Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jacksonville, Oregon - Cool Town

Going to Jacksonville was a last minute decision and I'm really glad I went. I met non-stop interesting people and the town has a great energy that I felt as soon as I drove in. I camped out in my truck parked at the Dodero Ceramic Studios, owned by John and Kathy Dodero who are old friends of my friend Fran. Below is Kathy in her beautiful garden and John doing his raku thing in his studio.

John suggested that I hike up to see the cemetary so I did and had two closes encounters of the first kind. First I found three baby skunks playing with each other but by the time I got my camera out they had gone down a hole which looked like an airvent or something. Then I went to sit on a stump and at the last moment saw movement, this time the camera was out and I caught him before he disappeared.

A glimpse of Kathy's garden.

A view of the valley from the cemetary.

Monday, June 25, 2007

On the move again but here's some photos from Bandon

Bandon is a very quiet retirement/tourist/family town. It's famous for it's spectacular beaches with strange rock formations. That and shopping at the tourist stores is pretty much all there is to do. Everything closes down by 5:30, and I mean everything. So I did lots of photography and had fun checking out local rock shops and thrift stores during the alloted time span. I got a lot of reading done and worked two hours a day mostly gluing kiln bricks together so they can build a huge kiln (4,000 bricks) someday. I spent a couple of days with my friend Deborah in Coos Bay and am now in Jacksonville, a cool little town.

Below is Mr. T, the treefrog who lived in the rhododendron bush in the back yard.

This is Rosa, who grows the many cacti that she and Spencer sell with their pots. You can see their work at Rosa also does all the carving on the pots and this is her at work.

Some very noisy seals and their babies, near Shore Acres outside of Bandon

I've only been in Jacksonville a few hours but I love the vibe, as well as this nice internet cafe. On Wednesday I leave for Portland, then I'm heading out to Sandy, Oregon to help a new friend put up a blog site with an amazing story.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chainsaw Carving in Reedsport, Oregon

I've just returned from my first chainsaw carving contest held in Reedsport, Oregon sponsored by Echo Chainsaws. What a learning experience. Up until now I've always worked alone and am self taught so this was the first time I've ever met other people who carved wood using this tool. Months ago, when I was preparing to travel in the Northwest I Googled "chainsaw carvers" and got the web site for the event. Since it was free to participate I signed up for it so I could meet people and network, but learned there was a big waiting list. I only found out I was a contestant a week before it began. I tried looking on their web site but they only had a few very badly done photographs of the usual bear and eagle carvings so I really had no idea what I was getting into.

I met some wonderful people. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, they fed us all our meals, they gave us hats and an official T-shirt (I can wear mine as an oversized dress) and if you had something to sell and it was an eagle, bear, fish or a moose - you could make money. But picture yourself doing hard labor with the tailpipe of a running vehicle pointed inches from your face the entire time, not to mention the sawdust, dust from the wind and the sound of 50 chainsaws running at once, in the sun, with lots of people watching you the entire time. I was told by Thor - the guy who was carving next to me - that I was the first person he'd ever met who only carved with electric chainsaws, not to mention he had never seen anyone carve using safety chains (to prevent kickback) which evidently makes it all much harder to do. Duh - working alone I never knew this. Basically, I'm an artist who uses my little electric saws as one of many tools to make my art. A real pro has at least 6 to 10 gas chainsaws of various sizes lined up on a table behind his space, not to mention all the extra tools needed to grind, sand and burn.

The theme this year was "Once Upon a Time" so when I learned I was going to participate I went online and in the end decided to do Snow White singing to a bird and printed a Disney picture to use as a guide. Above is the finished piece, which is okay, but tiny compared to what the mainline carvers produced. The logs they provided were about ten feet tall and six feet in diameter - huge, massive things. I had them give me a quarter of a log. Below are the two top winning entries.

There were several carvers from Germany and one guy from Japan. One of the German carvers worked as a chef and gave demonstrations on how to peel a potato with his chainsaw. Below is one of the German guys and the Japanese guy's beautiful dragon.

Here are a couple of the American carvers' pieces that I liked - the two dragons attacking a castle was amazing and the frog and fairy on toadstools was cute.

Every day we had to do a "quick carve" and donate it to be auctioned off, which was our entry fee to the event. They raised quite a lot of money doing this. We had 75 minutes to carve something and the guys cranked out large bears and eagles. Not knowing what to expect I decided to carve horse heads because it's the one thing I knew I could do fast and after watching the first auction I learned that welcome signs were popular. Everyone was allowed to have at least two long slabs a day (to make benches) so I took advantage of this to make horse head welcome signs that took me 20 minutes and left me enough energy to continue working the rest of the day. The first day I carved a horse head out of a log and wasn't able to carve the rest of the day I was so exhausted.

I was surrounded on one side by Ellie (below) who I learned was 20 days older than me (there was a man even older who was 73). She carved a giant Babe the bull dancing with a moon with her gas chainsaws. I was downwind of her so got the full impact of her exhaust fumes and sawdust. She's tiny, weighing in at 109 pounds, but has the most amazing energy. Thor, who carved a knight taught me a lot, loaned me his tools and helped me carry things. He travels to England every year to compete and although he looks about 25 years old is 45.

This is Deborah who saved my life by letting me shower in her motel room every night and entertaining me with fascinating stories.

My face looks like I've been blow torched but otherwise I survived the ordeal, have invitations to visit fellow carvers all over the Northwest, and boy did I learn a lot.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Amazing Mosaics from Arcata

My friend Deborah told me that if I went to Arcata I should see Laurel Skye's, the local mosaic artist, work. I ended up staying overnight at her amazing house. It's really a museum to the art of mosaic. Anything you can think of has been covered in mosaic - shoes, radios, bottles, even the breadbox. In the morning they took me out for breakfast to Renee's Creperie where we had a great breakfast and I photographed the above piece, as well as the violin, below.

Laurel has been commissioned by the city of Arcata to create a series of trashcans for the plaza and so far has done 7 of them - all totally different from each other.

This is Kaia sitting by the entrance of their home which is covered in mosaic, of course.

The bathtub, walls and floor (even the bathmat) are totally covered in mosaic. It's like being in a temple. I took so many photos of Laurel's house I could make a book out of it, but due to space limitations here can only show a few things.

The phone works, but I don't know about the pillow which was lying on the sofa. A cake and fruit turned out to be mosaic. It has to be seen to be believed. I'm now thinking of making the covers of one of my books mosaic. Anyway, I'm now in southern Oregon where I'm staying with a couple who run a pottery and I'll be doing a work exchange for the month of June. I've been wanting to check out the Northwest for a long time so I've set up a series of work exchanges for the summer in Oregon, Vancouver Island and Washington.