We love pets, and we realized recently that we have not been giving adequate attention in our work to the animals most of us live with. We live with dogs and birds, and we know many of you people who are owned by cats, so we've been focusing these animals recently. To left, a rosewood box with two cast glass preening parrots on a wood and copper perch. Each parrot is individually sculpted. Below, two dog-on-rug boxes (our dogs love to sleep on rugs). First, a white cast glass dog on a needlepointed rug (yes, I needlepointed that rug- without a pattern painted on it, thank you). And a small black glass dog sleeping on a handmade rag rug (and yes, I made the rag rug, too).
And for you cat people, two new cat and fish boxes: an orange glass cat reaching a paw down to fish in an etched mirror aquarium on a walnut box, and woodburned cats on a maple box reaching up to catch 22K gold goldfish etched on many pieces of plate glass glued together and polished to a shine. All cast glass pieces were cast by us in our own kiln using the lost wax method, and the 2 glass aquariums were etched by hand by us using our own sandblaster.
Here is one of our first kiln-cast glass boxes! It's solid cast glass using the lost wax method. The lid has a glass shell cast into it in different glass. It does need some grinding and polishing to make it smoother. This will get a wooden base and legs, probably something like the legs on the zigzag box shown below, only curvier. More are coming as we experiment with different methods in the kiln. These take forever and a day to make: making a wax box and lid, pouring plaster mold material around them, melting the wax out of the plaster mold, prefiring the molds, then loading them with glass and firing them for 3 full days! Then the glass needs cold working to remove the extra glass at the base and clean up any blips- the uneven look at the bottom is due to extra glass that needs to be ground off.
We started making this box as a prototype for a cast-glass box, but it looked so great in design that we used beautiful woods (bocote for the sides and yellowheart for the legs, base, and top), and it turned out gorgeous. It has brass detail on the legs, and a bronze bird skull lid lift. Below, a new story box: Rapunzel woodburned on maple, with 22K goldleafed hair, leaning out her window. On the inside is a woodburned and silverleafed pair of scissors. The sides are yellowheart. Below, a new etched and painted glass-topped hummingbird box: walnut with a woodburned and painted maple base. It's hinged.
And why can't our parrot say "Peekaboo"? ALL the YouTube birds say peekaboo. It ain't fair.
Below are new boxes to debut at Artscape art fair in Dallas April 25-27. First, a new Little Red Riding Hood box- walnut sides, woodburned and painted maple top and base. The top shows Little Red walking into the dark forest; the inside shows a snarling red-eyed wolf. Also, a new handcarved, slightly heart-shaped walnut box with turquoise inlay and a snaky design in relief.
And coming soon- new carved tops waiting for Tom to get off his butt and make boxes for them. He seems to think that a major bleeding finger injury is an excuse not to use that hand. First, a spalted maple wavy top: it looks like stone.Next to it, a curly myrtle top carved in one big curling wave, with natural purplish stripes in the wood. Gorgeous, if I do say so myself.
And we proudly announce that we are the proud landlords of a new family: 4 baby cardinals in a sturdy nest in the bamboo outside our studio. Behold our babies! They're ugly, but we love them.
New boxes (and at great prices)- a woodburned and painted parakeet on maple, with pecan sides. The grain of the wood really cooperated here by giving a feathery effect to the green paint on the stomach. We are huge parakeet fans, although our two parakeets think we are disgusting, revolting beasts. We seem not to be able to convince them that we are good guys.
Below, a cockatoo box, also woodburned and painted maple with pecan sides.
Also below, two new etched and painted glass jellyfish; I was looking for a "watercolor" effect by putting paint on the etch and then rubbing most of it off. These have a lovely, delicate feel to them- they will make beautiful, mostly opaque box tops. They are finished with epoxy with paint swirled into it to give a watery effect.
Also, the beginnings of a new locking box with a steampunk feel: a cabinet box with a raised wooden raven on a woodbunred tree. The raven will hold an ornate brass key on a ribbon in his beak on the front. The key will unlock the walnut box, and the inside back will be a contrast to the starkness of the outside: a vivid rose with a hummingbird, butterfly, and beetle, all painted in iridescent paint. I do like contrasts.
Our newest box: walnut with woodburned and painted top and base. It's a "Contrast" box with (hopefully) a good deal of contrast between the top and the inside (shown below). It's now for sale.
Below, some of my first efforts at a new technique- epoxy painting on glass. These look great with light behind them: yet more birds at sunset, etched and then stained dark, with a goldleafed sun and covered with colored epoxy. Also, a sihouette of birds and branches, etched, stained dark, then covered with colored epoxy. When I feel comfortable with this technique, we'll make some boxes using it.
