Back on the Job Hunt…

No, not ME. I’m gainfully employed well into 2013 with Dragonbreath, now that they bought ten books. I am not, however, much of a Primary Breadwinner—kid’s book money will keep a single female and her cats well-heeled, but breaks down when confronted with a partner and a mortgage.

So Kevin got laid off last month, and the job hunt is in full force. So hey, if you’re in the Triangle and hunting for a Linux sys-admin with various and sundry skills then drop him a line. (I would say more about the various and sundry skills, but it turns into alphabet soup pretty quickly as far as I’m concerned…IP VPN MySQL RPM PHP IA CTHULHU FTAGHN ETC.)

 

Clothodile

6 x 18 on cradled gessoboard

The freshwater clothodile feeds primarily on plushalopes and other large stuffed animals that come down to watering holes to drink. They can grow up to sixteen feet in length and exhibit a symbiotic relationship with the tiny tailor-bird, which will walk fearless into the clothodile’s mouth, cleaning the predator’s teeth, pulling out loose threads, and carefully stitching up any small rips or tears they may find.

Fooling around with more weird stuffed animals, obviously! I can only get the 6  x18 gessoboard in the deep cradle, so I’d be happy to sell this one before a con–hanging the deep cradle’s a pain in the ass!–but otherwise it’ll be at Duckon and/or AC.

Prints available!

More Excerpts from the Regency Novel That Seriously, No, I Will Never Write, I’m Not Kidding

The ball was that greatest of social triumphs, a sad crush. Bodies packed the ballroom as tightly as salted herring in a barrel, leaving little room for air. Reputations were made, compromised, destroyed and on at least one occasion, became inexplicably intertwined with a silver salt cellar shaped like a whimsical goat.

Viscount Blackfarthing was thinking seriously about fresh air and had just attempted to maneuver between a dowager in a purple turban and a knot of macaronis, their high starched shirt points sadly wilted in the heat, when he saw his hostess bearing down on him.

The widowed Lady Rothingham was a slender blonde woman with the haggard remains of beauty. It was generally agreed that the responsibility for launching four daughters and one stepdaughter creditably into society would have faded greater beauties than hers, particularly when none of them had more than a modest dowry and the family name had suffered a severe, if murky blow on account of Lord Rothingham’s first wife, who had been poor or mad or common or possibly even foreign.

Lady Rothingham had borne up well under adversity, however, and her parties were very well attended. She had a regrettable tendency to begin sentences with “If my poor dear Lord Rothingham were here, I am certain he would say…”* but her manners were otherwise very nice and her cook had an undoubted way with a canape.

“My dear Blackfarthing!” cried Lady Rothingham.

Seeing that escape was impossible, the Viscount abandoned the notion with good grace. “Lady Rothingham!” He bowed over her hand. “Truly a triumph. You must be very pleased.”

She fluttered her fan at him. “Oh, well, I fancy it is not a completely despicable evening’s entertainment. But come, sir, have you made the acquaintance of my dear little Augusta? I most earnestly wish that you might!”

Blackfarthing could no more keep track of Rothingham’s numerous offspring than he could keep track of his own quizzing glass, and murmured something noncommittal. Was Augusta the older one with the straight dark hair, or the latest one out of the schoolroom, who would undoubtedly be a beauty once she had overcome her regrettable tendency towards spots?

Following the track cut for him by Lady Rothingham’s fan, he soon realized that it was neither.

“August, my darling!” His hostess descended on a dark-skinned young woman wearing a dress of striped green crepe. “I have brought Viscount Blackfarthing for you to meet. Viscount, my dear little Augusta. Poor Lord Rothingham’s first, you know, and a dear support to me in my affliction.” She held her fan to her breast and gazed heavenward, presumably toward her late husband.

The stepdaughter. Ah. Yes. “Your servant, Miss Rothingham,” said Blackfarthing, bowing over her hand.

However much of a support she might be in affliction, dear little Augusta could not be said to be little in any sense except the vertical. The top of her head did not reach Blackfarthing’s collarbone, and Blackfarthing was by no means the tallest of men. Possibly to make up for her deficiency of height, fate had heaped upon the unfortunate Augusta a generosity of hip and bosom. Her figure would have been impressively Amazonian if it had been bestowed on a taller frame, but no amount of corseting could disguise an extremely short waist. Her hair was fashionably dark, but was set against skin so dark as to be almost swarthy and a positively grim expression.

