Haniwa: Curing and Firing

In order to make sure that the haniwa (here is another interesting article about haniwa) were completely dry, they sat exposed to the air and sunlight for 2 weeks. Since the smaller haniwa dry more quickly, I was able to fire the octopus, robot, and a few other smaller pieces prior to the bigger pieces.
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This is the first group of haniwa. From right to left the group consists of a kabutomushi (rhinocerous beetle), a fugu (puffer fish), a bucket-headed sanshin player (made out of a gourd and bamboo stock), a ninja, a soldier with butterfly swords, a Taiko spirit, a Freeza-like spirit, and a Satsuma (not this Satsuma) samurai.
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The second group is made up of a DJ, my version of a Daruma totem (a dual skull on top of a stormtrooper on top of a ninja turtle wind god), a snowtrooper (based on the kind that raided Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back), a two-headed warrior wielding a naginata, a bear, the squid Pope, and a ronin bearing a cane sword.
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I fired the first group last week, and unfortunately, a few of them cracked. The samurai lost a piece of his helmet, the Taiko spirit lost part of his back, and the Fugu was badly damaged. I was able to fix them all with some super glue and used Gorilla Glue to fill in places where the fugu was badly damaged.
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I just finished firing this group, and they all look like they survived the process intact. I guess it just took a little bit of time to refine my technique.
The clay I used was special in that it is made to be fired at 350 degrees for 1 hour, so I was able to do this in a household oven. I plan to make more as soon as I get more clay, but I need to find someone with a kiln so I can get those fired as well.
So far, the project is off to a good start.

Congratulations to the Dempseys

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This picture has nothing to do with the news I just got from Chris, but it seemed appropriate somehow. I just learned that Sarah is pregnant, but I don’t know when they will be expecting. I’ll add more info to this post (or check the comments) as more news becomes available. Congratulations guys!

On a plane

It feels weird to know that my brother is on a plane, and on his way, to a new life in Thailand. Over 10 years in Japan has molded him into an American who is very Japanese, so it will be interesting to see how he changes after being in Thailand for a while. Dude, best of luck!
On a side note, I think that your next car should be a turbo charged tuk-tuk.

Pasturized Vitamin D Radio

It’s hard for me to listen to the radio without constantly switching from station to station. It seems to me that there was a greater variety available on radio when I was younger, and now there’s less space on the mainstream airwaves for anything other than pop, especially when it comes to hip-hop as this article points out.
Though there is new music coming out that I enjoy listening to, it is harder to find it. The pop has taken over like an invasive species- like the Kudzu vine has taken over the South, turning what used to be a space filled with diversity into a uniform plot of artificiality. MTV has only gotten worse about this over time, and when they do actually play videos, you can really see this. It seems like the formula of showing off material wealth and looking like a thug are enough to make you popular. But this stuff is just the same old noise, given new beats and repackaged.
Listening to radio today is like being forced to do your grocery shopping at a(n American) convenience store. No one can deny that the products it stocks appeals to the masses, and as much as I like things with nacho cheese and food that has an infinite shelf life, being limited to a diet of those things sucks. A diet of twinkies, skttles, and slim jims gets old fast.
Artists like the Roots, Binary Star, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, and Mos Def are seldom heard, and this is a shame. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to hear artists like these on the radio. When you have to listen to independent radio, college radio, and NPR to hear what anything other than the stuff that they rotate on the commercial stations, it is really frustruating.
I’d rather listen to nothing at all, rather than having to listen to songs like “Promiscuous Girl”, or anything by 50, Ludacris, or Justin Timberlake(!?). I have nothing against this music, I just want to be able to choose to listen to something else without having to pop in a cassette or cd or boot up my computer.

Killer vs. the cats

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I took Killer out to play with Boo and Yoda today, and after playing with a guava, he charged Yoda.
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Yoda was a good sport. He played with Killer for a while, and just let the little puppy do whatever he wanted to.
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Boo was less tolerant. He played with Killer for a little bit, but when the puppy started to get hyper, Boo gave him the one-two-neko punch! Killer whimpered for a bit, but went right back to playing with Yoda.

A letter from Iraq

I find myself frustrated at how desensitized I’ve become towards the war in Iraq. The news is saturated with depressing stories day after day. Sometimes, I hear how many people have died in an explosion and think “That’s not too bad.”, and am sad at how these people have become numbers, as impersonal as the stock prices scrolling along the bottom of CNN.
I’m writing this post after reading this letter from Time.com. It’s a good thing to personalize the war every once in a while, because it’s way too easy to just tune out the noise all together.

Haniwa Project

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about making our front garden into a haniwa forest. I want to make hundreds of haniwa and find the right places for them so that they become part of the environment of our front yard.
The haniwa of the Kofun period were guardians of tombs and tumili, but mine will watch over the home and garden environment in which they are to dwell. Who knows what forms they will take? Certainly not me, as I found out.
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Today, I had an irresistible urge to sculpt haniwa. I opened up a package of clay, and slowly started to remember how to work in this medium. There is something very pleasant about working with clay- the earthy smell and cool, malleable properties of this stuff brings me a similar type of comfort that I get when I enjoy a hot cup of tea. They seem completely different, yet somehow they are linked in my mind.
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I’m half planning what I want to make, and half letting the clay decide. This octopus came to be after I started to make it.
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This robot haniwa was originally going to be a plain haniwa, but it clearly wanted to be a robot. That is the nature of haniwa. A spirit will take any form which it desires, as long as you let it. Hopefully they’ll dry out without any cracks forming.