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Archive for April, 2012

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As a public school teacher I’ve long been a proponent of handwork in student learning.  In the December issue of American Craft Magazine editor, Monica Moses writes:

Nick Offerman has a dream – to go back to school. The self-taught Los Angeles woodworker envisions a nine-year curriculum for himself. He’d start at College of the Redwoods on California’s Mendocino coast, in the renowned program begun by the late James Krenov.

“If I could just have three years off to go to that school,” he says longingly, “and then another three years to go to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, because that’s a whole other set of Federal and period techniques that are mind-blowing. And then I’d take a third three years and I’d go to the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine.”

It may be a little surprising that Offerman harbors such yearnings. From the outside, he appears to want for nothing. He’s not only an accomplished furniture maker, but also a star of a hit TV series, Parks and Recreation, where he plays Ron Swanson, one of the most memorably quirky characters on the small screen. He’s happily married to Megan Mullally, who played the charming nutcase Karen Walker on Will & Grace.

So why does this Hollywood big shot long for more schooling?

Because he knows firsthand – as so many committed craftspeople do – the thrills, comforts, and sheer grounding power of working with one’s hands. He knows that, when you learn new skills, you add to your manual, mental, and emotional toolbox. You multiply your opportunities for self-fulfillment. You learn to think in new ways. You make creative progress, and the benefits can be profound.

Read the remainder of this essay here.

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When the idea for this project was beginning to gel I wrote my emerging thoughts here and here. It’s been about a month and it’s time to get started in earnest. I would love for you to be part of the project.

Here’s what you can do to help get the ball rolling:

- If you have an experience or story with a bird in urban Indianapolis, contact me and we’ll set up an interview. The interview is painless and should not take a lot of time. We will discuss the project, fill out some simple paperwork, take a few photos and chat about your experiences with Indianapolis birds. Your experiences do not need to be unusual. Simply having a favorite bird may be enough.
- Let folks know about the project. In order for this project to be a success I must reach a variety of folks with a variety of backgrounds and a variety of stories. Post notices on your Facebook. Tweet about it. Talk to birdy (and not so birdy) friends and neighbors.
- Visit this blog often and keep track of progress.
Look for birds in urban Indianapolis. It’s spring migration time and a wide variety of interesting and beautiful birds are passing through.

There are some great ways to become involved with Indianapolis area birding:

- IndyParks offers birding walks.
- Amos Butler Audubon Society offers trips and monthly educational meetings.
- Indiana Audubon Society offers outings and trips.
- Hamilton County Parks offers bird walks and educational programs.

I’m sure that there are others, but these are the programs that I know about today. If you know of others, please share them here.

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Where’s Geoff ?

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Last night, my willow bending friend, Greg Adams emailed me to check in. We don’t see each other, much, and he keeps tabs with me via this blog and emails. When I stopped writing, he checked in. I realized that a few others may have wondered where I had gone.

It’s been “one of those weeks”. As I’ve written before, I am a teacher in a failing urban school. My school is on the list. THE list.

I am very tempted to write, pages perhaps, on education politics at every level and their effects on students, teachers and administrators — the folks that need the support most. I won’t. You’ve heard it before, and it will work me up into a tizzy that I don’t need. I’ll just say that I’ve spent a great deal of time in meetings and completing paperwork.

Another delay in writing (which I’m bound and determined to overcome right now) is a change in computer platform. I’ve made a commitment to iOS and plan to do most of my computer work from my iPad and iPhone. Writing this blog on this platform, unexpectedly, has become one of the most difficult transitions. I’m writing today, from Pages, Mac’s iPad word processor, and plan to copy and paste into the blog’s online editor.

I’m thrilled to report that the iPad is a great way to organize and too edit photos fast.

There are some big plans in the works for 50 Little Birds. An exhibition in Ohio, an urban bird project and a summer of field work. Keep reading. Make comments. I’ll keep carving and writing.

(BTW- The problems writing and editing this blog seems to be (mostly) solved.

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Just finished these two pieces before they go out. Commissions cost no more than stock pieces and are usually turned around in under two weeks.

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Last week I was able to squeeze in an couple of hours of birding at Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana.  Goose pond is a huge wetland that was recently established by re-claiming and flooding vast tracts of farmland.  I’ve been making regular visits to the area from two years now and am thrilled at the variety of birds that I am bale to see.

My last trip to Goose Pond, in March, was able to watch a pair of whooping cranes for nearly and hour.  I also observed huge rafts of migrating ducks.  On that trip I didn’t pack my scope.  I was working at an art fair and didn’t expect to have any time on the pond.

I returned last week with my scope, but left my camera behind.  (I left early and didn’t turn the lights on so as to wake my wife.) I could only get a couplle of long shots with my phone.

My target bird for this trip was the American White Pelican.  The spring flocks have been growing steadily at the pond and I wanted to get another look at these amazing and huge birds.  On my first stop I saw little but coots. I took a few minutes to talk to a bird savvy fisherman and he pointed out flock of the pelican reeling in the distance.  I drove in that direction, crested a hill and was thrilled to see between 200-300 pelican flying, swimming and going about their daily business.  The wind was screeming into my face, off the pond, so I didn’t stay too long.  I did not two immature bald eagles within the pelican flocks.  I presume they benefit from the pelicans’ group fishing tactics.

Upon leaving leaving three bobwhite quail crossed the road in front of me.  These birds, now seldom seen, were an important part of my walks in the woods as a kid.  They looked like miniature footballs with wings.  Another bird from earlier days, the eastern meadowlark, was spotted on roadsigns and fence posts.

