Posts Tagged ‘craft’

I’m carving birds again! Stop by and visit with me and see my new work on Small Business Saturday from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm at Homespun’s new location at 869 Mass Ave. I will be carving — a new style murder of crows and larger owls. In addition to birds I’ll have boats, whales, a polar bear, ukuleles and leatherwork. Stop by and see the new shop space and visit. (Homespun will be open as a preview shop — moving here after the holidays.) Congratulations to Amanda and Neal on this move to cool larger digs!


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photo (14)Just Completed - Folding Bucksaw and Leather Case

I’ve been gathering and preparing equipment for a planned canoe trip next summer. I just completed this little bucksaw (12″ blade) and leather case. I began playing with leather when I recently purchased a Mora knife and needed to replace a tacky plastic sheath.

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The current edition of American Craft Magazine (December 2012-January 2013) features and article reflecting upon Wendell Castle as he turns 80 years old. He has been challenging furniture design conceptions for over fifty years. I first learned of his career thirty years ago form the (then black and white) pages of Fine Woodworking.

Somehow I missed his Ten Adopted Rules of Thumb until now. These are the kinds of words I wish I had been wise enough to write. Though I’ve never articulated list such as this, I do live by many of these words.

1. If you are in love with an idea, you are no judge of its beauty or value.
2. It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
3. After learning the tricks of the trade, don’t think you know the trade.
4. We see and apprehend what we already know.
5. The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.
6. Never state a problem to yourself in the terms it was brought to you.
7. If it’s offbeat or surprising then it’s probably useful.
8. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
9. Don’t get too serious.
10. If you hit the bullseye everytime, then the target is probably too near.

Wendell recently updated these. I will share those soon.

See his work here.

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This has been a long time coming. Thanks onto Eric and Ros for getting things rolling. There are a few little birds, many more to come!


Click here to visit.

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I finally began to move forward with my full sized tundra swan in flight. When completed it should measure fifty-four inches longpith a wingspan of seventy-two inches. My largest strongly, not surprisingly, is to find the space to do this in my tiny crowded shop.

I work, mainly, using two inch thick white pine planks. The cheeks on this swan are three inches thick so the head and neck (the only carved portions of this bird) blank had to be glued up from two pieces of wood.

The trick to a strong and successful glue joint is perfectly mated wood pieces. Before glueing the pieces I flattened them with a bench plane. I then glued them using a waterproof wood glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so I used lots of clamps (six) and thick cauls.

After the glue had set (twenty mins.) I removed the clamps and sawed the head and neck in two profiles. I saw the profile first and tack the scraps back into place before sawing the outline from the top. I then cut a “handle” at the end of the neck to provide a clamping surface.

Like any carving the next step is to knock the corners off–carve off the corners at forty-five degrees to make the piece octagonal–and begin the rounding process. These corners roll in at the beak to form the top and bottom surfaces. The tip of the beak is left square and will be shaped much later. It’s always a good idea to leave extra wood in areas that may be particularly delicate.

Waterfowl heads are thickest at the base of the cheeks. The sides of their heads slant inward. Unlike ducks, with a pronounced cheek line, swans heads are simply tapered. Using a small hand plane I define the flat sides of the head.

More about this later.










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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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