Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 29 work in progress

Seventeen years ago today I bought my first horse, Thunder. I can't believe it's been that long. An anniversary I'll always remember. :-)

I am pretty sure this side of of the CCA grips is now finished with the Wright Flyer image. Sooo, tomorrow I'll start working on the other side, which features the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (in it's original beach location). And of course I'll still be working on the knife. I'm ready to do the background, and need to figure out exactly HOW to do it!

strawberry jam anyone?

It's that time of year when the strawberries are ripe and I'm in the mood to make some jam (well, as soon as I finish this urgent scrimshaw stuff). I am planning to make jam in the middle of May. The apricots/plums/peaches/nectarines won't be ready til July or August so I don't want to think about those yet, BUT it's strawberry time! And I make darn good jam, let me tell ya.

Prices are the same as last year:

$6 per half pint jar
shipping $12 for up to 6 jars (I know, it ain't cheap, but these things weigh about a pound each and it's more economical to use the Priority Flat Rate boxes, even shipping one jar is about this much, so you're better off getting a few!)

If you're local, feel free to come get them. Let me know! PayPal to or money order to Katherine Plumer, PO Box 703, Wilton, CA 95693. Or I can take credit cards over the phone if that floats your boat.

Order by May 5, please.

Shipping to US only.

You'll love it! :-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 28 work in progress

Today was a short day due to afternoon/evening plans with family (including of course the cutest baby on the planet), but I'm zonked and at a good stopping point for the day. The beach scenery is not at all finished.

of strange dreams and schedule things

I have been thinking about what I'm going to do when I finish the zebra knife and the CCA grips. I'll have about a week before I leave for some horsey adventures.

1) not look through the microscope for at least a day or two ;-)
2) start preliminary drawings for next pistol grip projects
3) bake chocolate mint sandwich cookies
4) sew something small and frilly (but not pink)
5) start a drawing project (details to be determined)
6) make strawberry jam!!!!

I had a weird dream last night. I probably shouldn't write these things here, someone out there will analyze me and decide I'm a weirdo, but whatever. I was running late for school (it's been a long time since I was in school!). It was morning, very early, fairly dark, and raining. I hadn't packed up my lunch the night before, I was scrambling to get it done though I had already missed the bus. But I could hitch a ride with my brother, if I hurried. I ran outside just as he was pulling away in the minivan (not what he drove in high school), I ran to catch up and he would swerve away, taunting me. I slipped and fell, but the back end of the minivan opened up and my cousin and a friend of my brother's pulled me in, laughing. And then we were out on some desolate farm road, and I was freaking out because now I really was going to be late for school. He was driving through mud puddles and they were all just messing around, saying "you didn't think we were really going to school did you?" And suddenly I was on campus back in high school, except I didn't recognize anyone. I didn't know what time it was. First period? How late was I? Did I even still go to that school? Couldn't remember what class I had first period. Spanish? PE? I was digging though my backpack trying to find my schedule. And then I woke up.

I have had the back-in-school dream before, where I either can't remember what class I'm supposed to be in, or can't find my classroom. The setting can be either high school or college.

I am guessing this is related to stressing out about the upcoming deadline. I think some people (hmm, perhaps people I am related to...) fail to get that this is a big deal, cannot be late type of thing.

I'll be working more tonight, there will be a lot of midnight oil burning in the near future.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27 work in progress

I feel like I ought to be talking about stuff, but this is about all I can manage right now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26 work in progress

I keep talking about this May 15 deadline, but it's actually sooner than that. The CCA grips need to be back in the hands of the engraver on or before that date, so I am planning to ship them out on or before the 11th, which means I need to be done on or before the 10th (and if you know me you know this probably means I'll be finishing about 2am the 11th, but let's hope not). I feel like I'm on track with this, just need to focus and work like mad for the next 14 days. The zebra knife also needs to ship out that week. Eek!

