Dé Máirt 29 Meán Fómhair 2009

an siul fada.

bit of carvin, movie watchin, procrastinatin and a long walk today, which resulted in this:


feels great. i needed groceries, and exercise, and beer, so i decided to kill three birds with one stone and a 6 mile round trip walk on the bike path. i wore my trail running shoes, which decided to wear a hole in my achilles. the good news though is that carr's was having a half off sale on Bertolli olive oil, and i for some reason got an even greater than advertised discount on my already bargain basement beast ice.

there was some excitement in the yard late this morning as mom and her two brats showed up again, setting the dogs into a frenzy. only this time, i really got to see the different personalities of the two youngsters. one stayed in the tall grass at the edge of the yard, a little wary of the dogs barking in the kennel. the other, though, followed mom out onto the lawn, and while mom was snacking on raspberry leaves, kiddo started jumping around and almost playfully bluff charging the kennel. he would turn his head, look at them, then ears back, head down and stare. then jump and twirl around a bit and charge to within about 15 ft of the fence, where he would stop, stare some more, then turn and leap playfully back up toward mom. the dogs went apeshit over this. i've never seen chet barking and growling so much. i'm not sure if the moose was trying to play with the dogs or practicing being tough. eventually mom decided he'd had enough though, and off she jogged back into the tall grass, collecting the two kids on the way. no photos though, sorry.

Dé Luain 28 Meán Fómhair 2009

crainn lasrach

two days in a row. better be careful i don't burn out or something... went back to crev mo on the ssstump today. did the same loop as yesterday. short, but hits all the fun log crossings. it was cloudy all morning, so i was in my cage carving when all of a sudden the sun just burst through the clouds and filled my room with light to the point that it nearly hurt my eyes. so i finished up the piece i was working on and got on the bike.


oh, i had also found a relevant user manual for my now several week old reba team, which doesn't come with one, on the interwebs. read through it and found i was adjusting the floodgate improperly. apparently you need to adjust with the compression on full lock. it was much better today while climbing locked out, but still has a tendency to dive over log crossings whether it's locked out or not.

i don't think it rained last night, but the roots were noticeably more slippery. legs felt great, as they should on such a short ride. i don't think this loop, including riding to and from the trailhead, breaks 12 miles. i had to retry the one multiple log crossing 3 times before cleaning it all the way through. it's the first one that throws me off. it's 2/3rds of the way through a turn and about 26" high. factors which i don't seem to remember causing me any grief back in nj. maybe my skills are dumbing down from lack of use? i'll have to go out and play more.






Dé Domhnaigh 27 Meán Fómhair 2009

tiocfidh se...

it's getting to be about time i started thinking more seriously about my upcoming second Iditarod Trail Invitational, aka Alaska Ultrasport, aka Iditabike. yeah i said second. in my year plus long blogging hiatus i managed to barely finish my first attempt. i still intend to eventually get the writeup on this thing, once i've had a chance to fully digest it, of course....

but anyway, i need to start 'training', or at least riding/hiking on a daily basis. no more of this lollygagging i've been doing of late. time in the saddle and miles in the legs will be necessary if i don't want to repeat last years dismal, although somewhat dramatic showing.


so, with that in mind, i headed out to crevasse moraine today to play on the very few, semi-hush-hush log features in the place. not hush-hush because they're illegal, but hush-hush because alot of people up here have hard-ons for chainsaws and have decided that the perfect outlet for their love of motorized cutting is to remove all fun from trails... bastards.

crevlogs from sean grady on Vimeo.

the yellows and golds are still hanging in there, as are the understated reds. the trails are firm and grippy, despite the cover of leaves. scenery can't be beat and it was a beautiful fall day in the valley.




Dé Sathairn 26 Meán Fómhair 2009


i promised details on the 'cage' i'll be spending a large chunk of my winter in, and i will now deliver, though it's nowhere near as interesting as i make it sound.

the dilemma:

all summer, i've been carving outside, on the patio, directly outside my bedroom. it's a great place to carve with perfect southern exposure. the house i rent a room in has no heated 'workshop' where i could commandeer some space for carving. there's a workshop in the two car garage, but A: there are two cars parked in there all winter; B: all three of the adults in the house are outdoors gear junkies and the garage is pretty well full with our crap; and C: the garage has a heater, but generally isn't heated unless someone's going to be out there working on a car or something for any given amount of time. the house is heated all winter long, no matter what. and it can get pretty damned cold up here in the winter, as you might imagine.

