Monday, August 24, 2009

Hey, check out THIS rack!

Tomato season is upon us, in the sense that a ton of bricks is "upon" you shortly after it falls. I went out to the garden after a week or two's absence expecting to find a dozen or so tomatoes worth the taking, and instead I found this:

I think this was a good 15-20 lbs of tomatoes. I'm hustling to make sauce with them before the few remaining fruitflies in my kitchen manage to colonize the fruit rack again. I made some excellent sauce the other night--secret ingredients are tomato skins (you peel the tomatoes, yes, but then put the skins in the pot while the whole thing is cooking down,) and parmesean rind, and ground bison. Really. Amazing sauce.

It was, in fact, the Year of the Tomato this year at the Indiana State Fair, and thus one of my favorite fruit/vegetables spent two weeks in the much-deserved spotlight. Every time the fair has a theme like this, there's a certain amount of art in the HFA building devoted to singing the praises of the selected farm product. This year was no exception; however, I have to say that this year I encountered one of the most disturbing artworks I've seen in all my many fairs. Check this out:

It's a gourd painted to look like a tomato--this in itself is fine, gourd painting is an established art form and I've got no problem with that. But check out the scene across the front. It's a classroom for tomatoes! The juvenile tomatoes have come to school to learn about how to become a highly productive member of tomato society--and joy! It's CAREER DAY!! And what youngster doesn't aspire to being chopped up, canned, and eaten? Errk. This closeup I found particularly disturbing:

It's almost like that little tomato and his friend the green chili have entered into some sort of unholy suicide pact. ***shudder*** Even a tomato lover like myself has to draw the line someplace... and I think this is it.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Say Buddy, That's an Ugly Mug You Got There

Well, the summer's drawing to a close; my birthday always feels a bit like the beginning of the end, though this being Indiana there's plenty of hot weather still in store. As it happens, August also brings with it the end of the 8 week wheel-thrown ceramics class I signed up for with my friend, J the Curator. Yesterday we went in to glaze our last bisque pieces and pick up the stuff that got fired the week before. I have to say I've learned several important things during this class.

1. Wheel throwing is fucking HARD! Jesus, just centering the clay on the freakin' wheel took me 20 minutes some days, and then I'd spend another 30 minutes ruining a piece, adding more and more water until eventually the poor thing just kind of oozed off the wheel and sat there in the catch basin, shapelessly glowering at me while I sluiced off the wheel and started over with a new ball of clay. That was the first 5 weeks of the class, more or less--wedge clay, wrestle with clay, turn clay into unusable mush, rinse, repeat. Then, suddenly, I almost sort of got the hang of it sometime around week 6 and produced a series of nearly serviceable bowls. Which brings me to point #2:

2. Bowls are way easier than cylinders, which is what she started us on and what nearly reduced me to tears. This isn't to say I shouldn't still learn to throw a decent cylinder--and I plan to! Really!--but for this class, bowls were my oeuvre. Though I did enter a plate phase right at the end, I have to say that bowls are The Shiznit. (The mug up top was slab built, and I kind of love it even though it looks like one of the Dark Gods threw up on it.)

3. Glazes are awesome. Our teacher mentioned that for many ceramicists, glazing is the least favorite part because it's so unpredictable--in addition to the random nature of glazes anyway, they also can look completely different depending on what you put over them, how hot the kiln is, and what's sitting next to them when the kiln's fired up. I can see how if I were trying to produce a body of work that all looked more or less the same, it would be a frustrating phase. But since really, most of my pieces were nothing to write home about in a structural sense, I felt like glazing was the Big Adventure part of the whole process! Let's try THIS one on top of THIS one, with a quick dip of the rim in THIS stuff! And as I'm very color-driven to begin with, I have to say that I am utterly taken with the part when you go and find your finished stuff in the kiln room and go "This amazingly blue thing is mine???? WHOAAAAAAH."

So I've got 5 pieces back, and 9 more in the kiln this week for a total of 14. I can't wait to see the finished products. CAN'T. WAIT. OMG.