Sunday Morning Ramblings. Not just attics.

A couple of photos of a house wherein the ornamentation is purely geometric, as opposed to organic.

And now, for your thinking pleasure, The Ramblings:

Google Emily White, NPR, and follow some of the commentary about her statements. The best articles have been a couple from evolver.fm, here. Follow some of his links for more on "free" music. Eliot Van Buskirk's thoughts, and in light of me starting to use Spotify, and Pandora more, almost have me feeling guilty for buying music. I'm very intrigued by the notion of internet radio, and though it would seem a new business form, it's really just commercial radio, with a lot more individual choice.  I'm more of a Pandora fan, as the music genome it uses is interesting, and the way it's algorithms work. But, I've been using them both, and they have been the so called free services. Not free, because I see and hear commercials, but they also offer subscription services. And every time I listen to a song, money is paid back into the music industry, and eventually the artists get some. But if I've purchased a song, that's it, that's all the money they are going to see from me.

Since, in spite of my railings that art needs to be viewed in person, very few have listened. 8-) The reality is, it is viewed in books and, increasingly, digitally, on the internet. Now, what if, being like Bill, (Bill Gates), we have art viewing screens in our house, and we have a selection of digital art, and when it is displayed, a small usage fee, a royalty is charged. And, because I'm getting the images streamed from a digital DB, a warehouse of art images, that subscription fee or per use fee could flow back into the arts. This would not preclude consumption of the actual art object; there will always be connoisseurs with an appreciation for the complete experience, just as live music will not disappear, and it certainly wouldn't preclude the new. I would probably have a mix of old, actual and new things. The possibility's of visual art following the model of the music industry as it molds itself to the new business model are very intriguing. And as is happening with music, some things go viral, but there is also an increasing demand for critics, those who explore the new, and can be guides to the best of the new. In the same way that I followed Ebert more than Siskel, we would have our favored critics.

Monetization is not a bad thing, by the way, and putting in the effort to write about the crafts and arts that I do, has it's own rewards, but making money off of one's efforts, is, again, not a bad thing. Some blogs are subscription, some carry ads, some have "tip jars" and a lot have the Amazon associates links. Those links cost the consumer nothing, but if you go to Amazon, make some purchases, and you went there from my link, Amazon pays me a few cents in referral fees.

Well, just some thoughts on a Sunday morning ...

Some more thoughts: I use my own images for the backdrops, the screen images on my computer and phone, but were it available, a Pandora like image DB, (database), small fee or ad supported, wherein I could choose this:

 St. George, Bernat Martorell
The Art Institute of Chicago

And then, like a Pandora music station, new images, based on that choice, including other Martorell images would appear as my home or lock screen images. Or, being bored, and tired of reading and games, could "listen" to my favorite art station. And the Art Institute, and more importantly, the heirs of Martorell, would have some money flowing towards them.

One comment I've read regarding "professional" artists, is that we all are capable of art, and though I'm no fan of "The Cult of Genius", I also don't make my own shoes, but I am equipped to make art, ranging from sculpted wood, gesso and gilt, to painted images. There is a place for professional artists, just as any other service or profession. I'm trying to think of an object that has not, at some point had the involvement of somebody, trained or not, who is an artist. Art is more involved, including that trash can in the corner (art trained designers were involved), than say historians. No need for a English professor, but you do need somebody trained in the arts to design that trash can. Unfortunately, our education system thinks English and History are of more import than art. and the absurd "Cult of Genius" has cut us off from art, making it into an elitist, separate thing.




The remnants of the Basswood flowers, with a bee of course. Basswood flowers attract bees, honey bees. It's a good thing.

More on Basswood.


I feel so old ....

The above frame is a variation on a design known as "Taos". It is being used here as an example of the use of rottenstone. Rottenstone is a very fine abrasive powder, a traditional polishing powder. Frame and furniture finishers have another use for it. It is the exact shade and consistency of ... dust, and is used to simulate a dusty surface. It also slightly "cools" a finish, and slightly dulls a finish, though if rubbed off vigorously it will polish the surface, leaving a contrasting, cool dryness in the recessive areas. See the soft, gray dusty areas; that's rottenstone, adhering to the underlying tone.

