Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is that the 'great pumpkin' and friends, lurking in the pumpkin patch?

What have we here, scampering about among the pumpkins?

 Why it's none other than Sprightly, Nosey and Chubby, looking for seeds!

Could it be?
Is that the elusive 'Great Pumpkin', come to join his crittery friends?

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Mouse Project - Ah, the excitement of opening my box from Lulu...

Nosey, Chubby and Sprightly were as excited as me for a first look inside!


After a great deal of superb work by a whole bunch of terrific people (thanks again so much everyone!), I received my copy from yesterday (it looks GREAT!) and so The Mouse Project is officially launched!

What does that mean?

I have a page devoted to it (see the link next to 'home' at the very top of this blog? Or just click HERE, or vistit which includes:

• A link to the page where you can preview or buy the book

• An image from each artist used in the book, with links to their websites.

• A free to download PDF 'lite' version of the book that also takes you to all the artists' websites.
It's kind of a preview with one image from each artist (plus the clickable links to their websites).
A portfolio of more than 20 of the very best painters you'll find anywhere online.

• A quick YouTube trailer showing a lot more pieces than the PDF (but you can't blink or you'll miss some!)

Profits to benefit animal shelters.

So without any further explanation, just click HERE and check it out!

And here's the YouTube trailer just for good measure!

And many thanks again to Karen Appleton, Chris Beck, Paul Coventry-Brown, Bill Cramer, Jelaine Faunce, R. Garriott, Claudia Hammer, Jeff Hayes, K Henderson, Diane Hoeptner, Martha Kellar, Meridee Mandio, Carol Marine, Michael Naples, James Neil Hollingsworth, Craig Nelson, Jennifer O'Cualain, John Poon, Roseta Santiago, Dreama Tolle Perry and Lynne Windsor for doing such a great job in helping turn an idea into a better looking reality than I even hoped for!

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tree frog 'Rolls Royce of shoe horns' progress, museum show, and my mouse project book is officially in the mail...

The tree frog shoe horn is coming along, after a few glitches (described in an earlier post).
But I'm liking how it's coming along (not so thrilled with my photography skills on this bunch of pics!).

I decided to fill in the hole that hangs it on the nail, and have the frog hollow, with a keyhole shape cut into the leaf on the back side (only the keyhole is upside down) so it hangs magically on the wall.

I think this one and the snail complement each other nicely.

Or will when they're done, after molding, wax pulling, wax chasing, investing, burnout, bronze casting, de-molding, metal chasing, and patina. That's quite a process!

So it might take a while!
But it is the Rolls Royce of shoe horns, after all.

I filled the hole in and will hang it 'invisibly'

unfinished wax original (yet to be molded)

unfinished frog on leaf shoehorn

In the meantime I'll just have to make do with the cheapo and unsightly (but perfectly functional) shoe horn I bought from WalMart.

I recently published 'The Mouse Project' through, but have it set to 'private' until I get to see the printed book. It should arrive on Wednesday.
If all's well, I'll hit the 'public' button then and immediately post that it's alive and kicking!

I can hardly wait, I'm very excited to see the printed version, having been messing about with it for ages now on my computer.
Thanks to all the amazing work from 21 other artists I'm sure it will look great!

My Froggyballs and Athos, Porthos and Aramis the turtles are on display in the Albuquerque Museum's Miniatures and More show for this year which opens tonight, so I'm eager to find out how that goes.
Froggyball #1  a soda can,  and    Froggyball #2

Athos (top), Porthos (bottom left) and Aramis (bottom right)

Last year's turnout was very impressive, as I'm sure it will be this year too.

I'm working on some new mousey things which I'll no doubt post about very soon.
And I'm still planning on taking some pics of the critters in the pumpkin patch.

It's fun having a few balls up in the air at once!

Thanks for reading...

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Super slo-mo shoehorn progress, wax with a memory, plus Mike Masse's favorite ear plugs ever!

Slow moving snail shoehorn - a work in progress (it's not cast yet)

What do you do when you're wrestling with wax that always wants to return to its original shape?

I was working on my tree frog shoe horn. I had a mold made on my original wax shoe horn design and got some other waxes of it to mess about with.

Instead of the usual bendable wax poured into molds, this was injection wax, which behaves (or rather mis-behaves) differently.

Anyway it didn't hang on the wall just the way I wanted it to.
I tried bending it this way and that, and in the process broke the one I had my frog on. Before it broke it always wanted to slowly return to its original shape after bending.

Quite frustrating.

