I didn't want to go, but I did and now I'm happy I did.
I'm graduating! Class of 2023!
Time flies when you're having fun.
I can't believe it's time for graduation. I feel like I just started to think about finishing my degree and here I am just weeks from graduation. It's been a whirlwind these past three months. I've written a thesis on my research and work. I've created two terrific projects to use for my final thesis work. One titled "Troy, Reva, Nora, Sam and Dusty" is five boxes stacked together leaning on one another like a family unit. They each have fused glass panels, some more than one. Each box represents the person and what they meant to me. Dad's is Troy and is a rather stormy mix of blues, greens, yellow, and some pink. He had a stormy personality so it seemed fitting. The green blue light helps illuminate his box. Mom's is the central box that Dad and Nora lean on. Her glass is two layers with the out layer somewhat open to the inner panel through opacity and holes in the glass. We buried her in a pretty little yellow dress with blue flowers and this glass reminds me of it. She loved lavender so the light coming through the box is lavender. Nora's is the most complicated and I feel her mental illness made her the most complicated of the five. She was a beautiful person and so great to me. She was instrumental in my love for all things Cincinnati. She was a great influence and her independence and savvy hopefully rubbed off. Her light is a light purple to accent the glass. Sam's box has a piece of glass that I slumped over fiber paper to show an inner conflict. Sam was a beautiful person and so often misunderstood. She had a lot of internal conflict about her appearance and her place in the world. I love her dearly but was witness to this and it made her a strong person. She weathered it well. Her light is a hot pink because I know she would have loved that. Lastly, is Dusty. He had a lot thrown at him for such a young person. The suicide of his mother and the cancer that took him from us. But through it all, he was by far the most transparent of the five. He persevered regardless of what he came across. For him, there is clear glass slumped over a fractured surface. There's a simple blue light shining through which feels like him to me. I miss them all and would love to have had them at my graduation but they're gone. So I created this to include them in a very important event in my life. I miss them all.
Then It All Came Apart
I feel like relationships start out small and grow and meander around until they explode. They may end in death or they may just end but there is shrapnel left for us to deal with. Shards of that relationship that we carry with us and use as knowledge for the rest of our lives. Some relationships have little shrapnel and others have huge pieces but each one helps us learn and grow. This work is meaningful for me because I've seen this recurring surge of love and loss throughout my life and know that it's a necessary part of living.
The one promise with glass is that it will crack
and break your heart.
After 70 hours of painstakingly putting small chards of glass together to create this image of my nephew, Dusty, it broke in the firing. I was so depressed for three days I couldn't bring myself to talk about it. I cried for an entire day. Some of it was mourning the piece, some of it was delayed mourning for sweet Dusty. But even now, I have a hard time looking at it. I plan to go back when I get my legs back and try to fix it but I need clarity of mind before I can work on it again. I ramped up too quickly for the thickness of the piece and it cracked from thermal shock. In the moment it cracked, it slightly popped apart and moved every so slightly out of alignment causing the mouth to be misaligned. I was sick to my stomach when I saw it. This work was completed for a class taught by Tim Carey, the internationally renowned glass artist who made the Resurrection Church window in Kansas that's the size of a basketball court. I was supposed to upload it for critique by all I could do was cry. I didn't hear a word Tim said, I just cried. Lessons learned:
1. Don't get too emotionally attached to the work, it's crippling when it goes wrong.
2. Don't focus on the failure during a crit, let the instructor talk and try to absorb what they are saying so you can take full advantage of their expertise.
3. Try to finish early enough that this isn't a surprise the day of. I had waited to fire again for additional glass supplies to show up in the mail. It delayed my progress significantly.
4. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and pick up and try to make something of it otherwise it truly will be a failure. But until you challenge yourself to finalize it, it's still has potential.
5. Stop while you're ahead. I liked the piece so much better before this firing. Cracking aside, I wish I had left it along. I like the graphic nature of it better before this firing was completed.
