Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I really am just shocked that tomorrow is 2009. Let's hope it's a good year, this one certainly left a lot of room for improvement.

I've spent the day doing housework, some baking, and a rather unfortunate trip to the mall to attempt to find a new scarf to replace the one I lost last month, and a few other items as long as I was there. That was unsuccessful, and let me just state for record that shopping for bras is even worse than shopping for shoes. There, I said it. Gah! I could totally go on a rant about that topic, geez!


Anyway. There are a lot of things I'm thinking about tonight, and a few things I really need to stop overthinking, but nothing I really want to get into here and now. I'll talk about stuff when the time is right. I know this probably sounds mopey and way too introspective. I suspect it is! This isn't how I'd thought I might be spending the evening, but c'est la vie. ;-)

I think I'll be in bed long before midnight! Party hard peeps, but stay off the road if you do.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shiloh portrait

There's a story here too of how this came to be that dates back about a year, but I think the back-story will just stay in the background. I never met Shiloh. He belonged to a dear friend. :-) A memorial portrait tends to have such a different feel to it versus drawing an animal that's still living, like my approach to it is completely different, more delicate I guess I would say. I really am kicking myself for not photographing it along the way, it was an awesome progression. It's always a huge and daunting challenge to try to "capture" any animal in a portrait, but one I've never met is much more difficult. There is a certain point during the drawing process where the piece seems to come to life. Usually it's the eyes. This one was the nose, at least that's where it started, then the eyes, and I sat back and thought "OMG I hope I captured the right dog!" Yeah, I REALLY should have photographed this in progress, sorry!

I totally love this piece! And it just brings me so much joy that the recipients do too. :-)

8x10 inch colored pencil and graphite
on warm white Stonehenge paper
© 2008

scrimshaw engraving - family crest/coat of arms

This is the scrim that I was in a mad rush to finish before Christmas. This was a LOT of work but it turned out great! Well I think so anyway. ;-) I'm hoping to get word from the final recipient at some point.

For reasons of privacy I can't really say much about the story behind this piece. I was given a photocopy of the crest to work from originally. I really didn't like how it looked, so I did a lot of research to find out just how closely I had to stick to what I was given, or could I make some changes. Found out that the important parts are the "parts" (the raven, the mountains, their size and location, etc) and the colors, but aside from that I could interpret it in my own way. So I did. I changed the scroll work from a very clunky acanthus leaf to this more "pretty" ribbon scroll, and redrew the raven so it's actually properly proportioned (the original was a bit pigeon-ish).

family crest/coat of arms scrimshaw engraving
38mm diameter
on pre-ban elephant ivory

ketchup, again

Yeesh, I feel like I'm always catching up these days!

I left Christmas morning for the annual pilgrimage to the homeland (San Diego where most of Mom's side of the family lives, and also stopped to see Aunt M and Uncle K in Riverside). I got back yesterday evening. I think I might actually be all caught up on sleep from the last couple weeks of staying up way too late and getting up way too early. Yay! I had a great time down south, it's always so good to see all the relatives and spend Christmas with family, though I will be the first to admit that after a few days all I want is some peace and quiet! ;-)

I have a ton of housework to do in the next day, so once again I will be spending my New Years Eve doing something really exciting, like vacuuming. Yes indeed, I'm THAT thrilling!

I'm going to really buckle down and see if I can teach myself to engrave metal here in the immediate future. I'm open to commissions in fine art or scrim, prices are not changing in 2009.

I know you want pics. Here are some pics from the trip:

The sun setting over the Pacific ocean on Christmas day. Photo taken near Camp Pendleton.

I call this "The Evil Angel." It's the tree topper on Poppa's Christmas tree, and it's evil, truly. It's older than dirt, nobody would ever make anything like this anymore. All those fine little hairlike pieces... that's glass. And it gets EVERYWHERE. I think everyone has been subjected to glass slivers at some point. I got one in my toe this year, in the guest room! Evil angel! I wish they would retire that thing.

