Friday, October 31, 2008

horses n stuff

Dusty doesn't miss much. This is a photo from yesterday afternoon, taken through the kitchen window. It was several hours before horsey dinnertime, I was in the kitchen making oatmeal fudge bars (which turned out fabulous, by the way, maybe I'll post a recipe?) and, um, he was watching me. I'm sure of it. Yeesh.

He did a little early trick or treating last night. I went out at 8 this morning to feed and was quite surprised to see him not in the corral where he's supposed to be, but rather over by one of the chicken coops with the lid off the feed bin, stuffing his face. He turned and looked at me, "hi!" and then went back to eating. Great. I was hoping this would have been his only raid but from the looks of things he downed several flakes of grass hay (I have no idea how many, because what had been 3/4 of a bale was just a giant trampled pile), about half a flake of alfalfa, who knows how many pounds of chicken food, some quantity of mulberry leaves, and about 6 pounds of grain.

That'll freak a horse owner out.

I am not sure how he got out. It is entirely possible I didn't latch the gate properly. It is at least equally (if not more) possible that he figured out how to open it. I have seen him messing with it.

I was pretty paranoid all day hoping he wouldn't get sick, but he's fine, and everything's passing right on through, if you catch my drift...

In other news, Shylah finally got shoes today. Mission accomplished. JC, now we HAVE TO go riding! :-)

And today I baked a pumpkin cheesecake. It smells so good in here! It has to chill overnight. I hope it's good... I had to bake it about 40 minutes longer than the recipe called for. I swear. Recipes are sometimes just totally out of whack.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 29 work in progress

This is copied from the tutorial I'm posting. May as well educate as many people as possible. :-)

I'm more or less working on one section at a time here, bringing each one to "almost done" (or maybe done, we'll see how it all ties together). So his head is pretty much done, but I'll probably be doing a little more work on bringing out some texture. What you see there on the neck is kinda like a base coat. I usually put in whatever will be the lightest tone, over the whole section, and then go back and darken as needed. It takes a few passes to get it dark enough. I showed that in the bear tutorial, I can do that here too. So I'm not making any particular effort to finish a section before posting these pics, this is just how far I got today.

And a closeup too! I'm trying to really pay attention to whether I make the dots the same size, and I've have to say for the most part I do. It's only on the lightest areas that I lighten up on the pressure (it hardly takes any, especially here, this stuff is pretty soft). But honestly it's so subtle it really isn't that obvious. I primarily achieve tonal variation by varying the density of the dots, and somewhat by varying their depth.

That brown ink's looking pretty good, eh? ;-)

sentimental fool

I am one of those people who gets hopelessly attached to things. Things.

We're getting a new couch and recliners on Friday, which of course means the old ones are going byebye. WAAAHHH!!!! See what I mean! Seriously though, this is downright painful, it's like parting with family members. The couch, I think, is the same age as I am, and the recliners are probably almost 20 years old. I've grown up with these things!

So if you talk about couches and I get a little choked up, be gentle with me.

I need to go hug the couch now. :-(

stuff I keep forgetting to say

I am not making Christmas cards this year. For sale, I mean. Well, chances are I won't get around to making them for myself to send either, but I am not selling Christmas cards this year because I don't have time to create a new design. I do have about 5 boxes left from last year (they are undated) if anyone's interested.

I had mentioned the possibility that I would be showing art at a horse show in early November. That, unfortunately, did not pan out. Although it would have been exactly the right sort of crowd for me (lots of people with lots of money) they do not have overnight security for the vendor area, and since I don't have any way of securing my stuff (short of taking it down every night, which would so not happen) I didn't feel as though I could risk showing there. It's too bad, but I can't take that sort of chance with my work.

I've been in an awful funk with the art since the incident last week. I think I just need to work on other things for a while.

I've totally been looking forward to a trail ride this weekend but it's looking like the weather is not going to cooperate. Dang it! As much as we really need rain (the pastures are like deserts) I was hoping it could hold off just a few more days.

Foiled again, unless the forecast changes.

I have the urge to bake something. I really want to make a pumpkin cheesecake. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28 work in progress

Bison (not yet titled)
scrimshaw on ancient (mammoth) ivory

No, his head is not finished.

