My work is now available in a new online curio shop called The Odd Luminary. The Odd Luminary presents itself as being dedicated to an eclectic elderly gentleman, and his unworldly travels. The benefit to you and me is we get to peruse the wonderfully curated collection of handmade oddities that he brings back.
The site is divided into several categories ranging from the vivarium to the laboratory, where my contented beasts are featured. One of my pieces, “Rock/Nest” is even available exclusively through them. Exploring the site with all its art and goods seems to be a delightful way to spend an hour or two.
I recently had a chance to do a pit firing with Hilary Chan. He’s a great guy with a fairly fascinating ceramics blog. One of the most exciting things about doing the pit firing with him is the way he approaches it so scientifically. He’s from a tech background, and has made a scientific approach a key part of his artist process. While I try and take the occasional note (seldom referring back to them), this man is as thorough and as consistent as I could ever dream to be . He photographs every piece during ever stage of preparation and firing. He works to build theories from his notes, striving to prove or disprove them every firing. As someone from a scientific background myself, I found it awesome and inspiring. The whole experience has impressed in me the idea of pit firing as a petri dish, a small scale arena to experiment and explore, as I wait for the fall wood firing. Anyway, scientific musing aside, I figured it would be fun to explain exactly what a pit firing entails.
Pit firing is a very primative firing method. By primitive, I don’t mean unsophisticated, but rather ancient. Basically, as most cultures developed ceramics, some sort of pit firing was first way that folks figured out how fire their pots. It’s pretty low temperature, which means the finished pieces aren’t super sturdy and can’t be covered in glaze, like you can with higher temperature firings. However, it’s hot enough the pot isn’t going to dissolve back into mud if you put water in it, which is pretty darn useful for an emerging civilization. While most cultures figure out how to build kilns, and to heat their pottery to higher temperatures, some stuck with pit firing, developing the method to create incredibly beautiful work. The example that always comes to my mind is the pueblo potters of the southwest united states, including the beautiful black on black work by Maria Martinez.
There seems to be nearly infinite ways of setting up and doing a pit firing, so I’m going to stick to describing the pit firing I did with Hilary. We did the largest bit of preparation before hand. Each piece was wrapped in copped wire (specifically, a choreboy, those copper things made for scrubbing pans.), followed by steel wool, followed by salt water soaked burlap or straw. All of the salt, the copper, and the iron all fume at high temperature, leaving an assortment of colors on the clay. Once that initial prep was done, we placed each one in a labeled brown paper bag, ready for the fire pit. For my pieces, we had to experiment some, putting protective grills above the pieces, to avoid snapping of wings and beaks. I feel like figuring out how to protect my delicate beasts is going to be the biggest issue for my exploration of pit firing. As we loaded the pit itself, we put down layers of sawdust, copper carbonate, horse manure, paper, and wood. I actually made a timelapse of the whole loading process that sums up the set up pretty well.
The whole firing, once we lit it up, took maybe an hour. We had campfire sized flames for even far less than that. The only time issue was the cooling of the pieces. We let everything cool for an hour or two, before my impatience got the better of me and I started digging out pieces. The results were great, but the rapid cooling just proved too much for pieces, leaving several with cracks. Apparently, the number one way to avoid this is to let the pieces cool in the ashes over night, which brings me back to the idea of my very own mini-firepit, in my very own backyard. I have some plans as far as that, but that’s for another time.
Another Passion is an excellent Seattle art blog. It features local artists, musicians, and general creative types, along with musings on creativity in general. Also, this week it features an interview with me! I’m pretty excited to be on there. It was also a real treat to meet the guy behind it, Rasmus Rasmussen!
The design blog Totonko just posted some great work by artist Dan McPharlin. He seems to mostly work with digital media, though he also has some interesting diorama pieces. His spaceship pieces are what caught my eye, though. They’re wonderful and remind me of childhood memories of “The Yellow Submarine”, along with beautiful retro science fiction covers.
His website has a down-loadable portfolio, but flickr seems to be the way to follow him. I can’t wait to see what he makes next
As a total amazing bonus, it turns out he’s also the genius behind these! He’s made a series of tiny, perfect, papercraft models of analog synthesizers. I saw them on the tech blog unplgged.com a while back, and was blown away. It was only today as I was exploring his flickr stream that I realized that the beautiful scifi prints and the papercraft synths were made by the same person.
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Coming up in May, I’m going to be taking part in an exciting show called “Denizens of the Forest King” at the Twilight Art Collective, located in West Seattle. It will be Justin Hillgrove, Mike Capp, and myself presenting all manor of monstery beasts! Here’s a bit about the line up!
ABOUT THE SHOW:
Come glimpse the Forest King’s realm and the creatures and oddities under his stewardship. New works by Justin Hillgrove, Eva Funderburgh and Mike Capp.
Justin Hillgrove grew up in Snohomish, WA and has been enjoying artistic expression since he was old enough to color on the walls. He studied Design and Illustration at Seattle Central and has since enjoyed many years of freelance illustration and design, working on everything from collectible card games to toys. He paints monsters, imps, robots and other oddities in satirical, sweet or uncomfortable situations he finds amusing, many of which are inspired by his children. Justin has showed at galleries and shows all over the country, with collectors all over the world.
Eva Funderburgh is a Seattle artist, who makes strange and slightly whimsical ceramics monsters. While technically a native Seattleite, she has spent most of her life so far in Kansas and Pennsylvania, but is glad to now be back in the land of rain and delicious salmon. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she’s been working on art full time for the past few years, and has created a world of fat, elegant, and clumsy beasts. Her sculptures are finished in a wood fired kiln, an anachronistic process more connected with the Japanese tea ceremony that with the present art world. The end results are beasts that share influences from comic books to Greek myth to Japanese anime, but yet are truly unique.
Mike Capp is an accomplished artist who finds inspiration for his artwork through his children’s creativity and pop imagery. His paintings don’t really mean anything dangerous, angsty or irksome. There’s no bubbling social commentary. His paintings which incorporate his young children’s’ drawings aren’t meant to provoke the unarticulated terrors of childhood. They’re just drawings of monsters, superheroes and robots. Even though there’s plenty of angst behind his humor, more so there’s a playful, impish, boy’s mind, full of cartoons and KISS memorabilia. His technique is solid and clean, so he affords himself the privilege of choosing subject material that is loose and silly, while still keeping a close eye on small details of color and composition. He paints what feels good and what results are paintings that are funny and frivolous, in a good way. It’s not as important to understand what his paintings mean, as it is to understand that they are just what they appear to be.