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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
1897

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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