Heartland Highways Program 1004

Uploaded by weiutv on 23.02.2012

Hh104 transcript Itís time to get hands-on for this episode
of Heartland Highways! Weíll meet David Griffin a metals and mixed media artist who creates
unique jewelry and art using a variety of techniques and technology. Then, Larkfield
Glass near Paris, Illinois, takes the stage to show us how their beautiful glass art is
made. Finally weíll visit Jerry Rhoads, a wood turner who specializes in creating bowls
mostly from recycled wood, thatís next on Heartland Highways.
[music] Every mile is an adventure and on this weekís
Heartland Highways weíre hitting the road to meet three different kinds of artists.
Our first artist is David Griffin, a metals and mixed media artist that also happens to
be a professor at Eastern Illinois University. David uses a variety of techniques and technology
to create his intricate works. David Griffin
I instruct metalsmithing and jewelry design, and I myself am a jeweler, metalsmith. Uh,
metalsmith is a wide range topic because it covers so many different things, from wearable
jewelry to hollowware, vesselware, functional, you know, tea pots, and non-functional tea
pots, art, one-of-a kind things, limited line production jewelry. It, So it itís a huge
huge, um, topic or area so to speak. So I, I, I go back and forth. I,I do vessels. I
do art vessels. I do art teapots, and I do um uh limited line jewelry, um sterling silver,
gemstones things like that. And and that has actually come a little bit more to the foreground
lately because of some of the new technologies weíve gotten at the studio, and um you know
with the new uh facilities and things like that.
(Narrator) No matter what David was doing, it was always some kind of art. His parents
were stained glass artists and he would help them with projects in the summers. After trying
veterinary medicine and graphic design in college, he realized something was still missing.
So I take my first uh metals class as an elective, and then I, it itís never looked back. You
know, I realized I was spending all my time in the metals lab and just doing my graphic
design projects fast as I could so I could get back to the metals lab. And, and it was
pretty much a no brainer at that point, so I enjoyed being able to be the client. When
youíre in the crafts, you fall in love with the history, you fall in love with the techniques,
Um, um and you fall in love with the media and you find out what you can do with it,
how it responds to you as your working with it, um and your response back to it. Um metal
seems cold and sort of heartless, but it really isnít, I mean and thatís what I stress to
my students is that um, it doesnít take a strong person to deal with metals. You donít
have to be physically strong. Itís actually; you have to be very sensitive to it. You have
to understand when itís telling you that itís overworked and uh it needs to be annealed
and realigned so that you can work it more. Um and, you know, filing and sanding and sawing
itís actually a real sensitive material to work it and and learn.
(Narrator) And David is always learning. He says his art goes through phases that correspond
with his life. Currently I am sort of dealing with the fact
that um on my vessel pieces Iím using a lot of wood included turned wood pieces, included
with the metal. Uh which then has also been maybe dipped in resin and uh then turned back
on the lath again. So, thereís metal encased in a clear resin embodied with the wood being
exposed as you turn it. Um, with the woods that we live without you know in south of
town here in Charleston um you now itís the environment Iím in now, looking at those
things. I did a series of teapots based on cactusís um basically the idea of the cactus
containing water and being treasured and you know out in the arid desert out west in the
land that I grew up, verses where my kids are growing up knowing corn fields and soybean
fields and woods and everything else. It, you know, just that distinction between their
childhood memories, my childhood memories, and it was all about family and stuff like
that. So, again looking for that commonality um in what the viewer brings to the piece,
what Ií putting into the piece, and hoping to make that universal connection which then
makes it art, I guess. (Narrator) We spend an afternoon with David
in the studio where he showed us how a custom designed piece of jewelry is made.
You start with uh a particular stone you might want to use gemstone. These are some 4 millimeter
round uh blue sapphires and I threw together some um quick uh little earring uh sets that
we could we could show and mill. Uh and weíre going to mill these just in jewelers uh wax.
(Narrator) The wax block is then placed on the mill where a computer aided drafting program
and 3D scanner are used to design the piece and cut it out. This cutting process can sometimes
take up to six hours. The cut out wax pieces are then placed on screws to prepare for the
plaster mold creation process. This rubber base then allows us to put on
the steel flask which is going to house our earring model in there. And weíre going to
then pour in the investment which is a high temperature firing uh plaster, which is designed
to go up to 1500 degrees. So that at that point the wax is going to burn out and vaporize,
leaving us the core of the wax model, and thatís again why itís called lost wax casting.
