ceramic art

Film Festival Trophies

Every year we make the awards for the Pueblo 24 hour film festival in our home town Pueblo CO.  This year we made a video to accompany the process.  Rather than write about this one, I’ll let you watch.

The screening was this weekend and the entire event was very successful, with 25 entries and 18 films for judging.  The big winners of the night were the makers of a film called “The Brighter Side”, Gabe and I were lucky to catch up with the winning team, Lyonman productions at the event to offer congratulations.FullSizeRender

You can view the film here:

The festival is in its 7th year and is growing steadily, If you are interested in learning more or possibly entering a film next year, their website will fill you in of the details:


You can also watch the films from previous years at this address.

ceramic art

Making Molds for the Empty Room


Making molds for the house that will be used in our upcoming film, The Empty Room, has been the major focus of the last few weeks.  Using the preliminary drawings and the scale model discussed in the last post, Gabe focused on drawing the transfers.  These are done on trace paper, using a soft lead and a light table designed and made by Gabe.



Each of the transfer pages is an exact map of the clay tile that will be built.  The light table is necessary so the transfers are not backward when they are placed on to the clay slab.


The trace paper is laid, graphite down, onto the clay surface and smoothed out.  The paper begins to wrinkle and distort almost immediately so this step must be done quickly and precisely.  Once the sheet has had full contact with the clay and is lightly compressed onto the surface, the paper is removed and the clay is ready to work.


The first step was to trim the borders of the wall.


Next, the masonry joints were pushed into the slab along lines indicated by the transfer sheet using a custom rib that Gabe made for the purpose.  These lines needed to be exactly the correct size and completely uniform, no tool we had, was able to give exactly what we were looking for, so making the tool was necessary.


Once the tile was completed, clay walls were built in preparation for plaster casting.  Shrinkage was a major factor as we need the closest size uniformity possible among the tile molds so each of them was cast no more that 12 to 18 hours after they were made.


Using the paster formula from ceramicartsdaily.org, the tiles were cast.


We ignored the 1″ border that is conventional in mold making so the tiles could be cut exactly to size, using the mold itself as a guide.  This makes the molds extremely fragile, we are using great care in storage and drying.



Each wall needed its own mold because of the intricacy of the brick detail which is correct for structural brick.   In addition to the brick pattern, the third floor has many architectural details and each of the panels needed a full redesign.  At this point we have 13 molds completed with many internal details to continue to resolve, but it is encouraging to see the project so well on its way.


Art Lives Life


There are many facets to our jobs on the farm outside of studio time.  While it is true that the spring and early summer are dominated by the horses, there are always other projects that need attention.  This bird-cage is a perfect example.

Each spring my mom raises a few baby birds that fall from the nest around the house.  In the past these have been house sparrows.  She would feed them until they could fly and eat seed and then release them.  House sparrows are small birds that could make do in the parakeet cage that used for the purpose.  This year, she has rescued a much larger chick.  At first we thought it was a starling, but as it has grown it looks more like a common grackle.


This bird ran out of room fairly quickly in the small cage and another was needed.  The nature of the project required that we repurpose as much as possible to keep costs down, at the same time, making something that my house proud mother could live with.  We started with thrice repurposed panels of an old chicken coop, a scrap of tin from building the hay barn, an old bit of plywood from the palates in that barn and a salvaged 4×4 that Gabe’s dad gave us.

While this bird was a larger chick than the previous ones, it was still too small for the wire on the old chicken coop panels, so I began by stapling chicken wire to the frame and removing all other old bits of attachment from the panels.  Gabe started on the pitched roof, using the plywood as a frame and the tin to cover.  once these pieces were done, we attached them together to form the basic structure.  We elevated the cage on legs made from the 4x4s so cleaning beneath would be possible.  The last touch was to split the door so feed and water could be put in without letting the bird out


The floor, made of a heavier hardware cloth (to thwart the local fox) was added last and then it was decorating time.  Perches made of branches fill the inside and branches cover the front of the roof to both hide the plywood and provide structure for the woodbine to attach to.


Scrap and junk can always be repurposed, provided the plan includes math and the right tools.  We’re so happy with the look of the bird cage in the end.  We always say go big and we did for sure.  It wasn’t until the project was nearly finished that we realized how much it resembled the doll house from the last video.  We do love repeating themes, it adds richness to the entire experience.



Foxy-Wolff on the Farm

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If you have read earlier posts, you know that the Foxy-Wolff studio is in an old barn on a horse farm.  To earn our keep, we devote the late spring and early summer entirely to the horses and the farm.   Its  been an intense season, and we are finally getting to a point where a day off is possible from time to time.

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Our main responsibilities are centered around the care of the horses.  The farm is a breeding facility for primarily quarter horses and the season is composed of caring for client horses that have come to the farm to be bred with artificial insemination.  Gabe and I are go to guys for the day-to-day care of all the animals.  At our busiest this meant feeding over a ton of hay a day and keeping the corrals clean and ready for clients who come to view the facility.  Gabe also assists with the vet and breeding aspect of things.

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Another daily part of a farm day is caring for the extensive gardens that are kept.  These pics are of us diverting a bit of time to a trough container garden outside the studio.  The stucco pony is aging incredibly well and enhances every season at the farm.

