"Maka" is my friend Judy's Labradoodle. Not only is he Judy's pride and joy, he is the best-mannered dog I have ever known. And he's a sweetie too. He volunteers as a canine visiting companion for hospital patients, and as a "spokes-dog" for the Hawaiian Humane Society. I was hesitant to attempt to sculpt him, because I wasn't sure how to handle the long-hair. I ended up felting his core with solid sheep wool, and then tacking on an outer layer of Angora Goat Mohair for his curly locks. It worked out well. I gave this to Judy as a Thank-You gift for letting us stay in her guest studio in Hawai`i for a couple of days last week. She loved it, but I think Maka loved it even more. He thought it was a new toy! It is stored high out of his reach!
A few pictures of the real Maka:
Oh, and here's a corgi I made for my daughter, who's bananas about Corgis. I made him last year sometime, and he keeps her company at college.
Everyone who knows me knows I love dogs, but the household is currently ruled by cats, so I can only enjoy the dogs of others. Last month I had two commissions for dogs. I was a little nervous, because I hadn't done any dogs, but both people sent really cute adorable photos to work from.
The first one was for my niece as a Christmas present to her husband. They had recently lost their 4-year-old black pug, Pal, and wanted to memorialize him with a sculpture. I suggested the idea of doing only his head in a frame that could be mounted on the wall.
The other dog was named "Spatz" and was a load of fun to do. Spatz's owner sent lots of great photos, and I was delighted to see that he has one blue eye and one brown eye. He came out as sort of a caracature - which was perfect because his owner is a Disney buff.
In one day, 3 different people asked me if I ever do crows. I really resisted, because #1, it had to be lifesized, or else it's just a black bird, and #2, being all black, I thought was kind of boring. But he came out kinda cute, I guess. He's down at Graton Gallery.
I like to keep this blog as something of a visual diary. I haven't been very good at updating it lately - I blame Facebook for that! Since my time is dominated by felting, here are a few pictures of what I've been working on the last couple of months:
Barbara Walters, 14" H.
I made this with no intention at all. I just felt compelled to see if I could make a sculpture of her, because I admire her so much. Barbara just turned 80, and had heart valve replacement surgery. To make the details of her face, I wore a headband with magnifying lenses and a spotlight. Every fiber makes a difference, and it was the only way I could see that level of detail. After it was finished, I decided I would try to give it to her. I've not had any luck contacting her publicist or producer, and am reluctant to just stick it in the mail.
Scarlett-Collared Tanager, Cedar Waxwing, and Eastern Bluebird
I saw these striking Crimson-Collared Tanagers in Costa Rica last year. Dave spotted a small flock of Cedar Waxwings in our front yard this year. I've never seen a Bluebird, but figured I needed to add another colorful bird to the flock at Graton Gallery.
My first Egret, 16" H
Sally Baker got this one.
My 2nd Egret, 21" H.
Cherrywood stand. At Graton Gallery.
Honey Bee on Flower Hair clip
Made for my friend Haunani, who moved to New Zealand.
Hummingbird in Nest
This little bird lifts out of the nest, revealing 3 tic-tac sized eggs.
"Mr. and Mrs. Speckleton"
Made for a certain art student who did a 2d animated film featuring a Toucan.
My friend asked me to make a felt sculpture of her daughter and her finance to be used as a wedding-cake topper. I started it last December, using photos of the couple (I'd met the bride, but have never seen the groom.) I was also given a photo of the wedding dress, and was asked to have the groom in shorts, Sandals and Hawaiian-style shirt. The wedding is next month, and I have just finished it - the bride and groom know nothing about this, and will not see it until the cake comes out. I hope they like it!
Here's a little commission I enjoyed making last month. It was for a fundraiser auction for Camellia Waldorf School in Sacramento. Their yearly auction was to be called "Camellia Palooza -Under the Big Top." I really enjoyed making it, and sort of went beyond what they asked for. It triggered my desire to do a vintage circus series of sculptures. Here's a photo of the final piece, along with my little concept sketch.
One disappointing note, although they paid me my deposit on time, I am STILL waiting for final payment, even though I shipped it to them over one month ago! Lesson learned. On commission pieces, ask for 50% down, send photo of finished piece, wait for final payment to arrive, THEN ship it out. I have no doubt that these folks will pay me, but it's annoying, and bad on me for not having proper written policies.
I'm super-excited to have been asked to be a guest artist in next month's show at the Graton Gallery! The show is Sally Baker's, and it is called "It's for the Birds." I am one of 4 artists in the show. Sally Baker will have watercolors depicting her collection of Japanese Bird salt & pepper shakers. Sally's work is extremely detailed, and I honestly can't imagine how she gets such realism using watercolor. Lynda Nugent will have multimedia paintings inspired by nature, and Carla Marie Bratt will have incredible handcrafted gourds - with a birdie theme, of course. I feel very lucky to be included in this group of artists, and I can't think of a gallery I'd rather be in! The show runs for a month - April 13th - May 23, 2010, with an artists' reception on Saturday, April 17, 3-6pm.
