Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 28: Fused Glass Powder Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge

Today is Day 28... only one more challenge to go...
Today's challenge is to post your finished 
Albert Einstein Drawing. 
They are looking absolutely fantastic!  
You should all be so proud of yourselves.

 Today I'm posting my drawing of a girl, Jeanne Hebuterne; partly because I think it will help you to see how deep I make the black powder in the darkest areas before firing a drawing,
and partly because I've always loved this photo and I didn't feel like drawing Einstein.  lol

Here's a little history about Jeanne...
She was born in Paris in 1898. As a child, she loved to draw, and later pursued a career in painting.  In her late teens, she began modeling for some of the many sculptors and painters working in Montparnasse.  At nineteen, she was introduced to Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian Painter living in Paris.  They fell in love and became inseparable.  He painted many portraits of Jeanne in the three years they spent together, and she painted at least one portrait of him.

Jeanne's parents weren't too keen on the relationship.  He was fourteen years older than she...Jeanne's family were devout Catholics, Modigliani, a Jew....   Certainly, they didn't want their daughter hanging out with a guy who was smoking, drinking, and drugging himself into a complete human disaster, either... but that's another story.

They became engaged but were never married because of the family differences...  They had a daughter together in 1917, and Jeanne became pregnant again shortly after.  Money was tight. They traded work for food and an apartment, but never got ahead of his drug problems. He was picked up by an agent who arranged his only solo art exhibit, only to have the show closed because it wasn't acceptable to show huge nudes in the storefronts... 

Just as he began to gain popularity and see some success in selling his work, Modigliani's health quickly deteriorated. He had been hiding the fact that he had tuberculosis, and coupled with his lifestyle, he became ill very quickly and died rather suddenly on January 24, 1920.  After the funeral the next day, Jeanne's parents, relieved that the relationship had ended, gave her no choice but to bring her daughter and come home to live with them.  She was 8 months pregnant.  When they arrived at her parent's home, Jeanne was so distraught that she threw herself from the 5th floor window and committed suicide.
Modigliani, painted by Jeanne Hebuterne
Jeanne Hebuterne, painted by Amedeo Modigliani
The story is sad and the images haunting, but I dearly love looking at them.  So many beautifully talented artists live tragic lives and never see the fulfillment of their life's work...

Onward to positive things now!  I want to give you a little hint to help you get ready for the final challenge, for Days 29 and 30...  Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds.

The final challenge is going to be a self-portrait.  I KNOW you don't want to do it, but please do.  It can be very simple or very complex, serious or silly, but~
your drawing must include your face.  
A self-portrait can be a beautiful expression of you as a person, and on the final day of the challenge, I'd love for you to look yourself in the eye and say I DID IT.

Use your phone or a camera to take a black and white selfie.  To get good contrast, I stood by a window and let the ever-gray Ohio sky light my face from one side.  Overcast days are the best for taking black and whites!  
Charge on Sgraffito-ers!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 27: Words of Wisdom and a New Inspiration

'I am the artist's model."  ~Albert Einstein

We are almost to the end of the 30 in 30 Challenge, only four more drawings to do... 
It's a little sad, isn't it?

Looking back at the photos of drawings you all did in the first week, I can hardly believe the difference in what you've been able to accomplish.  I hope you're seeing it too!

Today's challenge is going to feel impossible at first.
They all start out that way, but I have faith that you can do it!

The daily challenges leading up to this day have prepared you.  You're ready!

The challenge for Day 27 & 28  (I think you know what it is).....

Create a fused glass powder sgraffito drawing of our model, Albert.
(here is the space where I'll let you have that mini-panic attack and then catch your breath)

deep breaths, deep breaths

Here are some hints that will help you in your approach:

Begin your drawing upside-down.  Squint your eyes and look for the areas that are the darkest darks and the lightest lights.  Get the rough shapes of those areas in first.    Next, think about the tools you've created and the textures you've been able to make with them.
As you work, take photos of your portrait in progress.  This will help you figure out where problem areas are.  You will have two days to complete this project, so post an 'in progress' photo for today, and a photo of your completed piece for tomorrow.  
You have everything you need, use everything in your arsenal!

