This Friday in Des Moines – Public Art Reception for Prairie: Traces

Prairie: Traces by Amy Uthus Porcelain, steel, sunlight, time. 7' x 7' x 24".

Prairie: Traces
by Amy Uthus
Porcelain, steel, sunlight, time.
7′ x 7′ x 24″

You’re Invited!

Please join me this Friday, from 6-7:30PM, at the Wesley House – Drake University, for the unveiling of Prairie: Traces, my latest artwork. Standing seven feet high and nearly seven feet wide, the piece contrasts unyielding steel and fragile porcelain while harnessing and focusing the natural elements of light and time. A twist on the ancient sundial, I’m really excited about how it works and am thrilled to be able to share it with the Des Moines community.

The fragility of porcelain and the unforgiving hardness of steel remind us of life on the prairie: a delicate, subtle beauty belying incredible natural dangers. Distilling light and time into a single entity, we are unconsciously reminded of the roles each play in life on the Plains. Traces’ connection to the land is familiar to Iowans, who live surrounded by growth and sky.

You and your friends are invited to experience Prairie: Traces in person. Here are the details…
Wesley House Gallery
2718 University Ave.,
Des Moines, IA 50311
October 9-November 5
Opening reception: Friday, Oct. 9 from 6-7:30pm,
Artist talk: Thursday, Oct. 22 at 8:30pm
.
All events are free and open to the public.

This project is funded in part by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

To see a video of Prairie: Traces in action, please visit this link to vimeo.

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You’re Invited!

uthus

Sentinel

Large-scale ceramics and photography by Amy Uthus

Opening Reception: Friday, July 18, 2014: 7-10pm*
Gallery Talk: Monday, July 21, 2014: 6pm*

July 18-August 10 @ Viaduct Gallery
Des Moines Social Club
900 Mulberry Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
515-369-3673

Gallery Hours*
Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm

*All events are free!

Come check out Des Moines… you just might want to stay (forever!)

Hello there. Happy 4th of July! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Mine was great. I’m going to tell you a little bit about it in this post,  where I’ll also fill you in on all the fun stuff happening in Des Moines this summer. I’ve been pleasantly surprised (much like I was when I visited the Art Center) at the number and quality of things to do and see here. I’m not gonna lie – I’m writing this post mainly to try to lure my east coast friends into moving here, or at least visiting!

Let’s start off with some factoids about Des Moines. We’ll start with something easy and then move into some lesser-known tidbits. Are you excited? Ok. Hold on to your pants.

*Des Moines is the capitol of Iowa.

*Des Moines has a skyline. With tall buildings, not tall stalks of corn. (I did not know this until I drove into town last summer.)

*Des Moines’ metro population is around 560,000.

*Des Moines is home to Meredith Corporation (publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, among others).

*Des Moines is home to the Drake Relays, an annual track and field event that draws some of the best athletes in the world. This year the Relays hosted 23 Olympic gold medalists. The city was pushing for a bid on the 2020 Olympic trials (not sure if we won or not).

*Des Moines’ downtown is entirely walkable by sidewalk (duh). However, if you hate the outdoors, you can always use the 4 miles of skywalks, which connect almost all of the buildings and parking garages downtown (map here). There is also a free shuttle that runs every 10 minutes, in a loop from one end of downtown to the other and back. I’ve been in the skywalk once. I think the weather here in the winter is pretty nice. I only scraped my windshield 3 or 4 times all winter (this is purt near miraculous to a ND girl)! The average temp in the winter is 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ok, did you get your fill? I did. A little more than I wanted, actually… let’s talk about what to do here now!

I was telling you yesterday that I’ve been pleased with my decision to live downtown. I really like the location. As an artist, it’s a treat to be able to walk through a world-class sculpture park every single day (John and Mary Pappajohn park). I also live close to the main public library, which was recently renovated (2006) and is architecturally beautiful, with its sleek lines and coppery facade. There is a good deal of green space in front of the library, on which various activities are held.

Last week, that green space was home to the main stage during the Des Moines Art Festival. This free event is huge – they block off two of the major streets downtown and fill them with artist booths, vendors, and other businesses from the community. One of the coolest ones was Habitat for Humanity – they built an entire house over the weekend and then carted it off for a family in need.

Different musical acts play on the main stage throughout the festival, and it’s free to pull up a lawnchair or blanket, plop down, and listen to your heart’s content. The biggest name they had this year was Aaron Neville. I was quite sure I’d never heard of him, until he started singing. I’m so bad at remembering musicians’ names 😦 As soon as he opened his mouth, I realized I knew almost all of his songs well enough to sing along (in my head, of course… singing is not one of my talents!).

