Archive for ‘Art/Ceramics’

February 10, 2014

What I Learned Last Week #4

by Janie Jones

Last week was a big week for tests so I guess we’ll really see what I’ve learned.

In OChem I was very disappointed.  I thought I did well on the test but only managed a C.  That was a huge bummer.  But I wasn’t the lowest scoring student so I’m not totally a loser.

In Biology I kicked butt.  I got an A on both the lecture and lab portions of the exam.  Biology Teacher has a sense of humor which appeared on the exam.  We had two of the same question:

What do you call a person who specializes in the study of mushrooms?

a.  A mushroom lover.

b.  A mycologist.

c.  A fungologist.

d.  A real fun guy.

Hahaha.  Science geek humor.

I haven’t gotten the grades back from my calculus test, but at least I didn’t walk out wanting to cry.  I am hoping at least a C.  Funny how I get mad at myself for just getting a C in OChem but am relieved if I manage a C in Calc.  Life is sad and funny that way.

Ceramics class continues to be exhausting (it’s a night class and Janie don’t do nights) but fun.  Although I do have to admit to being a bit put out, my project last week was confused as a pig not by one person, but two.  It’s supposed to be Rupert:


Now, I’ve never worked with clay before this class, and I don’t claim to be a superstar artist, but I thought it looked quite like my Rupert:

misc fall 006

So I have to say ceramics class is probably the most insulting to my dog of any class I’ve ever taken.  Now I have to make another sculpture of Rupert to do him justice.  Apparently, the snout is all wrong.

I have had some “better” ceramics projects.  Nothing’s been glazed yet, but here’s some of my other accomplishments:


This is, quite clearly, Spongebob and Patrick, and not a couple of pigs.  They are actually maracas and when you shake them they make noise.  The need to make maracas is a requirement of the class.  Don’t ask.  I don’t know why.  I can only assume the successful project must demonstrate some particular clay technique proficiency.

And, this is one of my bowls.  I apparently forgot to get a picture of the other one:


Okay.  So that’s how I spent last week.



January 27, 2014

What I learned last week #2

by Janie Jones

So this week I learned a few things life that will change my life forever.

In Ceramics I learned that it is not as easy to make a lattice weave bowl as it is to make a lattice weave pie crust.  Tomorrow I will see if it survived drying and then, if that was successful, I will cross my fingers and hope my 5 hours of labor survives firing.

In Biology I learned that the iconic White Cliffs of Dover are actually a graveyard for two tiny species of Protists, the foraminiferans and the radiolarians.  That’s a lot of dead microscopic critters.  The cell walls of these critters contain calcium carbonate and silica and are in part responsible for the famous cliff formation.

And, that’s about it for last week.

January 20, 2014

What I learned last week #1

by Janie Jones

So the first week of spring semester has come and gone.

To prove I’m getting my educational dollar’s worth, I’m going to recount some factoids that I have learned so far.

1#  From O-Chem:  The same kinds of compounds responsible for what we “smell” are responsible for what we “see.”

Aromatic compounds (molecules containing cyclic species with alternating, or conjugate, double bonds) where first discovered due to their fragrance.  Now chemists know that not all aromatic compounds have fragrance, but it’s still impressive that this feature was recognized in the days before electron microscopes.  Interestingly enough they  are also responsible for color in such molecules as beta-Carotene.  The conjugated cyclic nature of beta-Carotene absorbs light at 455 nm on the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum visible to the human eye.  Furthermore, enzymes in the liver convert beta-Carotene from dietary sources into Vitamin A, and through the “magic” of chemistry the Vitamin A is transformed into an isomer known as 11-cis-retinal.  In the rod cells of our eyes, this 11-cis-retinal and a protein creates rhodopsin.  When light passes through our eye and encounters the rod cells containing this rhodopsin, the light causes rhodopsin to change the position of it’s bonds forming the isomer trans-rhodopsin triggering a nerve impulse which the brain translates as “vision.”  What is also fascinating about this process is that it happens in the tiniest fraction of a second (200 femtoseconds to be exact, if you know what a femtosecond is), but if no light were present the process would take about 1100 years according to my text book.

#2  From Biology:  Mammals that spurned millennia of evolving legs just to return to the sea.

Ever wonder how whales evolved?  We might never know the exact hows or whys, but science is giving us some ideas on the trail from land back to sea.  Apparently within the last 10 years some new evidence has given taxonomists reason to rethink previous family trees.  Genetic studies on the two species have suggested that whales closest mammal kin are hippos.  A discovery of an ancient whale species that still had external legs strengthened this genetic evidence by showing that hippos and ancient whale precursors share ankle bone structure too similar to be coincidental.  Creatively we can fill in the gaps, millennia ago an ancient mammal species diverged into aquatic habitats.  Some evolved into modern whales and eventually some evolved into hippos.  Fascinating.

#3  From Calc I:  My brain is a sieve.

It is very sad.  3 semesters of algebra (beginning, advanced and college algebra) and I totally have no recollection of some of the concepts Calc teacher expects us to recall.  Luckily, I still have my algebra textbooks.  Seems I need to re learn sections of algebra in order to do my Calc homework.  Be afwaid, be vewy, vewy afwaid.  This is just the pre Calc review.  We technically haven’t learned any real Calc yet.  Only 15 more weeks to go!  Yippee!

#4  From Ceramics:  One place where pounding and wedging is socially acceptable.

If you like to beat, smash and pound on things, working with clay is probably a perfect place for you to be.  I’m not so sure about the “pounding” and “wedging” as it’s called, but it does wake you up and keep you warm.  Which is what you need in a night class in the Great White North.  I think it will be fun, and hopefully I’ll beat the living snot out of my clay, burn off some frustration and not have my pieces explode in the kiln (which will happen if you don’t adequately beat your clay).  I’m sure the terminology here will make all sorts of fun off color material this semester.  That is if I actually have the time and motivation to blog regularly.

So,  now don’t you feel all smart and well rounded?