Flamingoes at the San Diego Zoo:

Siberian Lynxes at the San Diego Zoo:

Um, I think these were New Guinea Singing Dogs. Puppies will be puppies, wild or otherwise!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe tomorrow is Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

I ran out of time to take pictures of the animals wearing the Santa hat this year. I didn't even have time to do a Christmas email, or a Christmas poem. I finished the last project last night, whew! Got up at 5:30am today and between barn-sitting, airport-shuttling, and a meeting I seemed to be gone more than home. I'm absolutely exhausted!

However, I'll leave you with a December memory from long ago. This was the one time I remember it snowing when we lived in Redmond, WA. My brothers and I pulled each other around on big shovels. To this day I remember how fun that was! I have a strong urge to go sledding lately, might need to do a snow adventure this winter!

(Was I adorable or what?!)


Monday, December 22, 2008

catching up

I'm on break right now. Well, my hand is anyway. Mentally I'm still going a zillion miles an hour. I decided to try using the GraverMate on the scrim I'm doing. It's proving to be a HUGE time-saver but I have to hold it in a way that it's not meant to be held in order to keep it vertical, so it's wearing my hand out. Then again, doing that many solid black areas "by hand" (one dot at a time) would hurt even more. It's all good. It has to be done and framed by tomorrow night. Hoo boy!

This is probably the closest to Christmas I've ever been scrambling to finish things. Plus I have other things I need to work on around here. And spending 3.5 hours per day barn sitting is challenging.

I did take some time off on Saturday. BV and I went to see "A Winter Night's Yodel" up in Sutter Creek. This was a performance of bluegrass and old cowboy music (Faux Renwah, Sourdough Slim, Robert Armstrong). I had a GREAT time and really enjoyed it. I think this is the fourth one I've been to, except it used to be different, and I hadn't gone for maybe two years. As fun as it was, having seen it with the duo Doo Doo Wah in the past, I sure missed them. Oh what I would give to hear "Don't Pet The Dog" again! There was a guy playing a saw with a bow (like, a fiddle bow). That blew my mind, it was pretty amazing. Those people are so talented (says the girl with zero musical talent, a side note here, we are learning the zils in dance class and OMG my hands march to their own beat, it's pretty ridiculous). Anyway. Another lovely evening. ;-)

It's been raining, everything is muddy and gross. The horses are eating the fence in the corral because they are bored. They are bored because they are shut out of the pastures so that the grass gets a chance to actually grow this year.

Okay, I'd better get back to it. Oh crap, I have to drive out to Sloughhouse in a half an hour. Gah!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

coming up for air

I'm fine, I'm just REALLY REALLY insanely busy and don't have much time to sit and do this (and am still completely neglecting emails, sorry!). The last project is extremely time consuming. I'm taking care of horses about 15 miles from here, twice a day, so that takes a big chunk out of my day. I'm pretty frazzled. Tonight will be a fun evening, and I'm looking forward to relaxing over the holidaze!

*Gulp* I'm going back under, see y'all around!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


April 28, 1996 - December 17, 2008

It's never easy, but anyone who's ever shared their life with an animal can tell you that when that time comes, you'll just know it. It was Nellie's time. Her health had declined rapidly in the last few weeks, and just within the last few days she lost her strength. She was such a sweet dog. A bonehead, for sure, and yes she often drove me up the wall. I always joked she didn't have a brain, just a head full of styrofoam packing peanuts, and when she would go nosing around some place, well, "she must be looking for her brain." If you ever wanted to feel completely adored, all you had to do was spend some time with Nellie, she loved to sit next to a person and put her head on their knee. Talk about unconditional love. :-)

Her last day was a good one, she mostly spent it flopped out in the sunshine on this chilly but bright day, grunting happily as she received belly rubs, and spoiled with her favorite foods (eggs and cheese!).

Rest in peace sweet Nellie. I'm sure those who went before her are there to welcome her home.

