Posts Tagged ‘woodworking’


The Pull-Toy Series

No. 5 – The Giraffe

White Pine, Found Oak, Steel, Pewter, Glass, Horse Hair, Leather. Linen

34″t x 8 1/2″w x 16 1/4″

Available Here.

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Trout #1 – Carved fins and tail with a drilled eye.

I’ve been researching historic tin and wood weathervanes to develop wall hanging artwork. The idea is to develop a relatively inexpensive artform that I can produce quickly that features my aesthetic and the same distressed finishing techniques that I use on my carvings.

I’ve experimented with a variety of designs including fox, beaver, chicken and trout. I like working with all, but I am particularly please with my trout.

My bird carvings are breed specific. Each carving is researched and drawn until I develop a paint scheme that clearly identifies the bird as a particular species and gender.

This is not the case with my trout. I have examined a variety of trout photos and historic painted and carved trout. I developed an informal paint scheme — with loads of color and texture — that really pleases me. I really enjoy painting and distressing these.


Tinplate has become a go-to material for bird wings and tails. It seems a natural fit for these fins.


Tail Detail 


Three versions and a sign. I love lettering. I loath fake signs and equate them with fake history….but the urge to letter won out here.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.42.18 AM copy

Click here to watch .

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You are reading an installment of a Field Guide to (50 Little) Birds. Everything that goes into a bird or whale is intentional and deliberate. This guide is intended to allow folks to understand my work at a deeper and more meaningful level.

The guide is decided into four sections.

The Back Story will explore inspirations, motivation and philosophy.

Before I Begin will contain discussion on research and design.

The Stuff They’re Made Of will look into the materials I use and how they are chosen and procured.

A Distressing End will look at my finish techniques.


This entry was prematurely published. Check back later for completed work.

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Sperm Whale

I was banished to the studio today while Julie cleaned house. First I cleaned and put things away and then I carved this. I spent much of my childhood in New England where sperm whales are iconic. I remember doodling them in grade school. (I wonder what my Indiana teachers thought of my schooner, friendship sloop and whale doodles?)


Formal portrait and Etsy listing to follow.

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My recent great horned owl project was such a success that I’ve begun to create a similar barn owl. Photos include some study sketches and patterns, gluing up stock to create a carving blank and sawing out the outline. Tomorrow I hope to share the next steps.





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As a public school teacher I’ve long been a proponent of handwork in student learning.  In the December issue of American Craft Magazine editor, Monica Moses writes:

Nick Offerman has a dream – to go back to school. The self-taught Los Angeles woodworker envisions a nine-year curriculum for himself. He’d start at College of the Redwoods on California’s Mendocino coast, in the renowned program begun by the late James Krenov.

“If I could just have three years off to go to that school,” he says longingly, “and then another three years to go to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, because that’s a whole other set of Federal and period techniques that are mind-blowing. And then I’d take a third three years and I’d go to the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine.”

It may be a little surprising that Offerman harbors such yearnings. From the outside, he appears to want for nothing. He’s not only an accomplished furniture maker, but also a star of a hit TV series, Parks and Recreation, where he plays Ron Swanson, one of the most memorably quirky characters on the small screen. He’s happily married to Megan Mullally, who played the charming nutcase Karen Walker on Will & Grace.

So why does this Hollywood big shot long for more schooling?

Because he knows firsthand – as so many committed craftspeople do – the thrills, comforts, and sheer grounding power of working with one’s hands. He knows that, when you learn new skills, you add to your manual, mental, and emotional toolbox. You multiply your opportunities for self-fulfillment. You learn to think in new ways. You make creative progress, and the benefits can be profound.

Read the remainder of this essay here.

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I’ve been absent from keeping up this blog over the last week and apologize.  I’ve been preparing for the Indiana Artisan Marketplace beginning in just a few hours at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  I can’t take a lot of time for build-up, but this is the finest art/fine craft show that I’ve ever been involved with — as an artist or as a buyer.  This is not a show to be missed.

(Aside – This group really treats their artists right.  We pulled up the van yesterday and a volunteer loaded my stuff in for me!)

I’ll try to post images throughout the show from my iPhone.  If I am able to move around (I expect to be busy) I will try to share the work of other artists.

50 Little Birds has two booths this year — I hope that I am the plate spinner that I think I am — one will be my sales booth and a second bootht o teach and demonstrate bird carving and painting.  Please stop and chat a bit.

I would like to thank friend and woodcarver, Dennis Maddox, of Noblesville for his help yesterday.  There were a few construction glitches and he was the man to solve the problems fast.  Dennis has been carving at local golf coaurses.  It seems that golf course like to turn their dead trees into large carvings.  Recently Dennis carved a huge golf club for Crooked Stick Golf Course and a trio of Great Blue Heron for the golf course at Eagle Creek Park.

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I’ve shared before that I am thrilled to be involved with what Io consider the most significant traditional arts and food event in Indianapolis, if not the Midwest, the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.

This is a classy show and demands classy display.  Last year I designed a portable gallery space with floor covering, bright lights, sales counter and storage.  It is a beautiful booth and I love to use it to show my work.

With that finished I thought I was off the hook for heavy duty building and planning for this year’s event.  That changed when I learned earlier today that I am slated to demonstrate my work at this year’s event.  This is a good thing — a wonderful thing!  I’m a life-long educator and there is no better way for me to talk about my work than to teach folks how it’s done.

For demonstration space I’ve awarded a 10′ x 10′ space adjacent to my booth.  This demonstration areas are well placed and ensure that my booth is well placed.  The challaenge now is to design this space to maximize visibility, teaching potential and to drive sales.

This means I need work space, signage to interpret what I am doing and another person (or two or three) all weekend so that I can serve my customers in both locations.

I’m really looking forward to doing this.

I need some input.  What would you like to see me do?  Build a skin-on-frame bird?  Carve and paint many typical forms?  Begin projects from reference photos and drawings and complete carvings?  Put wood and knives in hands and teach carving?

I have the ability to move the majority of my woodshop to shows.  I developed tools storage and folding benches when I used to build ukuleles on site.

Please share your thoughts!

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Steps in order of carving and painting an American Goldfinch.

This bird available for $98.  Please contact me if interested.

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