I stopped at two high end paint stores today, looking for rottenstone. It used to be a common product. At the first store, the young clerk had never heard of rottenstone. He was probably knowledgeable about latex paint, though. Or not. The second store had a clerk my age, maybe, but he had only started working in the paint store about ten years ago, ... so ...  not a clue.

Rottenstone is one of the subtleties of fine finishes. I routinely mix a little dry pigment of various colors into some rottenstone to alter the overall color and effect of a finish. Once a tone has been applied, ( a colored wash ), and is dry, rottenstone may be dusted on, then off. I use one of the old style aluminum salt shakers to shake onto the surface, then brush it overall, and either vacuum, or blow off with compressed air.


More on Shellac

Bears, Sun and Shadow

A quick tip, working with shellac. In the previous post, I mention a brush keeper, for my shellac brushes. That keeper is for the brushes I use with pigmented shellac, as a colored undercoat and sealant, for the gesso, when oil gilding. When I brush a clear shellac on something, or I don't want that brush in the keeper, I give the brush a light rinse in a little alcohol, and then wash it using one of the household cleaners such as 409 or Fantastik, which use some ammonia, I believe.  A relatively benign way to clean your tools.

An excellent article about shellac: http://antiquerestorers.com/Articles/jeff/shellac.htm


Hah! Turpentine

Studio, winter.

A photo from January, 2011. Hah, indeed! 67 now, with a high of 77, and relatively low humidity of 54%, and clear skies.

I usually keep some turpentine around, as it has some unique properties. Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine seems to have gone down in quality, possibly having to do with changes in the Naval Stores Act. It should smell sweet, like freshly cut pine. My old mentor has taken to smuggling importing his from Canada; water white, the good stuff. He paints in oils, though, so has more of a need for it. I use turpentine as an additive to shellac, to retard the drying. A little splash to a half pint of ready to apply shellac. When applying toning to a frame, my usual solvent for thinning japan colors is VM &P Naptha. Again, adding turpentine will retard the drying, and on occasion, I will just use turpentine as the solvent, when the finish is going to be worked extensively. I also use turpentine as the solvent in the bottom of the containers that I use, for size and tone brushes. The brushes are suspended in the liquid, not touching the bottom, thus staying straight, and ready to be used, and not needing to be cleaned after every use.

Studio, spring.

There, now don't we all feel better. I know I do.

A corner of the studio, showing the brush "keepers" I use. The big blue one is for shellac brushes; next to that is the one for oil size brushes, for gilding. The quart container with the conical top holds the brushes I use for toning washes. The microwave is mainly for heating gesso. All the jars hold various colors of tones, mixed colors for the sides of frames, etc. etc. etc.



I've talked about shellac before, here. Above, some Kusmi No. 2 buttons, or button-lac. I also use shellac as a sort of quick version of an oil and wax finish, with shellac instead of the labor and time intensive oiling process.
This rocking chair is an example of shellac and wax finish. The shellac is applied with a nylon stocking, quite thin, as a penetrating finish rather than trying to build a surface coat. I then apply wax with either steel wool, or an abrasive, nylon pad, buffing the wax immediately, cause we don't want a waxy build up. The abrasive evens out the shellac. Alternatively, the shellac can be sanded, and the wax applied with a cloth or brush. As can be seen, it is possible to develop a beautiful sheen.

 And another use for shellac, above I'm "burning" shellac into some gaps in in the joints of a section of bowling alley being made into counter tops. I'm using an old tacking iron from a drymount press as my burn-in knife. Molten shellac is a traditional furniture repair material, coming in a wide variety of colors to match various finishes. The final finish here will be oil. Tung oil, thinned with citrus solvent, producing a food safe finish. Button lac is heated to a molten state to form the buttons; a process which polymerizes the shellac, making it very tough, durable and water resistant. This finish was devised to make a food safe finish, while also being as green as possible. Shellac is still used to put a shine on candies and pills.

Shellac.net is a good source for a wide variety of shellacs. Tung oil and citrus solvent are available from The Real Milk Paint Co.