A little Q & A session:

Q: What's the weird light area/reflection on the grips?
A: That's the reflection of the fluorescent ring light underneath the microscope. The grips are sitting under the scope when I take these photos.

Q: What happens if you mess up?
A: Messing up really is not an option. Extremely minor messups can sometimes be sanded off and buffed away, or you can try to fudge it and somehow incorporate your mistake into something else. But for all practical purposes, it would be the end of the world. (Yeah, no pressure or anything).


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Brownie Fudge Dessert

I made this yesterday. It's REALLY good. Hard to explain the texture. It's brownie-like, sorta, but not quite. I had no idea what to expect of it. Try it, you'll like it. :-) This is from the Hershey's cookbook, which I bought when I was 10 years old, and it's probably the cookbook I use the most!

Brownie Fudge Dessert

1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup butter or margarine
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Combine cocoa, oil, and butter in a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. (I'll bet you could do this in the microwave too). Stir over low heat til butter is melted. Remove from heat, stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla just until well combined. Stir flour into mixture until just blended.

Pour batter into ungreased 9x9 pan. Place pan with batter in a 9x13 pan, place hot water to the depth of 1 inch in the 9x13 pan (in other words, bake it in a water bath). Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until a brownie-like crust forms and a toothpick (or knife) inserted a half inch from the edge comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from water bath, let cool til warm (also very good cold!). Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

April 25 work in progress

I did not work in the CCA gun today, just the knife. I went to visit J&L and baby C briefly this morning, then stopped at the fabric store and finally decided on some cute fabric. ;-) My grandpa is coming up to visit for a week, I have to do a bunch of house-cleaning tomorrow, boooo. For some reason his visits seem to coincide with MAJOR DEADLINES, hmm.

I am trying to figure out if I can go do a week of horsey stuff up north with JC next month (since our plans fell through in the fall). I really really really want to go, I'm just so pressed for time right now. But it would be after the CCA gun and knife are mailed off, and the next-in-line clients are not on deadlines.

Oh, "Thankful" got into the Horse Expo art show. (JC and JJ, I know you're wondering something, so let's just say it all worked out). That will be some good publicity in early June.

I have not been to the gallery since the opening reception, I'll go next week some time and see how it's going.

Still no word from the Miniature Show. I'm getting cranky.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24 work in progress

Woo wee! This is going to kick some serious booty upon completion. :-) I worked on the knife a bit today too but have not inked my progress, so there's not much to see yet. But here's how far I got on the Wright Flyer side of the CCA grips (going to do this entire side first, and then the lighthouse side):

I'm hoping to squeeze in a bit of horsey time this weekend, since the weather is good. I so want to GO somewhere and trail ride, arg. Pity I can't fit my horse in my car.... I had go to into town this morning to run a few errands, so I stopped by the fabric store in search of cute fabric. I have in mind to sew some cute little dresses! I think this aunt gig is going to suit me well. ;-)

I baked a new dessert recipe tonight, it was called "brownie fudge dessert." That sounds pretty generic but it's an apt title, it really is somewhere between brownies and fudge. Maybe I'll post the recipe. Not tonight though, I've used up all my energy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23 work in progress

This is without a doubt the most intense thing I've ever worked on. And it's going REALLY well. :-D

Loooooonnng way to go on this side (and the other side, and the knife):

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21 work in progress

Wow. I spent the ENTIRE day doing the image transfer for the CCA gun. :-0 I knew it would take a while, but geez! The first challenge was to get the two images aligned in the same spot on each side. And then I poked about a gazillion dots through the paper printout with the crazy sharp sewing needle. Worked well! I ended up with a VERY fine outline of dots, which is just what I wanted. I would not use that tool for doing actual scrim, it's such a fine point it would take way too long to accomplish anything with it!

Transferring the image is my least favorite part. It makes me nervous. Well, these ones did anyway. I have to remind myself to keep breathing. And take frequent breaks, stretch my hand, stretch my back, etc. Scrimshaw is not a job for the faint of heart of the shaky of hand!