Monday, December 15, 2008

seeing what isn't there

Two down, one to go! Woo hoo! Yup, that means I finished the drawing tonight. :-) I totally love it. Look for it after Christmas....

This drawing was an example of what I refer to as "seeing what isn't there." Thankfully I was given a LOT of reference photos to work from, which was a saving grace because the pic that had the best pose was very very small, partially obscured by something else, and in shadow. It's a strange process, a strange feeling, something I can't really explain, but even though at first sometimes I look at these things and think "I can't possibly work with that" after a little while it's like I'm drawing what I can't actually see but know should be there. It's like this whole other level of perception. And that probably makes me sound like a weirdo so I'll just quit while I'm ahead since you can't see what I'm talking about anyway. ;-)

It rained a bunch. It's cold. It's muddy.

I'd started working on the scrim image. I thought I'd done the image transfer properly but part of it didn't come out, and by the time I realized that I'd already removed the paper printout from the surface. Bleh! So I'm sanding and polishing it down and will redo the transfer. Live and learn. I think this is a hard piece of ivory. That's okay. This is a VERY complex piece with a lot of lines (which will all be done with dots, whee).

That's all I got. I think I'll go to bed. Before midnight, what a concept!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

adventuring and other things

I need to catch up on answering emails. That's sort of a mass apology to everyone who's asked or told me something in the last couple weeks (or entire lifetime) and has not received a proper reply.

The art works in progress are going well. I have not been photographing the drawing in progress. It just dawned on me I should have been doing that so I could post a WIP after the fact. D'oh. Oh well.

Since the trail ride today got cancelled and that gave me an entire weekend to work on art, I decided to get out of foggy valley yesterday and headed up the foothills for another day of adventuring with BV. Didn't find any real great riding areas this time (not that are easily trailer-accessible anyway). We had a destination in mind, a lookout point high up on a mountain, but the little GPS thingy didn't know that every gate on every road that lead to this place would be closed. Strangely, we seemed to be in the part that was closed off, so go figure. Never did make it to the destination but had a little picnic dinner alongside a pretty creek as the sun set, and it was really quite a lovely day. :-) And cold. Really freakin cold. Soon it will be snowy there and even more of those roads will be closed. Here are some pics of the creek (river?):

Today I've mostly been working on art. I did put up the outdoor Christmas lights this afternoon, which I haven't done for a few years. And Mom asked me to help decorate some cookies this afternoon. Bwahaha! It's dangerous asking me to do that, because I just can't resist doing things like this (if you haven't seen The Christmas Story then the red one with white text won't make sense, and remember you can click on the pics to see them bigger):

Alrighty, I just downed an iced tea, so hopefully that will be a little caffeine boost to keep my fingers drawing for a while longer tonight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the stars are stacked against me

Boy, things are just not working out too well in the horse-riding department this fall. The endless postponement and eventual cancellation of the week up north... And now Saturday's ride at Mount Diablo is off due to inclement weather. Sigh. I was really excited about that, but riding there in rain and high wind... eh no.

It's that time of year when it's pretty hard to plan anything more than about two days in advance because you never really know what the weather is going to do. We NEED rain though. I usually don't ride much this time of year (Jan/Feb) because it's so muddy, but I have a new riding buddy (with a truck!) and access to a trailer we can borrow (thank you JJ!) and we have lots of plans for whenever the weather decides to cooperate. :-)

Monday, December 08, 2008

random thoughts

Okay, so I can't post any more art works in progress til after Christmas. Bummer, I know! I will tell you that one's a drawing and one's a scrim, just to whet your appetite a bit.

