The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 4: The Summer of Pies)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear

One summer day when I was in my early teens, my father greeted me in the doorway of his shop with two aluminum pie pans in his hands. He was looking really excited. Since the pie pans were empty, I got a feeling that this had something to do with The Birds in Their Habitats thing that he had going.

As soon as I got inside, he asked, “Want to make some leaves?”

He sounded exactly the same way he’d sounded when he’d asked me a few months ago if I wanted to paint some mud. Here we go again, I thought. I was a teenager, and I had, quite frankly, a lot more important things on my mind than birds. Like the novel I was writing, and my friends, and well, boys. But I knew that “No,” would not be the right answer.

“Okay,” I said as non-enthusiastically as I could. The next thing I knew, I was sitting on a stool beside him at his workbench. He handed me a cutting board covered with a thin piece of black rubber. What that had to do with leaves, I had no idea. Then I noticed a pile of silvery, oblong shapes on the bench between us. Each one was slightly different, but in general, they were about three inches long and maybe half an inch across. One end of each was pointed, and the other end was rounded. They reminded me of long fake fingernails, except they had delicately jagged edges.

“Watch,” my father said. He laid down the rubber-covered board, put a fingernail on it, then picked up a long, narrow tool like an oversized pencil with a very sharp tip. He pressed the tip gently to one end of the fingernail and drew a fine line all the way up the middle to the other end. Then he drew in a lot of little lines running from the center line out to the jagged edges. And when he held it up, the fingernail looked like a pretty, silver leaf.

“I’ll paint it green,” he said, as though that would explain everything.

I just looked at him. The word “habitat” formed in my mind. This had to do with habitats, I knew it!

“I’ve got some more nests,” he said, “and the limbs they were built on. But the leaves have all dried up and fallen off, and besides, they have to look like spring, if I’m going to carve eggs to go in the nests.”

I guess that made sense. “But how are you going to get the leaves to stick onto the branch?”

“Glue,” he said, as though he’d already got it all figured out. Then he added, “But it’s all got to look real, so I’ll make some more branches out of wire and wrap them with cotton and coat them with glue, too, and paint them to look like bark, and then glue on more leaves.”

I think I might have been staring at him.

“I’ll cut the leaves out,” he went on as though I was really thrilled about this, “and you can press in the veins. Here.” He handed me the sharp tool and pushed the pile of fingernails toward me. There were maybe three dozen there.

“That’s a lot,” I said.

He was busy picking up the pie pans and pretended he hadn’t heard me the way that people who are hard of hearing are really good at doing. In a minute, he was carefully cutting out more leaves from the bottom of the pan.

I gave into peer pressure and got to work. My first center vein came out a little crooked, but hey, nature’s not perfect. After my fifth leaf, I had the technique down. I was creating some pretty awesome looking leaves that any nest with wooden eggs ought to be proud of.

The problem was that my father was cutting out more leaves faster than I could press veins into them, so my pile was getting bigger, not smaller. And then he bent down and pulled out a couple more empty pans from beneath the bench.

“Hey, where’d you get all those?” I asked.

He smiled. “Gale’s been buying one of every brand she can find. Some pans are a lot better than others. They don’t have so much writing and stuff on the bottom, so I’ve got more space to cut. I think we’ve got it figured out now.”

I just stared at him. Most people bought pies based on how luscious they looked. Gale was buying pies based on what the bottom of the pan looked like?

Then he grinned. “There’s a blueberry pie we’ve got to eat up for lunch.”

The day suddenly got a whole lot better.

“Hold on,” he said as I was about to jump up. “We’ve got to get another dozen leaves done first. But then there’s a cherry pie for dinner.”

I gaped at him.

“And maybe you’d like to have some of your friends come up next weekend? I’ve got plenty of sharp tools. Tell them there’ll be lots of pie.”

I decided that leaves might be okay after all.

The days became a blur of eating pies and making leaves with my friends and eating more pies. Soon pairs of warblers began to perch proudly around their nests surrounded by lush green habitats, and I got to buy new clothes because none of my old ones fit any longer.

The glorious summer of pies ended very abruptly one day when the UPS truck pulled up in front of the shop, and a delivery man staggered in. In his arms was the end of an era — a roll of aluminum sheeting the same thickness as what pie pans were made from. It was all shiny and pristine, unmarked with any lettering. It looked like it was five feet long and weighed a couple hundred pounds.

“I found it in a catalogue and Gale made me order it,” my father said very glumly.

I could tell that even he could never make enough leaves to use it all up.

“Oh, well,” he said. “There’s still a few pies left in the house. Can’t let them go to waste, can we?”

We laughed, and then went back to that day’s quota of leaves before lunch.

I had no idea that we were getting closer and closer to having a museum in the family.

Kari Jo Spear‘s young adult, urban fantasy novels, Under the Willow, and  Silent One, are available at Phoenix Books in Essex, and on-line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Previous posts in this series:
Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: The Pre-teen Years (or, Why I’m Not a Carver)
Part 3: Something’s Going On Here

2012 Art Contest: It’s a Bird’s World

Enter your bird art in the Birds of Vermont Museum 2012 Art Contest. The theme is

It’s a Bird’s World

2012 Art Contest Rules

Download an art contest flyer for you, a friend, your school, library, or scout group! Art Contest Flyer (142 kb PDF), or read the rules below. We look forward to seeing your art!

