I had the great experience of visiting the TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow, Illinois this past weekend. A high school classmate of mine, Libby Nickols McGinley works and volunteers there. The TreeHouse was officially started in 1980 with a permanent resident Great Horned Owl named 'Moose'. From there they have grown to their present location on 8 acres that include a hospital, eagle flight cage and many holding cages for wildlife all kinds as they recuperate from injuries to be re-released into the wild. I was given the opportunity to get in close to some o these magnificent birds to take photo's that I will use as reference to create some woodcarvings and paintings from. Thank you to Eric Bloemaker and staff for allowing m to have that opportunity. And again a special thanks to Libby! My old LHS buddy Gary Schafer and wife Janet met us down there so my wife Sandi and I had a great time setting around Saturday evening with Libby, Gary and Janet just talking about the 'old days' in Lincoln, Illinois. The nest morning Libby and her mom cooked breakfast for us and we had another great time! If you get a chance check out the TreeHouse Facebook site, stop by and visit them if you are down that way and if you are looking to donate $$$$ some or your time, they can put it to good use helping the wildlife. It is a wonderful cause and place.
I was watching an episode of 'The Woodwrights Shop' the other day where, the host, Roy Underhill, was making a wood mallet using only old hand tools. It got me to thinking about my ancestors and a time when there were no Wal-Marts or Home Depots to run to pick up the latest tools when you needed one. Almost everything they had was made by their own hands or getting by bartering with someone else who did make them. I personally would have a hard time living without these stores or even electricity to run my grinders, saws and wood burners. I have an old shotgun that my Grandpa Duncan carved many, many years ago by hand, which is a prized possession. I can just see him setting on his old front porch, whittling out he stock and painstakingly putting a checkerboard design on it with a pocket knife. I wonder what other things he had made in his life? It just gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation for him and those that came before him.
Have you ever used Bondo for anything other than filling a dent or rust spot on a car? I have found it a very useful material in pulling together a few carvings. I have used it to fill spaces when wood shims wouldn't work, or blending a carving into a base creating a seamless transition. The best use of it has been in helping me to create the illusion of snow. Yes, snow. When you apply it on a base the same way you would put icing on a cake and painting it white after it cures, it makes great looking snow! It is not that expensive if you buy it in small cans, and the inexpensive hardener, in tubes, is readily available at WalMart. Try it out and see what you can do with it.
It would be great if I could use every square inch of the wood that I have. Alas, when cutting out my craving blanks, there are always those pesky corners left over. When I use to have a wood burning stove I used them for kindling to start fires and burnt a lot, but when I went to gas, they began to pile up. I tried to sell them by the sack but didn't have any luck. People just weren't interested, even when I offered to give them away...go figure? So I let them build up and build up, finally ending in throwing ALOT away. What a waste! Now I take the pieces and trim the sharp edges off so I can use them more easily for small carvings or inserts. If I get some oak or other nutwood, I save those pieces to use when I am cooking something on my smoker. They sure do add flavor to beef or pork! Too bad that basswood doesn't work as well in the smoker.... Anyway, they still seem to build up....what do you do with yours?
Super Glue is truly a 'wonder' glue. There are many times when I am carving feather tips and have broken them off, usually along the grain. Nothing is worse that trying to fix a broken feather tip. Seems like you can always see the break whether you glue the broken piece back or where the joint is when inserting a replacement piece. Super Glue has eliminate a lot of those broken tips for me. I use it in two ways; first, on a real delicate tip, I will soak it in Super Glue before putting the finishing detail on it and then the second step is to soak it again when it is finished to make it harder to break. The two brands I like are the Gorilla Super glue I get at Home Depot and the Original Super Glue (Concentrate) in the 10 oz. bottle found at Dollar General stores. (I don't care for the Super Glue that come in the little squeeze tubes) How do you use Super Glue and what kind do you prefer?
I have learned many shortcuts and new ideas over the years that I hope to share with you in this blog. Feel free to ask questions or make comments but please keep everything in good taste........ I hope this will a place of sharing ideas that will benefit all of us.......