Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Here there be Dragons!

Uncle Ferrous Clusterfrack's Backwoods Fine Arts Seminar series.
Howdy all! Today's lesson will be on the slowest way to complete someone else's metal sculpture while still ruining their artistic vision for the piece. Joke, joke...well maybe not. Well over a year ago I began to finish a large yard-art metal sculpture project that had been the final work of a dear friend, Chuck Jacobs. Chuck, who was a professional woodworker, had tried the 'dragon' piece as his first foray into metal sculpture. Chuck passed away before he could complete the beast, and his widow Betsey wanted the piece finished as a memorial.
Here is the dragon in Chuck's shop shortly after I began to work on it. The globe is about three feet in diameter, and the dragon is three feet or so as well. I started out working on scales as my intro to the project.
Scales, scales, scales. They start out as three foot pieces of mild steel strap which I have cut from sheets at a local shop. I then cut the strap to length, clip the ends to rough shape, finish shaping on a bench grinder, tweak the scale to fit its place on the dragon, bend in the tip curve, and finally weld it on; phew, about five to six minutes per. I generally make about a dozen rough scales in a batch, then fit and attach them. Then repeat...

I got a fair amount of work done on the beast in this first phase, then Chuck and Betsey's house and shop were sold and I took the dragon(and my own hairy self) to crafty Nancy's place. It had been a pretty nice place until I ghettoized with moto-shades, piles of lumber, derelict sailboats, and the odd dead car or two and now a big ol' crazy sculpture thingy. Well, the move was not conducive to progress on the project and it languished until about six weeks ago.

The arrival of the sun was a boon to this outdoor welding enthusiast. I have been able to make good progress on scaling, and on the lower legs and claws.

The claws were time consuming but great fun to zap up, what with all that scary lumpy jaggeldy dragon-hide goodness. It's the end of March and I have a few more hours on scale duty, then it's off to the races with the wings. The final bit will be a slight modification of the globe base. The dragon should be snarling away at the Selma Community Center by mid-spring.
Yippee, and out; sez kelly.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spinning class

Not spinning as in that newfangled bicycle-that-doesn't-go-anywhere spinning, no, boys and girls, I'm talking about the real deal, the age-old spinning of yarn. Spinning one's own yarn, to be exact. Since I'm a knitter, I thought it would be a good idea to see what the whole yarn-making process involves, in order to better appreciate why yarn is so gosh darn expensive.

Soooooo, one cold February day last year, Luke and I went to a local mohair goat farm and helped shear some goats (that's right, right to the source). In return for our help, I received a whole oodle (six large garbage bags full) of raw fleece (yep, raw fleece--unwashed, smelling like goat, and full of poop and straw bits) and rough instructions on how to process into yarn. I also received a free drop spindle, which I thought was nice at the time, but now realize that it was the donor's idea of a sick joke (you'll see why later). She also let me borrow some hand carders.

I set to washing, and washing, and washing, over and over, each fleece. This stuff takes some HOT water to get all the smelly stuff and dirt and poop out, and you have to wash and rinse each batch about three times. Then I put it through the spin cycle in the washer and let it dry next to the wood stove. I just finished washing the last of the fleece this year. Not that it's that hard, it just sucks that much. Your whole house smells like goat afterward.

I started carding the first batch right after it was washed. This was the nicest fleece that I had--a cute little charcoal-colored yearling with super soft fur. Carding is hard work, especially with itty-bitty hand carders. Imagine an extra large dog brush, about six inches by eight inches. Then imagine brushing a goat with it, only the goat's in a trash bag and you have to take a handful at a time and brush it. Then I tried spinning it on the drop spindle.

Then I realized I was in hell, or at least purgatory, and had willingly taken on something of Sisyphean proportions. Keep in mind, I had six trash bags of this stuff and I'm not a very patient person anyway.

About this time, one of my husband's relatives was the nicest person in the world and let me borrow her spinning wheel. I thought, "Hell yeah! I'll have this done in no time!" Well, there was still the carding to do, then summer came, and work...

So, six months later, someone lent me a drum carder and I started carding again, woo hoo! I got about two-thirds of my whole fleece stockpile carded, when I had to give both carders back, so I figured I'd start spinning on the wheel.

It actually went pretty fast. I finished the first fleece in two sittings, then dyed half of it. So, over a year and countless hours of labor later, The Result:

Super uneven, chunky, something. I don't want to call it yarn. Super-bulky doesn't even begin to cover it. I'll call it OMFG bulky weight. And being a thrifty, somewhat inconsistent knitter, I tried knitting this stuff with #10 needles.
HA HA HA! Look at the tightness of those stitches!
I could knit bullet proof vests with this stuff!

