Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spadoville Snowshoe Art

This past period of time has been crazy. I actually started this paragraph by using the words “this past year”, but it has truly been a period of time that has transcended calendar dates that has been crazy.
I can’t dwell on the past. That is finished. It’s behind me. I sure don’t know the future, so there’s no sense whatsoever to worry about what I think is gonna happen. After spending all that time in the hospitals and all the ambulance rides, I find myself slowed down quite a bit and trying to get through days of sitting around at a time when I’m usually down in the American Southwest being able to get outside in weather more conducive to being outside.
Remember that balmy unseasonable weather I talked about last week? It’s over. It’s Winter. I’m inside these days. The cold is hard on my lungs and I really have to be careful not to risk a fall on the ice as I am told the blood thinners I am taking could make for some rather tough complications should I slip and bang my head.
So, I got motivated and completed some promised artwork recently. I got so inspired that I  set out to make snowshoes again this year after I took a couple of years off from making any. I had the good fortune of a friend that stopped by my house, saw the ones I made for my Grandchildren and then proceeded to call me up a few days later and asked if I would make him a pair.
I started them, and nearly got them finished before the roof came crashing down and all this heart stuff brought my entire life to a grinding halt.
With what seems to me to be a new lease on life, I have resumed the project and have finished this pair of snowshoes. I have informed the customer that I would deliver this particular pair of snowshoes to him at an event I plan on attending next Wednesday January 18th.
A section of the snowshoes as they hang up to allow the varnish to dry

As things would be, my friend knew of my struggles and never worried about the snowshoes being finished at any particular time. Also, since this has been a very strange year weather wise all over the country it seems, the lack of snow in our region mandated that anyone that already has a pair of snowshoes hasn’t taken them from the garage and even dusted them off let alone use them!
Temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s, what little snow we’ve had has fallen and melted thrice. Last week, the forecast was more sunshine and warmer then normal temperatures for at least another week. And now, this week, we got a little snow, but the temperatures are a lot colder.
I know my good friend Mel who pens Mel’s Dream will appreciate the orange t-shirt I’m wearing in the photos of me doing some artwork with the wood burning tool on the toes and tails of the snowshoes. She’s a halloween fanatic and sees punkins every time she sees orange. The kitchen table does double and sometimes triple duty as it is the "studio" for many art projects, school projects, board games, conversations and eating, sometimes all at the same time!
Working on the tail feather image with the wood burning tool

The brightness and gaiety of the table cloth, also laced with a lot of orange, is the handiwork of Stephanie over at Mango Studio. This is heavy duty oilcloth and makes for an easy to clean surface on that old wooden table where we at Spadoville take our meals. She is a fabulous artist well above and beyond the aprons, and things she makes with the oilcloth.
The Hawk's talon print on the toepiece

The artwork was drawn with on the wooden toes and tails of this particular pair of snowshoes. I have several tips to make a wide variety of lines with the wood burner. My friend has the Hawk as his totem. I’ve added the claw talons of the Hawk to the toe. The Tail feather of the Red Tailed Hawk has donned the tail.
Red Tailed Hawk feather at the tail before the varnish is applied

Outlined in pencil, the feather image was wood burned for a bold line drawing. This is filled in with stain that pretty closely matches the coloration of what you see when the Red Tail splashes by in flight. Glad I paid attention to my teacher in Kindergarten and stayed in the lines. Amazing what you remember after 60 years.
Four coats of high quality exterior varnish is applied and when dry, they are ready to use. Hopefully, for my friend and the general economy of the Northland, snow will have fallen in amounts ample enough to need the flotation of a snowshoe to traverse cross country. I think he’ll have to travel to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to snowshoe this year, at least so far.

Hanging in the laundry room to dry. Nic e of the rest of the family to share their space for the messy part of this project. It's been too cold to do this in the garage. 