6. Be grateful for the suggestions of others. It's so hard to listen to people make suggestions on how to handle it when you're in the thick of the disappointment. They really mean to be helpful. Make a mental note to be more sympathetic to others in the future without trying to provide a solution. Just let them talk about their disappointment and don't try to solve it. Confirm that you're confident they will be able to make the decisions necessary to finalize their project. Don't interject your opinion every time. Just listen and try to comfort them.
7. Be sure to view the image with light behind it. While the frit pieces looked great on the table, they do not hold up under a backlit situation. They muddied the piece and did not add to the overall design.
The one thing I did right was to walk away from this piece to give myself time to work through the problems. I'll fire it again to remedy the crack and will apply some frit and other glass components to make it better. There's still time to save it.
Logic made me cry... another great reason to do online education.
As a part of the standard curriculum to spin out "well rounded" college students, even Fine Art Majors have to take a class in quantitative analytics. I look at my options and chose a psych class called Intro to Logic. I thought, this will be great. I'll be better equipped to argue logically with Mike. I guess it one of those lessons everyone learns, but it has been a very hard lesson. This class is more algebraic than logical. Each week, we learn a new set of rules and we're given a problem set. I'm three weeks from finishing the class and working on the second Mid-term. It's a disaster. I've been limping along and struggling the whole time. The entire class is asynchronous but the professor has a time each week we can login and ask questions. I couldn't finish the last question of the Mid-Term but you can get partial credit for your work, so I tried. I logged in the day after the Mid-Term was due to get an explanation on where I went wrong in my answer. The professor is a great guy. I can see he really loves what he does, but I swear, my mind just doesn't work this way. Each week, I read the book chapters, watch the videos and then try to figure out the problems. Each time I get one right (the system they use tells you if you get the question right), I dance a little jig. But after the Mid-Term, I met with the professor to see where I went wrong and as he was explaining it to me, I began to cry. I guess the frustration just became too much and I burst into tears. Meanwhile, he is explaining away and I'm on the Webex listening and thinking, I'm not going to brush the tears away, that will be a dead giveaway that I'm crying. I feel confident he was unaware, but it ruined my day. I just came to tears at the drop of a hat after that. I'm not a kid, I'm a grown woman and I'm not a cryer. To make things worse, by the end of the day, I had a terrible headache.
In 21 days the class will be over and it won't be soon enough. I really hope I can get through the rest of it without another breakdown. It's not productive. And it's end of quarter so I have a quite a bit to do with the other two classes. Fingers crossed.
Lesson learned: Do not go by the course description. Find another resource to get a better explanation of what I'm getting myself into.
The Circle of Life
This piece is 32" in diameter. It's made of glass, plaster, metal and acrylic. I finished the glass first. My little 15" kiln was running 24 hours. I'd set a timer to get up in the night to start the next round so the glass would be done in time. Mapping the glass out on the circle to leave room for the shark was tricky. All along I was molding the fish. Then doubt began to creep in. It was a nail biter. I started to doubt the design of the fish. I showed it to my brother, Phil and he said it looked more like a Grouper rather than a shark turning. I love him and hate him all at the same time but in the class critique this came up too, so it doesn't read well. At this point, there is little I can do about that. There was a lot of problem solving along the way. First I cut the metal frame an inch too short. I don't know why, just to help make it interesting I guess. Then some of the acrylic mounts were off a bit in height. By far, the most difficult part of this project was mapping the glass. The glass is at six different elevations. This was the first time I used a mold. The mold process should have been easy but I pulled my fish out before the mold was completely set and it ended up costing me about 14 hours of my time sanding the fish down so they all looked smooth and uniform.
The frame was guild by my husband. He had never made the a stand like this before but wanted to cut up an old work out machine and use it for the stand. Great idea. But the stand was not stable, even without the glass so we cut it down a bit. I like the final design very much. The base has a metallic paint applied which creates its own set of problems. The metallic flecks take on their own pattern so applying it is tricky. You can't really touch it up.
