I’ve had graduation on my mind lately. And when the idea to make a tiny Graduation Narwhal popped into my head, I couldn’t shake it.
So here he is, a very intelligent narwhal. He’s so proud to wear his cap. Of course, it pins on… so when graduation day is over, the cap can be easily removed.
I couldn’t resist taking a class photo… because what good is a graduation cap if it doesn’t go airborne?
The tiny narwhals with graduation caps are available in the Fluffyland Shop. Quantity is limited, since I don’t have too much time to spare… but I had to make a few, since they’re just too adorable.
Hopefully now that this idea’s out of my head, I can finally finish the last of my homework (ever!) !
(“so how did you use your photography minor?” “well, i’m pretty good at taking adorable pictures of stuffed animals…”)
At the end of every semester, the Art Studio hosts a week-long gallery show. It’s a wonderful chance for us to display our art, and it’s also a great way to preview the art course offerings – many students don’t realize these classes are available at such a technical school.
My work in this show marks the completion of my Photography minor. I completed two independent studies: one in Black & White film, one in Color Digital. Pure contrasts.
I had difficulty choosing subject matter for my black & white study (i posted about it back in January) but finally decided on hands/body language/gestures. My intent was to capture the many things we can tell about a person without seeing his or her face.
After a few rolls of film filled with failed attempts, my study took a better turn. I took my camera to a familiar place, a place filled with interesting and hardworking hands: the machine shop where I work as a Teaching Assistant.
I captured my students and my teaching assistant buddies, all working hard and all speaking volumes with just their hands. I can feel how awesome Ryan feels when he sits on that table for a quick break, and I can tell Valoryn’s hand belongs to a girl by the way she holds the handle on the mill. And Jim’s hands, practiced and worn, celebrate 20 years of teaching.
I’m happy I used this study to capture something so precious to me. I’ve loved the 1.5 years I spent in that shop, and now I’ve captured it forever.
My color study focuses on textures, patterns, and, well, color. The first half of the semester was posted in full here, and I will post the rest soon. The digital prints come together so much faster – we don’t get the bonding time in the darkroom like I do with the film prints – so I don’t feel as attached to these. But it felt wonderful to see them all together on the wall.
There’s something to be said about hanging art. All semester, I’ve referred to these as “studies”, but they don’t become cohesive studies until they are up on that wall, coordinating and opposing one another, drawing parallels and contrasts, and saying, “I am art. That’s why I’m on this wall.” It feels good to finally have them all displayed.
I apologize for the awkward lighting in the photos; I intend to make scans of the black & whites and post them in full. But I love having documentation of them on that wall.
It’s been an exhausting week. Exhausting in every sense. I finished the majority of my finals, papers, and projects, which took no small amount of time and concentration. But on top of that finals stress, I have this extra emotional layer. It’s a complex emotion, a savory blend of “you made it!” and “you’re leaving, goodbye.” I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I’m certainly ready to graduate, and I’m certainly rejoicing that this is my last Finals Week. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss school, and the person I am when I’m here. I hate the stress, but I love to learn. This emotional discomfort sits in the back of my head, causing me to toss and turn long after my bedtime. I’ve left this school for summer plenty of times, and I’m worried that this time it won’t feel different. I want it to feel different.
So today, after my German final, I treated myself to an afternoon of stuffing tiny narwhals in the sun against a pile of pillows. I have plenty of work to do yet this weekend, but I also have done plenty of work this week. I deserve a small mental (and emotional) break.
Happy Friday, everybody. You earned it!
mocs & pockets, a diptych.
black & white film photography
shot and developed feb. 2013; enlarged and printed apr. 2013
i also stood on the coffee table today to capture our circle-filled breakfast.
it was delicious.
A few Fridays ago, I cashed in a sweet Groupon: a glass blowing party at J & C Glass Studio.
I’ve been slowly working my way up in the world of hot glass. First, of course, are the fusing experiments I’ve been doing in my kiln, which usually don’t go above 1600°F. This allows for a “full fuse”, meaning the glass layers meld into each other until they appear as one flat piece of glass. Next came a class on lampworking glass beads with a torch (also a groupon!): the torch can emit a flame of nearly 5000°F! But it is a small torch.
But the glassblowing furnace? It holds a pool of molten glass at around 2000°F. Two thousand degrees! Held constant throughout the entire furnace! That’s a lot of energy.
To make this bowl, we first dipped the end of the rod into the furnace of molten glass. All of the glass prepared for us in the furnace was clear glass – but in its molten state it was golden.
After collecting this blob of molten glass on the end of the rod/tube, we dipped it in yellow frit. Frit is tiny pieces of glass, ground almost to a powder, all of a uniform color. It’s used to easily provide precise color in hot glass projects – but for us, it’s what gives this bowl its swirly, spotty coloring because each little fleck melts smoothly into the molten surface.
Molten and fritted, it was time to blow the blob into a bulb. Blob to bulb to bowl! There’s a summary for you.
These pictures are actually in the wrong order – sorry Brad, I wanted to be at the top of the post! But the picture with Brad shows the bulb – it’s a blob of glass with a big air pocket inside. Once it’s big enough, the blowing part is done, and they actually stick it onto a second rod to start shaping the lip of the bowl.
