Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Purse Seining near Boothbay, Maine

I’ve posted twice already today, but I couldn’t pass up this piece when it came across on Twitter.

When I was growing up in coastal Maine fishermen claimed specific coves to fish pogey (menhaden?).  They would come in on a late night high tide and encircle a school in a purse seine.  A drawstring closed the bottom trapping the fish.  Later, often in the daylight, a boat would come alongside the anchored seine remove the fish with smaller nets.

Waterfowl, particularly double crested cormorants (locally known as shags or coots), and seals would visit these nets and eat their fill.  It was not unusual for fishermen to shoot a few birds and leave them floating in the nets to warn away other thieves.  Seals were never shot, in my experience, as the penalties for injuring (or even touching) seals was well known.  I often wondered how they got away with shooting birds.

Twenty-five years later I have a bit of a response.

From 10,000 Birds:

Owning A Fish Farm Does Not Mean You Can Kill Birds

By Corey

This is the lesson that Seaside Aquaculture owner Khan Vu has hopefully learned after being charged, found guilty, and sentenced under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  Both Vu and the company were ordered to pay $40,000 to the Texas Park and Wildlife Foundation and a $5,000 fine and put on eighteen months probation after being found guilty in federal court.

Read the rest here.

There’s another, more personal, chapter to my cormorant and the fishermen story.  I’ll share that, some other time.

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I’m up late Googling top contemporary Fraktur artists.  Right now I’m completely blown away by Susan Daul.  Even the frames reflect Pennsylvania Dutch motifs.  (And they’re BIRDS!)

Much more to see here.

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I began to write this blog in May of 2009.  The focus, then, was on Blue Stone Folk School.  I began a bird carving project to raise money for the school.  this project, 50 Little Birds for Blue Stone Folk School (Later simply 50 Little Birds), grew to replace the Folk School as the focus of this blog.

Since that day in May, 2009, I’ve written and posted 345 posts that have been visited almost 25,000 times.  Small potatoes for some blogs, but we’ve quite a loyal following!

Here I present my top 10 posts ranked by visits:

1)  Another Family Tradition – Fraktur and Pennsylvania Dutch Decorative Arts -

Here I discuss my mother’s work with Pennsylvania Dutch decorative painting and its influence on my work.  I visit this theme recently when making Christmas ornaments.  It’s pretty apparent that there are folks wanting to know more about Fraktur.

2) Why I Carve Little Birds

Just what the title suggests.  I reference some Pennsylvania Dutch carvers that I find significant and influential.  Again the Pennsylvania Dutch theme plays strong.

3) Cape Forge – Bird Carving Knife

I firmly believe that I use one of the finest caving knives available.  Many carvers are all about the search for tools (Not me, I carve with two knives — both from Cape Forge.)

4) Build a Ukulele with Me!

My ever popular ukulele building class.

5) Berea, Kentucky is the Real Deal

Berea is a magical place to  explore creative handwork and a culture embracing it

6) Preparing for Bloomington Handmade Market

I used this article to address show preparation during an Etsy forum discussion about setting up and merchandising for shows.  It generated some great discussion.

7) BBW-Underside-of-tail

I mislabeled a photo of  the tail of a black and white warbler.  It should have been BWW-Underside-of-tail.  I learned afterward that BBW means big beautiful woman to folks trolling for porn. This gets a hit almost daily and I continue to chuckle at the disappointment these men must feel. I wrote about it here.

8) Bloomington Handmade Market

A popular show and also discussed on the Etsy forum.

9) Carving Little Birds – An Introduction to Whittling.

This is why I started the Folk School.  Folks are looking for instruction and want to make things — birds, ukuleles — whatever.  DIY is hot!

10) Meat ‘n Taters Ukulele Construction


I’m a bit curious about what this data means.  Is Fraktur really that popular or does it get hits because it was posted fairly long ago?  I sure there is meaning to  be derived from this.  Please feel free to post away.

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This Weekend

I took a break from pounding out Christmas ornaments to stock up on new carvings for upcoming shows.

