Monday, December 24, 2012

St Georges Bridge

I took this photo of St Georges Bridge crossing the C&D Canal in Delaware years ago with my 35mm Minolta.  Now there's the big Route 1 bridge behind it and St Georges bridge is rarely used.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rhino Beetle

I love beetles.  They're like little living armored tanks.  The reflective surfaces of this rhino beetle would make an interesting vector art project.  I'll add that to my list of thousands of things I want to do "one of these days."

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World

Well.  Here we are.  December 21, 2012.  The end of the world.  Nostradamus, the Mayans and others eluded to this date as being the end of the world.  To be fair, this day is not over yet.  I did experience an end of the world feeling when I went to the mall to finish my Christmas shopping.  You really cannot tell by this shot, but it was a very busy place.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I have succumbed to yet another social media outlet.  Instagram is one of the newer kids on the block and I am addicted.  It's easy to use and so much fun.  It helps to have a great phone and a great camera on that phone.  If you want to see what I am doing, here is a link to cut and paste.  You might want to join and have some fun too.  And if you are already on Instagram, become a follower.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Autumn Oaks

I still have lots of photos taken as the leaves were changing just wasting away on my hard drive.  Here are a couple interesting shots with blazing red leaves on oak trees.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Goldfish Closer

Here is another view of my Steampunk Goldfish.  It shows the details better than the last one with the big gears.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Steampunk Goldfish

This steampunk goldfish is only part of a larger project I'm working on.  But it also works as a stand alone piece.  I'm happy with it and I hope you like it too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

BugZoo samples

Here are a few recent submissions to my new group, BugZoo.  The group has been up and running for a little over a week on deviantART and it's off to a great start!

"Papilio machaon IV" by Philip Klinger

"Father and Son" by Michal Hoskovec

 "Here nobody can't see me" by Stefano Coltelli

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rufescent Tiger Heron

I found this amazing bird at the airport.  Yes, the airport!  The Philadelphia International Airport has dozens of showcases throughout the terminals and concourses used to display art and collections.  At the present, a group of showcases are displaying taxidermic birds.  I took lots of photos through the glass of some rare and beautiful birds.  I'm thinking that they would make good references for future art projects.

Here are some hints for taking photos through glass.  So many people stand in front of the glass firing away, taking awful pictures.

  • Do not use flash.  It just reflects off the glass.
  • Press your camera against the glass.  This acts as a tripod for perfect sharpness.  Look at those feathers!
  • Your photo colors will probably be too warm because the light source will be incandescent lighting.  Use a photo editing program and use a cool or blue filter to adjust the colors. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blackbird Brackets

Along with the mushrooms at Blackbird Forest, there were also a few trees with bracket fungi growing out of their trunks.  These things look pretty sturdy, but in reality are very fragile.  Even something as light as a leaf will scar the brackets as they grow around the leaf.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blackbird Mushrooms

I stated a couple days ago that I was traipsing around Blackbird Forest looking for mushrooms.  Well, I actually found some.  As you can see, it was a pretty good trip.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Don't let all these posts about bugs scare you away.  It's just my feeble attempt to drum up some interest for my BugZoo group on deviantART.  I spent several mornings in October looking on the trunks of trees for insects.  Here are some of the ones I found just chillin' on those cool October mornings.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weevil Puzzle

Not much to blog today, I'm afraid.  We had a lot of shopping to do today to prepare for Christmas and holiday-related projects at my son's school.  Along the way, I picked up this puzzle at the dollar store.  I thought it might be a fun addition to my BugZoo at deviantART.  On the puzzle box, it read "Ugly Bug".  I thought it was kinda cool.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blackbird Forest

I spent most of the day traipsing around Blackbird Forest looking for mushrooms or anything else that might make a good photo.  Blackbird Forest is located a few miles north of Smyrna, Delaware.  Most of the photos I took were macros or close-up shots, but here is one that looks more like a forest.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I just started my own group on deviantART, a place where amazing and beautiful insects are on display.  The group has only been up for a couple days and it's off to a great start.  I wanted to call the group BugJar, but that was already taken.  Actually, I thought BugZoo would be taken as well.  But it wasn't and here I am!

