Sunday, May 30, 2010

Go ahead email, make my day...

I've had a couple of emails this week that more than made my day!
Norma Evans won the bonus prize in my guess the length of the snake contest and she had this to say...

'Thank you so much for Alfie, my rabbit, I really love him.  Thought you'd like to see where Nosey and Sprightly are spending their time lately getting an education.  I made the books out of wood for them, they look like real books and fool everyone.'
Stunning! I can honestly say I never expected anyone to carve wooden books to arrange their mice around!

And then I learned that Gordon Lutz from Pasadena had bought one of my life sized laying down rabbits, Maxwell, from Manitou Galleries here in town during a recent visit to Santa Fe.

He contacted me and had this to say...

 'He now sits proudly next to my reading chair.  My wife and I volunteer for several local (Pasadena, CA area) rabbit rescues ( and have been rabbit people for quite some time.  We curently have 18 house rabbits along with a couple of fosters, all rescues, so Maxwell is very much at home here.' 

'BTW...the housekeeper came into the living room and saw Maxwell on the table next to my reading chair and she literally jumped.  She thought one of the rabbits had escaped and was resting on the table.  She could not believe how realistic the sculpture is.  I think that is a nice compliment of your work.'

  'I am attaching two pics of two bunnies that in a way remind me of Maxwell.  they are not desert cottontails but are domestic rescues living with us.  There is somewhat of a resemblance in the look I think.' 

Thanks Norma and Gordon! And thanks for letting me quote you as well!

The best thing about being a sculptor is feedback like this!

It's left me feeling quite puffed up this week!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chubby mouse faces terrifying odds...

I stumbled around online into Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing fiction (they're HERE).
So I thought I'd put them to the test and immediately wrote a very short story starring Chubby mouse.
How do think the rules worked out?

Chubby and the waste disposal.

Chubby couldn't reach the cheese.

Chubby Mouse was made of bronze but more than anything he loved to eat cheese.
Real cheese. Not some kind of metal or wooden cheese, or nasty cheese made of clay.

Two sinks are what separated Chubby from his cheese. The first was filled with water in which he would drop like a stone.
And beyond that was the sink of certain death.
It had the black hole of no return at the bottom.
Anything that went down there would never come back.

Chubby stood close to the edge, wondering if he might be able to swim across the first sink.

But just when he was deciding to give up on the cheese, a giant hand came down and scooped up Chubby.
Chubby seemed to be flying now.
He flew right across the water, as the cheese grew larger in his vision.
Chubby was excited, even though his vision wasn't very good.
What excited Chubby the most was the wonderful pungent odor as it grew stronger in his nostrils.
He was so enraptured by the overpowering smell of his favorite cheese, he didn't notice the black hole of death yawning wide beneath him.

Down he went. Now he was sitting alone in the dark, and could barely make out the large blades pointing up all around him.

He wasn't sure what would happen next, so he sat and waited in the dark.
It didn't smell very nice down here...

Chubby mouse had heard the click of a light switch many times before.
So when he heard it this time, his first thought was of getting a better look around him.

But the only lights came from sparks as the blades leaped into action, tossing Chubby about inside the dark hole.

Chubby was smashed into the sides again and again, thrown from the wall, back into the whirring steel and then back to bounce in to the glittering blur again.

The sound was horrendous.
Eventually the grinding spinning torture stopped.
Dazed, damaged but otherwise OK, Chubby looked around to see the once upright steel blades laying in pieces around him.

His damaged body was still and quiet once again, as the giant hand fumbled around, feeling the broken blades, and eventually hoisting Chubby back out into the light.

Ahh, the intoxicating aroma of cheese filled Chubby's nostrils, and this time he was in luck.

He was set down next to mouse heaven, where he tucked in to let the cheese fill his soul and do its healing work.

Tough little Chubby would go on to see another day.


Oh, here's the little critter that was hiding in the photo at the bottom of my last post...
a baby garter snake of some sort. For some reason I keep bumping into snakes!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Outsmarted by a rat?

My childhood fascination with traps resurfaced recently, and had me wondering if I'm even as smart as a rat I had a recent run in with!
It's not like my interest in traps has led me to curate a trap museum or anything like that, but I've always admired the elegant simplicity of the ways people have found to catch things.
Especially if they involve trip wires, or teetering foot plates that send doors swinging shut and all that sort of thing.

