Sculpture

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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Decal

Graffiti Pots

One of my favorite aspects of the work of Foxy-Wolff is the way that the large project can contain so many splinters and still remain whole.  The intent, scope and heart of all the projects lead to the interior of the next project and are connected back to projects that are many years past, even before the beginning of our collaboration. The graffiti pots are especially one of these projects.  Gabe and I began working together rather later in our artistic lives.  For myself, I was focused on ceramic entirely.  Especially working as a studio potter and sometime sculptor for almost 20 years prior to Foxy-Wolff.  For Gabe about the same number of years have been given to the study of drawing and painting.  Within those time spans we each developed interests.  For me, the history of human culture through clay sculpture and pottery, for Gabe, Graffiti and street art have been important influences.  For this group of vases we unite those years of experience and differing interests into a unified group of pots that are setting the tone for the work we intend to make for the next year at least.IMG_4614I threw the pots off the hump with the clay that we made this winter.  The influence for the form comes from the arts and crafts movement.  Not that these pots are intended to copy work from the period, but their forms and handle attachments reflect fashionable conventions from the time.   This period has had the strongest influence over my sense of beauty in thrown forms and they are shapes I make often.

once the pots were trimmed, handled and bisqued, they were ready for surface treatment and their first firing.  The first step in this process is to spray paint the surface of the work.  We use a lead free industrial grade aerosol primer for this.

After the paint dries the pots are glazed.  The paint acts as a resist and an uneven glaze surface over the paint is encouraged.IMG_4593

IMG_4592Following the glaze application the pots are ready for firing

While I was focused on design and execution of the pots, Gabe was working on the tags for the decals.  Concerning the work Gabe said “I want the work to look as if it was taken from the unknown origins collection in a Museum and used like a wall is used by a graffiti artist”.    Here is a group of photos that reveal his process in designing1324Once a design is ready on paper it can be moved to the computer for extensive preparation in photoshop for becoming a decal.  These were printed by the sheet and then cut out.  Gabe chose a repeating order for all the pots.  Even though some of the small pieces could only hold 3 of the tags, the order was held throughout the decaling process to prevent overuse of an image56Once the pots were fired, they were ready to receive their decals

IMG_47798Decaled, they were ready for their third firing to set the decals into the glaze.910The completed pots exceeded our expectations and have set the tone for future work.  These are for sale through the studio, reach us through our “About” page.cropped-graffiti-pots1-copy-21.jpg

Mold Making

Doll House

The next major project for Foxy-Wolff is another play set/ film project.  The earliest inspiration for this piece comes from Barbie’s Dream House, but early concept is as far as the influence goes.  This work was conceived of at the same time we dreamed up the LLICPS, but is so much more complex to build and film that it has taken a great deal of time to manifest.  IMG_4103Our first job was to decide on the scale of the piece.  We were wanting a larger piece than our small kiln would allow so modules were the best solution.  Another priority of the piece was a high degree of precision.  Molds then became the best solution for the build.  Several ideas were pursued, but in the end a two-part press mold was decided on, allowing uniformity of each wall with both inside and outside detail.  When making a doll house, better follow the rules of doll houses.  Each wall would then need two parts, a floor, a ceiling, a roof joist, roof tiles, trim work, gables, and a staircase; in total 15 separate molds were made.IMG_4108Originals were the first step, after determining desired finish size and calculating shrinkage, patterns were created from heavy paper.  all the decoration was applied to the patterns, then transfers were made using graphite and tracing paper.IMG_4107After the transfer process and the tiles were cut, the decoration needed to be removed from the original.  A border was then added to the tile to provide a wall for the mold.  Registration marks were also cut to help the molds fit back together after the original was removed. IMG_4116 Walls were then built and secured in preparation for the plaster.IMG_4119 once the first side of the wall was poured, the walls and the border was removed and the interior received its transfer image and was carved and prepared for plaster.  Early on we could see that an escape route for the clay was essential.  the tabs at the top and bottom were added to create voids to allow this.  in the end this was not quite enough and plaster had so be dug from the window voids as well.  Another tricky issue with these was the need for the window openings to line up inside and outside.IMG_4150 The plaster was added again.  For our plaster mixing formula we follow the one provided by ceramic arts daily.