I went down to Stockton today to meet with an engraver (I am lucky to have so many engravers in driving distance!). I didn't have a lot of time today but had a great time down there studying some castings of bulino engraving and learning about the different styles. Bulino is a type of engraving using dots and lines (there are some similarities to scrim), photorealistic figurative work, really exciting to me. There are so many different avenues within engraving, different styles and different "things" that get engraved, so looking at a lot of sample work really helps me fine tune the idea of where I want to go with it. And what I want is to do bulino. I want to learn more than that, I want to be competent at scrolls, because the two often go together, but the figurative stuff is where I want to focus. I saw some pictures in books today that just blew my mind, it was engraving on guns and knife bolsters that had no scrollwork, only bulino scenes. Absolutely stunning. I want to do that. Inspiration strikes! However, since classes are a tad out of budget, I need to get my hands on some books. I want these two books (should any random strangers have the overwhelming urge to get me a Christmas present, these are available from or, ha ha, hey a girl can wish) ;-)
1) Firmo & Francesca Fracassi – Master Engravers
By Stephen Lamboy & Elena Micheli-Lamboy, Edited by S.P. Fjestad & Dag Sundseth
2) Advanced Drawing of Scrolls - 2nd Ed.
by Ron Smith

It's been cold here and overcast/foggy for a while, I haven't seen the sun for... days?

The dogs are actually wearing little doggy coats now. Nothing sissy, mind you, they are like little horse blankets. They are both old and creaky and seem to appreciate the extra warmth, particularly Nellie as the Cushing's Disease has made her lose a lot of hair.

I've been thinking about a few dilemmas. One is I can't decide what candy to make for Christmas this year. I'm not sure how much I'll be shipping this year (that add$ up!). Buckeye balls, fudge, chocolate mint fudge are the usual, but the chocolate buttercream truffles I made for Valentine's day last year were absolutely to die for. But I can't make four batches of candy for Christmas, that's overkill. Hmm. (I know, seriously, tough decision).

I also need to figure out what I am going to do about showing chickens in 2009. Everyone knows I've cut back, and it's really no secret my heart just isn't there like it used to be. Heck, how many months has it been since I've read the Press?? Yeah, things have changed. And I just can't afford to travel to all the shows. There are four that I know of this winter. The most I would possibly make it to is two. I hate to miss going to Eureka, because I sure enjoy that, but I think it's unlikely I'll be able to pull off the 600+ mile round trip this year. And I have a date conflict with the show in Stockton (plus I wouldn't go anyway, ahem). So.. I guess maybe I ought to plan to head down to Hollister and then just play the rest by ear, knowing it may not work out. I have to go to one. I miss my poultry people! I just think that travel expenses ought to be for going to art/engraving shows.

I'm not sure I'll be doing much hatching in 2009 either. We'll see.

Anyway, I think I'll do a little more mystery art and then hit the hay.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

drawing done!

One down, two to go. This is good. :-)

I'm VERY pleased with how this turned out.

"New Arrivals"
7 x 9.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on natural Stonehenge paper

My good clients make my life wonderful. :-) I treasure my good clients, they more than compensate for the occasional rotten apple. There's some saying about how you should never work for friends. Bah humbug on that. You have to keep it professional (EVERYONE signs a contract) but most of the time if a client wasn't a friend to begin with they are by the time I'm done.

Well, it's going to be a super busy week again. Tomorrow should be interesting. I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, December 05, 2008

December 5 work in progress

All together, now, awwww. Just need to do the background! :-)

not yet titled
7 x 9.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite

I miss my waterbed, I must say. It went kablooie last spring, so this is first winter that I really understand why people complain about cold sheets. OMG. I can see the appeal of flannel sheets, might have to get some of those!

We need rain, but please hope for good sunny weather on December 13, there are trail ride plans!

I saw the movie Twilight last night. I have not read the books and didn't know much about it. It was pretty good. And I didn't even scream or faint over the actor. I guess Thursday nights aren't too crowded. There were 6 people in there. The couple sitting a few rows behind us was having a heavy duty make-out session while the credits rolled. Oookay.

I baked a gingerbread cake tonight. Mmmm. :-)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

December 3 work in progress

The reason a lot of this looks so flat right now is that I don't have all the color layering done. The hen's back/wing/chest are not done. Neither are the chicks.

