Archive for March, 2012

I’ve been absent from keeping up this blog over the last week and apologize.  I’ve been preparing for the Indiana Artisan Marketplace beginning in just a few hours at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  I can’t take a lot of time for build-up, but this is the finest art/fine craft show that I’ve ever been involved with — as an artist or as a buyer.  This is not a show to be missed.

(Aside – This group really treats their artists right.  We pulled up the van yesterday and a volunteer loaded my stuff in for me!)

I’ll try to post images throughout the show from my iPhone.  If I am able to move around (I expect to be busy) I will try to share the work of other artists.

50 Little Birds has two booths this year — I hope that I am the plate spinner that I think I am — one will be my sales booth and a second bootht o teach and demonstrate bird carving and painting.  Please stop and chat a bit.

I would like to thank friend and woodcarver, Dennis Maddox, of Noblesville for his help yesterday.  There were a few construction glitches and he was the man to solve the problems fast.  Dennis has been carving at local golf coaurses.  It seems that golf course like to turn their dead trees into large carvings.  Recently Dennis carved a huge golf club for Crooked Stick Golf Course and a trio of Great Blue Heron for the golf course at Eagle Creek Park.

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In preparation for this weekend’s Indiana Artisan Marketplace I printed a run of new hangtags. These two sided tags were printed from magnesium dies prepared from my design. The poor quality of the tags often effects the outcome — they seem to always have a soft crease across the center — but this time they came off very clean.  (I apologize for the photos.  The light was low and I was using my iPhone.)







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Last Minute Preparations

I’m busy on last minute preparations for the Indiana Artisan Marketplace this weekend at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I’m demonstrating carving and painting throughout the weekend and and packing and preparing tools as well as a sales booth, lighting, printed literature, inventory, etc.

I built this simple tool box that fits within a larger one to contain and protect smaller tools. It gets the same distressing and aging as my birds do.



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I’m completing a few last pieces for the Indiana Artisan Marketplace, my most important show

A Murder Most Grand!

A New Style of Mount - Tall Corkscrew Willow from Dennis Maddox and Greg Adams


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At the Marsh Madness event earlier this month I had a chat with Eric Simpson about birding traditions in Linton, Indiana.  He told me that his wife, Barbara Simpson — now director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, had begun birding under under the direction of a beloved classroom teacher.  (How often I’ve heard similar stories!).  The discussion turned to how he began birding and then onto the local and common names that we gave to birds when young.

“You know that bright yellow bird that bobs up and down in flight?” he asked. “That’s a yellowhammer!”

My mind shot back to a similar bird shooting across our gravel lane from one meadow to another. “We called it a wild canary.” I answered.

Of course we were both talking about the American Goldfinch.

Later I remembered that our native Maine neighbors called the double crested cormorants shags and coots.  the terms seemed to be interchangeable.

Last week when I began to read Our Birds and How to Know Them, by John B. Grant I shared with my wife that the great horned owl was labelled a hoot owl.

“That’s what we called them when I was a girl”, she shared.  I was surprised.

I thought it might be interesting to share John B. Grant’s bird names to see what our favorite birds have been called.  John birded the Hudson Valley and published his book in 1891.  They are listed in the order they appear in the book. Birds without archaic alternate names have been omitted.  See the entire text here.

The Birds

Acadian Owl, Saw-Whet Owl

Great Horned Owl, Hoot Owl

Little Horned Owl, Screech Owl, Red Owl

Flicker, Golden-Winged woodpecker, High-Hole

Kingbird, Bee-Martin

Bobolink, Reedbird

Baltimore Oriole, Firebird

Purple Grackle, Common Crow Blackbird

Pine Siskin, Pine Finch, Pine Linnet

Snowflake, Snow Bunting

Vesper Sparrow, Bay-Winged Sparrow, Grass Finch

White Throated Sparrow, Peabody Bird

Grasshopper Sparrow, Yellow-Winged Sparrow, Yellow Winged Bunting

Chipping Sparrow, Chippy, Hair-Bird

Slate-Colored Junco, Junco, Snowbird

Towhee, Chewink

Cardinal Grosbeak, Cardinal

Indigo Bunting, Indigo-Bird

Summer Tanager, Summer Redbird

Cedar Waxwing, Cedarbird

Northern Shrike, Butcher-Bird

Yellow-Throated Vireo, Yellow-Throated Greenlet

Red-Eyed Vireo, Red-Eyed Greenlet

Blue-Headed Vireo (or Greenlet), Solitary Vireo (or Greenlet)

