So about a year and a half ago, I built a foot-powered lathe for turning bowls. It's a very rough structure that works really really well. Power comes from your leg, pushing on a stick, which is tied to a string, which wraps around a mandrel, which spins a chunk of wood. Sticks, string, and two fixed points create the axis of rotation. Apply curved blades (on stix) to roughly round chunk, dig out a void until it's smooth and beautifully hollow, remove a bowl. I still love carving wooden spoons, but there is something about the lathe. The design goes back thousands of years, originating with . . .
Maya AviÃ±a teaches fine arts at CSU in Pueblo, Colorado. For about the past ten years, sheâ€™s been immersed in natural building, which she has also made into the focus of her research at the college. Last year, she invited me to come be an â€œartist in residenceâ€ and do a mural project. The challenge was to bring life into dead space:Â a bleak, harsh, hard-edged, institutional (college) courtyard of grey and yellow concrete pressed down by massive, overhanging soffit walls of more cast concrete. It looked (and felt) like a pen in a zoo designed so the animals below couldnâ€™t . . .
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