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Posts Tagged ‘folk art’

Noblesville (Indiana) Democrat for July 15, 1892

A Big Snake Story

Last Friday morning Samuel Applegate and George Farris, two young men of this city whose reputation for truth and veracity cannot be questioned, saw a strange sight which they converse very freely about.  They were driving north on the Cicero Pike between the Lake Erie car bridge and the wagon bridge when their attention was attracted towards White River when they noticed what they at first supposed to be a large dog splashing in the water.  Closer observation changed their opinion as to the character of the animal.  A few moments later they saw the entire body of the monster, which had the form of a huge serpent twelve feet in length and perhaps three feet in circumference with a forked tail.  On catching a glimpse of a man, the animal immediately disappeared and has not been seen since.  It is supposed that it came down White River from some larger body of water during the recent floods.

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In the 1820s this monster, painted by Indiana artist George Winters, was said to inhabit Lake Manitou in Fulton County.

When Hamilton County Historian, David Heighway, shared this story with me the wheels started turning. Why wouldn’t I carve the Noblesville Sea Monster?

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We will see where this leads over the next few weeks.

For more information about the Noblesville Sea Monster read David Heighway’s article here.

 

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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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From the current issue of TravelIN.

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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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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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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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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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