Combined with an over-generous lower lip, Miss Augusta’s countenance put Blackfarthing suddenly in mind of a brindle bulldog of his acquaintance. This resemblance was not in any way lessened when he straightened up and saw a glint in her eye as if she was wondering whether it would be worth the trouble to go about tearing his throat out.

“I know you young people will have so much to talk about,” gushed Lady Rothingham, her desperation only barely showing. “I believe you are acquainted with Augusta’s cousin Hubert!”

Having bestowed this dubious gem, their hostess flipped her fan, bid Augusta to be a good girl, and swept into the crowd.

“I detest my cousin Hubert,” said Augusta, by way of conversational opening.

“It is fortunate, then, that I have only the vaguest notion who he might be,” said the Viscount pleasantly. “I am sure he is exceptionally detestable! Tell me, what is this pattern card of horror’s last name?”

Augusta gave a crack of laughter that Blackfarthing suspected was both genuine and involuntary and put her hand over her mouth. “Oh dear. Stepmama tries so hard, you understand. His name is Hubert Stacklepole. He treats his horses very badly and fancies himself a Corinthian.”

“Then I am well warned, and will be certain to cut him dead upon our next meeting,” said Blackfarthing. And then, because he knew his duty to his hostess, “Come, will you be so kind as to stand up with me for the next dance?”

She sighed. “Stepmama has only cornered you to do this because she is positively Byzantine in her notions and does not feel that my younger sisters may dance with propriety if I do not.”

Blackfarthing knew perfectly well that she was correct, but he was a gentleman, and would have stood up with a ninety-year-old dowager or an actual bulldog, had his hostess required it of him. He would also have procured a sword and fallen on it before saying any such thing to a lady’s face.

“I will step on your feet,” Augusta warned.

“I am persuaded that you will do no such thing.”

“I will soon convince you otherwise.”

“I am wearing very excellent boots.” He lead her onto the dancing floor, and such was the address of the Viscount Blackfarthing that despite stepping on his boots several times, when the dance had finished, several other gentlemen, more chivalrous than eligible, approached the eldest Miss Rothingham and solicited her favor in standing up with them.

She shot him a look that mingled both reproach and reluctant gratitude and went off with the most stately of them, a retired general pinned with so many medals as to resemble a jeweler’s case. The Viscount slipped out to find some fresh air, with a pleasant sense of having done his duty in the face of daunting odds. It was a pity that she had chosen green crepe, which turned her olive skin so unfortunately sallow. She had not been such a bad dancer. He would almost suspect her of having stepped on his feet deliberately.

He passed Deptford on his way to the gardens. “Blackfarthing!” his friend cried, slapping a hand against the elegant wallpaper of the hallway. “Dear me, where have you been hiding? Did you hear about Ellerby and the silver salt-shaker shaped like a whimsical goat?”

“I must have some air,” said the Viscount.  “I cannot possibly do justice to an ancedote of this magnitude without some air!”

“Oh, very well. Tell me, have you seen my beautiful Corinna?” Deptford had, for the last few months, been nursing a passion for a flirtatious young woman endowed with financial charms far in excess of her physical ones.

“Dancing with the Earl of Foxmoor,” said Blackfarthing heartlessly. Deptford clasped a hand to his brow and let out a wrenching moan, like a man in love or a water ox in the last throes of consumption.

“That poppinjay! He is not worthy to kiss her feet!”

“How fortunate that he does not seem particularly interested in her feet, then,” murmured Blackfarthing, and stepped aside as Deptford hurtled down the hallway in the direction of the ball room.

*  *  *

It was some hours, several country dances, and one daring waltz later. At least one beauty had been compromised to the point of requiring immediate engagement, another had fled weeping from the ballroom, a duel of honor had been scheduled for the following dawn between two fools who should have known better, and Lady Rothingham had sunk into a chair in an ecstasy of hostessly gratification.

Blackfarthing had busied himself ferrying ratafia to wilting young beauties and flirtation to more elderly ones. He was thinking of calling for his carriage, but he had not seen Deptford again, and suspected that his lovelorn friend might require rescue, either from the depths of despair or perhaps from some even more unimaginable incident involving a silver salt-shaker shaped like a whimsical goat.

