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Posts Tagged ‘carve’

A recent customer wrote to me:

I love your style, a perfect combination of texture, color, and form, that looks and feels gently worn, yet alive.

“Gently worn, yet alive” is exactly what I’m going for. My birds tell a story. The first story in the story of my experience with the bird. The second story is what I put into the bird through form, color and texture. The third story is the story revealed to the viewer what they hold a bird or whale or goat in their hand.

I study color and texture an experiment in ways to convey them in my work. The following pieces are from my collection of stuff and are textures that I cherish and work towards re-creating. These were created by the master of distressed and interesting surfaces — Time.

Tfullsizeoutput_8a7his is the tool box that I take to demonstrations. I bought it for the finish. It’s a simple well worn homemade plywood box with steel hasps and corners. It had a disintegrating wet formed leather handle that I recovered.

I love the pale green alligatored paint with subtle white splatter. Bare wood The circle is from my own shellac can. The single light blue drop is mine as well.

fullsizeoutput_8a8This is another side of the same box. I stenciled “50 Little Birds” across the side. One this side there are two layers of bright yellow-green paint. The top coat has alligatored into fine grains. The paint is worn to wood following the grain of the plywood veneer. The hardware is painted as well.
This is the top of the wooden stool that I sit on at my bench. It was left behind when a co-worker left the school where I was teaching. He always knew that I fullsizeoutput_8a9liked it and I suspect it was left on purpose.

It was once painted red over white and then alligatored. Decades of rear ends have worn much of it to bare wood that has been rubbed smooth. It has some splatter — black spot can be seen here.

fullsizeoutput_8a6This is one of the many white cedar lobster bouys that I picked up as a kid. Lobster bouys were so much more substantial and interesting when they were made of wood. These were made from massive blocks of wood and were turned on a lathe. This wasn’t fancy work and the gouge marks are still visible.

This bouy was primed in orange — often whatever house paint that could be aquired. The red with a green stripe indicate which fisherman owned the bouy. An identical one was displayed on the boat. I love these three colors together. I also love that the red exposed beneath the failing green paint has not faded. It’s also important to note that most of the red paint is missing from the surfaces that would make the most contact.

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Years ago i got a bargain on a huge poplar dresser and cabinet. It’s almost 5′ tall and 6′ long. It contain 8 drawers (Three of which are larger than most dressers) and a hanging locker. It was so large that we had to remove the cap on my full sized pickup to load it.

It was to be put in my (then) upstairs studio — but it could not negotiate the turn in the stairs. It now sits in our living room with the TV atop.

It’s been painting — at least — three times. It has a few stories to tell and I’ve can’t make sense of them.

IMG_0810Looking at the door, It is clear that the green paint is under the grained red paint. This is counter to what would be expected. In general faux grained finishes pre-date “institutional” green. The hardware is painted with both colors indicating that there is — probably — at least another color (the original color) underneath.

Another mystery is the row of orange dots under each bin pull/drawer pull. They were painted when the piece was “institutional” green.

These are the finishes that I seek out. These are the finishes that I collect. These are the finishes I strive to re-create.

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Great Blue Whale

_mg_0092This big boy was carved for Blue Indy, the upcoming first Friday show at the Harrison Center for the Arts.

_mg_0089I wanted to produce a piece in a larger scale than usual. Creating a large blue whale seemed

to be the perfect project. Not only was I challenged by the size, the whale provided a great canvas for exploring layers of color and texture.

Blue Whale

White Pine, Tinplate, Glass, Steel and Paper

32″l x 13″w x 17″t

Available Here.

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_mg_0127In high school I purchased a set of metal spoked wheels to put on Noah’s Ark that I had carved. Over the years the unfinished ark disappeared and the wheels ended up hanging from a piece of string over my bench.

I’ve often looked at these wheels and thought about building a pull toy. I was too busy. There were birds to carve and the house always needed work.

About a month ago I began to draw elephants. I scribbled elephants on the borders of meeting minutes and on restaurant placemats. I found some time to work in the shop and remembered those wheels (in the meantime another pair had appeared on the same string.).img_1850

Long story short…I’m carving pull toys. I’ve begun to sketch a series — a long series.
These are fun and take my work in a new direction. I love to carve birds, but I am getting great satisfaction drawing all of the animals that fascinated me as a child.