the only obvious, realistic options were, A: stop carving for the winter and concentrate on some other art; B: rent a heat-able small space somewhere in the valley to carve; or C: carve in the house.

carve in the house it is! but carving makes quite a mess, and i'm sure my lessors(i originally put 'rentees' there, but it's apparently not a recognized word, and when it is used, is used to mean someone in my position, ie: a tenant... so 'lessors' it is) wouldn't appreciate wood shavings embedded in my carpet and tracked all through the house. the solution, my 'cage':

carving cage

ignore the mess on the bed reflected in the mirror. all of that stuff had been neatly arranged where the 'cage' is now. it's a comfortable, roomy 5' x 3', constructed of nylon mesh and 1/4 round trim with a heavy cotton canvas 'floor'. the mesh catches all errant chips and shavings, and there are a lot of them, especially when working on cottonwood bark. the cotton canvas floor is much, much easier to sweep off of than the carpet and still comfortable to walk on.

carving cage

so there you have it. the bulk of my day today was spent constructing and erecting that, and carving/painting carvings.

craolachan roimhe sibh.

as i'm sure you all noticed, i put a lot of thought and effort into yesterday's post. and since i'm sure you're all still trying to digest the intellectualism and cerebral riddling, i'll start off today with a snippet of information that proves without a doubt the superiority of new jersey, my home state. i'll post more later today, as i'm building myself a cage for the winter and i'm sure you want to know wtf i mean by that.

sent by my mother

"New Discovery

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York archeologists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: "California archaeologists, finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

One week later, The Jersey Journal, a local newspaper in New Jersey , reported the following:

"After digging as deep as 30 feet in his back yard, Vinny 'Bada Bing' Manziano, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Vinny has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, New Jersey had already gone wireless."

Just makes me proud to be from New Jersey!!"

Dé hAoine 25 Meán Fómhair 2009

dul an sli shin.

this looks like, well, a total blast.

The EPIC BLAST V from Victor Lucas on Vimeo.

Déardaoin 24 Meán Fómhair 2009

ta drom ar bhabog.

the dogs alerted me to the arrival of this mornings company, and kept alerting me to their presence throughout their stay. a single mother and her two children. a real outdoorsy type with some meat on her bones, despite the vegan diet. i couldn't resist moving in for a closer look. she certainly wasn't camera shy in the early morning light. our encounter was brief, but worth it.














Dé Céadaoin 23 Meán Fómhair 2009

rinne me dearmad...

just got back from a fun little ride at crev mo on the ssstump. a couple of minor annoying mechanicals, but i began to realize that it might actually be quicker running a handful of gears. and a suspension fork. biggest annoying parts are the clank of the chain or der. hitting my right chainstay, and the reba still seems to dive on the backside of logs, even in lockout. i'm pretty sure that's something i can adjust though. i brought my camera, as it's a gorgeous blue sky day, with golden yellow birch opening up to views of freshly snowcapped mtns. unfortunately, i forgot to put the memory card back in, so it was just dead weight...

all of my day, up until i went for the ride, was spent getting my wood carving blog (http://carvingsbygrady.blogspot.com/) up and running. photographing carvings, finishing touches, uploading the photos, pricing and descriptions. took quite a bit of time. i guess there really is no complete escape from 'office work', but it was entirely self centered, so i didn't mind really. i've decided that i'll be putting the finished carvings only up there, and will still occasionally post photos of in progress ones over here.

alright, time for dinner and a fancy beer. i've been drinking the beast ice all week and i deserve a reward for my diligent frugality.

Dé Máirt 22 Meán Fómhair 2009

sneachta bui

wintumn has arrived in the matanuska-susitna valley. it rained down in the valley all day yesterday, and the one time i left the house, the hills were all obscured by low hanging clouds. it was a very grey day. looked out the window this morning after watching the salton sea to spot a newly snow-capped pioneer peak through the yellow and gold. ran some errands in wasilla, and upon leaving lowes, i noticed that wasilla baldy was blanketed with a thick white layer up top. i almost crashed into someone pulling into the post office parking lot because i was looking up.

got home and debated my options over a beast ice. i've been wanting to check out the april bowl trail in hatcher pass, so that seemed like a reasonable option. got some light hiking clothes on and headed out the door. in had stopped raining for the most part, so i had an enjoyable drive to the little su, lots of folliage. as i continued on i ascended through at first a dusting, then enough to cause some slush on the road. the views were really inducing of giddiness. i actually jumped and skipped a little back to my truck after taking one of the photo stops on the way up.

