Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FHockey Love

I've told you how much I love my Field Hockey team but it's so true it's worth repeating.

L O V E.

That is all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Benchy Bench

 My day started out like this:

Then I came to work and stood my dragon bench up so it looked like this:

Then I wrapped it in wire mesh and started applying the cement:

 Then it looked like this:

 And finally it looks like this:

Now to let this dry for a few days. 
When it's ready I'll turn it upside down and smear the inside part with concrete. 
Once the base coat has hardened I can start shaping and sculpting and that'll be real sweet. 
In the meantime I'll wrap the tail and head in the wire mesh which (of course) takes much longer than I thought it would. 

Doesn't everything?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Foam Success!

Hot diggity dog!

The lovely gentlemen from my hometown insulation company came by today at lunchtime and performed miracles.

Miracles of science!
Miracles of ingenuity!
They helped me take these hollow, sad creatures...

And transform them into these solid-bodied, full-figured, 3-dimensional FORMS! 


That's badass amiright?!

I can sense that you more curious about this process than you are letting on.
Here, let me satisfy you.

Neat, right? The way the foam just expands so fast?

And here, watch this other video of someone who gets all excited about how GOOD EVERYTHING TURNED OUT(!!) that she cannot hold a camera steady.

I do apologize for all the "um's" and shaky iphone work.

Look at me masking all my enthusiasm under feigned togetherness.

The parts of the foam that poke out (including the "growth" on the dragon's head area) will be shaved away and trimmed as I see fit. After I trim back the bulges the next step will be to wrap all of the forms in the mesh netting and then skim it with the concrete. I can't decide if I should peel the paper away exposing the foam, or just wrap the wire around the forms as they are. I will chew it over tonight and make my decision later.

I really couldn't have asked for a more successful afternoon.

The foam is solid, super lightweight, and rugged enough to hold the center pipe in place.
It does everything I needed it to do and it feels more compact, more dense than I would have dared hoped. 
To see things coming together like this is exciting.  

Figuring out how to do things from scratch is fun!

Back at it!

Happy FRIDAY y'all!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Project: HABITATION(1)

Up next in the Cavalcade of Current Projects is the longest running and likely to remain the one in-process for the longest. I'm talking YEARS. Let's call it:


As many of you New Englanders know, we had an unseasonably warm winter this past year. In fact, during March temps hit the high 80's on a few days. And who is to say whether it was the weather that inspired me, or a mad desire to create order out of chaos, or even just an unignorable urge to destroy something but I found myself tromping into my backyard, axe in hand, chopping wildly.

A little background.

The house I live in sits on a pie-shaped piece of property that is mostly hill.

Behind the house is mostly jungle. Overgrown vines and years' worth of invasive weeds. There's poison ivy, choking vines, milkweed, wild roses (which you'd think would be nice, except ohmygod the thorns. The thorns go all the way down to the roots! Where do I grab this thing where it won't make my fingers bleed?!) and all kinds of other terrible crap.  

So, starting in our unseasonably warm March, for reasons I don't need to fully understand, I pulled on my work boots and cleared land like a motherfucker. I chopped, whacked, tore, cursed, hacked, bled and fought my way through the massive tangles of underbrush like a woman on a mission.

Up to this point I did not really have a plan, per se.
It was just Phase 1: Clear like a Motherfucker

There were rocks sunk into the ground that I unearthed, deep root structures and whip-like little trees to contend with. I used lock-cutters, garden shears, a hack saw, an axe, several shovels and a metal rake. The stump from a birch tree Matthew and I cut down a couple of years ago was sticking stubbornly up in the middle of all this mess and no matter how deep I dug or how many roots I clipped I couldn't make that fucker move.

Day after day I just kept hacking away. 

After a few weeks my hill started to look like this: 


Satisfying, right? 
You can see the stubborn stump in the middle if you look for it. 

In the beginning I just clambered up the hill willy-nilly. But as my land clearing needs necessitated the use of even more tools (which meant more trips lugging things up and down) and as my parents and neighbors wanted to poke around and see what I was up to, I decided I should probably build some stairs or something to make access to the hill much easier for everyone.

So began Phase 2: Make The Damn Stairs

I just started digging.

I went to the same low spot of the hill that I had been clambering up all this time and dug. And dug. And dug. And dug some more. It was slow going. The land here is rocky. I heard a landscaper refer to rocks as Massachusetts' number one crop and I can believe it. I'd get a good foothold started only to scrape my shovel against some mammoth rock I would then have to dig around and wedge out. All of the rocks I would eventually use in the barrier wall came right up out of that ground.

Now, I don't know anything about stairs.

And I don't know anything about the art of landscape design.
But I do know that when I try something it usually turns out okay.  And the Internets will tell you every thing you need to know about just about anything. So I looked at some pictures of rock walls for inspiration, I read up on what type of mortar to use (masonry grade, type S), I borrowed a drill and bought myself a mixing bit (after unsuccessfully trying to mix the mortar by hand. Take my advice NEVER DO THAT! You will waste a whole bag and your arms will cramp up with the effort.) Then I came up with a plan:

I would use the uprooted rocks to make a retaining wall. An aesthetically pleasing, yet a functionally useful edge to the stairway; part retaining wall, part pretty to look at. (We have had some trouble with water run off and this wall redirects that flow.) 

