Thursday, 29 April 2010

Calling all clay people!

Well, I'm back on my feet and raring to go (time permitting) but I have a couple of questions for you clay people...

What is kiln/bat wash? And do I need it? The bloke who sold me the kiln said I do, but my tutor said not to use it. So I'm confused.

Also, the shelf on the bottom of my kiln (oh that sounds so good... let me say it again) yes, my kiln, is broken, is that ok since it's just there to protect the bottom of the kiln, or do you think I should replace it? look:

(click for a closer look, and ignore Polo, he was just trying the kiln out for size)

And while I'm asking I might as well add a couple more questions...

Can you see that broken brick on the bottom right of the photo? That's on the top rim of the kiln and exposes some of the element. Do I need to get that repaired before I fire the kiln? Will it affect the firing?

And there are a couple of loose bricks. They don't come out, but they don't stay flush with the rest of the kiln wall either. Is that a problem? (you can see one about four bricks up from the bottom, just left of the middle)

Thank you in advance for your help!

The kiln gets wired up a week on Saturday! Yay! I hope it works! The electrician has been round to measure up and noticed a blown fuse in the kiln - so now I'm wondering if the bloke sold it because it wasn't working!!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Collection of the kiln - in photos

As I begin to type this, it is nearly 7.30pm. Collecting my kiln has litterally taken all day! I am exhausted, and I did none of the heavy work! My poor brother Anthony started work at 6am and had to drive to London and back before driving me to Gloucester (pronounced Gloss-ter) later in the morning.

The journey was pretty non-eventful, just Anthony making jokes about Robert's tan mostly! In the last few weeks Robert has got a new job working outdoors, and has caught a lot of sun! And quite frankly we've never seen him with colour! He looks permanently angry! Or as Anthony says, like he's been Tango'd!

Anyway, this was the beautiful scenery of where we collected the kiln from.

Getting the kiln on board was pretty uneventful as well, although I have to admit that once I saw the thing in the flesh I went into a state of shock - it was even bigger than I expected!!

I've been far more worried about this purchase than excited, which doesn't seem right somehow. Shouldn't I be zipping around as if I'm on drugs or something? On the way home I asked my brothers - "have I made a huge mistake?" and Anthony said "No. It's better to get a kiln you can grow into than a kiln you're going to grow out of" and that's what I keep telling myself.

Getting it round the back of the house is when the fun started! It was obvious that it was not going to fit through our tiny front gate! So plan B was to reverse the truck into our drive... which was a tight squeeze to say the least! (especially where the front posts are)

Thankfully the truck fit on the driveway, and with the tail lift pulled down the back of the truck was pretty level with the garden...

Is it a chest freezer? Is it a hot tub? No, it's Linda's kiln!
Without a forked pallet lift, this thing wasn't going anywhere!! Just look at the size of it!!

Once they got it to the back gate, we realised we had a problem...

At this point I'd just like to point out that I'm not quite as stupid as this photo makes me look! Of course I measured the gate! Let's just say that the measurements I was given for the kiln were not 100% accurate! There was only one thing for it - the gate had to come off!

But... it still wouldn't fit through! Anthony decided to see if the box on the side could come off...

... but he found that it was full of electrical wires, and not just there for decoration! So then we got a bit desperate...

But it still wouldn't fit through!! In the end, Anthony decided to remove the whole gate post on one side, but the screws wouldn't undo!! He had to rip the post away from the wall with a crowbar!

Finally, the kiln fit through!! The box was an exact fit through the hole that they had cut, but I just missed the perfect shot by a second! And they wouldn't do a replay...

Next was the struggle of getting it through the doors...

This was very tricky, and I have to say, when I was most worried. My main concern was that either someone would get seriously injured (not sure if I mentioned that this weighs about a quarter of a ton?) or that the kiln would get seriously damaged. Then, just as it was inside, completely out of the blue, my nose started bleeding!! What??? What's that all about??

Finally, the gate was fixed, and looking as good as new...

... well, almost!!

... and the kiln was in it's new home...

Phew! Just take a look inside!

Polo wanted to have a look too... He was a little bit scared... "It's a long way down!" he said. It is! I can't reach the bottom!

