Neighborhood Birds

Opening from 6-9pm tonight at Guardino Gallery See my 9am posting on this blog for handy driving/parking info on coming to the show tonight.

Neighborhood Birds

Opening from 6-9pm tonight at Guardino Gallery See my 9am posting on this blog for handy driving/parking info on coming to the show tonight.

Neighborhood Birds

Opening from 6-9pm tonight at Guardino Gallery See my 9am posting on this blog for handy driving/parking info on coming to the show tonight.

Neighborhood Birds

Opening from 6-9pm tonight at Guardino Gallery See my 9am posting on this blog for handy driving/parking info on coming to the show tonight.

Neighborhood Birds

(I bought the bunny with antennae-like rabbit ears!)

how much funk would a wood duck play if a wood duck could play funk?

Here's the very last piece I finished up for the show. I'll release more images from the gallery throughout the day--if you show up tonight, it might be hard to see it all. Last Thursday on Alberta Street started as a simple idea to have all the galleries have their openings on the same night, but has morphed into a huge spontaneous street scene that often dwarfs the gallery scene. If you want to just pop in and say hi, I suggest you approach from NE 33rd Avenue and make your way down to the gallery on 30th and Alberta. If you come from the other direction, take one of the flanking side streets like Prescott or Killingsworth to get up to 30th. Aside from the fact that Alberta Street is closed to through traffic from 15th Ave-30th Ave between 5-10 pm, it's just a better idea. See you tonight! (I'll be at the opening from 6-9pm.)


Who are the critters in your neighborhood?

Well, the last 24 hours pretty much did me in, but we officially have a show up at Guardino Gallery. It was a big push getting my giant bird done, but it absolutely was the right thing to do. The front window wouldn't have worked too well without it. But first things first--getting there. It took two trips to get all our work to the gallery, but the good thing is that we both live within 25 blocks of Guardino, so it didn't use up too much time or precious gasoline. Here's a shot of Tripper holding my long dachshund piece out the window of the truck for air. It's a lot like my own precious pup who sticks his head out that same window every day on our way to the park. The dachshund I made was 3 feet long, too big to put in any of the boxes I had sitting around, but it was no problem holding him for the 12 block journey.
Here's a shot I took out the back of my pickup window, transporting my work in load two. Too bad I didn't have my camera with me for the load with the big ukelele!
We did the front window first, mostly to get our 11 foot ukelele and the 6 foot bird out of our way! The only way that big ukelele was going to fit in the space was to suspend it at an angle, so Tripper had to get up on the ladder to wire it to an old light fixture in the ceiling.

It's very difficult to photograph this window at all times of the day, so you'll have to come down and see it for yourself! You can make out my big bird over there on the right, crooning to the tunes coming from the world's largest ukelele. I placed a few of my oversized Bunny with a Toolbelt figures at the feet to help fill the space.

Next, we hung the giant finger sign that Tripper also made. We were thinking it would also act as a shelf so we could mount some of my bird sculptures there. I loved the way that Snow White just sticks her finger out and birds land on it, so Tripper graciously agreed to help me live out this fantasy.

It was fantastic to have Donna's eye to help us arrange the work in the gallery. She has many decades of experience hanging shows, and was able to see clearly how everything would work together in her space. I'm planning on going back and taking a few more pictures once the labels are all up, but here's a teaser shot for you. I'll post a few more images in the next few days of work in the show. Click here for information about Guardino Gallery, and we'll see you at the opening this Thursday!



Tripper and I have billed this show as a "collaboration between cousins." There are only two pieces that are actually a collaboration of our artwork--all other pieces were collaborative through planning and concept. Above is a picture that Tripper just sent me of a piece I constructed and he painted.

The second piece that was a true collaboration from start to finish was this one pictured in the show announcement:
Super secret fact to Bunny with a Toolbelt fans and blog readers: we initially considered doing a big bird on a wire theme for the front window. I'm very glad we went for the giant ukelele and bird theme, but the conversation resulted in this nice little piece.

b-b-b-bird bird bird. bird is the word. didn't take long yesterday before I figured out a much better way to make this bird, so I pulled apart all of the pieces I made yesterday and headed to the hardware store for a really long dowel so that the neck and front leg would be one continuous piece. I've learned over time that you need to have no regrets about making these decisions, no matter how much time you have already invested in a project. It's a much more solid piece now, where the heaviest and almost only vital element is the long dowel and not the guitar body itself.At some point, I'd love to figure out how big this piece is in comparison to my normal work and be able to rattle that out as a percentage--it's definitely the tallest freestanding thing to ever come out of this studio. Any math whizzes reading this?