I'm behind on my painting challenge... I'll have to bust them out at the last minute (as usual!)

Here is one for today.  Alcohol ink on Yupo.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 26: Fused Glass Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge 2015

It's kind of sad that we're in the last week of the Fused Glass Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge already... Let's make this an EXCELLENT week for drawing with glass powders!

Today's Challenge for Monday, January 26:

Create yet another tree.... BUT!

 This time, the tree should be created upside-down.  That means that you will start at the top  of your glass with the trunk, and pull the glass toward you to make the branches.

Today you may use both hands in your work, plus the business card and your choice of tools.

Here is the 'catch'... Anything on the left side of the tree must be drawn with your left hand, and anything on the right side of the tree must be drawn with your right hand.

Even though you have full access to your 'tools' you should still use them in the appropriate hand, depending on the side you are working on.

Isn't this just a fun Monday Challenge?  
You CAN do it, it's not as difficult as you think!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 25: Fused Glass Powder Sgraffito Drawing Challenge

Today is Day 25 of the very first,

 'Official Fused Glass Powder Sgraffito
 30 in 30 Drawing Challenge' 

ever to be attempted by any human on earth, with intent to improve skills and have fun regardless of the brain pain.

Hurray! YAY!  Great Job!  For all of you who have stuck with it every day of the challenge, 
You are special, few, and far-between.

As part of the "Non-Dominant Weekend Challenge" today,  I can tell you that your efforts will benefit you even if you don't realize it.  And the more effort you make to practice these challenges long after we're finished with the 'Official 30 in 30' thing, the better your artwork will be.  If you have just joined our challenge, there is still time to participate!  5 days is better than sitting back and watching things go by.  Start at the beginning and get your first five days in.  
You'll be glad you did! 

And YOU, sitting on the couch with that 'fluffer-nutter' sandwich in your hand, watching this challenge from your laptop and dreaming... shame on you.   Get up and get busy drawing!  I have never seen a real 'fluffer-nutter' sandwich, but they are real, and I hear they will kill you if you didn't grow up on them.
Today's Challenge for Day 25:  Create a Glass Powder Sgraffito Drawing of a tree, using only a business card, tools at your disposal, and your non-dominant hand. 
 Sit on the dominant one if you have to, and think of one of our precious fellow people who have lost their dominant hand forever while you work on it.  
You may never know them, but be sure that each one could use our prayers for strength and the ability to overcome,  because they have no choice but to do it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 24: Weekend Challenge- Releasing the Chains!

This Weekend... 
We'll be releasing the chains on your Non-Dominant Hand. 
Hurray! Non-dominant hands out there, Run and Be Free!

Most of us have heard the myth that people are either right-brained or left-brained. 
Creative people on the right, Analytic people on the left.
In fact, because we've heard this for so long, many 'left-brain types' feel that they have no hope of being creative, 'right-brain types' may believe they can't become good at math. 
 'It's the way we're wired'
Don't believe it.
We are all 'whole-brained'.  And while each of us have right and left brain strengths and weaknesses, we learn by using both sides of the brain simultaneously.

It is true, however, that each side of the brain is responsible for 
certain motor skills on the opposite side of the body. 

I recently read a new research study about how amputees compensate after losing their dominant hand.  They did exercises to train the non-dominant hand, while measuring brain activity through MRI... They concluded that the non-dominant hand can be trained to work as accurately as the dominant, and that the process of learning to use it actually improved brain function in both brain hemispheres...
Guess what that means?
YOU can train your whole brain to improve the way it functions and learns 
by strengthening the things that are currently non-dominant.
The brain understands and remembers best when the knowledge and skills are acquired through experiential learning, which is why we're doing this:

Day 24:  Go back to the beginning, and create a fused glass sgraffito sketch of a tree using only the business card and non-dominant hand. Ok, you can use both sides of your brain too as long as you use them both at the same time.  ha.

I haven't done my daily sketch for today yet... I'm behind.  If you are too, make sure you get your collection drawing for today done at some point, because I love seeing the collections!