Pictured

The Pull-Toy Series No. 1 – Elephant

Available Here

The Pull-Toy Series No. 2 – Giraffe

On Bench

The Pull-Toy Series No. 3 – Zebra

The Pull Toy Series No. 4 – Hippopotamus

 

 

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_MG_0014I’ve been stocking The Artisan’s Bench in Brighton, Michigan with a very complete representation of my work. I’ve been sending off groups of pieces as they are finished. The gallery is as enthusiastic as I am about including 50 Little Birds.

The pieces in the photo on the left have arrived at the gallery and are available for purchase.

 

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The first of three are completed.

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photo 1Most of my experiences with ovenbirds happened before I canoed the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. My trail experiences are limited to a few fleeting glimpses and calls from trees.

My training for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail was multi-faceted. I trained physically by hiking, paddling, lining and poling and spent many weekends in the forest testing myself and equipment.

Knowing that I would be paddling in the summer, when the forest canopy would make sighting many forest birds impossible, I spent a great deal of time ear training.

For ear training I used two apps, iBird Pro and Larkwire Birdsong Pro. The iBird app is a huge field guide complete with descriptions, photos, paintings and recorded calls. All birds are cross referenced with birds with similar features or calls. I generally use this app, on my iPhone, to confirm (or not) when I am not certain of a call that I have heard. Larkwire Birdsong is a ear training method that uses recording, photos, drills and games to facilitate learning and differentiating calls.

A quick note – There are birders that use these calls to draw birds out of cover to be more clearly observed. There is are photo 2two camps on this practice — those that believe the practice is justified and those that believe the practice is disruptive and has a negative impact and causing undue anxiety in birds.

On an early training hike, I was camped in Shades State Park in west central Indiana. I set up camp, cooked on a Sve 123, ate dinner and sat down with an iPad to review and practice birding by ear. I had forgotten my earphones. Thoughtlessly I turned the volume low and accessed a recording of an ovenbird that I thought that I had heard earlier.

“Teacher-teacher-teacher-teacher” the recording played confirming what I had thought I had heard.

I never expected what happened next. The trees and brush around me exploded with agitated ovenbirds.

For several minutes, several birds, flitted across the open campsite scolding and buzzing angrily.

As quickly as the assault had begun, the forest resumed its quiet order. The deserved rebuke was over. Earphones were added to my packing list for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

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At Union Falls, New York, a large pond (of the same name) spills over a dam and tumbles over the rocks and ledges to make a fast and wild plunge to Lake Champlain. This stretch of river is no match for my skills or for my wood and canvas canoe. It’s here that I elected to strap the wheels to the boat and hunker down for a long portage.

 

 From a small park the road drops down to cross the river adjacent to the ancient dam and powerhouse. The iron bridge, was enveloped in spray from the dam and waterfalls. Turning right onto the Casey Road I found myself plunged into another time and place. 

This was the time and place I sought. This was rural Maine — the rural Maine of my childhood.

Here the forest is a mix of beech, maple, birch, pine and spruce. The narrow lane, paved in macadam, was lined in ancient loose stone walls. In the margins of the road–where sunlight filtered through the overhanging trees–wild flowers grew. These were the same windflowers my sister and I would gather on those ancient Maine roads many years ago. I expected to see a familiar fox or pheasant dart across the road ahead if me.

 

 My pleasant walk was interrupted. Not by a fox or a pheasant, but by something completely alien to me.

I was attacked by a deranged two-legged raccoon. That was my first thought as a chattering brown and black striped animal exploded from the underbrush.

Before I had time to gather my thoughts into something rational, the animal slowed and assumed a posture that I had often studied in my field guides. I was under attack by a ruffed grouse. 

For the next five minutes the bird moved about me and the boat, posturing and blustering. 

I realized his bird was protecting a nest or offspring, so I moved along. When I last saw him, he was sitting on a shoulder high branch sending me along my way.

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