A Psalm of Life
This is kiln predates automatic digital readouts and even gravity-based kiln-sitters. It does have the awesome dial readout connected to a "thermocouple" temperature probe. That all means that I need to turn up the heat according to "best practices" and get a feel for the pace of firing. I was never a super ceramic nerd so this will take some experience. I've been looking up "ramping" schedules to get an idea of the speed recommended between temperatures.
I heard a frightening POP at around 1300 degrees. I was sure a piece blew up, but when everything was fine. It was surprising how little heat emanated from the kiln. At temperatures approaching 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, the kiln seemed to be insulating well. Looking in the peephole, I noticed one of the coils doesn't seem to be working. I do have an extra set, so I should be able to fix that.
I think I love this kiln. It's got the sturdy charm of a classic pickup, refreshingly low-tech, and just the right internal space to fire 1/4 scale terra cotta figures or life-sized busts.
I've recently discovered Augmented Reality (AR) and the possibilities are making my head spin. I first saw an article on the AR app called Aurasma in a yearbook advisor magazine. This yearbook advisor had used the app to load a video into the printed yearbook! I was blown away when I aimed my phone's camera at the photo in the article and their school-wide lipsync video started playing as if it were in the photo frame. The device becomes a lens through which new content can be revealed in real objects.
So I started to play. After downloading Aurasma (free app) I started unlocking content by aiming it at their website. I love the cereal box printed as if its the cockpit of an X-wing fighter. A star wars space battle jolts to life and the controls start to whirr and calculate. Then I discovered I can participate in the battle and fire my blasters...ON A CEREAL BOX.
I soon realized I could make my own content. The app enables you to set a trigger image and associate an overlay with it. Sooo...my kids' old minion costumes come to life and start chattering to each other, Elvis dances on the classroom pencil sharpener, my school photo transforms into Gru, photos in the school newspaper come to life, and a graphing calculator reveals that Gangham style guy dancing in the screen.
Turning to more relevant applications I love the idea of a school yearbook with photos that "come to life". Trust me, the MVL Desktop Publishing students are all about this. We're shifting some of our talents toward video production and integrating augmented reality into our student print publications.
Then I realized the potential as an art teacher. I built my Master's level semester presentation around augmented reality. Imagine a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in which the museum map reveals particular works to find and draw. When you get to the Rembrandt's "Lucretia" and view it through your tablet or phone you see the darks and lights broken down into simplified blocks. I set up 5 different paintings with different drawing aids to help interpret the artwork and provide an entry point for beginning artists. Click this link to view the prezi. You'll have to subscribe to "JJJaspersen Studio Education" for the Aurasma aspect to work.
I'm strongly considering using augmented reality in my February gallery exhibit at Bethany Lutheran College...
And I just finished activating the cover art for Koine's Emmanuel Lux album. Scan the cover, the interior, or the disc for connections to contemplate from the corresponding sand animation.
Here's how to make it work:
- Download the Aurasma app.
- Create an account (or skip this step)
- Tap the A symbol at the bottom of the viewfinder...
- Tap the magnifying glass to search Aurasma
- Enter "JJJaspersen Studio" in the search bar, tap on my channel and tap "follow"
- Tap the open square icon next to the magnifying glass and aim at your Emmanuel Lux album art!
The following video will help to explain what this all means and how it works...
Have you read this? This bit of history, this duel. Can you imagine being there. Everyone was there. The king and queen, all the people in the land turned out for this showdown. They brought their families, young and old, they packed some food and water for the trip. There must have been some talk about the duel. No doubt there were some bets placed. It was one outlaw versus 850 of the king's men. One man confidently challenged the odds. It was at his suggestion that this was all happening. He was going to settle a misunderstanding. He was going to be convincing. Something had to be done.
