Saturday, July 31, 2010

scrimshaw moose pendant!

Done and in the hands of a very happy new owner. :-)

Moose pendant
22x30mm, set in gold
multicolor scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory

The horse scrim I've been working on is finished. And I can show you the lion knives. But I'd hate to overwhelm you all at once, so I'll space them out a bit. :-)

I'll start a new piece tomorrow, though I've changed my mind a half a dozen times today about what it will be. I need to determine how well I like to scrim on Mother of Pearl, because there could be some important business opportunities if I like it and it turns out well. I also need to focus pretty exclusively on doing work for the show in WY, so that means wildlife/western stuff (not what I had planned to put on the MOP, but now that I found the missing stuff and have FOUR of them to fiddle with, well heck, I can save my other idea for later.) So you might remember, if you've been reading this for a long time, that I once started a color scrim of a swan. Just barely started. And then got sidetracked with other projects and put it aside and never touched it again. Well, I still love the image, but I picked up that piece of ivory today with the swan outline and it's just too darn big, it's a huge piece of ivory, I don't want to make the image that big. It's a subtle image, it should be smaller. Save the big pieces for the drama and detail. So I'll start it again, this time on MOP. Unless I hate the MOP, we'll see. And I'll just repolish the ivory and do something else with it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

eh, fair

I took my whopping two birds to the State Fair this morning. They get judged tomorrow, but I won't be there and won't actually see them again til Monday. I'm not expecting much. This isn't "show season." Birds look pretty crappy in the summer because they are either losing feathers in the yearly moult, or they desperately need to lose feathers because they are so ragged!

Anyway, I wandered around the fair til about 2:30, at which point I bailed out and headed home. I didn't think I was going to be wandering alone (this is what happens when I make assumptions I guess, sigh) but alas I was lacking my usual fair-going companion for the day, and had to eat fair food and seek out bad taxidermy alone. It's really not nearly as fun to do those things solo. But I did stay long enough to eat my Fair Food Trifecta, which consists of a cinnamon roll, corndog (with lemonade, that's one item to me, corndog+lemonade), and a frosty. I am aware that I miss out on other significant food items (funnel cake, cotton candy, kettle corn, BBQ, curly fries, etc). There is simply only so much that one can do in half a day...

Cute piglets!

Okay, I watched some of the dairy cow show. Wow. It's like cows in slow motion. I used to show beef cattle when I was just a cute little kid (no, wait, I wasn't that cute). I don't remember all that much about it, I guess I've mostly repressed all the cow trauma or something, but it seems as though we walked them normally, you know, like horses. But these dairy people grab them not by the lead rope but by the halter itself, hoist those big heads up awkwardly high, and walk soooo sloooowwwwww, many of the cows sort of being dragged along (hello, halterbreaking? Weren't our cows more obedient?). And what's up with the walking backwards??? It's hard to look graceful when you keep checking over your shoulder to make sure you aren't going to collide with the slow-moving cow-butt in walking ahead of you. Totally different world I guess. Maybe beef cows walk slower than I remember too. And dang those dairy cows are big.

Anyhoo, I saw some cool stuff, and saw some weird people, and the weather was good, but... eh. Just eh. That's all I got.

Oh, and no bad taxidermy was found. Two items of reasonably good quality. This is a long-standing tradition. It's okay if you think it's weird. ;-)

Sorry, am I a little cynical tonight? There's a scrimshaw piece coming back to me for re-inking. It was damaged, perhaps irreparably, by a jeweler. I have no idea what it looks like yet but it might be pretty bad, and I might not be able to fix it, and it'll certainly never look the same, and this is REALLY sad and REALLY PISSES ME OFF that a jeweler of all people would do whatever the heck he did to have removed what sounds like most of the ink. On a color piece! That meant a lot to someone! That I busted my butt working on! @#$%!!!!!!!! *sigh* I'll know in about a week...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28 work in progress

Nope, not done.

Heavy-hearted tonight... The engraving world has lost one of its bright spots today, one of the kindest and most generous men I've ever known, Ron N. I treasure the time I was able to spend talking to him at Blade Show, and the advice he'd given me over the years. Damn, life is unpredictable. May he rest in peace. He will be missed by many. :-(


I found this little frog hopping around under the engraving bench tonight. It was kinda skinny, poor little thing may have been indoors for a while! I put it out back with all the other ones frogs that congregate around the kitchen window every night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27 work in progress

I hope the pink t-shirt doesn't throw you too badly for a loop. It was just that I happened to have the engraving under the scope when I was ready to take pics, rather than the black background you usually see!