I use a very high quality epoxy for most of my joinery, so I am trying to do as much careful planning as possible so I can use as much of the mixed elixir as possible. I was trying to figure out how to estimate the tail feather length so I could glue the pieces in and bend the curves later. I decided to make a tracing of the guitar body so I could make a template, and then I traced it on the pavement outside so I could lay the feather parts out in different configurations, trimming excess wire when necessary.

I also spent some time cutting a piece that I mounted on the interior of the guitar body so that the wires had a little more to sink into. The 1/8 inch guitar body would allow the topheavy wires to flop, and I just can't have that. Before retiring last night, I got everything glued except the beak and eyes, which I want to paint separately. Today is going to be a huge push to paint this pretty boy, but I know that once I start seeing the color emerge, I get a burst of energy that carries the project through to the end. Let's hope this case is no exception.


day 2: shake a tail feather

Working with a found object is a big challenge, especially one that's hollow and not especially well-made in the first place. I got the legs glued up last night and all the parts are made. Today's agenda: pinning, screwing, and gluing all these pieces together so I can start painting tomorrow. I know I will feel a lot more relaxed about it after the next stage, when I attach the head and tail feathers. This project reminds me so much of why I love working with solid wood! (Note to self: next time, make the guitar body too!)

Here's the beast all laid out again--I think I like this tail feather configuration better. And I found some flowers I made for another abandoned project that I'm going to add to the base.


Project Runway...Bunny with a Toolbelt Edition!

Hello again! Okay, so as you know, I have one last bird to make in the next 24-36 hours (just found out I got a little reprieve, as we install the show Tuesday, not Monday as previously reported!) Tripper gave me the above guitar to alter, which was a very nice thing to do after upping the ante with his fabulous hormone-enhanced ukelele I showed in the previous blog entry.

I decided to attack this project completely hands on, which is a way I often like to work with my more abstract pieces--letting intuition and improvisation lead the way. It's an especially interesting method when there is such a dominantly recognizable found object involved. But hey, I'm up for the challenge. First task is to get the neck off the guitar.

I've seen disembodied guitars before, and know that the necks are usually attached with two wood dowel pins, but when I saw the label that said "steel reinforced neck" I wasn't sure if they meant the frets, or if there was a hidden steel plate inside that neck that would make my band saw very very sad. Just to be safe, I cut the neck off with my hand saw.

Turns out, this guitar was just like the others, so I continued to remove the other hardware attached to the face. I really like this metal plate that was on the opposite end, especially the elongated heart pierced into its face. (hearts were another motif I used in my work for this show.) I might have to carry that into the finished piece somehow.
I have a box of assorted large lathe-turned objects in the studio--things I've gleaned from thrift stores and other venues over the years. I wanted to find something to use for the head, and came across this funny 70's looking...hmmm....what would you call this thing? A pencil holder? Future bird head, that's what I call it.

I started making the elements...beak parts were made from some discarded wood I had around, I'm tracking down some 1" dowels to use for the neck and legs.

Stacking various turned elements to build the head--it needs to be glued in parts, so I get this part together as soon as possible so the epoxy can set, which takes 5-6 hours. I need to have a second gluing session tonight before I turn in for the day, so I have to be strategic about it. There's a hidden dowel that's holding these elements together pretty firmly, but I decided to tape it while it sets because you never know what will happen when you're up against a short deadline.

Since this piece is meant to accompany Tripper's huge guitar, I decided to look to it for visual inspiration as well as scale. I love the two birds he painted on it with their feathers flying around in ecstatic fervor. I made a handful of feathers to add to the tail of my bird.

Here's all the pieces laid out on the shop floor. I think I might go with more of a filigree design for the tail feathers, but right now, I have to make a mad dash to the hardware store for a few things. Catch you later!