Youíre burning it out never to see it again because this mold is going to get destroyed
at the end once the cast is made. (Narrator) After the wax is burned out of
the cylinder, the next step is to melt the chosen metal, in this case, sterling silver,
and start the cast. Next weíre going to uh heat and preheat the
flask or the crucible. (Sounds of fire and working)
So, weíre going to preheat this crucible up for a minute or so, just to get it up to
temperature. (Narrator) The heated cylinder with the mold
is then placed in the centrifuge machine and the metal is melted, spun and flung into the
mold. Once it has cooled, the cylinder is dipped into cold water to remove the plaster.
So weíve um, weíve blown out the plaster, and in my other hand is our casting, and we
can break off that flux. Itís black because uh the sterling silver oxidizes and so to
get rid of that we all we need to do is go take it in, anneal it with a slight soldering
flame, and we put it into uh a mild acid solution, which then will clean it up and it will look
like the pieces that we looked at the beginning of the demonstration, where itís all white
and ready for its final finishing. (Narrator) Davidís finished pieces are one-of-a-kind
and are displayed nationally and internationally. Maybe even in a gallery near you.
This next story is about fulfilling a dream, some 20 years in the making. I spent some
time Joy and Randy Turner at their home in rural Edgar County, near Paris Illinois. That
dream is now a reality for them as they are now operating their own glass blowing studio.
Narrator) After living in other parts of the United States Randy and Joy Turner moved back
to Joyís family farm near Paris, Illinois in 2003. They wanted to take glassblowing
to the next level and started plans for their own shop and studio here on the farm. But
their love for working with glass goes back several years. The Turners met in graduate
school and while dating, Joy suggested they take an art class. She took pottery and he
chose glass blowing.
I had done glass blowing as an undergraduate in chemistry where you do the flame work on
the vacuum lines and such and I had become attracted to glass and what it can do and
the fire. And then I saw that they had this glass blowing class in this is with the big
furnace and the long pipes and I must try this.
(Narrator) While working as a mechanical engineer, Randy continued to hone his glass blowing
craft on the side with the idea that someday, he could do it full time.
I loved it so much and I loved the glass so much that we wanted to do this not as a hobby,
but as a business. And that is still the intent you know if I can transition from engineering
five days a week to maybe four days a week to maybe three and then finally saying no
this is going well enough that this is what I am going to do all the time. Thatís the
goal. We are not there yet. But, thatís the goal.
(Narrator) Using his engineering skills and her chemistry background, the Turners built
their own studio on the site of an old corn crib. In 2007, Larkfield Glass became a reality.
Thatís what my parents called this farm when they moved out here in the years after World
War II. It was a lot more grass land around the farms then. The farmers always maintained
a lane that had grass along it and there were a lot of meadow larks at that time. Itís
also we wanted to use it because we figured that would be a website that wasnít already
She and I built this shop by ourselves.
We joke that if we couldnít make money blowing glass, maybe we can write a book you know
how to build a pole barn with just you and your wife.
But the way I did it I went to various manufacturers of all the pole barns that you can find you
know all over the place. Arthur, there is one in Charleston or a couple in Charleston
and looked at how they did things and said yeah thatís a good idea or no thatís a problem.
Thatís going to break after a while. And kind of combine what I thought were the best
of all their ideas in how they did it and built this. So, there were no plans for this.
(Narrator) Randy is the primary glass blower and Joy handles sales, marketing and is an
assistant to Randy when heís working on complex pieces.
He does some pieces by himself. A number of pieces go a little easier with a second pair
of hands. Some itís essential um and I just like to be out here. Sometimes Iíll bring
something else Iím doing out here. But, thereís usually other task to be done. I for instance
sign all of the pieces that heís made.
Donít look at my handwriting. [Laughing]
If youíve seen his handwriting you know. So, Iíll be there engraving Larkfield Glass
and the year on the bottom of a lot of them.
Itís veryÖ Itís a lot easier to get a piece centered on the pipe when Iím switching pipes
if I have help. I can do it by myself, but itís a little harder to get it centered.
