Monthly Archives: May 2011

Wizardly work of my competition

Nefarious sculpted this cute little lizard out of Apoxie clay, and I painted it for her (without having to make any creative decision) under her management. So I will take… let’s see… 38% of the credit, if that sounds fair?

The Ant King + Park Worries

Yesterday when we were at the park Nefarious and I noticed some strange black “smears” on the ground, and on second observation we realized they were ants. I don’t believe that ants walk single file to hide their numbers or anything so ordered (as remarkably ordered and well run their societies seem to be), but I wasn’t expecting what I saw either. They were a giant churning mass of insects, but slowly moving as a group. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think this is how they always move, is it? It wasn’t a unique behavior and many of the ant colonies were doing the same. It reminded me of a rat king. Click for closeup.

I’m going to be a bit embarrassed if I find out this is how ants always locomote and I’ve somehow only noticed now. Or worse yet, forgot.

Speaking of smears, wow is the pond at High Park revolting, the one that I recently mentioned had just been stocked with hundreds of small fish — an act that I have to accept was quite cruel. The surface was covered in a shimmering membrane of oil, garbage was floating everywhere, and there were massive algal blooms in a majority of the murky, grimy water. Really sickening and I wish there was some way to control it.

We took a hike down to the river that separates the park from the richy-rich community on the west side, and even it was full of garbage, and anywhere there was a comfortable bench-like log it would be surrounded by a thick halo of plastic bags, bottles, and much foodstuff packaging. Horrible. It must be emotionally difficult for the people who fight to keep the resource of the park — or parks I should say, because almost every one in the city has the same plague — beautiful for the patrons, who seem to go out of their way to destroy that beauty. I almost believe that the sewer/flood tunnels might be cleaner.

This upcoming week I’m eagerly waiting for the mail, because I ordered a bit of glow in the dark powder and am pretty excited about making some exiting projects. I also got some “InstaMorph“, which is a nylon/plastic with a very low melting pot. It becomes soft and formable in hot water, and then when it cools it’s hard again. I can think of so many projects that it would be a lifesaver on (including the skull mouse I’m working on, which I’ve put a lot of time into making the mechanics of that would have been very fast with this plastic). And today after seeing the Thor movie (“meh” is my review — not horrible, but not worth paying to see I think) we stopped by a craft shop and I got a new kind of clear casting plastic that I hope works as well as the package because I’m still trying to find a clear plastic that I can make without ruining it with trapped bubbles. While there we found some of the Sculpey eraser clay which is pretty neat stuff. Nefarious and I made some erasers for her and when we tested them out they worked perfectly. It also squeezes into my molds very nicely, opening up some options that I know will make Nefarious’s schoolmates quite jealous.

Now I’m going to watch the new Discovery Channel reality show on gunsmithing.

Mercy Killing (and a head on a pole)

I was quite interested in this story about a 91 year old woman who’s being prosecuted over selling “suicide kits” over the web, something she was moved to do after watching her husband die a slow and horrible death from a terminal disease. She’s making bags that you can put over your head and fill with helium to have a painless death that leaves a pristine corpse (unlike, say, a shotgun). Perhaps off-topic, the part of the story that shocked me was that she’s selling the kits for $60, and last year she did nearly $100,000 in sales! Wow! Given that it’s not easy to find her webstore, those sales figures are quite remarkable. I don’t know if I should be disturbed about that, although I suspect that the “true” market, were the stigma to be removed, would be massive. No one wants to die slowly or painfully or stripped of dignity, nor should they have to.

While I do hope that her clients get appropriate counseling from their doctors and therapists — there’s no good that comes from someone committing suicide over depression or treatable disorders let alone a stressful life of unemployment — I am 100% in support of her actions (her cause?), and in the long-term hope that the government allows doctors to provide “doctor assisted suicide” and society removes the stigma from folks who are forced to do this, because it’s not “suicide”. The death is the direct result of the disease that brought the action on. All they did was chose to reduce their pre-death suffering’s duration. If someone has an incurable degenerative and/or terminal disease, they have a death sentence. Checking out early doesn’t somehow change that.

We don’t allow our legal system to punish people with the “cruel and unusual”. We don’t let tax-cheats be whipped, we don’t chop off a thief’s hands, we don’t lobotomize blasphemers, and we don’t castrate perverts, yet we expect those with medical afflictions to bravely tolerate far, far worse for much longer… until they die from it in fact. We also accept that it’s unacceptable to torture people even if “good” might come of it (let’s skip the debate on its efficacy) like stopping a terrorist attack or finding a kidnapped kid. Yet somehow not only do we force those with certain illnesses to spend the rest of their lives being tortured, we ensure that this torture be as effective as possible by putting up legal blockades to ensure they can’t get proper treatment for the pain under the false and irrelevant premise that narcotics might fall into the hands of addicts. Things that everyday parlance calls “a fate worse than death” is not deserved by those we brand as “evil” yet no one blinks at the idea that those who the dice-throw of life handed the right disease be gifted with said unacceptable fate. It’s perverse and sickening and inhumane… Inhuman. And I’m only scraping the surface of the argument. There are a nearly infinite number of reasons and cases where it’s rational and justifiable.

If someone is going to spend every day of the rest of their lives being tortured, where in every moment the dominant experience that they have is pain, how can we expect someone to face that? Or what if they are slowly losing their bodies, becoming paralyzed and having taken away almost all the things in life that give them joy? Not everyone wants to be Steven Hawking. Not everyone wants to be a noble cripple nor should they have to be. Worse yet, what if they are slowly losing their minds, being pushed bit by bit into a nightmare? What if all of these together are their fate? Choosing to go through hell for who knows how long, with the only reward for your endurance being death, is not something that everyone is going to see value in. Yes, it’s true that death is hard on the people that love (and are loved by) the ill individual, but there comes a time where the relationship decays to the point where its value is only symbolic, and it certainly doesn’t do anyone any good to have the people they care about burst into tears (or just barely hold them back) whenever they see them. It just makes the situation all the more hellish by heaping on emotional guilt and pain. Slow death doesn’t do anyone any good, and I don’t think this woman should be attacked for giving people the tools to empower themselves to escape such a horrible fate.

And finally, and as best as I can do to stay on topic with my usually light-hearted sculptures, here’s a head on a pole that I carved (rather than sculpting it like most of what I make) out of a random blob of hardened discarded clay. There are more photos after the break if you want.


The Band + The Wizard (New Figurines)

I keep on growing my collection of miniature figurines, and a few days ago I made these three, a pair of bandmates (a singer and a sax player) and a wizard to match the crystal ball that’s been sitting around for weeks. I built a frame, sort of like a ten inch square tiny book shelf for three inch tall books, that I painted black and hung on the wall that I’ve been putting all the figures in so they no longer clutter up my computer table. When it’s full I’ll post it, but until then, one at a time. Here’s these three guys, and if you want to see some more pictures of them, those are after the break. Enjoy…


More Fridge Magnets

I made two more fridge magnets. The first one (the eye in the pyramid) is cast plastic, made in a mold that I made ages ago (one of my first) for lollipop candy. It’s also got a crystal put in the eye, mostly to see how it would look, and the magnet itself, which was cast in place, is hidden under a backing of red felt. I got a pack of 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheets of felt at Walmart and they’ve been very useful. The other magnet is just a fun little one-off sculpture that I made one evening because I find it helpful to keep my mind off the pain. I worry though that I won’t be able to do it much longer because of how much the muscles in my arms (and thus fingers) have degraded over the past month.

There are a couple other views after the break.