Neighborhood Birds (final push)

So I'm mosying along, getting work done little by little, for my upcoming show with my cousin Tripper that opens next week. We decided the title would be Neighborhood Birds, using birds as our basic motif, but loved the neighborhood element, since we both live and participate in this area of Portland called the "Alberta Arts District."
We also decided that guitars would be a running theme in the show, although most of my pieces really stuck closer to a birds and flowers idea. Oh, and since I've been part of so many peoples' weddings this summer, I've got love on the brain.
Tripper and I planned the space out, as you saw in an earlier blog entry. The gallery has a lot of counter surfaces, a few walls, (Tripper's domain) and we also got the front window to play with. I was thinking a lot about bird habitats, since summer is the best time to work in my studio and I pass through my garden when travelling from my home to my creative space out back. The bird habitats also evolved because we came up with the idea of Tripper making a big guitar for the front window--I posted a picture of it in progress a few days ago. Yesterday afternoon, I got an excited phone call saying "I just finished the guitar and it's great!" And since I was coming down the homestretch on my own work, I decided to jump on my bike to go see it.
He wasn't kidding. It's really too bad that the word "awesome" has lost most of its impact from overuse because it's the best way to describe it. I will take some better detail shots next week, but it's a magnificent example of upcycling as well. The body and neck are wood purchased at the ReBuilding Center, the strings are weed whacker cord, and the tuning pegs are clothespins. After seeing it, I realized that with that behemoth in the front window, I really needed to add one more piece to my repertoire this weekend to accompany it. Tripper offered up an old damaged guitar he happened to have sitting around, so I strapped it into my bike basket and rode home to make one last large bird for the show. I've been enjoying ReadyMade Magazine's blog chronicles this week of the redesign of a Brooklyn design trio's studio remodel, so I decided to let you in on my mad dash this weekend making a big bird out of this found object. We're installing the show on Monday, so keep your eye on this blog as I pull aside the curtain at Bunny with a Toolbelt headquarters and attempt to make a suitable sidekick for Tripper's masterpiece.


penguin sighting!

I love reading the articles on Etsy's blog the Storque, especially the handmade wedding series. The current featured article is about Etsy's laywer's ceremony, which took place in a science center among dinosaurs and in their planetarium. When I read that they used my penguin toppers on their apple pie wedding cake, I was honored to be part of such a unique and creative celebration. Click here to read the article.


here comes the big geetar!

Neighborhood Birds.
T minus 7 days.
Be there or be square.


doggie cuteness

I absolutely adore my own little mutt, don't get me wrong...but I still have a special place in my heart for the Jack Russell Terrier that will one day be mine. In the meantime, I will live vicariously through commissions like this one.

little drummer boy

As you can see, I've been busy creating some special commissions this summer. Here's one that made me smile. I got a request from a mother who wanted a piece for her teenage son who loves to play the drums. He apparently has shown some early appreciation for folk art, particularly his prized possession: a cigar smoking dog! I was sent a picture of the son at his drum kit to work from. Following are the results, right down to the striped tie and Converse sneakers he wore at a recent recital.


furball of love

Here's a special order that made me hit the old anatomy books...guinea pig anatomy, that is! I have never been so familiar with this unique animal, but the customer was so helpful and enthusiastic that it made the whole experience a pleasure. (Fun Fact: did you know that Guinea Pigs do not have tails?) Here's the final piece, painted with the markings of her very favorite piggie.

turtles who love turtles

Hey Beautiful Person!

I recently got a commission to make a special set of wedding cake toppers for a lesbian couple. It was a surprise gift from a friend of the lucky couple, and she thought that one bride and one with a bird on its back seemed like the right way to portray them. I was a little perplexed about how to make the veil work with a turtle body, but was really happy with this solution. The customer bought my little wedding cake too, and seeing this trio makes me really happy.

The customer was so pleased with the results when they arrived on her doorstep, that she took it one step further and asked if it was okay if they designed turtle wedding shower t-shirts for all the bachelorettes. I was so impressed with the results (it actually reminds me of the graphics on a card line I designed too!) To see more work by Freshwater Design, click here.)


heavens to Betsy....chickens on Etsy!

Hello Beautiful Person! Inspired by a recent bike tour of chicken coops around North/Northeast Portland, I decided to make a chicken for my Etsy store. If you're feeling like a spring chicken today, you'll be the first to grab it!