Yes, I'm trying my hand (uh, literally) at engraving again. I'm a tad jealous that a bunch of my friends are soon going to be in Kansas for the two-week Grand Master engraving class learning Italian bulino engraving, so it's inspiring me to try it again. I definitely don't have the comfort level with this that I do with scrim! This is on steel. Pencil lead is shown for scale. The pic is taken through the microscope, so you're seeing what I see when I work.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to my oldest bro!

In my time zone, this doesn't apply for about another hour, but it's already the 27th across the pond, so.... Happy Birthday!

I was hoping there would be a birthday party pic from when he was a year old or something, but alas no, so I settled for this other cute one. I'm sure he's just thrilled that I have access to the baby pictures, bwahaha!!

(I think our parental units are fashion-impaired, and sadly I inherited it. Somehow I'm happy to see that I was not the only child subjected to green pants though.)

If you don't already read my brother's blog, you should. He's "I'm doing work - really" over there in the right sidebar. The sense of humor runs in the family, but I he's much more witty than I am. ;-) If only my other brother would blog too!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

trail ride today

I went on a nice couple-hour trail ride this morning with my friend Cheryl. It was a little toasty by the end, but much of the ride went through shady areas, so it was nice. Shylah was great. She mostly poked along bringing up the rear as always. She doesn't mind being last, but I think she minds my constantly asking her to trot and keep up. She never cares if the rider in front goes out of sight. But, as I've discovered a few times, I think she's a great deal happier in the lead because SHE gets to set the pace and not have to struggle to keep up with everyone else! So she led the way for a good part of the ride too. She's a good little trail horse once you come to terms with the fact that she moves through life at a slower speed than most. ;-) She's such a dork though, she's got this thing about walking next to the trail, not on it. Given free rein, she's always go just to one side or the other. It can be sort of annoying, if a trail has been mostly cleared of rocks, and the rocks are now alongside the trail, she'll get into all that mess and get this peeved expression like "this is too hard, I don't like this" meanwhile I'm trying to steer her into the CLEAR trail and thinking "well dummy, stay on the trail and it would be much easier!"

Wondering who that cute mule is? It's Sara!!!!! :-) It was great to hit the trail with Sara, she's just an awesome animal and totally unfazed by the world. She and Shylah even got along pretty well! Shylah can be kind of unpleasant with other critters, but they did well.


Friday, July 23, 2010


After Blade Show, I was given two small pieces of Mother Of Pearl on which to try scrimshaw. I put them in my purse, in the inner zipper portion. Or so I thought.

About a week ago I decided it was time to go ahead and polish those so I could start something. Problem was, they weren't there. I was sure I hadn't taken them out, I didn't remember handling them since the moment they were given to me. I looked all around the studio but there was no sign of them, and they were not in any of the other luggage pieces that I could find at that moment, so I figured most likely I had set them next to my purse, and simply walked away without ever taking them, and the person who gave them to me put them away without realizing they were the ones I was supposed to take.

So I ordered some new pieces of MOP.

I also realized recently that my tiny camera bag was missing. The camera is here, with the batteries, but I couldn't find the case. No matter, I don't use it much anyway and I bought it for a couple dollars, so I figured I'd just get a new one if it didn't turn up pretty soon.

The new MOP arrived in the mail yesterday.

This afternoon I needed to remove my scrimshaw platform from the engraving vise, and put in a small piece of steel on which I'll be attempting another engraving. This requires an allen wrench. This allen wrench lives on my engraving bench, or sometimes on top of the drawers to my right. It wasn't in either place. I cleared off the bench, looked under the drawers and all around the floor, looked in all the drawers, looked on the drawing table, looked on the spare table, checked the tool drawer in the kitchen, and finally went out to the barn to find a replacement, as I had NO idea where it was. Didn't have another one the same size. I was about to go nuts at this point, I couldn't put a new project in the vise without it! I happened to glance over at the drawing table again, and there was the allen wrench, in with some pencils. Well what the heck. I had even looked there. I don't use it over THERE, it doesn't go there, why would it be there, and why didn't I see it there earlier? I wasted about 20 minutes looking for the stupid thing and got totally frazzled!

Tonight, I was in my room looking high and low for the missing camera bag because I need it tomorrow. Well, no, don't need it, but it would be nice to have if possible. I found it, I had fallen behind the box that stores all my bellydance costume stuff.

And guess what was inside.

The original Mother Of Pearl!

Welcome to my world. (rolls eyes)

[EDIT] I should probably clarify that the MOP did not get into the camera bag by itself. Clearly I had forgotten I had the camera bag IN my purse at the time I was given the MOP, so the zippered compartment I put the MOP into was the camera bag itself, within the purse.... Sigh.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

more random pictures

Okay, I finished the moose pendant tonight, but the client needs to see it before y'all do. It turned out pretty cool. There are, let's see... 12 colors in it. Some are pretty close though, so nobody but me would be able to figure that out.