So everyone showed up. The One man proposed some rules to this challenge. This was to be a fair match. Both sides would have a chance. Both would hail their god to start a fire to burn an animal sacrifice. Both sides would prepare an animal sacrifice and get their god to light the fire. All agreed to his suggestion. It just seemed natural for everyone to agree to his rules, after all, what chance did he stand against 850 of them. There were so many of them. 400 priests of Asherah sat this one out. They went off to the side. Now it was 450 priests of Baal against the 1. These were the official priests of Israel. They ate at the kings table. They were officially endorsed by royalty. It was all the same to the One man because he knew the truth. Imagine these bleachers packed for a game. Imagine these bleachers shoulder to shoulder with high-intensity fans, unified and focused in their support. The bleachers on the stage are filled with the 400 reserves sitting out. Imagine this mass of excited people against just one man.
There were spectators too. Witnesses to this great showdown. The historical documents don't tell us how many. The king called all of Israel to this event. Let's speculate a bit here and imagine a mass of people like you may have seen at a major concert or sporting event. Stadium-size crowd. They were on the mountain too. Not everyone had a good seat, but word traveled fast.
It began as the sun rose. Early in the morning members of the 450 slit their bull's throat and cut it to pieces. This task is neither easy nor clean. Blood flowed and smeared, mingled with gravel and dust. It was not an unfamiliar site. They put the chopped pieces of animal on a stack of wood and began their chants. Like a mob of fans at a game they feverishly raised their voices together to support their cause. One of their sayings is recorded for us, "O Baal, hear us, O Baal, hear us, O Baal, hear us." They did this from morning until noon. There was no response from Baal. Some of them started jumping on the altar. You know how things can escalate with a crowd of passionate people.
The One man starts to talk smack at noon. He started mocking this large crowd that was unified against him. He came over to the crowd of impassioned prophets and tauntingly told them to get louder because maybe Baal was preoccupied with something else. So they did. They got louder. They show their sincerity. They cut themselves with knives and spears to get Baal's attention. Blood mingled with the gravel again that day. They nearly sacrificed themselves to get a reaction from their god.
As the afternoon wore on, the One man, Elijah, prophet of the Living God, looked at the pitiful, exausted, bloody prophets of Baal and decided it was time for his turn. There had been no voice from Baal. He told all the people of Israel to gather around him. He repaired the old altar of the Lord using 12 stones to represent the 12 sons of Jacob. Elijah was reminding the people of their history with the Lord. By building the altar of 12 stones he brought the Lord's promises back to the minds of the Israelites. The Lord had changed Jacob's name to Israel and thus gave this mass of people on the mountainside their very identity. The Lord had made promises to their forefathers. The Lord was their God whether they knew it or not.
He dug a trench around the mound of stones. He stacked the wood in order. Elijah, the one man was doing a lot of heavy, messy, manual labor. He slaughtered and cut up the bull. He lifted the heavy, bloody parts onto the altar. I saw some bulls at the state fair this year. That would be a lot of animal to carve up and move around. That's alot of work when you think about it. Elijah would have been a muddy, bloody, scraped up mess of a man after that afternoon's work. After hauling stones, and wood, digging a trench, and carving up a huge animal, Elijah took a break. He had others drench the altar three times until the trench had standing water in it. Soaking a burnt offering with water was not the usual procedure, in fact it seems counter productive. There was surely some chatter among the people as Elijah progressed. What were they saying when he dumped water on the burnt offering? Its hard enough to find dry wood, this would never light.
This was all timed to coincide with the evening sacrifice. As the sun approached the horizon, he approached the crowd and prayed out loud. He said, "LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again."
Then it happened. Elijah's carefully prepared altar was blasted by fire from the sky. Everyone, I mean everyone, had to look. At that moment there was nothing to think about except, "Elijah's God is alive and real." It was like Elijah had called in an airstrike. Everyone watched the smoke clear, the gathered people of Israel, the prophets of Baal and Asherah, even wicked king Ahab and his poisonous queen Jezebel and all their advisors waited to see the results. When the smoke cleared, Elijah's altar had been annihilated. God's answer was powerful and clear. The stones, the bones, the wood, the water, we're told even the dust, were all vaporized in this demonstration of God's might. Israel was convinced. They fell on their faces and said, "The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God." The hearts of God's people were turned back to Him again. The opposition got nervous.
