Saturday, September 29, 2007

Much more fun this time :)

My dear dear SO (significant other) woke me up with many great birthday gifts. See if you can guess what the first one is..

Not entirely sure either? lol!

Yes, I had to ask too. I thought I knew but wasn't 100% sure. It's an dust filtration set up for the studio. He's an engineer and loves to fabricate his own tools and equipment (and old trucks & tractors too).

He made that from scrap pieces of stainless steel and only had to purchase the cords and fans inside. It's surprizingly light and quiet too!

Here's the inside housing with the replaceable filters removed...

I'm really tickled. :)

Then there were these tools that I immediately had to dash into the studio to go play with...

Now to explain more - I usually use the hemostat/wrapped bits of sand paper clipped in method. These are SO much faster and more wieldy! WOOT!!! There are a ton of replacement sandpaper belts with the kit too. He got them at a wood-carving store about an hour from here.. I really need to visit this place! Such a timely gift tho; I'm turning to the more minute sanding methods so often now instead of the Dremel Stylus (last year's b-day present which I became hooked on immediately too). ;)
Here's a pic of the whole tool AND..

aaaaaaaand yes, more clutter. He gave me a file organizing folder so I can have a little more space sans all the references (at least the print outs can fit in it and the books can be stacked easier).

He's such a good guy. Grins and cyber hugs him some more.

Breakfast to order was pancakes and kielbasa. No dieting today - bah! ;)

Ok, I think I'd better go pick up those papers and get that filter in there before he gets back now. :D

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I work my real horse at liberty these days...

[tough topic warning here – I needed a few tissues to write this fwiw]

I work my horse at liberty only because he falls. The classical trainer in me wishes I could use side reins to help balance him however there are two reasons not to with a horse with his issues: (1) he’s asymmetrical and using these can (and has) inhibited him from making the careful counter balancing positioning he needs to ‘find his own unique balance’.. and (2) falling in side reins can really be dangerous for the horses’s mouth (head/neck/etc).

Two years ago almost to the week now I made the decision to send him to a vet hospital for a real answer. I’d had 3 chiropractors and I don’t know how many vets look at him for issues that stemmed back to foal-hood that were basically all coming back to what clearly was something (literally!) deep seated but not neurological. So I bucked up and sent him to the only facility nearby (most expensive on the east coast too!), to have a radioactive bone scan done. He was so fascinating that a whole group of vets joined in on getting to the root of the issue over the course of the week he was there being studied. Answer? Crooked hips from a foal-hood injury. Old injury but even at age four the hip/spine joint area was still undergoing some remodeling and eventual premature arthritis was certainly in his cards too. Prognosis was mixed. The vets initially were positive that constant hip injections and yadda yadda plus exercise would overcome it all. There was a rub of course. Horses aren’t made to stand crooked so when you misalign a major central joint all that stems from it (both hind legs and both fronts from uneven diagonal pressure) experience higher than designed for stresses. The properly aligned horse is an amazing and delicate balance in engineering. Screw small things up and they get pretty funky, screw a big thing up and they are dangerous to be around. I’ve been very close to him a few times when he’s fallen and it’s no joke to see a 1200lb animal slam down like that. Primarily it happens when turning at speed and one of the hinds doesn’t support him properly. Sometimes he can overcome the issue with a buck and realign himself behind or bunny hop (hinds land together) until he can sort himself out. Unfortunately the bigger danger to humans around him is that he also misaligns when doing that spook in place thing – you know, the stiff legged stance? Here he is as yearling doing that (and not falling obviously).

When he’s done that stiff legged in-place spook and misaligned (2 times in my presence in his 6 and a half years), he falls like a marionette (or a very heavy piano?). It doesn’t happen often (2 times that I know of like I said) but it’s pretty catastrophic (real vet’s description of it actually) when it happens.

So I wrestle with the inevitable knowledge that at some point he is likely to hurt himself seriously and it would be more humane to euthanize him before then. Many would think me foolish for investing my time, effort and love into a hopeless horse. He’s hardly hopeless. Anyhow, I had thought this would be on the time frame order of at least a decade or so from now. However in the past year I’ve had a lot of introspection and recognition of signs of minor discomfort on his end that lead me to think it will be far sooner. Very little things about the way he moves really. It’s taught me so much about the subtlties of biomechanics and physical therapies for disabilities. He’s such a damn happy horse though so I’m certainly not feeling like he’s suffering in any terrible way. I can understand the pain of those who have a loved one in a coma where the brain is still alive and well. There is a certain weight to having this looming uncertainty and no clear answers anyone can give you. Most of my pets have very clearly told me when “it’s time”. I’ve only just come to admit to myself that I am probably going to have to make a decision. All I can hope for is the wisdom to know when – I may not be timely enough but I certainly don’t want to be hasty either.

