Aardvark Art Glass

what I did this summer
July 28, 2008, 10:22 am
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About six weeks ago I decided to switch my scheudule around so that I would work two really long torching days on Monday and Wednesday and two regular days on Tuesday and Thursday. This would free up time on the weekend so that I could crawl out from under my rock and go outside. I seem to have a lot of extra time now so I got that scrap tile mosaic thing finished in the bathroom:

That took hours of my life. I was using one of those puny Rapid Fire kilns to fuse everything 5 square inches at a time. Nothing is annealed but there’s a ton of grout holding it up there so it doesn’t really matter if it cracks.

This tile ended up in the upper right hand corner:

I had other pictures too but I don’t know where they went. For some reason I’m incapable of entering picture titles into my image host in a logical manner so I can find them again. I entered that picture of the finished window several weeks ago not under “mosaic” or “window” or “finished” but rather under the word “grouted”. It’s a wonder I found it at all.

But anyway, after finishing that mosaic I became interested in adopting another time sucking activity.   Having actual objects made at the end of the day is really the only thing that makes me feel as though I’m utilizing well my time on earth. I decided to learn the biggest time sucking activity of them all–beadweaving (off-loom, peyote stitch and that sort of thing). Beadweaving…beadweaving is what it is-it’s extremely slow going and very futsy, but you wouldn’t do it if you weren’t gleaning a certain amount of satisfaction from it and I really like it. Personally, I’ve never pictured myself sitting down and learning it unless I was incarcerated or something, but now that I’ve figured out a thing or two I think it’s pretty worth while.

So far I know flat strip and long, wormy tube stitch. Yup. I’m more impressed with my new-found ability to comprehend beadweaving instructions than anything else. It seems like you have to know a lot of different things and be proficient at them before you can do anything really cool. You also have to have an idea of something cool to make, which I don’t, probably because I don’t know enough yet. So for now I’m just filling a cigar box with wormy tubes of different lengths and colors. Maybe I’ll sew them all on a hat and then jump around wearing the hat. That might make a cool sound and be good exercise. I don’t know where any of this is going. For some reason, I do rather enjoy having a new wormy tube done at the end of the day.

What’s funny about the new hobby is even tough I had a ton of beads that I purchased for my former next-sore neighbor, Jade Mountain, I don’t have many of the right kind kind of beads for this type of stuff. Because they’re very uniform and have large holes, what really works well are Delica beads. Much as I imagine crack is packaged, Delicas come in little vials in gram measurements. Oh how you want more and more of those little vials.

 Anyway, with Jade Mountain closed I have to go downtown or to the Bead Bin at the mini-mall. When I had my retail business I used to see a lot of rather morose husbands accompanying their wives to Jade Mountain. I would always praise the husband for being supportive while thinking “You poor bastard” and wondering if he was going to be subjected to the ribbon and yarn store that was on the other side of me. Don and I were out on the bike on Sunday in the vicinity of the Bead Bin so we went there and I minced around buying a bunch of crack vials while he read Bead Style magazine. We were they. That really weirded me out.


Chicken train
July 23, 2008, 4:54 pm
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As I mentioned before, Don and I went on an backyard chicken coop tour on Sunday. The event is sponsored by Mad City Chickens who’s aim it is to educate the urban population about the benefits of raising poultry right at home, here, in the city. I hadn’t heard of the organization until I read about them in the paper this week but they’re really organized and have even had a documentary made about them.

Do you know how many people there are raising chickens in your city? I didn’t think there were any here but apparently there’s a whole bunch. Coop quality varies, I am sure. Of course, the coops on the tour were probably much nicer than average. Kind of the livestock equivalent of the Parade of Homes.

If I had a chicken coop I would make it look like a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Something with recognizable features but more energy effecient and raccoon proof than Frank’s real houses. Then we could dress up the chickens in little black fedoras and train them to peck at peoples wallets. What a worthwhile way to spend my time that would be! That dream will have to go unrealized because, due to houses in extremely close proximity (less than 25 feet), we can’t have chickens, or even a duck, where we live (unless we keep it inside. I’ve asked and I don’t think that will happen). The first time someone contracts any kind of illness you know who they’re going to blame-the people who built a  chicken coop 22 feet away from their kitchen window. That’s why the law is there, I guess-to protect everyone.