Eventually Lee suggested I try letting it soak in very hot water before bending it (I'd already tried this, but it would return to its old shape when it cooled). But Lee also suggested quickly cooling it back down in cold water. So I gave it a try, using a tray of iced water, and voila!

After getting another wax just how I wanted it, I broke off the top of the one with the frog on, so I could remove and transfer the frog to the newly shaped wax.

Left with a broken, now shorter shoe horn, I liked the way it sat sideways on the table and decided to take advantage of it.
So I tidied it up and now it's got a snail on it.

I happened to have some snail shells kicking around for just such an occasion.
I heated small quantities of wax in a spoon over an alcohol lamp from Artisan (the art store), and poured the hot liquid into the shell making it less fragile, and easier to attach wax based clay to.

After a quick google image search for snails (and likewise on YouTube) I had all the reference I needed for the slimy parts.

Oh, here's a handy tip for doing the tentacles...
Copper wire, even really thin copper wire inside the clay tentacles, is a bit stiff to bend just right. So heat it up in a flame (gas cooker stove tops work fine) to red hot, and let it cool back down. Then it will be nice and bendy. Just be sure to hold it in pliers (not your fingers) while heating!
Or I s'pose you could just use very thin aluminum wire.

Call it a sculpture you can put your shoes on with, or call it a shoe horn that looks great on the mantel piece!

I like how it looks, and I can't wait to get it cast. It's at Lee's getting its very own mold right now...
So I guess I'll have two uniquely individual shoe horns when I'm done.
His 'n' hers?
Spookily shot wax and clay snail shoehorn

On another topic...
I remember when I picked up what looked like nastily colored fruit pastels at Mike Masse's studio a year or so back.
But they were squashy. And waxy.
And ear plugs, as Mike was quick to point out.

But recently when I was there Mike was keen to show me what he called the best ear plugs he's ever tried.
He was very excited about them, as you can see...
Mike Masse sporting this season's must-have ear accessories. A perfect gift for the power tool enthusiast in your life.

Radnor reusable earplugs. Mike swears by 'em.

If I ever start snoring I'll know just what to get Meridee for her birthday.

By the way, she's put up some pics online, with more coming soon (and presumably regularly thereafter), at
Click HERE to have a look.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween, anyone? Trick or treat time is fast approaching...


I can feel a trip to some pumpkin patches with my mice and trusty camera coming on in the next few days...
The world is decking the halls for halloween. How did that come around so fast?

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Using Lulu to put together 'The Mouse Project'. But not for the free PDF 'Lite' version

Cover layout using

I'm getting pretty excited now I'm seeing how the final book is going to look!
I must say, thanks entirely to the unbelievable enthusiasm from the artists involved, it's going to look fantastic!

Dreama Tolle-Perry's cat Eddie with Sprightly (aka Phyllis in Eddie's world)

I can hardly wait to hit the 'publish' button.
Using Lulu's design templates has been interesting.
I've never self published using online print-on-demand software before, so I'm learning as I go...
Jeffrey Hayes painting laid out using

You can see the page layout options on the left. Text in gray, images in black.

It's really easy to drop things in and move them about, but for some reason has been quite 'buggy' when it comes to formatting text, both when using firefox and safari.
For instance, if I want some words to be bold, and some not, once I've made the changes and then hit 'save', it all turns bold again.
Same thing for changing font size here and there.
So in the end, after some very frustrating hours of tweeking text and watching it tweek itself back again to how it wants to look, I just kind of let the ghosts in the machine decide!
It looks fine, but I'd still rather that it looked fine the way I wanted it to!
I'm using the plain option from the 'photo book' templates

I'm getting the very last paintings over the next week then I'll make final adjustments to clear it for take-off, and hit the magic button.

PDF 'lite' version showing the cover and some page layouts down the side

I'm also putting together the PDF 'lite' version (not using Lulu though) which will have one image per artist even if they painted more (and no close ups showing details of brush strokes or in-progress pics).
I'm trying to keep it under 1 MB. It will look fine on screen (since the images are 72dpi) but it won't be high enough resolution to make good prints from.
Each artist has a clickable link to their website in the PDF 'lite' version

So the free PDF will have 20-something low res images, while the published book will have around 60 images (including detail close ups) and be printed at a much higher resolution.

Mind you, the advantage of the PDF is that:
• it will feature live, click-able links to everyone's websites,
• you'll be welcome to copy and email it,
• it will be FREE.
Must be time for me to take a tea break!

I hope I end up doing everyone's hard work justice!
...Stay tuned...

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