Each of the acrylic mounts is screwed into the circular metal 12 gauge metal base. The base has 8 little holes drilled in so light can pass through. It is a fascinating affect. You can't see that in this photo, but it is really something to see in person. We're going to work on a light source so this can be shown with a light source.
From Concept to Implementation
Sometimes I get an idea, or in some cases an assignment, which causes me to draw out the general concept. My biggest fear is that it will be a "nailed it" moment when I'm finished. Most times what I think of is not easy to create. Once I have my idea down on paper, I consult with my design team - My husband, Mike, and Rick, our neighbor, to see what havoc I have just unleashed on the studio. They have a few laughs at my naivete and expense then we talk about how it can actually happen. I want a round frame? They want to know why can't it be square - that's so much easier. I say because we're not doing square, round works best for this design. Then, unfortunately, we start searching Harbor Freight to see how much the tool is going to cost to complete this work. Besides the cost of the glass, metal, plaster, etc.
I'm doing an experiment on this piece. I'll post the finished work and we can compare how close the general concept was to the finished product. In the case of Chakaia below, the finished product was really very close to the finished work. At least it was in my mind. Stand by.
Walking in Someone Else's Shoes.... or Working in Their Style.
I realize it's never pleasant to see how the sausage is made, but it's important to know it's a process and that art doesn't just magically appear. It is hard work, trial and error along with the support of your peeps. This part of my practice is the most enjoyable. I bit off way more than I could chew. I'd like to thank my always supportive husband, Mike. He worked tirelessly (no pun intended) to eventually create a tool to help me cut tires to finish this piece. He even sourced bias ply tires to make my life so much easier. Rick Devine, under the geiss of "practicing his welding" helped to build the armature. When Mike, Rick and I went to welding class with Crummie Welding, I had hoped it would result in a collaboration of talent and hard work, There were others who contributed. Mr. Tire, Tire Discounters and Cycle Specialties were all enormously helpful by donating tires to the build. Angie Unger at Brazee Studios walked me through the process of making a mold. I can't say enough about her patience and willingness to try new things. She is a true professional and has a unique enthusiasm and curiosity that makes her a great collaborator. Chris and Sharon Hughes contributed with a hand and moral support. As you can see, it takes a village to create at Studio 51! And, that brings me to one of the most important contributors - Suzanne Connolly. Without whom we would not have adequate work space. Suz has graciously provided her garage as our studio space. Her contribution in absentia does not go unnoticed. You can see a video of this work under Work/Mixed Media Sculptures. Enjoy, I certainly did.
The Nostalgia of a Matchbook!
I feel like I should be producing really good quality work. My classmates certainly are. This piece is from my Intro to Sculpture class. The theme was Nostalgia. The work had to be at least 20 inches in length and made of cardboard and edge banding. This work is 20 x 25 x 4. In the photo you can see the work next to a regular size matchbook. The shamrock is fused glass in keeping with my interest with glass, i wanted some element of this to be glass. When you open the matchbook, it has my name and childhood phone number written in it. Effectively signing work with my first name on the inside and my last name on the exterior.
While I felt like this was a throwback to the old days in graphic design when you had to cut film to shade a product. It was a fun project and me and a number of my friends have gotten a kick out of the ridiculous scale..
I really tried to create a piece worthy of being shown. But cardboard, tape and letter are really tough to get placed just right to be convincing. It was a kit during critique. I was proud of it when it was all said and done. You can see more details under Works/Mixed Media Works.
I'm about to launch on a really fun sculpture for the theme Containment. I have big ideas. Stand buy to see if I can pull it off. Mike thinks what I have planned is too ambitious. We'll see.
The smile says it all!
Straight A's was what I wanted for Christmas and that's what I got. So happy. But I'm going to try and not let this be the focus going forward. Focus on the learning and not the grade. Can you separate the two? I don't know.
All I know is that I put my best foot forward. Next semester is my first studio class in 30 years. Looking forward to that. I have some concerns about doing it virtually but that was not an issue this semester with the classroom setting. I put in the studio time, so don't think it will be a problem.