I know you're all chomping at the bit to see the finished lion knives too. Trust me, I'm chomping at the bit to send them out of here and show you, but my client is currently on safari (yes, like in Africa) so I have to wait til he gets some. Soon...

Other than a drawing which I need to start chipping away at, I don't think I'm going do any more commissioned work until after the Jackson Hole show in mid September. I really need to focus on creating work for that, because right now I have hardly anything to take with me. I do have several more commissions lined up, but I've told everyone they'll have to wait. We'll see how that works out... There is a project I finished not too many months ago that might be coming back to me to have more work done on another part... I'm not sure right now how this will pan out, but there may be another looming deadline involved so, yeah, we'll see.

I'm getting pretty excited about going to Wyoming. I need to get my schedule all figured out and make travel arrangements. I get to see my friend BK again, and I'm so excited! We'll have a blast visiting Yellowstone again. :-) But this time I want to get photographic proof of a moose!

Anyway, here are some random photos for you!

Tis the season for frogs in the house:


Dead magpie in the pasture. Did you know that the yellow-billed magpie is found only in a fairly small portion of California? The rest of the country has the black-billed magpie (aka American magpie). We do not have the black-billed magpie here. This reminds me of a few years ago when West Nile Virus first spread to this area, the magpie population dropped a lot. As did scrub jays, I found so many dead or dying scrub jays that first summer. Who knows what happened to this bird.

Soon, peaches! I can't wait!:

A feather in the pasture. I'm going to guess it's from a white-tailed kite, but I can't be sure. Just a hunch based on color and the fringey softness (very much like an owl feather in that regard):

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20 work in progress

This will be a pendant set in gold (it's a commissioned piece):

This will be framed:

I am going to start on another metal engraving. I neeeeeeeeeeed to practice. I think if I'm not "gung ho" into metal engraving by the time I see the engraver crowd again in January they are going to disown me. ;-)

random stuff I haven't posted yet

This was the day earlier this month when I made two batches of apricot jam and one batch of strawberry jam all in the same day:

Cats do find interesting places to sleep!:

Can you figure out what this is that I've photographed? No, there's no prize if you get it right. :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I write like...

I tried it three times. Got this result two out of three times. I have no idea...

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15 work in progress

It's 1 inch tall and 1-7/8 inches long. I'm still thinking about the title. This is something that's been on my list of "drawings I should do" for quite a number of years. The horse is one that I photographed about a zillion years ago, and the background, well, you'll see! Anyway, if it can be drawn it can be scrimmed! And what I need now is to do a lot of scrim. ;-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm blogging in the morning!

I hardly ever blog in the morning, but here I am. Because I'm sitting here with too many things to do, and not sure which to do first, so I'll just procrastinate on all of them and blog instead. I've been meaning to write something the last couple nights but it gets way too late and I get way too tired and then I simply go to bed instead. So, totally disjointed thoughts for the day:

1) Whoever invented the electric sander should probably be sainted. Try polishing some rough-cut ivory, you'll agree with me.

2) I was working on a "reverse" scrimshaw. It was going to be white ink on a black surface. I was experimenting with black buffalo horn. I HATE it. Not the reverse idea, but the horn. Even when it's polished smooth the fibers are still visible, so it's not a solid dark color, and it's soft and mushy anyway and the dots kept disappearing. Ugh! So I scrapped that idea. Too bad, it was going to be my entry for Draft Horse Classic. Now I'm up a creek and won't be entering. I can't exhibit there anyway (conflict with Jackson Hole show) but wanted to put in a piece anyway. It's probably just as well, I need to focus on having stuff for the Jackson show. So, I'm adding horn to the list of surfaces that I won't work on. Yuck.

3) I finished hatching chicks and turned off the incubator yesterday. Just three batches this year, wow! I don't know how many I have, 75ish??? Could be more. I won't be showing in the fall. I will show at 1-3 shows in early 2011. Oh, I am showing at State Fair in a couple weeks, if that counts. Mostly these days I just enter so I can get a parking pass and entry ticket. It's cheaper than getting in as a non-exhibitor! Anyway, I need my yearly cinnamon roll.

4) I added about 100 more photos to the album "The Cross Country Adventure" (see link in right side bar). When I first put them up I was in a hurry to get it done, and having seen all that scenery in person, I thought "these photos don't really capture it as well as real life." Now, looking back, they're all I've got, and I took them for a reason, so I added a lot more. It's mostly scenery, but some people too. Should have done it all right away, oh well.

5) Angus has a play date today. Fun!

Okay, I'd better resume chipping away at the list of things to do today. Next stop, post office...

