Just a few Images of fountains, and an associated video clip.
The fountain in the picture above is about 18 inches in height. There's a pump nested in the base pedestal- flow rate is adjustable.
The top vessel fascinates me. Exactly the same glaze on both sides... but differing levels of reduction. Raku is so unpredictable!
This is an alternate design (basal bowl rather than a pedestal). I have several alternate upper pieces for this model- see images below. The design above is a brook trout. The pieces below feature a Giant Pacific Octopus and the (highly endangered) Pacific Cod.
For both fountain designs, I've integrated a planter into the rim of the base vessel. The idea is to plant some trailing foliage in the planter. If water levels are maintained, the planter will then be self watering.
I haven't installed plants in these specific pieces, but here's a fountain that we currently have in the front room of our house. The foliage is wooly thyme- an herb that seems to be pretty resilient in the face of variable water levels. Looks nice too... and you can even dust a bit on your pumpkin gnocchi if you feel the urge.
Finally- here's some video. I recorded this on my ipod, so the sound quality's not ideal... but you get the idea.
Well- I had a couple minor disasters emerge from the kiln. One fountain base oozed all over the shelf, It reminded me of some of my step-son's ill-advised experiments with banana slugs on Vancouver Island in '03. Another base (like the chalice base from the last entry
) splintered. Big, gaping crack of doom just waiting for Smeagol. Still- I can't complain too much, given the overall levels of success over the past couple weeks. Without too much commentary, here's the current batch.
All of these guys are riffs off my original prototype from about a month back. Although it's the best basic design I've produced, the one thing I'd like to work toward in the future is a bit more asymmetry. Nature is not a symmetrical thing. Rivers wander and purl off into odd little crooks and kinks.
I've got some ideas for designs that should be a bit less tight-laced... but that's something for another day.
In the meantime, the planters continue to propagate. Here are some examples...
This little guy (about five inches in diameter at the rim) is more representational (less abstract) than some of my designs. I tend to like designs that are pared down and exaggerated.
This- of course- is an example of the basic grayling design that I like to endlessly tweak. I was selling at our local farmer's market this weekend, and a vender who was selling North African food observed that the eyes 'looked Egyptian'. Certainly, they don't look like a biologists take on a fish eye.
I should know- I dissected a ton of the things while teaching comparative vertebrate anatomy at WSU this past fall.
This, of course, is a flip back to the representational. Ling cod
) are the most gloriously google-eyed, needle toothed little cutie-pies you're ever going to see outside of Sesame Street. They slither up from the depths looking like a snake hitched a ride on a frog's bum.
I've never managed to get a good photo, unfortunately- my best mate Matt and his big rack of rockfish is the closest I've come. Check the late, great Kawika Chetron's
website for a good image.
I have caught a few of these, but always let them go. They're too bloody cool
to eat.Actually, I almost feel that way about all fish. From here on, just images, no chatter.
OK- I lied again. I need to comment on this planter- which is reduced to the hilt... but still has that nice little streak of oxidized turquoise underneath the Mahi-mahi's belly. The whims of raku strike again.
I'm placing some wares with a Seattle-area gallery. Thus, the past couple of weeks have been a bit of a crank session.
Our house isn't exactly swarming with free storage space. At the moment, I've got a whole pile of pots under the kitchen table. Our Slovenian visiting scientist friend Maja almost juggled a couple of these around midnight the other night. With her feet. I can be pathetically blase about the things that I make.
The gallery is interested in displaying a range of my fountains... which is gratifying, as I've poured a healthy dollop of creative energy into the things. I already posted about the design on the right
- (one image of a prototype on display in our house, the other an example from my raku run yesterday.For a multi-angle view of the upper vessel, see below.
Here's a newer design. The base vessel is chalice-shaped, and holds the pump. The doughnut-shaped component is intended to function as a planter- while the upper vessel rests on a sculptural element with integrated wave shapes.
Definitely a few notches in complexity above your average bowl or mug... but that's a big part of the fun.
I haven't shot any video yet- but this one functions beautifully. See the page header for a full view.
Here's a similar design, but with the base vessel modeled on a basin rather than a chalice. Again- lovely functionality. You could conceivably stuff a couple of goldfish or betas into the vessel. I believe that they're both nimble enough to avoid getting sucked into the intake- wouldn't want them to suffer the fate of the dude on the far right.
(That's an obscure Firefly reference for the geeks among us).
I've also been grinding out a run of planters.
I've decided to stop making overflow trays for my planters using raky techniques. Not only does raku tend to be porous, but it all too frequently cracks in the fire. We've already suffered a couple counter-top blowouts.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that a neutral basal piece really suits a raku planter best- sort of a tabla rasa against which the planter itself can pop out.
But... let the viewer decide!
I had a nice little round of Raku this past week. Among other odds and ends, I fired three drums intended for my 'Last Chance to See' project. Just as a quick re-cap, 'Last Chance to See' celebrates a set of critically endangered species. I'm making twelve indigenous musical instruments from the natal countries of these beasts.For a general overview, see my original project overview. For some musings on the specific drums that I'll be talking about in this entry, go here.
Unfortunately, one of the pieces that I was most excited about shattered- literally shattered- as I was lifting it out of the kiln. Always exciting to dodge shards of 1700 degree ceramic (especially when it's 90 degrees out, and your legs are bare).