Here are a few of my needle-felted bird sculptures that will be in the show:
Graton is a charming little 2-block-long town with restaurants, a tea room, antiques, art studios and galleries. It is located in-between Occidental and Sebastopol in Western Sonoma County.
I bought this little guy at Trader Joe's for $7 to have something interesting to draw, since not much is happening in the garden lately. The bud was closed, but I could tell I was going to get something special. What a treat to watch him open up! I don't know anything about Orchids; I just copied the name off the stake that was in the plant.
A couple more drawings from my class with Nina Antze. One of the things I love most about this class is how it forces me to really look at things - to see and appreciate little details that are usually overlooked, or just blurred into the whole. When you are drawing something, you must focus on it's angle, form, color, and with plants, botany. I'm trying to use the Botanical names now. The first drawing is a Walnut leaf, and the second one is a large citrus I bought at the SR farmers' market. The farmer called it a "Chinese Grapefruit."
It's always nice to go to the city and park right in front of where you're going for free! How often does that happen? We went to the Walt Disney Family Museum today in the Presidio. It's fantastic! A treasure trove of information and memorabilia on everything Walt! We were in there 3 1/2 hrs, and didn't even see everything. I love the display case of Oscars - the Oscar for Snow White has 7 mini oscars on it, too! He was quite the businessman - amazing what he accomplished in his life. And how he never thought he'd have a chance at breaking into the animation business. I'd say the museum is more geared for the older Disney aficionados than for little ones - there's a lot to read, and I saw a lot of antsy kids. But then, I overheard a lot of interesting questions from kids, too, so guess it depends on the kid. Our two 21-yr-old film students soaked it up like sponges. They have Walt's personal train, a lot of interesting family photos & treasures, letters, film clips, and a gigantic multi-plane animation camera. And, of course a lot of original artwork, models, cameras and interactive exhibits. A large spiral staircase snakes around an original Disneyland model. It's really well-done, and far exceeded my expectations!
When we came home we watched "Song of the South".We'd never seen it. Zippity-do-dah!
I am taking a nature drawing class through Sebastopol Center for the Arts. The instructor is Nina Antze, and she is wonderful. I knew I had stumbled upon a great teacher when I saw the level of work of the other students. I have a long way to go! Nina is fun, has a dry sense of humor, and always knows just what to say to help me past my stumbling blocks. I love technical drawing, and creating the shape is easy for me, but working with blending colors is something I have little experience with. Here are my first drawings.
I made this as a baby gift -- I'm almost certain the recipient does not read this blog... but if they do, oh well, they'll see it early. This is a needle-felted Peach. Embedded inside the pit is a dingly-jingley bell. Not just a regular jingle bell, but one of those resonant ones. I felted it forever, so it's really solid. The felt actually muffles the sound, but I think it'll be just right for baby's delicate ears.
I have a hard time saying which is my favorite Hawaiian island, but after this trip, I'm thinkin' Oahu. There's just so much there that I'm interested in. I traveled with my hula sister Sibyl, to visit with our other hula friend Judy. Judy graciously let us stay in her Kailua studio for the first part of the trip. For the second part, we found a package deal that included 6 nights at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I have been studying hula for 16 years now, and this was a custom opportunity to soak up the places and culture related to our study. When you are a hula student, you are also a student of the Hawaiian language, music, chant, history, mythology, crafts, food, people, spirit, and of course places. We jointly made our long list of things we wanted to see, and hit the ground running. We were able to do almost all of the things we intended, and a lot, lot more.
The day we arrived, we drove straight up to Kamehameha School (after a quick stop for leis in Chinatown), and were able to watch our long-time friends Led Kaapana and Dennis Kamakahi be inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. The other inductees that day, including Kumu Hula Maiki Aiu Lake, are, unfortunately deceased. We were honored to be witness to this prestigious event, and we were very happy for Led & Dennis.
We were able to get in 4 great hikes, go to the Bishop Museum, attend a lecture by a photographer at the Hawaii State Art museum who has been doing portraits of kumu hula for 30 years, saw turtles, rode the waves of Waikiki on a canoe, ate shave ice, laulau, spam musubi and malasadas! Always, we saved time at the end of the day for music. It was like a dream come true to see legends Eddie Kamae, Led Kaapana, Mike Kaawa, Bobby Ingano, Weldon Kekauoha, Analu Aina, Paul Kim, Ocean Kaowile, Dennis Kamakahi, Na Palapalai ... just to name a few. You can see musicians of this caliper any day of the week on Oahu - for free; less parking and whatever you drop in the tip jar. We were like kids in a candy store. Although I never got up the nerve to get up and dance, we were lucky enough to attend two hula classes taught by Nalani Keale, and learned the hula "Ku`u Milimili". We also learned a chant from one of Mapuana Da Silva's students. It is called "Oli Mahalo" and speaks of gratefulness and thanks.
Even though this was a very fulfilling trip, there is so much more to Oahu that I have yet to experience, and I can't wait to be able to go back.
Here are a few photos of some of the highlights of the trip - if you care to see more, I have an album up here