Here is our new box: birds etched in a circle on glass over a base painted as a sunset, with a 22K goldleafed sun. The base is very shiny, so the birds are reflected in it. The sides and top frame are curly maple, and this is my favorite box in a while. It's just stunning. It's in the same style as our Mahogany Koi Box, and these are so lovely that we'll definitely do more like them.
Below, more evidence of my current preoccupation with tentacles: an etched glass box top (I'm thinking a box like the sunset one, only with a deep blue base), and a woodburned octopus. I wish we could have an octopus as a pet, but I hear they're even worse pains in the ass than parrots.
And yet another etched glass tentacles endeavor: jellyfish. And in case you think I had forgotten all about bright birds, a woodburned and painted parakeet.
More parrot tops in my parrot series: an African Grey (to left), and a hyacinth macaw (below). These are both as usual: woodburned and painted maple. Both are gorgeous and intelligent birds- perhaps too smart for me to want to live with. Our dumb sweet eclectus is much more manageable to live with.
If you like any of these, let us know, and we'll build the box to suit your needs instead of building according to our whims.
Also below, a new glass etching inspired by the great Julie Speed and her wonderful painting War Bride. I would be so happy if I could afford to own a Julie Speed painting.
And now, a note on parrots:
Parrots are awesome, but they are EXACTLY like having a tiny dragon. No matter how awesome the bird, it will occasionally scream, bite HARD for no apparent reason, get hormonal and pissy, and generally be evil sometimes. Birds do not recognize your dominance over them. At all. You will be subservient to it. Get a parrot and you will be able to kiss bright feathers (if you are properly subservient), but you will also spend a great deal of time buying expensive organic produce, preparing it so the bird will eat it (for instance, if we want our parrot to eat green leaves, we must painstakingly wrap them around nuts in little packages). Then you will spend more time cleaning up the remnants of food that the bird has flung all over, and scrubbing poop off everything. But at the end of the day, I sit here with my parrot cooing on my shoulder, rubbing her head under my chin, and preening my hair, and it's worth it.
Our Boxes in an Austin Airport Exhibit! Also: A Finished Skull and Raven Box, and New Boxes Coming: Parrots and Dogs
We're proud to announce that some of our boxes will be on display in the Austin ABIA airport starting in February; our airport is very good about supporting local artists, and we're thrilled to have been selected for exhibition.
Also, here is a really pretty new box: the top is maple, with woodburned ravens and a 22K goldleafed skull. I surrounded them with brass coils, and set the whole top in deep epoxy. The top and base are rimmed in dark wenge, and the sides are ziricote with maple biscuit joints. It has a brass lock and ornate brass key, and the inside bottom is lined with red suede. It's our first locking box, and we love it. The ziricote is as smooth as glass. Below is a picture of the inside.
Also below are new box tops and bases. First, the pieces for our new glass-topped box: birds etched in a circle over a base painted like a sunset, with a 22K goldleafed sun. The epoxy paint is so glossy that the birds are reflected in it. This will have curly maple sides and top frame.
We just finished the glass and rosewood rose box- it took a bloody week, but it's done, and it's beautiful. The box is made of rosewood with wenge back legs and accents. The inside back is woodburned maple painted with iridescent paint and then lacquered- a hummingbird. Small magnets keep the hinged door from swinging open, and you open it with the silver rose pull. Surrounding it is an etched and carved glass rose. It's now for sale at the top of our "wood and glass boxes" page. Don't mind if I toot our own horn, but it's really fabulous- very detailed, and every side is beautiful. It put me in the mood for more hummingbirds. Also, below, a woodburning of a pair of herons in snow for the outside of a box, and a crow flying in the summer sun for the inside base of a "duality" box which also satisfies my current bird fervor: white bird/black bird, winter/summer, light/dark.
Now I'm off to Manhattan for my holiday to attend opera (Tosca), theater (Betrayal with Daniel Craig), have Chistmas dinner at the Russian Tea Room, shop at Mood Fabric, and walk in Central Park. Suck it, everybody stuck elsewhere for Christmas!
I'm in an very bird mood recently, and it's been cheering me to woodburn ravens- lots and lots of ravens. Beside and below are two new efforts: A goldleafed skull surrounded by ravens and brass coils, set in epoxy. And a goldleafed angel surrounded by ravens. I think these will probably become boxes- I love the goldleaf combined with the black woodburned ravens.
Also below, a new box in the works- rosewood with a back of maple with a woodburned and painted hummingbird on it to surprise you when you open it. It will be surrounded by an etched and carved glass surround of a rose and leaves on a long, winding stem. The picture is of the box being clamped together, along with the glass rose surround. It will be just beautiful- with a rosewood door on the front with a silver rose pull to open it.
Tom Beach and Amanda Walker