Just over 3 days and counting...

So, it's all come down rather quickly to actually leaving for Pilchuck.  I will be gone for 18 days, so it's a 3 week session and will feel different than the 2 week session I TA'd for earlier this summer, or the 2 weeks of Poleturners before that.  Like any good class, I did receive an email from my teachers asking me to think of themes to explore while I was there.  I was also asked to experiment, and to expect failure.  Which I'm down for, you can't learn unless you stretch yourself and have some failure in the process.  Learning from your mistakes, it's been the best way for me so far in life, it's only natural that it should apply to my art/education.  

Anyway... here's what Aimee & Anjali want us to be thinking about before we get there...

(a). Keywords. Essentially, a rumination of concepts that you understand our world by, or that fascinate you in the universe. These could be borrowed from any “field” of human comprehension of matter.*  Consider how the keyword you have chosen could figure in the creation of an art object. Could it possibly lead you to an object that creates itself when subject to the forces of this keyword? .... Any information or preliminary research you bring with you in this regard will assist you immensely. And do not worry; you will not be bound or beholden to your “keyword” if you lose interest in them midway.  There will be plenty of other phenomena for you to discover.
(b). Key-images. Textures and composition (i.e. surface and structure) that you loath or are swooned by. We are interested in your intense reaction, or long-standing fascination of something, not the indifferent “nice” response. These will provide as a visual, tactile database for your experiments.

So some of the things that I have been thinking about since reading this have been...

Container (contained)
Reliquary/Alters/Shrines/Sacred spaces

As far as images go for influence... I haven't got that far yet.

Out of all of these... the process, light, and time seem to be the ones I'm drawn to the most. I mean all of these are things that interest me, however looking over my slides to take to Pilchuck I noticed that a lot of what I'm bringing are photographs of glass during or after it's been finished.  The objects themselves seem secondary to the situations they're creating.  In that regard, I'm more interested inn capturing those fly by moments that happen during the vessel making process, or the "action of making an artwork" (a la Serra; Pollock; or La Va), or studio upkeep.  For example...

From my thesis show.

These 2 hellish pictures from bailing out the furnace for the summer.

Bailing out the furnace again, but onto ice during winter break.  I would like to do this again this winter but set it up better.

Sometimes, it's all happenstance.  The sun coming through the window just right and I notice this after I hit my head on the lamp above the kitchen sink.

A more personal picture, never mind the gif I'm trying to finish up that deals with this.

So far all of these are residuals of action on glass of some form, wether I directly manipulated it a hot shop or I interacted with it to some extant as a readymade.  Technically the sink is coated in glass since it's a glaze on a ceramic sink.  Ya dig?  Even the opening photo at the top of the post is indicative of this.  I'm more interested in the refraction of light from the tool marks on the table than the actual bottles themselves.

I think using this as a starting point will free up a lot of mental anguish as I screw up my molds, fusings, and slumpings.  Looking for the art in the process and not in the object has been a major point for artists such as Pollock and Serra.  If I keep this in mind as I make mistakes, but take good notes about what worked and what didn't, I can bring this back to CCAD to flood the students with casting knowledge.  Being the interim head of the glass department this upcoming semester, I'm trying to have the kilns all up and running so we can accommodate as many students as possible.  Also taking this class can help me problem solve with them on their projects.  In the process they can make more glass "art" and not so much glass "craft".

PersonalIy, I think where I can go with this is a combination of castings and kiln-manipulated blown work and video.  I love glass blowing.  I will always find a way to do that until I can't hold a pipe anymore.  It's a meditative process for me.  However... it's not my "Art" with a capital A.  That seems to have fallen to more video work, more specifically... mundane actions that have been important to me, or became important, and that I'm trying to loop as seamlessly as possible.  I know everyone has these moments, but I don't want to forget them.  Ever.  So being able to loop them is like re-writing my notes... so I don't forget.

My good friend of 14 years, we had to put him down in February.

It was such a tender moment for both of us.  My dog, Smoke, really couldn't sleep due to an enlarged liver with complications.  Anytime he laid his head down flat on the floor, he had trouble breathing.  At that moment, his head was propped up and he was able to get 20 minutes of sleep.  I was just glad that I was able to get him some rest before his appointment.  I'm tearing as I write this... I still miss him.

I'm in the process of trying to make this as seamless as I can in video.  I'm also realizing that I might have to upgrade my video software, iMovie (I know, I know...), to FinalCut Pro for more control.  I just have a hard time swallowing $300 for a download, but I'm getting closer to getting it.  I think getting more RAM for my computer, and bumping it it 16G, will be the biggest help. 

I have some video of leaving for Pilchuck earlier this summer with some great 6 minute vids of the plane taxiing and taking off out of, and then landing in fog.  I want to combine those vids for an endless loop of taking off and landing.  I suppose I "could" farm the video editing out, but I want to have a direct hand in the final version.  Call it a hold over from being a craftsman, but that whole idea of me making the final piece is important.  I just can't see any other way of doing it to be honest.