Monday, October 27, 2008

good but stressful

I went down to Ventura, CA for the weekend (almost 400 miles south). The Seaside Feather Fanciers club was hosting the APA National (in the poultry world this is a BIG DEAL) so I decided to go and take whatever birds looked good and also take my little art display to remind people that I exist and hopefully help cover some of the show expenses.

There were about 2700 birds there (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigeons).

I had a good weekend, had a great time catching up with friends I hadn't seen for a long time, and meeting new friends too. But it's really just way too much work trying to pack all that into one weekend. It takes about an hour and a half to set up the booth (well no, more than that actually, I just do half the work on Friday night) and it's only there for a few hours before I them have to spend another hour and a half taking it down, and a lot of people never have time to stop by anyway (you would not believe how busy a person can be at a poultry show). So honestly I'd be really happy to not bring the artwork anymore, it makes the weekend too stressful.

I never even made it out to the beach! You could throw a rock and hit the beach practically from the show room but I never had time to walk out there or to have a sunset walk on the pier. Boo.

The birds did pretty well. I took 11 pullets (8 Black, 3 BBRed). They are young and have never been shown. It was a good class of birds with several from out of state, quite a few exhibitors. I took best and reserve of breed but they did not go any farther in the class. I am pleased with how they did, although my favorite among them did not place, so it just goes to show you never know...

The whole weekend really kind of reinforced how much things have changed for me in the poultry world. I mean, this was the national! I should have been insanely excited. Don't get me wrong, I was definitely looking forward to it, but it wasn't that long ago I would have felt a lot different about it and would have put a lot of work into getting my birds ready and coop trained. The birds felt a bit like an afterthought this time, and my relationships with various people have changed a lot in the last couple years. The Rosecomb federation is due to put its own National somewhere in the Pacific time zone for 2009, and it's largely my decision (as district director) where it ought to go. I'm entirely at a loss, because I just am not into it like I used to be, and at this point I don't have the foggiest idea what shows I will attend next year. Nothing out of state, that's for sure. There are some very nice fall shows but this is really too early in the season for Rosecombs. Unless a person hatches birds really early, the males are nowhere near ready. January and February are best for my males. What would have once been the logical choice for a host show no longer is, because I won't show there anymore. So do I pick something I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend, or something a little smaller than normal, or a one-day show, or what. I'll have to think about this.

My next show, probably, is in January. Definitely not before that, unfortunately.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

just prepping

Well, the birds are washed and looking good, and I'm working hard getting the art stuff all labeled and sorted and packed. No time for making new art today or tomorrow. Nothing else to rant about right now. ;-)

My right eyelid has been twitching like crazy for the last five days. It's pretty much driving me bonkers. Luckily people tell me they don't notice it, except when I suddenly put my hand over my eye and say "aaaarg!" A wee bit stressed methinks.

There will be some exciting news about engraving in a few weeks, stay tuned. ;-)

And some of my scrimshaw got published in the latest issue of "The Engraver."

Yeah baby!

Maybe tonight I'll fall asleep before 2:30am, now there's a novel idea.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aaaaarg! @#$%!!!

I think smoke might be coming out of my ears, and my head hurts so bad it's making my right eye go kinda wonky. I can't talk about "the issue" but 99% of the time I love my job. Today is the 1%.

I am not at fault, I did exactly what I was told to do.


Don't ask, just sympathize.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm with stupid

You know those shirts that say "I'm with stupid"? Sometimes I feel like I need one for when I work with the horses. (That's a joke, please don't anyone buy me one, I would not actually wear it). Today was Shylah's turn to give me a bad ride, the kind where you get home and think "thank goodness that's over, too bad I don't like beer or I'd have one."

Other than a few of the now-defunct Starbucks rides, I have not had her on the road since... July I guess. Wow, that's a while. I've been riding a lot but it's all been arena/roundpen stuff. I wanted to go do something fun today (since the last ride, on Dusty, wasn't fun).

Sigh. Okay, going to need to do a lot more hand-walking on the road methinks. She flinched a little at the first few cars that went past, but nothing horrible. She's really pretty good for about a half mile, and then I don't quite know specifically what bothers here but things rather suddenly get worse (not just this time, she's done this before). And then it just escalates from there. 5 big barking dogs running the fence-line on one side, cows (did you know that cows are scary? Really, just ask my horse) on the other. It's like going through the gauntlet.

