Posts Tagged ‘warbler’


 The Blackburnian warbler has been suggested as a carving subject many times. A quick glance at any field guide confirms that it is a great candidate. The contrast between the blacks and yellows and oranges makes this bird one of North America’s most beautiful warblers. 

The striking paintings in my Sibley and Peterson field guides moved me, but until I have seen or heard or experienced a bird it is out-of-bounds to carve.


 That all changed on June 22, 2014. Had just completed a very difficult carry around Raquette Falls in the Adirondacks. I expected to camp at the falls, but drawing from some deep reservoir — that I would get to know better over the next few weeks — I loaded my boat and pushed on to a lean-to near Stony Creek.

Here I collapsed. I unloaded my gear into the lean-to and pulled the boat ashore. I sat amongst the gear and fell into a deep sleep.


 I awoke to the sound of a bird sifting through the leaf litter in front of the lean-to. I turned my head to see a Blackburnian Warbler nearby. Without disturbing him I watched for several minutes as he searched for a late afternoon meal.

This bird is carved from white pine, has brass tack eyes and steel wire legs. The base is made from antique wood reclaimed from crates and a white birch twig gathered on my canoe trip.  4 1/2″ l x 3″ w x 5 1/4″ t.


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 We get our share of warblers in Indiana — those tiny, flighty often often hard to see gems of the forest. Most are here for a few weeks in May on their way to the northern forests.

I was excited to see warblers on the Northen Forest Canoe Trail. I’m busy with work and home in the spring and don’t often have a chance to pursue warblers while they pass through here. 

The problem that I knew I would face was that these birds would be difficult to see in the north woods–a Forest known for it’s thick canopy of mixed conifers and hardwoods. I could not rely on eyesight alone, so I studied and practiced birding by ear.  (With my phone I was able to practice and reference bird calls in the field.)

I’ve not become a master — heck I probably wouldn’t even stand out in a group of practiced birders — but I did learn to find more birds with ear than eye.

I had been paddling a series of two or three lakes in the Adirondacks. Each lake dumped, through a series of waterfalls and whitewater to the next. After portaging one of these stretches I leaned against a rock, pulled my hat over my eyes and took a nap. 

Some time later I woke to a bird song that I didn’t know. Northern Parula, I bird I had never seen or heard, popped into my head. I checked with my phone. Sure enough, it was the call of the Northern Parula. Though I had never studied the bird or its call, I had come across it enough times that it had become fixed in my sub-conscience. After that afternoon I heard the call often — but never saw one with my eyes.

This Northern Parula is carved of white pine, has brass tack eyes and steel wire legs. The base is made from wood repurposed from antique crates and a birch twig from New England. He stands 6 1/2″ t x 4 1/2″ l x 3 1/4″ w.

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It was with a great deal of anticipation that I waited for the March 2012 issue of Country Living hit the streets.

Before Christmas a photographer/writer visited Indianapolis East Side (Irvington) boutique Homespun: Modern Handmade to collect information and images for a piece called What’s Country Now?

The visitor had asked Amanda Mauer Taflinger, Homespun shopkeep, for images of the store.  From those images she chose specific items that she wanted to photograph.

The issue hit the streets yesterday.  The issue is themed What’s Country Now and features contemporary looks and pieces that are “country”.  It’s a clear move to keep the magazine from sinking in the muck and mire of the 1980s and 1990 country look.

It really is a great issue.  The issue features 25 businesses that are part of the new country movement and ranges from revamped a honky-tonk to organic farming to social networking to Hatch Showprint.  It’s good stuff!

The Homespun piece frames the Taflingers (including Neal and little Zeke) as the active proponents of local artists and economy that they are.  It’s a tribute that they deserve.

There is a photo of the entire Taffy clan and an inset of one of my birds — a yellow warbler.  My work is mentioned in the article.

My work has been featured in a national publication before,  Birdwatching Magazine,  with more visibility.  This is different.  This is a magazine that folks read and have heard about.  It’s really a kick.

To see more of my work visit my Etsy shop or scroll through this blog.

