report’s information is false.  I am not a chemist and cannot do my own tests.  I will say that the discussion of the scientific methodology used in the report seems vague, (compare the testing done to determine the link between smoking and lung cancer), but I do not know whether this comes from an intent to deceive,  poor writing, or an editorial decision that the reader would not understand a more thorough discussion of the testing procedures used.    I have not come to a conclusion.  I am presenting this information so readers can draw their own conclusions.    

Boris
Boris does not care about any of this apparently, 

The Atlas of Tomorrow

The Atlas of Tomorrow is an interactive art installation located on South Street between Broad and Thirteenth Streets in Philadelphia.   I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

This is how it works:

Instructions
The Instructions
Wheel
The Dial
StreetView
Numbered Stories Posted on the Wall

 

TheWish
The Story the Pointer Selected for Me After I Spun It.

Mural

Credits

 

 

Consider Contemplate

 

To learn more about The Atlas of Tomorrow, press here.  To learn more about Candy Chang, press here.  To learn more about the Philadelphia Mural Art Program, press here.

October is Mural Arts Month

 

Try Something New

Autumn is upon us (although we keep regressing back to Summer in Philadelphia).  Time to try something new!  I sold my beloved kiln and controller that I used for bead annealing, fusing glass and, most recently, metal clay.  I want to upgrade to a kiln that can handle cone 6 firing so I can work with porcelain on a regular basis.  Here are some new baubles I’m currently working on.  Cone 6 white porcelain and Mason stains, unglazed.

YouTube videos

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The same, with a cold finish
Five Star Bronze Clay Torch Fired

I wrote a  review of Prometheus Clay while back.  This time I tried Five Star Bronze Clay which is also torch fireable.  And I can say that Prometheus clay wins hands down, at least for torch firing.  I find Prometheus easier to condition, easier to work with and I got more consistent results with the torch.  I have not tried kiln firing with 5 Star Bronze yet.  I’ll let you know the results when I do.   But the BIG story is that I am now making my own bronze clay.  I saw Alan Wiggens’ YouTube videos on the subject and decided to give it a try.  I read about metallurgy to get an understanding of the sintering process so I could find the best deal on a powdered bronze that would work.  Preliminary torch fire tests have been successful!  Not in making a finished product, but in making metal that I can pound out with a hammer.    I am eager to test my homemade clay in a kiln which is how Alan Wiggens recommends firing it.    Stay tuned.

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Bronze clay ready for my future kiln.  The lighter clay is my homemade clay.  The darker clay is Five Star Bronze.

My mother made bread every week when I was growing up so the process is no mystery to me.   I generally throw flour into a bowl,  add yeast and some honey and sugar to feed the yeast and park it under the kitchen tap and turn on the water.  No measuring, no recipe.  And no salt.

I have a friend who says that the flour and bread we buy in the United States is stale and a bit moldy and that is the reason most (not all) people have a problem with gluten.  (I have another friend who gets sick every time she eats pasta in the U.S. but can eat all the bread an pasta she wants when she goes to Italy).   So I decided to grind my own flour.  I got a grinding mill and 40 lbs of wheat berries.  Grinding your own flour is not cheaper than buying it, although there are wheat berry bargains to be had.  And the process is labor intensive.  First, you have to drag the 40 lb bucket into the house.  Then you have an argument with your husband about where to set up the mill.   Then you and your husband have to watch an [expletive deleted] video to figure out how to get the [expletive deleted]  lid off of the [expletive deleted] bucket of [expletive deleted] wheat berries.

Bread1

Next comes the grinding.  After hand cranking the wheat berries,  we learned why we refer to arduous tasks as a “grind.” (Or maybe he knew already.  He has a Ph.D. in English Literature).

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Here is the flour.  What you don’t see is all the[expletive deleted] flour around my kitchen.

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Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven,. Well, almost nothing.

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BreadMill

And in the spirit of trying something new,  let me introduce you to our new motor for the grain mill.  It makes a sound like squealing pigs on steroids, but it does the job.  And the towel is to keep down the flour dust.

Now, on to trying the autolyze process.

On a final note, even Boris is trying something new.  He is off the Prescription Diet and is now eating a new, almost as expensive Hills Science cat food.  And he likes it!

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Say It with Beaded Flowers

This week, more work from Beading Yoda.  Lovely beaded flowers.

 

Colorful Herringbone

 

And bracelets inspired by Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.

 

I’ve started beading again after a long absence.  I dug out my Delicas and treated myself to copies of  Kate McKinnon’s Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, Vol. I and II.  Then a friend gave me a copy of Jean Power’s  Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Volume 2.  I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Dear Fleisher 2018

Dear Fleisher, 4×6 Inches of Art is a biennial fundraising exhibition showcasing the work of hundreds of artists from Philadelphia and beyond. Artists submit original postcard-size works in a wide range of media and styles, each of which is exhibited anonymously and sold on a first-come, first served basis for $50.

DearFleisher2018

My contribution this year was all about repurposing.  The screen-printed fabric is an old shopping tote turned inside out.  I made the dangle from a silver candelabra I found in the trash.   I sawed off off the drip pans and milled the round metal arms into square wire that I forged into the dangle hanging from the porcelain pendant.  I added a chain and jump rings.

 

I couldn’t make it to the sale this year.  There was one piece in particular that I really wanted to buy.  Can you guess which one it was from the pictures below?

