Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Latest Porcelain Buttons

The Latest
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

It's not a bad return when 20, out of a freely experimental load of 100, come back worthy of production.

With this kiln load, the ratio was nearly reversed...and I am very happy.

Expect more pictures.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Porcelain Fibula

Porcelain Fibula
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Another piece of my work that recently went out the door. I'll confess, I said goodbye with a twinge!

Now in the hands of a maker of handspun yarns, I would love to see the knits that this will adorn.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Honey Bee Pendant

Honey Bee Pendant
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Very pleased to say this has gone out the door, on a silk cord, in a nice box, this past a good home! Among glazes, a "good yellow" is hard to find, let alone one that pays respect to honey & honeycombs!

One last look:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Owns Your President? Who Owns Your University? Who Owns YOU?

Globally, it is more than likely that organized crime is buying elections, police, and university administrations via the banks.*

Organized crime now has the capacity to do this because we began to deregulate banking with the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (, followed by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999 (–Leach–Bliley_Act).

The result was to make banking insanely profitable for globally operating organized crime groups--groups which are in turn, highly liquid, making them very attractive to the banking system.

Here is proof that it is of global concern:
The US Declares War On The Yakuza (July 27, 2011)

And, more proof:
How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs (Saturday 2 April 2011)

Consider also: the independent professional military organizations, such as Blackwater (, with deep connections to national militaries around the world, that are now for hire.

If we do NOT re-regulate the banks, we will never get out of this mess.

We are in more danger than we realize of losing our democracies, and control of civil society.

* (

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear Cupcakes...

Berkeley Republican students yesterday sold cupcakes priced according to the buyers' ethnic identity and gender. "White cupcakes" very expensive; "others" very inexpensive.

It was meant to highlight what the Republican students see as inequalities in proposed admissions legislation that would allow the UC's to take a person's ethnicity and gender into account for purposes of admission--an important public issue that deserves intelligent debate.

Therefore, I'd like to know how much the students involved are paying for their education.   For men and women benefiting from one of the highest quality educations in the nation, and the world, the analogy they made was remarkably unsophisticated, brute, and empty of real content.

I don't think their parents are getting their money's worth.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Long Term Considerations in Ceramic: COE

I've seen more and more people putting crushed soda lime and other glass on ceramic. I've been hesitant to do so. My reasons follow.

Ceramic glazes are also "glass on ceramic." They are carefully calculated, so that they expand and contract at the same rate as the ceramic on which they are used. This is to make sure that they adhere to the clay surface over the life of the object, and don't come off. Glass can expand and contract with changes in the weather & the immediate environment (such as a warm body, pool, shower, jacuzzi, winter).

The COE (coefficient of expansion) of soda lime glass (bottle glass) is 9. The average COE of common commercial high fire clays is in the neighborhood of 7. Porcelain drops down around 4. Both bottle glass and ceramic will expand and contract over their lifetimes--but at very different rates when the COE's are disparate.

A somewhat poorly matched glaze will craze--the "crackle" effect. However, increases in mismatching between glaze and ceramic can actually result in the glaze coming off of the ceramic. This may not happen immediately; it can occur up to several years after firing, when the two materials have gone through numerous cycles of mismatched expansion and contraction. This knowledge makes me reluctant to risk using commercial glass as a glaze on ceramic pieces.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dirty Mouth?

That famous tag line from Orbit Gum commercials.

Now, there's Orbit Mist, a hydrating gum.

Do they market it in Germany? Would they leave out an entire market?

Why am I asking?

Mist means manure (really, the four-letter manure).

Dirty mouth?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Square Red & Black Porcelain Button

Square Red & Black Porcelain Button
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Square buttons...a rarity, and often a collector's item. That's something new, that I just learned, lately. I thought it was interesting and then thought you might be interested in learning something new about bright red glazes.

In the past, red was a dangerous color: cadmium is poisonous. Its glazes could also be finicky and disappointing, burning out at the slightest overheating or affected by copper glazes fuming nearby during the firing, both resulting in a bland unattractive gray. Your work was ruined.

Now, cadmium is encapsulated in zircon (a silicate & a word we get from the Middle East) before being added to glazes. Structurally trapped within zircon and used as a stain, in suspension, rather than as a soluble oxide, it cannot leach (and soak into your dinner salad, in other words!). The result is that you can eat off of bright red dishes, as never before.*

This button combines a metal saturate glaze, on the left (most likely some combination of copper & iron, along with cobalt--It shows a bit blue when thinly applied), with a bright cadmium red. An impossible combination, just a short time ago.

*Just be careful: if you bought that bright red decorated dish abroad, in an unregulated market, it may still be unsafe.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Button Swap? It's a Snap!

I'm always on the lookout for clothing items that have large buttons, so that I can take them right off!
This short-sleeved knit vest originally had a plain, large plastic button for closure, at the neckline.

I removed that button and replaced it with the female half of a large snap. (I now know where to find the same size snaps in black, but fortunately for this posting, these are silver and easy to see against the black knit.)
Having whip stitched the buttonhole closed, I sewed a male snap part to the middle of the backside of the closed buttonhole. At that point, the vest could be snapped together, but had a blank, buttonless front.

