Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Morons--Why am I wasting my valuable class time?

So it is Monday, and what I would really like to do is stay home and do nothing. Not literally do nothing; that is what I did yesterday. I'm afraid that Sunday is just like any other day now, but out of habit I usually sit around and do nothing and wait for my husband to tell me how he'd like to spend his day off. Yesterday neither of us felt up to doing anything, so we mostly did nothing.

So today I should stay home and maybe do a bit of work around here that I should have done yesterday, and then think about the mess, though it is unlikely that I would actually get anything done about it. But I would like to stay home today and not waste my gas driving anywhere except maybe the grocery store, since yesterday I forgot a few things like cough drops and tissue paper. I don't have a cough or sore throat at the moment, but I just have this feeling I should be prepared for one or both of us to get one.

I have to go to class today, even though this isn't my scheduled day to be there and I don't really feel like going. It's only a two hour class, and I don't feel like wasting my time and my gas. By the time I get into it, class is nearly over and I have to start cleaning up and putting things away. It's annoying that I can't just go in and stay all day or come back after lunch if I want to.

Friday was one of those rare days that I almost got to stay as long as I wanted. Professor was there for the two hour morning class, had office hours for half an hour after that, and then stayed almost another half hour after that. Then he had three more hours after lunch, and I had sketches to work on during lunch, so that all worked out rather well.

Having finally decided on a second project, I got started on a vase after lunch. And I thought that I'd use a turntable. And then I did something stupid and started to build up my vase directly on the turntable. So now the vase is stuck to the turntable. So now the turntable is sitting on my shelf and no one else can use it, and the professor isn't happy about that. So I'm going to class today and will either find a way to get the vase unstuck from the turntable, or else go to class every time so that I'm at least actively working on the project while other people are unable to use the turntable. He can't really complain that other people can use the turntable when I'm actually in class making use of it myself.

I should have put something between the vase and the turntable. And I did briefly think about a couple of things, one was two small and one was two large, and then instead of finding something that would work, I just shrugged and started working. The last time used the turntable I put the clay directly on the turntable and had no problem getting the vase unstuck. But now that I'm thinking back on that project, it tapered to the bottom and was only two and a half inches at the base. The bottom quickly dried enough to be removed, and if it hadn't it could have been cut off of the turntable. The bottom of this vase is more like seven or eight inches wide, and there's delicate stuff at the bottom that I would not want to try and cut. I'm not very good with the wire anyway.

Okay, so I might go in today and find that it has dried enough to be removed. Or I might get it off with this other tool that I left at home Friday. Or I may have to leave it on the turntable until it is completely finished and dries, and then it will mostly come off by itself. But that will mean going to about four more classes this week than I meant to attend, wasting a lot of time and gas, etc....

The really bad thing is that a bit of newspaper and masking tape would have fixed this problem. And it's not like I didn't have the paper and masking tape, since I'd already wrapped the thing that I used to brace the inside of the vase while I work on the outside. So that's all a bit annoying.

The other annoying thing is that I'm now about two weeks behind where I hoped I would be. The first day of class, nothing gets done. It is a time honored tradition that nothing gets done on the first day of a college level class. You sit around and talk, and that's about it. The second day of class, I rolled out some slabs and smoothed them out. There's really not much to do after that, unless you've got another project ready to work on, which I didn't. The third day of class I was still waiting for the slabs to be at a workable stage. Other people get out paint dryers to speed things along, but I'm always afraid that will cause cracks, so I usually avoid that. I wanted to skip ahead to the third and fourth projects, except that they also involved slabs, and I had no space for them. The fourth day of class put the slabs together and mostly finished that stage of my first project, which then needs to dry, be fired, glazed, and fired again. The project cracked a tiny bit, but I hope that has been repaired well enough. I don't want to fire the vase just yet, until after I buy the glaze, in case I might also need to underglaze.

Fifth day of class I skipped. I figured that I could either roll out a slab, or I could go to Shreveport. I decided that I would rather go to Shreveport. Sixth day of class was cancelled after the professor called in sick.

Here's the dumb part. I spent the seventh and eighth days of class dealing with recycled clay. I didn't do any art at all. I'm guessing that I've spend about eight hours on this recycling clay business. There are several reasons I am trying to deal with recycled clay. For one, I just like the idea of not wasting anything and getting something for free. Another thing is that I commented last semester that some of the kiln room could use some straightening up, hoping that he would give me some of the leftover clay, which he did. So now that he gave me all this clay I'd feel bad about not using it. The third thing is that I took all this clay home over the break and should have done most of the work then, but I didn't, so the clay was just in the way. I needed to get it out of the house so I could have my kitchen back and not trip over stuff left in the hallway. And the fourth thing was when I started to think about financial problems and such I said that I wouldn't buy any new clay until it was absolutely necessary, so I said that I would use this stuff first.

So, while I am trying to deal with recycled clay so that I don't unnecessarily spend ten dollars here and there on bags of clay, last week we spent about a hundred dollars going out to lunch. Going to Arby's was entirely my fault. I don't even remember now why we went to Humperdinks. We didn't really need to go to Burger King before we went to the dollar theater; we could have just had a couple of dollar hotdogs at the theater, or we could have just skipped the movie and gone home to eat. Thursday we ate out at a Chinese buffet, but that was something that we actually planned to do, and we sold some stuff to Half-Price Books to get the money. Friday I had planned to eat lunch at Jack-In-The-Box so that I could stay close to school, and that only costs three dollars. But I did not plan on the twenty dollars we spent at IHOP after I went home. Saturday we did not eat out, and Sunday I was supposed to go out with my friends, but I didn't. Mainly I just didn't want to spend the money cause I felt guilty about the other times we ate out that week that I didn't plan to.

Here's another thing that sucks about the recycled clay. I'm almost done with it, or at least I'm almost done with about half of it that I started on. So the white modeling clay that I will use on the third and maybe fourth projects is almost ready to use. I have some mud still in a bucket under the kitchen table, and I'm told that it's probably white stoneware and I'll find something to do with that later. And then I had half a bag of red stoneware left from last year that I mixed with a bag of the stuff I was given to recycle. And I'm almost done with that, only the professor then says something like, "You did know that was terra cotta, right?"

No, I did not know that was terra cotta. Whatever it is, it's exactly the same color as red stoneware. The terra cotta we use is a grey-brown color, with an almost greenish tint. After it's fired, it's terra cotta orange, but when it's wet it doesn't look anything like red stoneware. There are other companies that sell terrra cotta that's red when it's wet, but we rarely buy any of it.

So I have about thirty pounds of either red stoneware, or something that's about half red stoneware and half terra cotta, or something that's mostly red stoneware with a bit of terra cotta stuck in it. So, whatever it is, I'm going to have to make sure that it is really well mixed. And then I won't be using it for most of the projects I was thinking about. I'll make a vase or something that can be burnished instead of glazed, and then I'll make some little test pieces to find out if it can be glazed fired to cone 6, or if it needs low-fire stuff for terra cotta.

The mixed up red stoneware/terra cotta aside, if I've spent eight hours dealing with recycled clay, and I think that my time is worth ten dollars an hour, this recycled clay has so far cost me eighty dollars. So not only did I spend two thirds of my valuable class time recycling, I feel like I'm in the hole about sixty dollars.

Now I know that isn't really true. I know that when I get my projects done that I will not only have art that I'm proud of, but I can also feel good about having cleared away some of the clutter in the kiln room. But this week, I'm just not feeling it. This week I'm just frustrated about being behind schedule.

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