White-Eyed Vireo, White-Eyed Greenlet

Black and White Warbler, Black and White Creeper

Parula Warbler, Blue Yellow-Backed Warbler

Yellow Warbler, Summer Yellowbird

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Myrtlebird

Black and Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler

Yellow Red-Poll Warbler, Palm Warbler

Oven-Bird, Golden-Crowned Thrush

Brown Thrasher, Brown Thrush

Chickadee, Black-Capped Titmouse

Wilson’s Thrush, Tawny thrush Veery





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Our Common Birds and How to Know Them
John B. Grant
Charles Scribner’s Sons
New York

I’ve always been drawn to the books associated with my artistic pursuits.  Birds and bird carving is no different and I have begun to accumulate a small and wonderful collection of old field guides.  As this collection fills my collection represents various approaches to studying birds.  As long as there have been field guides to birds there has been struggle between field guides for the serious birder and field guides for the casual birder.

When this book was published in 1897 the few books for birders were written for ornithologists.  The illustrations, when there were illustrations, were secondary to the text.  The presumption was made that the user of these books had a speciman in hand.

John Grant, in Our Common Birds and How to Know Them, utilizes the new technology of printed photography to enable amateur naturalists to identify the birds around them. The book presents an interesting balance between scientific fact and informal observation.  Grant presents an explanations of bird taxonomy and naming, but includes interesting archaic common names (more on that later).  Grant presents first spring appearances of migratory birds in the Hudson Valley, by date.

March 10 to 20  These become more plentiful [Robins, Bluebirds and Song Sparrows], and Purple Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds appear.  Purple Finches and Flickers receive accessions, and Fox Sparros may be seen on their northward migration.

Snowy Owls retire northward.

The mounted birds depicted have that odd realistic-but-not-quite-right appearance that mounts often possess. In many cases the glass eyes are over-sized and feet are unnatural. The birds are mounted on very Victorian T-shaped perches — much like one would expect to find a trained parrot.  Foot wires can be seen looped around the mounts.  The author reports that the birds were mounted by J. Wallace, 16 North William Street, New York City, but never mentions the photographer or collector.

A child’s name and address are written on the frontpiece.  With this information she includes an Indianapolis Public School, two classrooms and two teachers.  As an Indianapolis Public School Teacher I enjoy that the book has come back home.

Any reference I cna find to John B. Grant is a reference to this book.  It seems he has dissolved into obscurity.

Google Books shares a copy of the book here.

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Oranges are one of the favorite foods of the Baltimore Oriole.  I find the bird and orange visually appealing because they are the same color!  (The orange and black contrast of this oriole is striking, even without the fruit.)

The base is constructed of found wood — from an old painted sign that I dragged from the wreckage of a burned-out Victorian grocery –  and a croquet ball sporting its original orange paint.

This piece will be available at the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.

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I wrote last about an emerging art project involving the urban birds of Indianapolis.

It’s important to have parameters in an ongoing project.  When I began carving 50 Little Birds, nearly three years ago, I sat down and developed a set of rules.  For the most part ‘ve stood by these.  In doing so I’ve maintained a focus and a style.  Most importantnly — I know my limitations — it’s kept me from being distracted by other projects, ideas and paths.

I’ve been mulling over this project for three days and want to move forward. I’ve a deadline (First Friday of September) and I want to get going.

Of course this is not set in stone.  The gallery will have some ideas about this and I’ve put out feelers to 2-3 folks that will have some valuable input.

