Saturday, August 25, 2007

500 ceramic sperms ... check!

i just completed my 500th ceramic sperm! YAY!! well, they're ready for the bisque firing now anyway. i still need to glaze them and fire them again, but the hard part is over.

an interesting technique requiring the use of molds. in this case made of plaster. i made about 15 of my sperm molds and that was a job in itself.

you pour liquid clay, called slip, into the molds and wait a few minutes. the water is absorbed by the plaster drying the clay. but not all the clay, you pour the rest out. and you are left with a hollow form. the time you wait effects the thickness of the piece so you can leave them for like 30 minutes or you'll get a rock solid sperm and you can just pour out the slip after 30 seconds b/c the piece will be too thin and fragile. you can make just about any form you want. although the more complicated the form the more parts there are to your mold.

here are some pictures of me working at the studio on my sperms. at that the time these pictures were taken, i was on sperm number 300 so i had my cycle down to a "T"

1. preparing mold
2. pouring slip into the mold (wait 5 mins.)
3. pouring slip out of the mold.
4. removing excess clay from the pour hole
5. removing the sperm form
6. repeat 500 times

the thing is that the plaster mold can only absorb so much water. so the later throughout the working period, the longer it takes for the clay to safely come out of its mold. so you find yourself waiting and waiting for the piece that its just not time-effective. this is when i call it a day and put my molds on the dry rack (a heated closet). the next day, the molds are dried out and i'm ready to put myself to work.

after the sperm have dried out a bit, i take sponge to each piece and polish them to get rid of rough edges small blemishes. i take a separate day to do this as i am too busy to do this while actually going through the slip-casting process. my workspace is not large enough that i can pour slip into all 15 molds at once. i run two cycles of 7-8 molds.

so how many sperms can i produce in one day? well using my 15 molds, i put them through the ringer about 4 times producing about 60 sperms a day. which means i would be done in about 9 days right? but while the sperms are out of their molds and drying they sometimes warp or i get some hairline cracking in them. i have to toss those out. and of course i lose some more in the bisque firing (more cracking and/or warping) so i need to make more. in all i have probably made at least 700 sperm.

the human testicles are an amazing organ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Funny b/c it's true...

Friday, August 10, 2007

It was long overdue...

and so i went on vacation. actually it was supposed to be a few days out of seoul - an excursion to prevent me from losing my mind. we traveled down the western coast of korea and went all the way south to Mok-Po, a little port-town. It was quiet and unpopulated (!) - what i needed was time away from the hustle and bustle of seoul.
during the day, the streets were empty (a strange sight indeed), but the nights brought out those seeking to enjoy the warm summer nights.

but feeling restrained by the shackles of ceramics (i left much unfinished work) i knew i had to go back up and soon. but the relaxed pace of Mok-Po felt so nice as the salty breeze kissed my face. "f$%k the clay. i control my life!" i we decided to continue with no schedule and no plans to return.

thus we began Road Trip Korea 2007 (notably this trip would be shorter because Korea is a rather small country and, but more so because didn't have much money)

Our next stop was Bo-Sung Green Tea Farm. Hill after rolling hill of tea plants all the way down to the ocean. This was a rather short stop as it was hot humid and tourist infested. but I had never seen a tea farm, so it was nice. what could have been a nice coastal line of green tea, however, was anticlimactically destroyed with a small water park (?) where the scent of chlorine combined with the radiating heat of all the people sent me back over the hills and onward east...

Making our way to the South-Easterly city of Busan, we decided on hitting up Hye-Won-Dae Beach. This beach resort is like the Gang-nam on the sea. (Gang-nam is the more posh region of southern Seoul - I stay away from here because it is annoyingly expensive) But as we needed shelter for the night we struggled to find affordable lodging. Having come all this way, we needed to get our feet wet so we went down to the beach for nighttime dip. Apparently, we met up with many like-minded young men and women...perhaps thousands of them...ok maybe hundreds.

unlike Mok-Po, we did not decide to stay another day night in efforts to find someplace a bit more tranquil. seeing as it is peak travel season, many seeking their way to the coast, we decided to stay away from the coast (single lane coastal road) especially near Busan, we went inland north to An-dong.

An-dong is a relatively sleepy town close to Ha-Hwae Folk Village. The Korean gov't has been working for approx the last 20 yrs to preserve this village as it one of few of its kind still in existence. Traditional mud homes with ceramic tile rooftops line the dirt streets. Some people still live here albeit with the amenities of modern life such internet and cable television. The light rain that day was a nice treat as i feared coming inland would also mean that it would be hot and muggy.

The next day we drove out the coast again to the city of Young-Duk known especially for their tasty crab. Young-Duk, located on the central east coast of Korea, is a much more sleepy and apparently not as popular with the local tourists. But to me the crystal clear waters and the somewhat solitude coastline was enough to keep us there for a couple of days. We were very fortunate to find comfortable lodging on the beach which meant that the breaking of waves would be the last sounds we would hear before ended our day and the first sounds to welcome the next.

By far the most beautiful location on our trip, I wouldn't have minded spending all of our time here. and the crab was delicious...and i don't even like crab.

On route back to Seoul, we stopped by Gang-won Land which is the only place in Korea where Koreans are allowed to legally gamble. A far cry to say that it is Korea's call to Las Vegas as the city features one hotel with casino floor which you would see across.

This city, Sa-buk, remains a mining city which was slowly dying and seemingly condemned housing is sparsely lit at night showing signs of what little life remains. In efforts reinvigorate the town, the gov't allowed the building of...ta da...a casino. And while we were missing the monsoon that was in full force in Seoul during our trip, it had finally caught up with us in Gang-won Land.So what better way to get yourself out of the rain and the gloom (as the town seems to be painted an eternal grey) then a good session of gambling. When you try to imagine Gan-won Land don't think Las Vegas, think Indian Reservation Casino.

It was nice to come back to Seoul though. The image of Korea that sat in my head expanded to the realization that Korea is not Seoul. I think for many that visit , this is the perception. Korea is an agricultural culture and so the minute you leave Seoul, there is much greenery due to the farming. Seoul-Tuk-Byul-Si (or "the unique city of Seoul") is greatly known simply as Seoul...when you leave it and venture into the rest of Korea, you start to realize why.

Click here to see the pics