The Toaster Project
Tuesday May 25th 2010, 9:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I want to share Thomas Thwaites’ “The Toaster Project”

“The project is a reaction to the idea that it’s possible or desirable to be self-sufficient, but also to the view that having more stuff, more cheaply is better.” -Dezeen

(Photo via Dezeen)

Obviously this is a departure from couch cushion architecture. Prima facie, it’s no less absurd. Thwaites wanted to replicate a toaster that he bought for about ten dollars, starting with refining the raw materials. Thwaites writes, “The contrast in scale between between consumer products we use in the home and the industry that produces them is I think absurd…”

It’s a great research project, though. It’s honest, it’s thoughtful, and he’s done his holy homework… including smelting iron in a microwave. (Yes, really.) There’s more information and videos on his process on his website. Check it out.

Couch Cushion Architecture
Saturday May 22nd 2010, 11:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This post is to direct your attention to a pair of blog posts that provide a survey of couch cushion architecture, as well as critical discourse.

Build Blog, Post 1
Build Blog, Post 2

I hope you’ll find them amusing as well. I imagine that a lot of giggling went on while these were being written. An excerpt:

An ambitious architectural statement, this structure takes its design queues from middle-east cave dwellings. The calculated addition of bold colors and rich textures softens the eye and puts one at ease despite the unknown variables in its structural system. Grade: B

Of course the writing is absurd, given its subject. But sometimes I feel the same way about real art criticism…

Glaze Crush
Wednesday May 19th 2010, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have a glaze crush. Perhaps you can relate.

The lucky one?


A glaze made from siliceous stone, rice husk ash, and wood ash… or the nearest Western substitutes. Unfortunately I don’t have any nuka-glazed pieces, so the photos here (except the one above) are from other sources.

image via Clay Craft blog.

I’ve been invited for a wood firing in a couple weeks. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out the glaze: I’ve had a hankering to make some plain ol’ pots for my kitchen, but no inclination to fire them in a plain ol’ reduction kiln. The catch? The glaze relies on an excess of silica for its opacity. The groundhog may range in final temperature from c.6 to c.10, so I’m pretty sure I’m asking for trouble.

A press-moulded bottle by Shoji Hamada, 9″ tall. Credit below.

For the white, almost opaque glaze; we mix equal parts of Terayama stone, wood ash and rice husk or Nuka ash. If the iron content of the body is high the glaze will become blue-grey. I often dip the raw pot in a thin ochre slilp as a base for this glaze and also for the tenmoku glaze. (Shoji Hamada. From: Hamada Potter by Bernard Leach.)

Hamada’s recipe, Westernized:
1 Cornish stone
1 Flint/Quartz/Silica (as you call it)
1 Wood ash

A Westernized starting point in “Ash Glazes” increases the feldspar and reduces the silica from Hamada’s recipe. Rogers recommends increasing wood ash and reducing silica to get an adequate melt, but warns that this will change the opacity if taken too far.

50 Wood ash
60 Feldspar or Cornish stone
40 Quartz

A teacup or Yunomi by William Marshall. 5 inches high. Credit below.

So, that’s what I know. Recipes welcome if you have ‘em, and hopefully I’ll try a few tests in the next week or so. One thing I’m thinking about is using Custer for part or all of the Cornwall; it’ll bring out more blues in any ash that accumulates. Or just using more feldspar in general. Worst case, my version of Nuka heads off into Shino territory. Ah. Wish me luck!

-Hamada bottle. Image from Phil Rogers’ “Ash Glazes”. Published there courtesy of Bonhams, London.
-Recipes from Rogers’ “Ash Glazes”.
-Marshall yunomi. Image from Phil Rogers’ “Ash Glazes”. Yunomi is in the author’s collection.

Pandora’s Boxes
Tuesday May 18th 2010, 2:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I took a deep breath and went to throw away a couple shoeboxes full of old model parts from my undergraduate days. But I made the potentially-fatal error of opening the boxes.

Something happened. The next thing you know I was arranging parts and making space.

How will I ever throw them away now? Ha.

The other thing I found was a clue to a mystery: eight years ago I made a study model that remains a favorite in vague memory. I found one of the parts. Now I’m tempted to start searching sketchbooks and photo archives, just in case there’s any more evidence.

Art: Product? Artifact?
Thursday May 13th 2010, 12:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My post is titled Art: Product? Artifact? as a means of addressing two perspectives on art. I started writing this back in March, so it’s about time to wrap it up, eh?

Art-making: are we making product to sell, or are we selling artifacts of a creative process? Could one of these provide a way to approach making art for a living?

Maybe both? (This is where my architecture background has me behind the curve: there may be volumes written on the topic already.)

I’m wary of “making product” as a mindset that has the potential to add an artificial quality to making. Leslie Ferrin (owner of Ferrin Gallery) gave a talk at NCECA entitled “Selling out without selling out” that, unfortunately, didn’t address the question as much as I’d like, but the title indicates that I’m not the only one thinking about the topic.

At the same time, I’ve made some things that people have liked and bought… and I liked making them. I wouldn’t mind making (and selling) more: these ideas may provide their own tiny income streams. A girl’s gotta pay rent, ya know.

Art-as-artifact has its own potential pitfalls. Viewing art only as artifacts-of-process runs the risk of producing objects that are all but meaningless without their context. Not that there’s anything wrong with this. Buuuuut… I keep saying that I want my work to be able to stand on its own.

I don’t want my insistence that something stand on its own to stop me from making some all-but-inaccessible art/work, if that’s how the process goes. But I do want to understand things for what they are. They are certainly artifacts of a creative process. But I have deep uncertainties about whether it’s fair to call them “art.” Then comes the question of context, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

So, those are some things I think about. Others’ thoughts on the matter are quite welcome.