Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baby Turtle Sculpture

I'm completely and utterly addicted to StumbleUpon. If you aren't familiar with it, StumbleUpon is a fun little social web browsing utility available as an extension for Firefox. You get to select topics you like, and click the stumble button and it sends you to a page in one of those topics that you can then give a thumbs up or down. If you want to see my thumbs up pages you can check it out my StumbleUpon page.

Now one of the topics I selected is animals. I love that topic because it usually leads to lots of pictures of animals which sometimes inspires me to sculpt something. In the past it's led to the Octopuppy. So last night I'm stumbling and this page turns up. I just couldn't resist, a hatching turtle is just too cute. I haven't decided how I want to paint it yet but here's what he looks like:

I haven't decided how to paint this little guy. I think the photos are cute but I'm not sure I like the coloring on the turtle. I think I want something more green.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why Quantum Physics isn't Good Bedtime Reading

Every year my town throws a celebration called Mollyockett day. It's in honor of Mollyockett a native american woman who played a big role in the early history of Bethel, Maine. The highlight of the day for most people is the parade or the fireworks, not for me. The highlight of my day is the library book sale when the local library raises money by selling donated used books really cheap, 50 cents for paperback and $1 for hardcover. I always end up with a very heavy bag (or two) of books. This year I bought 17 books which cost me all of $8.50 (however one book of jokes for new mothers is for a friend of mine that is expecting so I really only got 16 books to read).

Being the strange type of person I am the first book I chose to read was "In Search of Schrödinger's Cat" which is the story of quantum physics. I won't go into much detail about it, go ahead and read it or another book on the topic if you want an explanation. To sum it up though: nothing is real until it is observed and a cat can be both dead and alive at the same time.

Schrödinger's Cat is a thought experiment proposed many years ago that basically says that if you have a cat in a closed box with a bottle of poison gas and a sample of a radioactive substance. At a set time if radioactive decay takes place (which is completely random) the bottle is broken and the cat dies, if it doesn't the cat lives. However since the box is closed you can't know if the cat is alive or dead until the box is open so until it is observed the cat is both dead and alive (or neither).

So late at night lying in bed after reading this the thought just keeps going through my head that I should sculpt Schrödinger's Cat. Or more precisely I should sculpt two cats, one that looks alive and one that looks dead. I will put these cats in boxes, the way I envisage it they would be little wooden boxes that look like shipping crates with Schrödinger's Cat stenciled on the sides, no one aside from me will know which box each cat is in (and if I do a good job makign the boxes look identical I'm likely to forget) so the person buying the cat will not know until they open the box which cat they got.

I've been working on the armature for the two cats, haven't really gotten much further than that because I'm busy with the art show preparations and I'm trying to track down a source for little wooden crates so I don't have to try and built them myself (I have bad luck with most wood working). I don't have photos because that would spoil the surprise. My intention is to not reveal the cats or which box it was in until the first one is sold and opened (I'll of course take photos in advance for this) so after I finish the only photos up will be the sealed boxes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Minor Sculpting Disaster

Thought I'd share why regardless of how long you've been using an oven for curing your polymer clay you should always use an oven thermometer. I didn't today and apparently the temperature in my oven was either running too high or fluctuated higher. This is what happened.

I'm rather sad about it actually, because she was quite cute and I wanted to use this sculpt to experiment with using thin washes of colors such as blue and green over flesh tone clay. A little later I'll mask of the eyes which are glass beads and give it a nice coat of spray primer to see if I can salvage it with a pretty paint job.

Lesson learned, I'll always check the temperature with my oven thermometer from now on.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gearing Up for Moore Art

August 11th I'll be participating in my first ever big outdoor art festival. It's the first annual Moore Art in the Park in south Paris, Maine. I picked this one because it is new, I don't have to worry about an established idea of what the festival has for art, it's going to be pretty small the aim is between 75 and 150 artists compared to the 500+ that some festivals have, and of course it's close to home. That has since become very important since I can't drive it makes it much easier for me to rope friends into driving the truck for me since my parents will be out of town at a wedding that weekend.

I have a lot of preparation to do for this one. The Shy, Novice, and Closeted Show was easy, I just needed my art and a few other things, Moore Art is a whole other deal. Aside from needing enough art, I need tables, displays, the tent, a sign, business card, sales books, and at least a dozen more things, the list is huge and a little overwhelming. I'm slowly chipping away at the list and getting things done.

Over the last couple weeks I've been making more tags for my work, getting more business cards printed, collecting my business stuff that needs to go to the festival in a box, building a necklace display, and more stuff. Most of it is rather boring tedious work but I did get two rather fun things done that I want to show off.

First of all I needed to paint a sign. After a mad search for a suitable board (ended up with a piece of particle board that no one can remember what it was for originally) and a few hours of complete artist's block when it came to a design for my sign I got to work. Since I couldn't come up with an idea, I just decided I'd stop stressing about it and just paint the base coat, I figured that since I did know the base color I wanted that if I got that done maybe something would come to me.