And if Iím trying toÖ glass is such that if you keep it centered, then you can do what
you want with it. I can make it off centered if I want. If itís off centered itís going
to do what itís going to do and I really pretty much have no control. So, when Iím
switching pipes I still want it symmetrical and centered so that I can you know kind of
tell it go this way.
(Narrator) Randy creates vases, bowls, paperweights and even fish. The initial design and final
result is only limited by his imagination and sometimes, what the glass decides to do.
A lot of your pieces um show the liquidity of glass. Theyíre not rigidly exactly symmetrical
although some are and he can work symmetrically if he wants to. But, a number of the pieces
will have a playful little twist on one side or a wave moving across them to give you a
feeling that during the working the glass is soft and itís liquid.
Iíve made several vases that are like thirty inches tall. Well, Iíve got one that went
right over the edge and then the thirty inch tall neck just kind of flopped all over the
place and wrapped around the vase. It wonít hold anything, but itís kind of cool to look
It takes patience. It really does. It doesnít look like it at times. It looks like Iím
running around with this on fire, but uh.
There is a long period earlier on in shaping the piece in which it doesnít look like not
much is going on. Heís getting the bubbles started. Heís keeping it centered and beginning
to elongate it, but the change is not very dramatic. If weíre doing a demonstration
particularly with young people Iím frequently kind of trying to fill in that period and
keep them from getting bored. But, it has to be built up patiently at that point in
order to as he mentioned earlier have the symmetric base to then if you want to have
a long floppy edge on it if you want and being able to be patient with that much heat right
value is just not possible with quite a number of people. A fair number of people who think
glass blowing would be the neatest thing find they cannot tolerate that much heat for very
long if itís just radiating heat at them. Can we finish up this part get through this
part quickly? Well, no you need to start out build up the shape on it, build the color
up at that point uh with what color you want to show from the inside and uh what color
you want to show from the outside of the pattern.
One of the things that you get better at with practice is working what we call hotter. When
Iím reheating the glass, uh when I was first starting, I wouldnít reheat it very much
because I suddenly canít control it anymore and I go out and itís really too stiff to
do anything. You know if I compare myself now with what I was then I would lose every
piece that I have, because Iím working a lot hotter. I want to work hotter you can
do more things with the glass that you canít do when itís cold.
(Narrator) For Randy and Joy, their plans are to continue creating Larkfield glass with
the idea that Randy will soon be able to do it full time...making those plans from so
many years ago, a reality.
I frequently say to classes of students that we have out here, if there is something that
youíre just on fire to do and doesnít look possible start planning for it anyway. Plan
as if you could do it; begin to think what it would take to make it real. Even if it
takes 25 years, thatís ok. Now you can watch Heartland Highways online
anytime. Check us out on youtube.com/weiutv. Once youíre there just look for the Heartland
Highways playlist which will take you to a list of full episodes from seasons 7, 8, 9.
And 10. You know the old saying, if a tree falls in
the woods, does it make a sound? Well for Jerry Rhodes, a better saying, might be, if
a tree falls in the woods, do you make a bowl out of it. At his home in St. Joseph, Illinois,
Jerry is spending his retirement years as a wood turner, creating one-of-a-kind pieces
that are both functional and beautiful. The woods I work with are mostly free wood
[Laughing]. I get most of my wood at the Landscape Recycle Center in Urbana. Itís the Champaign
County Landscape Recycle Center. I get a lot of wood when I hear a chainsaw running and
I go down and see whatís being cut down and I take ëem back a bowl and ink pen in six
months or so and theyíll call you again when they have some wood theyíre cutting down.
(Narrator) It's hard to believe that am ordinary piece of wood can be shaped and sanded into
a piece of art, but in the hands of a skilled wood turner like Jerry Rhodes anything is
possible. A carpenter by trade, Jerry is no stranger to working with wood and got into
woodturning as a way to wind down after a long day.
Iím mostly self taught, which basically means I get all my inspirations from many many sources.