up past archangel mine road, they had been plowing. kept going. indy mine parking lot. debated the pass. the gravel road looked maybe slippery and someone had been backing down in an suv when i passed it. i locked the hubs, put it in four X and went for it. i was relatively certain that my cracked negative terminal clamp would rattle loose at some point up the washboards, and it did. but not untill i got to where i turned around. once the actuall pass was in view, i pulled over to let a descending truck pass. got out to take in the view, and when i got back in there was no ignition response. simple matter of popping the hood and re-attaching it. the pass was getting dumped on though, so i knew there would be no hike, and likely no view. a look back where i came from told me that it was also now snowing again down below. so i called it as good a spot as any to turn around and head back home.







a few more of these and it'll be here to stay.

let it snow!

Dé Domhnaigh 20 Meán Fómhair 2009

corr le cheile

i sat down outside this morning with a strong cup of coffee, actually, it was a coffee mug filled with espresso and brown sugar...., and got to work fixing that pesky divot. that turned into extending the beard to get rid of those little checks in the wood that i didn't want to end up in the face twenty years from now. kim thinks the wood is likely black spruce, which makes sense. so, here it is, again, and again i'm gonna say, i'm done with the carving part of it.



then it was time to get back to the brush work, which is going a little better now. i'm learning just how wet the brush needs to be. it's sort of a fine line between plastering and washing. of the four in the photo below: the 'white' one has had it's base washes, and will be painted in due time. the monster got some more detail but still has a way to go. the devil is nearly done. i just need to 'age' the teeth and get those horns going. the santa on your right is inches from the finish line. needs a bit of flesh in a spot that needed a bit more carving, and some touch up before getting poly'd.


pricing will be fun trying to figure out. i've come a long way from the stuff i was churning out in mexico, but i'm not going to be able to charge what the long time pros do. my skill isn't anywhere close to someone like Maggard or Embrey yet. i think, at first, they'll be close to my prices from mexico...

Dé Sathairn 19 Meán Fómhair 2009


went to cut the base flat on the santa, and the saw had other plans...


ripped it right out of my hand and threw it. really no easy way to clamp carvings for cutting after they've been carved, and cutting driftwood before would limit the possibilities of the wood.

it was easily salvaged though, and i think ended up being better for it. i realized while fixing it, that i never got around to mentioning the second reason i cringe at painting my carvings.



the grain.

i love wood grain. infinitely variable and, when present, always interesting. nature is the ultimate artist.

done carving it....


...at least for tonight anyway.


edit: DAMNIT!!! i just saw the other divot in the beard, visible in the photo above. definitely NOT done carving it...

ag bogail

at some point this weekend, i will begin putting all of my carvings and artwork on another blog: http://carvingsbygrady.blogspot.com/ future carving/artwork updates will go there, as well as information about how to purchase any of them, if anyone is so inclined.

i've been dreading the painting of my carvings for some time now for several reasons. for starters, i really don't have alot of practice painting with a brush. all of the paintings here were done with a combination of sticks, scrapers, paint markers and my fingers. that kinda crap just wont cut it on wood carvings of the size and ilk that i am currently churning out. painting with brushes will take some getting used to, and for now, it's tedious and taking waaaay longer than it should to achieve a given result. practice, practice, practice.....

i began painting a couple of the monsters today in light acrylic washes. neither are finished, but the devil is close. layer after layer of color after color. the horns won't be painted, but will have that sweet polycrylic finish to bring out the grain. oh, and apparently "primary red" is basically pink. took me for friggen ever to mix those colors into something resembling what i think of as red. note to self: next time buy cadmium red...



while i was waiting for layers to dry, i went out for a quick spin on the SSSTUMP. tried going to crev-mo, but there was a high school invitational xc meet, so i decided against risking collision and headed out for a steady effort on the palmer-wasilla highway bike path. fall colors are coming out fast. the reds have been here for a while, and the yellows are coming on strong. wont be long now.


got home to find a package from juxtapoz containing my new t-shirt by jason maloney. i subscribed a couple of weeks ago. it's a magazine i've missed sorely up here.


so i wore it while i painted some more, and when i got sick of painting, and indecisive on colors, i went back to work on a piece of driftwood spruce that i've been chopping away at little by little. i think it's spruce anyway, kind of hard to tell sometimes with driftwood. it's slow going because it's a pain to work with palm chisels. tempermental and tight grained to say the least. the below carving as well, is not yet finished. needs a little more filing and sanding, and i've yet to decide wether to polycrylic it or oil it. i'll also cut the bottom flat so that i can mount it on a wooden base.


i'm probably going to head out for another attempt at crev-mo after an early dinner, then maybe try to get to work on them again afterwords.

