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Member Since 08 Sep 2012
Online Last Active Today, 09:42 AM

#74581 Community Challenge Idea

Posted by Benzine on Yesterday, 09:16 PM

Don't worry - if it's a competition I will be easy on all of you :) haha



No worries, I can distract you, like I do with an Wisconsinite, with offerings of cheese and Schlitz...

#74499 Ruined Kiln Shelves - Any Uses For Them?

Posted by Benzine on 30 January 2015 - 05:42 PM

Guinea, that's what you get, for putting your cat in charge, of loading your kiln....

#74098 Dealing With Allergies?

Posted by Benzine on 25 January 2015 - 07:34 PM

Is teaching hazards, part of the class?  In my class it is.  I talk about why we don't shake things off, that are covered in clay dust, and why we clean up "wet".  I talk about why we don't smoke, while handling glazes as well.  OK, maybe not that last one, but the topic has come up, when the more curious student actually reads the full label.  I can't say every teacher takes the time to do this, and no district has ever told me, that it's something that I have to do.  Said district, has assumed that the person they hired, to teach Art, would do so responsibly.  And I do everything I can, to reaffirm that assumption.  For me, it's the same as teaching students, the proper way to use the materials.  "Here's how we do and don't do something.  And here's why that is."


For my four year old, you do something, because I told you to.  For my high school students, it makes sense that I explain something beyond, "Because I said so."... To a certain extent.  Because sometimes the students act like four year olds...

#73702 How To Make Size Apparent In Photos

Posted by Benzine on 20 January 2015 - 04:40 PM

Depending on what it is, functional or non, you could put a related object with it. A coffee mug, could have a spoon sticking out of it, or a teabag tag, hanging over the edge. A pitcher could have some lemons, or other such fruit sitting near it. A vase could have flowers in it.

Just my thoughts.

Also, great piece in the photo!

#73491 Why Do The Fluxing Molecules Only Have One Oxygen Atom

Posted by Benzine on 16 January 2015 - 11:23 PM


#73345 Community Challenge Idea

Posted by Benzine on 14 January 2015 - 07:43 PM

Vote doesn't have to be about what are the 'best pieces'.

It can be votes on a spectrum of things like : 'most creative take on the theme', 'most functional piece', 'newbie piece of the month', 'most spectacular fail' (<we'd learn a lot from that one with a little humor)… you name it. It can be fun and out of the box.

Just a thought. 


That seems like a great solution dom!


I'm all for this idea.


I think the contest could be done, based on a theme as suggested (Technology, Nature, Self-Portrait, etc).  Or more of a specific technique, sgraffito, brushed illustrations, etc.

#72832 The End Of Art As We Know It

Posted by Benzine on 04 January 2015 - 12:46 PM

The world is changing, not just Art.  Education is changing, business is changing, the way we communicate is changing.  Art has to adapt, or be lost.  But Art has always adapted, so to me, it's not the end of "Art as We Know it".  Because that has always been the nature of Art.


The internet allows artists to communicate, like never before.  I would have never been able to talk to you fine folks, without this fabulous connected series of tubes.  And think of the expanded markets that potters have, by selling through a webpage/ site.


The article mentioned how the comedian Louis C.K. digitally made available, his stand up shows.  He is not alone, there are numerous musicians, who have done the same thing.  Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, etc have made their albums available online, for free.  Some artists do this, because their art is the important thing, not making money on it.  Of course, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, have plenty of money, from decades of selling albums and touring.  However, those fiscally knowledgeable musicians/ comedians know that album sales don't account for much of their income.  The record company gets a  lot of that.  It's the concerts/ shows that bring in the big money.  A twelve dollar album isn't much, compared to a sixty dollar (or more) ticket.  Then, there is the merchandise at the show, etc, etc.


Visual artists have a tough time matching that change, and it's one area of this digital move, that is tough to adapt to.  If you are a two-dimensional artist, and you post your work online, it will get stolen, regardless of how well you try and prevent it.  Internet users are so numb to the content available within the milliseconds they type it into Google, that they feel that anything that shows up, is fair game.  If that said anything is a thumbnail from an artist's site, who cares?  That image will get reposted, copied, pasted, to near infinity.  No money comes in to the artist, and in many cases, they get zero credit.  That's one reason that I will continue to play the role of "Fun Hater", in my classroom, and not let copyrighted work, of any level, be used.  My students can be inspired by preexisting work, but they are never to straight up copy it.

Three-dimensional artist have it a little bit better.  People on the internet can copy photos, of their work, all day long, but it won't give them the real thing.  If you find a mug or vase, that you really like, you have to choices; contact the artist and purchase one, or try and replicate it.  The former is quick and clean, the latter takes time, know how, and considerable resources.


So I think the biggest change, that artists need to be aware of, is how much of our work we put out there, and how we protect it.  Sign and date everything, watermark the hell out of online photos etc.  

Those recordings that some comedians are doing, that I refereed to earlier, have benefited said comedians.  I have heard numerous stories, of a comedian, who had a joke stolen.  Luckily, they have a record of, when they told it.  The "joke thief" usually gets a lot of flak, for such an offense.

Sometimes things don't end quite as well, especially if you are dealing with a large enough of an entity.  For instance a musician named Jonathan Coultan did a cover of "Baby Got Back".  Not his original song, but he made it acoustic, changed the arrangement, etc.  Years later, that exact version shows up on Fox's TV show "Glee".  Jonathan Coultan received zero credit.  When he kindly pointed out the fact, that it was his version of the song, Fox basically said, "You should just be happy that we are getting you this much exposure."  Once again, they didn't credit him, so had he not said anything, no one would have knew that the "Glee" producers didn't come up with it themselves.  Kind of ironic, considering the show is based around the talented, less popular Glee group, getting harassed or ignored by the popular kids.

