Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, here it is again. Didn't this just happen? I tend to find New Years rather depressing, but not as bad as my birthday or Valentine's Day. I've never had a particularly exciting New Years Eve, and this year certainly does not break tradition. I'm not much of a partygoer anyway (with the exception of poultry show parties of course!) and this is one of those nights where it sucks more than normal to be single. So, I may as well stay home and get some work done.

But for a glimpse into my super glamorous life, here's how I spent New Years Eve:
got up late
fed horses, checked birds, etc.
business stuff, emails, paperwork
worked on cleaning studio
finished cleaning studio/front room
cleaned guest room
put out tables, chairs, tablecloths, candles, etc for tomorrow's brunch
washed 7 roosters (I have two shows coming up, in two weekends)
did some research about microscopes
watched a bit of the news
sprayed all the birds for mites
did laundry
cleaned bathroom
vacuumed kitchen
watched "The Empire Strikes Back"
will I make it to midnight? Hmm, does it matter?

So, 2008... This year has to bring changes. I am so tired of being broke. I compare myself to where my friends are now in their lives and I feel like the biggest loser on the planet. It's ridiculous, and I don't know how long that poor old car is going to keep going....

I think the new year will see even more of a shift away from "fine art" toward scrimshaw. If there's a future for me in art I think that's where it's at. And I hate that I just said "if." There HAS to be, gosh darn it! I am getting SO much positive feedback and reviews on the scrimshaw, and it's pretty cool that so many people have written and told me I've inspired them to try it, but I really need to inspire some more people to buy it! ;-) Anyway, it's not like I'm going to stop drawing or painting, and of course I'm still taking commissions, but much of time I'm pretty fed up with the fine art scene. I honestly don't know what to do about all that licensing stuff, and as much as I am leery of doing this, it may actually be time to consider an agent. There IS a market for the artwork, I just don't have the knowledge or connections to go out and find it. I really envy artists who have someone to help them.

I want to buy a microscope as soon as possible. As much as I am grateful to be able to use the one next door, it is not an ideal setup and I could put in so many more hours if I was able to work here, since then I could also work after dark (a large chunk of the day this time of year!). I was going to try to save up for a new one but I just don't feel like I can justify spending that much. Used ones pop up on ebay from time to time and if I can spend half the amount and still get a good scope, I'm totally cool with that. Even if it means not getting the "perfect scope" right now, but more of a starter setup just to get me going and maybe resell in a few years. It's going to be expensive either way though. If ever anyone was inclined to buy something right now would be an excellent time. Tell me what you want, make me an offer... :-)

I am still thinking I may cut back on birds... a lot. I'd still be willing to sell the whole flock of Brassies and Blue Brassies but I'm not sure the right person is out there to take them. Mostly I think what I need to do is just really cull hard and get rid of anything that isn't darn near perfect. That might weed out another 1/3 of the flock, or maybe more, I dunno. That's a tricky thing though because my "reject" birds are sometimes a lot better than what other people are selling as show or breeding stock, and yet I don't feel right selling them as such. What to do! I guess I just need to sort through them all and take inventory of what I even have.

I need to ride more, or even just spend more time with the horses.

So wish me luck, cross your fingers, tell your friends to buy stuff, whatever it takes...

Here's hoping 2008 brings us all what we are looking for. :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Scrimshaw Necklace Pendant: Moose

I made this for my mom for Christmas, she's a big fan of mooses. I deliberately chose to depict a moose without the huge antlers because I couldn't figure out how to fit one of the big dudes on these vertically oriented pendants!

Scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory cabochon. Mount, bail, and chain are sterling silver.

Scrimshaw Necklace Pendant: Gypsy Horse

This is a scrimshaw necklace pendant on pre-ban elephant ivory, it's a portrait of JC's colt "Aragorn" and was a commissioned gift from DC. :-) The mount and bail are sterling silver, the cord is 18" black leather. Hmm, you could get a custom pendant featuring your critter too! ;-)

Acrylic Painting: Three Corgi Dogs

"Dash, Pudge, and Belle" (Welsh Corgis)
15x30 inches
acrylic on canvas
sold, commission (this was commissioned as a Christmas gift)

Friday, December 28, 2007

the weary traveler returns

I'm back from the annual pilgrimage to my homeland (San Diego). Left here the morning of the 25th, got back late this afternoon. Guess who did all 990 miles (round trip) of So sleepy!