Here is the link:

Monday, December 3, 2012


My son found this preying mantis on the screen outside our sliding glass doors.  He called me at work to tell me about it and I asked him if he could catch it for me so I could get a picture of it.  He said he was too afraid to get close to it.  Amazingly, my wife, who is petrified of bugs, caught it in a huge Lincoln Logs container.
See the little black spots in the eyes?  Those spots followed me all over the room as I was getting my equipment together to take the pictures.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


These penguins were originally inked on illustration board in August of 1992.  Then I did a paper sculpture version in January 2002.  These vector penguins are essentially the same penguins with slightly cleaner lines.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lost Boy

I took several photos of this overpass while Tater walked back and forth.  Then, after a little tweaking in Photoshop, I came up with this ghostly image.  I don't know why I do these things.  It doesn't really further my art potential, but I get an idea and I just hafta run with it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A December to Remember

A December to remember was something I think I heard on a car commercial years ago.  Anywho, work has commenced on my big December project.  There will not be step-by-step posts here as there was for the lion mask.  That was more of a tutorial  and instruction on how I accomplish certain things with polymer clay.  I will keep you updated with little blurbs throughout the month.  I will say that I believe this will be my best creation ever.  Seriously.  You just wait...
I did this sketch of a steampunk goldfish and decided to take the time to make a vector drawing of it so you can get a better look of how the finished piece might appear.
The final polymer clay goldfish will be posted when it is finished, but it is just one part of my December project.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Too Late

This little leaf is sprouting out of the trunk of a tree while the rest of the leaves are turning color, withering, and falling.  I would guess that this leaf will follow suit and start changing color very soon.  It will whither and fall and join its relatives on the ground.  But do not despair, gentle reader; because before you know it, new leaves will spring up all over this tree once again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pale Crawler

Many spiders in my part of the world come out in droves as the weather turns cooler.  Maybe it's their last gasp before winter sets in.  I found this little pale spider hiding in the crevice of some tree bark.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Big Cups

Tater was watching TV when a commercial came on with a rather buxom girl carrying two huge mugs of beer in each hand.  Tater says, "Geez!  Look at the size of those cups!"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

White Lion Tribal Mask

The face of this mask is made entirely of polymer clay using faux wood and faux ivory techniques.  Slots were cut around the base of the mask to accommodate real leather cutouts.  It was a long and winding road to get to this destination.  I hope you like it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mane Slots

Well, I finally, finally got the slots cut into the mane of my lion mask.  I used a small drill bit in my Dremel tool.  This left a rough finish, but that was all smoothed out with several grits of sandpaper.  Check back tomorrow as this puppy (or in this case, kitty) should be finished.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lion Face

The polymer clay part of the mask is finished except for cutting out the slots for the mane.  And that task may be a challenge.  I have a Dremel bit that I thought would cut slots into the clay, but unless I get 10 to 20 in a jail cell, there is not enough time for that process.  There has to be a way to accomplish this and I will figure it out.  Also, the mask will have some very light color rubbed into it and baked again.


Monday, November 19, 2012

My...What a cool nose you have!

The nose of my lion mask has to be made before the rest of the mask so it can be pushed into the soft clay.  When they are baked together, the nose and mask will be welded together.  The nose and lip are supposed to resemble dark wood.  Here is the mold and final sculpt of the tip of the nose.  It still needs to be removed from the rest of the clay.  Normally, I would cut it free while it's still soft, but I didn't want the shape altered.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Orange Lily

While driving by a roadside rest stop in Smyrna, Delaware, I spotted this gorgeous flower.  I made a U-turn to get back to the rest stop and took several shots of it.  Luckily, I had my camera because my son and I were in the area to take photos at a wildlife refuge.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tulip Blossom

For my friends following the progress of my White Lion Tribal Mask, work will resume again on Monday.  In the mean time, here is a flower from a Tulip tree that I took a few months ago.  And make sure to check in again tomorrow for an absolutely gorgeous orange Lily.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leather Cutouts

Cutting out the leather pieces for the lion's mane was not as tough as I thought it was going to be.  It helps to have a nice big pair of Fiskars scissors.  I still had dents in my fingers when the job was done.  The mane patterns were copied and taped to pieces of white leather.  I bought an extra box of X-Acto blades for the leather cutting, but the scissors worked so well, the blades were never used.  A person can never have too many X-Acto blades.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mane Patterns

One of the more challenging aspects of this tribal mask is designing the lion's mane.  If you look at my other lion masks, you will see that the mane on each one consists of cord or wire going in and out of holes drilled into the base of the mask.  This one will have leather cutouts coming out of slots around the base of the mask.