Take a look and let me know what you think.   Country Living, page 84, March 2012.

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Folk School friends Jon and Nicole Sholly recently traveled to Italy.  Before they left they stopped by Homespun and purchased a little yellow warbler as a house gift for their hostess.

Yesterday Nicole shared a link to their hostess’ blog and their was my little bird displayed in a gorgeous explosion of fresh fruit and color!

Little Birds have now spread to three countries on two continents (and a dozen or more states).  It’s a modest beginning, but fun to watch.

If you know of a Little Bird that has left the country, please share.  Maybe it’s time to get a map and little pins!

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The theme of the day was HOT — dripping, stinking, mind numbing hot — and we were inside.  The AC was on and it was considerably cooler inside…but it was hot.  Outdoor vendors and bands are to be commended.

It was a great show!  Neal and Amanda continue to improve on an already proven formula.  You know things are done well when so many of the vendors and buyers come from out of town.

We had loads of family on hand.  My stepdaughter, Emily Vance (Brainchild Designs) sells with me, My daughter, Phoebe performed with Molly Grooms (Pholly), Hannah watched the door for the first two hours, my very patient wife, Julie, helped me and Phoebe’s friend, Evan Slusher, came along to entertain Phoebe and help out where he could.

The highlights are always the folks that we meet along the way.  We met a great lady that wants us to visit in Milwaukee (Hells ya!).  An adorable and creative young couple were so sweet and engaging that we slipped a bird into their bag (It was a little more complicated than that, but you get it, right?).  My favorite regulars came by and added to their collections.  We talked birds, children, music and art all day!

Heat and beer weren’t always a good combination.  A gentleman decided that the 1920s Roy Smeck Vita Uke, behind my booth, was for public playing.  When I raced over to save it he let me know that it sounded good EVEN for a uke.

Another highlight was the trip home.  The kids were in a second car.  We were in touch via cell phone.  The plan was to meet in Fountain Square for dinner.  They got turned around in the storm and ended up in a variety of different and interesting places.  By the time we pulled things together we ate at a big box steakhouse in Noblesville (very, very late).  At some point in the trip the kids had gassed up in Greenfield!

I was not the oldest vendor or the only male vendor at this show! Hurray for diversity!

Unsold merchandise will start showing up on Etsy tonight or tomorrow.  There may be as many as 30 new pieces.

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My favorite show, the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, is right around the corner. The organizers, Amanda and Neal Taflinger deserve a tip of our collective hats for the efforts they have made to develop the DIY culture in Indianapolis. Not only do they organize two annual INDIEana Handicraft Exchanges and associated minis they are also opening a shop, Homespun, featuring the work of their devoted followers.

The last month has been good to me and I was a bit concerned that I would have enough new work for the show.  I’ve been at it every free moment and am thrilled that I have accumulated quite a few new pieces.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

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Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76)

Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76) Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76) Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76) Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76) Black  Throated Blue Warbler (No. 76)


Black Throated Blue Warbler
2″w x 3 1/2″l x 3 1/2″t
White Pine, Steel, Found Limb and Poplar
Number 76
Signed: GB Davis, Noblesville, March 2010

Label: 50 Little Birds for Blue Stone Folk School, No. 76, GB Davis, Noblesville

This bird was carved from a mounted specimen at Cool Creek Nature Center in Westfield, Indiana.

Each of the 50 little birds is designed and carved using traditional hand tools. A specialized finish technique involves up to 20 different steps using traditional methods and materials to achieve a finish that not only looks old, but exhibits complex and subtle colors and textures. A visiting artist once offered that the birds beg to be held in the hand and rubbed.

50 Little Birds is a project begun early in 2009 in order to fund technology and construction costs at Blue Stone Folk School, a traditional arts program in Noblesville, IN. As of November of 2009 over $1500 has been raised for the school. Every dollar of sales of birds numbered 1-50 goes towards the Folk School. 10% of birds numbered over 50 benefit the school. For more information about Blue Stone Folk School and 50 Little birds visit http://www.bluestonefolkschool.wordpress.com.

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