Monday, August 14, 2006

Finishing Cinco de Mayo

I finished the Cinco de Mayo tonight. I had to swap out the finneal that sticks out of the front of the gun. I had found a really neat crystaline ball on the end of a brass fitting, and tried twice to solder one onto the gun without having the thermal shock pop the ball off the end. I failed both times, and I even used a heavy C-clamp as a heat sink on the second try. Unfortunately, the magical adhesive that the vendor used to attach the ball popped after about an hour after attaching it to the fitting to the gun. I tried three or four different commercial adhesives, including the stuff that you use to glue paste gems to costume jewelry, and nothing worked.

The new finneal is a piece of turned brass, the same as is on the Cereza Negra. I torched off the remains of the old finneal, and replaced it with the heavy brass one.

The raygun is done, touched up, and has been placed into a long, stray sock, which is now in one of our suitcases. I may play with the paint on the grip while in Phoenix later this week.

I wish that I had a pair of wooden cigar boxes, from a Latin American country, to display the rayguns in. Maybe I'll see if I can track something down in the airport, or maybe at a cigar store in Phoenix.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cereza Negra is Complete

I finished the Cereza Negra tonight. I had to do some fine touch-up painting. It looks real nice. I may post some more pictures of it tomorrow.

The Cinco de Mayo is having issues. I hope to finish it tomorrow, but I may need to abandon it until after vacation, since there are so many little details that I need to finish.

We brought Slurpy and Lily to my friend Laura's house, and I got to meet her boyfriend Bill. We all had a good time, and also grilled up some dinner. Julie and I brought Greek chicken, legs and wings again, which always seems popular.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday Night

Worked on the rayguns last night.

Some of the paint was flaking off the trim pieces, so I used steel wool to get them down to bare metal, then sprayed them with a few coats of primer. I was able to place the pieces on the top of empty root beer and lemon thing bottles, instead of hanging from string like I did last time. The pieces are very flat, and the visible part is rim of each piece.

I repainted the body of the "Cereza Negra" as well. I was able to balance the spindle on the top of another glass soda bottle, and get access to all sides of the piece.

I also sculpted the handle for the "Cinco de Mayo" raygun. I altered the curves on the back of the handle butt, which looks aesthetically pleasing, as well as fits the hand better.

Friday night, I'll paint the second raygun handle, as well as start the finish work on the Cereza Negra. This will be gluing the trigger and triggerguard into place, and then filling the remaining gaps with wood putty. This will then be sanded and touched up this weekend.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Painting Handle

I painted the grip for the raygun last night. The flexible sculpey was tan, the craft store being out of the darker colors. I disassembled the raygun until I had separated the grip with trigger guard, and then masked off all of the brass and metal. I suspended the piece with string outside, then carefully applied a couple of coats of spray paint.

The paint is a medium brown that is supposed to bead and look like leather. It takes twelve hours to dry, so I have it hanging in the garage until later this morning.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Muse of Fire and Mud

Its been a hectic week. We realized on Friday night, while I was prying up boards, that the damage the the deck is greater than we thought. It looks like we need to pull up the entire surface of the deck, and replace it. Julie voted for something that can't rot, like the composite boards that they sell at Home Despot. With so much going on right before vacation, and so many projects left unfinished, we decided to wait until September to finish ripping up the deck and repairing it.

Yesterday, I worked on the ray guns. Julie had made me a handle for one our of flexible sculpy, but when it was finished, and the gun reassembled, I did not like the way it looked. The trigger guard of the gun didn't fit right any more, and the space between the trigger and the handle was too small. I finally realized that I had switched handles on the guns, and when I swapped them back, I ended up breaking the joint holding the guard to gun, which was buried in sculpy. I had to remove the handle before I could re-solder the guard. I was rebuilding the handle to a different design.

Julie was in the studio, glazing. She was working on raku dragon vases. She was also firig a glaze kiln with a bunch of wonderful pieces in it, including a dragon teapot with two matching tea cups. We were planning to fire the raku kiln on Sunday, so we needed to get everything glazed and dried.

To increase the complexity, we had company coming over for dinner Sunday, Ronnie and Tom, and also see us fire the raku kiln. We were planning to grill greek chicken, with sweet potatoes and portabella mushrooms. Our guests were bringing a couple of salads. We also wanted a blueberry crumble pie, so we bought some fresh blueberries.

When I got into the studio, I glazed three rockets, and four of my smaller closed forms. The rockets all had a black underglaze on the fins, with a cone O6 candy apple red glaze on top. I had tried the glaze in raku before, but it had turned out a more pinkish red. I was hoping that the red low fire glaze was partially transluscent, so that the black underglaze would darken it. An underglaze is like a matte paint that doesn't change during the firing process, and is placed under the glaze.

The big rocket has its body covered with Seth's Luster, with copper red on the engine bells. I left the cockpit windows and the 'vents' between the fins unglazed, so they would turn matte black.

The second rocket has Seth's around the cockpit window, and Seth's on the belly and nose cap. I used a white underglaze on the rest of the piece, with a clear crackle over the top. Copper red was used on the engine bells.

The third rocket has the candy apple red around the cockpit windows, with black underglaze underneath. Copper red was used for the engine bells, belly, the vents between the fins, and on the nose cap. The rest is white underglaze with the clear crackle over the top.

There is a lot of uncertainty when we fire raku. The thickness piece and of the glaze, the combination of glazes on a piece, how the kiln is run up, and what the conditions are in the reduction chamber all contribute to the final piece. There is a lot of luck involved to get a sucessful piece, or there is an acceptance that a piece is what it is. Serendipity.

The muse of fire and mud sang today; every one of the pieces that we pulled out of the reduction chambers was wonderful. We spent the evening, camped out on the remains of the back porch, eating chicken with fine company, and talking pottery. As we talked process and techniques, Julie or I would run into the house, and pull down a piece from one of our shelves, or out of a box. We ended the night around the kitchen table, eating blueberry pie.

When we return from our vacation, we're helping Ronnie and Tom build their own raku kiln. They had spent this morning pouring a concrete pad for it outside of their studio.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Demolition Guy

Ripping up parts of your house with a crowbar is both frightening and enlightening. I have to pull up part of our back deck, since the boards are rotting. The previous owner, who had installed the deck, had not left any gaps in the board to allow for drainage. The first few boards next to the sliding door have started to crack and sag. The fear is that I will crack a window or dent the wrong board when swinging the axe or prybar. The enlightenment is seeing how it was all put together, and deciding how to improve things so the deck won't die again.

Some of the boards I could step on, at the end next to the house, and get them to pop and sag. I decided to replace the entire length of each damaged board. I was up to five boards (ten feet by two by six) before they started to seem solid. I was able to drive the chisel end of the prybar through each board without too much effort.

Did I mention that its one of the hottest evenings in the year? I was able to rip two boards out before I got could no longer see, due to a lack of light and too much sweat in my eyes. I'll continue Thursday night.