Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Have Kiln Envy... Not!

Bottled water and the muted sounds of 5:00 am Portland traffic start my first morning of BECon. Yesterday after my flight I caught a cab to Portland State U, picked up my registration materials, dropped my luggage off in my dorm room, and took the Bullseye Studio and Home tour. The evening ended in a happy, solitary dinner of bun (pronouned "boon") and Tsing Dao, and bed by 8:30 pm.

I miss my own bed and pillow and dreamed restlessly all night. The dream that stuck with me when I woke was that I had just started retailing glass and frit out of my studio and Bullseye changed their frit packaging from plastic tubs to brown paper bags. Yes, I am back in the west where recycling and the environment rule. Who knew that the first topic for the first post of BECon would be toilets? But both at the Portland airport and in my dorm room I encountered a new kind of water conservation toilet that I had neither seen nor even heard of before. They have either two flush buttons or a lever (in the case of the airport) that release different amounts of water depending on which one you push or which direction you move the lever (up or down). There is no picture of the toilets as even I have limits, but they are interesting nonetheless. Juxtapose the toilets of the future with the difficulty in finding public wireless internet access--even for pay, and you encapsulate my first exposure to Portland in over 18 years.

But enough of non-glass. The big topic of the day--novel toilets aside--was definitely the Bullseye Home and Studio Tour. And wonderful though the studios we visited and the Bullseye Research and Education facility were, the high point of the tour had to be Lani McGregor and Dan Schwoerer's (Ma and Pa Bullseye to you) home--a monument to glass you can make in a kiln and incorporate into daily space (referred to by them as a laboratory for living with glass). There are glass stair treads, a glass deck (shown from above and below), glass sinks (who knew you can't fill them with really hot water and then empty them all at once without risking them cracking?), and more glass art than you can shake a stick at. In fact, if I shook a stick in that beautiful house I would most assuredly break something. Not surprising that they don't have a deerhound...

The wall piece shown in the photo at the top right is a Klaus Moje comprised of kiln-formed tiles. Next to it is a little Chihuly (I believe the term used was "made from the runts of the run") floor piece. See what I mean about not shaking sticks (or deerhound tails)? The Moje could probably take it but the Chihuly would be history.

Linda Ethier (no pics of her or her studio as I will be there all next week and have LOTS of photo ops), Deborah Horrell (shown in the photo below or at left depending on your browser window), Lani and Dan, and Ted Sawyer (every wild-eyed, wild-haired inch of him) were all gracious and informative tour guides happy to share both artistic vision and technical knowledge with all eight rounds of visitors throughout the day-long tour. What a way to ramp up for the conference!

The big kiln dwarfing Ted Sawyer is one of the Bullseye Research and Education kilns. I initially had a raging case of kiln envy, but then I realized that if I had a kiln that big and fired the really big slabs that they fire in it I wouldn't be able to get them out--the piece in that kiln right now is only three inches thick but it weighs *900 lbs* (and it's one of several--six?, nine? in a series. Oh my aching back!).

As the topic of the conference is kilncasting it was only appropriate that Ted share some of the casting techniques they have explored at Bullseye with us. I really like the mold-creation model shown below that has a regular (fairly fragile) plaster mold encased in a refractory cement mold before casting. That's some serious mold.

The conference really begins today at noon. Until then I will hang out online and catch up on my own work. V will be very happy to get an updated spreadsheet with all the current outstanding invoices and recent deposits. I got an inquiry last night for 58 glass and steel pieces for a corporate award that I need to follow up on. And if I get bored, I can always harry the hapless Wunder Assistant Becky who is managing extended firing and shipping duties during my absence with aplomb. At least it looks like aplomb from this distance.

Post-Post Script: It doesn't mean anything that the only photos I posted of Lani and Dan show the backs of their heads. These are people who move so fast that that might be your only view of them. Faces later...

3 comments:

Bill said...

I can feel the power of education imbuing you...

Kathleen Krucoff said...

Wow this is great! I am enjoying all the various posts about BECon. Your blog is terrific and thanks for sharing so much info about the tour too. I hope to make it there next year.

Douglas said...

Have fun and learn lots. It sounds like a great week coming up.

MONYMAN