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Environmental Fence

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E N V I R O N M E N T A L ... F E N C E

Green Fence


Two years ago I painstakingly wood sealed or painted all my fences. Two sections of my property have narrow slatted fence that was old when I bought this property in 1983. My property is land locked, the fence is needed mostly as a visual barrier so I didn't replace the elderly brittle dried out wood fence other than a few slats here and there.

Enter development, new neighbors where there had been Scrub brush. The neighbor dog lives to bark at me and charge my fence hoping to break through and eat more than just my tennis shoe. The newer fence handles their charges but the elderly fence slats near my outdoor tub began to break. YIPES. This is my outdoor tub area. I'm frequently not dressed for fending off attacking dogs. Not dressed at all. Looking over the fence to the North I clearly see and hear neighbor guys drinking a few beers and hanging out evenings and weekends. I need several square feet of a sturdy dog barrier and a visual guy barrier for my tub area.


I hauled out the sawhorses I found on the roadside a few years ago, a sheet of scrap plywood retrieved from an alley, and a few 2x4. I removed nails; wire brushed the wood and bounced it around a bit to remove dust. I primed the wood and immediately poured on gray and green paint using large curved strokes with a paint roller. When the paint dried I drew large prickly pear cactus and taught myself to make rough curved cuts with a power circular saw. I hold the saw guard up for these cuts making sure I keep my legs and femoral arteries well to the side of any, heaven forbid, saw back lash. I cut tighter curves and smaller cut out areas with my saber saw. I rounded up small scraps of wood and cut extra prickly pear pad shapes and blossoms out of the very small pieces.

Late evening found me painting all the edges. And with all those curves and cutouts I looked forward to enjoying painting all those lovely edges for hours. Lots of edges. Lots and lots of little and big curves, gentle and sharp curves. Lots of hours. After the first glass of wine I remembered the large long plastic tray I use for deep soaking my plants. Retrieving this tray from my shed I sloshed in a half inch of paint and dipped in the edges of the wood cactus pieces and used a brush or my finger to move the paint to the areas that didn't dip. I sloshed another glass of wine and kept painting with brush, fingers what ever. Why not use up the paint in the tray by getting a start on contouring the cactus, adding dark shadows and light edges on the side that would be south, light green dark green, electric blue, gray. I love painting. Layers of paint colors dry brushed over each other are eye candy. Might as well paint the blossoms Wow is it 11:30 PM, is the wine bottle really empty? I hope I like these colors tomorrow in daylight as much as I like them now by wine and drop light. Probably will. I like everything now, good day’s and evenings work. Ah, the peaceful quiet, a cool dip in the tub and bed. Stretched out after midnight I wondered about these colors painted by drop light and wine filters. Will they work in daylight, or will I wake up pad out with my first cup of coffee and think


Should brushes carry a warning label, do not operate after drinking alcohol...

Gad, am I really wide-awake at 5:00 am? Oh coffee please. Outside air is fresh almost cool, hard to believe it was 104 yesterday. Great the colors are all great. Standing the plywood up on edge I paint any spots I missed in the dark and make sure the top edges are well painted, all holes filled with caulk and painted over so rain won't soak in. I turn it over up side down and check more edges, Looks good with just a little touch up.

Time to stretch extension cords and gather drills with bits and Philips head screws. I installed the two by fours to the fence frame and balanced the colorful sheet of plywood on 5 gallon buckets. Gad it's heavier with layers of paint soaked into the old dry wood. I use Budweiser lids for screw washers; otherwise the screws drive right through this old dry wood. With a lot of eyeballing and standing back I finally decided on the best position and attached the colorful cactus shaped plywood to the two by fours mounted on the fence. Later I added the extra prickly pad pieces to change the contour of the plywood to a more natural plant shape. This evening I'll extend the illusion of cactus even more by painting more cactus pads and shadows on the surrounding fence.

Other than a few new screws I repaired the old fence upgrading it to DOG PROOF, created more height and privacy and painted a wonderful cactus backdrop for my outdoor tub. I used salvaged plywood and two by fours wood and left over paint destined for the landfill. I sent no old fence to the landfill, bought no new fence requiring new trees death and the pollution inherent in wood processing and transportation. I even picked up littered Budweiser bottle lids from my neighborhood to use for washers.
Total new materials:



and wine. Wine optional.

It's A GREEN FENCE in every sense.

