- AMNH (6)
- art (1)
- city gallery (4)
- college of charleston (4)
- creation (35)
- display (4)
- drawing (1)
- fabrication (16)
- fish (2)
- instagram (1)
- lecture (2)
- museum (5)
- Museum Productions (2)
- natural history (1)
- painting (1)
- preservation (43)
- press (8)
- project (1)
- re-appropriation (12)
- repair (12)
- rick rhodes (1)
- RISD (7)
- sculpture (1)
- silly (4)
- sisal and tow (11)
- studio (2)
- taxidermy (41)
- taxidermy school (22)
- Uncategorized (5)
- May 2016 (1)
- March 2015 (2)
- February 2015 (1)
- November 2014 (2)
- October 2014 (2)
- September 2014 (1)
- August 2014 (3)
- January 2014 (2)
- November 2013 (1)
- August 2013 (1)
- July 2013 (1)
- June 2013 (1)
- April 2013 (2)
- March 2013 (1)
- February 2013 (1)
- January 2013 (5)
- December 2012 (4)
- November 2012 (5)
- October 2012 (1)
- September 2012 (1)
- August 2012 (1)
- July 2012 (1)
- May 2012 (1)
- March 2012 (1)
- October 2011 (2)
- September 2011 (1)
- August 2011 (1)
- May 2011 (1)
- April 2011 (1)
- March 2011 (1)
- February 2011 (1)
- December 2010 (1)
- November 2010 (1)
- September 2010 (1)
- August 2010 (3)
- July 2010 (2)
- June 2010 (1)
- February 2010 (2)
- January 2010 (1)
- December 2009 (2)
- November 2009 (1)
- October 2009 (1)
- August 2009 (2)
- June 2009 (1)
- May 2009 (4)
- April 2009 (1)
- March 2009 (1)
- February 2009 (1)
- January 2009 (21) Show More
Subscribe to the Blog
Brooks Reitz asked me to make 12 custom glazed 6×6″ tiles for his new restaurant in Charleston, Leon’s. It will serve fine seafood and fried chicken!
The tiles were hand painted at Earth Art Pottery Studio here in town.
This month has and continues to be crazy: a custom chandelier for Xiao Bao Biscuit with sculpted animals abound, a vines installation for Courtney Bishop Design.
A huge installation for HICA’s groundhog day benefit.
More photos to come.
Photo by Olivia Rae James
It seems that the weeks that are the most unsettling are the ones that I post about. These events, downright insane or even just a little strange, can create certain milestones and tend to re-shape my entire existence.
I welcome it, as I’m a firm believer in Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “do one thing every day that scares you.”
This month, I’ve said yes to almost everything. I’ve been trying to put my foot down and not do many things for “free” anymore, as I’ve found that the more you do for free you can begin to figure out which things will actually advance your business and which things are just people taking advantage of you.
Things I’ve said yes to:
Being there for a friend as she had to put down an aggressive goat, Chloe, who was in pain, generally unhappy and no longer producing milk. With her help, I skinned her and prepared her to be a life-sized taxidermy piece who will live on forever. More on that later. That day, that whole experience deserves its own blog post, later, when I’ve had more time to consider what actually happened. I will say, for now, that I’m changed, and I think my friend is too. Talk about bonding… we’re “in it for life.” As I drove down the road to the farm, I heard Florence and the Machine singing “I must become the lion-hearted girl” and I was smiling and tearing up thinking about how sometimes things just happen at the right time. A huge wave of emotion washed over me about 10 minutes out, and when I arrived I was told Chloe died 10 minutes ago. It was a pretty spiritual experience. I don’t care how tough you are, how disconnected you can get from things, life coming and going is the most intense thing on the planet. I think that’s why I love taxidermy so much – it’s therapeutic.
Speak at a nursing home about my craft.
Private art lessons with a talented little girl.
Heading up/planning a fundraising event for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (May 2014)
Attend an artist intensive weekend for small art business owners.
Create a wearable, taxidermy deer-head mask for a theater company (more on that later, but as for now it’s on it’s way to Copenhagen!)
And other stuff….
Sisal & Tow, fine fabrication: a gallery space.
Custom tiles for a brand new restaurant.
More repair work for the Charleston Museum.
Creating an ocean-floor diorama for a NSF art exhibition.
Custom raccoon mount…
Starting on this Sailfish Repair… yikes!
The opossum and fox are for the Charleston Museum’s education department.
Fixing up the bear so he can make an appearance at the Kinfolk Gathering next week, the HONEY HARVEST! Get your tickets before Tuesday! www.kinfolk.com/shop/events
Just had to include one more of this guy.
Things are going pretty great over here at Sisal & Tow!
Just a little playing around during bee prep time. Photo by Blake Suarez.
March was pretty insanely amazing. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed, and so stressed, that I forget to stop and smell the roses. Let me tell you, that if you let a thousand wild insects with stingers crawl and fly all over you, and you completely remit all your powers you think you might have as a human, you get back to earth pretty quickly. But more on that later.
