Forward motion

So here is the maquette in it's finished form.  This is one of the better pictures too, I found out that photographing plexi is a lot like photographing glass... hard.  The working scale here is 1 inch to 1 foot.  The frosted plexi squares are 2 in. X 2 in.  So a working height of 6 feet hung from a 8 foot (from the floor) ceiling grid.

This is the foot print of the piece on the floor in tape.  I know you can't really see it but I wanted to show this photo for the light in it.  This is the light coming into the MFA space every morning and it is beautiful.  I think that light in combination with lots of frosted glass will be spectacular, hell that box is going to glow.  So here's the foot print without the funky angle.

The spacing of the columns was a problem on the maquette, I'm trying everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen for the final build.  To figure that out, it's going to take another model.  A "to scale" model at that.  I'll be taking 2 ft. square pieces of cardboard and arranging them to figure out the best spacing.  Keep in mind there will be "dead zones" in the grid from the hardware that keeps it together, I'm trying to hang the piece with that in mind.  The final model won't be finished until the end of this week, and that's if everything goes smoothly for the rest of this week.  I want to get some pictures of people standing around it for scale... maybe some of my classmates?

The specialty hardware I need has been ordered, the glass I need (that I had miscalculated about) has been ordered as well.  The glass should be here at the end of the week, the hardware order will be filled in about 2-3 days with another 5-7 days for delivery.  I'm working on having the polished glass reinforcement panels done by the end of this week, Sunday at the latest.  The next batch of panels coming in will sandblasted, so not much cold working there.  

Working with glass can be tricky, it's more practice than anything else.  I have to keep in mind the Fiberwave video and bend with any changes that might come my way, there is a way around any problem.  Gaming circles call this the "way of the water warrior", having a plan but being fluid enough to react to anything that can happen and to remain fluid through the encounter.


Transparent technology

Transparent technology, where the concept is the most important element and the technology backs it up.  This  piece is called Fiberwave, by Mokoto Sei Wantanabe.  It is a sustainable, kinetic sculpture that runs off the wind and stored sunlight to glow.  Simple, readily available, technologies making art.  

The only thing this video really doesn't give you is scale.  There is another video showing the installation of a Fiberwave sculpture (I'll see if I can edit it into this post) and the poles are about 15 feet high, maybe 10 it's hard to say.  They are much taller than the people installing them.  With stronger gusts of wind the poles really bend and get a very surreal feeling to it.

Depending on where this was installed you could really take advantage of the wind in certain areas.  How fast would this move in Chicago?  What if the color was played around with?  The color of the lights as well?  What if it was on top of a building, or maybe on the exterior walls of a building?  I just want to play around with it, because it moves and looks so cool.  I'll take 2 please.


Progress crit

My crit went really well today, at least I thought so.  I felt a little scattered with how I presented some of the information, but felt it was a flowing encounter that moved at a good pace.  I feel that I was able to talk about my current project in technical and conceptual terms, and be able to answer any questions that my classmates might have.  There are a few things that made this possible... a working maquette, material tests, a slide show of process in the Sculpture Studio (my studio away from the MFA studios), and all the notes I have been taking up until now from this summer.  Basically, being prepared.  My classmates and instructor (Ric Petry) offered up good insights and are making me think things through, they are doing their jobs and I thank them for it.

As the project has evolved, the prime execution of it has stayed the same.  Cut, polished, drilled, and Hxtal-ed glass hung from a ceiling grid in a box form.  The main thing that is presenting itself as fluid are the details.  Gone are the eyes on the windows, and actually all the drawing on glass of this project has been scrapped for something more... open and  inviting to the viewer to make their own inference on the work.  I'm trying to let the material have it's own dialogue, or at least do most of the talking, and I'm just making a structure for it to talk from.  In a lot of ways this is like working with hot glass,  it's starting to feel that way anyway... I'm using tools to talk to the material, but ultimately it's the material doing the talking in the final piece.  


Lots of little edges

This is what I have been busy with for the past week.  At least doing 2 stacks of 10 panes per day (more if time allows), each stack of 10 takes an hour to bevel 3 sides.  I am taking a little time off from this part though, my wrists and fingers are locking up faster each day so a little rest for the hands is in order.  These are the reinforcement panels for my larger sheets of glass.  These measure 2 1/2 inches wide by 5 inches long, and I ordered a gross (144) of them.  Do I need 144 of them? No.  But, like any glassblower, I believe in having more than what I need in case something does go wrong... if I happen to drop one, or not having enough water when drilling the holes and the friction cracks it, or my dog's tail knocks a few off the table, you get the point.  Redundancy in materials, having your bases covered with the same solution just multiples of it.  It goes to the big panels as well.