Anyway, the Art Festival is juried, and competition for a spot is stiff. I read that they typically have 1100-1200 applicants, from all over the country, for around 185 spots. Yikes! Needless to say, most of the work shown is excellent. If you can get in, the exposure is tremendous. 200, 000 people come through every year, over a three-day period.

In addition to the live music, art, and food, there is also a film festival – the Interrobang Film Festival, to be precise. This is ALSO free to the public. An impressive number of films were shown, but I didn’t check any of them out, so you’ll have to click here to read about them, if you’re interested.

If the Arts Festival isn’t enough, Des Moines also has a giant Farmer’s Market downtown, every Saturday morning, May -October, from 7am-noon (8-noon in October). There are around 300 vendors at the market, and I’ve heard that crowds can swell to 10,000 on any given Saturday.

Another one of downtown’s biggest annual events is a music festival called 80/35, which was started in an effort to put the city on the map as a fun place to visit. 80/35’s inaugural year was 2008 and it has been a huge success ever since. It attracts upwards of 30,000 people, all of whom are looking to see big names (on the paid, main stage) and up-and-comers (on myriad free stages). Talent they’ve booked in the past has included the Flaming Lips, the Roots, Avett Brothers, Ben Harper, Death Cab for Cutie, and many others (those were the ones I vaguely recognize; like I said earlier, I’m terrible with names!). This year the headliner is the Wu-Tang Clan. I have heard of them!

(Here is the schedule.)

Anyway, it just so happens that my apartment faces the green space in front of the library. It also just so happens that the main stage is on that green space, directly facing my building. Consequently, I have become very popular at work as of late. Ha! I cleaned my toilet tonight, just in case I have company! Everyone in my building gets a free ticket for both days (Friday and Saturday). I think this is so they get us out of the building… if we’re at the party, we aren’t going to complain about the noise, right? Pretty smart!

I’m looking forward to seeing what this event is all about, and I’ll do my best to blog about it sometime next week. To finish up my narrative: I’m starting to feel at home here. I really like the area, events, weather, and people, and I’m going to do my best to figure out how to stay here once my Artist-in-Residence contract is up.

There are a couple of other things I want to tell you about, but this is getting long, and my bed is starting to look very inviting. I’m going to switch to list mode. Every $ = 10 bucks (approx.)

Nitefall on the River: live music in the Simon Estes outdoor amphitheater, Wednesday nights startings at 6pm. $$+

Jazz in July: live outdoor music, rotating locations, 4x a week. Free

Yankee Doodle Pops: DSM Symphony Orchestra, fireworks, Capitol lawn, for the 4th of July and New Year’s. Free

I went to this and it was fun! Crowd was estimated at 100,000 people, but it felt welcoming and was family-friendly.

Des Moines Metro Opera: various shows and events. $$$$

Iowa Cubs baseball (Chicago Cubs’ farm team): various days and times, fireworks after Friday evening games. Sundays, bring 3 canned goods and receive a free general admission ticket. $

Jasper Winery: summer concert series; live outdoor music every Thursday from 6-9pm. Free

Free Flicks: DSM Parks and Recreation, movies outdoors on giant screen, various days, 9pm. Free

Dancing at the Lake: Learn ballroom dance at Gray’s Lake, every Thursday 7:30pm. Free

Yoga in the Park: Gray’s Lake, every Saturday 9-10am. Free

This is just a fraction of the many, varied, things to do in Des Moines this summer! Come on down! Hope to see you soon…

(Community Calendar)

Recipes for Porcelain Clay Bodies

Here are a few recipes for porcelain clay bodies (casting, throwing, and sculpture).  Test them before you use them!

CASTING

Cone 10
NDSU’s porcelain casting slip:
EPK 46
Silica 34.2
Custer 19.8
*deflocculate with a combination of sodium silicate, Darvan #7, and soda ashCone 6-10
 
Kitty’s porcelain casting slip:
Kaolin 42
Custer 36
Silica 22
Water 34
*Darvan #7 to deflocculateCone 8-9
 
Porcelain casting body
Flint 20
Feldspar 36
Kaolin 30
Ball clay 14Cone 6-8
 
White/Off White Porcelain casting body
Bone ash 35.7
Kaolin 29.3
Silica 21
Potash 14
Sodium carbonate 0.3%
Notes: shrinkage 12.5%Cone 6-9
 
Porcelain casting body
Soda feldspar 44
Georgia kaolin 33
Silica 18
Whiting 5
Sodium carbonate 0.4%
Notes: shrinkage 10%
 
THROWING
 
Porcelain (throwing, handbuilding, non-translucent, plastic)
Grolleg 55
Custer 18
Flint 16
EPK 9
Pyrax 2
Bentonite 2
Molochite, 200 mesh or finer, 3 

Reeve’s Porcelain (throwing, translucent)
Grolleg 40
Custer 34
Flint 26
Macaloid 4
*I haven’t used this in a while, but I seem to remember its being very short.

