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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Public Art in Arlington

Arlington County has updated and expanded their cultural affairs website and it is worth a visit. The site provides a great overview of public art in the county.

There are photos of both completed and ongoing projects. Two of my favorites are the glass mosaic "Downstream" in Shirlington Plaza by artist Martha Jackson Jarvis and "Flame" by artist Ray King on North Glebe Road.

"Arlington County was originally part of the ten-mile square parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Then known as Alexandria County of the District of Columbia, it included what is now Arlington County plus part of the neighboring City of Alexandria. Congress returned that portion of land to the Commonwealth of Virginia following a referendum among its citizens. The City of Alexandria and Arlington separated their jurisdictions in 1870, and in 1920 the name Arlington County was adopted."

"Arlington, the second smallest county in the U.S., encompasses 25.9 square miles with an estimated residential population of 208,000 (in 2008) and an estimated daytime workforce population of 300,000 (in 2008). There are no incorporated cities or towns with Arlington. It is five miles from Washington, D.C.

* Arlington's Public Art Program is administered by the Community and Public Art Section of the Cultural Affairs Division, Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
* The Arlington County Board approved a Public Art Policy in September, 2000.
* The Public Art Master Plan was approved in December, 2004. Program guidelines for county-initiated projects were approved in 2005 and guidelines for developer and community-initiated projects are currently in development.
* Arlington has a long history of developer-initiated public art projects beginning in 1979 with the commission of Nancy Holt's Dark Star Park.
* Arlington is currently home to 56 permanent public art projects, with many more underway.
* Arlington has hosted over 40 temporary public art projects since 1987.
* Arlington's Public Art Program typically has around 35 developer-initiated projects underway at any given time. In December, 2008, just under $3 million is designated for upcoming public art projects through developer contributions.
* Many of Arlington's public art projects focus on the following areas due to the high density and visibility of these corridors:
1. Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, particularly those that support larger urban design goals;
2. Four Mile Run Corridor, both in parkland and areas such as Shirlington, the Trades Center campus and Four Mile Run/Nauck area;
3. Columbia Pike Corridor, to unify the streetscape of this major road and integrate into transit;
4. Jefferson Davis Corridor, development of various centers including Four Mile Run restoration, Potomac Yards, Crystal City and Pentagon City."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Technical Question #2: Your newly cast plaster/silica mold cracked as you were moving it. Can it be saved?

Larger molds can crack more easily if you move them before they are fully dried. I usually leave them in place for at least one full day. I do flip most molds right side up and remove the clay as soon as the plaster sets in less than an hour but larger molds (16 inches or more) can be trickier. If you leave the large mold as is (do not flip) for 24 hours, the clay will not dry out since the plaster will keep it pliable.

If the mold cracks and the breaks are clean (2-3 sections), you may be able to repair it. Remove the clay and allow the mold to dry in place for several days to a week. Next, clean the clay residue from the inside of the mold using a damp towel. Take each mold section and place it in the kiln and reassemble your mold. If you have high temperature wire, you can wrap it around the outer edge of the mold to secure the sections from moving.

Next, you can mix up a few tablespoons of the plaster/silica mix and smooth it on (or pour gently) over the cracks. This mixture dries instantaneously so you have to work quickly. In an hour, you can then gently sandpaper any bumps or unevenness on the repaired areas.

Finally, you can then place your glass in the mold but should monitor it when it the glass reaches melting temperatures in case the mold does not hold and allows spillage of the glass. I have used this technique a few times but it is not guaranteed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Technical Question #1: You underestimated the amount of glass needed for your casting. Can this be fixed?

With some of the dragonfly castings, it has been difficult to stack the glass high enough in the mold so that it fully sinks into the mold and fills it out during one kiln firing. So I have been able to reuse my molds one more time if there are no major cracks. I first dust off any residue on the glass in the mold and stack more glass on top of the existing glass casting. Do not touch or move the mold since it is very breakable at this point and it will simply crumble away if moved.

Since I am adding glass to an existing casting, I need to fire the second time around more slowly and anneal longer. I do not use the same firing schedule I used previously. While I hesitate to give a firing schedule since kilns vary and so do sizes of the work and the type of recycled glass, I would add at least 2 hours to the firing schedule per 0.25 inch of glass (based on the depth of the mold depression needed to be filled with more glass).