I don't know what I'll blog about when this one's done (which will be by the end of the day Sunday). The other two Christmas projects can't be shown here til they are done, just in case the recipients are checking in (doubtful, but possible, can't chance it).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December 2 work in progress

The challenging part of this drawing for me is that this bird is quite a bit larger than life!

Monday, December 01, 2008

December 1 work in progress

If you aren't familiar with this subject this is going to look REALLY weird for a while!

not yet titled (DM, I'm open to suggestions)
Quail Belgian D'Anver hen and chicks
7x9.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on natural Stonehenge paper

proof, and other things

I think I have proof that it was Dusty who let himself out of the corral back in October.

Here's how the gate looked when I went out to feed this morning:

And here's how it looks when it's latched, which is how I left it last night:

Does that look like a guilty face to you? Yes, yes it does:

So it's December, I'm officially freaking out, there's kind of a lot of things in various aspects of life all catching up to me right now that are weighing pretty heavy on my mind. Plus deadlines! Three projects, three weeks. I can do this.

I'm finally starting to feel better, this has been a pretty bad cold that I've had. I did end up sick on Thanksgiving but I went anyway, just warned everyone not to hug me. ;-)

I had a really fun day on Friday, other than feeling crappy. Spent the day with BV and we went on a long drive up in the El Dorado National Forest in search of good places to take the horses for some trail riding. We found some really nice areas that would be fun to ride, but of course now it's getting to be the time of year where that won't be too practical up in the mountains, so that may wait til spring, we'll see. It was really pretty, I didn't have my camera with me because I didn't know we were doing that. Note to self, take camera everywhere. :-)

Anyone know of good local day trip or overnight rides that aren't way up in the high country? And aren't on bike trails?

Sadly, the Bears and Boulders ride will not be happening this year (that is the week at JC's). Circumstances have not worked out in our favor this year. This is a bummer. :-(

Alrighty, I gotta get to work. Clock's a-tickin'.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey, I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving tomorrow and get to spend the day with people who are near and dear, and get to eat lots of good food, and hopefully don't have too much family drama. ;-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

bison scrim done

I finished the bison scrim last night. I don't yet have a title for it. It will be framed like some of my other ones, but that'll probably wait a while.

American Bison
scrimshaw on mammoth ivory (yes, wooly mammoth, really!)
inked with dark brown etching ink
~1 x 1.5 inches
for sale

In other news, well let's see, it's a month til Christmas. Ack! Three projects need to be done asap, so it's time to duct tape my butt to the chair and crack that whip.

I'm sick, I've got that stupid cold that seems to be making the rounds. If I don't feel fantastic on Thursday I'm going to be most cranky. I have missed far too many Thanksgiving dinners because of colds!

The horses are well. Still trying to find a few spare days to head up north for some Bears and Boulders but between the weather and busy schedules, it's proving somewhat challenging. I hope it works out!

I have had very little time to work on practicing engraving metal, but I intend to get a little more focused on that. I ordered some practice plates, and I just need to work on lines and circles and curves and really get a feel for how to handle the tools.

Okay, back to work!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday cards!

[Edit: only ONE box left!!!]

Extremely limited quantities now fabulously on sale, woo hoo! Act now!

Professionally printed cards, envelopes included, packaged in nice clear boxes!

Inside message says: "May the winter holidays bring you peace and happiness"

10 cards per box, only FIVE boxes left. Now priced at $15 per box. Shipping $5. CA residents add 7.75% sales tax. I take PayPal, money orders, and credit cards. Email or comment to stake your claim.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

horse training

Okay totally unrelated but 7 (at least) helicopters just flew low overhead heading southeast. Several police, others were...? News? Life flight?? What the heck is going on?!

Anyway, I was going to talk about horses. Standing tied is good for them, they need to get used to doing that, so periodically I have them spend several hours tied. Mind you, this is not a herd that gets along well or ever has physical contact (other than teeth and hooves) so this is good for them, they're very polite when tied. And one of them (not to name names, but the one who is a different color than the other two, ahem) has the attention span of a gnat on crack and isn't good at holding still....