Wall of collages and patterned flying birds
“Flying Birds” Entries from 2010

Who can enter?

Anyone aged 0 – 18 years old.

What can I enter?

Art that fits our 2012 theme: It’s a Bird’s World.
How do you and birds affect each other and your world?

Contestants may use any media.
Past entries (and winners) have used paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, clay, wood, or papier-mâché.

Flat submissions (paper, collage, etc.) must be no larger than 8 ½” x 11”
3-D art must be smaller than 6”x 6”x 8”

How do I enter?

One entry per person.

Name, age and contact information must be included with entry. Please put this on the back or bottom if possible.

Entries must be received no later than September 30, 2012.

Please bring or mail entries to:

Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, Vermont 05462

Entries will be displayed at the museum throughout the 2012 season, so enter early!

Judging

First, second, and honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the following categories (most are age-based):

  • 5 years and younger
  • 6 – 8 years
  • 9 – 13 years
  • 14 – 18 years
  • 3-D Art

We may add additional prizes or categories at our discretion. In the past, we’ve added Masks, Ceramics, and Watercolor and Resists.

Flying Birds: Entries to Art Contest

Winners

Winners will be announced at the Museum at the Fall Festival, Saturday, October 13, 2011 (see more events on our calendar).

Winning entries may be displayed (with artist and parent approval) on our blog or our Facebook page after the Festival.

Can I get my art back?

Of course! Entries may be picked up at the Museum. We encourage you to collect them between October 13 and November 1, 2012, if possible. We are open by appointment, rather than daily, starting November 1.

Sponsors

We welcome sponsors of our art contest! Contact us if you’d like to donate funds (to purchase prizes) or prizes (we do ask that we get to vet these first).

Past sponsors have included farm and garden stores, art supply shops, artists, and museum members.

Call (802 434-2167) or email us (museum@birdsofvermont.org) if you can sponsor the show.

Thank You to our 2012 Sponsors

The Engraving Bench, Essex Junction, Vermont
Black Horse Fine Art Supply, Burlington, Vermont
Guys Farm and Yard, Williston, Vermont
Essex Cinemas, Essex, Vermont
Inspiration Arts and Crafts Supplies, Essex, Vermont

The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 3: Something’s Going On Here…)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear

I can’t remember the first time I ever heard the “M” word. The fact that we were going to have a museum in the family happened very slowly, after a great many permutations and plot twists, and by the time it was a reality, it felt like it was meant to be from the beginning.

But it didn’t start out that way.

Continue reading “The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 3: Something’s Going On Here…)”

Upcoming Program: Bird Homes

Bird Homes
Bird Homes: Nests, Habitats, Ecosystems...

Bird Homes (School Vacation Program)

Tue, April 24, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Birds of Vermont Museum, 900 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, Vermont 05462

What counts as a Bird “home”? Nest? Roost? Habitat? Territory? Ecosystem?
Homeschoolers and vacationing children are invited to join us at the Museum to find out more as we craft our interpretations of “home” for a bird. Best for ages 3-10.

$10 members, $15 non-members. Fee includes admission for child and one accompanying adult. Please pre-register by calling (802) 434-2167 or emailing museum@birdsofvermont.org

The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 2: the Pre-teen Years (or, Why I’m Not a Carver)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear

One summer when I was eight or nine years old, my father decided to give carving lessons. About a dozen people signed up, mostly teachers who knew him from the Audubon Society. But there were three people there who weren’t teachers–my mother, our eleven-year-old neighbor, and me. We met every Tuesday night in my father’s den. It was supposed to be a relaxed, casual gathering of people sitting in a circle making piles of shavings on the floor while they created a thing of beauty out of basswood as my father circled among them, offering his expert and benign advice.

Instead, it turned into a pain-filled bloodbath that caused me so much trauma that I have not even carved a jack-o-lantern since.

And most of it was the fault of the weather.

Continue reading “The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 2: the Pre-teen Years (or, Why I’m Not a Carver)”

Art Content 2011 Winners

Our 2011 wining artists are:

What a great year! We had first, second, third prize winners, some honorable mentions, and some of special note, e.g., “Best Chuckle” and “Most Like Marc Chagall.”  Again, local art teachers in Chittenden County encouraged their classes, which always adds to the diversity and richness of the submitted art.

The winners are:

Traditional Media

Ages 0-5: Maeve, Ruby, Fiona, Cecily, Avery and Pace
Ages 6-8: Emma, Alyssa, Alex, Marlie, and Morgan
Ages 9-13: Carrie, Erin, Jordan, Brandon, Graham, Sevi, Jason,
and Breanna
Ages 14-18: Daniel and Chad

3-D

Ages 0-5: Tom
Ages 6-8: Anna, Katie, Hayley and Morgan

Watercolors and Resists (art class)

Ages 6-8: Macey, Zachary, Sarah, Sidney, Tyler, Lindsay, and Reece
Ages 9-13: Jasmine, Tyler, Color, Jake, Caitlin, Calvin, Jonah, Hannah, Olivia, Ben, Mikayla, and Sid

Masks (art class)

Ages 6-8: Ethan, Maria, Isabella, Maxwell, Mary, Leah, Carter, and Elizabeth

The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 1: The Early Years)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear

When I was a little kid, I had no idea my father would one day have his own museum. I didn’t even know he carved birds. I just knew that he spent a lot of time down in his den, sitting in an old, brown, leather rocking chair with wide wooden arms, making a huge pile of shavings on the floor in front of him.