2021 is going to be a good year. We're going to eradicate Covid and get back to normal. Fingers crossed. The journey continues.
Crunch time is over!
The end of the quarter has come and gone. It really was crunch time at the end. I'd prepared but when it came time to write the VAC thesis paper, I choked. It took me four full days to write a five page paper. I'm completely out of shape on thesis papers. I spoke with my professor several times about it before I drilled in on a suitable thesis. I watched Youtube, read articles on how to write a proper paper and referenced Purdue Owls site on complying with MLA guidelines.... and then I tried to write my thesis which just completely eluded me. I'm hoping I don't have to write many of these, but maybe now that I have it under my belt I'll do better next time.
The hardest part is the waiting. I don't really know why the grade is important to me. I'm not counting on reimbursement from my company or fearful of parental disgust. I just think at my age, I should be hitting it out of the ballpark. Fingers crossed.
Slowly grades are coming through. I haven't gotten my final grade in Professionalism and Purpose but I received a congratulatory message from my Co-op advisor stating that I had passed it. Great! Have not gotten the grade on my thesis but received feedback from a TA that my thesis was strong and the paper was good. So the pressure's off. I don't know how I did in my ICA class as my in-class presentation on my final artwork which was supposed to relate to a reading from the class fell flat. That was super disappointing as I really worked hard to put together a great project. I think the point was more how it tied into the readings than the quality of the work of art. I was sadly dismayed with the accolaids my fellow students got on projects that looked like they did little more than throw some clothes on the floor and photographing them. Live and learn.
So as you settle in with your family for the holidays, I hope whatever you are working on is graded well and expeditiously.
A journey of learning.
11/24/2020 - Final Project
Spent the weekend working in Studio 51. That's what we're calling the new studio in the garage of my sister-in-law's house down the street from us. She hasn't moved in and we're taking advantage of the extra space.
Meet "Glass Ceiling". I was sorry to see the passing of RBG and thought I should work her into my art. Then I started thinking about all the women, like her, who have made significant contributions to society through hard work and determination. Blazing a trail for the rest of us. Not just blazing a trail for women but the world. Showing everyone how steadfast commitment and determination can change the world. I added two other women, Condoleezza Rice and Greta Thunberg. Funny, everytime I type Greta it comes out Great and that seems fitting. Great Greta is a Swedish environmental activist who is challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. Condoleezza Rice was the first female African American Secretary of State and first woman to serve as National Security Advisor. She always impressed me with her delicate features but boldly went where no woman had gone before. All of these women were or are fearless. We need more of their gumption.
And, on a personal note, I used to knock Koons and Chillulie because they are the sole creator of their works. They have an idea but hire technicians to build out the idea. I have a whole new appreciation for their works now that I'm working on sculpture. There's so much to learn in the use of the material and the equipment that my husband has been providing me assistance and honestly, I don't know what I'd do without him. He has such a thorough knowledge of the use of the tools and their capabilities. It impresses me. I still have artistic control and have to veto some of his suggestions and ideas, but it's great to have his support and to spend time with him.
Inside the Kiln - 11/19/2020
Sometimes it's easier to build inside the kiln. This could be a metaphor for life. You just have to dive in and do the work. I'm at the point in this project where the rubber meets the road. I've already worked through the general concept, built it out and now it's time to assemble it for the glass firing. I love it when a plan comes together. But in many instances, this is when the project changes. For all the best made plans, sometimes you just have to react on the fly.
And, boy does a phone come in handy for following the pattern which I had photographed earlier. The flash light feature come in handy in low light situations like in the kiln too!
I can tell before I even fire it that I would do things different next time. And I generally have a do-over. But sometimes it turns out perfect. Or I can live with the small issues that would require a do over. Isn't that just the way life goes both inside and outside the kiln.