I want to make sure ya'll understand how rounded these grips are, it's definitely not a flat surface I'm working on! (So that requires constant re-focusing of the scope whenever I move something). What kind of gun? Colt Single Action Army .45, aka Colt SAA.

For kicks, the current state of the scrim/engraving bench. Aaaaack! It's only clean if I'm not busy. I'm busy. :-)

Completed transfer of Wright Flyer and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (these images will get much more obvious as I progress!) Oh! If at some point I said this was going to be the 1903 Wright Flyer (did I say that?) that is not correct. It is NOT the 1903, it's a later version.

19 days to finish CCA gun, and hopefully the zebra knife too, though I can push that one a few more days if I need to. Egads.

While watching the Brassies and Blue Brassies putter around the back yard today, I think I decided to keep them. I'm all over the place with this decision, but I have to think if it was really the right time to let them go I wouldn't be agonizing over it. Maybe next year. Maybe not. I just don't think I can let them go. I'm down to less than 40 birds now, I have 11 empty pens, maybe I need to just stick with this for a while and see how it feels. Blue Brassy Back hens are my absolute favorites, how can I not have them?

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20 work in progress, plus other stuff

Okay, I think I'm going to start incubating eggs on May 25. I'm still taking orders for Black Rosecomb eggs. BBReds are sold out for the season (if you're hysterically crying reading that, email me, I'll see what I can do for you, but no promises). Not sure how many I'll hatch, guess I'll see what I feel like! :-)

I did not have time to do the image transfer on the CCA grips today. I did a little practice on a plastic spoon (because I wanted to try out the new sewing-needle tool, and see how much detail I can transfer from the Wright Flyer image). I'm pretty optimistic about it, just need to take it REALLY slow and careful. It'll probably take me a couple hours just to transfer the images (same method as I did for the knife, paper printout taped on, dotted through). Animal subjects are so much easier, I can freehand so much of them!

These are the three sets of grips I have right now. The one on the left is for the Colt Collector's Association annual auction gun (which I refer to as the CCA gun because that's a mouthful). The other two are for a private client, I'll be working on those starting in late May or early June.

I've never worked on anything as big and chunky as a pistol grip, and I don't want them rolling around on my little "table top" so I made this nifty beanbag. It's leftover flannel from my awesome pajama pants, and filled with rice. Yay, holds them nicely in place!

Progress on the zebra knife. I can't wait to see it without all this tape and stuff on there! If you missed that in an earlier post, it's wrapped in tape and felt so that I don't impale myself (it's not a folding knife) and also to protect the bolsters and back side ivory from any accidental scratches.

Oh, and Mr. Barn Swallow agrees with me that 96 degrees is WAY TOO HOT for this time of year. He's panting! This is photographed through the window right next to where I work all day, so he's all of maybe 6 feet away from me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19 work in progress

It would have been a lovely day today, maybe for the middle of August! Low 90s in April? I'm not okay with that, I'd like to have spring again. Oh yeah, you're going to have to listen to me gripe about summer again...

On the bright side, I was able to give Jessie (dog) a bath today. Yup, Jessie's still hanging in there. Deaf as a doorknob, hobbles around when her arthritis is bad, but still a happy dog.

It's been a very busy weekend. I saw J&L and baby C again yesterday, then went over to JJ's house to try to find some feral kittens whose mama had been hit by a car. Unfortunately we could not find them, despite looking in and under everything we could find. A couple times I thought I might have heard something, but I think it was just wishful thinking, as there wasn't anywhere around me where I didn't look! Sad, but at least we tried.

This morning I was up at the crap of dawn to take a couple birds to auction (I did not put the GDW's in the auction, but I did meet their buyer there). Came home, zonked out for 2 more hours, FINALLY finished the drawings for the CCA gun, whew! I have to say that my knowledge of the Wright Flyer(s) has increased exponentially versus what it was a week ago. So, images ready, approved, hopefully I can transfer them tomorrow. It's going to be soooo hard with all the detail in the Flyer. I made a new tool today with a pin vise and an insanely-finely-sharpened sewing needle. I need the thinnest point I can get for this! You know much it hurts to poke yourself with a sewing needle? Well imagine looking at it at 10X magnification and decided it looks too dull. Weird, yeah.

