Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mayhem is a gathering that happens most every May, and involves a great deal of eating. In between eating (since you can't eat ALL day, no matter how hard you try!) we sit and make shiny horses.

The story starts a few weeks before Mayhem, as I worked feverishly to finish the Taboo mold. Lesli Kathman had done the molds on Imp and Vixen, but she turned the stallion over to me, since she'd had enough rubber pouring and plaster scraping for a while. I decided that I wanted the Taboos to be done in time for Mayhem, so that Lesli and Sarah and Lynn and I would all have one or two to play with. Lesli was bringing Imps and Vixens, and how could the family be incomplete? So, the moldmaking was rushed but the molds turned out all right (except for his left ear, which has to be hand formed each time from these molds) I also finished enough Brownies to bring each gal one.
I arrived at Mayhem with bisques, as did Lesli, and we started painting and working on them. I decided to strive to finish two... one Taboo and one Brownie, for sale when I got home to pay for the trip. I also painted my Imp. Then, I could finish my Vixen at home when I wouldn't be rushed or distracted. Since Lesli has allowed me to make extra Taboos in exchange for having made the mold, I didn't mind selling the first one... in fact, I was highly looking forward to it. (My first mistake)
You have to understand about Boise, and Mayhem, and the way it works. We sit in Sarah's garage, beautifully laid out as a work space, and it increasingly fills with boxes, paints, food items, bubble wrap, tools, randomly placed items, and our ever expanding girths as we go out at least twice a day... usually three times... for meals in the excellent restaurants surrounding the area. This time, we initiated our visit with Thai food from the Sa-Wa-Dee, and I was delighted to drink tea from the Elephant teapot again. So, we begin working and filling up space, and eating and digesting, and talking and laughing, and I'm trying hard to finish those two little shiny beasties in time to bring them home finished. And, being small, they don't take as much work as... say, a Stormwatch... so I actually did pretty well. The Brownie served double duty, as he allowed me to show the girls how I freehand airbrush and then clean up the edges with an eraser, for a softer but still defined pattern. I have that process down pat, and did him fairly quickly. He was given an undercoat of a yellow-beige, that was rubbed away from the high areas, so that it sunk into his coat and gave it depth. The Taboo took more time... masking off the teeeeny tiiiiiny mane took forever...but I painted him a bright "Voltage" chestnut with a lighter mane and tail. He has a darling nose marking too, and I was pleased with his detailing. It's a good color on him, shows off his musculature and detail, without being too fancy. Soooo..... it came time to glaze them. I decided to do something different. (My second mistake) Matte or satin glazes are harder to do than glossy, and Lynn Fraley has been getting such good results with her matte/satins, that I decided that the crowning touch would be a nice matte glaze on these beasties. So, I asked Lynn for the tips for success on the Laguna matte, of which Sarah had an unopened jar. "Don't apply too heavily, and don't overcook".... okay, no problem. I tend to apply glazes lightly anyway, and it's no big deal to run them through twice, rather than getting them too heavy. So, I sprayed the Taboo and the Brownie with the Laguna clear matte. I also sprayed a little wonderful plaque that Sarah had donated to the glazing chaos, and that Lesli had painted.
We started the kiln, and probably went out to eat, and the next morning....

Oh DAMN!!!

We opened the kiln, and just stared at the Brownie and Taboo. The Taboo didn't look too bad on first glance, since he was chestnut. But the Brownie looked like... he had rolled in urine. He was bright translucent matte yellow, with his grey pattern showing underneath! I thought for a few minutes that I had just over-hit him with the yellow undercoat, but I realized that even if I had, the high parts of his coat would still be white, since they were rubbed off thoroughly. Nope, he was varying shades of yellow all over. Even over his eyes, like he was blind or something. YUCK!!! The Taboo, close up, had the same problem... especially his forehand. His facial shading that had really been gorgeous, was overlaid with yellow. And his blaze was yellow!
Here I had been, all happy about finishing early, bragging on how I had done my work and could just coast for the last day of the visit, and the Glaze Gods had heard me and jerked the rug out from under me. They do that, every once in a while. The unopened jar of glaze had been mis-marked. I looked at it again, several times, and it was clearly marked "clear matte" with no mention of "pee-yellow"!

So, I applied some gloss glaze over the top and ran them through again, and while it did help, it didn't make them good enough to sell. I plan to run them through again, a few times maybe, and also apply some paint over the top to see if they can be fixed. The Brownie might turn out all right, but the Taboo is probably never going to leave my case. I won't sell a substandard piece, and would rather keep him as a reminder of what happens when you get over confident. His name? Hubris.
Of course.

The other parts of Mayhem were great, we had a lot of fun, and the visit to Lynn and Barry was way too short! Lynn made us up boxes of china paints, mixing mediums, and glazed pieces to play with, and gave us a tutorial on airbrushing china paints, which was something that I am anxious to try. And, in keeping with the eating theme, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Lynn makes the tastiest spicy pecans that the world has ever seen.

So, that's the story of my Mayhem (and see Lesli's blog for her post-Mayhem misfortunes, poor Lesli!) I came home and had to make something quick, to pay the incoming bills, so I did another Taboo in a satin dapple grey and sold him immediately. (photos below)

Here is the Imp, done in a glossy highlighted buckskin. Good gracious, he is tiny! You can't believe all the little detail. My camera just isn't able to take pictures that show him off properly, but you get the idea.


mel said...

Holy cow, Joanie! Taboo is gorgeous! And tiny Imp is so pretty in that color! I am so excited that you all are yet again pushing your art in such lovely ways. I am so sorry the glaze was wrong, but as you said, there is a lesson in everything.

Laura Dotson-Thomson said...

awww.... I'd still take taboo :) He's still an amazing sculpture, and I'm sure he's not THAT bad - just a little off-color like he's been rolling in the dirt :) Brownie... on the other hand... not sure wha to say about him, hehehe

Lynn A. Fraley said...

Those kiln and mud gods... some sense of humor they have. That certainly is one of the more frustrating things that can happen, and *not* one that you factor into the normal equation of glaze firing. Hope it doesn't make you too gun shy of the Laguna matte -- I'll have to send you a little jar that I know is clear. (Along with the recipe for the pecans!) ~ Lynn