Archive for May, 2010

Meet my earthly possessions! – crystalline pottery.

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

When I was but a wee little collector, my mom had a porcelain vase with big circular sand dollar-like things in the glaze. I thought it was so beautiful that even when the top bit broke off, I kept it. I found out later that the glaze is something called “crystalline glaze”, and here’s a description of how it does its thing.

Short version: The glaze has little flecks in it – zinc, I believe – and in the kiln SCIENCE!! happens, and twelve hours later, crystals. Luckily, small pieces of crystalline pottery aren’t that expensive, so I’ve collected seventeen over the years. I’m going to show some of my more special ones.

This is that first one that I mentioned. As you can see, the top bit broke off, but I don’t care. The crystals, they are so large and circular. I display it proudly with all my other pieces.

I believe the glaze was invented in China, so I bought a piece made in China. It’s nothing spectacular, but I felt I should reprezent (gang sign here).

These are my two largest and most expensive pieces. They’re by the same artist, Robert Hessler, who might be the nicest person I have ever met. What a delightful fellow. And he does wonderful work. The tube shaped one is pretty spectacular, the way the colors change from top to bottom. And you can’t really appreciate it from the picture, but the teapot is coppery/shimmery, with blue crystals.

This is my cheapest and crappiest piece that I bought on a street festival in Africa from a German potter. Even though the crystals are not-so-great and the dish isn’t even remotely circular, I liked how it looked like frost on a window looking out on a night sky. This is a perfect example of even if something is not well-made, it can still be evocative to the right person (that would be me).

Sometimes the crystals end with a totally different color at the edge, and I like that look very much. This vase is a good example of that, with the dark edges.

This is an ikebana holder. I bought it because I thought the top looked like creme brulee. I don’t claim to be fancy. Sometimes I buy art because it resembles a favorite food of mine. This is one of those times.

The same artist who made the ikebana holder, Paul Lorber, made the three pieces below. Also a really nice guy. He makes the stripes in the crystals by raising and lowering the temperature of the kiln every fifteen minutes. The last piece there is grainy because he fired it twice and copper started to come to the surface.

And this piece is my newest. I think it might be my new favorite. It’s also by Paul Lorber. He did something different with the temperatures on this one, and I think it’s a different glaze at the top and the bottom. It’s just stellar. I find myself staring at it sometimes, lost in thought.

No-Longer-Thistle Drawing. Now Orb Flower Drawing.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

It’s coming along great. I spent about four hours figuring out how I wanted it to organize itself, and I think I got a nice look. It’s well-balanced. It’s not quite done yet, I still have to put in some clearer delineation, but otherwise, I’m pleased with it.

Thistle Drawing, Part 2 – Now with no thistles!

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

My thistle drawing from last week wasn’t doing what I needed it to do, so I looked through this book I just got for inspiration. It’s called Fancy Design 1920.

I looked through and came up with a new design that is more in the direction that I want to be heading.

I’ll keep you appraised of the development.

Feric and McBess. No resemblance to Captain and Tenille.

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I am a big fan of two artists’ work. One is a guy who goes by the name of Feric. His real name is Eric Feng, but Feric is his nom de plume, and it’s charming. He does these complex vector illustrations with a variety of lines creating a sense of depth. And Feric’s subject matter is great too – often mechanical animals being ridden by zen little buddhas. I envy his ability to draw his imaginary characters from such difficult angles. It’s really easy to draw something facing straight forward or from the side, but Feric draws things on a three-quarter angle, which is very hard. I am in awe of his skill.

I got really excited when I saw a car illustration in Wired magazine and I was like, “Hey, isn’t that Feric?” And it was! I was a happy camper.

The other artist I wanted to talk about goes by the name of McBess. Same story as Feric: His real name is Matthieu Bessudo, nom de plume is McBess, charming. His style is bringin’ back the 1920’s cartoon style, like this one. You know, the black and white people with all-black eyes and rubbery limbs.

And he’s in a band too, so he worked on a video for them. Just an FYI, there’s a couple less-than-work-appropriate shots in the video. Song’s real catchy, tho’.

Thistles. Spiky and problematic.

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

I haven’t blogged at all this week because absolutely nothing of interest has happened this week. You want to hear about the RFP I designed this week? It had a lot of charts. No? Okay. I also started working on a frame design that I want to execute in polymer clay, a frame with thistles on it. I have learned that thistles are a colossal pain in the butt to design. Stupid thistles. Here’s what I have so far.

It’s a start. There aren’t any leaves yet, so I have to work on that. And I have to decide if I want insects on it as well. We’ll see how it develops.

Ay Caramba! Gifs!

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Everybody here know what  an animated gif is? No? Okay, description:

If that was confusing or excessively complicated for some of y’all, here’s my description: It’s a bunch of images with a palette of 256 colors, and you can save it with code embedded up in there that remembers a bunch of gifs in a row, making a teeny tiny movie that you don’t need special software to see (like Flash). So even if you’re on the most basic of computers, chances are people can see your wee animation. Also, it’s an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, but some people pronounce it Jif, like the peanut butter, which is WRONG (even though the dictionary recognizes it as an acceptable pronunciation). Please pronounce it like “gift” without the T. Thank you.

I just discovered a great website called Señor Gif. It finds adorable little gifs around the internet and shares them with you, the viewer. As you can imagine, the internet is vast, and gifs are easily made, making the world flooded with crappy, sucky gifs. So it’s nice to have a website that only shows you the finest the world has to offer. Here are some of my favorites. You’ll notice there are a lot of cat gifs, and that’s because if the internet was a human body, the spine would be comprised of cats and funny cat-related things.