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-supplies/ceramic-molds/plaster-mixing-101-how-to-mix-plaster-for-ceramic-molds/

The basic advice here is excellent and the ratio is nearly always perfect.  The small batches seems a bit watery, we typically add a little plaster when mixing small.image-2After a few days of drying, the molds were broken into so that the original could be removed and the mold left to dry.  At least a week, but the longer they dry, the better the molds become.IMG_4174 As mentioned above, they piece required many details.  The mold making phase of the project lasted weeks.IMG_4179The stairs proved a different sort of challenge.  As I said, precision is a high priority for the project, I was unsure of how to get what I wanted with clay and keep it crisp through the build and pour.  This bit was handed off to Gabe and he engineered and built this beauty in a couple of hours.  This mold was not only huge time-saving but its crisp lines really makes the look of the piece.IMG_4180The roof and the ceiling were difficult to design, this is how the module aspect of each floor works, with locking tabs in the floor and roof of each story. Also critical is tying the porch to the stairs so that the characters can move from floor to floor smoothly.IMG_4181Once the molds were built we had to learn how to use them.  The stairs were a particular challenge, keeping that crisp line and filling all of the cracks and gaps took several tries and approaches.IMG_4186As the molds were dried and their techniques for use were understood, we were ready for the build.  More on that soon.

Jewelry

Bits and Pieces

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Gabe worked on glazing some pendants for firing this week and it seemed like a great invitation to write a bit about them and the process involved.  The pendants are the back bone of the Foxy-Wolff project.  Our intention is to make beautiful, affordable jewelry for every day wear.  The pieces are glazed in a range of colors and decaled with 16 different images.  IMG_4351

This is a display of the pendants at a recent holiday trunk show we did for another businesses open house.  It is a pretty good representation of color range, and many of the images are shown as well.  After two years of research and development, we have the rules and process fairly dialed.

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In the begging of the project we played around quite a bit with clay bodies, glazes and materials for generating images.  We knew we would eventually use decals, but the printer was too expensive and we didn’t want to wait to begin.  Out early best case scenario was black underglaze pencil on Laguna’s Babu porcelain.  While we always intended to fire to cone 6, the cone 10 porcelain gave us the best white.  It was also something that I had a bit of so we could proceed without having to make an order.  Once the image was drawn on the bisque the pieces were glazed with a clear and fired.  39752-0

We were not so systematic about size on the early pieces because the images were generated individually and could suit a range of sizes and weights.  We still have a few of these very early pieces in mix, which is wonderful for showing another technique, though these are a bit more expensive as Gabe put a massive amount of time into each tiny piece.

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In the early days we were very divided in the work we did for the project, I made things and gabe decorated, glazing has always been done together as it is so much work.  In the photos above you can see a couple examples of the bits before their first firing.  Now we are both pretty fully engaged in all aspects of production though Gabe still renders all the drawings. This allows the work to feel cohesive, and provides a sense of identity for the pieces with so many different image choices.  Drawn decal images are not the only choices though, we are still developing stamped images that will better work with glazes that either don’t show the decal or recolor to badly in decal firing.  Above you can see the only finished design, a relief version of the “Hail” image.  Each piece begins with a specific gram weight so that the pre sized decals will work with minimal alteration.

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Following the first bisque firing we glaze the pieces and prep them for the kiln.  These “towers” were designed to allow the fully glazed pieces to hang in firing and maximize kiln space by pushing the pendants into the vertical space. IMG_3182

After firing the pieces receive their decal.  Each one is hand cut and applied to the glaze surface then allowed to dry.  They are then reloaded on the the towers and fired again.IMG_3270 

After the third firing, they are ready to have the hardware applied and be worn.  Here I am wearing two of the “Storm” swirls.  If you are interested in purchasing pendants, please contact us through information provided on the About link.  Each necklace sells for 15.00 dollars plus shipping if necessary.

Horse Installation

VIdeo Documentation

The next big project for the installations was to doccument them in video.  I have long wanted to get my work out to the world using video, and this project, because of its scale and complete non portability was a perfect place to start.  It also helped that there was a clear start and it finished within a super reasonable amount of time.  The down side of course was not having decided to make a video until the project was nearly complete.  Fortunately we take tons of pictures and video as a regular practice in our art making so there was more than enough material for the twelve minute piece Gabe and I put together.

As I said the video was decided on after the piece was finished so while there was more than enough documentation there were things that I just didn’t have. For some of that we staged shots, for the rest it was left out.  A process that wont be repeated since we now know that video production will be an integral part of our work form here out.

The film was make entirely with iPhones and my mac book.  The computer worked great but the limit with the phones is one that will have to be overcome, especially mine which has a very limited memory which required uploading all the pics and videos once a day to clear the memory to take more.  Despite all the difficulty we put together a great video.

Since the production of this video I’ve made one myself so that I might  learn the program and participate fully in the production of future projects.  This video documents the erosion of the images on the panels over the last couple weeks

Horse Installation

Pony Power

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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.

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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.

Horse Installation

prepping the space

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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.

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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.

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