I'm sure I could fit about 8 Polo's in there!! Scott said I could make a pack of Polo's! Hahaha! (Polo's are a mint flavoured sweet (candy?) here in the UK)

Of course, now I have lots of questions too, which I am hoping you lovely blogging people will help me with! Just a couple to start with... do I need to worry about that broken shelf at the bottom? Do I need to replace it? And what's this kiln wash stuff that the bloke was talking about? Do I need that? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as always, and I hope you have enjoyed watching our fun!!

Finished and uploaded much later than intended, due to having to eat, a visit from Anita, and a phone call from my Mum!

Kiln day!

Well, today is the day that I get my kiln. I must say, I thought I would be more excited than this, but I'm finding it hard to get enthusiastic about anything with this lingering chest problem. Yesterday evening Anita helped me clear a space for it in our conservatory, which nearly killed me, and later today I will be travelling half way across the country and back in a van, when I'd much rather be in bed! I'm not sure this is what is meant by "suffering for your art" though :)

Scott keeps giving me loads of sympathy while I cough my lungs inside out, but I keep thinking "How can you feel sorry for me? I've just bought a whopping great big kiln!" Ahh, poor Linda, she's got a new kiln... ?

So in exactly 4 weeks time is the deadline for entries for the art fellowship exhibition. What better time to start the 28 day challenge again? After seeing how it helped Kathy to prepare for her show, it seems like a very good idea... I just need to get well! Being ill is so... inconvenient! But I shall give it a go... again. At least I have some incentive now.

And on the subject of the 28 day challenge, I have to say a big congratulations to Kathy for completing it! Well done Kathy!!

Photo's of my kiln to follow later today :)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A look inside my brain...

Scott said I can buy it! But now I'm too scared!! What am I doing?? Am I insane? I don't know what to do! Will it be the best decision of my life? Or will it leave us bankrupt and starving and never bring me a moments peace? No, surely that can't be true! How can buying a kiln be a bad thing? Just think of all the sculptures I can make! It will be a dream! But what if it turns into a nightmare? What if the firing goes wrong and everything in this huge kiln is ruined in one foul swoop? What if there are pieces in the kiln by my class mates and I ruin their pieces? But what could go wrong? What if the conservatory burns down? I need to get the walls insulated. And I need to sort the leaky roof out. It's such a lot to sort out! It's so heavy! How will we get it up the garden steps? What if we drop it? Am I sending Scott to an early grave with all the stress? What if I don't feel well enough to make anything?...

You get the idea!

Yes, Scott said I can buy that huge kiln! We can never say no to each other about anything, which is why we're always so poor and so happy! :D I think we'll have to live off baked beans for about 6 months!

But I haven't actually clicked that little "buy it now" button yet! I'm so scared!! I don't know why! It's just such a big decision. Tell me to click the button, and then I can blame you if it all goes wrong! :D

Edit: I did it :O

Look at this sweet, sweet, baby...

Thank you to everyone for your comments of encouragement and advice about getting my own kiln. And welcome to my new readers! :)

I am still kiln shopping, and while browsing I came across this sweet, sweet, baby. I already know which projects would go in here... I had already made them in my mind long before I even knew you could get a kiln this size... if only I had the funds. Why did I have to pick such an expensive "hobby". Or rather, why did it have to pick me! Maybe I should start a kiln donation fund! :D

But just look at it. Go on, look. What an absolute dream.... come to mamma my sweet baby....

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I don't know what to do!!

I had almost completely made up my mind to go for that old kiln that I saw the other week. I decided that I was just being a snob to want a bigger and newer kiln and that this 18inch square kiln would suit my needs perfectly well. I just needed to get my brother to view the kiln too, as he would be the brains behind the operation of getting it here. I still feel that way, but...

... I decided to have one last little look on ebay, and what did I see? A kiln that's even bigger than the one I was out bid on! It's two feet. Yes, two whopping feet wide and over two feet high!! Can you imagine the sculptures I can fit in that?? But it's still not as bulky on the outside as the old kiln I went to see. Come to mummy!!!

The only problem is that it is probably going to be at least £500 more expensive to buy, and probably cost more to run. That's a lot of chocolate!! But we can't always have what we want, right?