He passed through several large galleries—Rothingham House, however many economies had been forced upon it by so many unmarried daughters, was still an imposing edifice—in search of a garden that did not have an illicit tryst going on under every rose bush. He would have settled for a balcony, or even an empty hallway with fewer mirrors.  Even his modest shirt points were beginning to resemble an unwatered plant at high noon, and the sight of his own reflection depressed him.

A tight knot of ladies barely glanced up as he passed, deep in the latest scandalbroth. “You heard about poor Lady Milverly, of course?” said one, in tones of satisfied horror. “I was never more shocked in my life!”

“Lost her youngest to typhus, did she?” said another. “My heart positively breaks for her. It is not be thought, dear Eleanor, not being a mother yourself, that you could understand the depth of remorse, the maternal anguish one must feel at the thought of one’s own child—”

“Yes, yes, very sad,” hissed Eleanor. “But it wasn’t typhus!”

“Pneumonia?” asked a third.

“No!” Eleanor gave a delighted shiver. “I heard that it was urchin-plague!”

“No!”

“Most certainly, yes! He tore the nursemaid up something awful. I shouldn’t think she’ll recover…”

“But how was any child of Milverly’s ever exposed?”

“Well, I heard…”

Blackfarthing passed out of earshot before the mystery could be unraveled. There was another corridor before him—blast, where were the gardens? What did they expect to do if the house ever burned down, wander around until the roof fell in on someone’s head?

The lighting was dimmer here, with only a few candles burning. Clearly Lady Rothingham did not feel that her duties as a hostess extended to an extravagance of candles in back hallways. The shadows cast by a japanned cabinet could have concealed an entire pack of urchins.

Blackfarthing’s imagination did not extend beyond an appreciation of the occasional Gothic novel, and he was unable to concoct any likely scenario wherein such creatures could have invaded the house. To be sure, Rotherham’s only son was—seven? eight? still within the range of such a childhood ailment, at any rate—but he was certainly not allowed out of the school room without an armed escort as a result. He passed the shadows of the cabinet without a qualm.

What did cause him a pang was the voice that reached him down the hallway, and the feminine laughter that rose up in its wake—for the voice most certainly belonged to Deptford, and he would have laid odds that the laugh belonged to the well-endowed Corinna—and they were coming down the hallway toward him.

Blackfarthing was a gentleman, as has been remarked before, and would have felt it his duty to jump in front of a runaway carriage before contributing to anything that might compromise a well-bred young female. Deptford and Corinna were far from the main party and quite possibly alone together. If he was seen to bear witness to this, Corinna would be ruined. Deptford would be forced to marry her immediately. Deptford might desire this consequence, but—although Blackfarthing would have sooner jumped in front of that hypothetical carriage than allow a hint of it to pass his lips—Deptford deserved better. Corinna had not the slightest notion of economy and would run through the remains of Deptford’s fortune with neither comprehension nor gratitude and Deptford’s impoverished estates in Yorkshire, far from being improved by Corinna’s dowry, would bear the burden.

Therefore Corinna must not be compromised. Therefore Blackfarthing must wrench open the nearest door and fling himself through it. The sound of the door shutting might instill a sense of caution in the young lovers, and at any rate, Blackfarthing himself would not have a hand in bringing his friend to ruin.

This plan was no sooner concieved of than acted upon. The Viscount plunged into the unlit library beyond, shut the door hastily behind him and set his back against it.

His sigh of relief died on his lips.

Standing in a swath of moonlight, with an expression more bulldog-like than ever, was the eldest Miss Rothingham. She had traded in her ill-chosen dress of green crepe for tightly wrapped black, and was frozen in the act of pulling a hood down over her dark curls.

His first irrational thought was that he had somehow startled her in her underclothes and that she was still in mourning for her father, for surely these were widow’s weeds she must be wearing.

He dismissed this immediately, as he was fairly sure that even the most sincere mourning did not require black underthings. What would be the point of wearing black in such a fashion, where Society could not comment approvingly on it? And furthermore, he was actually looking at Augusta’s lower limbs—the heart quailed! Every thought and feeling must be offended! And furthermore she was not as squat as the green dress had made her look!—and the black cloth was doing its very best to flatten a bosom that was not at all conducive to being flattened, and Blackfarthing was left with one single inescapable conclusion.

“Great Scott!” he cried, not caring who heard him. “You’re a ninja!”

 

*The late Lord Rothingham would have been quite surprised to find how many of his posthumous opinions agreed with those of his wife, a happy circumstance that had not persisted at any point in life.