Read The Article (this is the simple one)

Journal of Neuroscience (this is the nerdy one.  I like it)

More very interesting right-left brain stuff and proof that what I say is true

Even more proof and cool brain stuff

Monday, October 26, 2015

DAY 23: An Argument in the BE-lack Forest

Feeling those stretch marks on your brains today?  Me too!  Yesterday's challenge was kind of painful, no?  Well, we do have a lot of work left to do before the end of the challenge.  You've almost made it through, don't quit now!
The one week countdown is approaching fast.

There was an argument today in the Forest of Bullseye Blacks.

Turns out that 'Stiff Black' has been running amuck through the forest and has been causing frustrations for some of our participants.

When the spirit of 'Regular Black' heard about this, he confronted 'Stiff Black' and said,  'Why have you been so uncooperative with these new sgraffito artists who are trying SO hard to complete this challenge without frying their brains completely? 

'Stiff Black' just flopped there looking clumpy and pathetic.  He had no answer.

Regular Black pointed sharply at Stiff Black and shouted.

"I command you Stiff Black, to force yourself into the graceful lines of a sgraffito tree, or at least grow some antlers like ME!"

Stiff Black, who could not point sharply, stood up and said, 

"I have become a tree made of rumply, crumply, Elephant Bark!" 

 "Allow me to stay and frustrate those Challengers just one week longer!"

Regular Black didn't think that rumply, crumply Elephant Bark was going to be helpful to anyone trying to learn glass sgraffito drawing.

So, Regular Black put on his "A@$ Whooping" face, and quickly drew this pointy weapon with a business card.  
He stretched his wings and antlers, and flexed his tiny muscle. 

 "YOU, Stiff Black, shall return to your jar, and be hidden amongst the furthest reaches of the frit shelf FOREVER!!!".... or, at least until January 31, 2015.

Stiff Black shrunk down, grew a ratty tail, and retreated shamefully back to his jar, where he shall stay until the day when we need to use him for silkscreening or something... THE END.

Because you all did so well pushing through that awful safety pin challenge you'll get some freedom in today's challenge.

 (AND, since I know that not all of you actually DID the safety pin challenge... you'd better get busy, or Regular Black will find you where you're hiding and you can explain it to him )

The Challenge for DAY 23:
Take a photo of something you collect, and create a glass powder sgraffito drawing of it.  And then link it to the page with the 'add your link' button down there.

I'm interested in knowing what those collected things are in your collections.
If you collect dust bunnies... drawing them would not be challenging yourself much.  lol

Sunday, October 25, 2015

DAY 22: Sharp and Shiny and a Reward Tiny

Today's Fused Glass Sgraffito Drawing Challenge will build on the skills you've been learning through your practice so far.  Now, let's sharpen how we see.

A safety pin is a fabulous subject for so many reasons... It's a simple object that everyone is familiar with, but still a difficult little bit of a thing though, isn't it?  That's what makes it a great challenge! Plus, if you get really frustrated you can open it and poke someone. 
Just kidding.

Here are some hints at how you can tackle this tiny shiny.

Really LOOK at the pin.  Study it and find the edges where dark and light meet.  Lines are essentially 'darks meeting lights'.  Finding those places, instead of just drawing a line in the shape of the pin will be important if you want to make the pin look shiny.

Pay careful attention to the negative space around and inside the safety pin.  Getting to know the shapes around the pin itself will help you get the shape of the actual pin right.

2. Your wide range of values (light, middle, dark) will determine whether your safety pin looks flat and dull, or sharp and shiny.  Find those edges where light and dark meet. They're not always where you think they are!

Don't forget to add your link!

Here is a tiny reward... it's not a video (need more arms) but you can at least see a step by step progression. I did a similar piece as a class demo last weekend and then dropped my phone on it right before I was going to fire it.  That one went bye bye... 
This one is going to be much better.
I'll post more as it goes along.

*please don't copy these photos without asking permission, thanks!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

DAY 21: Stepping Up a Little

"I feel such creative power in myself that I know for sure that the time will arrive when, so to speak, I shall regularly make something good every day. But very rarely a day passes that I do not make something, though it is not yet the real thing I want to make."
 ~Vincent van Gogh (Letter to Theo van Gogh, 9 September 1882) 

Fused Glass Powder Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge 2015

Today's Challenge for Day 21: 

Compose a collection of flowers in a container.  