And then I worked on the zebra knife, which is coming along nicely.

This is how scrim looks before inking, if you get the light reflected just right (kinda like how the bulino engravings will look black even without ink):

And this is how far I got today:

And I am going to bed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

chickeny thoughts

I am selling my prettiest bird tomorrow, my Golden Duckwing cockerel. He and the only female I have are going to a young exhibitor who lives not too far away, and he's excited to work with these birds. I had a lot of second thoughts about parting with the GDW project, but I was only two generations into it, and I think I need to focus my chickeny efforts on perfecting the BBReds. Besides, I still have the "It" hen, so there's still one bird out there carrying gold or silver or whatever the heck they are carrying.

I still have a very very huge bird decision to make though, and have been absolutely agonizing over it. I thought I had decided to sell the whole Brassy/Blue Brassy flock, but now I'm second-guessing like mad. Is is the right thing to do? Probably. They should be with someone who can raise a lot and show a lot (what I used to do). I just hate to see them go, and I haven't managed to totally commit to it yet. I'd miss them, but they'd be in good hands, and I could re-focus on the original project, the BBReds.

Big decisions are not easy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17 work in progress

To sum things up: busy. I am in for an insane couple of weeks and I think my hand will need to go on vacation after the May 15 deadline. :-)

I usually blog at night. Wednesday I was doggie-sitting out of town. I met my super-duper-unbelievably adorable niece the next morning. OMG cute.

Last night I was tooooo tired to be even halfway intelligent about blogging. (then again, would you have noticed a difference? Ha!)

I spent most of the day doing the image prep for the CCA gun. It's not like I just freehand stuff with scrimshaw. As you have hopefully noticed, I have to create a drawing first! The lighthouse image is drawn and ready for transfer. The Wright Flyer, I have to say, is giving me fits. All those lines, gah! Makes me want to whack my head on the desk. I am reminded why I say I don't do nautical images, I think a ship would push me over the edge. But hey, I'll manage this. Just need to wrestle with it a bit more. :-)

I'm making progress on the knife too. Man, I gotta put all this on the fast track, time's going to be up before I know it. It takes more than one "pass" (to use a printmaking word) of scrimming to get enough dots to produce a DARK tone, so this was photographed after one pass. I'm actually farther along than this right now, just not at a point where I want to take a photo. It'll get there! I think I've decided to finish the zebras and then do the water, and it's looking like I'll be leaving the back side blank due to time constraints. That's okay.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

another Plumer!

Welcome to the world baby Chloe! I am an aunt as of very late last night! Congratulations J and L, I can't wait to come meet my niece! Prepare for a lifetime of hand-drawn birthday cards and and home-baked goodies and lots of spoiling from the chicken-raising, horse-riding, bellydancing auntie K. :-)


Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday J!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 14 work in progress

Taxes done and mailed. Whew.

Sooo, last time I did a color scrim piece (the peacock) I worked from light to dark and gleefully found that it CAN be done (most people will say you have to work dark to light). However, on this zebra knife I decided that dark to light will work better. I'm still debating whether do to the zebras and THEN the water, or just work on one color layer at a time regardless of where it's located. Hmmm, waffle waffle (mmm, great, now I am craving waffles...mmm... syrup). Uh, yeah. So I think there are going to be maybe 5 colors in this piece (black, brown, cream, and two shades of blue). I think. I'll figure it out as I go.

