Monday, August 31, 2009

Monsters from the Id

I'll confess I've been naughty. I don't much read blogs. I've been, slowly, delving into the whole blogosphere thing over these last months, getting my feet wet, dipping a toe in the water, slowly, slowly, slowly immersing myself--the water's dark and deep, mysterious and more than a little scary. I have Artful Blogging magazine to blame--thank--for it, for thinking about me and blogging in the same sentence: you know, sort of a gateway drug. I found it, Artful Blogging, at the local Borders and leafed through it while I sipped my tea, my British Breakfast. Whoa, that's some kind of pretty. Blogs before had always existed in a world of argument, politics and celebrity gossip. Thanks, but no thanks, there's enough strife and loud discordant voices. And thus, so far, I have no favorite. I need a favorite, though, so I can be envious of it. I can tell you, though, what I have admired: those blogs that are pulled together, down to the last accessory, like a model at a fashion shoot, perfume layered and subtle, makeup flawless, seams straight, hair perfect, no spinach in her teeth. And they're not off the shelf, either. These are custom blogs or look it. Expensive. Not Wal-mart, not even the softer side of Sears. They're warm and welcoming and very very pretty.

Oddly enough, I'm often attracted to ones that have pearls and lace and doily-like things. To gauzy, fluttery curtains at a morning window, a teacup on the window ledge. There's often a surfeit of pink. There might be a weathered barn. A tumble of roses on a stone fence. I haven't been able to figure out how to work all that in with what I do. Somehow, putting the anvil on a large doily and draping it with long, luminous strands of baroque pearls, eh, well, I don't see it. A bit like something my mom said years ago, something about putting a tutu on a boxer.

That's the thing, isn't it? How to pull together the many threads of me, the seemingly contradictory, conflicting bits into a cohesive, meaningful whole and present them, a finished piece, a jewel upon a velvet pillow, complete, unerring and unchanging. And that's doomed to fail. Because I'm not complete, unerring or unchanging and never can be.

Things I do want and that are achievable--more control over the look of my blog. I've been studying, piecemeal, CSS and HTML but not applying myself enough. Little things frustrate me, discovering that the template I'm currently using--Scribe--does not have ordered lists, no way to do a numbered list until I figure out how to manipulate the template. Imagine my horror when I published the thing the other day and discovered the damned posies again. Posies! And they were indented this time. Since so much is happening behind the scenes (Edit HTML, my ass!), changing OL to UL did me no good. I had to strip everything out and put the coding back. It looked the same from my end but it published with non-indented posies. A slight improvement. Posies! They make my skin crawl.

Random stuff

The frost is on the pumpkin. Well, no, but when I went out to my truck last night, there was still ice in my tea. After two hours. Time to break out the parka. Brrr. On the other hand, it was too hot to entertain working in the studio this weekend. Temperatures anywhere above the mid-eighties and the room turns into an oven. Next weekend looks promising but campus might be closed for Labor Day. You never know. I'll have to check the schedule. I do intend to go in Monday night. I'll wait until seven or so; that should allow the new Fabrication students a chance to get settled in, to mark out their territory and for good spaces to open up in the parking lot.

Less than three weeks to the keuring in Weirsdale and I am so stoked. I don't know if I'll take any drawing materials or just the camera. There's plenty of time to decide. I'm toying with the idea, too, of driving up to Perry, Georgia, for this year's Feathered Horse Classic. Last year, my knee was still too painful to attempt such a trip. This year, God willing, I'll be fine. Friesians, boy howdy, and Gypsy Vanners, maybe other Gypsy Cobs as well. Loads of pretty horses with feathery feet. It's in October and who knows, maybe I'll even be able to see some autumn color. Read More!

Friday, August 28, 2009

If you can't make your mind up,
we'll never get started*

I've worked on my About Me gadget; I've made a few changes. It's harder than, well, really hard things. I've tirelessly searched countless blogs, maybe a half dozen or so, to feel how other bloggers have handled it, to understand what moves me. One thing I can tell you--longer is not better. Size matters, in an inverse way. I'll need catchy, random, quirky facts. Those are good. You'll like those, dear mythical reader. That's what the all cool kids say. I'm going to be like them and sit at their table.

What must I do, then, to draw you in, get you hooked, make you beg, make you scream, um, keep you coming back for more?

I must enthrall you--look into my eyes. I will cast a net of enchantment, of magic, of mystery...