You may use dear Vincent's painting as a reference photo, or create your own arrangement.

Again, try to stick with using only black glass powder, as tempting as color may be... 
 Focus on achieving a nice value range, white, light, middle, dark, black

Squinting at your work will help you see if you have a good range of shades, if things look flattened, you probably need more values in your range.

Pay attention to flowers that are not front-facing, and try your best to place some flowers in front of others to create depth.  
It's getting a little tougher, isn't it? 
We're going to step it up a bit over the next 9 days.
These glass sgraffito drawings just keep getting better and better!

You may use any tools at your disposal, and spend as much time as you like.

No painting for me today... I was babysitting a 2 1/2 year old, can't look away for a moment.

Still waiting to see 60 flowers on the blog page from a few days back...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 20, More Sgraffito Flowers!

Day 20: Sketching Glass Sgraffito Flowers...

You know, I didn't really think about all of us sketching flowers using black frit.  They are looking pretty darn black, aren't they? 


You all did some very nice work!  I love how many different kinds of flowers we all chose.  
So many artists use flowers in their work, and I've never known anyone to say they hate flowers and mean it...  They are a subject I always turn to when I'm missing summer.

I will keep things short today, because it's almost not today anymore :)
Here is a little blast of color to break up all this black and white!

Tomorrow, for Day 21 of the 30 in 30 Challenge 
We have another exciting day floral drawings! 
 This time, we're going to use ONLY black frit, and aim to get a wide range of values in your sketch.  Experiment with ways of applying the glass powder so that you can achieve areas that are very dark, very light, and 'some things in between'.  Here's a hint: The distance you hold your sifter, fingers, etc. from your glass makes a difference.  For lighter areas, try holding your hand higher, darker areas, work closer to the base glass.

"Poppy Fields and Blue Skies"  Alcohol ink painting, Kelly Crosser Alge

Post Your Black Flowers For Day 21 Here!
Link-up opens at 12:05 am EDT

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's Day 19 of the Fused Glass Powder Sgraffito 30 in 30 Challenge!

I know there are LOADS of you out there now who have signed up or are following this 
30 in 30 Glass Powder Sgraffito Drawing Challenge.

Where are you?  And why aren't you really participating?

If you're just starting, don't feel intimidated.  We're just a bunch of artists trying to get better at a very new form of glass art.  You are welcome here! The more creativity you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou said so, and I love Maya Angelou.

Please don't just hover around and see what others are doing, GET BUSY and make some art!  The only way to get better at this is to fool around and make a true effort to practice.

This is Day #19.  That means we have only 11 days left to complete this Challenge!
Who cares if you've just joined in and make 11 glass powder sketches to finish? 
You will be all the better for trying.

Tomorrow's Challenge is easy.  Create a floral themed piece of your choice.
You might use this as an excuse to buy yourselves some real flowers. I think I will.
Spend as much or as little time as you are able, but GET BUSY!

If more than 60 of you post to the blog tomorrow I'll make a 'floral video' and post it tomorrow night.

If you use Instagram, GREAT NEWS!  You can use it to post your photo now.  
Here is the link to see how to post:  Instagram

I did a drawing for Day 18 in class today but stupidly forgot to take a photo before putting it in the kiln.  I'll make my floral piece tomorrow when it's really 'today'.


Today got ahead of me and I had no time to paint.  See?  Human life really happens. If you've missed a day or twenty, it's not too late to start.  Come join us and post your floral photo here for Jan. 19th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DAY 18: Show off Your Whites!

Are any of you feeling like this yet?  
If you are, you're definitely not alone.
Keep Doing it Anyway
You're all making great progress!

Fused Glass Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge
How are you liking the "White Challenge"?  Whites are a challenge in almost every art medium, because there are so many shades involved in making something 'look' white.  Check out the millions of shades of white paint next time you're at the hardware store!

A few of you have figured out that white powder against a dark background kind of 'disappears' after firing. The white is just not strong enough to fully cover a dark color, and it has to be applied in such large amounts to show up much at all.  
I call this 'Bathtub Syndrome'....