I have more frames to make more snowshoes, various sizes, too. But I think I’ll just leave them and if the mood strikes, lace up a pair or two. I don’t feel the need to make more for this season unless someone were to order a pair.
As far as other artwork, well, nothing lately. The few pieces I did have complete have been sent on their way. I do have many Dream Catcher projects planned and the materials gathered to start them. Some very rare designs too. This may happen at any time.
The repeated coats of varnish brings out the color and boldness of the wood burning

In the meantime, if anyone were to be interested in a pair or two of custom made one-of-a-kind heirloom snowshoes or a Dream Catcher, Gourd Rattle, Hand Drum, Walking Stick, Talking Stick or Dance Stick, let me know. E-mail is best.


Jeannie said...

I'm going to assume those are some pretty nice snowshoes (I know nothing about them) Funny though, I seem to have a memory of trying out a pair back when I was maybe 13. I don't know if I really did, or if I saw a friend try, or a movie. I also have a memory of windsurfing (or trying to) which may not be accurate either. Funny how my brain works.

I'm so glad you are feeling better - just watch you don't overdo it. I'm sure it would be so much nicer to spend the winter elsewhere but so far, it hasn't really been so bad has it?

Dawn Elliott said...

Your varied talents continue to amaze me! Who knew that you made snowshoes and embellished them so intimately for their intended owner? Incredible work...the perfect project for cold, winter days!

susan said...

I'm very glad to see you've been well enough to work on your artistic projects again. The snow shoes are very nice and I too am impressed once again by your attention to detail and the spiritual connections of every piece.

The weather here has been similar to yours this winter - unusually warm and wet a lot of the time followed by deep freezes that leave the ground looking parched. I'm not that fond of snow but if it's going to be winter anyway there may as well be a light fluffy coating.

Peace and Good Wishes.

*jean* said...

o my gosh! your shoes are indeed a masterpiece of creation! love the addition of the feather...and i have one of steph's aprons in that exact print! peace to you up there in the woods...

Grammy said...

You are very creative. I have never seen snow shoes in person. Our weather in Missouri has been crazy too. I just stopped by to wish you and your family a happy new year. I just got my computer back from the repair shop so I have been lost the last month or so. I am so glad you are doing better health wise. And I see you are seeing the world with new eyes now too. Many well wishes sent your way.

Annie Jeffries said...

Glad to read you are on the mend, Spadoman. And now I'm agog. You make snowshoes??? Who makes snowshoes? Don't you just buy them at Bass ProShop? LOL Really. How cool. The DH wanted to know what else you made so I read the last lines to him. We want to know what a talking stick is.

foxysue said...

A man of many talents, we never see snow shoes over here but sometimes I wish I had a pair I fear tumbling too! Oh to be young, carefree and at ease with your step! Still the journey and experience has taught me much, not least to appreciate what I have in the moment and good friends, I count you as one.

BTW I have one of those thingies, it welds fabric together into pretty works of art, will have to do one and post!

Ms Foxy x

Mel said...


The shirt, of course. :-D
289 days and counting! (secretly I know you count too.......)

Very nice. VERY very nice. It's awesome to be creating. I trust this is a very good thing for you. (and that staying out of the garage in this cold is a very good thing as well....) I'm pretty sure the recipient will be pleased beyond pleased. They really are beautiful. And it's good that you're creating.

AWESOME oilcloth, btw--very cool that it sorta matches the shirt that matches the bike that lives in the house that Spadoman built! (I was gonna say Jack--but that's the bike and it wouldn't have worked....LOL)

WE HAVE SNOW!!!!!! Wooooohooooo!!!! (More than you--so pffffftttt!!!)

Fran said...


Pamela said...

Hey Joe. Those snow shoes sure are beautiful, love the Red Tail imagery. Exquisite workmanship. I know who they're for because our mutual friend has been excitedly anticipating them and told us friends the moment he claimed them :) Cool to do creative work that touches people in such a good and happy way. Nice, very nice. Hey about that little Drum.... like to talk with you bout that my friend. No hurry.