Once the physical play set was finished we were ready to roll straight into video production. For me that meant writing the script. We had been laying out the story and direction of the video for months. My job was to piece those conversations together and write something that was cohesive and communicated what we wanted to say. Sadly this involved visiting a lot of insurance websites. Gabe’s prep was no easier, but maybe more fun? He focused on preparing props and equipment for the shoot. Here he is shooting the play set for the poster that hangs in Teds room in the opening shot.
Finding location and actors was a major challenge, but perseverance and good friends made all the difference. A former student came through with the office and a local theater group provided our actor. John Brown, who is associated with the Impossible Players provided the skill needed to play our boss. For the rest of the cast we chose young friends and our kids. This was perfect of course because it brought the feeling of toys and play to the front.
Once the shoot at the office was finished we were ready to move on the the commercial portion of the shoot. For this location we used a stall in the studio, emptied, lit and cleaned, it was ready for the shoot. With out a doubt this was the most fun I had in the whole project, and I feel that it is the strongest part of the piece as well.
Our last location was at Raven Martin’s house. Our Ted was well placed to provide us with an authentic teenage boys bedroom.
Once the filming was in place the footage was handed off to Gabe for editing and the composition of the music for both of the videos.
Here they are, enjoy!
After the experimentation of the nested monster piece I was interested in pulling away from the very glossy “ceramic” surface of that work. For this piece I wanted a more varied surface that would reference natural materials such as rock. To achieve that I mixed two new glazes. The first was a white reticulating glaze that came from a triaxial blend experiment from a previous semester, the second was a black vitreous engobe. Mixed in with these was an attempt at a gray clear which was too blue and not suitable for mixing in 10,000 grams. I like to use 300 gram tests that don’t precede to full batches on one of a kind sculptural work as I am not likely to be asked to reproduce the work by a client. Sculptural work is also more forgiving of certain glaze flaws that are not negotiable in functional pottery.
Having spent several days in testing and mixing and then on to glazing, the work was finally ready for firing. Its large size really limited what could load with the piece, this turned out to be a great thing. Our primary kiln is a very old Skutt on a kiln sitter, up to the day we fired the play set, we had never had any problems with it. Because of this I had become pretty complacent about witness cones and other precautions to prevent over firing. So then, since this was an important firing, this is where the problems occurred. My estimate is that the kiln went at least to cone 10 but probably higher than that. Fortunately, the sculpture clay that I preferred at the time was a cone 10 body (Laguna’s Soldate 60) so the kiln was not lost, though the shelf the work was on did have to go in the trash. The glazes and the attachments were fairly ruined. To my advantage was the brush glazing technique that I chose to use on the play set. It meant less glaze and so the surface came through fairly in tact, though not at all what I had planned. For the play set the major problem was massive cracking on the interior. I was able to do pretty solid repair using PC7 and acrylic paint, so the piece was saved. The rest of the work in the kiln was a total loss.
The very dark glossy surface of the exterior forced me to completely change my plan for the little action figures. I was wanting a drab, gray or brown surface for them originally but that would not have been adequate contrast for the video, so I opted to go with bright color that would allow them to be visible both inside and outside the play set during the commercial portion of the video. This also makes them more in line with actual toys and so felt like minimal compromise
Finishing the Horse began with research, as usual. What we wanted was a stucco recipe that had both clay and concrete. I know this is a sound practice because I used to mix stucco for my professor Vicky Hansen and she used both, but I could neither remember that recipe or find one on line. We wound up making our own from a recipe I found online that was intended for restoration of historical buildings. While we wanted portland cement in the mix,we were looking for very little. Enough to increase durability on a difficult surface but little enough to avoid the surface becoming brittle and hard to repair. We used these two web pages primarily in our investigations.
We based our recipe off this recipe from the about.com page:
“Materials for Soft Brick Mortar and for Soft Stucco“
5 gallons hydrated lime
10 gallons sand
1 quart white, nonstaining portland cement (1 cup only for pointing)
Water to form a workable mix.
(Koch and Wilson, Architects, New Orleans, Louisiana, February, 1980
To incorporate the clay we replaced half the aggregate (sand) with the unrefined brick clay we acquired for the project.
Refining the mixing process was difficult, eventually we decided to mix half batches because we needed the mix to be rather heavy so it would stick to the underside of the sculpture, also applying the stucco wire was super difficult on such a complex surface so there were spots that were nearly impossible to get the material to adhere. We used straw to help fill in those spots which helped considerably.
Once we had the mix right it was just a whole lot of work to get the piece finished. We applied a second coat to the surface to fill gaps and smooth it a bit a couple days after the first. It was on this second day of stuccoing that we hatched the plan for the video.
Some ponies are bigger than others and this one is a baby clydesdale. Also, completely fantastic, so fantastic in fact that we decided it would be a horrible tragedy to cover it entirely with actual horsiness, so we have opted to cover the strauture with the adobe material and not fill it out with straw muscles. Its is a great decision for art but the added work in applying the stucco wire is a big deal. We got about half way through it today. Im still hoping to finish this piece and install it tomorrow but I am also teaching a bit this week. Fantastic for my life but difficult for all that must be done in the studio. You can see here that it also got a thin coat of paint. This was applied to slow the rot of the wood inside the clay.
The Insurance agency also moved a bit in the last couple days. I should have the structure finished inside and out tomorrow or Saturday. Ill post pics then.
Today was all about preparing the corral for the work. The last horses moved out of the barn late last week so the spaces need much attention to be people ready. For the out door spaces we level, spread lime, then cover that with sand then wet the whole thing down to keep down the dust and seal the lime in a bit. The lime can burn skin and eyes but is important in killing bacteria and virus in the soil that may be living on the the horse poops. This has the added benefit of keeping the smell in check. After just 8 days on the barn makeover, the horse smell is barely detectable.
The other part of today was to begin to prepare the images for the installation. My plan is to paint horses on the iron panels of our corral in porcelain slip. The horse pictured here are in mare motel further east on the farm. All the enclosures were made in the same style of welded iron panels, that enclose the studio as well. My intention is to leave the heavy shadows created by the bars in the images of the horses on the panels. This will serve to abstract the images further and connect the current and previous uses of the space, threading the space together further.