I guess in all fairness I should not refer to her as "stupid." I understand her concern. How can she know that the dogs are fenced in? And cows, well you know how they just stand there and stare, maybe that's unnerving. I had hopped off and was hand-walking her at this point, much safer in that position and better able to say "here look, it's not going to hurt you, let's walk up to it." And she does. She's very curious about stuff, she wants to look at things. She might be snorty and scared and spook but as soon as that's out of her system she wants to go see the scary thing. Very different attitude than Gwen has, who pretty much just lowers her head and makes a beeline for the next county. Gwen doesn't stop and think, she just runs.

Anyway, we got down to the end of the road and turned around and you can totally see her relax like "okay, that wasn't so bad, they didn't kill me after all." I rode much of the way back, until we were almost home and I saw a motorcycle approaching. Gulp. I knew at some point we'd run into one of these and I figured it would not go well, even though she's pretty good with cars and bikes (except when bikes "sneak up"). Sure enough, it was bad. She planted her feet, got the "OMG what is that" expression, whirled and ran. Or tried to anyway, she didn't get too far and thankfully didn't slip on the road. She's easy to stop and easy to stay on top of, so I just reined her to a stop (in the middle of the road, mind you) and hopped off. I apologized to the motorcycle rider, because he'd had to stop, and he said no problem he has horses too so he understands. I walked Shylah up to the motorcycle and let her sniff it. Once she figures out what something is, she's pretty unconcerned. I was kinda shook up by that point so I just walked the rest of the way home.

I'm going to enlist my neighbors with their dirtbike to help work on the motorcycle issue, and I'm going to be taking Shylah for walks. No saddle, no riding, just more walks. I'd like to do the same with Dusty. I have NO idea how he would be out there but I'm none too eager to find out while my butt's in the saddle, I know that horse can unseat me! It's one thing for a horse to stand in a pasture and watch cars and trucks go by, but being on a narrow road with no shoulder and a steep dropoff into the ditch and have cars and trucks just a few feet away is a whole different thing. It's just going to take more exposure to everything out there until nothing concerns her. So if you ever see someone walking a horse down the road, just understand it's a "horse in progress" lol. They don't start out perfect.

I sure wish I had good trails to ride! It's going to be sooo good to get Shylah and Dusty out on some real trails up at JC's.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17 work in progress

Just need to do the background, these will be done in plenty of time:

I did the sketch today for the secret project I can't show you til after Christmas. Can't talk about it either, so let's just say it'll be an artistic representation of a specific image rendered with some of the media I have on hand. Actually it's a very serious piece, it has a story and it has a lot of feeling and I'm definitely feeling it. The sketch is just... I love it... can I say it's super fantastic? Anyway, no WIPS on this one, so stay tuned and see it after Christmas.

I was in a dance performance last night (did y'all forget I bellydance? Been a while since I've been in a performance, I missed two last month because I was out of town). It went well, I didn't mess up. It was very short, only about 6 minutes or so, part of an open house. I had no idea that stage lights are so hot! Geez! It's roasty toasty up on stage in an otherwise dark theater!

I haven't ridden horses for a few days. I've been pushing them/me pretty hard, and I had a really bad ride on Dusty last time around and decided I needed to give it a few days off. Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back with him, and I'm totally willing to take all the blame for that, like maybe I'm the one who's just not "getting it." Sigh. It was all so easy with Shylah. I wanted to take Shylah road riding this week but just have not had time, so maybe I can sneak that in this weekend. I need to sort through the birds this weekend and figure out specifically which 11 pullets I'm taking to the big show, and how many I can take for sale (Black only, I have nothing else available now). I feel woefully out of touch with chicken-showing, I haven't been to a show since February! I am soooooo looking forward to seeing everyone though, catching up with friends I haven't seen for years, and meeting some new friends too!

I am considering showing art at a horse show early next month. I'm awaiting more info to see if it's feasible.

This time of year is pretty much nuts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15 works in progress

Okay, I'm finally getting back to work on this one. I'm going to do this in dark brown ink. Not multicolor, just brown. Might give it sort of a sepia look. Not sure. I just want to try a monochrome non-black piece.