I am working on details for a spring art sale (via the website) but it's not exactly getting my full attention. I'll keep working on it though, so look for that happening some time in the next few weeks-ish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

April 13 work in progress

Much of the day was spent doing preliminary stuff for the pistol grips, which I received today. I was recently asked by engraver Mike Dubber to do scrim on the grips for the annual Colt Collector's Association auction gun. I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of the gun collecting world is pretty small, but I do know that this is a big dang deal and I don't quite have the words to explain what an incredible honor it is. It will receive some pretty serious publicity, be published on the cover of Rampant Colt magazine, etc. The subject of the gun is North Carolina. On one side I'll be scrimming the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and on the other will be the 1903 Wright Flyer. It's a big deal. :-)

But I did get in lots of hours on the knife too. You wouldn't think this stuff would take so long. But it does. First up was doing the transfer. I showed you the paper printout taped on there yesterday. Well first thing today was to poke through that printout on the outlines with my etching needle (lightly, but with enough pressure to make a tiny dot in the ivory). Put some ink on it, buff it down, and voila, the very subtle outline:

Next is the border, which I'd have to say is my least favorite part to do, because it's tedious. I measure and mark it in teensy increments under the scope, and then connect the dots with a whole heck of a lot more dots to build up a border (photographed through microscope):

And then play connect the dots with the zebra outlines so that I can actually see what I'm doing (eww, green fluorescent light):

You'll note I did not transfer the stripes or the water ripples. I'll just freehand all that. If I tried to transfer that much image information it would just be a hopelessly confusing mass of dots. So I just do the outlines and important parts, usually.

I wasn't nervous about starting this. I thought I would be, since this is my first knife and the first scrim I'm doing that isn't just on some random little bit of ivory. But nope, I feel totally confident in what I'm doing. This piece will be in color, so I am using India and colored drawing inks (well, so far just India). Not my favorite, I do prefer etching ink, but for a multi-color piece I need the drawing inks. Plus, because of the color and because this piece will get a fair amount of handling, it needs to be waxed (no, not like "rrrrrip oww!" waxing, I mean coated with a zillion layers of microcrystalline Renaissance Wax to seal the image and protect the ink, and etching ink can't be waxed til it's dry, which takes months, and I have barely weeks for this).

That's all I got today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12 work in progress

I had in mind to do this very tidy photo progression as a sort of drawing lesson and whatnot, but it got a little disorganized. Sometimes I think if you could see my brain it must look like one of those Escher prints where things are right side up and sideways and upside down but still strangely connected. Or like the staircases in Hogwarts that change around all the time.


I've pretty much come full circle with this zebra thing. It started as a design for only the front side of the knife. Then I wanted a simple image on the back. Then I came up with two really "wowzer" images, one for the front and one for the back. Then I realized that's overkill (that and Don C. told me it wouldn't really up the selling price that much to do that). And besides, the "back" image is cool enough to be a front on some other knife. Don't put your good stuff on the B-side, right? So then I went back to thinking maybe something simple on the back. Or maybe nothing. Either is okay, really. It'll come down to time. I have two MAJOR projects due in early to mid May (this knife and a set of pistol grips) and each one deserves my full attention. If that means not doing the backside of the knife, that's okay.

So, while I sit here right now going tappity tap on the keyboard I'm not sure where this blog is going but I'll show you a bunch of pics and try to say something moderately intelligent and maybe when I'm done it'll make some sense and might even mean something to someone.

I feel like I should say something rather broad and general about drawing. It's the foundation for everything else. Well, not like everything in the world, but for engraving, scrim, painting, and at least for me it's the basis for sculpture. All the great technique in the world can't save a bad foundation, so all this preliminary stuff that some people complain about because it takes time, well my gosh this is perhaps the most important part, so you'd better get it right! :-)

Learn your subject. Understand your subject. Study it if you have to. Know it from the inside out. Understand the structure and how parts go together and move. When I draw chickens, I start a sketch by drawing (this is going to sound weird) but basically a carcass. You know, drumsticks and little wings all folded up. Mmm, I'll have to show this to you some time. It's just that if I can get the "underparts" correct, I can get the feathers in the right spot.

A familiarity with horses is definitely a bonus in this zebra project, but they are definitely NOT striped horses in terms of their conformation!