But just because we can’t have them doesn’t mean you should count yourself out of the urban chicken raising game. Chickens are in. I think they’re the new pot bellied pig, except better. They eat corn and the excrete eggs and compost-able material. When properly maintained the coops have no discernible odor. Chickens can be very friendly, pets even–but unlike conventional pets, you have the option of eating your chickens should they vex you or become a load when they stop producing eggs. It’s a win-win situation.

According to Madison law, each household is allowed up to four chickens. Here is what four chickens look like:

At one of the stops I took a picture of a little girl holding what was obviously her chicken. It was similar to the caramel colored one above. Chickens are surprisingly large–from toe to crown it was almost half the girl’s size. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask her mom if I could post the photo so I’m not going to. That chicken was subjected to a barrage of little girls bent on petting it, and the chicken was chill. When the little girl’s mother called it, the chicken came running. That one is not going to get eaten, ever.

Some coops were cute:

Some were more basic:

All of them functioned well and were home to very clean and healthy looking birds. From looking at the front of any of the houses you would not guess that there were chickens living in the backyard. They really don’t take up a lot of room or stink or make that much noise. You can only have four, remember, so it’s not all that much work to take care of them.

I bitch about this city a lot but there are some really cool things here–like that coop tour. I like listening to people talk about stuff that they’re really into and those people were really into raising chickens in their backyards. It was a fun day.

this and that
July 21, 2008, 1:26 pm
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On Friday Lost School had a discussion about how much we would have to get paid to go see the movie “Mama Mia!”. Bob Foster said he’d go for fifty bucks, popcorn and a drink and Aaron said he’d go for fifty bucks if we got him really drunk first. No one else made an offer.

I thought that was kind of out of my price range until I saw a review for the movie on CBS This Morning. Apparently, since many of the cast members are not singers and dancers by trade, the singing and the dancing in the movie is not very good, or in the case of Pierce Brosnan, it is quite horrible. So now I’m thinking that it might be worth 50 bucks to hear Bob Foster describe the movie in his own irascible way. I’m not sure if this makes me a good friend or not. (This week’s vocabulary word, irascible, is worth bonus imaginary points when used in reference to Bob Foster.)

I’ve been involved in a number of different bloggable activities lately. One of them was a “parade of coops”, as it were–a walking tour of Madison homes where the owners keep chickens in their backyards.

Chickens sure are great. That’s going to be a seperate entry.

Meanwhile, I took a picture of our friend Tom Porter’s (he owns and operates Lake Louie Brewing) tiny electrical car and it looks like a spirit is escaping through the passenger side window.

Eerie! It has kind of a Wienermoblie quality to it. (I didn’t know how to segue into this one so I just threw it in. )

I gotta get up on the torch now.

It’s great to be regular

I’ve been impulse buying a lot of neat-o little things on Etsy lately. I got this pendant, which I think is hilarious, from Polyfusia’s shop. It is great to be regular! And how! Polyfusia is a really cool gal named Tamara who lives in faraway Washington. Not only did she share with me her technique for making these but she’s going to hook me up with the proper media so I can fuse my own designs. It’s a hell of a lot easier than reverse painting, I tell you what.

This pendant is an excellent segue into the next topic I want to address: colon cleansing in general and an infomercial about colon cleansing in particular. Don and I wandered across one the other day and it was so astonishing in it’s lack of credibility that it made a beautiful TV moment. I would like to preface this by saying that I was ignoring both the product being hawked and what the host was saying about it because I really don’t believe that there is any extraneous, toxic business (beyond that which we see every day) stuck up in your colon that contributes to health problems. I have reasonably intelligent friends who have had procedures involving vacuums and what not done and will testify to the presence of the toxic matter, which is fine for them. I do believe that anyone can benefit from an enima and that people should do that just as much or as little as they want. Let’s just not get carried away with what’s actually going on here.

