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.
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.
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 have a parrot, who we love, even though she is a screaming jerk some of the time. So we made a parrot box. This is two hidden boxes. The top box is pine and the bottom is sapele, both fronted by a painted and woodburned maple parrot head and tail, and woodburned purpleheart wings. The wings are hinged and held closed by magnets- they open to reveal the top box. The tail is also hinged and raises to reveal the sapele bottom box. This should have been pretty straightforward, but it turned out that there were some tricky engineering issues, especially once Tom decided it HAD to have that second box on the bottom (he was right). And then it turned out that multiple coats of lacquer were needed. I don't think the picture or video do it justice- the green head and tail are very sparkly, as I added iridescent dust to the paint. We liked this so much we're repeating the experiment with a goldfish box- stay tuned for it in the next few days.
See video below of it opening. I am VERY impressed with my ability to upload a video.
Parakeets are joyous creatures- they're always so damned busy and sunny, and I love their sounds. I've had several over the course of my life, and they've always been wild type green males. I guess I like the mutant colors, but I've always been a sucker for that fresh, spring green stomach and black and yellow patterned back. My childhood guy, Tweety (I was a kid when I named him, OK?) died when I was a junior in high school. He was an awesome bird, tame and funny. Later, I got one, Oliver, whom my mother stole from me because she loved him so much. He liked to bathe in wine glasses (with water in them!) and swing on the cords of the blinds. When he died, my mother swore she'd never have another bird, but she's reconsidering now. Some years ago, we got our first defective parakeet, Jeff, who was the first unpleasant parakeet I'd ever met. We hated him and he hated us, and when our dog ate him we were mostly just mad at the dog (who is now well-trained to avoid household birds). Now, we have Pico ( in picture), who is in the process of becoming tame, but who still mostly feels revolted by us. We got him as a pet for our parrot, but she tried to eat him, so now he's our pet. He'll come out and eat from our hands, but we can tell he still feels like we're just gross and he'd rather have no truck with us. Sometimes taming a bird is a slow process.
So we are making a parakeet cage box to memorialize our love for these little creatures. I etched the keets onto two pieces of glass, and Tom is building this canarywood (seemed appropriate) and purpleheart box for it. There was a bit of difficulty engineering it to have bars, but it is turning out to be lovely. The top will have a cage-like handle for a lift. Parakeet lovers- it will soon be for sale!
We like this look so much that we're going to make an aquarium box the same way (but obviously without bars), and I also think this would be a good look for a "forest" box- with trees etched onto glass and maybe woodburned onto two wood sides. We'll see if this pans out.
And right now my parrot is being SUCH a sweet girl- a rarity. She's rubbing her head underneath my chin and cooing to me. Perhaps we'll do a parrot box, too.
I mentioned Humper, our long-gone lovebird, in my last post. Humper was the tamest bird in existence. He loved people, and especially loved to crawl in women's shirts and perch on their bras, poking his head up occasionally above the neckline. He came when called and had a lot of freedom, and would have died being caged all the time (we actually had to put a real lock on the cage door, since he could figure out how to open all hasps and click locks). And oh, did he love to get in bed with Tom, snuggle in, and go to sleep with him. (This is my favorite photo I ever took)
But Humper hated our dogs and would try to kill them and intimidate them. He only weighed a few ounces, but he was a mighty force of nature. He would get in their food bowls and chase them away. He'd wiggle under doors to get at them. He'd fly onto them and ride them. He'd drive them into the kennel and refuse to let them out. Here is a picture of our dear old dog Brittany being cornered. The dogs were good girls, but sooner or later, one of them was going to fight back, so our options were to cage the Hump (if you're wondering about the name, think about it a sec. Yep.), or to find him a new home. We found him a new home, and although it was great for him, it felt awful- I had never gotten rid of a pet before, and I loved Humper. But he just couldn't live with dogs.
Then Carlo died, and we had one box on the mantel (see last post for this sob story). Then Molly died two years ago, and we had two. Our beloved Britt went last year, and we are now three boxes old (here is Britt's box- it has a light blue marble set in the top because that was the color of her eyes). We have two young dogs now, and sometimes I wonder why I am so foolish as to keep getting attached to dogs. And our parrot, while a cranky jerk, isn't at all interested in the dogs (a great relief). Anyone who doesn't routinely give her nuts is not worthy of her attention. Hopefully she will outlive us and we'll never have to make a tiny box for parrot ashes.
And here's a new box that would make a gorgeous cremation box. It's rosewood with a beautiful purplish metal lid lift (I'll have to see if I can identify the metal). If you're looking for something urn-like, but with some flair, this is a great choice. It's now for sale under "Constructed Boxes."
And to be completely random: don't forget, folks, the new season of The Walking Dead begins IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS! Now THAT'S a happy note to end this post on.
The Perils of Living with a Teenaged Parrot- with a connection eventually made to box-making, Captain Picard, and a finished box.
Man, having a teenaged parrot is tough. She's unpredictable, moody, territorial, usually covered with food as in pic...
Before we got her, we read something about having a parrot being like having a tiny dragon, which sounds really cool if you don't give it a lot of thought (especially if you read the Anne McCaffrey dragon books when you were a kid). Tiny dragon is absolutely correct. She rules the household with her sulky moods. And she was such a darling sunny baby, always singing and talking and snuggling. Now it's all screaming and demanding and general bitchiness. Although she can still be very snuggly- she's snuggling on Tom's shoulder right now making nice cooing noises- but she's worn out from ordering us around all day.
I will say life is much funnier with a parrot around. We give her pecans from our tree, and when she tries to crack them, they shoot out of her claw and hit her in the stomach, and then she gets angry and leaps on the offending nut and attacks it and it hits her again. Epic battle of the biological Kingdoms.
Right now she has climbed down off her perch and run across the floor and is turning in weird fluttery circles like a wind-up toy. At least she is more or less trained not to poop on us.
Which reminds me: I have several bird boxes in mind. The peacock box turned out really well (see it on the header- it's also for sale under "wood and glass boxes"), and I have a parakeet cage box in mind. I already etched glass pieces with parakeets (see pic), and when I can nag Tom into it, he'll hopefully make them into a box with two glass sides with small wood bars coming down over the glass. A cage-like handle and voila.
The rose box is finished! It turned out gorgeous and we'll be putting it on "wood and glass boxes" for sale later today. We chickened out of putting real rose thorns on it, though. It's just perfect as it is.
And a total derail of the topic: because I am a giant nerd, I have to crow about the fact that I have tickets to Austin's Comic Con in late October, for the Star Trek: TNG festivities, WITH a photo op with Captain Picard. Oh, the joy. It doesn't suck that the Walking Dead folks will also be there. I cannot wait to put a photo of me in the Captain's lap on my classroom wall. What DOES one wear for such an occasion?
Tom Beach and Amanda Walker