Fireplace Restoration Project.

Fireplace Oil Painting
Fireplace Oil Painting

Recently I’ve been pimping myself out as a freelance artist.  I took on a fireplace restoration project, the image above being the final product.

At the start of this project, the fireplace was covered in sponge-painted purple and white faux marbling. A true gem.  Unfortunately, I do not have a “before” picture because I’m only just a fool, but the photo below is a pretty close representation of the surface we were dealing with.


With the help of a scraper, steel wool, and some all-natural stripper (3 cheers for a ready-made joke), all 4 million layers of paint were removed.  The stripper is called Soy Gel, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is stripping something indoors, because there are no fumes (a somewhat unusual smell, but no fumes), and it can be cleaned up easily with water and a sponge.


With all the paint removed, I discovered that the true surface or the hearth and mantle were stone, and the firebox was metal. After cleaning and sanding the stone, I sealed it with a high-gloss polyurethane. The firebox was then painted with one coat of black oil paint, and then hand-painted with turquoise and yellow oil paints to create the final design.

One last shot…ignore the fire engine.

Finished Fireplace
Finished Fireplace

Oxide Rub Down

Sculpture has been bisque fired, and instead of glazing the piece, I have decided to apply oxides to the surface.  After a second firing, the lower portion should be dark brown/red and black depending on how much oxide is on each area.  Oxides were applied, and then rubbed away with a wet sponge to reveal texture.

Texture close upUnfortunately, I was an idiot and did not wear gloves during this process.

Hands after four washings.

After the piece has finished its run through the kilns, I will be adding hair to all of the little nodules on the top tentacle-like portions of the piece. Like hair plugs. There is an opening on each nodule where I will insert the hair I have been saving…

Here is a small example of that. You’re welcome.

Shower Harvest



Drawings to Scans to Screens to Tiles

Below are a few of the images I’m starting to screenprint onto ceramic tiles this week.  I’m not 100% sure yet where it’s going but I’ll be playing around with layering underglazes and glazes using these line drawings.  They are all drawings I’ve done in pen, then burned to a silk screen.  I am currently printing onto my unfired tiles with underglazes through the screen.  We’ll see how it turns out.  For now though, here is a preview from the drawing stage.

University of Cincinnati New Ceramics Blog!

The UC Ceramics Department finally has a blog! Everyone in the studio can contribute to the blog (Grads, Undergrads, Alum, Instructors).  We are just getting started, but it should be pretty sweet, and have some good information about upcoming art events, new work, residencies, and ceramics-news in general.

Check it out here: We Make Ceramics

Old Beer Uses

“Here’s to alcohol, the cause and solution to all of life’s problems!” — Homer Simpson

So, I have posted a few times about using beer to improve the quality of your clay. The only problem that I have is figuring out a use for the left over, skunked beer. For clay, I don’t usually buy good beer because I’m cheap.  I have about six bottles that I ended up not needing for the clay.

Long story short, I have extra beer that won’t be any good to drink, so I hunted for some uses for it.

1.) Use it to control pests! If you have ants, bees, flies, mice or other annoying wildlife in your home, you can make a trap with beer.  Apparently vermin like to drink as much as humans do.

2.) Make a shampoo or conditioner:

For shampoo, mix one bottle of beer with an egg.  It will lather up just like a chemical shampoo (though it might not smell as good) and help rehydrate damaged hair.

For conditioner, just use the beer.  Pour it over your hair and let it dry completely before rinsing.

I won’t be trying this one myself, but I thought it was interesting.

3.) Polish wood with it! When beer is flat and stale it makes an excellent non-chemical wood polish.  Just pour some on a rag and get to it.

4.) Take a bath in it! Apparently pouring a bottle of beer into your bath does essentially the same thing as adding salt to your bath.  It softens the water and is good for your skin. Again, I’m probably not going to do this one.

5.) Just man up and drink it! It’s not gonna hurt you.  You paid for it already, so what if it’s a little old, low quality, skunked and unpleasant? It’ll still get the job done right? Just hold your nose and chug chug chug!

Urine Clay. No Joke.

I posted a few weeks ago about how to make Beer Clay, which actually yeilds really fantastic results due to the fermentation caused by the beer. Anytime you put something into your clay that will ferment, you’re going to get a lot of mold, which smells atrocious, but is awesome for the clay body!

Well, as it turns out, there are more unusual items to throw into your clay mixer than just beer.  You can also use yogurt or urine.  Yup, you can take a piss in your clay and it will actually improve the plasticity.  I have not made urine clay, or yogurt clay (honestly I find the concept of “yogurt clay” to be every bit as foul as urine clay.  And at least pee clay would make a good anecdote.).

So, you guys should try it! Add a few cups of yogurt to your clay, or a few cups of your urine if you want to really “make it your own” (if you will).

Marshmallow Lake

Just outside of Coleraine Township, in greater Cincinnati, there is something eerie and magical.  That something is what high school students around the city have deemed “Marshmallow Lake”.  It’s supposed to be haunted because someone dumped a body back there, but it’s one of those things that nobody really knows.  You know what else nobody knows? What the hell this “lake” is made out of.  You can walk on it.  It’s spongy and white, powdery in some places, sticky in others, and if you take a piece of it with you (I’ve taken samples home in bags before) it melts into an off-white sort of pudding.

There are 2 parts to marshmallow lake, there is the lake part, and what I call “the caves”.  It sort of looks like some kind of industrial stuff was dumped into a pond and they missed, leaving the surrounding area mallow-fied too.

This is the Google Earth shot of it.  You can see how the “cave” parts are kind of up at the top on the right, and then this marshmallow stuff kind of runs down a hill and pools into a lake.  I don’t have any pictures of the “lake” part, but I would encourage everyone to go check it out, DURING THE DAY.  It’s at the end of Lick Road in Coleraine, kind of behind Rumpke dump (which really makes me question it).

I DO however have some shots of the caves.  They are weird because they were for an assignment for an art foundations class.  I’m not a photographer, I’m not into weird conceptual photography, I just thought it was a funny project idea so please don’t judge the photography too harshly, just look at the setting.  That is important.

Also: This is not me in the photos. Just saying.

I know it looks like rock in the picture, but I swear it’s all spongy!

It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but the caves go down for pretty much forever.  They got really tight and we didn’t have a light to take with us, and the marshmallow stuff crumbles away pretty easy….aaaaannnd there were bats.

I honestly think it looks like the moon. I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen the alleged footage.

So yeah, long story short, this is an awesome place that everyone should check out. If you’re into photography or even short film making it’s a great place to shoot because it’s so unbelievably surreal.