Next, I sewed another female snap onto the outside, over the sealed buttonhole.
The last step was to sew a male snap part onto the back of my Dancer button and snap it onto my garment.

Now, by simply adding a male snap part to any of my buttons, I can change outfits at will!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bread Art & 2 Recipes

This blog never has been conventional & this won't help ;)

I got a bread machine at the second hand store earlier this year. Long years of no time for handmade bread (I get called away for taxi duties just about the time I should be kneading or right before the end of baking!) and I'd heard less than rave reviews regarding machine fare. However, knowing time had probably led to improvements and after reading some encouraging stories, I got one (second hand store, but first hand machine: never used!).

It took a little while to get used to. Liquids are the controlling substance for handmade loaves; you can always adjust flour. However, pan limitations make dry ingredients the limiting factor for machine-made loaves; it's the liquids that must be adjusted!

Enough talk. Here's two base recipes, one for rye and the other for wheat. They are easy to modify...add things you like!

Rye Bread

This recipe is for a 2lb loaf. I like to put the first three ingredients into a 4 cup measuring cup, because that's perfect.

1 C Dark Rye Flour

3 C Unbleached White Flour or Bread Flour

3 TBS Gluten Flour --this makes chewy Euro (German) style bread.

Add to bread maker pan:

2 strict tsp salt (or 10g)
1 TBS Demerara Sugar (I like it, less's only to feed the yeast)
2 TBS Oil
1-1/2 Cup Warm Water

-Dump 4 Cup mixture into bread maker pan, on top of liquids.
-Make a small well on top and add 1 TBS yeast (or 1 packet regular, NOT quick acting) (or 9g)

White Bread bake setting

2lb Loaf Whole Wheat Bread

In a 4 Cup Measure:

3 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (Put it in on top of white flour. Should go into pan first, & soak)

3 TBS Gluten Flour

Into Bread Pan:

3 TBS Oil
1-1/2 Cups + 3TBS Warm Water
2 tsps salt (complete tsps this time)
1 TBS Demerara Sugar

If you increase Whole Wheat, you'll need to increase water.
For both WW and Rye, you could go up to 1/3 ratio. 1.33 C/ 2.66 C White

1 TBS extra water if you increase Whole Wheat to 1.33 Cups

-Dump 4 Cup mixture into bread maker pan, on top of liquids.
-Make a small well on top and add 1 TBS yeast (or 1 packet regular, NOT quick acting) (or 9g)

Whole Wheat bake setting

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Old Car in an Auction Lot, Fresno

Old Car in an Auction Lot, Fresno
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

My cousin's property around their home was "shaved" into a nice lawn, beyond which the remainder was left to grow. Just over the line, side by side, sat two old Chevy's-- full of dust, cobwebs and a variety of spiders. Despite my fear, I would climb into the cars. The enticement to go on long imaginary drives with my cousin Bonnie was way too hard to resist.

She drove. I kept an eye on the spiders.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Doors of Tripoli Series

The Doors of Tripoli Series
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Fired last night, kiln opening this morning. They are in the same positions as in the last two photos, when they were green, unfired. There are three additional buttons here: the influence got into my other work.

These were inspired by Hibo's photos of the Old Doors of Tripoli, on FaceBook.

As Sue Michael reminded me, buttons are like doors. Another friend responded by acknowledging their role, for women, as a fastener of clothing, a keeper of person: our safety.

I had a hard time finishing these. I cried many times thinking of the women and children, waiting behind doors in Tripoli.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Old Doors of Tripoli: Glazed & Signed

The Old Doors of Tripoli: Glazed & Signed
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

This set is now ready to be fired. Many risks here: I can guess about how some glazes will behave together, but I cannot know for certain. And, here I'm using many of them over translucent porcelain, for the first time.

During firing, porcelain becomes a ceramic that is nearly glass; its surface vitrifies and almost self-glazes. That changes the behavior of the underglazes and glazes that sit on it.

Yes, for those who might have noticed: I glazed on greenware and will fire once to maturity. I single-fire.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Old Doors of Tripoli: Underglazing

In the photo that accompanies my previous post below, the porcelain clay has been patterned, cropped, drilled, trimmed, beveled and sponged.

Several hours of work later, each button now has layers of underglazes, glazes and stains, in the hope of patinas and combinations that will reference Hibo's photographs of Tripoli's old doors.

I fall back on skills learned in theater technical classes, where I learned to make common materials look like anything from cloth, rich wood, cinder block... to fine alabaster.

There is still more work to be done before they are ready to fire.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Old Doors of Tripoli

Doors of Tripoli
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Having lost contact with women--net friends-- in Tripoli, how to express what it means?

Eman el Obeidi giving voice.

Admiring for quite a while now, I chose Hibo's photographs of the Old Doors of Tripoli, here as inspiration and reference for these buttons, which are still green--unfired.

Doors...for so many reasons.

I have trepidation. Is it trivial to reference so much in buttons? What happens when I sell my buttons? Probably, artists who have long known they are artists have already answered such questions for themselves. I'm not sure I have .

I want people, I want other women, to care. To take it upon their clothing.

And if they don't know and they don't care?

Maybe some satisfaction in knowing they have unwittingly been made to bear witness.