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.


Intimately breaking

Breaking glass is fun.  There is no denying it.  In fact it can be quite addicting, I did breaking experiments earlier in the week and recorded the process.  It was... exciting, dangerous, nerve wracking, and only with the barest hint of trauma.<---  This is what I'm after for the viewer, while trying to make them be very deliberate about what they are doing.  Can they shake off their societal programming and complete the piece?  I already want to try and make this piece again, away from an academic setting and see how more "normal" people deal with it.

So this helped to prove a few things... that I'm moving in the right direction for the overall wall thickness of the vessels.  The teardrop shape in the last video will be the hardest to break due to it's egg like structure.  An egg is really good at distributing any force that could potentially break it.  Aiming for the lip of the piece is an, almost, guaranteed break.  That it is addicting, after breaking about 6 pieces that morning I was looking around to see if I had any left to smash, so some type of limit will need to be in place.  That everything is heightened, from the fight or flight response, when your that close to flying glass.

It has been suggested to throw the objects into a corner or a box.  Meh.  To me by making it so you have to pick up the piece, place it inside, and then break it makes the entire situation more intimate.  There seems to be some kind of detachment going on throwing the piece away from yourself, your still safe, and far away from anything "bad" that might happen... that is something I don't want for this piece.

Now, a few things have come up...

Is there anyway to prolong the breaking?  No, not in this project, 10 seconds is an average time to line up the shot and take it... that is not saying it can't be done and I am looking into the opposite of this piece... larger, thicker vessels that would be very difficult to break at all.  Other ways of breaking are being entertained as well, but so far nothing seems to be as satisfying as straight up smashing.

Do I have to be so responsible?  Yes.  There is no way around this one, watch this video...

There is no way I can willingly let this be in a public setting and not take the safety precautions I think I need to take.  It's not going to happen... I don't want the institution (CCAD) to get into trouble for allowing one of their artists to make a dangerous piece and not take the steps necessary to make it as safe as possible.  I am used to pieces of glass popping off and hitting me in the arms, neck, face, legs, etc., and other glass blowers are used to it... the general public is not.

Well... maybe I can loosen up a bit.  Looking over the design of the breaking box, I think I can strip away a lot of the over the top safe guards and have something that is still works while making the situation as exciting(dangerous) as possible.  The possibility of waivers is something I'm seriously considering.  Right now, this project is in the same editing phase as my project from the first semester... stripping away everything else to get to the essence.

I have been considering what is the most important thing for this particular project.  Things that cannot change are picking the piece, taking it to it's destination, and breaking it... but even then, the most important thing is to break it.  The glass has to be handmade, not just off the clearance rack at Pier 1 or World Market.  Why?  The aspect of these objects being handmade helps to drive home this aspect of preciousness associated with them.  There is the notion that handmade glass is a precious material.  It's a collected medium, it's used for awards, it's something that is passed down in the family as an heirloom.  All of these are very precious attachments that only really came about from machines taking over the more mundane aspects of glass blowing (i.e. making bottles) allowing glass blowing studios to concentrate on other things.  So messing with that is important to me, and I think once this is in the gallery some people will have a very hard time doing what is asked of them.  Once the viewer becomes part of the display, and is put on display... some will revel in that and others will shy away from it.

The result of the breaking was no less beautiful than the vessels before the breaking began.  On a nice table with some good light, I think these remnants of vessels will look particularly good.  With how things are shaping up now, I'm thinking pedestals are a must.  To really cement these fragments as an art work, their presentation is very important.

Considering the activity, and that this is all that happened with open air breaking, it was a good day.