Oh, hell, why can't it be something simple like achieving world peace or finding a cure for cancer?

So, beloved reader, what is in it for you? I have to be clear on that. Why would you stick with my blog rather than reaching for the remote or playing another game of Hearts? (Solitaire is so yesterday, isn't it, dear friend? Hearts is way better.)

First, you'll get to learn about hammers and, really, who doesn't like that? It'll be like Christmas and your birthday and Fourth of the July all rolled into one. With confetti. And cake. (Anvils are good, too, along with bench vises, sandbags and forming stakes.)

Next, you'll get to hear me use words like sinusoidal and anticlastic, chasing and repousse, grisaille and sgraffito, sinking and raising, forge and firescale. I'll drop names like Brain and McCreight and Seppa.

Lastly, it's better than a root canal. Trust me. Even with the drugs the dentist gives you, this is way better. Dentists never give you cake and you never get to hold the hammer.

Now that that's settled, it's time to move on to Solid Concepts. They can't be airy or tenuous, not and pass this class. Solid. And I'll need 20.

Yeah, twenty.

It's slow going, this slogging through the conceptual mud. But I have broad shoulders and am firm in my resolve.

My list so far
  • Guest blogger. I came across this idea somewhere and I liked it. I've already lined up Robin. She doesn't do metal or glass, she's into the needle arts and some photography, but she's game. When she reviews what she's reading, I like the way she writes--clear, concise.
  • Product reviews
  • Book reviews (ooh, here's one already--why Foldforming by Charles Lewton-Brain is so amazing. It's got pictures!)
  • Website reviews
  • A project from inception to completion--sketches, ponderings, photographs, wrong turns down blind alleys, the final ta da! everything
  • Interviews
  • How Tos--how to reticulate, how to keum-bo, how to electroplate, etc., with pictures and text, even line drawings where appropriate
  • Attempt at a new process or technique--how it turned out, what I learned, what I'd do differently, ideas it's suggested
  • FAQs--Liz Crain asked why Verthandi. Things like that could go in a FAQ
  • Humor--surely there are metalsmithing jokes out there
  • Vocabulary, jargon, glossary
  • Vocabulary, jargon, glossary, but a crack version
  • Injury prevention
  • Profiles
  • An account of my latest trip to FDJ or the like
  • An account of a group discussion/bull session--why we're artists, why metal, etc.
  • Replicating an ancient technique

The list is not complete yet but it's getting there.

Another idea, not exactly on point, but near the point, is to make a file of Pre-written posts, as well as a file of Best Ofs, for those times when I want to post something but am ill, traveling or what you will.

A few loose ends. Class started last Wednesday. Lorena is back with us. Talking with her got me thinking again about getting a kiln for home. I went back to Thompsons and looked at their selection. They have a Paragon there, more expensive than I was initially thinking, that is now quite appealing. It's the same size as the enameling kiln at school so I wouldn't have to compromise the size of my pieces.

Dohrmann's class got cancelled, low enrollment, I suspect. I was able to get a seat in Sarah's class at the last minute. I must be part salamander, I sure love playing in the fire.

Studio monitor form is complete and turned in, in time for this weekend. Now it looks like the weather will not cooperate. Temps were projected for around 85 to 88 degrees. Now they're talking 91. That's just too hot, especially on Saturday which they now say will be clear. Damn, damn, damn! I started work on a new copper bracelet and have ideas for at least one more. And have perhaps solved the problem of the clasp for the 7 Rings Collar. Damn, damn, damn!

*Osvaldo Farres/Joe Davis Read More!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Variations on a theme: blogging in three (and a half) voices

A blog for three readers (and several cats)

And places I just shouldn't go

Thanks, my blogging buddy Liz Crain . This blog's for you.

I've been doing this metal stuff for four years, seems like a lifetime, seems like yesterday. Didn't mean to go anywhere with it. Truly. Or maybe, really, I did, just not here. You see, I love glass, always have, always will. I took some stained glass classes, resisted fusing and stumping (the stuff I'd seen in the magazines was so boring, so primary colored, bleh). Then in rapid succession, I saw a couple of neat things, things that got my mind racing, my heart racing. You mean I can do that with fusing, and slumping. Whoa. Just whoa. One thing led to another but it always does. Community Ed had a fusing class at the time. I took it. I liked it. Really liked it. (Even though, as Jacqui said, she really should have advertised it as Glass Fusing and Sweat Lodge. But none of us cared about how hot, humid and mosquito-filled that first class was. The contact high we got from each other was amazing. Four hours on my feet and I went home refreshed every time.) Santa Fe had a couple of jewelry classes; I'd found that out when I registered for Drawing I. Take a class, I thought, get some ideas about how to think in 3-D, about jewelry design and then move on.

