Summer Solstice and Sunshine
The summer solstice arrives June 21, and I'll have my garage gallery open that day from 10am-5pm. You'll see some new works-in-progress - I’ve been carving limestone for the first time this spring, along with my soapstone.
Limestone is much different than soapstone to work with (drier, grittier), but better for fine detail and lettering.
I carved an address marker for myself from a piece of Indiana Limestone. It features a snake, turtle, and salamander. The numbers are my first try - I learned a lot along the way. I want to thank WJB Custom StoneWork in Burlington - www.wjbcustomstonework.com , for their help and advice introducing me to this new media. They gave me a tour of their shop, and showed me several custom stone installations in progress - beautiful work. If you live in a home with stone features, or are looking for something really spectacular for landscape or garden designs, these are the people to call.
I’m working on a salamander in Brazilian soapstone right now, a Great Horned Owl in Canadian soapstone, a snake in white Indiana limestone, and a turtle in buff Indiana limestone. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I find it easier to be working on four or five carvings at the same time, all at different stages, to keep me working and to avoid blocking over difficult areas. I need to sharpen my chisels frequently now, and am thankful for the gift of a bench grinder from family which has made that job much easier.
I was carving in my garage this morning, listening to light rain falling and frogs calling. A female American Redstart was catching insects in the cedars next to the garage door; earlier I saw young Cottontail Rabbits in my front and back yards. Yesterday, I saw a Painted Turtle, and a Snapping Turtle a short drive away. Nature all around me. It's very inspiring.
It’s been a cool, wet, spring - good for trees, frogs, and salamanders, more difficult for other creatures. I’ve seen a few turtles on my property; if you visit me you will see that I covered a turtle nest with a special nest box cover to help protect the eggs from predators.
Turtles dig fairly deep holes to lay their eggs in, and then cover them up. The eggs incubate underground for most of the summer, then the babies hatch and dig their way out. Somehow they know how to get to the protected wetlands behind my house, although every once in a while a hatchling ends up in my garage and I need to help it on its way. Shockingly, most of our turtle species need protection now, due to habitat loss and other factors.
This brings me to a key suggestion of an easy way each of us can help to protect turtles, and other reptiles and amphibians. Don’t eat them, whether you are in Canada or somewhere else in the world. Don’t eat frogs, turtles, snakes, or alligators, It may seem cool and exotic to try some wild meat while you are down in Florida, or visiting other countries, or even here in Canada, but please reconsider. By eating these creatures, you are encouraging the “harvesting” and poaching, of herptiles that mature very slowly and whose offspring have low rates of survival. By buying that menu item, you are creating a market for the capture and sale of these animals. So the next time you go to a restaurant, and you see frogs legs, or snake, or turtle soup, or alligator steak on the menu, choose something else. Even better, ask the restaurant to consider not carrying those menu items, and explain why. Education is a powerful tool. Let’s not normalize eating herptiles here in Canada. They are having enough difficulty surviving without us being their predators as well.
I’ll step off my virtual nest box cover and return to carving. My garage gallery will open at random times during the summer - mostly based on new work I’ve completed, and weather. You are welcome to contact me if you would like to see my work at a different time. Enjoy the warm weather - at least it isn’t snowing. Have a good summer.