The Project

Every Bird Has a Story – Urban Birds in Indianapolis

The Concept

I will be digging up the stories, folklore and adventures of Indianapolis folks within urban Indianapolis.  Though I don’t want to completely ignore the wonderful greenspace in our city, I want to see and hear about birds in yards, parking lots, loading docks, monuments and skyscrapers.

The Confines

For the purposes of this project urban Indianapolis will be defined as 38th Street on the North Sherman Avenue on the East, Raymond Street on the South and Holt Road on the West. Both sides of these boundary streets will be considered.  I will consider stories outside these confines, but you’d better have a great story or a great location.

The Process

I dig out folks and encourage them to share their bird experiences.  These folks will be photographed and their stories will be recorded.  From these stories I will carve thier birds.  At the planned September show these photographs, selections from transcripts and the birds that they inspired.

Purpose and Expected Outcomes

My bird carvings have always been about my own stories.  There has been a tremendous amount of power in this.  Many people are painfully unaware of their natural environment.  This seems to be most true within urban environments.  We are so busy.  There is so much to see and hear and do that we screen what is unimportant.  Unfortunately the natural parts of our environments are often the first to be screened.  In this project the folks that still hear and see will be identified.  In sharing their stories and experiences I hope to make more folks aware and interested. (Note to self – Write about experiences in urban classroom that reflect this.)

There we have it.  My only obstacle it to find the first story and to get to work,  (I’m calling you this week Hazel!)

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I’ve had a brief discussion with some folks from an Indianapolis arts group about a long-term (perhaps five or six months) project focusing on birds in urban settings within Indianapolis.  I don’t live in Indianapolis — I live in a smallish city in the county to the north –  but I was born in Indianapolis, I was raised working for my Dad’s Indianapolis heating and air conditioning company and I teach in the Indianapolis Public Schools.

I am not sure where I want to go with this project.  I know that I work best set parameters.  It will make it easier to define what I am doing and to speak about what I am doing.

Please remember that I am thinking out loud.  All is open to discussion and modification.  I am inviting you to join the discussion now.

Where Do I Look?

My first thought is to define urban.  Indianapolis has some fantatstic outlying birding spots — Eagle Creek Reservoir, The Indianapolis Museum of Art Grounds, Crown Hill Cemetery,  Benjamin Harrison State Park and White River State Park are all fantastic green spaces with where a wide variety of birds can be found.  I feel like including these areas would be cheating– these areas can produce some of the best birding in the state.  I want to send the message that birds live and visit all parts of an urban environment. I want to raise bird awareness in schoolyards, skyscrapers, city parks, blighted neighborhoods, factories and warehouses and ignored waterways.

My plan is to draw a square around the city and work within this defined area. Without much thought I am thinking 38th Street on the North, Sherman Street on the East, Raymond Street on the South and Belmont Street on the West.

Whose Stories Do I Share?

In a project like this I want to make neighborhood connections.  Connections with people.  Who is bird aware?  What do they see?  Where do they look? How do they interact with birds.  And, most importantly, what are their stories?

Emerging from this is a sense that I want to talk to the people of these neighborhoods about their experiences and carve from these stories.  These kinds of connections make my work stronger and work to bring people together at many levels.

What Do I Produce?

This question may be the last to be answered and It may be answered many different ways. I’m not even going to give this much thought….yet.

I will explore ways to mount the birds in a way that reflects this urban theme, though I have reservations.  I want to maintain that the same birds found in “nature” are the same birds found in the context of the city.  There is very little difference.

I do need to visit the gallery space where this work will be shared and be mindful of how the space can be utilized to tell this story.

What now?

I want this to be a community building exercise.  At this point I would like your ideas and thoughts.  Nothing is nailed down at this point and your thoughts may help to shape the project.

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The second Indiana Artisan Marketplace debuts March 31, 2012

The second Indiana Artisan Marketplace debuts March 31, 2012

Showcasing the creations of Indiana’s best artists and artisans, the Indiana Artisan Marketplace returns for a second year at the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds March 31 and April 1, 2012.  More than 125 artisans from Indiana and an additional 75 artisans from Kentucky will showcase art and food selected as being among the best in Indiana and Kentucky by food and art jury panels created by Indiana Artisan and Kentucky Crafted.