You know when you run a bath and then realize the water isn't hot enough? So you try to warm it up adding hot water until the tub is nearly overflowing, only to find out that it is just a bigger tubful of not quite hot enough water? darn.

It happens in painting too.  When you mix white with a color, it's best to add a little of the darker color to the white, and gradually add more color until you get the shade you like.  If you do it the other way around adding white to try to lighten a darker shade, you end up with  a LOT of paint that still isn't light enough.  Bathtub Syndrome.

Here's something for you to try if you need a "great white subject"!

It's been a busy weekend around here, I have a lovely group of ladies in town for a sgraffito workshop, extra kids spending the night, basketball games, and the dog has just delivered the head of a dead mole to me as I type this... gross. I think I'm ready for a hot bath!

Monday, October 19, 2015


Day 16 of the 30 in 30 Challenge, and we are over the hump!

Today is the beginning of a 3 day "Whites Weekend" Challenge!  

You have until Sunday night to create 3 sketches of an object that is white.
You can use the same object for all three sketches, choose a theme, make a triptych (3 panels that create one work of art) or just pick different, random 'white things' .

Portraying white objects in a sgraffito drawing presents a nifty little challenge in itself.
Those of you who did the Great White Shark sketch a few days ago know what I mean :)

Here is a hint:  If you focus on adding black powdered glass to the areas that are in shadow (the negative), the object (the positive) comes forward.  Then you can focus on the details.
It does make your brain hurt a little, but once you get it it keeps getting easier.

Try to stick with light colored glass and black powder for these sketches....
I'll tell you why tomorrow.

Here is a quick sketch of my baby shoe

Quick alcohol ink painting today... I love these colors

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 15: What Are You Afraid Of?

The Challenge for Day 15 of the Fused Glass Sgraffito Drawing 30 in 30 Challenge, is to sketch something that frightens you.  Snakes frighten me, but especially this one. I'm actually thinking I might be sick if I have to sketch this thing.

The African Black Mamba can move faster than I ever could, 12.5 miles per hour.  If you get bitten by one and don't get anti-venom quickly, you WILL die. Sometimes within 20 minutes.
The reason I picked this particular snake is because I remember my parents' story about a woman in South Africa who invited them to stay in her home.  The roof was thatched grass, and the woman knew she had a black mamba snake living in the roof.  She was angry when a suggestion was made to get rid of the snake, because she liked that it kept the rodent population away from her house.  I can't imagine trying to sleep there, and I also can't imagine these snakes slithering across the school yard as they do frequently in the village.  There is a superstition in S. Africa that if you kill a snake, you must leave it 'belly up' or else it will come back to life.  I think I could do better than belly up, I like knives and fire.   Regardless, snakes make me shiver and I DO NOT want to sketch a snake.  Why did I choose this challenge???

Ok, so I started to sketch a black mamba and then changed my mind.  I just hate those things. Plus, my sketch was boring. I really dislike grasshoppers too, and they're a little more interesting sketch-wise.  I think grasshoppers are mostly ok except for their clingy legs and that brown tobacco spit (that I tasted once when I was a kid on a dare.  Bart Rice, do you remember that?)... Today will officially end the gross challenges.  I can't take any more!

The challenge for tomorrow, January 16:  Sketch in 15 minutes or less, something you ate today. I hope it wasn't a grasshopper.

Here is my ink painting for day 15 of Leslie Saeta's 30 paintings in 30 days Challenge.  It's much nicer than mr. grasshopper.
Click to Bid on "Purples" in my Daily Paintworks Auction, $20

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Storytelling Challenge #2 for the January Folks

"Every drawing tells a story", and "A picture is worth a thousand words"... 
How do you tell a story with objects?

Last night, I was here on the computer writing a new challenge for all of you.  My 11 year old daughter was in the next room getting ready for bed and was anxious for me to come in to listen to her evening prayers and cuddle before bed. As usual, I was 'taking too long' , and Millie was beginning to get frustrated with waiting.  Finally, she came up to the computer and said she had something super special and secret to show me... (message to me: get off the computer.  lol)  She was holding the cigar box I'd given her a long time ago, and inside was a beautiful assemblage of candy.  Her "Secret Candy Stash" was arranged as if it were a bento box.  Each piece was organized by type, and thoughtfully placed by size to make a perfect fit inside the box.  I didn't know she had a secret candy stash.   This kid loves candy, and I was pretty surprised that she had the will-power to save ANYTHING containing sugar longer than it takes to get it out of the package.  She surprised me again when she proceeded to tell me where each piece came from, and how and when she received it. 

