Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frog pattern

I actually managed to get a relatively clear picture through glass of this little guy? girl? during my last visit to the Cleveland Zoo Rainforest exhibit. He was a fascinating blueish-white with dark markings and he smiled at me when I was taking his picture.. :) I want to say he was labelled as an Australian milk toad, but I can't find that designation when I searched the Internet, so maybe I remembered wrong? Will have to check on that the next visit I make to the zoo...

*Later note* turns out the Australian milk toad is actually an Amazon milk frog- the zoo's webpage has a fantastic index of animals with pictures. At least I got the 'A' and the 'milk' part right.. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bull Terrier

New pattern- based on the handsome boy I saw at the Medina dog show a couple weeks ago... Wonder if his people get tired of people saying "Oh look! Spuds McKenzie!".. I must have heard that 5 times from people walking by while I was taking pictures of him. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ibizan Hound

I finished a pattern for the beautiful Ibizan Hound I met at the Medina dog show last week. In most of the pictures she had her ears down, so I didn't think she looked as distinctive, but in the picture I ended up using as a model, her handler had just gotten her attention with a piece of food so she looked all perky.. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Career decisions

In keeping with my new 'career plan' decision to change the type of shows I am doing, I think I may need to make some decisions about my woodcarving.

First of all, a lot of 'fine art' type shows tend to either frown upon or outright reject artists who try to jury in in multiple unrelated media. And I don't think I can consider what I have now a coherent body of work since there isn't really much that connects my woodwork with my paper work. Except the 'Inspired by nature' or 'Once upon a tree' idea, but I am not sure that is enough... And if I am going to give up one of my two media, I think my papercutting work is more different and has a more unique voice and style than my carving and therefore has more potential going forward.. Also, my current woodcarving style tends toward a more rough and unfinished look, which again doesn't necessarily fit the atmosphere of the shows I am shooting for.

I still love carving though, and I don't want to give it up. And I have SOOOO much carving material to work through!! :) But I certainly don't have room for all my output, so I would need to keep selling it somehow. I'll keep putting stuff on Etsy of course, but I don't sell enough through there to really move my inventory.

Hmm... this is a tricky one. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Equipment decisions

I have been trying to make some decisions about upgrading my display setup, and now thanks to my EZup tent breaking on me in June I need to start doing research into upgrading my tent as well!!! :\ Over the last couple years, my work has been changing and becoming more complex, as well as becoming almost all pure original work. Because of this, I can't afford to charge prices that will let my work sell well in a typical craft show environment in this area, so I need to work on upgrading my display image so I can fit in better at the more "fine art"-type shows instead. This is going to be a gradual process of course cuz professional quality displays tend to be expensive!! :)

The bets choices I have seen for portable display of 2-D work are carpet panels. And even better- they come in a knock-down version- each 7-foot panel comes in two pieces. This means that I won't have to worry about upgrading my vehicle as well to accommodate 7" long display equipment- definitely good news!
This spring I picked up a 2-tier carpet panel print bin from Armstrong Products and so far I am thrilled with both the product and the service from the company. I am hoping to buy the portable desk later this year, and some of the carpet panel walls I need next year (tax refund, here we come! :) )
I am trying to decide between Armstrong or Propanels. There are pros and cons to both, but at this point I am leaning toward Propanels because their panel width choices made a setup that I really liked- since the Armstrong panels are wider I would be more limited in my display space (even though I would be able to buy less panels and it would therefore be cheaper). If I go with Propanels, I will have to get 6 30" wide panels and 4 25" wide panels for the display layout that I have in mind. But I figure I can split the purchasing up into pieces to spread the cost out a little- there doesn't seem to be a shipping break for clumping them together.

Now all I need to do is win the lottery!!!! And I am one of the lucky ones since I have a full-time job to support myself with- I have no idea how the artists who do only art festivals full time do it!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I had a picnic scheduled for July 3rd, but the weather ended up a monsoon, so we gave it up and went to a Chinese restaurant in the area. I was really disappointed that the picnic had to be cancelled, but I noticed a beautiful fish tank at the restaurant, and took some pictures of the beautiful ?goldfish? in it. Most fish tanks in zoos and aquariums I have been to don't have good lighting for me taking pictures, so I was really happy that some of the pictures turned out workable!
So here is my first fish pattern, based off of one of those models..

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Part two: art show

After I left the dog show, I spent some time taking wrong turns and driving around trying to find the town square in Medina where the art show was being held (side note- apparently half the streets out there don't have street signs, so I had to do a LOT of guessing). Once I made it there I parked and started wandering around the show.

