Music, Skateboarder, a new Entity based on a drawing, catastrophic water event, lyre-making

Here is the music, sort of. I love Laurie Anderson, and I love the idea of making my own instrument, something that has no preexisting rules for how to play it, and something that is not necessarily tuned to any currently used scale. I’m not sure if that is possible. But I’m going to try.

Catastrophic Water Event

This is a short post this week, in part because I’ve had problems with the plumbing in my condo, with plumbers, ServiceMaster folk, and building management traipsing around in here. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that my life has been disrupted and I’ve not been feeling that great. Mostly I’m riddled with worry.

Skateboarder
The skateboarder is now lashed to a plexiglass rod in an attempt to create “air”. I have to continue to build it up with the plasteline, but I know I’m stalling on this because I don’t really like where this piece is going, and it feels like I might put in a lot of work for nothing. So, that will require some strength of will that I didn’t have this week.
Here’s another view of the skateboarder on the plexiglass rod. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in a piece of wood which will become the stand for the piece. I think the rod is probably a bit too high, so I’ll cut it back a couple of inches. I’m thinking of getting a 1/4 inch rod for the angelfish.

This skateboarder is part of an assignment in the sculpture class, as is the following piece that I worked on while the plumbing was making life horrible. Generally speaking, I love working on long-term projects, ones that I have to put together piece by piece over a long period of time. However, I also need smaller projects to work on at the same time, so that I get some feeling of accomplishment along the way. This is why I have the two projects running side by side, and then of course the lyre-making project, which makes it three projects.

From above, this piece is based on a watercolour drawing I did in 2019. Like this sculpture, the drawing is simple, and my purpose was/is to capture the posture of a person in the final hours of their life. This figure is lying on a simple bed and in a position that he has been placed by a care aide.
In an earlier phase, I just really wanted to capture the simplicity of the end of life. As I watched my father dying months before I drew the original picture that this is based on, I was struck by his breath, how even as it seemed that most of everything else about “him” had shut down, his breath kept entering and exiting his body, and then it seemed that it wasn’t even “his” breath but that it was what I started to think of as “life”. And I kept thinking, watching the air go in and out, that “life wants to live”. After he stopped breathing, his heart continued to beat for another ten minutes.

All life really wants is to live. A convenient metaphor right now is to think of the breath of life as a virus occupying our bodies until our bodies give out.

Here is the original drawing, which I called The Yellow Rose. The yellow flower in the window is meant to be a rose, and I placed it there because my mother had loved yellow roses, and I imagined her, in the form of that rose, to be in the room. My father outlived my mother by thirty years.

So, the skateboarder and the small sculptures I’m making here are both part of my sculpture class. I have proposed to make a life-sized skateboarder, using my grandson as my primary model, and 100 “entities”, these small sculptures made of air-drying clay. 100 is an arbitrarily chosen number, but I chose it because I consider myself to be a slow learner, and I’m hoping that by the time I get to the 100th entity, it might actually be pretty good. Also, when you do multiples of things like this, set a goal of 100, that gives room for what I do and how I do it to change and evolve, which may be the same as saying that I might get better. Ideas beget ideas. It’s addictive.

Lyre-making

Making a lyre is a longer term project that is not necessarily attached to any course I’m taking, or going to take. I introduced the project in an earlier post, and have since managed to find some squashes to turn into gourds to turn into lyres.

I also bought some strings for an eight-string ukulele. The next step is to clean and sanitize the squash, put on a screen to dry for six months, and then once dry, hollow them out and start to prepare for covering with a skin.

Next steps for lyre making:

find skin for covering

design a “harp” structure to be placed over the skin which is covering the hollowed out half-gourd. The process I’m following for making the harp is described in an earlier post, and while that maker cut out and shaped pieces of wood for his lyre, I’m going to look into other possible materials to use for the harp part of the lyre, and because I love working with figures so much, I’m going to see if I can make the harp structure look like figures instead of just pieces of wood.

Here is a photograph of the “harp” part of the lyre. This is attached to the gourd, and then strings added to the harp. What I’d like to do is design and make these three pieces as figures instead of merely functional pieces of wood holding the lyre together. http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
This is a short youtube video showing the lyre maker playing his handmade lyre. Paul Butler is actually also a musician, and wanted his lyre to be playable.

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