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For the last two years I’ve gone into production mode to cut out and paint flat Christmas ornaments based upon my bird carvings.  The very first were made directly from the scraps that I made when I cut out the bird carving profiles.

The Woodland Birds

My mom made similar cut-out ornaments when we were little.  She spent hours hunched over a scroll saw in the basement cutting out Raggedy Anne and Andy, rocking horses, toy soldiers, toy trains, angels and Santas.  This was followed by days of painting on a card table in the family room.  These brightly painted ornaments were freely given to friends and family.  On our holiday visits around to friends in Indiana and in Philadelphia — my grandparents home — Mom’s work was evident on every Christmas tree.  (If anyone still has any of Mom’s ornaments, please send photos.  I would love to have them.)

Up until recently, if you were to ask me if my ornaments sold well I’d tell you that they were slow and probably not worth the bother.  In preparing for this holiday season I gave my ornament sales a more critical look.  It was pretty simple to see —  I have less than five remaining in stock from last year — that they are good sellers.

With the new realization of their popularity I’ve approached this year’s holiday ornaments with much more


I’ve developed two series, Woodland Birds and Garden Birds. The Woodland Series includes one of each: a whip-poor-will, a indigo bunting, a scarlet tanager, a pileated woodpecker and a Baltimore oriole.  The Garden

The Garden Birds

Series includes a northern cardinal, and American Goldfinch, a chipping sparrow, a blue jay and a Carolina Chickadee.  (Please avoid the temptation to tell me that you see Baltimore Orioles in your garden or northern cardinals in the woods.  I get it.)

Like before you will be able to purchase individual birds.  The difference will be that each series will be available at a

discount and will come in a fancy-dancy clear lidded box — the perfect gift for the bird lover in your family.

These will be available for pre-order early next week.  Orders will be ready to ship before the end of the month.  When they become available you may purchase them from my Etsy store 50 Little Birds.

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I spent an hour, or two, this morning chasing birds throughout the neighborhood.  I spent most of the time in a small marsh behind a line of big box stores.  Thousands of shoppers pass within a few yards of this great little hotspot daily without knowing (or caring).

I’ve read that a good pair of boots is more important than long expensive lenses.   Focus on getting close and developing stealth will make one a better photographer and naturalist than lots of expensive glass.

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A Bloomington friend (and folkschool student) wanted to be able to view these shots outside the slideshow viewer.  I’ve posted thumbnails below.  Click on them to see the photo.  Click on the opened photo to see the image at full size.

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As you probably already know I am in the last stages of preparing for the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.  From my perspective this is a high stakes show.  Until now, I’ve set up an elaborate table and been good to go.  This time I built a one hundred square foot gallery space with lights, carpet and fixtures.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sales.  Slick icky things like “opening”, “landing” and “closing”.  My work starts at about $100 and doesn’t sell itself in an environment where folks can buy original stuff for under $10.  My wife, Julie, sells me and my work well.  I don’t sell me well.  I find it hard to initiate a conversation about my attention to detail, my research and my use of found materials.  Once the door is open I can talk for hours about what the patron wants to learn. (I am always an educator first.)

Last weekend in Bloomington, I listened carefully to the coversations that Julie was having with the patrons.  I listened to their questions and their misconceptions. (Many folks have problems believing that the work is original and one-of-a-kind.  Many folks think the birds are plaster, paper-mache or RESIN. I actually like the first two.)

I have space to hang four informative signs in my new gallery booth.  Yesterday I attempted to boil down all of these conversations into four simple signs.  I wanted them to sound like things I would say.  In fact, one is pulled straight from a recent radio interview.  I tried to put a bit of humor into one of them.

I’m a letterpress printer.  I don’t have the time to set these and print them.  Instead I set them on the HP Inkjet using my favorite typeface (NOT A FONT), Cochin, in a very traditional manner.

These are in the rough.  I am open to re-wording, additions and changes.  I want your ideas (always).

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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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Letterpress plates shipped from Owosso and expected to arrive on Thursday.  For context see previous post.

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