Archive for January, 2011

The topic has been discussed here quite a few times.  My preparations and thoughts (and a rejection) in working for an Indiana Artisan designation.

Here’s the word:


Congratulations on having your work juried into Indiana Artisan!  When the jury sessions were completed, the three panels had selected 27 of 91 art and food applications, or just shy of 30 percent, to be part of the organization’s brand.  Yours was among them.

Best regards,

I am pretty durned excited to earn this designation and to learn more about how I will be working with this organization to showcase and sell Indiana finest handcrafted items!

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A Few New Discoveries

I stopped by Big Hat Books in Broad Ripple last night to discuss an upcoming exhibition of 50 Little Birds (Details next week).  While there I picked up a copy of a calendar, Decoys, edited by C. John Sullivan, Jr.  It’s a beautiful calendar with twelve photos of historic and significant decoys.  Studying these photos helps to clarify painted feather and distress patterns.

Within the photos I also found two birds that are on my carving list, a northern flicker and whip-poor-will.  These are not birds I associate with hunting and decoys.  They were fascinating work with interesting and new (to me) techniques.

These discoveries sent me plying the internet waters looking for other minature bird and decoy cross overs.  Here are a few:

I found this magnificant bluejay here:












Some more are found here:

Unfortunately the two in the foreground are identified as nuthatches.

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50 Little Birds plans to be out and about this spring.  Look for us at the following shows:

Greene County Marsh Madness Festival

Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6

8:00 – 6:00 Saturday and 12:00 – 5:00 Sunday

Humphrey’s Park, Highway 54, Linton, Indiana

Bloomington Handmade Market (Pending Acceptance)

Saturday, April 2

10:00 – 4:00

Bloomington Convention Center, 302 S. College Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana Artisan Marketplace (Pending Acceptance)

Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17

Saturday 10:00 – 6:00 and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00

Admission $8

Exposition Building, Indiana State Fair Grounds, Indianapolis, Indiana

INDIEana Handicraft Exchange (Pending Acceptance)

Saturday, June 12

12:00 – 8:00

Harrison Center for the Arts, 1505 n. Delaware St., Indianapolis, Indiana

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From the Noblesville Times

Friendly Folk
The Times photos by Steven Furlow
The Times photos by Steven Furlow

By Steven Furlow

Saturday saw the opening of the Bluestone Folk School’s 2011 concert series featuring Cara Jean Whalers, (bottom) who too command of the capacity crowd at Noble Coffee and Tea in downtown Noblesville. Wahlers joined musician Evan Slusher, (top) for a song during his set.


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I love Hoagy Carmichael! He’s the ultimate jazz man, the original singer songwriter and raised 100% Hoosier.

A few weeks ago I learned of someone that was making an effort to record every song the Beatles had recorded. I joked with a friend, on facebook, that I doubt there would be much interest in a similar project focusing on the works of Hoagy.  She agreed that there may not be much interest.  Much to my surprise a number of folks, many of whom I didn’t know, chimed in that they would love to see such a project.


I am announcing the “Everything Hoagy” event planned for Blue Stone Folk School in November (Hoagy’s birthday is November 22).

I will be hosting a concert featuring the great work of Hoagy Carmichael.  I’ve not had an opportunity to perform, in a concert setting, fora very long time and am excited about putting this together.  In addition to myself I will be invited some expected (and unexpected) guests to make the evening interesting.

Other Hoagy themed activities are also in the works including a bus/car/walking tour of Hoagy’s Indianapolis.

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Earlier this week I began drawing chickens.  This is nothing new.  I’ve kept chickens for over 20 yrs. and they often on my mind.

I usually try to simplify bird forms into overlapping and connected circles and curves.  It was soon clear that chickens have a complex (to carve) body shape that can be loosely defined by two lose circles (or spheres in the carving).

I filled a few pages of my sketch book before I stumbled across a piece that was sold at a Wes Cowan Auction last October.  I didn’t examine it closely.  I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do  and had no desire to copy the original. (Unfortunately I cannot share a photo of the auction piece here.  I urge you to look at the link.  It’s a great piece.)

Saturday I spent the morning putting the shop into order.  I had been building bookcases and cabinets.  This kind of work puts me in a mindset quite different than carving.  It’s very difficult to get back to carving without a thorough housecleaning.

I joined my family for lunch and began drawing on the paper table cover.  I was working on increasing the size of the drawings to carving size and keeping the proportions correct.  After lunch I cut a section from the paper and headed back to the shop to begin carving.

Between lunch and the shop I ducked into one of the neighborhood antique stores to find a box that could be adapted to create a nesting box.  I found an oversized cheese box and the ends of an old knocked down Diamond Match crate.  (It’s hard to imagine a time when matches were shipped in crates!)