And on the subject of chocolate, I would like to say a huge thank you to Leanne, who has offered to buy some chocolate for me! Any other readers, please feel free to send me as much as you like!! :D Hahaha! Right now I feel like I could steal some from a crying baby! But seriously, I can give it up, I love clay more than chocolate, although I couldn't eat a whole bag. :)

I know, I'm quite upbeat for a sick person aren't I? I think these steroids are doing something to my brain!!

Someone who has been seriously sick though, is the other Linda, who won my tiles in the One World One Heart competition. I was so shocked when I read about her recent ordeal. Please visit her and give her lots of love and well wishes.

If you have any advice on the kiln, any advice at all, please give it to me!! I want to hear your views!

More kids art, incentive to stop eating chocolate, and I'm ill - again!!

We had a little bit of excitement this week when I had to go to the out of hours surgery with chest pains. I was so worried that I was going to be told I had indigestion and was wasting everyones time! But they took it very seriously and gave me an ECG. Thankfully my heart was fine but I have a chest infection. I was put on a nebulizer for a while, and given anti-biotics, steroids, and an inhaler! I suppose that all sounds pretty normal to you US folk, but in the UK, getting anti-biotics out of a doctor is like getting blood out of a stone! I even asked if it would clear up on its own and they insisted I have them!! And I've never been given steroids for a chest infection before! I have to say, the person I saw was really lovely and very thorough.

But I'm so hungry I could eat a cow. A whole one.

The steroids are making me feel so hungry! Of course it might also have something to do with the fact that my calorie intake has been a lot less this past week due to me giving up chocolate! (Someone fetch the smelling salts for Leanne, I think she's just passed out!)

There are not many things in life that can keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to chocolate and other goodies - health, weight, even a new dress - they are just no incentive for me at all. But a kiln - now that's different! Scott has told me that if I want to have a kiln I have to save money by cutting out chocolate (on which I would normally spend a small fortune). Suddenly I have found will power that I never knew I had before! I'm also banned from taking the kids out for meals, and expensive bottles of alcohol! Basically, all those unnecessary things that cost a lot of money and are gone before you know it!

So when I picked the kids up on Tuesday we all had a £1 "meal deal" from the chippy and ate it in the car! Hahaha! (Does that sound familiar Leanne?)

Owen (11) isn't really in to art in the traditional sense of the word, but I would still say he's creative. He enjoys computer animations and things like that, so while Lewis (8) and I played with clay, Scott introduced Owen to the world of Flash, and has set him the task of learning it!

Oh yes, Lewis didn't want to paint after all. I know his Mum said that he loves painting and that he wanted an easle and everything, but you know how fickle kids can be, and painting is so last week! So he coil built this bowl instead...

...which blogger has decided to display upsidedown! (Why does it do that??)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Update on kiln and Freda the head-a

I nearly bought a kiln today. Nearly, but not quite. I've been looking for something that doesn't require a forklift truck to lift it, but has plenty of room inside! A lot of the kilns for sale on ebay were either too big on the outside or too small on the inside.

I went to see a kiln on Sunday and I have been soo undecided since then. The kiln was a great price at £200 but very old and bulky, although still in good working order. It's so hard to resist a bargain! And that's why I have been so undecided. I still can't make up my mind if I am being a snob if I refuse it or impatient if I go ahead and buy it. It's true, it's not very attractive to look at, but I think it's the external size that bothers me mainly, and the weight.

In the mean time I saw a fantastic model on ebay - a top loading kiln with a bigger chamber than any of the others I had seen. But unfortunately I was outbid at the last minute. :(

So now I am trying to be patient. I feel much happier knowing that I have a plan that includes buying a kiln of my own, once the right one comes along. Part of me says I must be out of my mind! But I can't comprehend life without clay now, so it has to be done. :)

As for Freda the head-a (pronounced heed-a, like how they say it up north, so that it rhymes!), look what happened to her!!

She was collapsing under her own weight, so Scott helped me make a dowel.

I cut her head away from the shoulders, and she fitted very nicely on the dowel.

The clay from the shoulders had newspaper stuck to the inside.

I'm guessing this won't be an issue with the clay? Does anyone know? I mean, there's not much paper there and paper clay obviously has paper in it but it still fires the same. I'm hoping it will be ok, because I broke it up into pieces to dry out so that I can recycle it.