I loved the shavings. They came in all kinds of interesting shapes. Some were short and flat, some were long and twisting. No two were just alike. I would sit on the floor and make jewelry out of them — the long, curly ones made good earrings, and the shorter, curly ones could be hooked together for a bracelet. Some even curled around my fingers for rings. The flat shavings lined up to become roads or fences for my imaginary animals. And if I ever needed one of a certain shape or size, I just had to describe it, and my father would whittle off what I needed. The block of wood in his hands was not remotely interesting, not compared to the ever-growing pile of shavings. If I thought about the block of wood at all, I thought he was carving it up just to make toys for me. Continue reading “The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 1: The Early Years)”

Familiar Ground – extended through July 4th weekend

We’re pleased to extend Familiar Ground, Lori Hinrichsen’s art exhibit, through the July 4th weekend! If you haven’t seen it, now is your chance! Lori has also graciously extended a very generous offer: 20% of all sales benefit the museum. Pick up some fantastic art for you home or office. And thank you, Lori!

Here is an excerpt from Lori’s newsletter:

what is your wing span
what is your wing span? come and find out at the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington!
[artist Lori Hinrichsen, wing span of a wandering albatross]

 20% of art show sales benefits the museum

art show up through July 4 weekend!  

familiar ground show card
10am – 4pm daily 900 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, VT 05462 museum phone: 802.434.2167

Familiar Ground: art by Lori Hinrichsen

Welcome to our May-June 2011 exhibiting artist: Lori Hinrichsen. Her show, Familiar Ground: monotypes, intaglios and photography inspired by nature, opened at the Museum  May 1st, with the opening day of our 2011 season.

"Between Earth and Sky", intaglio by Lori Hinrichsen, in postcard announcing show
"Between Earth and Sky", intaglio by Lori Hinrichsen, in postcard announcing show

Lori grew up in Iowa and attended the University of Kansas, graduating with a degree in Theatre, Film and Video. Lori spent several years exploring the US, living and growing her art from California to Vermont. This included being a resident artist in Mendocino, at the Vermont Studio Center, and at the Virginia center for Creative Artists. She first joined the Museum community last fall as a judge for the 2010 Annual Youth Art Contest.

Lori has a studio at Shelburne Pond Studios, where she works with printmaking, painting, fabric, and ink. She writes:

Much of my time is spent exploring and connecting with the land and the sky, from meandering paths along the rugged coastline, to breathing in the intoxicating smells of evergreens and fresh rain, to the star-filled desert skies that touch the earth. I feel a deep reverence for the ordinary, for the sensual ecstasy as each season unfolds. My work is in response to this intimate awareness and observation of nature which reflects the moment, engaging the present.

Come by and view her art and photography any day from now through the end of June. We are open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Free with admission to the museum ($6 for adults, discounts for children, seniors, and members).

About the artist: http://lorihinrichsen.com/

2011 Annual Art Contest opens

Enter Your Bird Art!

2011 Art Contest Rules

  • Wall of collages and patterned flying birds

    This competition is open to persons aged 0 – 18 years old.

  • The theme of the contest is Birds, Birds, Birds.
  • Flat submissions (paper, collage, etc.) must be no larger than 8 ½” x 11”
    3-D art must be smaller than 6”x 6”x 8”.
  • One entry per person.
    Name, age and contact information must be included with entry.
  • Contestants may use any media.
    Past entries (and winners) have used paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, clay, wood, or papier-mâché.
  • Entries must be received no later than September 30, 2011.
    Please drop off or mail entries to
    Birds of Vermont Museum
    900 Sherman Hollow Road
    Huntington, Vermont 05462
  • All entries will be displayed at the museum throughout the 2011 season, so enter early!

Judging

More great entries in our 2009 Art Contest

First, second, and honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the following categories (most are age-based):

  • 5 years and younger
  • 6 – 8 years
  • 9 – 13 years
  • 14 – 18 years
  • 3-D Art

Winners

Flying Birds: Entries to Art Contest

Winners will be announced at the Museum at our Fall Festival, Saturday October 8, 2011.

Winning entries will be displayed (with artist and parent approval) on the BOVM website or our Facebook page after the festival.

Entries may be picked up at the Museum after Nov. 1, 2011.

Sponsors

We welcome sponsors of our art contest! Contact us if you’d like to donate funds (to purchase prizes) or prizes (we do ask that we get to vet these first).

Past sponsors have included farm and garden stores, art supply shops, artists, and museum members.

Call (802 434-2167) or email us (museum@birdsofvermont.org) if you can sponsor the show.