Ugly Cane School and Some Inspiration

I must confess that I have been singularly uninspired these past few weeks.  This hardly ever happens to me.  I’m back in the pottery studio and even threw a few pots last week which is great considering that I had CMC joint reconstruction surgery in October.

I have amassed a collection of canes over the years that I haven’t used and that have become crumbly with age.  A few years ago, I played with a bunch of them to see what I could come up with.   Today,  I dug up a few of the components I made and they’re not bad.  I think I’ll take a few to Clayathon and see if I can combine them with wire work to make some necklaces.    In the meantime,  I am going to dig through my old canes to see if I can do anything with them.  More on that next week.

Anyway, here are some results from my first ugly cane experiment.  I made veneers by passing sliced canes through the pasta machine and laminating them on sheets of clay.  I kept rolling and laminating until I came up with something interesting.  I set some of the pieces in metal, mostly heavy-gauge copper wire which I squared in my rolling mill.   I limited my color palate, something I did not do with the ugly cane experiments you will see next week. Let’s see where these ugly canes take me.

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Lentil-shaped component
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Unfinished piece.  I was still trying things out.

I made some pendants using jump rings to attach the lentil-shaped front component to a back component. While most lentil beads are attached at the edges, the parts of these swing freely.

 

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I also tried different ways of setting the polymer bezels in the metal.  This one is suspended by a jump ring drilled into the big ring which is soldered onto the long bail

I attached the polymer piece to this pendant by drilling holes in the polymer and threading 30 gauge wire to wrap around the metal frame.

 

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I attached the polymer here with tabs I soldered onto the frame and bent around the polymer.  Read this post for more information on tab setting.

 

Earrings
Simple earrings with grommets and silver wire.   They are very light.

More examples of  uses for ugly canes next week.

A Cane Slicer on the Cheap!

I am gearing up for Clayathon 2020. I haven’t touched polymer in a while but started working with it again recently because I figured it would be good therapy for my hand and thumb.

I used to make a lot of canes and even wrote a little article on making geometric canes which you can read here.   There is so much better information on Youtube nowadays. But once you make the canes, you have to slice them. Below are two videos showing how to make inexpensive cane cutters. I made the first video (which I totally forgot about until someone saw it on YouTube this week and left a comment) to send to a friend to see if it was feasible to manufacture and sell an inexpensive cane cutter. Maybe it would have been, but the project never came to be. None of my ideas for the cane cutter, however,  are particularly brilliant. If you find anything that inspires you, please feel free to copy, share, or whatever.  I

 

The second video by Unruly Housewife, shows how to make a cane cutter that works on the same basic principles as mine (which were not original with me), but that is much easier to make.  Her instructions are clearer and her video is definitely better shot than mine.

A third low-cost option for a cane slicer is this one developed by Sherman Oberson and sold through Penn State Industries. Not very high tech, but it holds all shapes of canes steady for slicing and its small size makes it handy to throw into your toolbox.

 

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Happy cane slicing!

 

Happy Holidays

A Christmas Eve post this year.

Some pictures from around my neighborhood.

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Isgro’s Pastries.  A South Philadelphia institution.  Cranking out the cannolis since 1904!

And back by popular demand, guest blogger Boris tells the story of how the Tabby got its “M”.

 

 

Still on Hold

I wrote a few weeks ago about how my basement studio was in a state of upheaval due to the installation of New Gizmo in the back part of the basement.   Since New Gizmo replaced the  boiler and hot water heater,  does not use the chimney for ventilation,   I decided to move my kiln and polymer convection oven to the back basement and install a ventilation system using the chimney.  I already have a ventilation system in the front basement that I installed for soldering but which I found worked beautifully when I was cooking polymer and firing bronze clay.  Read more about that one here.

I still haven’t decided whether to install a downdraft vent for the kiln or to go with a hooded vent that I can use for the kiln and the convection oven.   I already made a plenum cup that fits into the kiln’s rolling stand  right under the kiln, but I have hesitated to drill the small hole in the bottom of the kiln that the downdraft vent would need to function.  If I made a downdraft vent for the kiln,  I would have to be able to detach it from the inline fan and connect separate ductwork to hood to ventilate while the convection oven is operating.      I think I am going to set up hooded vent first and see how it does before I make the final decision.