American bison
scrimshaw on ancient ivory (mammoth)

These are still far from done but should go relatively fast. I need to have then done by the middle of next week. There are 3-4 more layers of color to go on the birds themselves, plus their feet, and a dark background.

White Seramas
colored pencil and graphite on white Stonehenge
5x7" each

I'm not usually this tired at 11:26pm, but I could totally fall asleep sitting here right now. I'd better update the tutorial and call it a day!

stupid city slickers

I guess it was bound to happen. We can't do the Starbucks ride anymore. Somebody complained about the horses.

Stupid stupid stupid.

*grumble* :-(

There must be places left in the world where you can still do things like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

peacock scrim done!

Woo hoo! I am just totally excited that the experiment with a different ink (India and colored drawing inks) and a different technique (sealing each layer of color with wax) seems to work, and I CAN scrim from light to dark. Let me be totally clear though, this is REALLY hard to do! :-0

So, I'm going to have someone "test drive" this piece for a while and then I'll take a look at it and make sure there's no loss of ink. I think this'll solve that problem though, so although I still want to be *sure* I think I can safely say I'm once again able to make scrim jewelry and I am ready to take on color commissions (just over two months til Christmas, hint hint!). Contact me for individual pricing, it's going to vary immensely depending on the subject. Remember, elephant ivory can't be exported. I can export mammoth ivory though.

Remember you can read the whole tutorial here: Color Scrimshaw Peacock Pendant

I am going to be transferring the tutorials to my website too, eventually... I could post it all here too.. (?)

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13 work in progress

Since the last time you saw this I've added the blue-green and brown layers. I'm currently working on the black areas, which is the biggest challenge. It's going pretty well though. Hope to be done with that tomorrow.

I'm too tired to photograph the other stuff, sorry.

I'm glad the wind has stopped. We had several days of chilly dry north wind, which was unpleasant.

I just joined Facebook, feel free to add me if you're on there. Just look up my name. If you don't know my name... you need help.

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10 work in progress

Hoo wee it's been windy the last few days. It's so dry here there's dust blowing around like crazy.

I started the two Serama illustrations today but they are not far enough along to make for an interesting WIP photo yet. The bison scrim (on mammoth ivory) is just at the transfer stage, so not all that pretty yet. I'll show you the peacock-in-progress though. Remember this is NOT done yet. I'm experimenting with different ink than I normally use, so it's a somewhat different process. I'm attempting to work from light to dark (the same way I draw) which most scrimshanders will say is not the way it's done. Well, you can't just tell me something doesn't work, I have to find out for myself. And the good news is it does seem to be working.

There are three more layers of color to go. If you want to know more about this, see the link to the tutorial that I posted two postings ago.

color scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory

Thursday, October 09, 2008



Spring 1996 - October 9, 2008

Some chickens are just chickens. Some chickens leave a legacy. Eddie was the latter. Eddie hatched in 1996, he was the first BBRed I was ever able to show after five generations of work. He knocked their socks off at PPBA in January of 1997. He was the granddaddy (with a lot of "greats" in front of that) of every Black Breasted Red I have EVER raised.

Eddie was never friendly. He tolerated me, he didn't have a mean bone in him, he just didn't care much for being handled. For the last many years he always lived with the youngsters in the summertime, and the pullets always seemed to dote on him. For the last few years he spent at least a week or so living in a cage in the kitchen. The change of season always seemed to drag him down a little, but some time indoors with special treats always brought him around. Last year he spent the whole winter in the house, and I dare say he rather enjoyed it. On nice days I'd put him outside to roam around, and come evening he'd be right there waiting on the back step for me to bring him back inside for the night.

He'd been looking much older lately, but still spry and living the good life with his "big girls" (the 6 large fowl egg layers). He was out and about the coop this morning, but when I went to gather eggs this evening he was dead. At the age of twelve and a half, he was the oldest bird I'd ever had, and I have to think he left life as happily as a chicken can.

He lived a good life, he made a lot of people stop and look, he made me laugh, he always looked so grumpy if I picked him and made a fuss over him, but he took it.

Those times I've won big at a show with a BBRed Rosecomb, the promising youngsters out there, that is Eddie's legacy. He was a good boy and I will my ole Ed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

works in progress

You thought I was slacking off didn't you. *snork* No. I'm doing two more (and maybe more) or those engraving tutorials (yes, I want to win!) so I've been all focused on those and then I forget to post work in progress over there. Though there's not much excitement to show here anyway. A sanded piece of ivory, woo hoo!

