Monday, August 27, 2012

The Limelight

We got a bit of publicity recently via our ceramic supplier.  Please check out Standard Ceramic to see what they wrote about us!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


4 years.  This was how long I pondered about, wished upon, and mulled over the enormity of the mural.

4 months.  This is the amount of time it took of hardcore work to produce it.

11 cans of spraypaint.  I kept trying for 15 so that I could be like the Bright Eyes lyric.

2.  We tapped out both the Lowes in DuBois AND Bartonsville of bronze spraypaint.

300ish pounds of clay.  I say "ish" because this is the amount of 50 pound boxes that I opened, but there's no telling how much clay we actually used.

69 designers... and, boy, are they diverse.

74 tiles.  Some kids did two.

One heart. (Thanks, Dante, for that one).

20-25.  This was how many tiles fit into a kiln load at a time.

5 trips to Lowes for spraypaint or tile adhesive.  I'm a bad estimator.

2 weeks.  This was the amount of time that I walked around with a permanent headache because of the spraypaint.

A heapful of fans.  Thanks, guys.  You had no idea what your simple, "It's goods", did for me.

One tube of lipstick for the celebration toast (because, damnit, I deserve it).

5 bottles of soda and 80 fancy cups.  One knod from Elvis in Walmart at 9:15 in the evening.

3 months.  When the mural will actually be finished.  We still have a three dimensional border to do.

Soda toast

This place is crazy.

We are in the homestretch of the end of school.  It's hot, children are complacent at best, and we have a crap ton of obligations to scratch off of the ol' to-do list.  Forget grades!  Let's build something, kids.

The mural is not easy to figure out how to lay out, and granted, I should have had a talk with my dad, or the maintenance guys, or somebody else (anybody else!) who had a brain about these logistics.  Perhaps I breathed in too much spray paint.  Lordy.


I didn't have that conversation, though.  I laid out the first layer because I was worried about structure, and cemented the suckers up.  Halfway through, I realized that was just about the dumbest thing I could have possibly done.  This mural needs strategically-placed gaps to accomodate the crazy dimensions of these tiles (particularly in the O section).  Kids build with clay, and not everything is precise, let's face it.  So, I was left with places where tiles were just not fitting, and luckily, we could pry off the problematic ones and readjust to fit the mural into place.  In retrospect, I should have built the mural by placing tiles in vertical groupings, and just line 'em up as they were needed (which we did for the latter portion).  I know that the central part of the mural would be way more precise if I had started out this way, but in the spirit of Louise Nevelson, I just have to say that I reacted to what the art was telling me to do, and this is how it turned out.  Wanna make something of it?  HUH?!?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Everything's Better with Sparkle

So, for four months, people have asked one question more than any.  WHAT COLOR?

Louise Nevelson, City Sunscape, 1979

Exactly.  What color?  I knew what I didn't want.  I didn't want black.  That would be way too dark to make everyone in the school happy.

Louise Nevelson, Dawn's Wedding Chapel IV, 1960

I didn't want white, either.  This is noteworthy because I consider myself to be the queen of white, with its crispness and simplicity.  It wouldn't transform the space the way that I wish to.  The hallway seems to be too much of an institutional white to begin with.  We need something with a bit more zip...

photo courtesy Riley Maynard

I wanted something warm, something that would give contrast to the existing wall color that did not overpower.  I desired something different from my palette that I normally go to.  Bronze seems like the perfect selection.  Earthy and warm, without overpowering tones of orange like copper has, bronze gives great shadows along with a fantastic sheen to highlight with.  I love it.  There's a life to the tiles now that there is color added.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sneak Peeks

We couldn't wait... we put a couple of the bisqued pieces together.

My boots definitely need to be on the world wide web.
You need to see this in real life, and not in photos.
Three dimensions gives you a whole different experience of the whole thing.

Aside from the shrinkage issues, these suckers are bisque-ing up nicely.  No real cracks or warpage issues have occured, so I'm a happy mama.  Strike that; I'm a happy mama with some hot shoes.

Friday, April 20, 2012


So, a friend told me that I was whining too much.

This is when you know you have great friends.  They're not afraid to tell you what you're doing wrong. 

The mural will be fantastic, I just have super-anxiety about some things, like putting stuff on for permanent display...  I also am sick of school.  Who's with me?

photo courtesy Gabi Pearce

BUT, good news... GOOD NEWS!  We've got not one, but two kilns up and running (it only took about 4 months to get back on track).  This means that we've got the first load of tiles into the kiln RIGHT NOW, as I type!  Not only that, but we have the backing up, and some of the most fantastic boxes have gotten done.  I'm talking collaboratives with wheel throwers, a figurative sculpture leaning against the curve of the "S", ears laying in symmetry (just ears, nothing else).  My kids are fantastic.  I just don't give them enough credit.  I do love them so (most days).

I had the students do a writing to tell me from their perspective what it was like to be part of something so big, something so collaborative.  One of my students with pervasive, debilitating, life-altering disabilities wrote, "Art makes me special.  It makes me forget my autism and makes me feel normal."  GASP!  This is when I go, "Alrighty Robin, chill out."  The beauty of art is that it's therapy, creativity, expression, design, craft, environmental, mood-altering, and basically any other adjective or noun you can summon.  Art is so vast and expansive that it effects everyone from all walks of life, whether you're a viewer or a maker.  Good, or bad, ugly or beautiful, art makes you feel emotions, and that's the whole point.  We're here to give a bit of escapism to someone's day, even if it's for the few seconds that you walk by the mural to look at it.  Once I read those few sentences, I was brought back to my roots.  Art makes me special.  It makes me forget my cares and makes me feel normal.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Questionable

Sigh.  I've avoided writing because I have an obvious statement to say, and it's not the kindest thing.

Some are better than others.

But, hey, then again, isn't that the beauty of art?  Shouldn't the reason why we love this funky subject be because EVERYTHING is unique to the hand of the artist making it?  After all, that is why I despise places like Pier One who mass-produce art, without giving a care to recognize the person on the other side of the planet who made it.  Why, then, am I bemoaning some of my students for their artfulness?

Well... there's some stuff that just looks good.  It's got clean edges, repetitive designs, creative thought, intriguing shadows.   AND THEN, there's others.  There's the slopped shapes, marred lines, flat surfaces.  Some kids are just downright lazy, which accounts for about 1/74th of the mural (yes, I am thinking of a specific child.)  The others that are lacking in quality are done by people with profound disabilities.  If you or I struggled with those disadvantages, we would have artwork that looked exactly like the ones that I am concerned about.  I'm just hoping that my "with-it" students can pull up the quality of the mural from the trenches.  We do have some really fantastic ideas, too.  One child wants to have an interactive movable box, and another is hiding little men inside his.  Good ideas and great execution.

Let's just say that I've never had more students with profound learning issues.  Why did I pick to do this mural now, you ask?  Well... I wasn't pregnant.  Last year, my daughter Harper was born, and I was out for 8 weeks.  After doing my last mural in 2009, it seems like I just took too many years off of doing something big, that it was now or never.  Well... we'll just have to see how it turns out.