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Here’s the inline fan I ordered from Amazon.  It’s the same one I have in the front basement.  It’s not too loud, has a variable speed controller, and does not require any special wiring.   I will have to bolt it to a piece of wood to steady it.   I could bolt it from the ceiling, too.    I will need two 4″ to 6″ vent reducer/increasers to connect each side of the fan to the ductwork.  I also ordered them from Amazon.   One will connect to ductwork that hooks into the  4″ chimney opening behind the fan and the other one will connect on the other side of the fan to a longer section of ductwork and the vent hood.

My electrician installed an extra outlet  for the fan and the convection oven.   The Paragon Max 119 kiln runs on 120 volts but does require some additional wiring and a special outlet which Stubewan the electrician also installed.   He also left me some metal tape and ductwork to use.  Thanks, Stu!

I used a wok lid for the vent hood in the front basement.  I will use a stainless steel mixing bowl for the vent hood in the rear basement.

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Bought at a house sale for $5.00.  I will saw out a hole in the top and  attach the ductwork.

At this point, I plan to attach the ductwork and hood to the wood beams in my basement ceiling and raise and lower the hood with a chain.

 

 

I plan to stow the kiln under the stairs and move it out to the middle of the floor for firing.   I was hoping to get it all hooked up this week, but Amazon sent the wrong size reducers.  Back they go and new ones ordered.

Wish me luck!

Greek Tragedy

I went to the hand doctor today. I can’t believe it’s been more than two months since they rebuilt my thumb joint. I am progressing nicely and should be back to throwing pots by February. Which is good because I pretty much sold all of the pottery I brought to Handmade for the Holidays, and a nice amount of the jewelry too.

So I haven’t been doing too much making lately. I am hoping that will change soon.

I leave you with a story.

I walked into the living room where my husband was watching a movie called Troy the Odyssey. I noticed the cheap vinyl piping on the actors’ costumes that was supposed to pass for Greek warrior gear. I commented that it must not be a very good movie.

My husband replied that the movie was so tragically bad that it could only have been written by Sophocles.

“Sophocles?” I asked, Didn’t he write plays? ”

“He wrote Oedipus,” my husband responded.

“And Antigone,” I added, remembering my Greek tragedies.

“He did write Antigone,” my husband informed me. And the great tragedy there was that she never wrote back.”

Handmade for the Holidays

This is where I’ll be selling my wares this weekend along with the other potters who share studio space at Fleisher Art Memorial.
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I’ll have more than pottery.  I will also be selling jewelry made from recycled materials and ceramics, bronze, and fused glass.

See you there!

Cats and Cookery Happy Thanksgiving

Who knew cats could cook?  Not that Boris cooks.  He expects to be waited on and is the type of cat who would have all the best take out places on speed dial if we let him have a phone.  Which we don’t for obvious reasons.

But our bridge kitty Plumpton was quite a cook .  In fact, one of this recipes was published.Feline-Lcookbookcover

Here is the recipe

Plumpton'ssalad

I have never tried it and never made it for Boris.  Even though I have an adventurous palate, I find some of the ingredients, well, a little off-putting.

We will not be making a turkey tomorrow because we will be delivering a cookbook to Boris’s penpals with whom we will be spending the day.   Here he is posing with the cookbook.

On this Thanksgiving, Boris is thankful for friends, (especially his young penpals),  for a safe and cozy home, and people who love him (even if we don’t feed him as often as he would like).   What are you thankful for?

 

Boris Dream of Drumsticks

Boris (dreaming of drumsticks) wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving,

My Studio Then and Now

Libby Mills ran a series on her blog a few years ago called Studio Snapshot and she was kind enough to feature my workspace in one of her posts.  I thought it would be fun to do a then and now post of my space.

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Then

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Now

A little neater. now, don’t you think?  I have to confess that one of the reasons it’s so orderly is because I am not in the middle of any projects now, because I am recovering from hand surgery and because I have been cleaning.   Our boiler and water heater entered into a mutual suicide pact last week which necessitated replacing them both with this new gizmo.  Which necessitated drilling through the foundation.  Which created lots of dust.

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The New Gizmo

New Gizmo does not need to use the chimney as it is vented out the side of the house, and the workshop is so clean is because I have been steam cleaning the fine layer of dust off of everything.