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I think it's my duty, every now and then, to point out that my niece is the cutest thing on the planet. I can't believe she's 15 months old already!!! Criminy. It's so amazing to me to watch her turn into a little walking and talking person. I don't understand most of what she says though! :-)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

blackberry season begins!

I just realized that to a lot of people the word "blackberry" probably brings to mind the cell phone thingy. Heh.

After the morning dog-walking session I figured I'd better suit up and start picking blackberries. It's easy to miss out on them, they can go from perfect to raisin-ish instantly in one of the stupid hot spells that we are so prone to around here. And by suit up I mean put on jeans and boots, no fun when the weather is hot! I take blackberry picking seriously, because the best ones are always just out of reach (to normal people). I tend to go stomping into the blackberry bushes (hence the boots) and get all scratched up and get thorns stuck in my clothing, but hey, I get a lot of berries!

Ten cups in about an hour this morning in just a short section along the creek behind the barn.

Exactly enough to make and freeze two pie fillings for later. There is nothing better in the middle of the cold gray winter than to have a fresh-baked pie full of summer fruit!

I'll throw myself into more blackberry bushes tomorrow some in hopes of getting a lot more. :-)

In other news I started work on a sketch for an upcoming chicken drawing tonight. Yeah, a chicken drawing! First one I've done in a year, wow. Good to know I've still got it. ;-) There will be pics when the sketch is approved and squared away and I start the colored pencil work.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6 work in progress

This is from earlier today:

It's actually quite a lot farther along right now. In fact, it's just about finished, just needs my signature and a few finishing touches, and it looks a lot different than it did earlier, but since it's sooooo close to done I'll just keep you in suspense a bit and show you the finished knives when I get a chance to take some good photographs!

Ah, speaking of photos, over there in the right sidebar I've put a permanent link to my picasa albums. All two of them... If I ever find myself with a bunch of spare time (ha!) maybe I'll put some of my old adventures into a picasa album (like the trip to London and the trip to Idaho/Wyoming). That stuff is all on the blog, but I know it's easier for people to see in an album. Don't hold your breath though, I have a zillion things to do.

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 5 work in progress

This is not all from today!

Almost everything I've ever done goes through an ugly stage. I hate to admit that, but it's true, whether it's scrimshaw or drawing, there's a window of time in there where I look at it and think "that looks awful." It always works out, and I'm so used to it that it doesn't worry me much when I'm part way through something and think it looks terrible. This one had a bad ugly stage. There were three colors on it at this point, but because the brown had ended up drying so dark, it almost looked like a b/w scrim, and that was soooo not what I wanted.

I had a hunch that when I added the gold colored ink that would solve the problem and revitalize the browns, and it sure did! Ah, now that's more like it!

I still need to do all the foreground. This is going to look a LOT different by the time I finish. It still looks super weird to me right now because I know how much it's going to change.

In case anyone's wondering, the weird lines going across at the ends of the ivory scales are just the lines where the tape is covering the bolsters (the metal parts).

becoming cute and fuzzy

The second batch of chicks hatched this weekend. One more weekend to go. Talk about a short hatching season, lol!

Anyway, this little dude was running late and was on the verge of hatching when I took all the other ones out of the hatcher and put them in the brooder this morning. Most hatched yesterday. So I let it hatch in my hand under the brooder lamp. I'm sure a few of you will think "ewww gross" but it's really pretty darn cool. Trust me, I'm kind of an "eww gross" person myself, and this is neato!

Chick says "whew, I'm tired!"

I put it back into the hatcher for a while to dry out, and by this evening, cuteness!

In other news, sometimes Angus doesn't quite grasp the concept of a bed (yes, admittedly Angus also doesn't fit on most dog beds):

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I've been jammin'

I will resume regularly scheduled work in progress pics very soon (it doesn't look like much right now, have not inked anything!), but it's been a disgustingly domestic diva-ish last few days. I don't love cleaning house, but I can't have everyone knowing what a slob I am, so there has been much tidying to do in various areas of the house in preparation for holiday weekend shindigging.

I've also been in full Betty Crocker mode. Apron, scarf in my hair, spoon in hand, boiling water on the stove...yeah, the works... Summer has arrived, and brought ripe fruit with it! And when it's ripe, you kinda have to deal with it. If you wait, you waste it. So, since Monday I've made 48 jars of jam. That brings my season total to 75 so far. Apricots are officially done. It was a small crop this year compared to last year. And the peaches and nectarines won't be ripe for another month! The blackberries out along the creek are ready for the first picking, but dang it I can only deal with so much fruit in one week!

Olin, meanwhile, maintains his usual level of enthusiasm. ;-)

It's July. Son of a biscuit. This is insane.