Friday, September 27, 2013

The Journey to a New Soda Kiln -- A Photo Journey Part 1

Part 1 of the Journey is dismantling the old Soda Kiln.  It has served us faithfully for over three years.

Breaking down the brick walls

Brick walls are gone!

Ripping up the floor (notice that the demolition crew is wearing respirator for the job?  This is because the entire kiln is coated with soda carbonate from the years of firing.  Soda is caustic and is harmful to the human body when breathed in)

The pile of bricks resulting from the demolition.

 The steel cage/frame is gone.

 Sweeping up the debris from the demolition.

 All cleaned up -- now, ready for Part 2 of the journey.  Building the new kiln.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ode to Monitors -- Sam Hostert

1. What is your name?
Samantha Hostert
2. When did you start coming to Lillstreet?
5 years ago, in the summer of 2008.  I started in Dave Trost's handbuilding class.
3. What brought/brings you to Lillstreet?
I had heard about it since moving to Chicago every time I mentioned wanting to take an art class.  People seemed to like it a lot.  The open studio time was a big draw once I researched it.  Now the open studio, classes, and community keep me here!
4. What is the nature of your clay work -- functional or sculptural?
Mostly functional.  I throw on the wheel and either alter pieces or decorate the surface with carving, slip inlay, glaze, and finally soda firing.
5. What is your process?  Do you sketch, prototype and conceptualize? etc.
I sketch a lot.  When I make something new I make a lot of copies of it until I get it right.
6. What or who influence your work?
The desire to make something comfortable, beautiful, and useful.  Architecture and graphic design, other artists - painters and ceramicists.  The monotony of my day job and desire to create originality within structure. 
7. Do you work with other medium besides clay?
I studied painting, and I teach photography, graphic design, and animation.  But my own work is currently all in clay.
8. What are your duties as a monitor?
I am part of the soda team - fire the soda kiln, make slips and other things related to the soda kiln.
9. If there’s one thing you absolutely have to inform the Lillstreet clay community that would make your work easier, what would it be?
If you are in the soda program, volunteer to load, fire, and unload!  It's fun to see the process, and also the best way to learn about what can otherwise seem like a random process.

(Editor: Ideally, you should participate in the loading, firing and unloading for the same firing -- this lets you see where you put the pieces, how you fire (amount of soda used) and how the pieces turn out -- it is a full cycle experience and very rewarding and your learning is exponential -- compared to loading, firing and unloading from different firings.  If you are not able to commit the time to do all three, then minimally, the loading and unloading of the same firing is also very educational.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Arts Book Sale

Sunday, September 22, 4-7pm  (Metals A)
Monday, September 23, 12-8pm  (Hand A)
Tuesday, September 24, 10-3pm  (Metals A)

We’re thrilled to welcome Charon Kransen from Charon Kransen Arts in NY to Lillstreet for a book presentation & sale. Charon will offer a large assortment of jewelry, ceramics, and textile books for students to see and purchase during his three-day visit.

Charon Kransen established Charon Kransen Arts in New York City in 1993, in order to promote exciting jewelry from around the world in North America. The work is presented annually at various American art fairs, such as SOFA New York, SOFA Chicago, SOFA Santa Fe and Art Palm Beach and the Int. Art and Design Fair in New York and at select galleries specializing in contemporary crafts and design.

About Charon Kransen:
As a private dealer, Charon Kransen Arts welcomes individuals, collectors and museums to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The collection consists of jewelry, hollowware and accessories by both renowned and emerging artists, whose work may be found in museum and private collections around the world.  The focus is on the artists' personal vision and on an innovative approach, characterized by the use of a wide spectrum of materials from paper to precious.

The educational branch of Charon Kransen Arts includes lectures and seminars throughout the USA, Europe, Australia and South America and the distribution of books and exhibition catalogs on all aspects of jewelry, metal and design 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ode to Monitors -- Melanie Weeks

1. What is your name? 
Melanie Huntington Weeks

2. When did you start coming to Lillstreet?
2007. My first class was wheel throwing with Karen Avery.

3. What brought/brings you to Lillstreet?
I had been studying at the Chicago Mosaic School, and was inspired by the owner, Karen Ami, who was creating and firing clay sculpture then covering them in mosaics.  I wanted to expand my knowledge of the craft, so I sought out a clay class, and ended up at Lillstreet!

4. What is the nature of your clay work -- functional or sculptural?
Functional, although I've recently become addicted to tile making.

5. What is your process? Do you sketch, prototype and conceptualize? etc.
I love being a student; I love the challenges set forth by each teacher I have.  I generally do not sketch, unless I'm working on a clay tile.

6. What or who influence your work?
I'm influenced by my instructors, by things in the Lillstreet gallery, by things in museums, magazines, and online resources.  I've been known to fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking for clay inspiration.

7. Do you work with other medium besides clay?
I studied Stained Glass for several years in the Washington, DC area before moving to Chicago (working with lead and copper foil techniques).  I work with mosaics.  I also teach different forms of art through Kidstreet and ArtReach at Lillstreet.

8. What are your duties as a monitor?
As a Kidstreet Monitor, we take care of everything from cleaning to supply replenishment (and whatever Karen asks us to do).  :-)

9. If there’s one thing you absolutely have to inform the Lillstreet clay community that would make your work easier, what would it be?
When working in the clay rooms, please don't forget to scrape/wipe down your clay table when you're done, and don't throw any food into the clay sinks.  We clean them once a week, and the food can get pretty gross after seven days.

(Editor:  This is the last post on the Monitors series.  As you may or may not have noticed, there are a few monitors missing.  Responding to the questionnaire is voluntary and there are a few that chose not to respond.  If I receive any other response after this, I will post the answers.  I hope you have enjoyed reading the series.  Please let me know what other types of posting you would like to see in the future by commenting.  Thank you!)