*edit* Remember up above when I said I didn't need 144 of those small little pieces?  I was wrong.  Redoing some of the math I am actually short by about 70 pieces, when I was tabulating how many I would need I was only counting the reinforcements for ONE side of a 2' x 2' pane.  The good thing is I caught it now, not when I'm trying to everything glued up and hung later.  I will still have extras, which is good since I had 3 casualties today out of 50 pieces.

This is my crate of glass goodness, this came to the Sculpture Studio yesterday, and that made me very happy.  There are 36 panes total, I need 31, so there is room for error... just not a lot of room.  The edges of these 2 foot square panes of glass will be beveled enough to take the edge off, so a millimeter at most here.

I'm thinking about the material, and for a project this size material is very important, what you use is just as important as how you use it.  I'm also doing some research into more conceptual art and those books arrived today in fact.  In my head the project has undergone a transformation, at this point I don't know if I'll be drawing on the glass, and most likely won't.  I do plan on writing on it, text from myself, my Mother and Grandmother will adorn 3 of the sides of the box.  The remaining wall will be blank in reference to my Grandfather, who is gone.  The project is starting to feel like a family room, that room in the house that everyone would hang out and talk in, maybe watch some T.V. or a football game.  That room is usually filled with mementos of the family that lives there, little figurines, photographs, and books.  The thing is I'm getting that vision of it completed in my mind's eye.  I can see it and as I work on the glass it gets more clear everyday, I have most of the materials now and nothing is going to stop it... except exhaustion.

Happy QR Code Fun Time

Ok, I have to admit it, the idea intrigues me.  That could be from the whole "What's it gonna be?!" scenario.  It has that same feel of the toy in the Cracker Jack box.  The whole notion of being able to physically embed something into my work that takes you someplace else is... for lack of a better word, magical.  We, as artists, all want to take our viewers somewhere and we can do that.  For this code in particular, and it seems dependant on the QR reader you have, it either jumps straight to the video (which is the desired effect) or takes you to the YouTube dashboard to play the movie.

Linking this code with a piece about the body and what resides within has a lot of potential.  Being able to visualize that, a heart monitor, ambient sounds, something completely grotesque... gets me to think about what I see in the people around me, and ultimately in myself.


Maquette Progress - Part 2

The maquette is coming along nicely, the base and support structure for the grid are mostly done.  Patch a few holes on the base, drill a few holes to hang the plexi from, a dash of black spray paint and base will be done.  This was a pretty easy build for the most part, all the supplies used here... styrene sheet, 1/4" square styrene tube, 1/8" round brass tube, 1/8" square brass tube, styrene cement, and superglue are available at any hobby/model train store for a reasonable amount.   This build was only $15, but I can get a rough idea of what it's going to look like and how it will work.  All that is really left to do is straighten a few more paper clips  to represent the cable holding the glass from the Unistrut grid.

"No plan survives contact with the enemy"
There was one, grossly overlooked detail that escaped the production of this model.  The struts are 6" long, the exact measurement of the plexi... they need to be at least 6 3/4" to allow spacing between the rows of hanging plexi.  If this was the final, the glass would banging against each other and breaking.  No problem though, that's why I wanted to build this model.  To see any potential problems in the build and correct them before they could become a major problem later.


Glass has arrived

On Tuesday most of the plate glass for my project came in.  Today was the initial cold working.  There are a lot of small, 2 1/2" X 5", glass pieces that need to be beveled, and then glued to the larger 2' X 2' panels.  Then the 3/8" holes can be drilled after that.

I decided that working on batches of 10 would be best, there 144 of these small pieces to do total.  Just working on the 80 grit wheel, 10 small panes come in at just over an hour to bevel three sides, which will turn out to be about 15 hours.  This is just the roughing in of the bevels.  It's just like sanding wood, only with water to keep the temperature down, if the glass gets too hot from the friction it will crack.

The upside is only half of them need to be polished, the downside is half of them need to be polished.  The grit sizes I use are 80, 220, 400, 600, then cork and cerium, or just cerium, as you can see the polished panels need 4-5 more steps.  Time is not my friend on this project, between the cold working and the gluing I'll need to be spot on with time management and I still might miss/break something.  However if something does break, it's not the end of the world.  I ordered more than I needed just in case something unfortunate happened.


