Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poll Results In

From the Rubbere Figures site:
(without permission but with no mal-intent)

It's about a month since my little blog survey closed, and it is terribly slack of me not to have made some comment before now. First of all, I want to thank every one who voted and/or emailed or left comments for me. If you missed the survey, you can see the original post here.

Rather like the recent Australian federal election, the results were overwhelming. Another "Ruddslide", as they are now known out here.

And the readers resoundingly voted to keep the blog as it is... 84% in favour, 15% against...(hmm, not sure what happened to that missing 1%??) That is, not to separate out the cfs-related posts from the art ones. I really thought it would be much closer.

Of course, unlike Australian elections, it wasn't compulsory to vote. In fact, there were a little over a dozen respondents. I was a bit surprised by that as according to my stats, I get that many hits daily, so really, very few visitors voted. I'm not sure what this means, but maybe people strongly feel that what you do with your blog is your own business, and not for them to comment on??

Everyone who wrote to me was so wonderfully warm and caring, and I have never felt more accepted for who I am than your replies made me feel. I have really come to feel part of an online community and when I am too unwell to see my friends locally, or to participate in all that socialising entails, the true value of my virtual friends is at its most sustaining.

There were lots of pearls of wisdom in your comments and I recommend you take a look here to see more. However there were three things that cusp said that made me think, and I hope she won't mind me repeating them, because they can apply to anyone.

1. You are as you are now.

2. You cannot live your life waiting for... (in my case, my health to improve).

3. You have to have dreams.

The other point, which was raised by both PWCFS and those lucky devils who are healthy, was that it does the world at large a lot of good to hear about life with a chronic illness (and if this information was separated off into another blog, they might not bother to follow it up). So anyway, thanks again to everyone who "played" - I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Self - A Work in Progress

I've finally worked through all the images for my first ceramic artists book. This is my favourite, I think. Tonight I put together an email to my supervisor in Melbourne, explaining where I'm up to with this work and sent it off with the images: eight stages of the clay self portrait disintegrating. Hopefully he'll agree that they are ready and they won't need too much fine-tuning...then I'll send them off to be made into decals.
In the meantime I think I might make a start on the next book....this will involve some loosening up and playing and will hopefully be FUN!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Porcelain tests

The past 10 days have been a bit slow. My energy levels have waned and I haven't felt like communicating much. Combined with not having much to communicate because I was doing so little, this is not a recipe for vital blogging!

There isn't much to actually show for the work I have done, as it was mostly directed towards a grant application and submitting work for another art prize. Luckily I do have my porcelain tests back from feffakookan (thank-you!) and can share them with you.

Above you can see a photo of the three types of porcelain I tested. The tiles are 1-2mm thick, just hand rolled with a rolling pin. You can see that at this thickness they are all translucent to a degree, but disappointingly the paper porcelain is not very translucent, and it is actually the thinnest tile. For some reason, this surprised me. I had thought that having paper in the mix (which burns away during firing) would mean there was actually less clay, so it should be more translucent. Of course there is the option of adding paper myself to one of the other clays (you can add up to about 30%) but that is not as easy as just buying it by the block. Still, if it is the difference between working with clay or not, it would be worth it.

The other qualities I am considering in these tests are colour, ease of working and surface finish. You can see that the paperclay is a much creamier colour and if you enlarge the image you may be able to see it has a different texture from the pure clay. Its hard to describe, but it is rougher to touch, and almost seems as if its not vitrified. If you've never done ceramics, you may not know what I mean by this, but its the difference between something that's been low-fired (bisque, raku, earthenware) and something high-fired (stoneware).

All the tiles were fired together, and the others are vitrified, but I wonder whether the paperclay would benefit from going to a higher temperature...this might achieve more translucency. I quite like the creamy colour as an option when you don't want a full white, and I am getting used to the surface, I'd just like more translucency. It's definitely much easier to work with than the pure porcelains which are known for being temperamental.

The Southern Ice and the Imperial Porcelain are very similar in colour, although the IP is maybe a shade creamier. SI has a strange tendency to develop these little "lumps". They are funny things and I've never been able to find out what causes them. If anyone knows, please email me. They remind me of those tiny pimples new babies sometimes have. I've tried to highlight them with the box in the picture above. In the past I've just accepted them as a feature of the clay.

So.... a decision....which to use for the ceramic book?
Well, I've decided to use sepia photos, and I'm leaning towards the Imperial Porcelain, but I've decided to do more testing using the actual decals, because there may well be a colour difference with them compared to the prints.

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Self" - update

As well as working on a grant application over the past week, I've been working on the ceramic concertina book for this installation. Above you can see the first stage of the process as I documented it. This is the clay portrait made by transferring an inkjet image to wet clay on day 1.

I've been testing different ways of converting a colour image to black and white in Photoshop. I recently bought a book by Scott Kelby, and I've been slowly working through it. It's written in a very direct way, specifically for photographers, to help them learn how to achieve the look they are after. It's called "The Photoshop CS2 book for digital photographers" and it gives four different ways to create a black and white image. None of them is particularly hard but I only knew one of them and they all create slightly different effects.

I'm still undecided whether to use black and white or sepia images in the book, but I hopefully it will be clearer when I get my porcelain tests back from feffakookan. (She is popping them in one of her firings this week). It's crazy but I so enjoyed making those little test slabs and I can't wait to get my hands back into the clay! In fact, I'm so desperate I've decided that if it's too hot in the garage (my ceramic studio) I'm just going to bring the clay inside into the air-conditioning....I never did like this carpet anyway!
Below: the last in the series
A couple of sepia versions here.