 Her box tells many stories.  
Although it is just a pile of candy at first glance, it holds a pile of experiences and memories carefully collected and arranged by someone I love.  It's a window into her thoughts. It tells me that these things hold a high value to her, the stories as well as the candy.

Your next Storytelling Challenge is to create a sgraffito drawing that tells a story about an experience, memory, or moment, using objects that you randomly find in place.  
Grab your camera and take some photos of things that are 'just there' in your space.  As I look around my house, I see lots of things that could tell a story about me.  My purse is sitting open on the desk, spilling receipts and showing signs of being hastily sifted through.  On the kitchen counter is an empty bottle of wine and the corkscrew my husband broke last night while trying to open it (along with the packaging for the new one he bought shortly afterward. ha)  My 13 year old's backpack is lying on her bedroom floor...

Challenge yourself to compose a reference photo that is eye-pleasing, shows a full range of values, and draws the viewer in to take a closer look.
When you finish, tell us the story of your drawing!
Don't forget that you can tag your drawings on Instagram throughout the month of October to be part of "The Big Draw" gallery!  Just use the hashtag #thebigdraw.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14: Red Skies At Night, Shark's (I mean Sailor's) Delight?

It's Day 14, we're almost half-way through the Fused Glass Sgraffito 30 in 30 Challenge!!

"Red Skies at Night"  
Click to Bid in my Daily Paintworks Auction, $20
I love all of the 'sharky' photos and stories everyone has posted from our Day 13 Challenge!  Staring at all of those teeth will probably give some of us nightmares tonight... 
 It was a good challenge, because even without the teeth it presented us with something that appeared to be extremely difficult to draw.  Add in the extra challenge of using glass dust to draw it with, and we have a winner!

How many of you skipped out on trying this frightening shark because you didn't think you could draw it?  Luckily, he'll still be right here waiting for you until you give him a try.

The challenge for today, January 14 is to create a sketch of something that frightens you.  Make it fun! 

 Also, if I frighten you, you're welcome to use my old Halloween self-portrait as a reference photo to work from. It's pretty scary. I think we're going to have a good time tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13: Sharks and Personal Items

Day 13, Sharks and Personal Items
Today my sketch is a personal item that I use each day, and I'm so happy to have it because it is a family heirloom to me... My Grandma's soap dish...  

My grandparents lived in a little house on a quiet street.  There was nothing fancy about their house on the outside; but inside was a tiny, really fancy purple bathroom that I loved dearly.  It had 3 mirrors and a corner sink with a fancy light fixture above it.  The sink had violets printed in the porcelain, which matched the tiles in the shower.  I thought it was really cool to be able to see myself from the side in the mirrors, and the bathroom always smelled good.  Grandpa had his own bathroom connected to their bedroom but I never liked it much.  It was green and had Irish Spring soap by the sink.  Grandma used soap that smelled good, and her powders and creams were in the purple bathroom.  

When my Grandma died this past August, my family and I went through her things, deciding what to keep and what to 'not keep'.  She didn't have anything valuable, and her assisted-living apartment was small.  Lots of things went into boxes, and we had to move her things out within a few days time... 

I kept her soap dish because I had loved it since I was a very young child.  It has more value to me than any other physical thing she had, even though it's worth nothing to anyone else.  I look at it every day and think of her.

I'm going to fire this piece and put in a dark background later.  The soap dish is white, and that presents us with a new challenge for later.... We'll talk about that tomorrow maybe.

The Challenge for tomorrow, Day 13 is to sketch this great white shark, photo is courtesy of challenge participant Steven Cross.  Steven Cross you had better be posting your sketch tomorrow, or you'll have some hungry challengers after you.  lol.  

This is a great exercise in contrast, texture, and form.  If you're worried about trying this one, you may crop a section to work on instead of doing the whole 'sharky thing'!


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