So after two paragraphs of rambling, I guess my work is heading to a more ephemeral stance with the beauty in the mundane.  I guess that's a good a start as any for an artist statement.


So far, so good

So the first part of my "Summer of Pilchuck" has been nothing short of amazing.

Being there pre-session for pole turners, I was able to learn more about cane techniques than I had previously known... ever.  It was such a crash course in how to pull cane in several ways... like using a drill to twist cane all day, or how to pull flat cane by oneself.  The terminology... now I know the difference between filigrana, ballentini, nostri, and some of the history behind these patterns (Scott has written a book at some point I want to track down).  The nuances of the different colors... or example white Duro pulls different than enamel white, while both are stiff colors the duro is so stiff it's set up is completely different.  Now the thing to remember is that the pattern and minimal color of the centerpiece was the most important thing.  The beauty in understated color shifts, and offset patterns on top of each other.  The picture below is the mock up Scott sent to Pilchuck for the proposal this years centerpiece for the Pilchuck Auction.

Having this explained, and shown, to us by Scott Benefield, Tyler Kimball, and DJ Benyosef was like having three free classes in two weeks.  Some of it was note-taking, but most of this was observation and practice in the hot shop.  That's not including all the people I was working with.  Being on a few different teams, I was able to live that mantra I'm always trying to tell my students... "Work with as many glass people as possible, since we all do it differently, there's always something to learn."  So it was a great educational, and I will readily admit humbling, experience to be able to work with so many talented people in one location.  I learned so many new tricks of doing things, and like always, it's the real subtle things you might miss otherwise.  For example, if you're using a 3/4" punty, if you super chill the first 1/2" or so of the pipe before the gather, the core of the punty is super stable.  This comes in handy in a production environment where speed, and success, are key.

So like this for 2 weeks... loud, hot, and wonderful.

So the logistics of it all... there are (I believe) 100 tables at the auction.  Each table needs a centerpiece.  Each centerpiece is comprised of 5 cylinders, 4 of which are a cane technique and one which is a solid color.   So we needed to turn out 500 cylinders, in about 9 days.  Now given the amount of people working in the hot shop at any given moment, it was amazing no one got hurt, and that we lost as few plates as we did.  The 500 vessels also doesn't reflect the two different benefactor gifts that also had to be made as well.  In short it was a huge production run.  The 9 days also doesn't include the 2 days of cane pulling, and 2 days of documenting, packing, and transporting the centerpieces to storage as well.

The first groupings of finished, signed, centerpieces.

One of the benefactor gifts that Scott was making every morning at 6:30.

It was a great experience overall.  It wasn't a residency, I knew that going in, however the amount of information that I was bombarded with for those two weeks will help my practice down the road.  By seeing these techniques that I had previously thought were pretty difficult, I can know try these things out myself as I saw it wasn't necessarily hard... it was just practice and pushing oneself to try something new.  I can also pass this knowledge on to students that show interest in techniques such as this.  In a way it has been a good jump start for the casting class I'll be taking later this summer at Pilchuck.  That trip is right around  the corner, the 28th of July, and will be for 3 weeks.  I'm super excited to see how that type of technique will inform my work, but having the information to pass along to students will be the best part.


Now on to a busy summer...

So A LOT has happened since the last post.  Besides the new school year, did have an opportunity to work with a few artists this past winter break.  Danny White, and Tyler Kimball were both visiting artists at CCAD.  Incidentally, they were also both at the residency that Dawson had attended the previous summer... I'm starting to see a pattern, are you?

Tyler and Dawson

During Tyler's visit, I remember him and Dawson saying "You have to apply.".  Now, I know they were talking to the undergrads more than anything but it kinda hit me that I needed to do that as well.  Here I was, making some things, enjoying teaching, now some other things had to happen and that meant "applying".  Now, I also know they meant apply with applications to stuff... stuff being classes, scholarships, grants, anything really.  But, you could also read it as apply yourself.  Neither of which I was really doing, so I decided to apply myself to a number of things and it yielded big results.


First and foremost, I asked Tyler if I could use him for a reference for the upcoming Pilchuck Poleturners union.  He said yes, and so there was that application going.  While hanging out on Pilchuck's website for that application, I noticed that a person I had met a few years ago in Japan (Ryo Sekino) was teaching a class on straight up glass blowing.  Sweet.  So I applied to that as well.  Before I left Pilchuck's website I also applied for a scholarship for a more experimental kiln-casting class with Anjali S. and Amiee Sones.  So I applied to a few things and waited.

What happened was pretty crazy.