Pretty grim post so far eh? I’ve actually had to stop typing a few times. I can’t really talk too easily about it.

Anyhow, there is a relevance to this being in my sculpting journal. And no, it’s not just that this has pretty clearly bummed me out a bit over the past year and kept me quieter than usual online. ;) Seriously, I would like to encourage horse owning sculptors to spend lots of time doing liberty training if they have a place to do so. We use a small paddock that is basically standard arena size but squarer. My horse and I have been doing this for his whole life, not really Monty Robert’s type things.. more along the lines of Klaus’s book “Dancing with Horses” . Video and lunging give you some ability to study aspects of biomechanics, but having this 3 dimensional interaction where you can walk behind the animal at different gaits and turn them at a distance and study where they put their feet, how each muscle flexes, the parts move in concert etc etc.. these are the things that really “gel” biomechanics. When I, someday far down the road I’m sure, get another equine partner that I can ride any time I want to, I still will definitely want to do lots of liberty work to better understand how they function as an individual. It’s absolutely fascinating to me now to study my small collection of boarders daily and see how very very differently each one moves even though 4 out of the 6 are all Thoroughbreds too! Their slight variations in build create vastly different gait types as well.

So on that note, I think I’d better quit while I’m ahead here. I really have been thinking a lot about this lately (with winter coming on all horses with issues get stiffer so it’s natural to really question things). I decided to be entirely candid here too because I know many of my friends have heard snippets of this but not the whole story and my current mindset on the future of things for my dear boy. And I know that many of my customers ask about him and, well.. there it is. Since my love is my work, my work can be both broadened and stifled immensely by the pangs that go with loving an animal.

I like this quote to summarize my feelings on the matter;

"Unlike some people who have experienced the loss of an animal, I did not believe, even for a moment, that I would never get another. I did know full well that there were just too many animals out there in need of homes for me to take what I have always regarded as the self-indulgent road of saying the heartbreak of the loss of an animal was too much ever to want to go through with it again.

To me, such an admission brought up the far more powerful admission that all the wonderful times you had with your animal were not worth the unhappiness at the end."

Cleveland Amory

Monday, September 24, 2007

Balancing act now..

Balancing sides and parts mostly. Just taking a step back here and looking at how it's going. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How this for a random collection of clutter...

..and dust! (embarrassing)

I didn't spray him here, don't worry! I just set him there to take the pic when he was dry. This is "dinky duke", a digitally miniaturized and inverted version of a larger sculpture I've done. I haven't painted one yet and since my studio time has been very punctuated lately I decided to prep and base coat one finally. I've liked this pattern (see real horse) for a long time and thought it would make for fun painting. I really enjoy blending white. :)

Tis all for today. I only have a few hours here.

Fall has arrived a month early (started in Aug really) and is in full force now! -pouts- I don't like the outdoor work so much in the colder weather. I defy my Nordic genetics. Anyhow, being productive though! :D

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I’ll keep the reflecting brief here. Of all days I think today is a good day to reflect upon what’s good and happy in the world. I really don’t do this enough.

Today I am finding great hope and promise in this sculpture. Chuckle if you will if you’ve followed this but I can’t tell you how often I just wonder if I should throw something away – I have hope that my stubborn nature will prevail though…;)

I also have hope that family things will work themselves out, why elaborate? We all have odd families at best, right? ;)

And I have hope that human nature is basically good, that is to say the proclivity for benevolence exists in us all. :)

-notes on the biggest changes made here-

Mostly focused from the shoulders up to the entire head on the right side. The nostril area especially has been drastically wittled at and rearranged some since my last post. I can "feel" the character better now, she has a personality I like in other words.

-end notes - :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Not quite the neck yet...

Not entirely the head either. Blurry too. Getting there tho.. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

State of Hazel at the beginning of September now..

The perspective is probably very confusing for the viewer so I threw in the picture at the bottom too. I've started getting serious about the face on the right side now as well as really focusing on putting very specific muscles in specific places with the "tone" just so.

This is the point where it starts becoming a lot more fun. Stepping away from constant measuring and comparison and delving into the more exciting shapes of the piece! While you can see the type of nostril (flared but flat with inhaled or held breath) I had been aiming for. Now that I see how the light falls on it, for example, I am not so pleased. Details such as this are crucial to character and visual asthetics. I don't like to have such drastic extremes that the eye gets stuck on certain spots as mine does to her nose. She is missing some orator type muscling in there however still so that may make all the difference. Stay tuned I guess. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's been quite a week, good times though. :)

I don't have pictures to share of anything new but I've been cleaning, wrapping up stuff and finding some great resources.

This is a pic from a few weeks back that I overlaid with a really nice reference photo for haha's. I believe the original photo was in Christine Slawik's gallery:
(it's a must-visit site -> really great pictures!)

Happy Sept 1st & Labor Day weekend everyone!