Okay, so as I said in an earlier post, I like to figure out compositions in Photoshop. I can easily move my reference material around until I figure out what works. (In the olden days I'd do a bunch of "thumbnail" drawings, and sometimes still do, but this is a timesaver, and we all know time is money... or so they tell me).

Ah, where to find photos! Man, I remember trying to find reference material back in the days before internet. It was... a pain in the asterisk to say the least.
Stock photo websites (some free, some not, I bought a couple of photos for this project): think you have to be a member to use this one) and check the "creative commons" box

I'm rambling. Time to throw in some photos. This is a hodge podge of pics from both sketches, but I'll try to make some sense of it.

Gridding: this is a way to transfer an image. I'm not a slave to the grid though. I change things as I go, but it's a way to make sure I get the proportions correct, and make sure the figures are the proper size in relation to each other. The idea is you can then just draw one square at a time, but you REALLY need to pay attention to the big picture when you do this, pay attention to the curves and where the lines intersect, and think about the FORM you are making, not just "this line goes halfway through that square"). Understand what you are drawing. Give it life. When you're dealing with an image like this, particularly for something so SMALL, it's really important to get it all right! So first I draw a grid on the reference pics:

I use my cutting mat as a grid for the sketch itself (if I want 1 x 1 inch grids, otherwise I draw on the paper). I use tracing paper a lot. Not because I trace stuff, but I often end up layering sketches if I make corrections as I go, plus on something like this I have the knife outline (greatly enlarged) on one sheet but I'll use another for the sketch itself. And tracing paper is easy to erase. That may or may not make sense but here's a photo either way, and then of course when I put that top sheet down it makes one image:

And if I slip a piece of paper underneath I don't see the grid, which is what I do after I get the basic layout down:

This is actually the sketch for what was going to be on the back of the knife (and now likely won't be on this knife at all, but that's okay, I can use it elsewhere). First I've just got the basic shapes kinda roughed in, and the I add a little more detail, and then when I'm sure that's all good I go over it again to really solidify everything. I like this image quite a bit with the zebras splashing through the water. I did not get around to adding their stripes, because somewhere around here I was thinking I wouldn't be using this.

Here's the reference pic for side 1 with a roughed sketch. Again, not a slave to the grid.

La la la, got all absorbed in it and forgot to take pictures until I finished, and somewhere along the way I removed the foreground zebra head that was in the previous pic. If I'm NOT using the other image on this knife, I don't need to put 4 zebras on the front. I like 3 better anyway.

Both sides together. They're very neato together, but either will stand alone and it's water ripples that actually got me thinking along these lines anyway, that will go great with the damascus blade, and that's why I'm using the image that I'm using.

The knife is "muzzled" (as my mom said) with felt and tape so that I don't impale myself and also to keep all the parts I'm not working on safe from any accidental scratches.

I outlined the main parts with ink, scanned it, shrunk it, printed it out, and am ready to tape this to the knife:

Taped on and ready to transfer! My hands don't really have that green tinge, this was under the fluorescent microscope light, it always makes things look green in the pics.

That's all for today, this is WAY LONG anyway.

Friday, April 10, 2009

the gallery show!

Last night was the artist's reception for the 50-50 Show. How fun to see everything all hung up! There is some amazing work there, and it's fascinating to see all the different styles and the way that everyone interpreted the project. And it just makes me grin like an idiot to see my art in a gallery! Woo hoo!

It was crazy crowded. I had no idea it would be so crowded, and they say Saturday will be even more so. Seriously, elbow to elbow. I mostly felt like I was in the way. I would love to be out of the way but still present (like at an art show where I'm in the booth) so I could talk to people but I felt like I was constantly in the way or blocking someone, so I may not spend long there on Saturday, it didn't seem to work well for that.