 

(Blame you all. Hate. Promise nothing. Etc.)

Damnit.

It was a beautiful day in London. The sun was shining through the haze, a brief rain had lent a freshness to the air, and the Thames had not yet acquired the epic stench of summer. Pigeons circled overhead, and the black-clad ninja clans fought their endless wars across the roofs of the city. The Viscount Blackfarthing drove his curricle through the streets of London and felt that all was right with the world.

He was an understated man, not sporting the starched collar points or padded shoulders of the dandy, but most of Society were willing to agree that his quiet elegance was very much the thing for a man of his respectable but not immodest fortune. Hostesses liked him for his willingness to stand up with even the most tongue-tied chit, without going so far over the line as to actually flirt, and his card was accepted in all the best drawing rooms of the city. His clothing was of fine, if not extravagant cut, he spent no more than twenty minutes tying his cravat—much to his valet’s despair—and he was forever losing his quizzing glass.

He had stopped to take up his friend Deptford, who had been strolling near the park, and was skirting the edges of a traffic jam when a stray shuriken slammed into the seat between them.

Deptford, who hailed from Yorkshire, jumped a bit. Blackfarthing merely pulled up the horses a little and waited until a tabi-footed figure dropped from a nearby awning onto the back of the curricle. The ninja plucked the shuriken from seat, murmured something apologetic-sounding in his own language, and was gone across the top of a nearby carriage.

“Well, really,” said Deptford, clutching his hat. “That ninja had blue eyes. And freckles.”

“One of the Irish clans,” said Blackfarthing. He watched as the ninja, agile as a squirrel, bounded up the side of a nearby shop and onto the roofs, where several other black-clad figures waited. “They went there first—must be third or fourth generation by now. They say Dublin’s completely overrun.”

“My father was over there a few years back—one of Mother’s endless Lady’s Aid projects. Said the corned beef and sashimi was interesting, but they did things to an honest potato that no Englishman could countenance.” Deptford started to relax his grip on his hat, and then gripped it tighter as Blackfarthing feathered a corner with reckless skill. Any money he failed to spend on his wardrobe, Blackfarthing was more than willing to lavish on his horses, and the chestnuts between the posts of the curricle were regular fire-eaters.

The Viscount grinned, swinging wide around a cart in a manner designed to give his groom apoplexy. “It’s supposed to be good luck if they nest on your roof.”

“Pretty sure that’s storks, old chap,” said Deptford, relaxing as they approached Hyde Park and Blackfarthing was forced to a more decorous pace.

“No, it’s ninjas. My sister Eugenia—you remember Eugenia—went up to her attic looking for something and what should she find but those little woven mats everywhere and a whole pack of them settled in under the eaves?”

“Dear me!” Deptford gazed across the park at a pair of giggling young women. “Barely out of the schoolroom, by the look of them…sorry, what was that, Blackfarthing?”

The Viscount cast a tolerant look over his friend. “Ninjas in the attic. M’brother-in-law wanted to get someone in to clear it out, but Eugenia wouldn’t hear of it. Said they’d tidied up the place like you wouldn’t believe, and anyone who could make a cup of tea like that was welcome to stay as long they liked.”

“Your sister’s a great gun,” said Deptford, “but if she wasn’t your sister, I’d say she was dicked in the knob.”

“Good thing she’s my sister, then,” said Blackfarthing dryly, although privately he thought Deptford was probably correct. “Still, if you’ve got ninjas, at least you know you don’t have urchins.”

“Urchins! Gad!” Deptford threw up his hands. “Did you hear about Hallingworth?”

“Rusticating, isn’t he? Heard he went down to the country for a bit.”

“Yes, yes.” Deptford tipped his hat to a pretty young thing as they passed, and tried not to flinch under the basilisk-glare of her escort. “Badly dipped. But he was leaving some hell or other and like a fool wouldn’t call for a chair, and what should happen but he was pulled into an alleyway and set on by an urchin-pack?”

“Dear me!”

“Tore up his knees something fierce,” Deptford said earnestly. “Bitemarks all over his boot leather. Hallingworth swears that if hadn’t been wearing his riding boots, the little devils would have hamstrung him on the spot.”

 

(I blame all of you. No, I have no idea where I’d go with this, but at least I can stop thinking about it now.)

Excerpt From The Regency Novel I Will Never Write

“Do you know why I am going to kill you?”