Of course I'm not saying I like what a lot of traps do to things, it's just the ingeniousness of the designs and mechanisms which for some reason always caught my interest.

Well anyway, I caught a rat in the back yard with a Havahart live trap. It only catches one critter at a time (unlike the mouse trap we used to catch the fiendish paint-eating mouse in the car), but it has the whole footplate/doors snapping shut stuff going for it!

I don't know what kind it is, although I suspect it might be a pack rat, but as you can see it's very cute with its light belly and black beady eyes.

 Here it is next to Sprightly my hoodrat.

So after driving it a couple of miles away I let it out.

It ran straight under my car.
I peered underneath just in time to see it climbing up the inside of my front wheel.

I started the engine, hoping to scare it off. I didn't see it run away, so after a minute I started to drive home anyway.
I was expecting to see a furry face come poking out through an air vent, or magically appear by my foot pedals at any moment.

My driving was a bit nervous and quite slow, just in case I had to contend with a furry companion running up my trouser leg.

There was no sign of it under the hood when I got back, so did it hitch a ride home, or not?

A couple of days later I caught an identical rat and released it (a bit further from the car!) in the same place as before.
I figured if it was a buddy of the first one, they could hang out.
Or it could have been the same one.

It may just be viewing recent events as bit of an annoyance: 'Oh, not THIS again', sort of thing.

Well this time at least I made sure it went away from the road, so I could drive home relaxed!

Besides that, I'm excited to announce that my Sumo Wrestling Toads will be on display in San Diego as part of the Society of Animal Artists 50th annual show, called 'Art and the Animal'.
And who knows, maybe they'll be selected for the following museum tour?

Last up, see if you can spot the critter lurking in this picture (I'll show it close up in my next post!)

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille
Still no news since my post regarding ......of........ Galleries who still owes me for bronze sales made around the new year. (Edit-issue resolved after 1 yr thanks to Goldman, Evans and Trammell)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Winners of snake contest...!

That's right, winners as in plural!

It was actually a pretty big snake.
Since people always over estimate snakes they've actually seen, I guessed a conservative 5 feet to myself.
I couldn't help notice how its pattern changed from anaconda like blobs at the back end, to more typical bull snake patterns at the front.

So how do you measure a snake without killing it?

Last weekend I went back with printouts of my snake pics, a long cord, and an extending tape measure (25 feet long, just to be sure!).
After a little while finding the exact spot, I laid out the cord (which used to work our blinds before they broke and needed fixing), adjusted its wiggles to match the snake's position exactly, picked up the string and measured it.

It was a bit tricky finding the exact placement at first, but I noticed as I was matching tufts of grass and stones that there was a groove worn in the ground, so either the weight of the snake did that in one pass, or it's a regular route it takes.

The string was 6ft 3inches, or 75 inches.

So I've been saving emails and making notes on who was within 2 inches either way, since I reckon I might have not been super exact.

I had guesses ranging from less than three feet to more than nine!
Quite a spread.
What really amazed me was that not only did someone nail my exact measurement, but a whole bunch of people guessed within my self imposed margin for error.

Sara J Ingle got it on the nose!
Congratulations Sara, you've won a little bronze turtle!
Best email me your address (no impostors please!).

But I felt it wouldn't be fair not to give the others who were so close a shot at a prize too, so I assigned each either odd or even status, rolled a dice to eliminate half so the numbers were small enough for a single dice roll, re-numbered everyone who was left and bingo, number four it was.

So Norma Evans is the bonus winner!
She emailed her guess of 75.5 inches.
I'll send a bonus critter your way Norma (might be a tiny bunny!)

Thanks to everyone for your guesses, that was fun!

I'll no doubt do something similar sometime, so stay tuned (or just sign up for monthly email alerts. At the start of each month you'll get the last month's posts, and also any contest alerts. There's a link in the sidebar if you want to sign up).

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Friday, May 7, 2010

Contest: Guess the length of the snake and win a bronze turtle!

I said this week's post would be more fun!