#72696 What Do You Call Yourself? Artist,potter,ceramist,sculptor,hobbyist,wanna Be?

Posted by Benzine on 01 January 2015 - 11:43 AM

I'm an artist, but as I'm also a teacher, some don't really see me as that.  Because I apparently I only know enough art to teach it, not to actually make any of my own...


And to answer the question, that I've gotten from numerous students over the years, yes I had to go to school to be an Art Teacher....

#72635 Making Small Handles

Posted by Benzine on 31 December 2014 - 11:01 AM

Thanks for the kind words all.


Both my daughter and wife, were pleasantly surprised.  

#72558 Making Small Handles

Posted by Benzine on 29 December 2014 - 12:24 PM

As promised, here are some photos of the completed set:




I'm fairly happy with the way it came out.  There is some interesting color variation, on the violet sections, that I didn't intend.  The clear glaze, over the violet underglaze, was a little thick, leading to the variation.  But honestly, I don't mind it.  I was just hoping I didn't have any drips on the bottom.  I glaze the bottoms (low fire body), so that they are a bit more durable for use/ play.  But I dipped them in a brush on clear, which looked a bit thick upon drying.  So I did remove a bit, prior to loading them in the kiln.  No drips on the bottom, and I can live with that unplanned, slight color difference.  


I'm also fairly happy with the way the storage box turned out.  I am not a wood worker, but that box is solid!  I showed the Industrial Tech teacher, who gave me some pointers, and he seemed impressed.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but the trim and letter are actually a dark violet, not black.


My daughter seemed to like it.  Hopefully she gets a lot of use, and does indeed pass it on some day.

#72493 Adventures Of A New Wheel Teacher

Posted by Benzine on 27 December 2014 - 10:24 AM

Much like Pres, it took me a while to get the hang of things. My college instructor was an adjunct, but a very knowledgable, skillful guy. He also taught at one of the local, public schools, so I feel he was more "grounded" than some of the permanent staff.
We were required to make a 9-10" cylinder before, we could keep anything. I barely met that requirement, but got it. I made two mugs and two bowls after that. They weren't too bad. One of my mugs was a bit thick, prompting my instructor to say, "Well, that's insulated!"

For my classes, I only have the students for nine weeks, where we are also working on hand building projects. I require them to make three projects on the wheel, including a trimmed foot. The first project I will give them a fair deal of help. The second, less help. The third project they get no help, unless they are working really large or complex. The students like the wheel overall. We do a final day critique, where they talk about their favorite project/ process. Many say they enjoy the wheel work, and wish they could have done more. But with twenty some students, four wheels and nine weeks, we can only do so much. There was apparently a more focused "Pottery" class years back, but with reduced staff, I can barely cover the classes I have now. I'm just grateful I can offer the classes I do.

#72388 Anyone Have Some Interesting Stories From This Holiday Sales Season?

Posted by Benzine on 24 December 2014 - 10:30 AM

Mark, I imagine that is a great feeling.  I get a bit of that, when I give my work as gifts, Christmas, Graduation, etc.


Yesterday, I gave the Industrial Tech. teacher, at my school, a mug.  He helped me quite a bit, with a project I was working on, taking time out of his schedule to do so.  So I threw a mug, did an inlay design, depicting some imagery from Industrial Tech (Oxy Acetylene Torch, Radial Saw Blade, etc).  He was really thrilled.

#72219 Inside Mug Color Change

Posted by Benzine on 21 December 2014 - 12:16 PM

Preach on John!


I'll out myself as a propagator of false information, not knowingly of course.  For years, I told students that air pockets caused explosions.  Why?  Because that's what I was taught, and had that belief reaffirmed many times over.  


I also was always under the belief that glazed low fire wares were always safe for use.  I didn't know about crazing (other than it looked cool for Raku effects), and definitely hadn't heard of leaching.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't promoting the use of "decorative" glazes for food use, like "Hey kids, that glaze looks cool, so go ahead an use it on the inside!"  The companies are nice enough to put some guidelines on the bottles.


Sure, my misinformation wasn't horribly detrimental to my students.  Removing air pockets, is still good practice, and I doubt any of them will be poisoned from food safe commercial glazes.


But my time on these boards have definitely changed the way I present information.  I only wish I could get a credit towards my license renewal for our discussions here.  Honestly, I've learned more, that I can apply to my teaching here, than I have in the classes that I actually can count...


The internet as a tool for sharing of information and ideas; who would have thought?

#72191 Making Small Handles

Posted by Benzine on 20 December 2014 - 10:23 PM

So I came up with a solution. It came to me, while making the teapot spoit. Injust threw a small, bottomless cylinder, the thickness, i wanted the handles to be. I then took the needle tool, and cut that cylinder into rings. I cut those rings into the handles.

the set has been underglazed, and bisqued. All it needs is a couple coats of clear, and it will be ready. But I also need to finish the wood storage box. That's a far more involved process for me, as that's a little beyond whatn I'm used to doing. But it's coming together.

#72047 How About Toothpicks For Spike Supports + Other Questions

Posted by Benzine on 17 December 2014 - 08:58 PM

For my "precarious" work, and that of my students, I usually use scrap clay, of the same body, to act as supports.  On larger, overhanging pieces, I'll make a post out of the clay, and hollow out if it is too thick.  For smaller props, I'll just use a little wad or ball of clay, lightly pressed against the rest of the sculpture.  


The good thing about the clay props, is that they shrink at the same rate, as the clay your firing.