By the way, the last animated gif has many people up in a tizzy. Nothing’s wrong with OMG Cat, he just has gray-colored fur on his chin area. No horrible accident, no deformity, nothing. Gray fur. Everybody stay calm.

Peter Gabriel and other stuff.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

1. I saw this great shirt covered with long rectangular sequins in a swirly pattern. And in order to keep them from getting hooked on things and ripping off, there’s a extremely fine mesh or tulle sewn on top. I likes it. I likes it a lot.

2. Some mornings I come out of my apartment building and Lawrence the cat is there. I love Lawrence. His owner takes him outside on a leash and and lets him sniff around, eat the grass, barf the grass, whatever he wants. And every morning that I see him is a good day. I pet Lawrence, he ignores me, and I go on my merry way.

3. I walk past a Sephora on my way to work most days, and they are selling some kind of makeup airbrush. Unfortunately, this picture makes it look like they’re selling the face-stretching thing from the movie Brazil.

4. Last night I saw Peter Gabriel in concert. And when I say, “in concert”, I mean it. He had a sixty-piece orchestra behind him. I didn’t especially want to go, but Cricket insisted that I have a life for once, so I went. And I totally didn’t regret it. Well, except for the guy sitting on my left. He looked exactly like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, and as soon as he sat down, a down comforter of pot funk encircled my head and muffled my breathing. It was so pungent, and it reeked of herbs and skunks, or maybe burning tires. It must have been phenomenal weed, because The Dude was clearly having a different experience from most everyone else around him. He was doing a great deal of closed-eyed appreciation, with accompanying hand gestures, like he was conducting. It was hard not to giggle at his earnestness. Anyway, Gabriel is promoting his new album, an album of covers called “Scratch My Back”. He did a bunch of the covers for the first half (which was great). He also performed a song that I knew from somewhere and poked me right in the heart and made me tear up, called “The Book of Love”. The first thing I did when I got to work today was try to figure out where I knew the song from, and it’s from the series finale of Scrubs. I loved Scrubs, so when I watched the finale, I cried like a kid whose large and impressive baseball card collection just fell in a creek. It’s a touching song. See for yourself. Then he took a break and Lou Reed came out and played “Solisbury Hill”, and ruined it. It was loud, and in the key of grungy, and tempo wasn’t his primary focus, and Lou kinda just hollered the song (“Boomboomboom!”). At one point, Cricket turned to me and said, “This is terrible, right? It’s not just me, right?” But then Peter came back out and played his hits, and that was killer. He did “Digging In the Dirt” and “Red Rain” and “Solisbury Hill” (CORRECTLY) and “Don’t Give Up”, all of this with this orchestra playing (so, so good) and then the orchestra started up on something that sounded familiar and then Gabriel walked up to the microphone and sang “Love…” and I flipped out. It was super-great. I cannot wait for the DVD of this tour to come out so I can have this version. So, even though I didn’t get home until 12:37 a.m. and had to go to work the next day, it was still worth it. Just a closing note:

Dear Other People In The Audience,
Peter Gabriel has a set list. He’s not gonna go all rogue with a 60-piece orchestra behind him and play whatever you scream out. So please stop shrieking “BIKO!!” between songs, it’s annoying. Thank you.

A weekend filled with Japanese goodness.

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

On Saturday I went to a quilt show with Snorth and her mom (because the way I am not really focused on the fiber arts, Snorth is, with the crocheting and the tapestry and the quilting) and I was really, really good and didn’t buy any fabrics that are pretty but that I would never use, ever. They would just sit in my apartment and gather dust, prettily. I did, however, learn more about the art form Sashiko, which is a kind of Japanese quilting that I have loved for quite some time but didn’t know much about. Wikipedia describes it nicely.

Sashiko (????, literally “little stabs”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.

Here are some pictures of it from Flickr. I love geometric designs, especially hexagons, so this totally appeals to me.

Then, on Sunday I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival. There’s a park right next to my house, and every year in the first weekend in May, the large Japanese community in White Plains has this festival, with bands and food and cultural booths, etc. One of the things I like best about living in White Plains is the diversity. From what I can see, there is a large Asian contigent (Japanese, Chinese and Korean). There’s also quite a few black people who speak french (either from Haiti or the Ivory Coast or some place like that), and a ton of Hispanics, mostly Mexican. It is so, so much better than the town I grew up in, Rye (Barbara Bush’s home town!). It was almost all white, and 60% Catholic. No diversity at all. Very dull. Snore.

Anyway, Cherry Blossom Festival. Since the weather was so good, lots of people turned out for it. The park was packed. There was a whole bunch of booths with Japanese activities.

There was a tea ceremony booth, and a booth where you could fight small remote-controlled robots against other small, remote-controlled robots.

Then there was a kawaii band rockin’ it in the far corner.

And in the near corner, on the stage, were drummers. The adults were great, but the kids really took the cake.

And, of course, there was food. The octopus balls booth* had lovely decorations.

And there were lots of people wearing authentic garb.

It’s one of my favorite events in White Plains, and I’m glad I was in town this year to catch it.

*Chopped-up octopus, rolled into balls with batter and deep-fried. Anyone making cephalopod testicle jokes gets a virtual smack from me.

Addendum: Saw this bag on an 11-year-old-girl at the Festival. Only the Japanese could make a purse this cute and this macabre. They have a gift, I tell you.