The Prince Regent was foxed. He knew he was foxed. He was pretty sure that someone had just threatened him, but here was the Duke of Foxmoor on his right, and Warthington on his left, and there was the young man with the gun in front of him…oh. Hmm.

He should have stuck to port. He wouldn’t have been nearly so badly off with port. But that odious little Marquis from…where was he from? Somewhere out in the unfashionable end of Yorkshire…had brought in a bottle of some vile Greek concoction called “oozey” or “ohzey” or something, and now the world was spinning gently, and also there was a young fellow pointing a gun at him.

“Eh?” said the Regent.

“I say,” said Foxmoor, “that’s quite a neckcloth you’ve got, lad. Oriental, is it?”

“You’re foxed. It’s a Mathematical,” said Warthington. “Never could tie them, myself.”

It was a very good neckcloth. It hung in immaculately crisp folds, despite the bit where its owner had climbed in through a second story window, crouched on top of a mother-of-pearl inlaid armoire for two hours, and then leapt to the ground and brandished a pistol at the Prince Regent.

“Do you know why I am going to kill you?” demanded the young man again, his hand shaking slightly, which imparted an alarming wobble to the end of the gun.

“Says he’s going to kill you, Prinny,” said the Duke of Foxmoor helpfully.

“Ah, you’re foxed,” said Warthington. “Why would anybody want to kill Prinny?”

There was a brief, awkward silence. Even drunk, the Prince Regent could think of at least a half-dozen reasons, and it was clear from his expression that Foxmoor could think of a couple more. Guards, thought the Regent gloomily, why were there no guards? Always around when you wanted a moment of privacy, and never when somebody was trying to kill you. Also, he had an itch up under his corset, where there was no possibility of scratching it. What an awful evening.

“Do you know who my father is?” asked the young man.

“It isn’t me, is it?” asked the Regent anxiously. The young fellow looked to be about seventeen, and Lord knows, seventeen years ago he’d had a lot more energy for chasing petticoats than he did now. “Because I tried my best to provide for all my by-blows, I’m sure I did, but some of the chambermaids…” He stopped. The young man had turned an alarming shade of red, apparently from rage.

“Ah, chambermaids,” said Foxmoor nostalgically. Seventeen years ago, he’d had a lot more energy too. “Parlor maids, too.”

“Milkmaids…” said Warthington.

Foxmoor peered around the tightly corseted bulk of the Prince Regent. “Milkmaids?”

“There was one on m’father’s estate,” said Warthington, with a vague, sappy expression. “Molly her name was. She had the most wonderful—”

“I say, Warthington, there’s a child present!”

“Giggle,” said Warthington stiffly.”She had a perfectly marvelous giggle.”

“I am not a child!” snarled the young man with the gun. “And I am certainly no child of yours, you revolting hulk!”

The Prince Regent lifted a eyebrow. He knew he’d put on a few pounds, certainly, although the corset and the ruffs did hide a multitude of sins, but he was still the nominal ruler of England, and no amount of artillery gave anyone the right to speak to him like that.

“Giggle?” asked Foxmoor, who was clearly lagging behind the conversation a ways. “Never thought the giggle was the most attractive part of a female, old fellow.”

“You hadn’t heard Molly’s, then.”

“Enough about milkmaids!” the young man practically screamed. “I am the son of Brummell!”

Three sets of eyes riveted on him immediately.

“Brummell?” said the Regent.

“Beau Brummell?” said Foxmoor.

“The Beau Brummell?” said Warthington.

“The very same!” snarled the young man. “Because of you, he was forced to flee to the Continent! Because of you, he is living nearly penniless, unable to afford new waistcoats! Do you know what a blow that is to a man like him?”

“Shocking!” murmured Foxmoor.

“Indeed!” Their assailant forgot himself so far as to wave the pistol for emphasis. “Last year’s fashions! He dare not show his face!”

“Not that,” said Foxmoor. “Lots of people completely done up. It happens. It’s just…Brummell? Really?”

“Never thought he was one for the petticoat line,” mused the Prince Regent.

“Not to say he was one for the lads, either,” said Warthington. And when both Prinny and Foxmoor stared at him, “What? He wasn’t.”

“No,” Prinny admitted, “he wasn’t. Said to me once that the whole thing was too much like riding to hounds—lot of exertion and bother and trouble keeping your boots clean.”