Dé hAoine 18 Meán Fómhair 2009


got out for a shakedown spin on the Semi-Squishy-Shifty-Therefor-Unmanly-Pony, or SSSTUMP for short. it's got a single ring up front and 5 speeds out back, of which only four seem to work, so it's not really a full on multispeed. i like to think of it as a singlespeed that stutters. besides, the easiest gear it has is a 32 x 24... i need to lower the front end. shorten the travel to 100mm probably and maybe throw on a lower rise/longer stem.

as expected, it's significantly faster over the roots and downhill, and more forgiving of error on obstacles with bumpy exits. climbing was noticeably slower, which i'm attributing to the front end being so high. i also need to actually try adjusting the fork. i kinda just took it out of the box and put it on the bike, like one would with a rigid fork, not adjusting anything. i have no idea what the +/- air pressures are. the maxle is incredible though. 40mm more travel than the reba i was running a couple of years ago on the rigorilla, yet it tracks really damned well through the turns. i like it. gordo rims aren't that noticeably heavy, at least compared with halo freedom disc and wtb ddfr's, which i'm running otherwise. stouts at 50psi had more traction everywhere i rode yesterday than they do at 30-40 psi, and roll alot faster. i did notice more bounce out back on the roots though. even i can admit that 50 psi is a wee bit high for a 29er, especially with 35mm wide rims....


sat down and knocked out a couple of carvings today. first female face i've carved in a looong time....

pre-polycrylic in the backyard sun



post-polycrylic in the behind the garage shade


Déardaoin 17 Meán Fómhair 2009

cosuil le fliuch....

polycrylic is awesome. especially on cottonwood bark. really brings out the colors, darkens it up just enough while maintaining the visual depth of the carving....

for size reference the slats on that picnic table are @3.5" wide.


Dé Céadaoin 16 Meán Fómhair 2009

an diabhal

honestly, if all i ever did was carve santas and wood spirits and other palatable whatevers, i would probably puke and seek out an office job. a monster, demon or devil here and there keeps it interesting for me, and hey, halloween/samhain/dia de los muertos is right around the corner anyway. two today, learned a valuable lesson about trying to carve too much detail in cottonwood bark. that valuable lesson being to not do it. the sharp pointy teeth on demon # 2 below were a royal pain in the ass and probably took much longer than they'll prove worth. in a larger piece of bark, and with increased carving dimensions, it would be fine. but this stuff is somewhere in between basswood and balsa in consistancy and really doesn't like 'fine' detail.

# 1


# 2




Dé Máirt 15 Meán Fómhair 2009

Dé Luain 14 Meán Fómhair 2009


julie, who is fully in cahoots with the monkee, posted up some photos from the weekends ride/race and post slog activities over on her blog. click it if you would like to see. i'm featured prominently, as is my thinning hair....

a few posts ago i mentioned what might be my worst carving ever. it was bad enough that i wouldn't even post a photo of it. it basically ended up looking like this guy dressed up as an old wizard for halloween. well, i've finally gotten to attempting to salvage it. the first step in doing so was to break the thing in half over my knee.

here it is in all it's former lack of glory.


i'm really not sure what i was thinking when i made the left arm about half the length of the right one. and i swear there was no beer involved.

i liked the hat, and the face was salvageable enough, to that was a start. the upper half became this:


and the lower half is a raven in progress. just need to do some research on ravens first.


don't hold me to the raven part actually. it'll be a bird, most likely a raven, but that could change i suppose.

i had been scouring the interwebs for a shepherd's hook diamond riffler file, since i hadn't been able to find the one i was using while carving in mexico. it was the most useful file in the bunch for the type of finishing i was doing. i've purchased two different riffler file sets since and none of the shapes included fit everything that the shepherd's hook would. well, i finally located it, along with the rest of the original set, and a handful of very useful gouge shapes. i had it the whole time, it was in the far back corner of the box i never open. of course.