I ran into Marcel, a photographer friend out running with his dogs around our local trail the other day.
Well I suppose to be more accurate he ran into me, since I was walking!
He'd recently been round our place to photograph my tree frog (the real one) to use as part of one of his always interesting compositions....

Cutle little critter, eh?

Well, after Marcel ran off in his direction and I walked off in mine, I found this rather handsome beast!
Marcel must have run right past it!

A fine looking specimen of a bull snake, I'm sure you'll agree!

And whoever can guess closest to how long the snake is will win a tiny bronze turtle.
The bigger one, since I'm all out of the smallest one right now!

Not a very spectacular prize, but then again, not a very involved contest! Just take a wild guess and either leave it as a comment on this post or email it to me.

Closing date is my next blog post when I'll announce the winner, whenever that is (most likely the weekend of May 15/16), so if this is still the most recent post, have a go!

I'm adding this after only a day since I've had such a great response already: at this rate it's entirely possible by the close of this contest multiple people could guess it right, in which case I'll assign them numbers and roll a dice to determine the winner.

Only one guess per person though, so don't email every size by the inch between 1 and 100 feet!

I'll take these snake pics with me back to the spot and lay out a string to match its position, then measure it.

Good luck!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Update on ....of...... Galleries, last I heard is that he's not responding to phone calls and emails from the collection folks who are trying to recover my share of his selling some bronzes of mine. (Edit-issue resolved after 1 yr thanks to Goldman, Evans and Trammell)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Underpants (and other things)...

This week I've drawn a hundred pairs of underpants. Essentially I've been drawing men's and women's adult diapers, in a gazzilion different styles.
The glamorous things you have to do to make a living as an artist!

Get a load of this...(edit-I've removed the gallery and owner's names since, after 1 year with the help of Goldman, Evans and Trammell finally the money was recovered)
xxxxxxxx of xxxxxxxxxxgalleries in xxxxx, xxxxxx had me rush him this bronze rabbit last December...

He asked me to send it overnight (I sent it 2 day air, I thought I'd be saving him a bunch by doing that). He said he had a buyer for both the one he already had in the gallery, plus this one.
I asked if I should send 3 mice too, (OK, sure), and just as well (or so I thought) since one sold right along with the two rabbits.

A couple of months after that any and all attempts to contact him or the gallery were fruitless.

Being a sculptor has been great, but it is a risky business. There's a never ending stream of money going out to pay for bronze casting, metal chasing, mold making, bases, etc etc.
It seems whenever checks come in, more checks have to go out!

You've got money tied up in inventory all over the place. It's not an endeavor for the faint of heart!

It really doesn't help when the people who are selling your work don't pay you for it when it sells!
That leaves the artist out of pocket, since it's unusual for a gallery to buy your sculpture outright, the usual method is to receive payment after it sells, and they take their chunk and pay you what's left.

But I digress...
I tried the gallery phone (disconnected), his 2 numbers - left messages which were never returned) and his email to no avail.

So I put my detective hat on (actually it was Meridee's detective hat: I borrowed it)...

On Google maps I found his gallery and checked it out in 'street view'.

I went up the street a bit, and saw the name of the gallery next door. I called them.
The very kind lady who I spoke to popped next door to xxxxxx gallery and said there was an intern working at the back, but otherwise it seemed empty of people.
I eventually managed to communicate with this person, who was having nearly as much trouble as me getting hold of xxxxx.

I eventually just gave up expecting to get anywhere and left more messages stating my intent to pass the matter on to a collections agency, and document my progress online.

Odd. That day (or the next at the latest) I got a call from xxxxx who arranged to make 4 payments, each one a month apart, after which I'd call it quits at less than the amount owed.

I got the first payment, but a month later encountered the same stony silence as before (actually he picked up the phone and said he'd mail me a check, but that never happened), so I've handed it to the collection agency and will keep you posted (last I heard they've had no luck reaching him).

Of course my deal of letting him off some of what he owes me is now off the table, since the collection agency take their 25% of the amount recovered, and I'm certainly not cutting myself short.

I'm sorry to be describing such a tedious matter on my blog: I promise something more fun and creative next week!

So when it comes to making a living, thank goodness for me that there's good old reliable (if not glamorous) underpants to fall back on, eh?!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille