Boring Budget

March 25, 2009

OK, so before I can move on to the next project, I have to finally post the budget from Post-Processualism.  In some ways this is for my own records, just to know how much these projects are costing me, but maybe someone out there finds this information helpful or informative in some way.  At the very least, it gives you a rough idea of what projects like this can cost just in terms of tools and materials.  The budget does come with something of a disclaimer since tools are more like an “investment” since you can continue to use them in the future, and I still have left-overs of some of the other materials.  I’m also not including the cost of enrollment at the Harvard Ceramics studio since the few hours a week that I work there covers the fee, but it’s important to keep in mind because it is a hefty cost of $795 just to get access to the clay and firing.  And since talking about the budget isn’t a visually interesting entry, I’m going to post some inspirational images that lead to the next big project afterwards.

Staples (file boxes, file folders, foam sheets and bubblewrap):  $96.53

Home Depot (house paint, hanging materials, tile adhesive & grout, acetone, smoothing spatula, etc.):     $64.82

Sew-fisicated (fabric for slab rolling):     $19.95

Various Thrift and Second Hand Stores (for used frames):     $26.19

Grand Approximate Total:    $207.49 (or $1002.49 if you include the studio enrollment)

So there!  I’m finally officially done with Post-Processualism!  I’m not even going to attempt a guess on hours spent (too many!) or amount of porcelain used or anything crazy like that.  We’ll just leave it as is…  Now for the fun stuff…

Interesting illustration of 16 teeth from the left side of the mouth

Interesting illustration of 16 teeth from the left side of the mouth

Dental models of the inner structure of teeth

Dental models of the inner structure of teeth

A glass tooth with an embedded audio chip to dementrate integrating technologies into the body (see note at end of images)

A glass tooth with an embedded audio chip to demonstrate integrating technologies into the body (see note at end of images)

Glowing tooth stool!!  I want one!!

Glowing tooth stool!! I want one!!

Teeth candy!  How ironic is that?!

Teeth candy! How ironic is that?!

Angie Mason's rotten tooth gang (see link at end of images)

one of Angie Mason's rotten tooth gang (see link at end of images)

Crystal Morey's porcelain and lustre teeth (see link at end of images)

Crystal Morey's porcelain and lustre teeth (see link at end of images)

Couldn't resist posting this one just because it's hilarious!

Couldn't resist posting this one just because it's hilarious!

So there!  Think about that!  And if you have any interesting teeth-related imagery, send it my way!  Or even better, if you have any teeth lying around (wisdom teeth, baby teeth, etc.) I would LOVE to reference real teeth so please let me know!  I’ll pay your shipping if you have to mail them to me, and if you’re not willing to part with them (keeping them for sentimental reasons?) take a couple photos of them from different angles and send those along instead.  And to give props to some of the posted images, here’s a link to the Royal College of Art, who is responsible for the glass audio chip tooth, a link to Angie Mason’s “Rotten Tooth Gang” website, and a link to Crystal Morey’s website where you can see lots of her other ceramic, figurative work.

Studio Show

March 22, 2009

It hardly counts as a show, but I set up a small selection of the tiles, both framed and in piles, at the Harvard Ceramic studio in one of the showcases we often use to highlight members’ work.  For the most part, no one knew what to make of it as there isn’t much in the way of conceptual work made at the studio, but that sort of made it all the more fun in that lots of people had questions and it sort of gave me an extra opportunity to practice talking about it.  The pieces were there for probably 2-3 weeks immediately following de-installation at the Arsenal and now are all back in their respective boxes, stored in my living room until I can find some other use or opportunity to show them…  A handful of the smaller shards has made fantastic test tiles for glazes for the next project, and I’m thinking of assembling more shards into some place settings for “A Place at the Table,” a Harvard community project I’ve been helping out with.  Other than that, no time for lots of writing or anything informative–I still plan on posting a complete budget for this project, and then it will be on to photos of the next project in progress!






March 13, 2009

So my first full week of unemployment has been crraaazzyy!   First of all, I’m not actually unemployed.  The day after my last day as a designer I started training at a local bakery, thank god not as a baker because I would ruin it, but as a front store, pastry selling, barista, sandwich making, etc. person.  I had 3 training shifts, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and my first full official shift today!  Inbetween those I’ve been running errands, making various doctors appointments before my insurance runs out, trying to get a bit done in studio, and getting really really sick.  In fact, my first day with NOTHING on the calendar, when I was supposed to get sooooo much work done in studio, some sort of flu-like illness swept in and completely knocked me out.  So that’s been lame.  But there have been lots of other insane stories like the most ridiculous bus/crazy bag lady/public transportation story EVER (maybe one of these days when I have nothing else to post I’ll write about it–I wish I had taken some photos to back me up because it’s too good to be true) AND my apartment building caught on fire!  In fact, the trucks and crowds are gathered outside right now.  Any normal person might take all this as a sign that maybe they shouldn’t have made this rash decision to ditch design in favor of art-making, but instead I’m blissfully posting photos from the de-installation as the fire trucks battle the flames next door, with tissues stuck up my nose to stem the endless flow…

An overview half way through de-installing aka. sorting out the mess...

An overview half way through de-installing aka. sorting out the mess...

I was amazed at how much people had re-arranged things on their own...

I was amazed at how much people had re-arranged things on their own...

I liked these shadows that were left...

I liked these shadows that were left...

A different kind of shadow--left from brushing aside unsalvageable shards to find the nice big pieces that were left

A different kind of shadow--left from brushing aside unsalvageable shards to find the nice big pieces that were left

Boxing up the last of it...

Boxing up the last of it...

What now you ask?  Well… I still don’t really know.  Basically every page was broken.  I was pleasantly amazed to find a few complete sheets–sometimes even super thin ones–at the bottom of some of the stacks.  The weight must have been balanced exactly right, and the stars aligned when I set those down, for them to have survived 6 weeks with 100 other ceramic pages on top.  It’s possible there will be future showings of the piece, each one more degraded, broken and with more missing information than the last.  I feel a little weird about showing it anywhere other than the Arsenal, but maybe if the actual information is unintelligible anyways, it doesn’t matter?  I’m not sure, I haven’t really decided yet… In any event, they did have a mini show at the ceramics studio immediately following the de-installation.  So next time I post something, I’ll include some photos of that.  And maybe a crazy bus lady story or two…

Learning is Fun!

March 4, 2009

So I’ve been trying to squeeze in some time to write my usual “things learned” entry before I forget everything related to the project, but it has been difficult!  Between quitting the design job, trying to find new jobs, balancing time in studio with time tying up loose ends on Post-Processualism (I still want to collect and post a project budget for the whole thing)… well, there’s only so many hours in a day.  And I’ve been working on normal “life” things that I’ve been ignoring like laundry, dishes, cat litter and general cleaning and organizing of my apartment, computer, files, projects, art pieces, contacts, seeing friends, donating hair, etc.

I finally sat down a couple nights ago and wrote out a few thoughts…

Things Learned:

1. Birthing pains are horrific!  The last few days getting this project out the door were some of the worst I’ve experienced.  Maybe it was the toxic fumes, or causing brain damage to the cat, or the frustration of fragility, or the exhaustion of the physicality… or maybe it was because I wasn’t 100% sure of this project to begin with so when it got down to the wire, it was hard to maintain the energy and passion against the looming doubts and second guessing that was running rampant…

2. Projects of a certain scale attain a level of “being” beyond the usual sculptural object.  They come into their own and no longer require your hand to continue.  Sure, I made it, I birthed it, but it is also an autonomous child, free to move in directions I may or may not foresee.  I felt like many aspects of Post-Processualism were completely out of my control, and while that’s a totally false statement in that there was only a little left to chance, relative to my usual control freak nature, this was difficult.  Letting go was difficult.  And yet once it is out of my hands (it was the same with Paper Jungle), it is somehow liberating–maybe that’s why I’m drawn to these types of projects?  Some masochistic part of me likes being forced out of my comfort zone and allowing things to be subject to chance?

3. Be absolutely totally clear in your artist statement/proposal!  Certain heart attacks and anguish can be avoided with a little extra caution in the beginning–even if it seems clear to you, it’s not always clear to others.  BUT

4. Be open.  Shit happens, things change, but that doesn’t mean for the worse.  I was delightfully surprised to find that what I thought was catastrophe was actually opportunity in disguise, and a certain amount of forced self-reflection led to a (probably) stronger piece in the end.

5. It’s hard to work without space.  I was blessed with Paper Jungle to have access to the PERFECT work space due to connections in school.  And I’m blessed now to have access to materials and processes (like firing) that I wouldn’t normally, but damn is it hard to work without space.  There’s only so much Matt, the cat, and my sanity can take when I try to complete a big project in my tiny apartment.

6. Storage!  I haven’t learned anything yet other than the fact that I don’t have any.  What do you do with large art pieces when you’re “done” with them?  I’ll let you know when I figure it out… Right now it’s all in my car for lack of any other place to put it…

7. Self-promote, self-promote, self-promote.  No one else will do it for you.  And make your own postcards–come on RISD!  What was with those over sized postcards?!  You should know better!  I couldn’t mail those anywhere for cheap!

8.  Friends are the best.  I mean, I already knew that, but it continues to be affirmed.  Especially the ones that come to your show.  Yes, that’s a guilt trip to everyone that missed it–you better come to the next one!  If you’re across the country, or across the globe, then you’re excused, but if you’re right here in Boston or New England…

9. When in doubt, JUST DO IT.  Following my intuition has never failed me.  It’s only when I ignore it or second guess it that I find myself in trouble–artistically or otherwise.

10.  Let things percolate.  For me at least, I need as much time as possible to just think.  And study.  And write.  And look at things.  And research.  And map. And diagram.  And plan. And then think some more.  The longer the simmer, the better.  Let other ideas pop up and write them down before they float away, but always return to the original brew.

Also, I was trying to keep this to a nice succinct 10 item list, but I was thinking during my commute that when it comes to learning, a. I love it, and b. I do it with my hands.  I seem to really enjoy throwing myself into completely unknown waters, floundering around for a while, and then magically surfacing with something that works.  Learning by example or from books or even based on teachers doesn’t really do it for me–I have to dive in, experiment a lot, learn by doing and let happy accidents happen.  If I followed well known examples, sure I would cut out a lot of extra work, but then where would the random mistakes that make a project sparkle happen?  By throwing myself into things relatively unguided, I’ve become an expert large scale paper cutter, painfully thin porcelain slab roller, photocopy transferrer, sewer of teeth and crappy but functioning installer among many other things.  Ask me to do any one of those things with a different material or structure, and I probably couldn’t do it immediately without more experimentation, but I know a LOT about how to do those specific things really well…  I think for me at least, art-making has become an essential part of how I learn and that’s a big part of why it has become so important that I do it with as much regularity as possible.


February 23, 2009

It was time to take down and pack up the piece yesterday afternoon.  De-installation is always sort of a bittersweet moment; nice to be done with it (until the next time!) but also sad since it was so much work and it will never live again in the exact same way.  Onwards and upwards I guess!  Next time it will evolve into something different–I don’t know what or when or how yet, but I’m sure it will on its own terms.  By now it absolutely has the ability to stand on its own, I’m here to just give it some direction every now and then but it is its own entity;  I can only be so controlling and obsessive…

Again I forgot my camera, but I did borrow one from the Arsenal to take a final set of shots in its birth context and a few of the sorting and packing process.  Hopefully I’ll get those soon and be able to post a few here. 

I am hoping to be much better about keeping this blog relatively consistent.  Entries will probably rise as a particular project draws to a close or enters a space, but outside of those fluctuations, it would be great to use this as a means of documenting my processes on any and all projects in as continuous a way as possible.  It’s been six weeks since I wrote something–I know this because the show was 6 weeks and my previous post was written the day after the opening–and I’d like to really work on posting entries more consistently.  My excuse in recent weeks is job troubles and those are about to change pretty dramatically so… we’ll see what my new schedule allows.  I handed in my resignation today with the intention of focusing my time and energies on art making instead of design.  Given the current state of the economy (yes, I’m aware we are in a recession), this was a pretty difficult decision to make, but I’ve been feeling the need to make this change for a long time and handing in my resignation will be the quickest and easiest way to begin changing the way I work in a forcibly proactive way.  It was also an incredibly difficult decision on a personal level; I love my boss and we have a really great design team so it’s very sad to have to say goodbye.  But I’m also ridiculously psyched for the change and I can’t wait to see how everything will play out.  I don’t have anything else lined up, and while this is terrifying since I have no savings to live off of and a laundry list of monthly student loans to pay, I’m also very excited by the limitless possibilities this allows.  I really don’t know what will be next!  But I do know it’s a step in the right direction.  I’ve thought about it enough over the last six weeks (and really, the last 6 months) to know this is something I HAVE to do, and why not during a recession?  Artists have a tendency to be poor during the best of times so will it really make a big difference?  I’m not quitting the day job in order to live off of selling art, so in that sense the recession won’t affect me in my new role as starving artist at all.  And it has the added benefit of giving someone else who probably really wants and needs my job an opportuniy where there wasn’t one before.  Granted, I’m not doing this for un-selfish reasons, it just so happens that someone who will appreciate the job more will get to take my place.

To make sure this really was what I wanted, I wrote a sort of memoir/essay about the thought process behind this decision.  It was as much about convincing myself as it is about convincing other doubters, so if you have any interest in reading it, let me know and I’ll send it on to you.  I try to avoid writing extremely personal, self-reflective, self-indulgent entries here (although lets be honest, blogs are pretty self-indulgent) unless it’s directly related to a project I’m working on.  While this is related to my overall process, I’m not sure it’s necessary to subject everyone to it, so just drop me a note if you’re interested in hearing my reasoning for this seemingly insane move.

Moral to the story is, now that the show is over and I’m quitting my job, I will hopefully be diving head first into the next big project in the next month and will continue to write with more regularity.  Unemployment, here I come!

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