Famous last words.

I picked up a hammer.

You see, the thing is, you can't hit glass with hammers. Not and be really pleased with the results. I haven't fused since (my excuse: Jacqui stopped offering the class but I could rent kiln time at Sky and Sarah's coop. I could even buy my own, so I recognize the excuse for what it is).

In the last year or so, I can see a real difference, a real coming together, a real breakthrough. And I'm amazed. Sometimes the confidence I have in my own work is breathtaking. Yes, I made that, and it is good. And what's more, I can make more, that one thing isn't a fluke, even if I take advantage of any and every happy accident that comes along. I can make more and they will be good, better, best. Mostly, except for a couple, literally two, sketches I did of my sister where I just picked up a pencil and drew her, I stopped doing art 'stuff' when I was in junior high school with one art class in college. Art wasn't for me. That was reserved for other people. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I have developed an aesthestic, a design sense, a sense of myself as artist and creator. I know what I like and what I don't. I'm not new and green and callow. I'm no longer eighteen. Perhaps even my hesitancy is habit more than a true fear of rejection, more than a true fear that I lack the right to take my place in the company of artists.

I feel less like a beginner, less like a student, an amateur and more like an artist. Like I have something to say and I know how to say it, how I want to say it. Sometimes I'm amazed by the confidence I have in my work, in my right to make that work, to stand up and say, hey, look at this, I made this. But part of me, an important part it turns out, holds back. Though pushed to enter competitions and shows, to get my name out in front of the people who 'judge these things,' I don't do it.

What gets me beyond that entropy? Does continuing to take class at Santa Fe hold me back because as long as do, I'll feel like a student, someone who needs another's permission?

Ideal reader--sounds nice, doesn't it? What does it mean? I haven't a clue. My ideal reader doesn't really exist because my that reader has to morph constantly (how'd that description of Christmases Past go in A Christmas Carol?) At one moment, an old friend not interested in things metallic, just interested in things me and wanting to see what I'm doing and share my joys and tears and all the rest. At another moment, a perfect stranger half a world away who's also a geek for hammers and stakes--oh my god did you see the new mini-stakes from Fretz? Sometimes a metal artist, sometimes an artist in another discipline, sometimes someone who just likes how I write. How do I write for that ideal reader? I haven't a clue. I will have to revisit you, my dear Ideal Reader.

Nicky and Robin (and possibly others) are going to be wrapped into one giant superfriend, for purposes of this blog to be known as Ricky or perhaps Nobbin. Maybe Ricky Nobbin. I've known you for a long time. It's harder, in some ways to bare my soul to you, because you know me more. I talk about these fears and hopes to you, and yet, here and now, I feel naked (and ain't that a scary thought). I'm afraid, and yet I'm not, to take that next step. How much of it is just being in that comfortable non-comfort zone? I'm used to being here, right, I think I'll stay a while. But you know, that old thing about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, because it feels so good when you stop, even I know it's time to stop, or rather to start. I'm afraid that I'll get my feel-good strokes from you, my attagirls, but not my pushes, won't be called on my bullshit because you don't want to damage our friendship. It's a valid concern, I can be a thin-skinned bitch. But Rikki Nobbin, you get things done, slowly sometimes, but you do them. You make your ornaments for the tree at the Victorian house. Is that the secret, to just pulling on the loose end of the thread until it comes free?

Nicky suggested Bob (hers not mine, meaning my brother Bob and not my cousin Bob). That's Bob the cat. I dunno. I just do not know.

Blogging to cats

See what Mommy has? This brooch I made from a chased wedge t-fold--stop it! stop it! stop it now! No claws! You know Mommy doesn't like claws. Get off the computer. Get off the computer! Don't sit on that! Now! That's a good kitty. Leave that book alone, now. Thank you. Ah, come on, Breck, they're not even paying attention to you. I'm not mad at anybody, everybody's good. Leave that alone! Don't chew that. Do not chew that! We do not eat tape. I said stop scratching that book. Sometimes I really hate cats

A few other blogs--

Mom--no Mom, I don't think I need to lose weight first. What if I never lose weight? Does that mean I don't get to live the rest of my life? What does losing weight have to do with chased wedge t-folds, anyway? You haven't even looked at it.