“Always had very clean boots, that fellow,” Foxmoor allowed. They looked back to the gunman.

“He was my father!” the young man said angrily. “My mother said so!”

The three of them studied him with interest. He turned red again.

“Well, he’s got Brummell’s way with a neckcloth…” Warthington allowed.

“Doesn’t look much like him, though,” the Prince Regent said. He squinted, trying to bring the youth into better focus. “Mm. And are those canary inexpressibles with a biscuit coat?”

“Beau wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing canary,” Foxmoor said. “Would have had the most shocking set-down for anyone who did. Recall I once wore the most elegant patterned green waistcoat, and the things he said to me! ‘Foxmoor,’ he said ‘are you hunting ducks?’ ‘No,’ I said, and he said—”

“Just impossible to imagine Brummell doing anything you couldn’t get dressed up for,” mused Warthington.

“–he said, ‘Why are you wearing that duck blind around your waist, then?'” Foxmoor concluded triumphantly.”I took it home and had m’valet burn it, of course. Still regret it.” He sighed. “Not that it’d fit me now anyway…”

“I am!” cried the young man passionately. “I am!”

“Do you have any proof?” asked the Regent kindly. “Not that I’m accusing your sainted mother of lying, but we knew Brummell, you see, and if you had something…a signet ring, perhaps…a love letter…something?”

“Can’t imagine the Beau writing love letters,” said Foxmoor. “Unless it was to his valet.” Warthington snickered.

The young man fell back a step and lowered the gun. “I—I have to go. But I’ll be back! You’ll see!” He turned and dashed toward the wall, launched himself off a wingback chair to the top of the armoire, and was out the window before anyone could move to stop him (although it must be said that none of them tried, and in fact Warthington was only standing upright by leaning heavily on the Regent’s arm.)

“Well,” said Prinny. He supposed he should send for the guards to try to arrest the boy, but it seemed like a lot of effort. All he wanted was for his valet to unlace his corset and then he could have a good scratch.

“Seemed a likely lad,” said Warthington. “Wonder who his father was?”

“Doubt it was Brummell.”

“Mmmm.”

————

This is probably of no interest to anyone, but I’ve been reading too much Heyer lately, and I attempt to convince my buddy Deb that her next book should involve the illegitimate son of Beau Brummell. When she pointed out that he was apparently completely uninterested in either sex, the following scene sort of spilled out. Odds are good I will never write a Regency, as much as the notion amuses me, but you never know, although I would rapidly get bored and have ninjas abduct the heroine, and that would be awkward and probably not historically accurate.

Like Stuffed Potato Chips!

Once you start drawing weird little stuffed animals, apparently it’s really hard to stop. My sketchbook has gone in a somewhat disturbing direction.

5 x 7 mixed media on hotpress watercolor paper

And of course, since I’ll be bringing this one and others to the cons, do I get the desire to draw stuffed animals of species that people actually BUY at cons? Are there bunnies, foxes, stuffed snow leopards, plush hedgehogs?

No. Of course not! There are goats and antelope and lizards and weird little things with no hands, and a really charming one of a crocodile (clothodile?) that I really really wanna paint but of course it has to be huge to really get the effect I want, because, as I have said many times, there is nothing on earth quite so inspiring as having to be doing something else Right This Minute.

Blaa!

Great Plushthanga

WHO DARES TO SUMMON GREAT PLUSHTHANGA!?

digital, Painter 7, 12 x 16

The shaman Cryptic-Stitches, of the Moon-Stuffing tribe, clutched his rubber chicken staff. He had called upon Great Plushthanga, one of the great spirits of his tribe, and Great Plushthanga had come.

 

…so, yeah. I have lots of stuff I need to be working on, including whipping up originals for TWO art shows next month, which of course means that I am suddenly intensely driven to paint something digital and about as marketable as a three-day-old herring. I’ve had the sketch laying around for ages, but sometime this weekend it hit critical mass in my head, and Great Plushthanga demanded painting. (I like the notion of a world inhabited largely by stuffed animals. And perhaps rats. I think it would also need rats.)

Prints are available! I expect to sell perhaps five of these in the next decade, but they’re available!