The Indiana Artisan Marketplace is a chance to buy one-of-a-kind artwork and artisan food directly from the Hoosiers who make it, to meet the artisans and to share their stories.  Visitors will be able to watch artisans create artwork, cultivate relationships with their favorite artisans and celebrate Indiana talent and creativity.


In addition to browsing the booths, visitors again will enjoy Indiana music, live art and craft demonstration  and food and drink tasting.


The Marketplace is modeled after the extremely successful Kentucky Crafted: The Market, which is in its 30th year and attracts approximately 8,000 visitors and 600 wholesale buyers to its annual event that will move from Lexington to Louisville in 2012.


The work of more than 180 artisans in more than 50 Indiana counties has been juried into the organization and is part of the Indiana Artisan brand.  The work of additional artisans will be selected during jury panel sessions for both art and food in November 2011.  Artisans whose work is selected for the organization will be invited to participate in the 2012 Marketplace.  The application deadline is October 19, 2011, and guidelines can be found at www.IndianaArtisan.org.


Indiana Artisans include painters, woodworkers, winemakers, jewelry designers, weavers, makers of specialty cheeses and more.  Program manager Eric Freeman says, “An Indiana Artisan is a Hoosier recognized for careful attention to detail, knowledge of a craft and an entrepreneurial spirit.  His or her talent contributes to Indiana’s reputation for quality work.”


WHAT:                 Indiana Artisan Marketplace

WHEN:                 Saturday, March 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE:                Indiana State Fairgrounds, Expo Hall, Indianapolis

COST:                  $10 admission (free for children 7 and under) and $3 parking

Featured Artists include:

Allen County
Joe Pelka, Fort Wayne, pottery
Kristy Beber, Lee, stoneware pottery
Jennifer Cameron, Fort Wayne, jewelry
Wayne Shive, Fort Wayne, chile and espresso fudge sauces

Bartholomew County
Alexa Lemley, Columbus, marshmallows

Boone County
Jennifer Berger, Zionsville, hand-designed and constructed felted creatures, using hand-dyed yarns
Janet Boettcher, Thorntown, Norwegian Rosemaling folk art painted in oils on wood
Joyce Jensen, Zionsville, watercolors
Dusky Loebel, Zionsville, handcrafted sterling silver jewelry, using metal smithing and glass fusing

Brown County
Rosemary Bolte, Nashville, painted gourds
Amy Greely, Nashville, jewelry
Chris Gustin, Columbus, rugs and fiber arts
Anabel Hopkins, Nashville, notecards and original art
Michele Pollock, Columbus, mixed media paper art
Judy Prichard, Nashville, pottery
Tom Prichard, Nashville, pottery
Kyle Spears, Nashville, photography
Larry Spears, Nashville, pottery

Carroll County
Rena Brouwer, Delphi, watercolors

Cass County
Mercedes Brugh, Logansport, glass jewelry
Toney Robertson, Galveston, wooden bowls, hand-turned wooden pendants, roses made of wood and metals

Clark County
Huber’s Winery and Orchard, Borden, wine and brandy
Diane and Dan Wibbels, Clarksville, hand-woven fiber used to create garments and household items

Daviess County
Larry Green, Washington, basswood carvings

DeKalb County
Kalista Johnston, Garrett, cheese crisps

Delaware County
David Calvin, Muncie, woodwork

Dubois County
Sisters of St. Benedict, Ferdinand, cookies

Floyd County
Robert Capshew, Lanesville, black cheery, pear and red wine vinegar

Franklin County
Carrie Miller, Batesville, sauces and jams

Hamilton County
Linda Adamson, Arcadia, fiber art
Carol Bell, Noblesville, stoneware
Jennifer Cheezum, Carmel, pierogis
Christine Davis, Fishers, raku fired ceramics
Geoffrey Davis, Noblesville, Indiana songbirds carved from wood
Charles Ferguson, Noblesville, Crazy Charlie’s Gourmet salsas
Sylvia Gray, Westfield, surface design, hand painted silk scarves
Tim Kennedy, Fishers, wood turned bowls, vessels, lidded boxes, spheres
Pam Newell, Fishers, pastels and oils
Brian Paffen, Fishers, soaps and bath products
Lori Shreve, Westfield, fudge