The show is open through May 30, I hope lots of you blog-readers get a chance to go see it. Remember, you can buy work over the phone from the gallery! You can see pics of all my work on my website, and just give the # of the painting to the gallery and they'll make it happen for you. :-) Come on, everyone needs some chicken art. Looks great in the kitchen, or anywhere! They're little, 6 by 6 inches each, very easy to find a space for them. AND the gallery does a great job of framing if you'd like! (See pic below, the Andalusian rooster by my head is framed).

Thank you to AC for going to the reception with me last night (and for the yummy dessert). :-) And a big thank you to the five of you who came to visit me!

Here are some pics from last night, during a 3.5 second break in the crowd (I kid you not):

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The 50-50 Show!!!

Just a reminder that the 20th Street Art Gallery's "50-50 Show" opened today and runs through May 30! Receptions are April 11 and May 9 from 6pm to 9pm. You can see all my work here! I will not be able to keep tabs on what's sold and not sold, since I will probably only be at the gallery a handful of times during the show. Interested in a piece? Go see the show or give the gallery a call!

I did squeeze in some time this evening to work on the sketches for the knife, but I think I want to get both sketches done before I start posting stuff. I talked to the knifemaker and he says that unfortunately doing "full coverage" front and back on the knife won't change the selling price much from doing just the front. That's a bummer, but he says that's just how it is in the market. I may do it anyway, just because I want this to be as fabulous as possible. It's up to me. Hmm.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

victory is ours!

It was a very long meeting with the Board of Supervisors today. I think there were 17 or 18 people who spoke against the ordinance (including me). Yeah, I haven't had to do a whole lot of public speaking in recent years, I was nervous!

In the end, 3 of the 4 supervisors present wanted to drop the proposal. One wanted to have it reworked and tabled for a few months (and this surprised me, this was the supervisor I most expected to be on "our side.") But thankfully the majority won, and the proposed ordinance has been dropped. Yay!!!

Hopefully they can find a way to address the problem without infringing on the freedoms of those of us who are not causing any problem.

Oh yeah, and two of the supervisors commented on my t-shirt. Ha ha!

In unrelated news, the computer has intermittently been making strange noises. Fan problem is my guess. I guess if it becomes constant I'll have to take it in for repair, but it needs to survive until I'm done with taxes, as I depend on Turbotax to understand all those forms! I hate computer problems. And car problems.

Monday, April 06, 2009

so much for simple!

I've been doing lots and lots of preliminary thinking about the knife scrim. I do my thinking in Photoshop, by cutting and pasting in reference material, playing with the scale, moving things around, adding, deleting, and generally pondering the composition until I get it just right. It saves me lots of drawing time. Photoshop, though often used and abused, is a FABULOUS tool. Once I get the compositions how I want them, I print them out, and then (here's where I am right now) I will sketch them out by hand. Could I trace photos? Sure, but it feels like cheating. And hand-sketching allows me to correct photo distortions, add detail, simplify areas, etc. Plus the forms just come out with so much more... life! I'll go into more detail with the drawing stuff when I work on that. Oh, I'm a firm believer in using a grid to transfer an image. I suppose some people can whip out freehand sketches that are proportionally 100% accurate, and with practice I probably could too, but when I want to be SURE I've got everything right, grid it. (Don't worry, I'll talk about what this is).

Okay, so the knife scrim image/design/subject was left entirely at my discretion, which is as supremely cool as it is daunting. I finally picked subject matter (zebras), and came up with a real showstopper idea for the "front" of the knife. I didn't like the idea of leaving the back blank (though I need to talk to the knifemaker and be sure he's okay with a front and back design). So I was going to do something really simple on the back. But it just didn't feel right to have this wowzer image on one side and boringness on the other. So now I have come up with a showstopper image for the back as well. Because I'm crazy like that. But I'm going to email Don right now and see if he actually wanted me to leave the back blank.

Here's the knife if you forgot what it looks like:

I am mind-bogglingly excited about this knife, and determined to give it my best effort and make a masterpiece (and hopefully it'll sell soon so I can get paid, I don't get paid til it sells, but my goal is just to do the BEST I can do). It's also under major time constraints, since it will go to Blade Show even though I won't.