But back to the infomercial and what made it so incredibly hilarious. There were two guys on it talking about these herbal supplements that expedite the cleansing of a given colon. One of the guys was older and had a certain C. Everett Koop quality about him. He seemed pretty credible. But the main guy, the guy who developed the supplements, looked enough like John Waters to be really distracting. No one, including John Waters, is born looking like John Waters–that’s a look you have to cultivate, starting with a pencil thin moustache. Not sure at what point in evolution this occurred but that’s one of those facial details to which human beings have been hard wired to associate with shiftiness, especially when combined with the slicked back hair and the gaunt appearance. C. Everett Koop guy came to work dressed normal. He wasn’t in the driver’s seat but you’d think he could have mentioned something.

 (Nothing against Mr. Waters, of course. I think his look works well for a zany and kind of sick movie director and for the sake of diversity I’m glad he’s on the planet. I just don’t see his face on bottles of salad dressing, or anything else that you’re supposed to ingest. )

Do you think it was a coincidence that the colon cleansing guy looked a lot like a famous person with more than a passing famaliarity with fecal matter? Maybe this will spark provocative discussion.

A plant called Hope
July 13, 2008, 2:51 pm
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 Everything started with the desire to have a basement that does not flood every time it rains. In the spirit of one thing endlessly leading to something else, we are now planning on removing cement stairs that go from the backyard down into our basement, pouring a cement wall to plug up the outside entrance to the basement, removing all of the cement that covers our back yard, installing some kind of drainage system and since the back porch currently rests on the cement, it has to be torn down and rebuilt. Then our basement won’t flood, we think. And won’t that be nice.

In anticipation of these major home repairs happening in the foreseeable future, I did not plant any tomato plants in my backyard this year. The little raised bed garden that Don made for me is in the middle of all this waiting to get ripped out when the time comes. I completely ignored the tiny plot this year and let it fill up with an array of mysterious, yet not bad looking, weeds. Then last night while admiring my weeds I espied a lone tomato plant snaking it’s way through the thicket and over the wooden edge of the raised bed. Already there were tomatoes on it and I had not done one damn thing to help. How great my fortune!

Immediately I cleared away the weeds from around the plucky plant and set it up with one of those wire cage thingies. I guess it was sometime after I informed Don that I named the plant Hope that he reminded me of our construction plans. I guess I had briefly forgotten about that, or maybe…maybe I just assumed, with the surprise presence of this obviously superior tomato plant that requires no care whatsoever, that the plans would change. I mean, it’s got fruit on it. And a name. And plans for the future.

We have yet to find a contractor with the time to do our project so I’m not going to stress out over Hope’s fate just yet. I’m not going to sabotage anything but I am going to stop actively praying for a cement guy or a landscaper to get beyond the coming out and looking and not coming back but then giving you a name of another guy who can’t come out and look for another month stage. That’s where we’re at right now. Seems like this could go on forever.

The Gong Show
July 6, 2008, 1:53 pm
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I got a gong for my birthday. James Lee gave it to me. I don’t know if you’re aware of all the advances in gong technology but, like cel phones and pants and certain dog breeds, they’ve gotten a lot smaller. Indeed, they’re not just for shirtless, bat-wielding Asian men anymore. Though mine is only about the size of a dinner plate it has a very rich, full sound. A tabletop gong is what it is. A gong everyone can afford. Though it lacks the drama and pageantry of a full size gong it’s still pretty nifty.

Music doesn’t grab me like it does most people. Even though playing looks like a lot of fun, I’m never compelled to join in with a shaker egg or a drum or what have you when bands practice at the house. I have fundamental problems both with rhythm and forming an interest in playing a musical instrument. I do remember at one point bringing up the gong as a possible instrument I could play. I was kidding of course, but the way I saw it, the gong is more punctuation than anything else. I don’t want to dis any professional gong players out there but it’s not like you have to keep time on a gong–you just sit at the bar until the end of a song and then run up and whack it with the gong stick. I think anyone could do that, even a monkey.

Right now I’ve got the gong hanging up in the living room in case the band wants to play it. I think a more practical use for it would be as a doorbell of sorts–one that works, unlike the one we have now. An air of mystery that would lend, hearing a gong instead of a knock at the door. Doubtless, the neighbors would enjoy it too. Especially at night.

July 2, 2008, 11:44 am
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pmc hedgehog!
PMC (Art Clay Silver, actually) hedgehog inside a big hole bead. Check that one off the list of things I did in my spare time this week.