Back to Freda, I wrapped newspaper around the dowel...

...and then wrapped clay around it to form part of her neck and the support that will be under her bust.

I'd like to say I did more, but I didn't. I did try to improve the eyes, but it all went horribly wrong. Argh, those eyes!! I'm wondering if I should just move on and leave the eyes for now.

So that's all my news for now. Tomorrow I have my nephew, Lewis 8, coming round to do some painting. Apparently he really loves painting and has been bugging his mum for an easle and canvas!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

What a wonderful....

...week!! Yes, I've had a wonderful week this week, concentrating on spending more time with my family, especially as the kids are off school at the moment.

My lovely Mariah said something to me the other week that really made me think. She said "Auntie Linda, I remember a time when we didn't see you for ages" and I thought, Yeah, I remember that time too, it was when I was really depressed. But it pained me to realise that the kids had noticed I was "missing" from life. As it is, there are certain nieces and nephews that I see less often than the others, and I really want to do something about that.

And have I mentioned my niece Sophie? For various reasons (which I won't go into here) I had never met her before, and she is now 16. She is Autistic and very shy of meeting new people, but recently I have been blessed to meet her. I have seen her 3 times now, and already I feel we are becoming more relaxed with each other. She has a fantastic sense of humor! And she is a great artist too. She tranforms her sketches into computer graphics, which is a concept beyond my little grey cells. I hope she will let me watch her work one day.

My niece and nephew, Dylan 8, and Kiera 4, came over on Thursday for some clay time. They really surprised me by their creativity! Especially Dylan, who has never played with clay before and yet needed hardly any help from me! Just look at these wonderful pieces!

Dylan's mask is on the left, and Kiera's face is on the right.

Kiera also made a garden and a beach scene:

And Dylan made a monster!

I'm just so impressed with his mask, which he made almost entirely on his own! He was actually complaining that he wasn't good enough to make a swan!! I had to remind him that today was his first day and that he's only 8! Oh dear, we have another perfectionist in the family! But if he keeps practicing with the clay I predict that he will be an amazing potter and sculptor! (He even asked me if I had a wheel!)

What impressed me with Kiera is that although she needed help to cut and mold the clay into the shapes she wanted, she knew exactly what she wanted! The design of her pieces are completely her own.

So, today I have Charise 12, and Mariah 15, with me. We may do a little drawing or something this afternoon (although they are engrossed on their laptops at the moment!) and Scott will show Mariah and Owen 11, a few table tennis moves later! (I love how they are all interested in different things, but they seem to fit in just right with me and their uncle Scott!)

Tomorrow is a big day!

Yes, tomorrow I go to view a kiln!!! (long pause for dramatic effect)

I've been searching ebay for a kiln but as I said before, they are either really small or really big, and they are all really expensive and too far away! Then Scott noticed this kiln in the local Art Fellowship news letter, which is medium sized and a really good price, and local!! So tomorrow, I go to view it! Yippee!!! :D

Sunday, 4 April 2010

yawn... Yippee!!... yawn

I can't believe how much I have been sleeping lately! But every so often I get up for a few hours to hear some good news, and then go back to bed again!

Today I have had two pieces of good news:

First, Scott passed his table tennis coaching exam! Yippee!! Well done Scott! He was so convinced he had failed, so it was a lovely surprise for him.

And second, today I sold my first commissioned pieces! Ok, they were over 3 months late, but Dave still wanted the cups for his parents! So, yay me!

In other news
I've been looking at kilns on ebay, but the ones that look reasonably portable are only 1 x 1 feet inside. Which is great for a beginner like me, but as you know, I like to make larger sculptures. Dave gave me a very strange look this evening when I said to Scott "I'm not sure if I could fit my head in that" Hahaha :D

I've seen a couple that are 2 x 2 feet inside, but they are so HUGE on the outside that I can't even think of any possible way to move them - unless I drive a forklift truck all the way down the motorway! Oh yes, and then I might actually have to remove some of our doors (and walls, probably) to get it to the back of the house. Hmmmm.... This "buying a kiln" thing isn't working out very well. :(

And on that note... yawn... I'm going back to bed.