I had a good Christmas although it seemed more rushed and stressful this year. It was kind of weird down in San Diego, so many times I kept thinking about what Grammie would be doing if she was there.... sitting with us in the living room in the evening, watching television with Pop, bossing everyone around in the kitchen.. We all really missed her. Several of my cousins were unable to be there this year so the crowd seemed small, but chaotic nonetheless. ;-)

Mom and I went to the Zoo yesterday. It's so crowded this time of year! Ugh. I always enjoy going there though. It's SO different than how it was when I was a kid. Does anyone else remember the spider monkeys that were right by the exit? I miss the junglefowl too.

Here are a few pics from the zoo:

It cracked me up to hear some lady standing next to me describe these to her kids as "Bacterian Camels." LOL!

Egrets and a heron perched atop the bird of prey aviaries...random. Oh how I would love to have those aviaries, I'd fill them with chickens! ;-)

Awwwww!!!! :-)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas everybody!

It just wouldn't be right if I didn't put up silly pics of animals in hats, so here they are!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

letting the Kat out of the bag

Okay, I can't not-talk-about-this any longer. It's not a secret, because some people already know (I think there are about 25, give or take). I've really debated if I wanted the *whole world* to know, but gosh darn it this is just too exciting. I have to talk about it.

It all started a little over a year ago. My friend CS asked me if I'd like to get involved in learning this thing. And my first thought was "omg NO, seriously, me? Really? Is she insane? I can't do that!" But I thought about it more, and figured well heck, it might be good for me, and it might be FUN. So yeah, sure, why not!

So she and I and a few other people would get together every week or two and learn some stuff and practice and it really was fun. And addicting. And thought-consuming, and time-consuming. Things to practice, stuff to make! We showed our skills to a select group of friends last January and people seemed to get a kick out it, which fanned the fire even more, although unfortunately it was hard to get together as much as we wanted.

Last March she and I went to a HUGE festival that featured this thing. Wow, that was awesome, and inspirational.

So in April I talked another friend (I am not sure if she wants to be anonymous or not so I'll just call her "A") into joining this adventure, and we ("A" and I) started taking lessons. Oooh, loved it. Great group, great teacher, totally hooked. Six months of beginner class and then we moved up to intermediate... Two and a half months there and we were in our first performance Wednesday night!!!

Are you confused yet? What the heck am I talking about?

*ahem* Drum roll please....


I am a bellydancer.

If you fell off your chair please pick yourself up. If you don't believe me, believe me. That's the truth. I drooled over the talent and costumes at Rakkasah West in March (when I stayed with my cousin in the bay area), started formal lessons in April, and performed at a banquet in Stockton Wednesday night. That definitely contributed to recently being really busy, as there was a lot to practice and I did quite a bit of work helping A assemble and sew a costume. I totally love it! It's fun, and I absolutely love the group of people. I totally adore the costuming, that's one of my favorite parts, I really like sewing stuff and making stuff and dyeing veils and I *really* like getting all dressed up! Whee! I think there's some appeal in it being something that really surprises the heck out of people too. ;-)

I'm not yet a member of the troupe but am like an apprentice, part of the student troupe. A and I were invited to take part in the performance (at a medical society banquet) on Wednesday, which was really awesome. I was nervous but excited. I made a few mistakes but nothing really major, probably nobody even noticed, and the other ladies said we were great, so yay!

But here's the really super duper exciting news. Thursday night in class we were invited to take part in the Rakkasah festival in Vallejo in March of 2008!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!! This is *the* festival, this is a really big deal, I am really quite shocked that I am going to be part of it. That's soooo exciting!!! My teacher has more faith in me than I do!

Looks like there will be one or two performances in January, so I'll probably be talking about those as they get closer. It's been *really* hard not talking about this for so long! But on the other hand it was also kind of fun to keep the secret, and it's still going to take me a few minutes to actually hit the "publish" button on this thing.