If you would like to check them out (please do), here they are:

Experimenting with Mammoth Ivory

Color Scrimshaw Peacock Pendant

The next three drawings will be chickens. And then one I can't talk about til after Christmas. More western/horse stuff too. I have so many ideas I don't even know where to start. ;-)

ps- Anyone want to go see the movie "Appaloosa" with me?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

horsing around

Whew, busy weekend! Yesterday I spent much of the day at "Avian Science Day," a yearly event at UCDavis. There were some really interesting topics presented this year. I did a little scrimshaw in the evening and gathered up the auction birds.

This morning I was out the door at 6:08AM (eww) and got to auction a little before 7. Only took 13 birds, but every little bit helps. I need to clean out a couple of the now-empty conditioning pens and move all the cockerels in there. It's time to get them away from the pullets, they are starting to cause trouble...

Got home, fed the horses, fed me, gathered up my camera and headed out to a gaited horse show at Brookside with JJ. That was really interesting. I'm getting a better idea what the various gaits are, but I think what was most interesting is how many of the horses weren't doing it right. Foxtrotters that just trotted regular, for example, or a running walk and a flat walk that were absolutely no different. I took some pics but am way too tired to go through them.

I did a quick ride on Dusty as soon as we got back here. Shylah must be rubbing off on him, he was very lazy today. Perfecting this stuff is going to take a long time. Here's a pic from today, bareback (well, bareback pad anyway) to get a good feel for what he's doing:

I spent a couple hours this afternoon doing everything in my power not to fall asleep, and then WM picked me and Shylah up around 3pm for another round of the Starbucks ride. It was just the two of us today, which really gives the ride a very different feel. She rode her young thoroughbred Toby, who was just as slow and poky as Shylah. Neither one of them is a really super confident leader but they both got to lead and both got to follow and both did quite well. There were a few times it seemed better just to get off and walk (like crossing a very busy street). When it's a big group, a horse doesn't really have time to think about stuff, they just want to stay with the pack. With fewer horses they notice more of the surroundings I think. I'm always of the "better safe than sorry" mindset so I have no problems hand-walking a horse. Good ride. Slow ride. Shylah got called majestic and pretty, by teenage boys! Lol.

Friday, October 03, 2008

chickens I guess

It's pretty weird not to be at the Central Coast Feather Fanciers show this weekend. I'm sad about missing it, but I had to do it. I'm getting a little excited about the big National down in Ventura. I sorted through the birds today to pick out what to take to auction Sunday morning and by golly in the last week some of the birds have really blossomed! Looks like I may end up with some pretty awesome pullets to show this fall. The cockerels likely won't be feathered out til winter. There are some pretty nice black cockerels. There's one I picked out to sell because his earlobes are actually too big. Weird! That's never been a problem, but considering the outcross, it's not unexpected. I'm thinking though that someone might just flip their lid over this big-lobed bird and he would be a good breeder if someone had a bloodline needing some oomph in that department so maybe I ought to take him down to Ventura to sell. I may have a few blacks for sale, I'll get that figured out soon.

Everyone and their dog wants to buy BBReds. Hmm, ain't likely to happen. There's one cockerel I like. I have three cockerels right now. One's going to auction (awful comb). The other I don't like much but *could* sell, though I don't really feel good about selling a bird I don't like when in the past I've had an abundance of really good ones. So that leaves me with two old breeding stock males and one youngster, and I won't use a cockerel for breeding so I think I'd better hang onto all three. Less than that would be unwise. I learned my lesson with the Brassies last year when my *only* male ended up infertile. I used a Black male instead but didn't get much worth keeping. Still toying a bit with the idea of selling off that whole pen of birds (Brassy Back and Blue Brassy Back), I'm just not sure yet the right person is out there who will take them and not ruin my 11 years of hard work with those colors. If you think you're that person, drop me a line and we'll talk, but I'll require some convincing.

Time to sleep.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In Good Hands


I did have to crop it. It's a long story. Sometimes I'm not as smart as I like to think. ;-)

"In Good Hands"
graphite and charcoal on velour board
11 by 17 inches
price to be determined

Wednesday, October 01, 2008