A few months back I refinished an old desk I had been given that was really ugly so it's now much prettier and is the center of my sculpting space. While I was able to strip the hideous varnish off the top and the front of the drawers the rest was a lost cause so I got as much off as possible and painted it using this really pretty sage acrylic latex paint. I still had about a quarter of the can left so I wanted to use it as the base color for my sign. What I hadn't expected is that particle board doesn't like taking color evenly so instead of trying to get a flat finish I broke out the sponges and sponge painted it. The texture came out great and gave me the idea for a dusty green and purple Art Nouveau look.

Second, I decided some Noadi's Art t-shirts would be great to both wear at the festival and as some advertising this weekend when I go to Mollyockett Day in Bethel. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I googled "DIY t-shirts" and "t-shirt tutorials" to see what turned up and if it would jumpstart some ideas. What I found was this great tutorial on do it yourself screen printing. So I pulled up the greyscale image of An tEach Uisce that I used to print up tags and adjusted it until it was completely black and white and added the Noadi's Art text. After I printed it out I traced the image onto the nylons streched onto an embroidery hoop and used modpodge to cover all the blank areas. First I tested the design on the white shirt for my mom, then did the black shirt for myself both with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium. I think they turned out pretty cool.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Art Show Fun

So the Shy, Novice, and Closeted Art Show is over for 2007. I'm still recovering a bit, it was a really long day. So here's how it went:

Thursday July 5th - I had a mad scramble to get things together. My canopy had a slight stability problem (because it's cheap) but with my dad's help I fixed that problem. All the poles can now be bolted together, they aren't going anywhere now. And since the stakes that came with it sucked I raided my brother's weight set for 4 10 lb weights to keep it in place (he's in Japan, he won't miss them).

Apparently my dad wasn't thinking ahead a couple weeks ago when he took all our old newspapers to be recycled because I had a hard time finding enough materials to pack around my sculptures to keep them safe. I finally did though so after some problems with boxes (Odin's Runesong is over 2 feet tall and the largest box I had was exactly 2 feet tall) I had everything together and ready to go.

Friday July 6th - Obviously prior to the show it needed to be set up. Since it was being held in Janet's house which is also under renovation it took a lot of preparation. So a lot of the participants all converged on Janet's house Friday afternoon to get it all ready. It was scrubbed clean, furniture was rearranged, displays were set up and up went my canopy. I tried to get to bed early so I'd be nice and rested but it didn't work, I didn't get to sleep until at least 2am and woke up at 6am.

Saturday July 7th - I was up a little more bright and early than intended. Janet wanted flowers for the show and my mom's garden definitely needed cutting back ina few places so I helped both of them out.

Once I got to the show the first order of business was to get all the flowers everyone brought arranged in vases and any other container handy (we had lots of flowers) and then scattering them around the house, barn and outside. One thing always guaranteed is even if your signs say not opening until 9am people still show up early.

Over the day we probably had around 250 people come through and almost a dozen dogs. This didn't make Janet's dog Sadie very happy. She was okay for most of the day but all the strange dogs coming through her territory finally pushed her a bit too far and she got in a scuffle with a cocker spaniel. Scared the hell out of everyone and tore the little spaniel's ear a bit. If you've ever had a dog cut their ear open you know how much it bleeds. So I ended up playing vet to get the dog's ear cleaned up and reassured the owners and their 5 year old daughter that their dog was going to be fine. Once it stopped bleeding you could barely even see the cut. Janet of course felt awful and offered to pay any vet bills they have though unless it gets infected I doubt they'll need a vet at all.

My display area was in a small room between the barn and the living room that I shared with another artist. We spent a lot of the day chatting about our art and talking with the people coming through and other artists. Overall it was a lot of fun. I got lots of great feedback on my work. I'd have liked more sales since I only sold a couple necklaces but I wasn't surprised since last year was a lot the same. I don't do this show for the money, I do it for the experience and to get the type of feedback that I got. In August when I do Moore Art in the Park that's the one that I'm aimign for sales at because it is a big outdoor art festival that should have 10-20 times as many people coming through.

The cutest thing was the kids, they just seem irresistable drawn to the Perma-Pets. Something about creatures in jars that they seem to like. And I had one solitary person who got the reference for Cthulhu's Gems, it was near the end of the day so I was thrilled to see someone who finally got it.

The plan was to close up at 3pm but it didn't exactly work out that way, we still had people coming through up until 4pm and even a few stragglers showed up after 4 when we were taking everything down.

So here is some of the feedback that I got, let me know what you think too:
- More jewelry designs. I was already planning on doing this, I just haven't come up with any ideas yet.
- Prints. Several people mentioned that they'd like cards or other prints of photographs of my sculptures.
- Gargoyle figures. The woman who bought a Cthulhu's gem loved my gargoyle necklaces but they weren't something she'd wear. She said she'd love to buy a little gargoyle in that style that she could sit on her desk. I really like the idea. I'd already come up with a couple ideas of things that the gargoyles could be doing with their gems since I have a little more freedom with figures than pendants. I like the ideas of one gnawing on his gem and one cuddling it like a teddy bear as he sleeps.

All in all a good experience that gave me lots of ideas for next time. If you want to see more pictures check out my photo set on Fickr.