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Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Hey please click the link and check out my new webpage, www.katvalenzuela.com 



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Quiet Space at Midnight


The quiet space at midnight; when few are awake, and the river still flows, street lights cut through the dark,  a pleasant rescue from the shadows. A soul stumbles along, at peace with the stillness and silence, yet on guard of the unknown.


 The light at the end of the staircase



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Of Mess and Moxie

The thing about working from home is that it can be a little of an isolating endeavor (those that do, get what I am saying.) Seriously, you know your life isn't right when going to the grocery store is considered an "outing." However,  I would still rather do what I do; even if, there are some stretches of isolation and many hours of talking to oneself. Something I like to do while working is to listen to pod casts or audio books, it keeps me entertained and sane (You mean there is a world outside my front door!) The last audio book I listened to was "Of Mess and Moxie." It is considered a "spiritual or religious" book because she talks about religion in her life and her beliefs. But anyone could give this a listen to, no matter your beliefs. What I love about Jen Hatmaker is her voice, (she narrates the book too) but what I mean by that is her lovely and funny and so relatable voice. What she says makes so much sense to me. So, I wanted to give this book a shout out. I happened to be able to download it for free from the public library, such a great feature to have I use it so much that I always use up my month limit within the first two weeks, which is sad.



If you live in Canada you can purchase it here: Mess and the Moxie from Amazon.ca

It was so worth the listen, just for the laughs alone. Just fab. 

Patience

Patience
There was a monk who was very impatient. You may wonder, why would a monk be impatient? Don't they become monks so that they don't have to deal with the world? Yes, that's true. So, imagine how impatient this monk was...
The more he tried, the more impatient he became, so he decided that he must get away altogether, to learn to be patient. So, he built himself a little home deep in the woods, far away from civilization.
Years later, a man was traveling in those woods and met him. The man was amazed to find anyone living so far away from the rest of the world, so he asked the monk why he was there all by himself.
The monk said that he was there to learn to be patient.
The traveler asked how long he had been there, and the monk replied: seven (7) years.
Stunned, the traveler asked, "If there is no one around to bother you, how will you know when you are patient?"

Annoyed, the monk replied, "Get away from me, I have no time for you."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My 7 Step Morning Ritual - Mindset Monday - Drew Canole

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mixing Pottery Plaster no. 1

Mixing Pottery Plaster no. 1

The other day I decided I needed some plaster bats, the kind that has a triangle type locking device, lucky for me my brother had the mold for it. You can buy the molds from this company here: http://www.pspottery.com

It’s been a rather long time since I mixed up plaster and it’s about as fun as mixing up glazes in my books but even worse. With plaster, you cannot wash your hands in the sink, or pour any of it down a drain; it will immediately harden and clog your drain which will be almost impossible to fix.

I like to use plaster bats when I throw any kind of plates or platters. It encourages even drying and I try to avoid the S cracks. So, as I set out to make some plaster bats I did forgot a few key steps; so my first bat didn’t turn out the best. The rest of the bats turned out better as my memory kicked back in. My method isn’t as precise as it could be, simply because I don’t use plaster a lot in my studio practice. If you need precision I would recommend going to the pottery plaster site and getting more in depth instructions.

First, make sure you have all the equipment you need. A bucket for mixing the water and plaster. (Don’t mix plaster with clay or glazes, it’s essentially lime based and will explode in your kiln, so keep plaster things with plaster things) have a way to measure your plaster, a water container, murphy’s oil or mold soap, a good mixer (you can hand-mix too) and of course your mold. And scrapers to clean up afterward.

First get your molds ready, I use Murphy’s oil as a release soap and it works fine. But you don’t use it straight out of the bottle. Mix it with water until it looks like, um urine or pee. Yes, that is as technical as I get (I am guessing like 1 part oil to 8 parts water). I brush it onto the mold, make sure you get an even coat everywhere, and then wipe all it off lightly. I just use a paper towel to wipe it off. There does remain a fine thin film to release the plaster from the molds, you need to do this step or the plaster will adhere to your mold. Don’t mix the plaster and then get the molds ready, that is a bad idea.


The ratio to plaster to water is 70 parts water to 100 parts plaster. So, I discovered after the first mold I needed 3000 grams of plaster, thus I needed 2100 grams of water (or 2100 ml) 3000x70=210000/100=2100, (or) 70% of 3000=2100 easy peasy.