I know you want pics! I mostly have pics with other people and I don't think I should post those without permission, so I'm just going to put up one that A took here on Wednesday night. It came out all blurry and weird so I photoshopped it and made it arty, but you get the idea. Fun outfit, funky pose. ;-)

So, my very non-commenty bunch of readers, if this doesn't get you talking then nothing will!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I think I'm ready

Wow, I think I'm actually ready for Christmas. I finished making gifts yesterday, and wrapped them all today. I finished baking cookies this morning. No more art til early January, but expect pics of the recent projects in about a week. I have a ton of work to do around the house tomorrow, and I must remember to get my entries in for some upcoming poultry shows! It won't be much of a show string. *sigh*

It's been cold, which much of the rest of the country will laugh at, because by "cold" I mean it's been getting into the 20s at night. Brrrr. (it doesn't even snow here). The horses are so fuzzy! I need to post some pics of them. I'll have to chip the mud off first... Time to put rice hulls in the chicken coops to combat the muddy conditions.

If you haven't poked around my store for a while, I have most of my for-sale items on line now. Still a few to add but most of it's there now.

Not the most exciting blog post, I know. Just wait... ;-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

progress and dilemma

Two down, one to go! Well, I still need to varnish the painting tomorrow but it's essentially done. I'll be delivering it on Thursday afternoon. Cross your fingers and toes that the client likes it! Paintings make me nervous because they aren't an exact likeness (like graphite or colored pencil) so I still worry about the reaction

I need to spend a lot of time at the microscope in the next few days and then I'll be set for Christmas.

I am still in a dilemma about that group, the one I've mentioned a few times with "the issues." I was re-elected as an officer, much to my surprise. I am not sure what to do though. I think "my" side is the minority among the officers. On one hand I feel I should stay and fight on and help my comrades and try to keep the club on the right track. On the other hand I feel like the battle is already lost, I know I'm going to have a hard time working with some of the other officers, and I disagree with a lot of the decisions that have been made and don't care to be associated with them. I don't want other people looking at this group and thinking "that was stupid/rude/insensitive/dishonest, why is Katherine in on that?" when in fact I'm not! I've been asking around seeing what other people are doing and getting mixed answers, and some people are waiting on me so they can decide what to do! Pressure! Ugh!

Monday, December 17, 2007

now don't get huffy

It's funny, if I don't blog for a few days (or almost a week) I hear about it! Nice to know someone out there is paying attention I guess. ;-) I've been busy. Busy with art that can't go on here yet, and busy with something I've never blogged about but I'm thinking I might.. Mm, say what?

So last week was pretty much workworkwork. Saturday morning I went with friends AC and TC to look at a puppy. A family friend's dog had an "oops" litter. Well it worked out perfectly, they loved one of the pups and the timing was right for them and I'm super excited that it all worked out. Cute little buggers but boy I don't think I would want one! I like them older, and mellower. :-)

Sunday morning I met BM and she drove us up north to JC and DC's for our annual Christmas get-together. Wow, that was just yesterday?! This is nuts. It was a fun, if whirlwind, visit. Nice to see everyone. Got back home this afternoon, had a bit of caffeine, went and cut down a Christmas tree, was out and about all evening, and now it's late and I need to work on a painting that I want to FINISH tomorrow. I still have a way to go but I think I can pull it off. I am good under pressure. It's to be done by Christmas. My client seems to be getting ancy. Have faith! So I have that and another Christmas thing to do this week, plus about a zillion and a half other things.

What can I say, it's the Holidaze!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

this and that

One down, two to go, on the gotta-get-done-by Christmas stuff. I'll post it after the 25th. :-)

It was a busy weekend. Cleaned the barn, including *finally* putting up bridle brackets in the tack room. I've only been here ten years, and had the brackets sitting in a bag for at least a year. They're up, it looks great. No more bridles on nails! This should inspire me to get out and ride. Actually, it's not for lack of inspiration that I barely see my horses lately, it's just lack of time. Get up, make art all day, it gets dark, make more art, go to bed...

Anyway, other than that I helped Mom with making caramels, did a bit of sewing on a fun little project, and watched two movies. I thought Children of Men was horrible. Charlotte's Web made me cry.

It's been chilly at night and we had I think two days of rain, but it's been quite dry. That's not good.