 

Alfred’s Porcelain (throwing, translucent)
Grolleg 50
Kona F-4 30
Flint 20

 

Cone 9
Porcelain body
Grolleg 50
Potash feldspar 25
Flint 25

 

Cone 9-10
Porcelain body
Potash 27
Grolleg 45
Bentonite 6
Flint 26

 

Cone 9 (Tom Turner)
6 Tile 75
Kaopaque-20 38
Kona F-4 60
Silica (200 mesh) 60
OM4 12
V gum T 4
Ceramictalc 10AC 4

 

Cone 8-12
Porcelain body
Ball clay 27
Kaolin 27
Potash 27
Flint 19

 

Cone 10-15
Porcelain body
Ball clay 25
Kaolin 25
Potash 25
Flint 25

 

Cone 6
White-gray porcelain throwing body
Georgia kaolin 40
Potash 25
OM4 10
Tenn #1 6.5
Silica 13.5
EPK 5
Bentonite 2
Notes: shrinkage 14%

 

Cone 8-11
White-gray porcelain throwing body
EPK 40
Potash 25
Silica 25
OM4 7
Bentonite 3
Notes: shrinkage 15%

Cone 10
White/Off-white porcelain throwing body
Kaolin 30
OM4 14.5
Tenn #1 12.5
Potash 20.5
Silica 20
Bentonite 2.5

BONE CHINA

Bone China (unknown firing temperature)
Grolleg 30
Cornwall Stone 20
Bone Ash 40
Flint 10
Macaloid 2
*This is extremely short.

SCULPTURE

Cone 6-8
White/Off white porcelain sculpture body
OM4 32
Tenn #5 32
Fine white grog 12
EPK 11
Fine white sand 8.2
Potash feldspar 2.4
Silica 2.4
Notes: shrinkage 13.5%

Cone 9-10
White/gray porcelain sculpture body
Kaolin 21
Silica 23
Tenn #5 18
Potash feldspar 18
White grog (60-80 mesh) 10
Fine silica sand 10
Notes: shrinkage 11.5%

 

These recipes are provided in faith that those who try them will perform proper tests before usage. The author of this blog is not responsible in any way for failed clay bodies, glazes, slips, or anything else, regardless of where fault may lie. Sources for recipes include Glenn C. Nelson and James Chappell.

My Favorite Glaze Recipes for Porcelain Clay Bodies

Here are some of my favorite cone 10 glazes, collected over the past several years and condensed here for you. Test them before you use them.

Shaner Clear – Reduction or Oxidation

Kona F-4   120
Whiting   64
Dolomite   20
EPK   56
Flint   120
Zinc   20
(yes, I realize this does not add up to 100 – I still like it!)
 

Meloy White (I like this one in salt best; it blushes easily)

Dolomite   17.8
Whiting   3.2
Neph Sye   16.2
Custer   37.9
EPK   24.9
 

Yellow Salt

Neph Sye   63.9
Dolomite   21.1
Zircopax   16
OM4   4.3
Bentonite   0.4
Red Iron Oxide   1.0

Shaner Butter

Flint   26
Custer   36
Whiting   8
EPK   5
Gerst. Borate   13
Zinc Ox.   5
Talc   7
Rutile   2
Bentonite   2

Mark’s Sleet – Reduction

Custer   46
Whiting   34
EPK   20
VGum T   0.5%
Copper Carb.   2.0
Rutile   8.0

Haynes Satin – Reduction/Oxidation (mint green will go purple in reduction)

For white:
Whiting   8
Flint   30
Neph Sye   45
Talc   7
Dolomite 10
Bentonite 2
For mint green: 
add Copper Carb. 1.0%, fire in oxidation

1234 Celadon

EPK   10
Whiting   20
Flint   30
Custer   40
Yellow Ochre   2
Bentonite   2
 
 

These recipes are provided in faith that those who try them will perform proper tests before use. The author of this blog is not responsible in any way for failed clay bodies, glazes, slips, or anything else, regardless of where fault may lie.