Friday, July 3, 2015

Trout's Other Art Endeavor

Along with wood carving, I was intrigued by gourd art that is very much on display at art fairs in our area as well as at our Creative Arts Center.  As with wood carving, we in Pebble Creek are fortunate to have talented gourd artists who are willing to offer beginner classes to learn this craft (art)!  Judy and her side kick Charlene, hold several classes throughout the year and I jumped in as soon as I could although I was the thorn man among several roses taking the classes.  They even forgave me for slipping an occasional "shoot" while working away.    

We start with one of many gourd shapes available.  The pear shaped one in the center is nice for several projects. In this picture is a cleaned, dried gourd.   The first class was to create a gourd rattle by painting and adding "doo dads" of your choice.  I haven't found any "pow wows" to perform at, but after a libation or two, I have danced to a full moon! In the second class, you learn coiling with yarn and pine needles.  I went with a simple Navajo village motif with and I managed to do two rows, which is tricky for someone with fat fingers.

I keep trying to do some good projects for my beginner level.  It's fun to blend colors and find designs to copy on to a gourd, wood  burn the lines and do the painting with acrylics and ink dyes.  I did manage to get three rows of coils on the gourd on the right along with several "kokopelli" like animals and figures.  I love the "kokopelli" art of the Hopi artists which I added to the gourd on the left.  A "kokopelli" is a fertility deity according to Wikipedia and is shown as a humpbacked flute player with feathers projecting out of his head.  Many tribes such as the Hopi revere this deity as he presides over childbirth, animal reproduction and agriculture.  Also he is believed to be a trickster god and portrays the spirit of music. 

As with wood carving, I love the kachinas and a mask was very often produced for processions, dances and as toys.  Many feathers, hair, stones, leather, etc. can be used to enhance a mask along with carved feathers.  I don't know of any particular significance to a certain mask, but I am sure the Hopi and others saw spirits and other  meanings to these beautiful creations.

This is my last completed project of another mask.  It is fun to blend the ink dyes and create the feathers and necklace.

I was unable to download a picture of another prized creation I did of a gourd birdhouse with artificial turf at the top and a bit of painting around the opening.  I proudly opened my phone to show Charlene and her husband Paul, along with great friends Dave and Steve,  my creation that I had sent to each daughter as an advancement on their future inheritance.  After several "what the hell is that" shouts from my dear friends, my creative juices were dimmed until more libations brought out several ideas on how to improve on this masterpiece.

We decided that not only would it be a cute birdhouse but it could be used to house one's cremation ashes as well.  We could produce these and include a funnel and cat litter scoop for filling the gourd with ashes and then use our customized cork ("Here lies Bubba") to plug the hole for eternity.  Unfortunately our sales have been nil so far so other than many great laughs, we need to create a new project.

So, many thanks to Judy and Charlene for helping launch my gourd creation career!  What fun it has been to learn new crafts and art forms in our first year here in Pebble Creek along with many new dear friends who love to share a good laugh and libations!!

Now to go trout fishing!!

The Trout

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Trout's Kachinas

"Broadface" kachina
 When we first moved to Arizona, less than one year ago, we started going to the wonderful museums in the area. I was immediately impressed with the Hopi Indian art of carving Kachina dolls.  I had long admired the works of many carvers of animals, birds and fish but Kachina dolls was my first attempt at the art (some say it's just a craft!) of wood carving.

From Wikipedia,"kachina are known to  be the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals or deceased ancestors of the Hopi."  The men of the villages carved these figures from the cottonwood root to be used at ceremonies and to pass on to their daughters as toys and for educating the children as to important spirits. There are hundreds of examples of kachinas from simple to very intricate figures.  The Hopi of today are real masters for making Hopi figures largely the old fashioned way, with a well sharpened knife and natural paints.

Thanks to our Carving Club here at Pebble Creek, I was introduced to the fascinating craft of wood carving and after doing two classes for learning  the tools of wood carving, I received three "roughed out" dolls to finish with the router, sand and then paint.  Many thanks to Al, Chris, Gordon, Jim, Gerald and many more members of the club for their patience and willingness to help a beginner!

It takes many hours of going from a roughed out figure to the finished doll with hopefully few mistakes through the process of using knifes, power carving machines, sanding, sealing,  wood burning (my nemesis) and painting.  I've made 62 feathers which takes the most time and patience to achieve a natural look.  We largely use basswood and acrylic paints and sealers.
This guy, known as "Corn Dancer" was my first attempt.  Also known as "Rugan" for the Hopi word for "rasp" which is a musical instruments for playing along side of the procession of Corn Maidens and Corn Dancers.  This dance is to ask for a good harvest of corn.  A four feather headpiece along with a speaking tube and ear tabs are common to this  stereotypical kachina along with the kilt and sash.

This picture shows a side view of "Corn Dancer" along with a smaller version of "Broadface" for the detail of the skirt and and arms and head. I used natural pods and seeds from our Arizona plants for the mounting along with carved types of cactus.

Next came "Hochani"!  He represents a chief or headman of the  tribe.  I added the hatchet and rattle along with carving the small cactus.

I hope to get some wood and tools  sent to Montana for roughing out for further "Corn Dancer" kachinas to be painted once we return to our wonderful setting here in Pebble Creek in Goodyear, AZ.  The way the water conditions look like now in Montana, my fishing may be curtailed greatly, unfortunately, so my new hobby will come in handy.

A couple of good books for further information on Kachinas is "Carving Traditional Style Kachina Dolls" by Tom Moore and "Kachina Doll Carving" by Eric Bromberg.  Both are available at Schiffer Books.

STAY TUNED!  There is another hobby I also found here which is a lot of fun also!!