Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Archive for April, 2018

“Cool Sizzle” at Art All Night … Tonight!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/04/28

Yes, the last weekend in April once again brings us Art All Night! And Cool Sizzle will be spending all night night there tonight!

Cool SizzleThe Piece

Living in Steeltown (aka Pittsburgh, PA) it seemed only right that my tenth-ever entry into this annual show should, at last, be made from steel! All my earlier ones used silver, bronze, and/or copper, so steels’s the one metal from my main repertiore that hasn’t yet been shown there.

Specifically, Cool Sizzle was made from a steel that is both “sintered” and “black.” Regular readers of this blog will likely know what that means. If you’ve just landed here from the tag on my piece at Art All Night, the most important things to take from that are:

  • sintered: relatively light in weight for its size, and
  • black: not a shiny, stainless steel.

Sometimes I carefully design a piece (i.e., with a theme and a title from the start) but, more often, I start with a vague idea and see where the piece takes me. This was definitely one of the latter. Late last year (actually, while doing some Christmas shopping) I noticed a silicon trivet / potholder with a cute “flat bubble” design on it that I thought would make a nice “texture stamp” for a jewelry piece, so I bought it as a little gift to myself, and set it aside. Just this past Monday, anticipating Art All Night, I was looking around my studio and debating whether to enter something I already had on hand or try to complete something totally new. I moved the tray of enamel powders that just happened to be sitting on top of that trivet, and I knew: try to make something with it, out of steel, and colored with enamels!

Why call it Cool Sizzle?

The “sizzle” refers, not just to the bubbly pattern, but even more to all the heat involved in making it:

  • construted using the “metal clay” process, it was fired in a kiln to nearly 1900°F for two hours;
  • a certain amount of rust-protection was added via a “hot bluing” process (which turns it black…) of repeatedly heating it with a torch flame until glowing and then rapidly cooling it by quenching;
  • adding color by wet-packing vitreous enamel powders into some of the hollows in the design, which ended up taking five more firings (though only at about 1500°F this time).

And the “cool” refers to:

  • the use of mostly cool colors (blues and green) in the design (with just a touch of yellow (but not red or orange), meant to reflect the piece’s lightness (rather than for warmth)), and
  • how the metal normally feels relatively cool to the touch.

The Event

The rules for Art All Night are simple: one (only one) piece per artist, anyone can enter, with no fees, no jury, no censorship. Also, no sales at the show itself, but participants can offer bids on entries that are then passed along to the artists when they pick up their work. It’s up to the artists to then contact anyone who has bid on their art. If you get one bid at or above your asking price, you just arrange a time and place to make the sale. If you get more than one bid, or offers below your asking price, then negotiations can commence. I haven’t been overwhelmed with bids on every entry I’ve made over the years, but the majority of them have happily gone to a bidder (several at more than my asking price!), and all but one of the others have sold very soon afterwards. (The lone hold-out is actually one of my personal favorite pieces, and I’ve really no clue why it’s still in my collection!)

2018 represents the 21st annual Art All Night event, and the first one not held in the Lawrenceville neighborhood! I wasn’t even living in Pittsburgh when I first discovered it: I was still living in California then, and just happened to be in town for a conference, noticed a little blurb about it in the local arts & entertainment newspaper, and decided to go check it out. And was blown away by this wonderful (then, little) exhibit of community art! It had everything from little-kid “refrigerator” art (with some great bidding wars among grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.!), to people who made something (NFS: Not For Sale) for themselves that they’d just like to let others see, to wild constructions you’d never, ever see in a regular gallery anywhere, to works that were clearly professional creations, and more.

A year (or was it two?) later, I was invited to come back to the area for a job interview around the same time of year. So I checked to see when Art All Night would be, and asked to schedule the trip for dates that could include it. I didn’t get that job but, surprise, a couple years later was invited to interview for a different position. And I scheduled it the same way again! That one ended up involving a lot of negotiating and re-designing and more negotiating before it got sorted out so it wasn’t until a whole year later when a house-hunting trip just happened to coincide again. Oh, and in between there somewhere were a couple little springtime vacation trips to visit with some friends that I also planned for late April. And I’ve continued to go, to volunteer, to offer demos, to enter pieces — one or more of those each year — since actually moving here. And if/when I ever move away, I sure hope I will want and be able to return for future Art All Night events!