Roundup

Not all that much going on these days—well, I mean, there’s a lot going on, it looks like we’re going to probably get to do ten Dragonbreath books instead of seven, and there’s some other neat stuff percolating—but nothing immediately fascinating. I’m deep in the last death march of Campbreath art, trying to write the text for Fairybreath around the edges (Danny’s mom is kidnapped through a mushroom ring and he has to go into Faerie to get her back. Has much Surreal Landscape Wandering, which is arguably my strong suit as a writer. Kevin says that so far, it’s the most “me” of the Dragonbreath…)

The rest of the time I putter in the garden, work on stuff for the upcoming DucKon and Anthrocon art shows, and fool with molding. (We may have achieved victory conditions on the caulk mold this time! We’ll find out soon!)

The Louisiana iris has bloomed in the pond—it’s pretty spectacular, and I’m hoping it will continue to thrive submerged—and the tadpoles are fewer and larger. There are floating rafts of frog eggs, which would be more thrilling if they weren’t also filling the puddle left by the dumptruck rut on the side yard. Clearly our frogs have heard about the amphibian extinction event and are Doing Their Part. The predacious diving beetle got laid yesterday, and I hope to see “water tigers” soon, although it may get a little crazy with the tadpoles already there. Our lettuce bolted. My pollinator watch took an odd turn, as there are suddenly honeybees in the garden, which is very surprising—I saw all of ONE last year. I suspect someone may have put in a hive somewhere in the vicinity, because now two or three a day are showing up.

Finally, there’s an article by yours truly about the Great Southern Brood and KUEC #36: “Give me the scissors! And the bottle cap!” (Also available on iTunes!)

Molding Update

Using Smooth-On’s skin-safe mold-making materials, we managed to pull a silicone cast of a baku head that I made out of Sculpey.

Using good ‘ol plaster of paris, we managed to make a plaster baku head.

Conclusion the First: Not terribly easy, not terribly hard. We’ve pulled two plaster heads, one marginally more successful than the other, and they came out…okay. Despite our best efforts, we’ve got air bubbles in the mold that leave blobs of plaster that have to be sanded off, and there were big overruns in the back, so each plaster piece requires extensive retouching with the Dremel and some touch-ups with Apoxie.

Conclusion the Second: This was a stupidly ambitious design. Kevin wants to retry it as a two part mold. I’m going to try another version that involves really cheap silicone caulk, as recommended by my stepfather, and see if I can’t get a more perfect mold.

Conclusion the Third: Barring radical success of those projects, and owing to sheer difficulty of casting this particular design—tapir snouts, who knew?—and all the post-processing required, the Baku at least may be an art-show only kinda thing, where I do maybe three, four, five, with different paint jobs. Since my ultimate goal is to mass-produce a couple of designs sufficiently to offer at the table or on-line…well, still working. I’m gonna have to try something much less insane, like a happy platypus. (Mmm…platypus…)

Conclusion the Fourth: Not entirely sure about plaster. It’s easy to work with, and the end results have a lot of heft, but they’re still kinda fragile objects.  On the other hand, the commercially available resins and whatnot are REALLY expensive. May have to try Hydrocal, which is used to make lawn ornaments, and supposed to be a little tougher.

I can see the plaster working okay for a thing hung on the wall, but not for something that sits on your desk. We’ll see how the painted versions come out…

Adventures in 3-D

In between chaos and gardening and finishing Campbreath art and trying to put together pieces for two back-to-back conventions in June, we’ve been fooling around for the last week and some change with molding and casting.* I’ve done a couple of little sculptures in sculpey, and we’re trying to cast them in hopes of making copies.

This is not terribly easy, and we’ve had a lot of excitement of the sort where you realize AS YOU ARE POURING that this is not going to work, and then you have approximately ninety seconds to find a solution. There has been jury-rigging, by which I mean we have been building mold frames out of Legos and using a decommissioned vibrator to agitate the mold to get the air bubbles out. (Lego works REALLY well, by the way…)

Finally—right about the point we had poured the plaster of paris and I realized that I had no idea how long it took plaster to set—I called my stepfather, who’s a sculptor by trade, who told me all kinds of useful information that would have been really helpful about three hours prior. But never mind! Onward and upward! I will get at least ONE good cast out of this bloody thing if I have to glue the tusks back on and sand every damn piece by hand!

I have a dream that someday I will be able to make a neat mask, but for the moment, I will settle for a couple of paintable plaster bits of wall art.

 

*And I do mean “we.” Kevin has been doing the heavy lifting on the engineering end of this. If it was just me, I would still be trying to get the lid off one of the jars.