Says Shylah and Dusty, "Can you put Gwen farther away from us? Like, maybe Nevada?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17 work in progress

Back in the saddle, so to speak. And that has nothing to do with horses, I've been in that saddle almost every day lately.

I haven't been very on top of things with scrimshaw lately so I need to get crackin. It took some time to get things arranged into a scrim-friendly configuration again. I decided I could not stand doing scrim on the vise, I even rigged up this neato little wooden gizmo and glued my old mouse-pad on there. Turned out nifty but the whole stand has a bit of a wiggle to it (because hey, bar stools aren't really meant for this job, it's rather top-heavy now) and that drives me insane when I'm doing scrim, though I don't think I'll notice it while engraving (time will tell). I'd sit there and try to work and just go bonkers and get frustrated and accomplish nothing. Anyway, I'm back to working on the tabletop for scrim, so that just means moving 40+ pounds of vise/turntable out of the way and pushing the scope back a little. It's do-able, though kind of a pain in the asterisk.

Anyway, I need to get this little bison finished up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

complicated stuff

Okay, this has required major re-arranging of part of the studio, but things are pretty much set up now. It's a little chaotic looking at the moment, but that's typical. I had to move the scope to the other side of the desk in order to accommodate the GraverMate. I also had to level the desk (I did have it angled like a typical drafting table, since scrimshaw, like drawing, was simply done on the desk itself). Well, turns out the scope had to be level to work with the vise, so I had to push the front of the table up. Now the scope is higher so the chair is higher and that probably means I'll have to raise my drawing table too. Bleh! The other option is to shorten the legs on the bar stool that's holding the turntable and ball vise. I tell ya, this is complicated. There's a fixed distance between the bottom of the scope and the item that's being worked on, about 6 inches. So raising or lowering one part of this arrangement means you raise or lower the entire thing accordingly. As you can see, my work surface is now in front of the table on the vise, not on the table itself. This is all going to take some getting used to.

I had originally thought I would still be able to do scrim on the table itself, but now that I've had to move the table, I can see I'm going to just have to put the scrim on the vise too. That okay, I just don't want to actually put it in the jaws, so I need to rig up some sort of flat plate I can clamp onto the vise that will give me a mini table-top on which to work. I'll scout around and see what I can come up with. I predict there may be glue and duct tape involved. I'm not the most mechanically inclined person, so these little attempts of mine are often disastrous, though generally good for entertainment value.

The GraverMate will eventually be upgraded to a different system. The other items won't change. The compressor is fantastic, though with such a tiny tank it's on as often as it's off, and this system bleeds a lot of air (partly that's how it's designed, partly there's a leaky valve on the graver that I don't know how to fix, if any of my brilliant friends would like to look at this I'll happily let you). So when I'm not actively using it, I turn it off. The cats hate it. It's very quiet though. I still need a good sharpening system, I'll have to buy that. I have a couple whet stones around here but the tool geometry is really important and I don't trust myself not to screw that up if I sharpen by hand.

Okay, I'm going to look at something I can cobble together so I can scrim on the vise. I need to get that bison done! The clocks a-tickin' on those Christmas orders.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the Mendocino adventure

Alrighty, let's see if I can get through this without forgetting anything! I know I don't write as much as I used to. It comes and goes. Sometimes I don't have all that much to say but mostly lately I've just been really busy and it's all I can do to get the work in progress stuff posted at night. It's Christmas Crunch time, just over a month to get quite a few things done and I'm mildly freaking out about it. I'm sure it'll work it, it always does.

Okay, so I have to give you a little history about this. Ever since I started doing scrimshaw almost a year and a half ago, one of the first questions that engravers ask me is when am I going to learn to engrave metal. And I was always like "eh, I dunno, maybe some day." Well for the past couple months, specifically since I won that tutorial competition and actually have a little financial progress toward owning an airgraver, the desire to engrave metal has totally caught fire in me. I think about it. I dream about it. I want it. Well it may take some time before I actually get my hands on a top of the line pneumatic graver, but...

