Friday, May 27, 2011

pictures today

Just a few things I've taken lately that I haven't posted...

It was horsey bath time today. A friend of mine who loves to paint horses is coming over to take some reference photos tomorrow, so the girls have to be looking their best!

Zen kitty Olin sends telepathic messages telling me to drop some of my BBQ'd chicken into his mouth.

Peafowl at a friend's place. I house-sat for them recently and spent a lot of time admiring the multitude of peafowl. Anyone want peafowl? They want to get rid of a few...

I'm hatching some Ringneck Pheasant chicks for a friend. Here's two of them hanging out with my 1-week-old Rosecombs before they go to their new home.

And this, I'd have to say, might now be my absolute favorite photograph of all time. Those Pheasants are curious little buggers! This cracks me up!!! :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gray Whale scrimshaw pendant

Ha ha, you didn't even know I was working on this one!

A few weeks ago my brother and sis-in-law's neighbor Julie approached me at my niece's birthday party and inquired if I'd be able to put some scrimshaw on a pendant that she had. It was a fairly large piece, set in silver, with a beaded necklace. She said that as much as she liked the piece she really never wore it because it seemed to be missing something, and indeed it was a bit like an empty picture frame. That much ivory just yearns for some scrimshaw! The pendant itself is 2-1/2 by 2-1/8 inches.

The gallery that sold her the ivory piece had it labeled as ancient walrus ivory. So I had a piece all planned out with a walrus in it, but when I got the ivory in hand at home and examined it, it was pretty obvious to me that it was not walrus ivory. It was elephant ivory. Well okay, that maybe changed things a little. The walrus idea didn't seem quite so perfect of a fit anymore, but the northern CA coast and its water-dwelling animals were dear to her, so with a few emails back and forth we settled on Gray Whales. I sketched out a mother and baby, but Julie asked if I could put a second baby in there as well, a symbol of her two children. So I did!

If you're thinking this piece is a real departure from my usual style, you are absolutely right. This was to be done "loose and sketchy" and in the old-school style of the scrimshanders of long ago... and omg do you know how hard it is for me to not make something as realistic as possible? ;-) It was fun though to do something different and I really love how it turned out. It was a very appropriate style for this necklace.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

a tale of two turtles

A week or so ago, while putting away trash cans belonging to some people who were out of town on a long vacation, I happened to spot a mysterious dark object in their swimming pool. I quickly discovered that it was a turtle swimming in there... the very same turtle that had wandered in a few months ago (which I had assumed had been removed and relocated months ago!). Not one the wild box turtles that live in the creek out back, it was a red eared slider, probably someone's pet that had been set free to fend for itself. I was rather horrified that it had been swimming in chlorinated water for that long, and that it was left without food or any way to get out of the water, I didn't really hesitate before I scooped the poor thing out and took it home. I set up a small wading pool with some minnows in it, and the very shy turtle dined happily on spinach and strawberries. Meanwhile, I contacted the people who owned the pool and they said yes I could find a new home for it (thank goodness!).

So a couple days later, the turtle and I took a little drive to my friend Lisa's horse ranch, which has a lovely pond full of fish. And there the turtle walked down to the edge of the water and slid into the murky depths. I'm pretty sure I saw him smiling. Coincidentally, later that day Lisa happened to be at the SPCA when someone came in to surrender two red eared slider turtles, and she brought them home too. Couldn't ask for a happier ending. :-)

Then this morning, there I was walking down the road with Angus, and a truck pulling a horse trailer pulled up next to me. It was my friend Anne, who I haven't seen for a while. She said she had noticed on Facebook that I accumulate animals, and I thought "oh no, what is she going to give me." She said she had just stopped to pick up a small turtle that was in the road a ways back. I agreed to take it, and thus this small turtle exchanged hands in the middle of the road. A brief lab exam (ha ha, get it? see photo...) showed it to be a box turtle (of which there are many living in the creek behind the house) and so into the creek bed the turtle was released. Welcome to my world, where these things just happen. :-) Many thanks Anne for taking the time to get the little guy out of harm's way!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17 work in progress, and catch-up

Gaaahhhhh, sorry about that. Bad me for not blogging. Where do I even begin?

Dragon knife: It's finished. Pardon me while I toot my own horn and say it looks awesome. I won't be showing you the finished pics for a little while. See, I don't have the whole knife to photograph, so I have to send my part back to the William Henry company and then they'll send me a photo of the whole thing. But, since I was showing WIP photos, here's one from a couple of days ago:

Blade Show is in just over three weeks. I'm excited! But also not ready yet! I seriously can't believe it's been a year since I was there. Lots of changes this year for me, it really feels altogether different. Flying instead of driving has a lot to do with that, but my table will look different, I'm not sharing, I opted for a different part of the show (I still don't have good shoes, eek!), etc. I'd like to do one more pendant before then to take to the show, and actually there's a lot of prep work that needs to be done. Everything has to ship out about a week before I leave, so there isn't a lot of spare time. And I need to come up with something to work on at the show... that won't need electricity, light, or magnification.