Like herding cats

Doing something out of your comfort zone is a really eye opening experience.  Especially if that involves using suppliers for items you need.  Even if you plan for downtime after the order is placed, allow yourself a little more time so your not freaking out too bad if the order is delayed or doesn't have a specific drop off/pick up time.

For example the Semester 1 project I'm attempting is primarily constructed with plate glass, a lot of plate glass.  So far this has involved 2 separate orders, one of which the supplier wouldn't know when it would be done.  When trying to coordinate your resources and time, unknown variables like this will drive you a little mad.

Another thing to look out for is where to have items shipped to.  Just because you have access to a studio doesn't mean you should start shipping everything there.  Ask the Shop Tech, Studio Supervisor, etc... if it's ok first to avoid any awkward situations.  Basically, common courtesy, you wouldn't want your co-workers shipping stuff to your house without asking first right?  

The best thing a big project like this can do is make sure you communicate with all the people you need to, to get the project done.  Do you have adequate space to work? Have access to all the tools/disposable items you need?  Did you set aside some cash for last minute purchases you didn't see at the initial planning?  Did you double check the return policy of your suppliers in case anything arrived broken or worse, the wrong item.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me this was a big step.  Usually, in glass blowing, you can make an item in the hot shop and have in your hands in about a day or two.  There is an immediacy in glass that few other disciplines can match.  So having to wait like this has been nerve wracking, (not to mention I hate waiting) and  very educational.  Timing is everything, and even with all the planning I did over the summer I still could have afforded to give myself a larger window to order form.  So plan as much as you can, but try to remain fluid if things don't go as planned.  If your doing a project this large there is always something to keep you busy until your order comes in.


Proposal Revision

The following is a revision of my proposal for my Semester 1 project.  I feel this is more accurate proposal overall, mostly due to details such as a budget.  It is also a rewrite requirement for my Studio Practices class.  The initial proposal on the grad application was a good starting point, but this puts everything in a better light.

Describe the project you will be working this semester. - My project for this semester is an abstracted head constructed out of panes of glass.  The glass panes will be 2 feet by 2 feet square, and 1/4 of an inch thick.  Reinforcements made out of smaller slabs of glass will be fixed in place using Hxtal, an industrial grade adhesive that is recognized as the only archival glass adhesive.  The panes will also be trimmed in metal edging to help stabilize the glass and help prevent shear.  The head will be organized into three walls, each wall is 3 panes tall by 3 panes wide. This will delineate the back and sides of the head.  The face will be constructed from one row of panes at the top, the next row will consist of a reclaimed window, another pane (carved to mimic the structure of the bridge of the nose), and then another reclaimed window.  All of the glass will be sand blasted on the inside and drawn on to varying degrees.  The windows, specifically, will have eyes drawn on them.  Inside this large glass box, there will be a table with bell jars, and specimens of memory alluding to the brain and it’s functions.  The panes will be held together in columns of 3 by Long D Shackles, a rigging shackle designed to take large stress loads.

Describe the final form it will take when finished. - The final form of the piece will be as described as above, the final showing of the piece will be in the MFA space.  It is the only space on campus with a Unistrut Suspension Grid rated well above the weight tolerance I will be using.  The grid is rated for 2000 lbs., the combined (rough) weight of the piece so far is 385 lbs.  Lighting might be difficult to do as planned, having all that sand blasted glass lit more from the inside would make it glow through the diffusion of light but the MFA space is well lit and I will tackle this more as fabrication begins in ernest.
    List the resources, labs, and any specific instruction that you anticipate needing to complete this project. - So far the biggest resource I need is space.  Hxtal takes a week to cure completely, and I have 31 panes to glue reinforcements to.  The more panes I can lay out the more gluing I can do at once.  The faculty and staff at the Sculpture Studio have been very helpful with providing me a studio space there to work out the fabrication that will have to be done.  This includes grinding, polishing, gluing, sand blasting, and drilling 1/4 inch thick plate glass.  So lots of time on the cold working equipment and wet table to accomplish this.
      Include a budget for the project. - The budget for this project is still rough and not finalized, all the estimates are on the high side for simplicity.
        144 small glass pieces & 1 replacement window  - $122
                   36 2’x2’ glass panes                                                   - $360
                   100 Long D shackles @ $8.19/piece                       - $820
                   100 ft of steel cable @ $0.25/foot                              - $25
                    Additional hardware
                           42 connecting links @ $1.50-$2                        - $63 to $84
                           24 thimbles @ $1                                                  - $24
                  new colored pencils                                                      - $5 to $7
                  2 cans of matte varnish @ $10/can                            - $20
                                                                           Rough Total  =     $1,462
        Include a timetable for the project. - A timetable for this project is a hard thing to tabulate.  Nothing will start until I get the glass I need, one order is already placed and I’m waiting to hear from the supplier to go pick it up.  The earliest I was told for this order was middle to end of next week, this the order with the 144 smaller pieces.  The larger glass order will be placed next Monday (9/13) with delivery on Tuesday.   I’m still researching the Long D shackles to get the best price and that order should be placed no later than the end of next week (9/17).  Once I have the glass I need, I can really begin to work.  Until then I have been trying to coordinate everything, space and resources, and get any drawings done that need to be finished before the glass gets here.