Harrison County
Laura Pfeiffer, Corydon, 24 wines from Turtle Run Winery

Jackson County
Pete Baxter, Seymour, wood, Shaker boxes and carriers
Burton’s Maplewood Farm, Medora, maple syrup

Jay County
Zach Medler, Portland, ceramics and relief printing

Kosciusko County
Terry Armstrong, Warsaw, watercolors

LaPorte County
Steven Skinner, New Carlisle, pottery

Lawrence County
Charlotte Waltz, Norman, persimmons
Carousel Winery, Mitchell, wine

Madison County
Greg Adams, Lapel, rustic willow furniture

Marion County
Teri Barnett, Indianapolis, acrylics
Chuck Bruce, Indianapolis, silver inlay jewelry with lapidary gems and minerals
James Dupler, Indianapolis, woodworking
Allison Ford, Indianapolis, wooden jewelry
Elizabeth Garber, Indianapolis, truffles
Rick Greiner, Indianapolis, pottery pears
Jayne Hoadley, Indianapolis, sea salt pecan chews
Anita Hopper, Indianapolis, recycled leather purses and accessories
Erin Jones-Edds, Indianapolis, dressings and drink mixes
Nancy Lee, Indianapolis, jewelry
Nancy Miller, Indianapolis, gourd art
Peg Neal, Indianapolis, pottery
Donna Shortt, Indianapolis, oils and pastels
Carrie Wild, Indianapolis, watercolors

Miami County
Rose Brown, Peru, goat’s milk soap
Susan Kline, Peru, paper collage

Monroe County
Jan Arbogast, Bloomington, pottery
John Bower, Bloomington, photography
Kris Busch, Heltonville, pottery
Jim Butler, Bloomington, wine from Butler Winery
Maria Dawson, Ellettsville, fiber art
Suzanne Halvorson, Bloomington, fiber art/scarves
Thomas Harris, Bloomington, ceramics/pottery
Carolyn and Don Madvig, Bloomington, paper/found material notecards
Marcy Neiditz, Bloomington, pottery
Cappi Phillips, Bloomington, mixed media mosaic sculpture
Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese, Bloomington, handmade papers

Morgan County
Donna Jo Copeland, Mooresville, fiber art

Ohio County
Kendal Miller, Dillsboro, fine art photography

Orange County
French Lick Winery, French Lick, wine

Perry County
Winzerwald Winery, Bristow, wine
Nita Claise, Tell City, raku pottery
Brad Smith, Tell City, hand twisted Tell City Pretzel

Porter County
Lynn Retson, Porter, graphite drawings

Posey County
Laine Benthall, Mt. Vernon, jewelry
Tom Wintczak, Wadesville, pottery

Randolph County
Judy Coe, Lynn, homemade noodles
Wayne Gaydos, Farmland, stringed instruments

Ripley County
Robin Dyer, Friendship, leather moccasins and textiles

Shelby County
Julie Bolejack, Shelbyville, chocolates

St. Joseph County
Laurel Isle, Winona Lake, soaps and bath products

Tippecanoe County
Mary Firestone, Lafayette, stoneware
Lisa Hopkins, West Lafayette, sterling silver jewelry
Aldis Knight, Lafayette, photography
Sara Vanderkleed, Lafayette, fine art, including acrylic and watercolor combined with recycled envelopes

Vanderburgh County
Karen Hampton, Evansville, fiber art
Larry Hampton, Evansville, color pencil drawings

Vermillion County
Brooke Schmidt, Dana, toffees

Washington County
Carrie Strange, Salem, letterpress greeting cards

Wayne County
Nathan and Linda Jones, Richmond, sterling silver jewelry
Daniel Sims, Richmond, stained glass


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