Good news

I got accepted to Poleturners, I was put on stand-by for the TA position in Ryo's class (there needed to be 8 students for me to be activated), and I was accepted to the kiln class but didn't get the scholarship.  All good information to get right before before my Spring Break!  So as these acceptance emails were coming in, I remembered that CCAD has faculty enrichment grants available.  You apply, it gets reviewed, you might get some funding to better yourself and ultimately the school.  I got the application sent to me 4 days before it was due, and that last day I was going to be flying down to Florida and had a small window to get it sent out barring any type of delays.  In that time before the flight I had managed to hand write the majority of my grant application.  I finished writing it out, still by hand, in the airport waiting for my flight.  While in transit, I typed the whole thing into the form on my iPad and had enough time to read a few more times and tighten it up before landing.  Once on the ground and waiting for my baggage, I connected to the airport wifi and sent my application off with about an hour to spare before the deadline.  Technology at work for me.  I have never written out something that fast for grant before, but it paid off.  Roughly a month later I found out I was awarded all the money I asked for.  On top of that I also received word that Ryo's class now had 10 people into, so my status went from stand-by to activated.

Even more good news


So I will be spending 2 weeks in Pilchuck for Poleturners, help with the turn over, spend the next 2 weeks as a TA for Ryo.  Once I get home, it's help to rebuild our casting kilns at CCAD. Then it's off to Pilchuck again to take Anjali & Aimee's class on kiln-casting.  Most of the funds have been provided for, so really I'm only spending about ~$1,750 of my own money to be on the mountain side working with glass for just over 6 weeks.  I'm so thankful to have the opportunity that sometimes I'm dumbstruck by the whole ordeal.  It seems surreal, but the reality of it is setting in VERY quickly.  As I write this I have less than 36 hours before I'm on the plane to this wonderful summer.

But the whole point is, it never would've happened if I didn't apply.

So thank you Tyler and Dawson, because of you two I'm having a summer I was only dreaming about before... thanks.


Right, so mostly yearly posts then...

Well, this is a little embarrassing then isn't it.  It seems that I REALLY need to update more here.  Of course it's the choice of social media that I'm kinda of writing about today.  See if you do read this... and there are probably at least 2 kind folks that do... then you will notice a strong absence. That's because a lot of the time I'm posting quips up on Twitter, Vine, and/or Instagram.  You can look for HarmanGlass if you feel inclined, to follow along there.


Well, mostly because it's easier, faster, spontaneous, and (can be) a more visceral experience.  Now I know that this type of communication is not a replacement for the these types of good old fashioned conversations we have here.  To be honest, it never will be.  It is like shouting at your friends as opposed to talking to them... "Look, over there!"  There is a residual of the thought process that goes on here as a whole as well.  My life has gotten to this point of small, easily digestible chunks of time, that are spread out across different apps.  Which are in turn linked to several devices so connectivity is a constant.  Now this isn't a debate, or even a discussion, about the virtues/sins of such connectivity.  This is mostly an observation of how it's impacted my life lately and some of the ways it's changing my studio practice.

So.  With the thesis work, it was about this high degree of craftsmanship being put up for judgement by the viewer.  The video that spawned from it was mostly archival and I wasn't necessarily thinking that I was turning into some type of performance artist.  I was just tired of having this debate of Art VS. Craft, and why it always seemed that one was held at lower regard than the other.  I was angry, and frustrated.  The "debate" is the same, it seems to never change.


After the show I noticed that I was taking more pictures with my phone.  At the time it was a iPhone4 with a decent camera and an ease of use that most cameras lack.  For a then 38 year old, ease of use is important, and this is precisely why I'm put off by most modern cameras... they're too damn fancy with a lot of buttons I don't need.  Like CS6, a lot of buttons I don't need.  So a very portable camera, both stills and video, that's easy to use and syncs to my devices over wifi for instant editing if need be.  Good lord, I have become Apple's target audience.


I did notice a trend of these videos that kept clogging up my Photostream.  Now after a relatively short time.  I have just over 80 of these very short films.  So now what do I do with them?  Do I edit them together?  Keep them as the snippets of life they are?  Oh, oh!  Edit them to loop as seamless as I can manage?  Yes!  So I have this stable of images that I will be working on to expand what I do as an artist.  Images like worms crawling along the freshly rained on sidewalk to escape the water saturated soil, mating spiders, crows cawing in the Czech Republic, swirling paint water, the last time my dog rested his head on my leg to sleep before we had to put him down, these things of life that capture our interests, our sorrows, our vulnerability... which by being vulnerable makes us human.  To take the risk, to go for the bigger pay off even though the failure comes with higher stakes.  Will this work?  I have no idea to be honest, but it has become this pressing need to try.  So that's one thing.

Another thing.