Eddie is doing pretty good. For all I know he could last another year. His breathing requires more effort than that of a healthy chicken. But he crows... I put him out in the yard during the days but I think he prefers to be indoors, he paces the cage outside. Here's a pic I took today. His crop is hugely full and sticking out funny. Almost 12 years old!

Friday, December 07, 2007

crack that whip!

Woo yeah, busy! I have three projects underway, unfortunately none of which can be posted on line as WIPs because I can't risk any of the recipients accidentally seeing them. Have to get them done in time to be shipped/delivered by Christmas.... :-) That's pretty much the extent of my life right now.

I have a rooster living in the house. That might make me weird, but that's okay. It's Eddie, the almost 12 year old BBRed Rosecomb, the great (many times over) granddaddy of my ENTIRE flock of BBReds. He's special, to put it mildly. But he's also older than dirt and not in great health. He's not sick, just old, and I really don't know how long he will last. He's certainly not on death's doorstep, but I think the cold weather really takes it out of him. He's spent some time indoors every year around this time when the weather changes. I can put him outside on nice days but I always bring him in at night now. Good ole Eddie has earned his right to be spoiled in the winter of his life.

Nothing else to report.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dragon Scrimshaw Necklace Pendant

Woo hoo, done! (Finished yesterday but the necklace parts arrived today).

multicolor scrimshaw on vintage pre-ban elephant ivory
sterling silver bail and sterling silver 2mm 18 inch wheat chain
this piece has a nice heavy feel, it hangs very well and won't shift around on the chain
It's 1-1/8 by 1-5/8 inches at its widest points, and 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (it tapers). Front is flat, back is the outer part of tusk so it's curved, stained, scratched, but polished smooth. Very cool piece!
for sale, please email if interested (will post price and info on scrimshaw website soon)
cannot ship outside USA!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

December, already?

Oh gosh, I'm not ready for it to be this late in the year! Yikes, there is much to do.

It was a busy weekend. Saturday morning I sorted through all the young birds again. Wow, not too impressive. There are 11 pullets in the show string, and I don't know yet how many cockerels, but not many. Still waiting on sickle feathers, and possibly a lost cause. What is it with that??? If these guys don't feather out properly then I have almost nothing to sell. *sigh* I think it's time to outcross the Black Rosecombs. Hatch rates have been inching down over the years, and the number of good birds seems to be decreasing. Counting the out-of-condition birds I am keeping as breeding stock (not for show) there are only maybe 6 keepers out what I hatched this season. That's pretty bad. It's been ten years since the last outcross, maybe it's time.

I am down to only 75 birds right now but I want to cut that back even more. I still am too lenient with putting up with faults in some of the varieties but let's face it they will never progress if I don't cull out the problems. It's tough though, like in the BBRed females I feel like I have to use anything that has a good head and decent type and halfway decent color. But, that means for years I bred from females with heavily stippled main tails and loads of shafting. Is it any wonder now that most of the males end up with red in the main tail?? If they are supposed to improve from year to year, why I am still using birds that are more than a few years old in the breeding pens? Time to go through them and see what I would have left if it thinned it down to only what really fits the Standard. I know, it means I can't possibly hatch enough to make everyone happy. But I haven't been able to do that for a long time anyway since shipping became such a pain in the butt.

There was a show this weekend that I did not attend, but it was 400 miles south and I had zero interest in doing another big trip right now. There are four shows I hope to attend in January and February. We'll see.

I need to decide pretty soon if I am going to take my art booth to the PPBA show in early January. Pros: potentially make a little money, been doing it for years and people expect it, ego boosting, commissions?, guaranteed place to sit down during the day (that's scarce at a show). Cons: a LOT of work, reduces my enjoyment of the show because it's such a busy weekend that way, takes a lot of prep time (PLUS getting birds ready), a LOT of work. Hmmm.

Today was the meeting for the group that I've sort of mentioned a bit, the one with the "issues." It didn't exactly satisfy. It was decided that there needs to be a separate meeting just to discuss these issues and get it ALL out in the open in a neutral environment. In a way it would have been nice to just hash it out right then and there, but at the same time it really wasn't the time or the place to get into it. I didn't say a word other than to present my committee report, but seeing as how I'm the only one on my committee, that particular aspect runs quite smoothly and has no problems. ;-) So, we'll see. Time will determine the course of action.