The mask will be marked around the base using these brass markers while the polymer clay is still soft.

The brass markers produced the imprint designs shown here.

The imprints were measured using a string to get the base length of each marker.  The length of each marker becomes the base of each mane pattern.  Confusing, I know.

This is the approximate shape of the mane and used as a guide to design the mane patterns.

There are a total of 12 mane patterns.  The base of each pattern starts 10mm inside the perimeter of the mask.  As each pattern comes out of its' slot in the mask, it flares out on each side and ends on the mane guide line.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dummy Support

Everyone needs support, even dummies.  No, that's not what this is about.  I made a dummy lion mask. This accomplishes two things: One, it gives me an opportunity to try out the lion mold.  And two, I need a support for the final mask while it is still soft and being worked on.  As you can see in the photo,  the mask does not pop out of the mold to perfection.  It doesn't help when you drop it (see the dent above the right eye).  The final mask will need to be tweaked a little.  The faux ivory mask will need support when it comes out of the mold and that little mound in the photo should be a perfect fit.  It was made from the inside of the dummy mask and then slightly reshaped and smoothed out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Little Dragon

I took a couple days off working on my lion mask because we had a birthday party for my dad who is celebrating number 80!  Wow.  Anywho, check out this little Bearded Dragon.  I took this pic at the pet shop with my Samsung Galaxy phone.  Don't leave home without it!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

French Creek Panorama

Autumn color is slipping away from our area and the icy grip of winter is waiting right around the corner.  I took this shot a couple weeks ago at French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mane Markers

The easiest way to describe this step is to show it rather than tell it.  The mane on this lion mask is really the focal point of the new design.  The mask will not have holes for leather cord or shoestrings to simulate the mane.  Slots will be made around the perimeter of the mask and cut leather pieces will come out of the slots.

I went around the perimeter of the sculpt to mark where I wanted the leather mane pieces to be.  Every mark overlaps so there should be no gaps in the mane.

Using sizing rods, I bent brass strips to match the marks around the base of the mask.

Here are the mane markers cut and ready to use.  They will be pressed into the polymer clay mask before baking.  They are just for marking the slots and will not be pushed all the way in.  I have a Dremel bit to cut the slots once the mask is baked.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lion Mold

Here is my lion mold (or mould as it's spelled in other parts of the world).  I would love to make lots of tribal masks but it is a slow process.  One of the ways to speed up that process is to be able to vacuum form my molds.  I'm looking into making a vacuum form table.  There are several plans for that on the internet that involve a home oven and a shopvac.  For now, polymer clay is the way to go.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lion Sculpt

Here is my sculpt for the lion mask.  To me, it has more of a tribal mask look to it than many of my previous attempts.  Originally, it was about a half inch shallower (is that a word?) and I wanted to add some depth to it.  So I added half an inch to the base and rebaked it.  The second bake produced cracks around the base and down the right side of the nose.  I filled the cracks around the base and baked it a third time.  This should work out fine for the mold.
See the slight burn on the nose?  I left it in the oven a little too long.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One More Time

I've tried making a lion mask many, many times.  I've done well over a dozen sculpts, and even though a couple made it to the finished product, I was never really completely happy with them.  I have this great vision of what this mask will look like and so I'm taking a stab at a really awesome lion mask one more time.  This mask is many times bigger than the other ones.  It is not going to be a pendant.  This lion mask will be a display piece, home decor.
Here, along with the drawing, is a stencil for the mask.  It keeps the elements of the mask in scale while I'm sculpting.  It also has the tip of the nose and mouth that will only be molded from the colored clay and placed directly on the mask.