The Medina art show is laid out in neat spokes from the center gazebo in the town square. Makes it easy to walk the whole show without getting lost or skipping booths, but it also means the paths are crowded. And people always seem to stop and admire something or have a conversation right in the middle of the path in front of me instead of stepping out of the traffic flow first. *sigh* Can you get road-rage when you are on foot I wonder? :)

Anyway, I was going to the show to see the art, and also partially as a scouting mission. I am trying to decide what shows make sense for me to apply to for next year. In general this show seemed to be a good quality one. There were a couple jewelers that looked like they might be 'commercial-bead' varieties (though I may be wronging them- I am not a jewelry expert), but there was a lot of high-end work in many different media as well. I didn't get a good feel for how many people were actually selling consistently (other than the jewelers) though- it felt more like a family festival sort of crowd rather than an art-buying one. Oh well, will have to get that art festival analysis guide to be sure I guess...

Two booths in particular really jumped out at me as far as quality work that is a bit different from the norm..

There were a pair of women from Colorado who did some beautiful intaglio and printmaking work- Julie Hasenfratz and Gerd Anton. One of my favorite pieces here was a maybe 14"x36" (REALLY rough estimate) framed piece, framed in a brown wood burl finish. It was a 4-opening mat if I remember right, and each opening had a single leaf in it. The leaves were embossed into the paper and colored with beautiful metallic inks. Other than the inks, the rest of the colors on the piece were simple and neutral. The artists didn't have a website unfortunately, and this piece wasn't price labelled that I could see, but I may try to email them for a picture of the piece and a price (since I need to get agreement from someone else before buying expensive pieces of art to hang in our house)..

Also there was a local man- James Yager- who did Chinese ball woodturnings with balls or shapes inside pierced balls, carved free so they move around independently without coming out from the inside. Beautiful work here as well!!

Part one: dog show

I ended up going to a dog show and an art show in Medina today- all my favorite things together in one day!! :)

I spent about 2 hours at the dog show taking pictures. There weren't as many different dogs there as I have seen at some shows, but I think a lot of them were probably tucked away in crates and vans with ice and fans since the weather wasn't really comfortable. Not as bad as it has been this past week, but definitely not fun for really furry people...

I did get some shots of a couple breeds that I didn't have any photos of before though.. There was a large Bull Terrier there who I got some nice pictures of. I caught the beginning of the Bedlington Terrier class, so I got pictures of a bunch of them. And I also chatted for a while with a girl who was holding an Ibizan Hound, and got some great pictures of her (the dog, not the handler.. :) ).

I also had a great conversation with some folks holding on to an adorable 3-ish-month-old Newfie girl. I got to pet her and give her love for about 10 minutes too- she just snuggled up to me and laid her chin on my arm. I didn't get any pictures of her unfortunately... AND there was a 6-month Berner girl that I got to talk to as well. I was surprised how small she looked compared to Kodo!! And I was happy to see the breeder/owner of Kodo's grandpa won the working group with one of her boys...

As always, I was delighted by how welcoming and friendly most dog-show people tend to be. I always try to stay out of the way and snap candid shots whenever the dog I am looking at turns the right way, since I know people are busy and concentrating on getting their dogs ready for class and I don't want to be a distraction. But a lot of the handlers will pose the dogs for me once they see what I am doing, and are more than happy to answer questions and chat about their breeds if they aren't busy.

More new patterns

I have been trying to expand my offerings of other animals for those people out there who aren't really dog people.. :) So I just finished a bear and a tiger pattern. They are both really complex and will take forever to cut, but I am really happy with them and I think it will be worth it!

The models for these two came from my last trip to the zoo. It was a really hot and humid day, and there weren't a lot of people there. Usually when I visit the tigers they are all sleeping, but this time when I walked past the enclosure one of them picked his head up and started bathing. And he posed several times, just staring at me across the moat. Probably thinking that I looked like dinner, but it looked like a distant, regal expression from my end.. ;) There was nobody else in the vicinity for the 5 minutes or so that I watched him and took pictures-no screaming, running kids, no tourists.. It felt like this quiet moment that he and I got to share.

The grizzlies are usually sleeping too, but it was hot enough that both of them were immersed in their pool up to their shoulders, rolling around and looking as happy as a bear in a zoo can possibly look.. Those massive coats look even heavier when the water is molding them into spikes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Puppies, puppies everywhere!

And two more patterns! The Chihuahua I drew up because I just discontinued my older long-haired Chihuahua cut after selling the last piece I had in inventory, and the golden I drew up since I keep selling out of my golden retriever cuttings. This seems to be a more recent thing for me- common breeds haven't seemed to go as well in the past. I assumed those people have a lot of choices when it comes to getting artwork and gadgets that reflect their breed, so by the time they find me, even if they love my work their walls tend to be full already? One of my favorite things is having someone come in and ask about their uncommon breed, not expecting me to have one, and being able to say "Yes I do!" and show them the piece. I just love the excited reactions!! Though I still haven't had anyone ask me about my Otterhound or Field Spaniel patterns. Or even the Dandie Dinmont terrier for that matter.. Ah well, someday! :)