So many outstanding works of art by so many talented people.  And a great way to raise money for a wonderful institution.

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What Happens When You Fool Around

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I don’t know if you expected a post on teenage pregnancy but that’s not what I mean by fooling around.  I mean playing.  I’ve always liked to play and to try new things.   My wild imagination has confused and alarmed most of the adults that I’ve met since the age of 12.   Those who can roll with it and play along usually become friends.

Creativity is currently a sexy topic Internet topic, (maybe not as popular as pictures of cats) and people are exhorted to play with color, try strange and exotic spices and  have experiences rather than collect consumer durables.

A website called,  Creative Something.Net says

“Play is more than just important for creativity, it’s often necessary.  Without a play-like attitude, creative insights hide from us behind fear and uncertainty. When we don’t embark on activities that involve play, being creative becomes a challenge.”

Remember, creativity brings something valuable to most things in life (OK, so maybe not accounting.)

I ‘ve been playing in my workshop lately.  I haven’t come up with anything new yet, but I’m having fun and trying new things.   Here are some pictures.

Fooling around with bronze wire which I squared in the rolling mill.  How would it look if I soldered the rings together and bent them into a cuff bracelet?

Fooling around with shapes to see what would make an interesting cuff bracelet

What can I do with a fork?

What can I do with rings I never finished and jump rings?  The medallions on the right are Hadar’s white bronze clay which is not a favorite of mine because it is fragile.  Still, I like the medallions.  They remind me of old miraculous medals.

Here is some more white bronze clay I fooled around with.  I think the dangles look a little like sea urchins.  I wrapped the ones on the left as if they were briolettes.  I think I like that better than the ones on the right with the jump rings.  I like the way the clay turned color and  I  decided to leave them like tha.

I am trying the rings and medals as embellishments for polymer bangle bracelets.  I also used some pre-made gear charms.

I am also fooling around with bronze metal clay.  The picture on the right shows torch-fired Prometheus Clay on the left and kiln-fired BRONZclay on the right.

Next: I’m going to try to make my own gear embellishments using Five Star metal bronze clay Something good is bound to emerge.  I hope.   That’s usually what happens when I fool around long enough.

A Day at the Franklin Institute

 

Outside

Most people who grew up in the Philadelphia area went to the Franklin Institute as kids. Guess what?  It’s still as much fun now as it was them.  Maybe even more so because there aren’t any field trip monitors or other well-intentioned adults to boss you around.  The Step Potato and his little brother the Step Banana were in town with their parents last weekend so a trip to the Franklin Institute was in order.  Much of the museum was as I remember it.

Heart

The Heart

Frabklin

 

Ben

FoucaultsPend

 

Foucault’s Pendulum

But much had changed.  For one, it was Minecraft Day. And the special exhibit was Game Masters which took me on a video game trip down memory lane as I revisited old favorites and tried some new games.   The exhibit I enjoyed the most, however, was Your Brain. Not only was it interesting, it was visually absorbing.

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The kids had a marvelous time crawling around the neurons of a huge model brain.  It was the cerebral version of a hopping discotheque which I suppose is an apt description of what your brain is up to 24/7.

Brain

By the time we got out of the brain, I was ready for the Fels Planetarium where I learned about the danger of asteroids hurling themselves at the earth.  Not on my watch, I hope.

Winding down

Outsidemirrors

Outside mirrors moving in the wind,

while the brain boogies on.

 

 

 

Fake Rothko in the Redrum

Powder room redo would have been a more conventional title for this post, but what fun is that?entryMy powder room sits on the landing between my first floor and my basement.  Someone bumped out the back wall so they could fit in a toilet and the rest is history.

2You have a nice view of the basement steps from the toilet.  I wanted to give people something to look at while they rode my porcelain Honda.  Hence, the fake Rothko. To see a fake, fake Rothko, click here.

FakeRothko

My fake Rothko is a real fake Rothko.  But I digress.  Here are more pictures of the powder room.

contrastThe paint is Real Red by Sherwin Williams.  I think the other color is Adriatic Sea.

1I bought the mirror at a thrift store and painted it.  I already had a great mirror but I wanted a change.

mirror2I relocated the other mirror to the opposite wall next to the toilet and

detail1installed a coyote on a shelf by the same artist.  (I don’t know his name.  These items belonged to my sister-in-law Shari so they have a great deal of sentimental value.)

SwitchI spray painted the toilet paper holder and switch plate.   The storage box on the back of the toilet is an Amazon box covered with fabric.

towelI spray painted the towel holder, too.  And I stole the red and white towel years ago from a maid in a hotel in The Hague.   Just for this bathroom.

detail3I had a photograph I took in Singapore that had a bit of red in it.  This graces the wall on the other side of the toilet.

sink

A friend graciously installed the new faucet which weighs about as much as the sink.  You can read about that drama in this post.
pipe2I spent too much time obsessing over how to treat the ugly pipes under the sink. A sink skirt?  A cabinet?  The room is tiny-too small for a cabinet and a sink skirt would have been visually cluttering.    I finally decided to embrace the ugly pipes with polka dots.

pipe

mirrorfishThe fish used to be in the kitchen; now he is in the powder room.

Wall2My husband gave me the little mirror years ago after we had a fight.  When he gets unruly,  I take it down and threaten to use it to bop him on his keppy

Some more mirror pictures.

Window

The rear window. Redrum.