My mind was even more boggled today when I received a request to collaborate with a very respected engraver on a hugely significant project. The downsides: same deadline as the knife (yikes!) and it won't ever pay, BUT the publicity is going to far outweigh that! I'll tell you what this is when I get the box in the mail! :-)!!!!

I gotta get these stupid taxes done so I can do nothing but scrim for the next month!

them's fightin' words

There is a "rooster ordinance" going before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors tomorrow afternoon. I will be there to speak against it (time permitting). The ordinance was proposed by animal control and the sheriff's department, supposedly as a means of cracking down on cockfighting, yet they present it as a noise and public nuisance ordinance, and at the local planning meeting I went to a couple weeks ago they went into all sorts of other nonsense about human health, Avian Influenza, etc. Overall, it seems to make the rather sweeping generalization that anyone in possession of more than 5 roosters is probably using them for fighting. And yet, despite all their "concerns" about disease control, one could a limitless number of hens. Eh?

They would require people keeping five or more roosters to get a "free" permit from animal control. (How long would this be free? Not long, methinks, before a person has to pay out the nose to raise chickens). They want animal control to inspect the flock to make sure it's not a fighting flock (no way in hell am I letting a bunch of people into this BIOSECURE flock to poke around and potentially spread something they picked up elsewhere). They say they'll wear biohazard suits. (And who's gonna foot the bill for that, and the paperwork? This is supposed to save them money enforcing cockfighting? How? Oh yeah, by jacking up the permit price probably). For that matter, I don't trust some random animal control person to have any sense of what would even constitute a fighting flock. A dubbed bird? No. A bird with spurs? Um no all rooster have them (I saw this once on animal cops, the cop was like "look at these sharp spurs on his legs, clearly a fighting bird." Dude, they grow that way.) A "game bird"? Not necessarily. You can't generalize like that. Not all people raising game birds are causing problems. I can just see them going after some kid's flock of Old English bantams just because they're dubbed! Sheesh!

I have been raising birds for 22 years. I have brought back colors of Rosecombs that were nearly gone, or never existed. My birds are healthy. My neighbors have no complaints. I don't want to lose the freedom to go about doing what I have been doing most of my life. I don't want to need "their" permission to raise chickens. It's ridiculous. People live in the country to get away from that sort of bureaucratic crap.

I made this t-shirt today. I am wearing it to the meeting tomorrow:

Friday, April 03, 2009

birds n stuff

Yesterday I went on a field trip. My friend AC teaches a 2nd/3rd grade class, and they had a field trip to the Cosumnes Preserve. I went along as the designated bird nerd. It was fun! We walked about 5 miles, had a picnic lunch, I got to point out lots of bird species and tell the kids a little about them, and attempt to answer questions like "Katherine, I saw a bird. What was it?" Uh. Some of the kids were really interested, and some obviously wanted to be somewhere else.

Of course I had to bring The Beast camera with me, and let me tell ya after 4.5 hours of carrying a 4.5 pound camera, my arms were a tad tired. But I got some decent shots, and all in all it was a good day.

Two female Anna's Hummingbirds at the visitor center. The following three photos are all the same photo, cropped tighter and tighter. I love my camera!

Hey wait, this one isn't a bird. It's a tree frog.

I think I decided this is a Least Sandpiper, but shorebirds were never my strong point:

Green-winged Teal drake:

Swainson's Hawk (light morph):

Back at home, here are two wild tom turkeys having trouble with the "fly over the fence" concept. It always takes them a while...

Current project: taxes. Yeah, no work in progress photos for that, since it would just show you paperwork all over the floor!

Soonish I will start the preliminary sketches for the knife scrim.

I need to figure out entries for Horse Expo, State Fair, and Draft Horse Classic. is trying hard to get me back, wooing me with emails several times a week. No thanks. Not now. If Prince Charming rides up on a Friesian though... I'll at least keep the horse. ;-)