I got fancy with my level:

 And voila. Stairs.
I haven't decided how best to finish off the treads. Someone suggested flagstone, another person suggested cement inlaid with beach rocks. I'm weighing all options, presently. 

 Finally, to bring you Internets up to speed, I hired a man with a Bobcat to come and level the top of the yard. He did in an hour what would have taken me the rest of the summer to do. He ripped that annoying birch stump out of the ground, dug up several too-big-to-lift-by-myself rocks out of the dirt and moved them over to my rock wall and most importantly, he tilled the soil, tearing up networks of underground roots that would've had my yard overgrown with weeds in no time.

You can see the monster root in the lower right corner of this picture.
It took the Bobcat two seconds to tear it out of the ground.
I'm still amazed. 

Oh, how far we've come.

I seeded the fresh dirt with grass seed and have been watering it diligently. I am pleased to report I have quite a green carpet of baby grasses invading my hill now. (Sorry, no picture) It's quite nice. The eventuality is that I will design and create a fire pit/patio and that the dragon sculpture I am working on (currently drying nicely) will be installed around this future fire pit/patio space.

I am even considering turning this area into a Sculpture garden of sorts.  
But one thing at a time.


That's not true!
A million things at a time but first there are several things I have to do before I can start on THAT particular thing.

Up next for today:
Turning this mess into the next installment of the rock wall/stairs ensemble.  


Time to go be creative.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sculpture Wednesday

Welcome to this edition of Sculpture Wednesday!
(A new installment from the people who brought you "Really Sporadic Blog Posts" and "Random Stuff I Like to Talk About")

Second up in our line of Art Projects Currently Underway we have my first *real* attempt at sculpture.

I took a Sculpture 101 class back at Simmons but a) that was 10 years ago and b) we worked mostly on small projects that could fit on a table. This year I have decided to make a garden sculpture that is both beautiful and functional.

Perhaps this leaves a bit to be desired in the "beautiful" category.
But, as it goes for most things it's a work in process.

My sculpture will be a three part piece of furniture; a bench, a chair and a table (of sorts) made in the shape of a dragon. One part will be the head/table, the middle part will be the bench/belly and the final part will be the tail/chair.

Objective 1:
I want this piece to be GREEN. That is, I want to use as much reclaimed or repurposed material possible in the creation of this one-of-a-kind design.

Now, having never made a sculpture of this kind (or any kind) I'm making it up as I go.
(Yay, ingenuity!) 
Logic dictates that I will need a base of some sort to stabilize these pieces once they are finished and ready to be installed so I came up with this:    

Matthew used the pipe bender to bend some exhaust tubing into the shapes I need for "skeletons" for all three pieces. I then determined that the best way to anchor these sculptures when they are ready to be installed would be to sink some smaller diameter exhaust tubes into cement bases that I can bury in the ground.


Matt did some welding to give the bench extra support

Several days ago I made frames in the general shape of each of the three pieces out of newspaper and masking tape.

Then I inserted the exhaust tube and paper-taped the exterior(s) to create the mold(s). 

This one is the tail/chair

The tube inside the head/table.

Finally, I used clamps to secure several lengths of mechanic's wire to each of the exhaust tubes. This will give the cement something to hang on to when I start actually sculpting.

 This morning I mixed up three bags of concrete and poured them into the anchor/base(s) as well as into the top of the belly/bench.

 I flipped the bench upside down so the concrete would form a solid flat "bench." I reinforced this concrete with chicken wire to help give it rigidity.

Now all I can do is wait for the cement to dry and hope for the best.

Here's to figuring things out as you go!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a hiatus!

 Hello there, internet friends!

Man, that was some hiatus. This once-a-month posting is the pits.
But that's life for you. Things get busy.

The good news is that now I've got lots of New Art(!) to share with you.
The sort of on-going bad news is that I am still doing all of it so my updates shall remain sporadic.

C'est la vie!

Here is the first glimpse at some art for the Slow Motion to the Ocean relay race comic I am working on:
I warn you, these files are huge so click them at the peril of your computer screen and scrolling fingers. 
(I shall post them here at a more viewable size so you wont have to open such gigantic monsters.)

This is going to be my first full color comic enterprise.

This means I am learning the ways of the digital colorist from scratch with somewhat mixed results ("mixed" here means "poor").

But the trick in art, as in life, is to just keep going. 

The dialog is bound to change, as is the location of the narration boxes but this first draft is simply to iron out the layout I like best. I have to work on creating an early-morning misty feel to the page. Currently it seems too October-ish to me. I also dropped the opacity of the page down so it wouldn't seem too garish.

Know who makes good art and publishes tutorials I like?

Until next time my lovelies,