In í05, I discovered there were other wood turners and wood turning clubs and I joined
a Central Illinois Wood Turners and I still belong to that. But, also in 2008 I and a
few other people formed Flatland Wood Turners in Champaign, so we didnít have to drive
so far. (Narrator) Starting out on small things like
pens, Jerry eventually worked up to turning out bowls and vases. He says that really any
type of wood can be used and you never know what you may end up with at the end of the
process. Sometimes you will reordinate a piece to highlight
something or to eliminate something. But, uh sometimes you donít know what youíve
got till youíre gone. I made a platter once that uh itís been sold for a while, but uh
I made a platter once and working that close to it I did not notice, but when my wife took
pictures and then posted them she happened to have taken the picture just right and it
looked exactly like a fish with some waves in it. Sometimes you get that. Iíve had pieces
or bowls that have turned out it looked like a bullís head on the inside. Of course, I
put a little red dye on that and highlighted it and sold it to a Bullís fan someplace.
[Laughing]. (Narrator) While each wood has its own beauty,
things like insect damage and spawlting create unique lines and color variations.
Spawlting is the first stages of rotting and if you get to the tree before it gets soft
and pongee you get these black lines running through in the lighter colored woods, the
sycamores and the maples is really nice looking stuff and uh you try to time it just right.
Some of us spawlt our own wood. Uh we experiment with it. We stand it up in a pile of leaves
and chainsaw debris and try to keep it wet and covered when itís hot in the summer and
we can create our own spawlting. But, it doesnít look as nice as natureís when you find it.
[Laughing] (Narrator) The turning process for making
a bowl involves several steps. Jerry starts by cutting bowl blanks from the log. It's
the side of the tree, not the middle that will eventually become the outside and bottom
of the bowl. The blank is mounted on the lathe and the process of removing the outer bark
begins. Once that's done he starts removing the inside. Using different shaping tools
and just enough pressure allows the wood turner to remove just enough of the surface. Because
the wood is green and still full of moisture, Jerry won't finish the bowl at this point.
But, most bowls I turn to 10% of their diameter, which is about ten inches I would turn it
to one inch thick and then I soak it in denatured alcohol to break down the trapped water cells.
You have the pre-water that spins out and you have the trapped water cells. It breaks
those down and then I brown bag it and tuck it in around the edges and uh dry it and most
wood would dry in four to six months. (Narrator) During the second turning, the
bowl is made round again and turned to its final thickness, which in this case is pretty
thin. The piece is sanded smooth and finished off with food safe Danish oil. The turning
process leaves behind lots of wood shavings which are recycled and used as fire starting
material or mulch for gardens. Those pieces that don't make the cut, will end up as "decorator
firewood" as Jerry calls it or given away to family and friends. In addition to bowls,
Jerry can also turn pens, bottle stoppers, vases, platters and jewelry.
The large bowls take a long time, but many things donít take very long so theyíre a
wind me down. Uh things, projects you can do in an hour or two hours are a good wind
me down. They donít take forever. If a person can keep it down to that, itís a nice hobby
without getting too expensive. Once you get a little bit of habit, a little interest in
wood turning it is very addictive and you constantly see other people turning things
with different tools. And Iíve got to have that and then Iíll be better. [Laughing]
Sometimes thatís not true, so a person learning should visit a wood turner and find out which
tools you do not need to purchase. (Narrator) Jerry also teaches wood turning
at Parkland College and CU woodshop in Champaign, Illinois. He sells his work at art shows around
the state and at the Urbana farmers market. Oftentimes he'll set up a lathe and demonstrate
woodturning for the public. For anyone interested in getting into this type of hobby, Jerry
recommends looking up a local woodturning club or the American Association of Woodturning.
There are over 300 chapters. Uh several of which are in other countries. There are approximately
14,000 members that belong to the American Association of Woodturners. Every year they
have a big symposium they do at regional they scattered about the US. Thatís a place to
go and learn from the high line people to learn new tricks, new embellishments, bowls,
and platters and different things. Some of our favorite adventures were ideas
that came from viewers like you. If you think thereís a place we should see or a person
we should meet, let us know about it. Just make sure itís in the Illinois, Indiana or
Missouri area. Drop us an e-mail at heartlandhighways@weiu.net, call us at 1-877-PBS-WEIU or send us a letter
to 600 Lincoln Avenue Charleston, IL 61920. Well, thatís the end of the road for this
episode! Weíll hope youíll join us again next week for another episode of Heartland
Highways. In the meantime, if you have a story idea, weíd love to hear it. Just email us
at heartlandhighways@weiu.net. See you next time.