After you measure your plaster, using tap water (the chemicals in the water effects the plaster so use as clean water as you can, or distilled water) Also, the temperature of the water matters. The warmer it is, the quicker the plaster sets. Water should be at room temperature of slightly above that. I just guessed the temperature by touch, I make it slightly warm – I know technical, right? If it’s too cold it takes too long to set up and I have no patience for that.

Always add plaster to the water, never the other way around. And sift the plaster into the water, don’t pour it in, in big clumps or drop it into the water. Sift slowly, making sure the plaster is evenly distributed and keep adding plaster until you see little islands of plaster emerge on the top of the water. You will know you have the right amount when you see the islands. Then let the plaster absorb the water by waiting for about 2 minutes before you start to mix. If in that time, the plaster starts to react to the water and thickens it means your water is either too hot or your plaster is amazingly reactive. Keep an eye on it, but this has never happened to me; after two minutes’ mix. I use a mixer attached to a drill on low speed because I find when I use a stick or my hands some clumps remain. If you wear gloves you can still mix it up well enough though. Just keep mixing until the plaster thickens, so that when you pick up some plaster with your fingers you can drag it over the surface and the plaster creates a peak up on the surface.



When the plaster is thick, pour into the molds in one spot carefully, not too quickly like a big vomit – you want to avoid getting air bubbles trapped. Even tap the side of the mold to help bring up air bubbles. We want a nice clean, strong mold that will last. Okay now, let it set-up until it has hardened enough to release from the mold, it will get very hot while it begins to dry this is a chemical reaction and you want this. Therefore, you don’t put it directly onto your skin, unless you like the possibilities of burns. I know someone who thought they could cast a kids hand in pottery plaster no. 1 – just no.




Once you get the plaster out of molds try to find a way to dry them out. (It was plus 30C out so I put them out in the sun) Drying them or curing them after is important, the drier you can get the plaster molds the stronger they are. Which translate that they’ll last longer and you will not have to endure making plaster molds for a while, yippee. I personally make such a huge mess when I make them, I get plaster on me, caked on the buckets, on the ground, on tools and it hardens and it’s a mess. I just try to avoid the whole thing if I can, but I really like using them for plates and so forth so I will endure it. I can get 7 or so 12” plaster bats from one large 50lb bag of plaster.


Good luck and happy creating.

On and Upwards.

Kat



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Endless Possibilities

Lately I have been spending more time in my “garage” studio, working with clay. It’s so nice to make some time for it again. It isn’t like riding a bike, your muscles have to remember again, how you throw and move the clay, it’s those tiny gestures that bring out the characters in your work. You also have to remember all those little nuances that made your work, your work. It’s weird though, I realize that I have changed and what worked for me in the past is not holding the same attention as once it had. So, I stopped working and decided to do some researching on the “internet” for some ideas. That was a good idea and a bad idea.

I got lost on Pinterest, I love Pinterest but Wow! It can waste a lot of my time. I looked on ceramics daily, also a favorite website of mine. Lots of free videos too, so it’s nice to see other ceramic artists at work. I also found a Canadian group called, “Make-and-do” www.makeanddo.ca it featured some local talent. It was all so inspirational and there are so many ideas out there.



Which is great and awful all at the same time. Because with so many ideas bouncing around out there, it’s easy to be caught up in everybody else’s stuff. You think, “oh I should try that, or that, or that!!!” and the list goes on and on. The truth is I can’t try it all (I would if I lived to like 500 years) So I guess my point is, I got distracted. It’s easy to get lost in all the information, ideas and all the great work out there. It can be both inspiring and leave you a bit lost as where to begin. As much as I enjoyed my day of research, after it all I knew I just needed to focus on my work, what I want to do, what specks to me. The work I enjoyed today was other peoples amazing ideas and their work that they have worked hard to develop, I totally appreciated it. I will say I did enjoy looking, but now I am ready to start doing. I finished tiling my sign today, and am hoping to get a bisque firing in by the weekend.

Another great part of this week, the weather. It’s been gorgeous out, perfect fall weather. 

Webpage

Hey please click the link and check out my new webpage, www.katvalenzuela.com