This past month, I did the following (in no particular order):
-Made an offer on a home/studio and got a mortgage (check your mailbox for a postcard in a few weeks)
-Illustrated a map for a book that will be published this year
-Attended a delicious pop-up dinner at Fast and French via the Lee Brothers
-Got a haircut and a massage in one day, and another day, a mani and pedi with Olivia (treat yo self)
-Attended the first of many book club meetings with my new book club (read “The History of Love” and now reading “The Invisible Bridge”)
-Finished a pet portrait and they LOVED it (yessss)
-Helped Erik through the healing process after his ACL/Meniscus surgery
-Created a taxidermy mount of my old pet rat (who died of natural causes) named Fishhooks, and was documented the entire time by the coolest dudes (and dudette) around: Lunch and Recess (thanks, guys!)
Fishhooks is pinned like that to dry properly!
-Created a new exhibit about veterinary care at the South Carolina Aquarium (opening in June)
-Designed a “save the date” card for my best friend Samantha Jill.
September 1 wedding!
Photos by Olivia Rae James
-Prepped for, bought, installed, and will now keep a three pound package of honeybees (with one marked queen, whom I am affectionately referring to as “Queen Latifah”).
Now, to blog about that experience:
Bees in the package
I picked up the bees for Blake and Colin and myself in two separate three pound packages. I was really nervous, because they were making this incredible sound as they all vibrated in the back of my car. It was a little scary to drive back from Mount Pleasant with so many live insects in your car. I had the windows down.
Bees dumped in the hive
When we got to Colin’s, we were helped out by his friends, James and Shauna. They were a huge comfort, as they had done this plenty of times. The weird thing that happened was we had somehow attracted a bunch of random bees during the day and they were hanging on to the outside of our packages. There were no holes in the boxes. They were some type of wild or un-homed colony!
We suited up and Colin took the first step. We sprayed the bees with sugar water. Then we got the feeder can out, got the queen out, and placed her. We had to remove the cork so that the candy keeping her in the cage was exposed. The bees will accept her once the candy has dissolved/been eaten. It takes about a week to ten days.
After dumping the remaining bees in the hive, Blake and I got the top bars in place and closed it up slowly and gently, brushing each bee away if it was about to get squished. I think we only accidentally killed one or two.
Then it was my turn!
Bees exiting and entering the hive
Doing the same steps that Colin did before, everything went really smoothly. I seriously had the time of my life. Other than the “no-seeums” that were biting the crap out of us, the bees were extremely docile and nobody got stung. Dumping the bees in the hive was so exhilarating! They were crawling on my hands and arms, and resting on our hats and backs, and they were so great. I seriously fell in love with each one of the bees.
The package is temporarily placed in front to coax the rest inside the hive.
It’s incredible how the whole colony knows where the queen is, they know how to get her out of the cage, and they know that this random box they got dropped into is going to be their new home. I am amazed by their instincts; their sense of purpose even though each bee is just one bee. Everyone has a job and everyone gets right to it.
A mass amount of them in one place is a bit overwhelming, but having one land on your hand, or gently scooting some out of the way and watching how they interact with you and each other is incredible.
It gave me a renewed sense of respect for insects that I feel like I haven’t felt in a long time.
These critters are magical and I can’t wait to learn more about them, and take care of them the best ways I know how.
This past month has been quite amazing.
I’m back at the Aquarium for six weeks (three have already gone by!)
We had a friend trip to Lake Summit, NC, Erik got a new (used) BMW, and I am under contract for a home which will be the new HQ for Sisal & Tow.
At the Aquarium, I am sculpting seven models of various animals for a new exhibit on the veterinary side of things.
The Yellow-Bellied Slider in progress.
The animals are as follows, with a brief description of how they are being made/what steps I take to make them…
Tarpon – fiberglass model, detail work (eye-setting, fin-sculpting), painting by airbrush and hand, water-proofing, gill-adding, he gets water pumped through him under a glass case to simulate a surgery. He also has this extra gross blob on his face I had to add on, which was delightfully fun
Yellow-Bellied Slider – fiberglass model, detail work, painting by airbrush and hand
Green Moray Eel – sculpted from scratch (foam, epoxy, painting)
Lined Seahorse – sculpted from scratch (out of clay, made a mold, cast, painted, etc)
Spadefish – fiberglass model, detail work, painting by airbrush
Horseshoe Crab – preserved and repaired real animal (died naturally) it was majorly cracked and unstable so after repairing and stabilizing, painted it and sealed it
Bonnet-head Shark – fiberglass model, detail work, painting by airbrush and hand
Here is a photo of the animals in progress…
*THE EEL IN THIS PHOTO IS BEING USED AS A REFERENCE ONLY – I DIDN’T MAKE IT!*
There’s also a mural to be done, fake bananas to fix (didn’t think that would be something I’d ever do again, but I guess things come back to haunt you) and a big fake log to fix up so the kiddies can play on it.
I’m pleased to announce that I am still taking on pet portraits, here is my latest:
And I will be published in the Greenhorn’s Almanac (soon) and the Southern Makers book by Jen Causey – not only am I honored to be included in the book, but I am also going to be hand drawing the map for the publication as well. http://www.themakersproject.com/
OH, and Bruce is doing great.