More casting, the art room, and the Turks

Today I decided to try casting one of my Optime Arabian stallion sculptures. This sculpture has 29 mold pieces total! There is a separate mold for the main body, each leg, the head, and 2 molds for the tail. At first I thought I had 3 molds just for the tail, but then I realized that the 3rd mold was just for the little piece of mane that flips back on the neck! Here they are in my laundry room-turned Mud Room:

I’m pleased to report that all the parts came out of the mold successfully. This was my first try going it alone (I poured the Caprice at Donna Chaney’s studio). Here’s how the head looks in the mold:

I can’t get over how perfectly and elegantly it casts in the mold!
Here’s a leg:

And here is the big 4-part mold for the body:

All the pieces are now stored in the damp-box awaiting assembly:

Now I have something new to do, on the next rainy day. Which will be tomorrow, ha ha. July was one of the rainiest on record for England, so I am learning to love rain.

Here is a photo of my Art Room. For some reason I am calling it the Art Room rather than the studio, maybe because it really can’t compare to my wonderful work space at home in Boulder. Also, it is utterly stark and impersonal because I don’t have my usual collection of Karen-things sitting all over the place like I do at home. (I’m resisting the temptation to buy little souvenir-y things… but I’ve already started down the slippery slope with a Lilliput Lane model of Windsor Castle! A Must Have, Windsor is our “local” castle after all!!) I should at least get a cork board so that I can stick up photos and things.

Anyway, the room will serve. The house faces northwest so this room is bright all afternoon, when I’m most in the mood to do art work. I can see the street and the park from the pretty window, and watch vintage airplanes go in for a landing at the airport on the other side of our neighborhood. It’s a pleasant place and being upstairs, it should be warmer in winter!

I share the space with the Boyz’ stored kennels and the ironing board. In the spirit of not buying a lot of stuff we’ll have to ship back to the US in 2 years, I cobbled together most of the furniture from discount stores. The aluminum chair is from the patio set that came with the house!

My main dilemma was that I like to stand while sculpting, and want to be able to work at it up at eye level. At home I’d use my peninsula-shaped work counter or the kitchen island if the day was really dark. In this house here I had no work surface I could work around like that. I didn’t want to pay a lot for a real sculptor’s stand. So I bought this tower of shelves from IKEA, and a stool to perch on. The light coming in from the side is great for seeing detail. (Right now I’m claying up a new armature for a new horse sculpture, so I just parked it on the stool.)

I think I’m going to make a big turn in my original plans for my work life while here. It is becoming obvious that doing slip-casting isn’t going to take years to learn, and I don’t need to learn it here for any particular reason. It isn’t practical to get a kiln (and I’m completely burnt out from glazing) so the chances of glazing to finished pieces are slim to none. I should not work the molds here, and then have to get all those made chinas home. Far better to just take the molds home with me in 2 years, and then make china horses from them in the ideal situation of my Colorado studio, with kiln in house, for years to come.

So what I’m going to do instead, is sculpt. I can tell I’m finally ready. I’m seeing horses every day, and the beautiful countryside is so energizing. I can practically feel my artistic spirit lifting up just imagining that I’m seeing some of the same kinds of things that inspired the great old masters who lived here or traveled and worked here. Any new sculptures that I finish here, I can have molds made for ceramics here, too.

Next week we’re off to Land’s End, Cornwall, for a week. We’ve been putting our weekends to good use as tourists, too. We’ve ridden our bikes on an old barge canal near Bath, and around Oxford, and all along the Thames. A couple weekends ago we took a Friday afternoon off and went in to London. The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace had just started (you can only tour it for these 2 months a year) so we decided to do that. It was pretty impressive and very well done. I was especially excited to see all the great paintings in the Queen’s collection. More Canaletto’s and Rembrant’s to tick off the Seen list! We also went to an art museum called The Wallace Collection. This art museum has the most incredible collection of art and I never heard of the place!! I was thrilled to see this superb equine painting by Landseer, The Arab Tent. (I’m buying a large print of it for my studio at home, to match the Whistlejacket.) And more great Dutch Italianate landscape paintings, my favorites!

Oh, and I’ve found a great doggie-swimming spot on the banks of the Thames, for the Boyz. Kit was in water-dog heaven! Must get back there, next sunny day!

We were to meet up for dinner at an authentic Turkish restaurant in the City with about a dozen of the people who work for Paul, most of them here for the summer from Istanbul, Turkey. They are going to be working in the company’s office in Istanbul that Paul is setting up. They are the most warm, outgoing, delightful people, by the way. We actually have a social life here, thanks to them. They are all in their 20’s and full of fun, and they are regularly having dinners out, or drinks in pubs, or tennis games or other outings as they explore the Brit life while here. (I was sorry to miss the day out learning to play Cricket!!)

Here are photos of our group at the dinner, and Paul sipping his Raki, the favorite Turkish alcoholic beverage!

Raki tastes like licorice, because it has aniseed oil in it. I thought that was a very cool connection… because anise oil is used by traditional chinapainters as a painting medium, and all my chinas that were made for me in England always used to arrive smelling like anise oil! I’ll always connect that fragrance with china horses and England. And now, with Turkish food in London! (And I ate things that night I never dreamed I’d want to eat, and survived! Wow!)

Paul is almost certain to have to spend several weeks in Istanbul this Fall, and the Turks are all ready to play host to us if I come to visit while he is there. If the timing works out, we are probably going to go to a wedding there. I am very excited about being able to see the real local’s Istanbul with someone who knows the place, instead of just using a guidebook. I think being here is going to be such a world-widening and mind-opening experience for us, I feel so very fortunate.