Here's the yearling spun into yarn.
Not as ungodly-thick as the first try, but still pretty uneven. Hopefully I'll be able to knit something somewhat decent with this. But anyway, my point here is, I have mad respect for all those people who spun their own yarn and knit their own clothes out of their spun yarn for all those years, and for those who still do.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Bear Hotel

I would like to clarify the post below. First of all, sorry for the disorganization of the pictures and the print –we are having technical difficulties. I would like to explain what our field trip really was for the few readers that don’t know us, southern Oregon, Brady or the Bear Hotel. Brady Adams is the President of Evergreen Bank. The bank puts on a lot of events and supports local artists. The Nutcrackers line the sidewalks of downtown Grants Pass during the holidays. I believe all the animals in the “what the hell” photo below are used in the Christmas Village the bank puts out every year for the kids. Who the heck knows why there are leather fish…they were displayed somewhere in Grants Pass. All this stuff is stored out of season in the Bear Hotel.

The Bear Hotel is HUGE. Besides storage for all the holiday statuary there are “booths” set up in the back for artists to work on their projects. At this time the artists are commissioned to paint for a door project. Each artist is given a door and a space to work. I’m not really clear on the other details of the project, maybe Paul B can shed some more light on it- he is one of the lucky artists that gets to work there.

And finally, the reason it is called the Bear Hotel. Once upon a time in Europe, someone had the idea to give artists a similar blank piece of sculpture and let them run wild. It started with cows. There were many versions of this project done in US cities; the one I’m most familiar with is Cow Parade NYC that took place in 2000. The general idea is that artists create pieces all using the same mold and then taking off from there. The pieces then are auctioned off for charity. This proved to be wildly popular and some cities used different animals besides cows. Seattle had pigs and Grants Pass had bears. So, all the bears they didn’t auction off in GP were sent to live at the Bear Hotel. All the bears in the pics below were from that project.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Snarks vs. Bears, Pigs, Nutcrackers, etc.

Cece's brain fell out a couple of weekends ago when several of the Snarky bunch forced their way into a high-security compound in the heart of scenic Grants Pass, Oregon. This was not a secret military base, nor a defense contractor's 'Skunk Works'; even juicier, it was the dreamland called the 'Bear Hotel'. The BH is the artist's version of the aforementioned 'skunk works'; a place where artists huddle in a ghetto of cubicles
and are alternately whipped with rusty chains and promsised sushi bites to force them to produce large scale art pieces around a theme dictated by the evil overlord, Bradystopholes. Naah, just kiddin' Brady Adams is a local banker/art patron/recovering politician who has this crazy warehouse full of past pieces;

Like all these crazy bears. The Snarks are gazing in awe at Treegeek's bear pair. For a few shots of this project in process, look at our posts from Feb. 09.

Above right is 'Babyfoot bears' by our friend Lane Cosner; an artist who lives near Cave Junction. Lane is working in his home studio on a door for this years show.

...This year the artists are basing their works on a big ol' solid wood door. The artist for this piece was not around for me to get relevant info, so I'll just claim it.

"Hey, I paid my damn dollar, where's the nekkidity?" I seem to be saying in this here photo of Treegeek's piece. It may be hard to belive but there are over thirty people smershed in back there, admiring and snarking.

Big Timber and the American Eagle; let's git us some freedom fries, Bubba.

Yep, you guessed it, leather fish. The second one with a saddle is about six feet long. LEATHER, hello.That's so hot.

These people were rounded up and fed to famished ferrets soon after this snap was taken.

A photo is worth a thousand words, so whisper "What the hell?" to yourself about 334 times.
kelly wasted this four minutes of your life, sorry.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bad Horse, Bad Fuses, Amazing Shawls

Hey there Crafty Snarks. We had a great night last night. Andrew (AKA Anthony) dyed some of Max's fur with usnea. Max was an unwilling participant but coerced into willingness with the use of food and attention.

We watched a short film, Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Thanks to Paul for bringing it, we need more Bad Horse in the world.

We were discussing shawls last night and how we aren't really shawl wearers, even though there are such great knitted shawls out there in the world. Well, here is a shawl that could turn me into a dedicated shawl wearer:
The pattern is here: http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring09/PATTshipwreck.php. Just a hint for the knitters in our group; somebody's birthday is coming up in June. That might be just enough time to get this done. That somebody whose birthday it is would even be willing to spring for the yarn and just use you for your talent. I'm just saying, that's all.

We had a splendiferous (and educational) trip to the Bear Hotel last Saturday. Stay tuned for pictures and a guided tour of our trip. Keep on crafting! Nancy

Sunday, March 8, 2009


First off, for the skeptical, I just want you to know that quilting takes mad skills and can thus be done with supreme masculinity intact, and even amplified a yard or two. The pattern I used was one from the internet called "Carnivorous Hippie". It epitomizes the beautiful balance between Gaia and a bacon double cheese burger. As our dichotomies define us, so do the otherwise clash-laden, conflicting fabric patterns find harmonious unity when stitched together. The tiles below show two of the twenty squares used for a queen sized bed. No ironing and no pins folks, this is guerrilla-style quilting, State of Jefferson at its best.