11/15/2020 - It's all about timing
Glass has a range that most people don't realize. But as with many things in life, it's all about timing. Glass is a planned medium. Unlike painting or other forms of expression which are fairly immediate, glass takes planning and time. Deliberate placement. That is a natural fit for me. I like planning. I plan for a living. Combine planning with experimentation and you have the perfect medium. Don't get me wrong, I'd like it to be immediate and some of it is complete guesswork or happy accidents as our old pal Bob Ross would say. This new work is fused glass and the subtlety of it has great appeal to me. You can view more on this piece under Works where I've posted some details of the hands. I love the linear quality of hands and the way light bounces around and defines them. I love that they can say so much without the need for words. And hands can stand alone without the rest of the body. The recurring clasped hands are a sign of triumph. A positive message for us all.
I'm at a very weird moment in my artistic career. Building on past knowledge but forging on to find new opportunities, the timing seems right to me.
I've had a kiln for years and use it sometimes for small projects. This project requires a bigger kiln which I rent at Brazee Studios in Oakley. I should mention that Angie Unger, the Event Coordinator and Instructor for Brazee has been very helpful. She is fearless with ideas and motivation. Sometimes people come into your life at just the right time.
This bowl will serve as a glass shade for a ceiling fixture located in our stairwell. It was time to replace the one I have and once again, the timing is everything.
11/1/2020 - What is it about plasma that is so fascinating?
And here we go! From glass to metal, it's a whole new ballgame. I think the two will compliment each other very well. We enjoyed the welding class last week with Roy Crummin of Crummy Welding. He taught us Mig and Tig. Not sure which I like best yet but they both have merits. Went with Mike, my husband, Rick Devine, our neighbor. Mike and Rick are totally into Tig because it seems cleaner and can do delicate work. Being the proverbial "Bull in a China shop", I think Mig is for me. Let the sparks fly.
10/1/2020 - One foot in front of the other
I did it! I learned how to read music. Admittedly, I still have a lot to learn. It's such a pleasure to be able to make music. I'm always surprised when I'm working on a piece and hear Mike (husband) whistling it through the house. Music really matters to me. It's a creative process that works my mind like nothing else. But I've got so much more to learn. Time to go back to school.
Usually, in the fall as students head back to the University of Cincinnati campus, I feel melancholy. I'm longingly wishing I was going back with them. Not this year.
As the Covid shut down continued, I started to hear that some colleges might not go back to in-person learning right away and I wondered if I could work that to my advantage. Maybe this was the "in" I needed to finish my degree. My biggest impediment to going back to school is the over long commute. And, the fact that it conflicts with my real job, a good job I love. Our local news folks always point out the congested areas on the highway maps "in the red" and I've always been thankful I didn't have to get caught up "in the red". If I could go back and not have to deal with the "in the red" areas, I'd enjoy it more.
There would be several hurdles. Would UC's DAAP program take me back? How long would it take now to finish the degree? How could I juggle work and school? How would I pay for it? Can my mind still learn? And then all the pieces started to fall together. Turned out UC was willing to take me back. I talked to my boss about making arrangements to do some flex time. I still had significant out of pocket for tuition but the savings related family health care provided by the university at a significantly cheaper cost than our existing catastrophic coverage made it easier to swallow. Could this work? Then my sister-in-law told me she was going back to school at UC to upgrade her nursing degree from an Associates to a Bachelor's degree. Now, the wheels in my mind started turning. So I reached out to an advisor to see how long it would take.
I gave this commitment a serious amount of thought. I spoke with my brother who had gone on to get his Master's during a particularly challenging time in his life and I thought - Yes, it can be done. Funny thing is that after I made the leap and announced my intentions to my brother, Phil, he gave me a paper weight with the works "It CAN be done" on it.
My nephew, Chad, told me a story once about going hiking with a friend into the Grand Canyon. Everything was great going down, but when it came time to start back up, the friend said "I can't do it". Chad replied, you have to. It's just one foot in front of the other until you reach the top. So off I go, taking the first step up.
This is a blog about my journey. I'm in week five and had to build a portfolio website for Professionalism and Purpose class and thought I'd add this blog to journal my journey.