        Describe what will constitute the successful completion of this project.  Also describe how your work, process, and artistic progress should be evaluated. - This is the hardest question of this proposal.  Success, to me, would be completing this project on time as presented.  I have never attempted a project of this scale, both physically and logistically.  There has been tremendous amounts of information I have gained already, I am in the process of compiling a supplier database for things I need in town and across the country for the future.  Doing most of the leg work now, means less work and more creating in the future because I will already know who to call.  I believe that if I can hang this and it doesn’t fall apart from it’s own weight then thats is a process success.  If I can get across the idea of the head and it’s mostly working memory banks then an artistic progress success there.  I’m not sure I understand the work aspect of this question.  My work as a whole?  Related to the previous body of work? Or work as in this piece?

          This is the biggest project I have ever attempted, it is a little intimidating to say the least.  However, I feel the opportunity at CCAD would be wasted on things I already do, the chance to do something completely different is very attractive.  This feels like diving in head first but not knowing the depth of the water.

          I believe it will work, the science behind it is solid, however theory and practical knowledge don't always meet well.  I'm using a book of European architecture practices to help decide the best course of action with this, and it has been a valuable resource.  It is entitled Glass Structures : Design and Construction of Self Supporting Skins by Jan Wurm and it is a translated volume from German.  Amazon link here.  If you ever had a question about plate glass use, adhesives, stress diagrams, and actual glass construction then this book is for you.  

          Maquette Progress

          As I wait for my materials to arrive I decided to make a maquette to see if there might be any problems with structure or details such as the drawings that might need extra thought(s).  This will also allow anyone whose talked to me about my project to get a better idea of what I'm thinking about, as opposed to seeing a xeroxed copy of the sketch stapled inside my sketchbook.  This gives me something to present to my peers for my progress crit as well, that will probably be next week.

          So far this was yesterday's work with a few hours this morning.  I just need a few measurements, like the floor to Unistrut height, and I can start the final assembly of the whole thing.  The model should be finished this evening.

          When I can't work on this I have other tests to run at school.  Drilling through glass that was Hxtal-ed together on Thursday, to see if the glue separates and if I can step up that window of opportunity without having to wait the full week Hxtal takes to cure.  Making a jig to glue the small reenforcement panels to the large panels, a rack to store the large panels as they are worked on, and a stand to rest the panels in the sand blaster are all things that need to be done as well.  I'm going to try and scavenge as much as I can from my house for these items to keep the cost down.  The project is already more expensive than I had initially thought is was going to be, and I refuse to cut corners on the materials directly involved for the final presentation.  The support materials, well they just need to hold it together for a few months.


          The like minded

          Returning back to school is great.  To be around like minded people, bouncing ideas off of one another, freaking out, and anything else I may have missed.  But what about after school?  College, graduate or undergrad, kind of spoils you in a way.  You are surrounded by people just like you, hungry to push themselves and each other to new heights.  When you are out of school, that all changes.  Paying off bills, especially tuition, takes center stage and all of a sudden you feel cut off from what you love to do.  It can be hard to keep that burning of new ideas in the front instead of the back burner.  

          Caller 9, is a web based artist discussion forum.  Need to figure out how something works? Tips on how to take good photos of your work, or what exactly to put into a blog?  This could be the place for you.  The site is run by Bethany Haeseler, owner/operator of Clarity Glass and Caller 9.  There are only a few people using the site now, myself included, but as more people join and offer posts for discussion that database will grow into something great.  It at least has the potential to to keep the fires burning by keeping ideas in your head, or bounce them off of someone to try a new idea out before you decide to commit to it.  Feedback, is one of the most important things for an artist to have and it doesn't have to stop once you leave school.


          Yeah this feels better...

          Ok, I do like blogger better... this is way more user friendly for a computer neanderthal like me.  The interface is nicely streamlined, and I already know the control layout.