Elijah told the people of Israel to grab all the prophets of Baal, take them down in the valley and kill them all. These prophets of false gods had lured God's people away from Him. The people of Israel killed every last false prophet. These false prophets had hardened their hearts and acted in public displays of idolatry. Blood mingled with the gravel yet again that day. The fact that God allowed them to live up until that day had been gracious on God's part.
Elijah then told the king, Ahab, to go home before he gets caught in the rain. Rain? It hadn't rained for years! Israel had been in a drought. Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and sat quietly for a while. Ahab got his chariot ready because even though he didn't like Elijah, he couldn't deny what had just happened. As Ahab rode home in his chariot with its pounding team of the fastest horses in the land, the weather shifted. Soon Ahab was pelted by driving wind and rain, imagine the look on his face when Elijah sprinted past. God had ended the drought and brought the life giving rain on the land in the same day that he had brought in his lost sheep of Israel. The people of Israel were given powerful reminders that day. They knew with certainty that the Lord is God and they knew that it was he that provided for their every need.
Back at the beginning of the day, before any chanting, or slaughtering, or jumping on altars, Elijah addressed the crowd. He laid down the stakes for this duel of the deities. He said to the people of Israel, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” This was all about retrieving the straying sheep of Israel. This was about winning souls for the Lord, not about the Elijah stunt show.
What about you? Do you falter between two opinions? As amazing as it must have been to be there when Elijah's altar was blown to bits, you don't need that. You have what could never be, but is. Instead of a Bull, God put his boy on the altar, laid every sin of every person from the past present and future and annihilated him. Jesus died. From the ashes Jesus proved that though he had known death and separation from God, he remained God. He is the way and the truth and the life. Know with certainty that the God of Elijah is alive and real. Know that he provides for your every need. He provides rain for you. He provides manna for you. He provides governments for you even when they may be run by bad people. God brings the right people into and out of your life at the right times. He provides guidance and comfort for this life in his word. He assures you of your place at his table in heaven thanks to Jesus' innocent life, death and resurrection. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
So this took me all day. In retrospect it doesn't seem like it should. It's my first time shipping artwork. Between research, gathering supplies, relatively careful execution, and the occasional Lego Wii game this was a long process. I just finished up with UPS online and I think I shipped it twice. Hopefully that can be corrected. Because of the New Year's holiday, these will sit somewhere on the day(s) off and take longer than usual.
One of my teachers used to tell us to relish the clumsiness of being a beginner. Beginners experience relatively frequent and exciting surges of progress. After we've mastered a process it take much more to excite us. I think I like packing artwork. Parts of it remind me of origami.
|One telescoping external box, bubble-wrap to restrict
movement, tight-fitting cardboard sheath, and
double craft- paper wrap.
We at the MVL Art Factory made this Chuck Close-style interpretation of Samantha Kowalke's original painting. It offers an interesting tension between the individual shapes and the broader image. This was a tricky project because our ample art studio still did not offer enough distance to really see the effect we were hoping for. Here is the explanation as printed in the Christmas concert program:
The artwork behind the choir references the original painting on the cover of this program. The members of the MVL Art Factory reinterpreted Samantha Kowalke’s piece in the style of contemporary artist Chuck Close. Close is an eminent figurative artist in New York City who paints large-scale portraits using optical color mixing and a grid. Optical color mixing is a method of painting similar to the CMYK method of printing used in magazines and newspapers. Our eyes and brains will blend bits of color together if they are small enough-or far away. In fact when an artist blends two colors together on palette, there are separate microscopic bits of color that appear to become a new color. Besides a great challenge and interesting experiment for the Art Factory, we can find an analogy in this work. The overall image of the Christ Child is composed of a wide variety of colors and marks. Like the Body of Christ, like the invisible church on earth, this artwork is composed of bits and pieces put together to present a semblance of a whole. Likewise we see things differently from a distance, just as God sees patterns and plans that we cannot detect in the details of life.