Sometimes life brings you what you need when you least expect it. :-)

My friend Rod, a flutemaker and engraver, recently acquired an old pneumatic graver, vise, and compressor at an unbeatable price, and I jumped on the opportunity to buy these items. I'm still working toward the Airgraver, but I now have something on which I can learn, practice, and no doubt make a LOT of mistakes!

Me and Rod:

I left here Saturday morning and drove up to Mendocino, a cute little town a little over 200 miles northwest, on the coast. I took my chances and took the Taurus (which thankfully survived the trip, that car's a trooper). It's rare that I'm not travelling with a car load of chickens and not in a hurry to get somewhere, so I took a lot of "alternate routes" on this trip (more on the way home). Instead of taking I-5 all way to Williams before getting on 20, I took 16 out of Woodland. I must say the Capay Valley is really quite pretty, what a nice area. What a shame that Cache Creek Casino is such an eyesore in the middle of an otherwise sleepy looking farming valley. And I saw a bald eagle flying along Cache Creek. There was absolutely no place to pull over and try to take pics.

I arrived in Mendocino around 2pm Saturday afternoon and got a tour of the workshop and R's home. His shop is fascinating. There is pretty much every tool you can think of, and it's this jumble of stuff, but everything's in its place. Fascinating! I tried out a few different types of pneumatic tools at R's engraving bench that evening. It was a bit like being tossed in the deep end without knowing how to swim, but that's not a complaint, I was just totally overwhelmed. I was trying to cut scrolls, meanwhile wondering "shouldn't I be learning straight lines first?" Well, skilled engravers have my utmost respect now, because at the moment I can't cut a scroll to save my life. Straight lines I can sort of manage. It's a whole different beast than scrimshaw, different tools, different hand position, just all around different. There is one engraving technique (called bulino) that uses dots (and lines) and that will have some similarities, and I think I'm really going to enjoy that, but the scrollwork I still can't quite get my head around. It's going to take a LOT of practice!!!

I brought my microscope, and on Sunday we set up all my "new" (old) equipment and I got to try out the new goodies, so I played around with various techniques until I was so tired my focus was just totally shot and I kept slipping with the graver and making scratches. It's a lot to take in! It's so exciting though, and I can see this could definitely turn into an obsession, especially once I get a handle on what I'm doing. Right now I just don't have a feel for the tools or how to handle them, so that'll come with practice. There are certainly engraving classes out there that would help but I don't have the moolah for that so I'll learn as much as I can through studying on my own and see where that gets me.

Mendocino is a pretty cute little town. Being able to walk around town is a very strange concept to me, as is going to a bakery every morning for breakfast, but that was fun! Like, you could actually get around there perfectly well without a car. Huh. The weather was unpredictable, in typical coastal fashion. I'd wake up to sunshine coming in the window of the workshop (I stayed at the shop) and by noon it would be overcast again, only to clear up later, etc.

This is a pic from Sunday, it was brutally windy when I took this:

I had some spare time Monday morning before I had to leave so I took a walk around town and headed out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Standing on a cliff overlooking rocks and waves below certainly gets the adrenaline going. That kinda scares the bejeebers out of me, but I walked right up and peered over the edge anyway. Here are some pics from Monday morning's walk, including a turkey that seems to have adopted the town:

I left late that morning, and at Rod's suggestion I took the "Comptche Ukiah Road" back over to 101. Wow, when he said that road is "intimate" he wasn't kidding. It added an hour to my drive, and at times was little more than a paved single lane path through the forest.