A closer examination of these exquisite tiles shows mammalian morsels and finned delectabilities in their native habitats. My quilt speaks the story of the infinitely tantalizing tastiness of nature.

A ponderous off-shoot of this paradigm-shifting quilt-induced wintery endeavor was the discovery that dogs love to quilt. Some may claim that my attempts to teach a puppy how to use a sewing machine borders on the asinine, but I counter that we shall not discriminate against our canine companions...Quilting for dogs, quilting for all species, quilting forever!

Note: I lay waste with a second-hand 1975 Singer, from back when they built sewing machines with metal gears and an ornery disposition. If your sewing machine happens to have a computer inside it, you better hope we don't meet on the streets.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tempura and Bad Craziness

Well my little chickadees, the 03-05-09 meeting of the Snark Possee went swimmingly. Mostly delicious snacks swimming in tempura batter then taking a quick dip in the smoking wok of transformation; mmm… who can resist the glorious combo of batter, hot oil, and scalding foody bits you can eat direct from your paw? If you’re really good all your mortal days; when you snuff it, you’ll be rewarded with salmon tempura in the afterlife (vegans get shitake mushrooms). Thanks to the kitchen staff, Luke and Erin, who sacrificed their craft time to spend hours as galley slaves.

Gratuitous greasy food porn above; and below, the tragic results of the equation; T-W=SM+SPOTS (where T is tempura, W is willpower, SM is stretch marks, and SPOTS is silly photo op in tight shirt.)
Oh yeah, remember the neverending sock that Erin was Knitting in a previous entry? Well she hit the wall with that beeotch, and said "$*&# top-down socks!”. Here we see the dismembered remains being resurrected into a proper toe-up sock. Can I get an AMEN! The roving blog eye also seems to have caught a dangerous snarky look from the Lukester in the background. A request has been made for ‘Hunks in flannel boxers’; that is the look of a game sailor ready for a voyage into dangerous waters.

Nancy diligently crafted the night through, Paul helped cook and chatted, Emily brought in a heavy graphic novel ‘In the shadow of no towers’ and tossed out smoothly snide rejoinders, Luke cooked and chatted and pondered flannel drawers, CeCe claimed to have a cold and stayed home-but I think she caught a nasty virus at her wild naked housewarming orgy last weekend, and Casey…

Well Casey had been sniffing glue all day so when he tried to knit it looked like this: Yeah, it scared the hell out of us, too. When he comes down he will be competing in the U.S National Snowshoe Races at Mt. Hood this coming weekend. Y’all hum into your crystals and visualize him making the U.S. Snowshoe Team; we all are, for shure. He better hope they don’t drug test for performance enhancing Tempura.

Here is a blurry photo of the paper doormat Andrew lovingly crafted last week. Why is it so blurry? Was the photographer drunk? Are all you viewers drunk? Is it really a doormat?

No, no, none of the above. Andrew is dead to us. DEAD, DEAD, DEAD! He toys with us, he promises the chance to bask in his glow, then he snatches hope away and hangs out with cooler kids than us. Well buddy, in the immortal words of that one song; ‘I’m gonna harden my heart.’ Damn skippy! So from now on when he does casually drop in and play up the dilettante crafter shtick, the photos of his work will be tainted with blur, or be too dark, or…OAHAAHAA!!

DISCLAIMER: Much of the foregoing is purely fictional, and any resemblance to actual people made of meat and their activities is purely ‘1,000,000 monkeys floating in space randomly typing the collected works of Shakespeare’ kind of coincidental. Really.

If this is bad, it’s kelly’s bad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I just discovered this new site: http://www.oneprettything.com/ This is a very dangerous site. A site that those of us who are craft obsessed should stay very far away from. I can't work peacefully knowing this site is out there, beckoning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Origami Virus

One of the Crafty Snarks asked if I could make a gigantic modular piece. I don't know if I would call it gigantic (its around a foot and a half tall) but I did need somebody to hold it while I assembled it. This model is crafted from one of Tomoko Fuse's brilliant designs in "Unit Origami". The model is made from 30 sheets of paper (no glueing! no cutting!). Each piece of paper was folded using the model called Little Turtle. It could be bigger if I was willing to cut my own paper, but instead I chose the easier option of already-cut scrapbook paper.
Sorry for the terrible photo quality but I wanted to show another example of Fuse's great designs. The little guy on the left is from her book "Floral Globe Origami". I plan on making some more designs from this book; I'll try to get better pictures. Nancy

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Here are some amazing bear sculptures done by Paul Brown. The Crafty Snarks will in fact be taking a field trip to Grants Pass next Saturday, March 7th to see work being done by Paul. Email craftthesnark@gmail.com for more info.