Barn Owls: I haven't seen her for days, and there is no noise from the box, nor any fresh owl pellets in the barn. I need to climb up there and look in the box, but I'm sure that there are no babies, for whatever reason.

Hatching chicks: last batch went in the incubator on Sunday, so the last hatch will be the first weekend in June. It's been a crazy crazy season, and didn't go at all as planned. Fertility problems, weird colors hatching, etc. Ugh. I barely ended up with any BBReds, and ended up outcrossing them to Blue and also Brassy Back because I think they're getting too inbred. What a mess. And now my Blacks (which I SWEAR I have never outcrossed to my other colors) are throwing a high percentage of red offspring, so I guess at some point a mis-labeled Black Red ended up in the breeding pens, and goodness knows how many generations that goes back, so I'm really up a creek with them now. I won't be selling any eggs from them anymore. Maybe this is the universe reminding me that I said I was going to focus on BBReds....

Monday, May 09, 2011

May 9 work in progress

Outlining all those scales was extremely arduous. Next up is shading to give it depth and tonality.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

a day at the painting workshop

A little while back, Jan asked me if I could help out with chicken-wrangling for a chicken painting workshop. Painting was optional (me? watercolor? no thank you) but I'm always up for letting people admire my birds!

So today Jan and I each took a bird to University Art store in Sacramento for her friend David Lobenberg's class. I had a lot of fun. I took "Pablo" the old BBRed Rosecomb rooster, and he was a perfect model. I brought a portable perch and he stood there for about two hours, perfectly still except craning his head this way and that, occasionally flapping his wings, and screaming at every pigeon that flew past the windows. And I had a great time being an off-duty artist and watching everyone else paint. I was pretty much an anonymous chicken owner. Nope, I didn't bring any art to show, it wasn't a time or place to do that. :-) But how often do I get to take a chicken to an art store? Not nearly often enough!

Oh, and for those of you know follow my chicken stuff, you'll know Pablo as the bird who won Reserve Grand Champion of Show in Hollister back in 2006, he's a superstar:

Friday, May 06, 2011

Bison in Snow scrimshaw pendant

Bison in Snow (pendant)
scrimshaw on ancient mammoth ivory
1 by 1-3/8 inch
custom 14K gold setting by Brian Marshall, Stockton Jewelry Arts School
sold (custom commission)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

barn owl update

If you've been reading this for at least the last year, you might remember the barn owl saga from last year. It was super sad. There were hanging around the barn. I built a box. They nested. They hatched. And the adult(s?) killed the babies when they were less than a week old. I was told by raptor folks that it's not unusual for first-time nesters. Not normal, but not unusual. So sad. :-(

Well, the female started nesting again about a month ago in the box in the barn. She's super skittish. At first I could barely get out of the yard before she would hear the gate and fly out, but she's calmed down a lot. I've been desensitizing her to noise. Either it's working or she's just chilling out as incubation progresses. I plugged in a radio out in the tack room, and it plays pretty loud all day. Classical music, of course, so I like to think her babies will grow up smart.

I haven't seen the male at all. Not once. Last year I saw the male all the time, he was out there almost every morning. He's distinctly different than her, much lighter in color. But I've seen no sign of a second bird this year, and that worries me. Then again, I don't know why she would be nesting if she didn't have a mate.

So, time wise, the eggs ought to start hatching any day. I thought a heard babies a couple days ago but I think it was a false alarm. I still have been seeing the female owl nearly every time I go out to the barn, though if I'm quiet the radio drowns me out pretty well and sometimes she would stay put. I did not see her at all today, despite having to do a few loud things out in the barn. So either she's really sticking tight, or she was already out... hunting? Who knows. I'm curious to see how things develop, I wish I had a little spy camera to look in there (recalling the "creepy peepy" from bird population survey class at UCD). But I really don't want to climb up there and look. I'll keep ya posted. And maybe one of these days I'll manage to get a photo!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

May 4 work in progress

First off, let me say... MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!!! :-) Oh how I love to say that every year!

It was stinkin hot today! Over 90, that's too much too soon, take it back, I want spring again!

So, after completing the background on the dragon knife (it's darn near solid black, and soooo many engraved dots that the background is actually somewhat relieved now (no, not like sigh of relief, but lower than the surface relief), love it!) it was "back to the drawing board" so to speak. In case you haven't figured this out, I opted for a black and white design. It either had to be color dragons on white or b/w dragons on black, and I think this way has so much more "pop." So I knew the background would be black, but I've been pondering all along exactly what I'd do with the dragon. I have to actually put it on paper to figure it out, and this is where I love photoshop. I scan it, enlarge it, print it out, and work on it with pencils. See, there's no erasing scrimshaw, there is zero room for error, so I have to be exactly sure what I want to achieve before the needle hits the ivory. So, deciding part way though the piece how to scrim the dragons is about as close to flying by the seat of my pants as I'll get. It's gonna look awesome!

Monday, May 02, 2011

May 1 work in progress

The background is finally *almost* dark enough. Not quite there though! I'm looking forward to working on the dragon itself! :-D