Saturday afternoon I designed, carved and sanded the first two hens.  I also cut and installed dividers into the cheese box to create three nest spaces.

After a big family Sunday breakfast I got back to work and carved the remaining three birds.  I was able to treat each bird in a different manner to add interest to the piece.  Two birds have their heads turned and another has his neck extended.

After sanded each of their heads were slit and a comb, made from a piece of my business card, was glued and inserted.  Eyes, like all of my recent birds are represented by a copper river with a tiny brass washer around it.

Each bird was painted, in my usual manner, and the piece was assembled.

We had a board meeting tonight.  I was able to work about twenty minutes as folks arrived and I began the distressing process.  Tomorrow night I suspect that I will be able to complete this piece.

If you are interested in purchasing this piece, please contact me at 50littlebirds@gmail.com

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Front Page Etsy

I just got word that my work is featured top and centered on ETSY’s front page.  This is a big deal.  Last time I was featured my ETSY page received close to 1000 hits.

Click for Treasury

Click Here for 50 Little Birds on Etsy








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Yesterday I printed new hangtags for work sold during 2011.

Today I am selecting and packaging the pieces that I want to share with the Indiana Artisan jury.  My goal is to show a good cross section of my work.

I’ve been carving owls lately and do not have any around.  Recently I carved one for Candice Hartsough McDonald (Cordial Kitten).  I contacted her and she was happy to lend it back to me for a few days.

I knew I wanted to include An Insignificant Murder (of Crows). This piece gets a lot of attention on Etsy.  It’s featured in several treasuries each week.

I’ve recently changed the body shape of small birds.  I’ve a chickadee and chipping sparrow carved in the new style.  The chipping sparrow is the strongest piece, but it had suffered some minor damage during my stoneware experiments. (If decapitation is minor!)  I repaired the chipping sparrow and decided it would be included.

I had forgotten that I had a nice round-bodied northern cardinal.  As this is our state bird (we share it with six or seven other states) it is included.

I considered including a Baltimore oriole.  The bright orange and black contrast is striking.  It’s a bird that I really admire.  In the end I decided that the oriole body was too similar to the crows and pulled it out.

The final roster includes: An Insignificant Murder (of Crows), the chipping sparrow, a barn owl and a northern cardinal.

I’ve always been interested in using found materials and making the most of recycling materials.  I’ve also always thought the birds should come in a substantial box that was easy to make and inexpensive.  Recently I’ve seen fruit crates with wooden ends and corrugated cardboard wrapped around the bottoms and sides.  I have lots of scrap wood with no use (If you ever need kindling – see me!) and I see cardboard recycled or thrown away at home and work daily.

I place my selected pieces on a work table and estimated the size box needed.  I cut 1/2″ pine scrap for the ends and stapled an old IKEA box around them.  The box is sturdy, handsome and obviously made from re-used materials.

I wrapped each piece in white tissue.  I do this with nearly every bird that I sell.  The tissue is taped in place with stips that I printed on adhesive backed paper using a standard HP inkjet printer.  I slapped an inkjet printed mailing label on the end.  I’m please with the result, but would like to introduce some color.  Perhaps I could print red tapes.

The Indiana Artisan Jury meets at Noblesville City Hall — all of 4 blocks from my house and about the same from my studio.  They are to be delivered tomorrow (I’ll be there at 9:oo am).  The jury meets on Tuesday (Think happy thoughts) and I pick up the work on Wednesday.  We will be informed about their decision at the end of the month.

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Actually I use a platen press.   But “The Presses are opening and Closing” doesn’t have the mass appeal of “The Presses are Rolling”.

I regularly use two printing presses: a Kelsey 5″ x 7″ from the 1940s and an earlier Vandercook o1 proof press.  The Folk School printing shop has no home (a temporary situation) so the equipment is being housed (and used on a limited basis) off site.

The Owosso plates were beautiful and things went very smoothly.  The results are below and I invite your comments.

In addition to these tags I’ve developed a simple mailing label and tape strip for packaging.  I printed samples on a standard HP Inkjet printer and really like them, but I’m considering having plates made for these, too.  I really love the tactile nature of letterpress.  Everything is razor sharp and the image is pressed into the paper.

I will be spending tomorrow putting together my pieces to be submitted to the Indiana Artisan selection jury.  I planned to work on re-branding during the winter and this jury has supplied me with a much needed deadline.  More thoughts on branding and packaging tomorrow as I put things together.

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Today Owosso delivered my the plates that I will be using to print my new hangtags.  (Actually UPS delivered them.)  They are beautiful!

They pulled a proof and shipped it with the plates.  The quality of the plates and the resulting prints is evident.  I’ve some school work (day job) to do over the next two evenings and plan to print this weekend.  I will post the process and the results here.






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