Raku is a hit-miss sort of proposition, unfortunately, and some catastrophic losses are inevitable. This piece may have been structurally compromised because it was a composite vessel (two pieces joined together). It was also over three feet tall... and there seems to be a correlation between size and failure rate in raku.
It's too bad. I threw a couple chunks in the reduction chamber for giggles, and they came out looking quite tantalizing. The also offer an interesting perspective on the difference between reduced and oxidized raku glazes... note the contrast in the photo in the right.
Anyhow, it looks like I get to do more gorillas!
Fortunately, one of my other drums (a conga with a white rhino design) came out looking pretty spectacular (if I'm allowed to say such things). I'm quite delighted with the balance of the design... it has a certain massiveness that evokes the organism.
Factor in the subtle interplay of color, and I think it's one of the nicest things I've done in Raku.
It also sounds staccato and brash, and plays beautifully.
I'm a little less thrilled with the other conga... in part because I'm less pleased with the basic form, and in part because I think the proportions are a bit off. Oh well.
On the whole, it was a very successful firing. I won't show all of the pieces, but I was particularly pleased with this planter.
Raku is infuriating, in that it sometimes yields serendipitous and wholly inexplicable results.
Why, in this particular case, did I get the copper flashing in the interstitial spaces between the carved lines? The effect highlights the design brilliantly, but I'm baffled as to how to replicate it.
Just to briefly mention a few ongoing projects... I'm currently finishing an improved version of the fountain design I commented on in my last entry
. Aside from being larger, this version features a broader basin (to better display rocks or other found objects). It also has a sharper, steeper lip for the pour-over from the top vessel, and should thus be more of a cascade and less of a dribbler.
Finally, my pop (who's a garage sale hound extraordinaire) found me a lovely coffee table for 15 clams. After taking out the 10-inch glass panels, I'm going to fire a set of tiles and grout them into the top.I haven't decided yet whether to make the tiles themselves in raku or hi-fire... I'll probably make four of each and them decide.Tiles are harder then you'd think. If you're not careful, they crack and warp like cane toad licking Australians.
I've figured out that it works best to throw slabs on the wheel and then cut them to size.Updates as things move forward.
I've been interested in fountains for a long time. Aside from my long-running love for water in motion, I'm intrigued by the idea of consciously integrating the natural world into places where we live. It's a hot idea in conservation- Michael Rosenzweig published a great discussion in his book 'Reconciliation Ecology
'. You can also get some detailed discussion at Win-win Ecology
Anyhow, I've had a couple objectives with fountain building.
1) Through color and form, evoke coastal Alaskan tide-pools, carven, potholed mountain streams, or- ideally- some combination of the two.
2) Have a clean-flowing functionality, with minimal visibility of the machinery.
3) Use the fountain as a display base for rocks and other found objects (I've been accumulating agates, sharks teeth, and fossilized bones... and they need to go somewhere...
4) Integrate living plants
(Sadly, I don't really have a good set of photos that capture what I've trying to convey, although I think river runners and tide-poolers will know what I'm talking about. These images offer some context- Glacier National Park on the left, Vancouver Island on the right).
This was my first effort.
This piece was assembled from three wheel thrown globes, and Raku fired. It has a couple aspects that I like (the balance, the rose-to-malachite glaze effect on the interior). However, there are a number of functional issues.
1) The water- which was supposed to cascade from one vessel to the next- tends to dribble.
2) The pump needs to sit in the bottom vessel, which sort of blows the organic sang-froid of the piece.
3) Raku leaks. When I fired this baby up, it left a massive pool of water on the underlying surface. Bit of a fiasco, to be honest.
So- I went back to the drawing board and came up with a few ideas.
First- I decided to include a basal column in the design that would hold the pump. The fountain would then drain into the column. Thus, all the 'workings' would be effectively invisible.
Secondly- I decided to mount the upper globe (from which the water would cascade) on a slab-build stand that would help with drainage and hold the tubing. Again- all in the service of a discrete mechanism.
Third- I decided to incorporate plant holders into the rim of the main vessel, and nested into the upper globe (see diagram). These will hold water-loving, trailing plants (of a species to yet be determined. I'm no horticulturalist... but there's got to be something that will work. Let me know if you have suggestions.).
Here's another early effort. This was prior to my ideas about an integrated, tubing-sheltering supporting element... and before I'd decided to build the base-piece as a separate element. Needless to say, moving a three-foot tall compound assemblage into your kiln is not easy. This one smashed en-route.
It was not a happy moment... I think I seriously damaged the neighborhood reputation of the Leonhardy family, who rent me the shed where I work.
And here's the most recent iteration.
There's a lot to like here. The interior glaze is pretty close to what I'm shooting for. More importantly, the thing actually works.
Nonetheless, there are still a few kinks to work out...
1) The aperture where the water hose enters the upper vessel got crimped down by some moving glaze. As a consequence, the water flow isn't as strong as I'd like.
2) I need to make the main basin more open and broad. Since one of the intentions here is to display rocks or other found objects, there needs to be a good sight-line to see those objects.
3) I'm not 100% please with the surface treatment... I'd like it to look a bit more organic, and I'd like for it to highlight my carvings a bit better.
4) The lip where the water runs off the upper basin needs to be sharper and steeper. I want a straight fall into the lower basin- it's still too dribbly.
Still, it's a good start, and I think it'll be quite attractive once I get some plants training out of the holding vessels.
In the meantime, here's a short video showing the little baby in action.