Museum curator, art critic--really, if you wanted a Calder clone, maybe you should just dig him up. Zombies are in right now. No, I don't want to be more cutting edge, less cutting edge, commercial, academic. Oh, bite me.

Potential collector--no, I don't do work on spec/for commission. I don't know what I'm going to make, what I'm going to get until I make it, get it. I don't want to try to match your dreams and visions. You like what you see, you buy it. Kthanxbai. Read More!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Random thoughts on assignments I don't want to do and 'stuff'

Note to self--I really have to talk to blogger about those 'bullets' in the last post. I wanted bullets, not posies. Sometimes I really do miss Alphatype.

I think I want to go back to the first assignment, because I've already done that thinking and today my brain is slightly broken. Or I'm just being lazy. It's hot, it's summer, I'm allowed to be lazy.

The trouble with encouraging the dog (did I say that) to eat my homework is that I don't want to begin to try to explain the damage to the Black Beauty or the Red and Shiny Joy (damn, I just realized she'd have to eat two laptops, well, scratch that plan) to anyone.

Sadly, the Black Beauty has actually turned out to be the Really Dark Midnight Blue Beauty but I'm not sure that has the same ring to it.

The biggest problem I see with the blog so far is that I haven't been talking to a reader but to myself. If you don't think anyone's out there listening, acting as if seems a bit--odd? hopeful in the face of overwhelming apathy? silly? self-absorbed? Better to act as if it didn't matter, to wrap that insouciant James Dean air about oneself like a blanket.

It's easier to at least try and focus here at the B-A-M (by the Haunted Wal-Mart); I don't have to deal with a slow internet connection and the internecine bloodbath that flares up at least a couple times a day between PyePye and Moti, with the Noodle adding to the fun. Surrounded as I am by the autistic savant, Breck (the Fairy Princess, my border collie) and the four heartless, ice in their veins serial killers most folks call house cats, sometimes I just get 'jumpy.' They tolerate me for now though PyePye would miss me, I think, if I were gone. If the others ever develop opposable thumbs, I'm due for a short trip to the rest forever in a shallow grave alongside the highway. Ha! but even with thumbs, they'll never learn to work a stick--they're too short to work the pedals and see over the dash at the same time. Will they realize that in time? I can only hope.

More random stuff--the Keuring in Weirsdale is less than a month away and I'm going this year. And I'm not going to sprain my knee. Oh, no, I learned that lesson. I'll have at least two batteries freshly charged, at least one brand new memory card, maybe two, and make sure I bring both lenses with the Canon. I might bring a sketchpad and some pencils. I keep going back to that gesture drawing of the keuring judges I did a few years ago and want to do something with it. I think I might try enameling it onto copper, using a stencil.

Hot puppies but I'm gonna see me some Friesians real soon. I do love horses with My Little Pony hair.

School starts for me on Wednesday. Alora apparently relented or we made our quota, I'm not sure which. I'm hoping to run over to the school (oh where oh where will I park now, they've started that Fine Arts building and blocked off a bunch of the parking lot in front) and snag a studio monitor form from Kleckner. I wonder if Pat has a class Monday or Tuesday afternoon. I could make it a one-stop deal. Then at least I'd only have to deal with the parking lot and its problems only the once. Elsewise, I'll pick up the form, and try to make it in to the Fabrication class Monday night. Might as well frighten the toddler/trinket makers early. I can hear the whispers now--she's scary, she's fat, she's decidedly unstylish (but she's carrying Vera Bradley, something that embarrasses me no end now, oh how the mighty have fallen), she's old enough to be our mom--she's not supposed to be here! I must use this power only for good.

It works out for Pat, I'm sure it's easier to teach the two classes separately than to try to juggle the fabrication toddlers and the casting toddlers and whichever returnees happen to turn up. For me, it's neither here nor there. As long as I have studio access, and a studio monitor form, I'm good no matter what.

I signed up to take Dietrich Dohrmann's class through Community Ed. I'm hoping that since the man trained in 'the old country,' he might be able to teach me raising techniques. If not, I'll have to search further afield. The course description though mentions enameling on copper. I'll stay in the class for that. That is, if the man is content not to force me to set a cab in a bezel on an asymmetrical pendant and call it 'art.'