I have continued to work on my glass.  That won't ever stop as I simply enjoy the process of it too much, however I haven't felt inspired to make any "art" with it.  At the very least trying to make art with glass lately has been down right bothersome.  So, Im going to make some pieces to have some fun.  I try to instill this ideal into my students.  "Have fun."  "If your not having fun then why are you doing it?"  Seems I need to relax a bit and take my own advice.  So I shall.  Will these works be great?  Probably not, but they will at least let me breath enough to maybe allow me to wander off to something that will be great.  You know, living the dream... instead of just dreaming it.

The other thing I've been thinking about was killing the website and moving that content here.  To be honest, I do like this type of format better... this conversational tone, even if no one answers any questions or interacts in anyway.  It's also easier for me to upkeep everything I am into and be able to write on the road as well because, well, I DO use Blogger and haven't had any problems with posting across platforms.  Again, ease of use without all the bells and whistles.


No snappy title this time

So inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources.

This particular insight has come from the recent death of my grandma, Marcella. She was a tough old bitch, lived to be 82, had survived many years of smoking and few open heart surgeries. As she was... fading is the only word I can think of... fading, I would go to the nursing home she was at and sit by her bedside. It was over an hour away, going slightly over the speed limit. One particularly bad weekend I was there, by her side, for about 35 hours in a 2 1/2 day period. I just wanted to be there when she woke up, so she knew she wasn't alone. That it was ok. Sometimes I fell asleep sitting there, and was more than a little amazed that I didn't fall over yanking her out of her bed because I was holding her hand. You have to understand that Marcella refused hospice, that she was feeling better and that's the cruel irony part. She wanted to live. A slight change in her medication made her feel wonderful... mentally alert & hungry (she hadn't really eaten anything for days and was barely taking enough fluids)... while her body was still breaking down. She even left her room to go play dominos with the girls down the hall the day she died, that's how good she felt.

It was sitting there, between bouts of nodding off, that the new LTE function of my phone was refusing to work. I was far enough removed from civilization that cell service was spotty. Ok. So I started doing what any tech-addicted person does when they don't have their fix, fidget. Probably just safer to read as addict. But the strange part was that the fidgeting manifested in taking pictures and video of the spot I was sitting in, the bedside of a dying family member. This resulted in several photographs and more than a few, short, videos of Marcella trying to survive. So questions of the morality of mortality, and the moment, were a constant.

Yes I realize there is a certain morbidity to the situation, especially since it was family. I also realize that not everyone chooses that, to be there when someone they love dies. To see the breath leave, the chest stop, and realize you need to get the nurse to check her vitals... it's a formality, you already know the answer, but you have to do it anyway. As I'm sitting there (and here as I type this), the idea of how to get this situation into the gallery keeps... presenting itself. It won't go away. In fact it's gotten stronger. But how do you share that without becoming, or being perceived, as a monster? Or is that MY joke, that there is no way to escape that label fully.

There wouldn't be much from her room in the piece, most of that was all divvied up or donated to the community. I did take the hoses and masks for her breathing treatments, and oxygen supply, the last things to touch her breath. The things that would have been destroyed anyway. I have taken enough pictures to recreate the corner where her bed was. Finding the holiday decorations might prove difficult since her room was still decorated for Valentines Day.

To be honest, I don't really know how much of this post is therapy for me... or even necessary for you. I felt it important to get out but not advertise completely as my blog isn't super well known. Like most conversations this post will be buried with the newest offering of potential engagement and will fade into the bowels of this blog. Yes, I did just see what I typed as well.



No need for Blogsy anymore...

So... now that Blogger has finally been released and updated for iPad there is no reason for me to use Blogsy anymore. For me Blogsy was too many buttons and functions, it's probably just right for a "serious" blogger, but I am a hobbyist blogger at best. So I am perfectly content using Blogger to post with.

The only thing I don't like is not being able to see the pictures in the post... can't have it all right? So a picture that is in this post of me holding my grandmother's hand is a precursor to some posting and thoughts about a project I would like to start soonish. Or at least run in the background from the next major glass project, which will be discussed soon.


Test post using Blogsy

So this is a test post using an app called Blogsy, it's in the AppStore and it looks promising so far. Like any new piece of technology there is a learning curve, however the upside is being able to use my iPad efficiently for blogging. The interface is clean, and the app as whole looks promising. It also has the option of setting up the publishing time and day, so a post could be worked on throughout the week and posted later.

A photo from my library

And another photo...

Test video...

So not too bad and not too painful either, the real test will be tomorrow at 9am when this post is supposed to publish. Is it worth the $5 price tag? Maybe. This will definitely need more testing to see if it's worth it, but the only thing I wish this could do now is directly import pictures and videos from your local library instead of having to upload them to an online version such as Picasa or Flickr. I think this will be a good stop gap until Blogger decides to make an official iPad app like Facebook did(which for some reason... that took forever). They (Blogger) have an app for the phone, but I haven't been able to find the same app for the iPad and I have looked.