But the thing about it is how much it has grown over the years! It started rather small, but grew quickly. The growth has slowed a bit in recent years, but it is still so very big that finding a suitable venue is now a challenge. Community Development Corporations use it as a way to draw first hundreds, then thousands, and now tens of thousands of people to some huge yet empty building. In addition to the pieces hung on walls, displayed on tables, or built up on-site on the floor, there’s live music, art demonstrations, participatory activities, food & drink, and more. And it really does stay open all night: current hours are from 4 pm on Saturday through 2 pm on Sunday! Adding up the different times I’ve gone to it across all the years, I’ve been there at just about every time of day or night, and the vibe does vary over the duration. Do let me know when you’d like to go!

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I took the challenge, and read this one too!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/04/10

The last time I noticed some shorthand in a “classic” Peanuts comic strip, a little over two years ago, I found it easy to read as soon as I relaxed and noticed places where the “code” matched the “text” next to it. So I began to just focus on reading the symbols before I’d confirm my reading by looking at the text. And then, once my brain was back into reading that, it was easy to also decode the opening and closing parts that were not duplicated in text.

This week’s strip (which I finally got around to reading tonight…) posed a little more of a challenge: none of the shorthand, though brief, was translated in the text! But, after a few false starts, I did decode it.

After many years of not reading shorthand regularly, when I encounter any now I tend to start with the simplest words, just to get my mind back into that groove, and then go back to fill in the gaps. I was thrown by this one, at first, because what I initially read as “took” turned out to be “to the” and what I was trying to read as either “ear” or “year” turned out to be “your” …. Yes, part of reading shorthand does involve context!

My key to this one turned out to be the “w” sounds, which I found particularly funny because, the last time, a missing “w” sound was the one place that threw me (what I saw as setter made more sense if read as sweater). Here, it was the presence of three “w” sound symbols that kept me on track. (In my paper, the first one had even been printed with a bit of a blur, but nothing else made sense. That had to be what it was.)

Can you read the shorthand? If so, please let me know … just because it’d be nice to know if anyone else still in my life now also has that skill set in their background! If not, don’t worry, I’ll transcribe this bit at the end of this post, after you’ve seen the comic:

from www.gocomics.com/peanuts/2018/04/08

Snoopy dictates:
… your recent repairs to the roof of my dwelling are quite inadequate …

And now, I must get back to doing something productive…

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When Second Saturday becomes Third Sunday…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/04/09

the 2018 March for Science Pittsburgh logoRemember when I said that I’d be holding open house Studio Sessions mostly on the second Saturday of each month? Well, April is going to have to be one of the exceptions!

I’m shifting the event one day later, to April 15, which just happens to end up being the Third Sunday of that month. Yeah, well, (mathematically, modulo 7) that’s how calendars work in any month that starts on a Sunday!

I’ll have a mini-show that day, from about Noon to 5 pm. Mostly I’ll bring over pieces that remind me of spring, which is trying (with some difficulty) to arrive. I’ll also have some other items that I think you might want to consider if you’re shopping for Mother’s Day gifts. Let me know if there are any specific kinds of pieces you”d like me to have on hand to consider.

Or, if you’re more interested in making than shopping, do let me know by Thursday night if you want me to set up a place for you to work … because the only time this week I have available to do that set-up is Friday morning. If you just want to talk about techniques, or see samples & ask questions about any of my upcoming classes, you’re also welcome to just stop by any time between Noon and 5!

Why can’t I do that on Saturday? Because I will (again) volunteer for the March for Science in Oakland. Though various aspects of “STEAM” have been important to me in different ways over the course of my life, I can’t think of a day that hasn’t been made better by some combination of them! So, if you go to the March for Science in Pittsburgh, do look for me and say “Hello!”

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