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We are also in charge of maintenance for the grounds and facilities.  In these pics we are digging up a corner of the property to find a drain pipe that has been covered over time.  There was a thunderstorm in the middle of the project and we were soaked.  This maintenance includes tons of driving farm vehicles and the hooking and unhooking of endless trailers and equipment to trucks, tractors and ATV’s.  Most days we take no breaks in a 10 hour day and we have not had a proper day off since April.  The farm is my mom’s place and so for my kids, my work days are spent at grandmas house.  It’s a sweet deal.  photo 1


Stone Woman

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The Venus of Willendorf (or Woman of Willendorf as she is now known) is one of the first pieces of art I can remember being aware of.  The first time I saw a photo of this tiny sculpture I felt a deep connection.  Throughout my making life I have returned again and again to this piece for inspiration.  After writing a paper on sculpture of the Gravettian last semester and doing a series of paintings this past summer featuring figurines from the same period I knew I wanted to include the Willendorf figurine in this body of work.  Initially I thought I would have another couple, living  in the attic, and that the fairy godmother figure would come from outside the house.  As the script evolved however and I got real about the extreme limits of space in the top floor I arrived at a reworked concept to change the roll of this figurine within the story.  She was sculpted from a solid block of clay using many images of the original for reference.  Like Bob, this object is something that people know.  I wanted it to be instantly recognizable so I would not have to involve explanation in the dialog of the video.  Of course some modification was necessary as the original can not stand on her own and this one has to not only stand but “walk” within her space.  Her surface is a fired wash using red iron oxide, traces of which still cling to the nearly 26,000 year old original.

With this piece the objects for the film are complete, though I may remake the magic box holders to allow more room inside the apartments.  The next step then in video production is to construct the set and determine the lighting.  It is our intent to continue with this concept for at least 3 more films, so all our decisions are being made deliberately so that the filming can grow as the world does.

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Bob the Unicorn

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Bob the Unicorn is the resident of the first floor of the Doll House, and he is unique.  Not only is he the only unicorn in the collection, but he is the only figurines of the group made by Gabe.  There were several reasons for handing this difficult piece off to him.  Primarily was the desire for this work to have a marked stylistic difference from the rest of the characters, but also Gabe brings a different skill set to the table.  Gabe’s years of study in drawing  and painting have given him an excellent eye and an ability to deliver convincing detail. Though this work is stylized to emphasize power and size in relation to the other characters of the film, he is very horsey.  Unlike squid or bears, we work with horses every day.   Not getting this piece right was unacceptable.  He is finished in acrylic as the bears are a part of his world and they needed to matchbob outside house 573

Here he is with Ted the squid.  Ted is our hero as in the last video and so interacts with most of the other characters.bob and ted 585


The Complete Squid Family

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Rather than the acrylic surface that you saw on the bears, I chose glaze for the squid, both to set them apart from Bob and his world and to give them the look of being wet.  Above are shots of them alone on a clean back ground and below they are in the house with the magic box on.  It gives a much better feel for the quality of light we will be going for in the video.

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The Bears Finished!

cave483No spoilers here, but we are very excited with the way the ceramic and sets are coming together.   Here are some shots Gabe took and edited over the last couple days.  I can’t wait to see filming begin on the full video, the test shots and mini films are better than I could have imagined.

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Foxy-Wolff Horse Installation Videos

Since we have been focused on making the blog more complete, it made sense to upload the older videos straight to the page so our readers don’t have to hop around to see what we do.  These videos were produced in the summer of 2013, shortly after moving our studio to the Key Stallion Station, where Gabe and I also work.  Here is a tribute to our new home and the potential of our space.  This was the beginning of true direction

If you have seen these, I apologize for the recycled content, If not, give them a look.  The were shot entirely with cell phones and my camera work leaves much to be desired, but the videos are solid and worth watching.


Building a Bear Party

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Today was an incredibly productive day in the studio.  After a reworking of the timeline on the film project and a remade list of things needed to be ready to shoot, it was time to get cracking.  The first goal in terms of time and delivery for the piece is my midterm critique in March.  For this critique I am planning to have all the figurines finished and the mini films that are internal to the world of the film.

Part of the reassessment of last week was to abandon the live action portions of the film.  The logistics were nearly impossible and we were unsure if we could blend these two styles seamlessly, so it was decided the magic box films for the interior of each apartment would be filmed with ceramic.  This meant that I needed several bears in a hurry, not only to have them made by the deadline, but early enough that their films could be made.  I went back to techniques developed for teaching children to create a bear quickly and convincingly in a short amount of time.  They also needed to stay within the style restraints of the rest of the figurines.  The guiding principle here has been the doll house theme, so everything needs to be cute and a bit toy like.

while I built bears, Gabe has been focused on the audio portion of the project.  He spent a good part of the day composing the theme for the Stone Woman.  Part of this was to review the other existing parts of the sound track and ensure that when finished it will sound like a cohesive piece of music.

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In addition to the soundtrack, he worked on the sound for the announcer bear’s voice and layering in the song for the bear party with that voice.  A process that requires several different approaches to the original reading and then hours of listening and making slight adjustments.

Once this sound was acceptable we threw together a little bear party on the dirty table and made some quick proof of concept videos with the iPhones.  Though neither the bears or the sound is finished, I am posting a couple of clips here.  While the work is very rough and there is plenty of offensive language, it is worth sharing these because they are such a good look at our early process for video production.

We need about five of these mini films for the overall film, and production will begin as soon as squids and glazed and bears are painted.