It was absolutely fun though, winding through redwood forests, dipping into picturesque farm valleys that time seemed to have forgotten, soaring up mountains that overlooked some of the prettiest vistas I've seen. My poor car though, there was a hairpin switchback road going up this mountain and I think my car was panting by the time we reached the top. It smelled hot. I stopped and popped the hood and checked all the fluids. All was well so I let it breathe for a while and I walked around and took some photos:

On hwy 20, somewhere east of Clear Lake, I was thrilled to bits to see a herd of elk alongside the road. I always see those "elk crossing next 4 miles" signs and think "yeah right" and then they promptly prove me wrong, but usually they're way the heck far off in the distance. Ah, there they were just a stone's throw from the road, conveniently by a wide pullout area! Sweet! So I stopped and took 133 photos. :-) I love digital cameras. Between these and the pics that BK sent me a while back, I ought to be well stocked for life with elk photos. This is just a small sample:

I decided to take 16 again, being not in any particular hurry, and I pulled over at a place I'd spotted on the way up there. I was driving along thinking "this place is BEAUTIFUL, I would love to ride a horse here." And whaddya know, it just so happens to be called Cowboy Camp, and it's a trailhead with parking for horse trailers! OMG!!!!! I want to go ride here!!!! Please somebody let's go ride here!!!! It's two hours away. Question for those of you who have horse-camped. If there are no corrals where do you put the horses overnight? I suppose there are trees out on the trail where you could high-line, but assuming you wanted to return to the trailer at night, and use the um, facilities there... I'm imagining horses pawing incessantly if they were tied up. Anyway, I want to ride there. Some day...

Sadly, there were no cowboys inhabiting Cowboy Camp that day. Foiled again. ;-)

So I got home Monday evening, exhausted, and slept very well and for a very long time that night. ;-)

I don't have the engraving equipment set up yet. I need a stool of some sort on which to set up the vise, so I'm shopping around for that and will get it set up hopefully within the week and will take a pic when it's ready to go! And then I'll set out to engrave every metal object I can get my hands on. Bwahaha, nothing is safe! ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

weary traveler returns

Did you miss me? I've been gone since Saturday morning. I took a trip up to Mendocino, and I have returned with engraving equipment (you can't see me but I have this big grin on my face). :-D I'm exhausted. I took a zillion photos. I will talk about it all in great detail some time later!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

a Tuesday

Something pretty today:

I hope you all vote today. You pretty much won't catch me talking about politics, but whatever you believe, go vote for it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

November 2 work in process

(November?! Eek!)

Copied from the tutorial:

I scanned this a few times today to show you how I build up the dark tones. You can always make things darker, but you can't go the other way! So I think it's best to take it slow and build up to where you want it to be. You saw the "base coat" on the neck area in the previous post.

So then I did another layer of dotting and inking over that (concentrating more dots in darker areas, of course), and it still wasn't dark enough:

I went over it again. I think that'll do. There is often some adjusting to do when the whole figure is done, but I'll decide that at the end!

And here is how far I got today. Base coat on the shoulder now. Interesting note: the freshly inked areas look more reddish brown because this ink darkens when it dries.

In other news, let's see...

The pumpkin cheesecake is awesome.

I did not go horse camping because of the weather and my lack of desire to spend the weekend being rained on while dressed in less-than-wonderful rain gear. My friend WM did go anyway though and she said she had a good time and the weather wasn't too bad up there (it rained all day Saturday here). I'm holding out for a dry weekend though. :-)

Yesterday I went to see the movie Appaloosa with my friend BV. It was really good! Other than we showed up a little late and missed part of the opening scene. Oopsie. I'm glad I finally got to go see it. And then we went to see a play that evening downtown. Yes, a play! I haven't seen one of those since I went to the Shakespeare Festival in seventh grade. It was a lot of fun, we saw Treasure Island and it was very well done. Oh, this is funny. You know how they ask you to turn off your cell phones and stuff? Well the pirate-voiced guy giving that spiel said that along with no cell phones, no photos, and no texting, there is to be "no scrimshaw carving" during the play. Gah! I darn near jumped out of my chair. He said scrimshaw! I may have been the only one in the room who had any idea what that is. :-) Tee hee!