It's an art fence.

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G L A Z E . M A T E R I A L . R E C L A M A T I O N

Glaze Test Tile Samples

Scrap Glaze Test Tiles
Click on the Photo for a larger image

I was raised to be resourceful and to abhor waste. I believe it is morally right not to waste the earth's resources, or thoughtlessly throw anything useful away. I loath the amount of tax dollars we Americans waste on disposal systems and landfills that accommodate thoughtless gross consumerism and wasteful behavior patterns when our teachers are underpaid and schools are underfunded.

As a potter I've minimized my contribution of heavy metal and chemical contamination to the local water table, avoided the necessity of a studio sink, specialized drain trap, plumbing and septic tank problems, decreased the frequency of glaze ingredient purchasing, weighing and mixing, by reclaiming glaze chemicals from the glazing process as well as making use of little dabs of glaze tests.

Years ago when I worked as a studio tech I watched my employer dump her glaze rinse water out under her trees and in her garden. I thought about gardening in the spring, inhaling those chemicals when we worked the garden soil and vegetables absorbing what was left in the soil. Not a nice thought. I talked her into letting the glaze materials settle and pouring off the excess water then testing the remaining new glaze. Her studio scrap glaze was consistently blue-green, probably due to the cobalt she used in her blue and black glazes. Soon every glaze screen, funnel and bucket along with our hands and all glaze spills were mopped up and rinsed in one bucket. Not only were we using less water but the bucket went wherever we worked, making less steps for us as we mixed, screened, glazed and washed up. Within a year we reclaimed more than five gallons of this beautiful sea-green glaze. Think of the time NOT used shopping for chemicals, weighing and mixing five gallons worth of glaze. (I personally dislike leaving the studio to shop for anything.) Think of the money NOT spent paying for the time shopping, weighing and mixing five gallons of glazes. Think of the money not spent on five gallons worth of glaze chemicals or premixed glaze.

I know of three other methods for scrap glaze disposal, they all have their weak points.

1.) Allowing settled materials dry out and disposing of them at a hazardous waste location. Not all facilities will accept them, and who wants to spend creative time playing chauffeur to waste materials?

2.) Letting them settle, dry out then firing them in a bowl, to render them insoluble before disposing of them. Well you re still talking about disposal, the chemicals go to waste. You've used productive space in the kiln and the thought of a bowl full of melting glazes inside my kiln waiting to spill and drip over burners, kiln shelves, posts and over other pottery if the bowl holding the glazes ever breaks or leaks is an image that sends me screaming into the night. I don't care how many times other people have not experienced that disaster. I don't want to risk my kiln or kiln furniture.

3.) Throwing small amounts of scrap glazes in their next batch of clay. I'm much more careful with glaze chemicals and I wear a serious mask when I'm mixing glazes. I wipe up all glaze spills and do not generate much glaze dust. Sadly not so with clay. I wish I could make what I make and do what I do and not generate clay dust. I don't like the thought of glaze materials mixed with the clay that becomes dust in spite of my best studio cleaning methods.

I love testing these new glazes with every firing. I often use multiple glazes swirled together for special pooling effects. Of course scrap glazes have limitations -- I don't know what the chemical composition is. I'd never use it on the inside of any food container. I use my scrap glazes for vase liner, and one of a kind pieces and on the outside of anything. When it's gone it's gone. I'd never consider using it on a production line that required consistency for re-orders.

Left over glaze tests or spilled chemicals are also a great source of scrap glazes. Additions of other chemicals can adjust the fluidity or matt qualities, added oxides can change the color. Clear glaze over scrap glazes often gives a completely different result. Very matt glazes can be used as slips.

I brush on dark slips, barnard, red art and oxides then wipe off the surface to emphasize the texture of much of my work. I use separate small buckets of water for each oxide to squeeze out and clean my sponges. These buckets settle out and usually I can pour settled oxide or slip right back in the oxide or slip bucket.

My studio scrap glazes have ranged from ambers, browns, earth and sky, greens, and, blues.
I enjoy using them to add excitement to multiglazed forms or for the outsides of some of my vessels. I number the glaze containers and label the test tiles with the month/year/ and test number.

Try it, have fun, do the earth a favor.

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Working studio near Grant/Stone, not a showroom or gallery
Please e-mail or phone for appointment and address. allow 24 hours for response.
520-881-8283 Land line, no texting ability.
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