That’s what I did. When I started at the bench seat, I had a rod (Rod #2) with a bulb – and the bulb had a tiny hole on the end from where it had been removed from Rod #1. The instructor made sure the rod was kept spinning constantly while I pulled the lip down with those giant tongs. Somewhere in there we dipped the rim in orange frit so that the bowl would have an orange rim.
What amazed me (and this shouldn’t have been a surprise, I know!), was how hot the glass was. My arm was over the bowl as I used the tongs, and I thought I was being burned just from the heat emanating from the molten bowl. Brad felt the same way – he thought the hair on his arms was about to catch fire! When I got home, my arm was red and splotchy, like I had been sunburned. But it was fine by morning. I wasn’t worried, exactly, but it was a little bit painful! I gained a new respect for the artists who work at that studio every day.
Once the bowl was appropriately sized and shaped, we removed it from the rod (accomplished using precise drips of water and a firm tap!) and it went into the kiln to be annealed – cooled slowly to prevent stress fracture. The whole process, from blob to bulb to bowl, took less than 15 minutes. With molten glass, you have to work fast!
Last week, we got to go pick it up! We hadn’t seen it in a not-molten state, of course, so we were very excited.
As you can see, it matches my curtains quite nicely.
And yes, it’s a little bit lopsided. But not very! Also – it’s pretty big! The diameter at the widest point of the lip is nearly 7 inches. So it can fit lots of snacks.
Our names can be easily removed, but I haven’t wanted to do so yet. I rather like them there, because it proves, hey, we made this.
It was really fun to take time out from a busy week and go Make Something New. I love that feeling. It was tricky – glassblowing is certainly an advanced art, and we had lots of help – but it was fun. I can’t wait to do more hot glass projects in my kiln this summer. And I can’t wait to eat lots of snacks out of this beautiful bowl.
Today I’m going to share with you an awesome (and easy!) herringbone-patterned shirt I made with Lumi’s Inkodye.
What is Inkodye? It is photo-cured dye, a dye that develops in sunlight. This means you can use large negatives to develop awesome printed pictures, or you can make shadow prints using opaque objects. The biggest advantage of Inkodye to me, though, is the fact that, until it is hit by sunlight, it can be washed off. That means you can make a mistake, and if you haven’t exposed the dye yet, your piece isn’t ruined. Try that with a standard dye!
It can be used to dye natural materials: cotton, linen, or silk. For this project, I chose a standard Target longsleeve tee, 60% cotton/40% polyester. I washed and dried the shirt in order to preshrink it… then I just had to wait for Cleveland to give me a sunny day.
The color used in this tutorial is Yellow Green. Lumi no longer sells Yellow Green, but they now sell Inkodye in Blue, Orange, and Red. The orange looks amazing.
For my negative, I wanted to use something that wouldn’t blow away on a sunny but windy day. So I chose to make a herringbone pattern out of masking tape!
I did not measure, but placed the tape as evenly as I could. I wanted the finished pattern to have a not-quite-perfect, hand-painted look.
Once I was done taping, I slid a piece of cardboard (an empty cereal box) inside the shirt to add stiffness and prevent the dye from bleeding through. Then I moved to a room with only one window, closed the blinds, and applied the Inkodye using a paintbrush. It is slightly goopy, not at all runny like many dyes can be. This quality makes it easy to apply with a paintbrush, a foam brush, or possibly even a squeegee for a screenprinting attempt.
Having applied the Inkodye, I carefully carried the shirt outside into the sun, and set my timer for 10 minutes!
I watched the color slowly deepen, and when the timer was up, I could definitely see a change in the dye’s shade. So I carried my shirt inside.
I returned to the dark room and carefully removed the tape from the shirt. I then handwashed the shirt in my sink, using standard laundry detergent (free & clear).
After handwashing, and pretty sure I had removed most of the excess dye goo, I stuck the shirt in the washing machine by itself, again with regular detergent.
The shirt lightened considerably after its real washing, most likely due to the polyester in my shirt fabric. I quite like the subtlety of the pattern, so I wasn’t disappointed, but it is something to keep in mind for future projects. After wearing it for a full day in the sun and washing it normally, it now has the aqua color shown in my awkward modeled shots.
I’m guessing the change in dye color upon first wearing is due to the polyester content of my chosen fabric, but it should be noted that the dye may be slightly unpredictable (as many dyes are). Perhaps the uncertainty of the mixture is what caused Lumi to stick to their base colors of Red, Orange, and Blue. But also worth noting is the fact that it hasn’t changed color further after that first wear – I’ve worn and washed this shirt plenty of times now and it’s still the same aqua-green.
Regardless, this is one of the easiest dyes I’ve worked with, and I feel it has lots of potential.
Hurray, Inkodye, for a quick and easy little project, and a very cute shirt!
And finally, to answer the most important question: yes, my necklace is a pretzel clown.
My Mama gave it to me recently. It was hers when she was younger, and when she gave it to me she said, “I’m giving this to you because I think you will actually wear it.” Actually wear it?! It’s the greatest pretzel clown ever! I wear it all the time.
(Lumi provided me with the Inkodye for this project at no cost. I was not further compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own – I really do think it’s super cool stuff.)