I'm supposed to write a post, the same post, to three different 'people.' I'll have to think about that. Ticking off the list--my mom, oh wouldn't that be whiny and unpleasant, with a big dash of self-pity thrown in. Museum curator, art critic, nah, I don't think so. BFF, that sounds good, ideal reader, that's not too bad, fellow artist, I could get behind that. I think I'll break out the paper journal and ponder it that way, when I put pen to paper I write differently, I get more contemplative or something. Maybe I'm just making it up.

The cat at the top of the post is Miracle, also known as the Noodle
Read More!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes

In other words, blogging class has begun.

With a commitment to building a more vibrant blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog
Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield. Today’s assignment is to
describe the people I want to visit and read my blog.

That's the suggested opening for this first blogging class post. Through the day, as I have thought about what I wanted for this blog, from this blog, the people I want to connect with and the things I want to get from blogging, I have come to the conclusion that this will only be the first of many times that I visit this idea.

Because I haven't a clue what I want. Or maybe I do, somewhere deep. What was it that Chomsky called it--deep structure, I think. So, yeah, maybe on that deep structure, non-verbal level, on that I-know-it-in-my-gut-but-not-in-my-brain level, I know it all. But here on the surface, it's hard to tell.

Do I care if my readers come from a particular region? I figure I'm restricted to Earth right now and that's good enough for me. Fluent in English would be good. I've watched enough misunderstanding flare up on LJ (or read enough incomprehensible stuff in fanfics that turn out to have been written by non-native speakers). Someone who can spell reasonably well and has some understanding of grammar. Am I being too picky? No text-speak. The occasional LOL is all right, much else and I'd scream. Age? Mature enough that their moms don't get on me for corrupting the morals of a minor if I let slip the occasional expletive. Someone who doesn't think that history began last week. Artists, for sure, and not just metalsmiths or glass workers. People who don't take themselves too seriously, who don't go on and on about deeper meanings and nothing else. Gender? Why would it come up? Politics? Religion? I won't show you mine if you don't show me yours.

People who are

  • mensches
  • kind
  • intelligent
  • funny
  • multi-faceted
  • bipedal
  • non-dogmatic
  • animal lovers--I go riffing on the Fairy Princess once in a while, I'd like them to smile and nod and not yell at me to get back on task
  • gardeners--same thing, if I wax poetic over a new old fashioned rose that I've found that thrives in Florida...
  • honest, not people-pleasing. I'd rather have someone look at my stuff and say, I don't get it, rather than oh my god that's the most scrumptious solid gold thing [I] ever saw? Oh sister!
  • whose heads are not lodged up their butts
  • reasonably comfortable with blogging and computers, but then again, how would they find me if they weren't
  • I'd rather have the rare, pithy comment, something with insight and humanity and humor, rather than 'me toos' and 'omgs'

What do I want to get from this blog? Some far-flung friends I would never have met otherwise because I live in Gainesville and they're in Dublin or Kiev or sailing around the world on a sailboat. To make a place where I document what I'm making, how I got there artistically, emotionally. A place to direct people who are interested in my work, where it's going (in terms of design), shows and things that I might take part in. People who can laugh with me at my foibles and commiserate over the pieces that turn out, well, embarrassingly bad. Who can remind me on those days when I ask myself who the heck am I to think that I'm an artist of the times I've touched them. And let me return the favor.

I'm gonna get me some new red shoes.

Read More!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Proof of life

It's amazing, I added a counter some weeks back and thought to check it. I've actually had people, who are not me, look at this blog. It's not like the numbers are threatening to drown me in a flood of followers but hell, someone looked.

The days are counting down 'til blogging class starts--two weeks. It's far enough off yet that I haven't got a case of butterflies or performance anxiety or what you will but close enough to be real. It's almost here.

Class this term is almost a placeholder. Same thing happened last summer. It's hard to get motivated to drag bags of metal and tools back and forth to the studio in this hot, humid weather. I'm looking forward to fall; I'm looking forward to nights where the temperature dips below 70 degrees; I'm looking forward to using a blanket (heck, I'm looking forward to using a sheet); I'm looking forward to a studio cool enough to use on weekends and a parking lot that doesn't radiate heat up through my bones. Read More!