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Chimney opening

This means I can move my kiln and my polymer oven to the back basement, install a ventilation system  like this one that will blow out the chimney, and gain some space in the front basement.    I do not plan to add anything else to the front basement because I like the idea of having more room to stretch,  something I did not always have. But I will have to have some electrical work done in the back so I can run my kiln, oven, and ventilation system there.  I haven’t done any lamp working for a few years but I have worked with bronze metal clay, porcelain clay, and have done some glass fusing.

 

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Pretty Cluttered

I have donated all but my very favorite beads ( which leaves quite a lot of them) and have installed new lighting in the work space.  And I have gotten rid of a TON of supples, paints, fabric, glues, found objects, old tools, metal and more to good homes.

I replaced all my old furniture with Ikea Helmer cabinets and Linmon table tops  When I like about this is when you want to move supplies, you can simply switch drawers. Everything fits! And everything’s on wheels which makes it doubly convenient.  You can move things around without a lot of fuss.

 

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I still have my old watchmaking bench but I use it for display and to hold supplies

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When your space is as small as mine, something has to go every time you bring something new in.  I snagged this cabinet for $5.00 at a house sale.  I am still deciding what to toss.

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I don’t think I will ever have enough hammers though.

 

Street Art in Lisbon

Last week’s post on the Philadelphia Fashion District referenced the Streetsdept.com blog which chronicles street art in Philadelphia.  I love street art because it’s free for the viewing,  usually relevant to current events, or a chronicle of  past events that need to be memorialized.  People have been drawing and writing on public walls since ancient times.  Street art can be viewed as a crime or high art.   I prefer to think of it as  public art.

Lisbon in Portugal has a lively and vibrant street art scene as I discovered on a  trip there earlier this year.  Here are some highlights:TheFoxLisbon89

The Fox covers the side of a building and is made up of junk and recycled materials.

Read more about the artist, Attero Bordalo II, here.

 

The Alfama District is home to some great street art including a mural dedicated to Fado singer Maria Severa Onofriana.

LisbonWalkingTourAlfama13Respect Stpry of Old Women Graffifi Artists

Here’s one of my favorite Lisbon murals.  It’s called “Respect” and is also in the Alfama District.  Apparently there is a whole cadre of senior street and graffiti artists in Lisbon.  We were told that this mural depicts one of them reacting when a younger colleague does not show her the respect to which she is entitled.  Read more about the older artists here.  Read the real story behind the Respect mural here.

Some more  Lisbon street art picturesLisbonWalkingTourAlfama76 2LisbonWalkingTourAlfama10IMG_7923IMG_6967IMG_6949IMG_6872IMG_6862IMG_6860

If you want to learn more about Lisbon street art, the Camels and Chocolate  blog is a good place to start.  Better yet, go to Lisbon and walk the streets.

 

 

Philadelphia Fashions a District

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I had some time after a visit to the hand doctor today, so I decided to check out the Philadelphia Fashion District.

 

The Gallery Shopping Mall in downtown Philadelphia has been completely renovated and reopened to the public in September as  Philadelphia Fashion District.  No one shops at malls anymore, so the developers couldn’t just follow the old model of retailing in a renovated space.  So in addition to the standard  mall retail therapy establishments, the Fashion District is offering some intriguing opportunities for artists, makers, and entrepreneurs.

The Fashion District has invested one million dollars for art installations geared to “making museum-caliber art more accessible to the city, while also elevating the beauty of The District.”  The Bridgette Mayer Gallery has a display there with art for sale.

Conrad Benner, whose blog StreetsDept.com, chronicles street art in Philadelphia,  has been charged with curating an exhibit of the work of Philadelphia street artists. These works are currently on display on the lower (concourse) level of the Fashion District through the end of this year.

The Fashion District has provided space for RecPhilly, an organization who provides co-working space, recording studios, visual labs & conference rooms for creatives.  RecPhilly membership is financially accessible and has proven to so popular that there is now a waitlist.  But new memberships are sure to open up in the future.  Read more about RecPhilly on their website here.

The Fashion District is sponsoring more art-related events than I’ve written about here as well as planning to open up movie theaters, restaurants and performance spaces.  They are trying to do a lot and we’ll see how it goes.  Here are some pictures.