I circles around the other side of the area–passing the site where we watched the whooping cranes a month before– and parked on a short rise above two ponds filled with ducks.  There I was able to spend some time, protected from the worst of the wind, and observe ducks.  There was waterfowls that I’ve spent time watching before–lesser scaup, mallards, coots, golden-eye and Canada geese — but there were some new to me.

My field guide was back home with my camera so I was limited to using iBird on my iPhone.  I found this very frustrating and am convinced that while I appreciate iBird and its applications in the field it has limitations.  I checked and rechecked all of the “duck” descriptions on iBird and coiuld find no matches to the birds that I was seeing.

The problem, of course, is that not all ducks have “duck” in their name.  A mallard is a mallard, not a mallard duck.  In a print field guide related birds are listed and illustrated together.  It’s a simple matter to flip through the duck section and make visual comparisons.

My two mystery ducks were a gadwall and blue-winged teal–two ducks without duck names.

No pictures, but a great day and a few more birds to add to my “to-carve” list.

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I spent last Thursday in Bloomington to host a webinar with Traditional Arts Indiana.  I had a few minutes to spare before the webinar started so my daughter, Hannah, and I stopped to chat with Sally Harless at Anatomy Vintage and Handmade.

Shop is located on what appears to be an alley a block south of Kirkwood Avenue near the I.U. campus.  The most striking part of the shop is its size — it’s tiny!  This unique little building began life as a residential garage.  Sometime later some shed additions were added to the south side of the building as well as a two story storefront addition.  It really is a unique and interesting space.

Though small and filled with merchandise, it’s not tight or cluttered.  When shared the space with 2-3 shoppers as well as Sally and had no problem navigating.  There are interesting things to look at (and to purchase) at every level iincluding a shelf of my flatties — full size 2-dimensional versions of my carvings.

I must confess that I didn’t look at much — the selection had a decidedly female appeal — but my youngest duaghter, Phoebe, would love to explore!

Don’t miss this tiny hidden gem while roaming the Kirkwood shops.

Contact:
Email: amber.anatomy(at!)gmail.com
Phone: (317) 606 – ERAS
Shop:
visit my storefront at 116 S Grant St., Bloomington, IN
shop the Etsy store: http://anatomyvintage.etsy.com
Socialize:
twitter @Anatomy Vintage
blog (you’re there!) anatomyvintage.blogspot.com
Facebook: Anatomy

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Here’s another chance to hear it.

From the Traditional Arts Indiana website

Webinar recording access: Social Networking for Artists and Performers

Social Networking for Artists and PerformersThe latest Traditional Arts Indiana webinar, “Social Networking for Artists and Performers: Developing and Maintaining an Online Presence”, is available as a video recording at: http://connect.iu.edu/p6upmf4ohax/.

When you click the link, you will be taken to a new window that shows everything exactly as it happened. You can watch this video at any time to see how social media can help professionalize your folk practice, whether it’s weaving, pottery, or – as it is with our friend and host, Geoff Davis – woodcarving.

WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy: these are just a few of the topics Geoff covered in his roughly 50-minute talk. There’s plenty to learn and explore in this presentation, so be sure to take advantage.

Read the rest here…

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Yesterday I attempted to post this from my new iPad.  I failed.  There is a learning curved and importing images is much more difficult that it should be.  I’ll get it worked out.

At the Indiana Artisan Marketplace I had a copy of Frank Chapman’s Bird-Life in my display.  The book, an early informal color illustrated bird guide,  features wonderful color plates by noted bird artist Louis Agassiz Fuente.  The cover features a multi-color typeset image of an American Redstart.  This print is quite striking.

I had carved a redstart, based on this illustration, that was offered for sale at the show.  I was demonstrating carving and painting throughout the show.  I was itching to do some metalwork and my eye fell on the redstart carving.  I took the piece around the corner to my demonstration shop, cut and shaped a pair of wings from a lithographed tinplate cigar box and re-created the redstart.

Here ’tis!

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Entering a New Age

Last Thursday Traditional Arts Indiana invited me to host a webinar focused on helping artists to develop and use  a variety of social media to promote their work and to network with other artists.  I had a great time, and the folks there tell me that I did a great job.  It was truly and odd experience to teach to an empty room!

One of the questions–a very good one–was about managing to update twitaters, Facebook and various other social outlets during a busy work day.  My answer–which works for us that bounce from job to join throughout our work day–is to work a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  At the end ofthe day I find most of the bases covered.

That being said I’ve been coveting folks and their iPads. They have great potential for editing, organizing and uploading photos photos on the fly–taken with a dedicated dslr is amazing. With a pair of successful shows this week I took she plunge and purchased an iPad2. With the introduction of the New iPad the price of the iPad2 dropped 25% and it seemed a great time to do this.

I’ve only played with it a couple of hours and am beginning to get the hang of things.  I was afraid that I would be unable to type on a touchscreen–this document is my test.  I’m finding myself making the same typos that I do on any new keyboard.  I’m going to like this!

Have a great Easter!  I’ve had a crazy busy last two weeks and look forward to sharingtome backlogged photos and stories.

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I love this show and the fine women that run it, but it didn’t look like I was going to be able to participate this year.

Good news–Circumstances have shifted a bit and 50 Little Birds will be on hand.  We are a late entry so please do what you can to let the folks of Bloomington know the birds will be on hand!

Bloomington Handmade Market

Bloomington Convention Center

Saturday, April 7, 2012

10:00 – 5:00

Thanks to Sally, Nicole, Mia and Jessica!

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