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Hendrick’s Gin Giveaway

Recently, being some several months ago or less, as “recently” tends to go for me, Hendrick’s Gin contacted me to participate in their “Curate a Box” contest give away.

Though I have been rather up to my neck in getting out the rewards for the Infernal Device Kickstarter (which when done I plan to celebrate by logging all the ins and outs of the experience into a seriously detailed tutorial), I really hate to pass up good opportunities for promotion, especially when it involves interesting new challenges.

So, in between bonding prints to wooden constructs, waiting for layers of decoupage glue to dry, refining screens for printing, and wrestling with packages, I’ve been hopping into the basement workshop and doing some work on this wooden box they sent me – the box and contents to be given away by Hendricks Gin when done, through their fascinating newsletter and blog at Unusual Times.

My plan, as with all things I do, is to make an heirloom quality and long-lasting piece, so I felt I should do a bit of added reinforcement to the original box with some fine bits of oak, birch, mahogany, maple, and/or cherry, which are the sorts of wood I prefer to make my constructs of and paint my paintings onto.

The wooden box, straight out of the package
The wooden box, straight out of the package

The very first step, of course, was to remove the box from the package. There was a wonderful promotional book from Hendrick’s Gin in there as well, but Insects and Angels Author and Editor Bethalynne Bajema so-loved the little book and all the artwork within, that well… she was still thumbing through the book, and I might have lost a finger if I tried to reclaim it. Anyway.. the box, above.

Basic Box opened
Basic Box opened

Another shot of the box, it’s insides just the perfect size for a number of unique 8.5×11 printings of some of my select artworks.

I plan to fill this box with:

1) At least 6 hand-signed fine art prints on a special paper and of a special size to make them one of a kind.
2) A Magickal Bag of Holding
3) A polar bear
4) A bunch of Arctic Salmon for the polar bear
5) Bethalynne says that Magickal Bags of Holding are not available anywhere around here, and are quite likely mythical.
6) An original painting, as the inside top of the box, which fits snugly but can be removed and framed.
7) Tacos! Everyone loves tacos!
8) Apparently the above is also a violation of postal code.
9) Some sort of sea monster… though a rather tiny one, made of clay and hand-painted.
10) I don’t know yet… it seems like a lot so far, so I’ll have to see what else the box can hold…. maybe some stickers and patches.

Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.
Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.

The first thing I did was to cut some pieces of oak – two for the insides of the box (one to reinforce the bottom, one to be painted and inserted into the box later), one to make for a hard and sturdy plate for top of the box.

Box Top
Box Top
Panel for Painting
Panel for Painting
panel for the bottom of box insert
panel for the bottom of box insert

Work Space: YeGads!! …

Ground Zero
Ground Zero - dust, wheels, pulleys, cogs, a half-repaired bandsaw, and more dust
Ground Zero 2
brass bits, metal fittings, brass switchplates, knobs, more pulleys...
Ground Zero 3
Ground Zero 3 - saved bits of cherry, walnut, heartwood pine, oak, and mahogany. I use every little bit of wood, down to tooth-pick-sized bits, for everything from furniture, boxes, painting, down to using the smallest bits for fine details and decorative touches.
Ground Zero 4
Ground Zero 4 - animatronic bat machine - in pieces and on hold for a little while more.

Above 4 photos: Ground Zero… I have been working from one thing into another for way too long. The workshop is piled in bits of brass and unsorted wood… and I am pretty sure there are some clamps and other important tools under there somewhere. I should clean up beforehand to make all of this go easier…

… ohhh… maybe after one more cut.

Balls! ... made of cherry, flattened on the tops, drilled, and dowels glued into them.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Feet Attached
Feet Attached - Outdoor quality wood glue on each dowel, pushed into snug holes in the bottom of the box.
Box, Standing
Box, Standing, feet attached
Clamps - not the best for the job. I have lots of ones perfect for ths task... which I am sure I will find when I clean the basement.
Stained - top view
Stained - top view - a mixture of red cherry and deep mahogany
Stained-bottom view
Stained-bottom view
Varnished - partially... many more steps to go.

A thin coat of poly completes the night’s work. Tomorrow I’ll sand this down with fine paper, varnish it again, wait another day, sand it down with steel wool, varnish again, wait another day, sand with steel wool again, wax, buff, wax, buff, wax, and buff… until the box is looking very nice.

During that time, I’ll also be working on the painting to go int this box, 3 other painting commissions, shipping, and kickstarter rewards… the good thing about all these projects, is that they each have steps that involve waiting for things to dry or to set… the trick is managing that time so there is always something to do on the next while waiting on the other.

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Runaway Project

In a series of worst-case scenarios regarding the cat-hoarding space, a 20 yard dumpster has been filled with couches, bedding, stuff I’d rather not mention, a ceiling, cabinets, 2 layers of carpeting, and other flooring.

The subfloor needs to come up, the roof needs patched in places, and sinks filled with cigarette butts and covered with who knows what had to be pulled.

It seems every time I tear out one thing, lots of new mess is found, and further damage. I am crossing my fingers that the floor joists will be okay when I pull up the decayed subfloor – but I am not holding my breath, at least not as much as I had been… the space has no ceiling, no floor, and will soon have no walls – but it is at least smelling a lot better.

I’ve given this more time and energy than I should have this week, and am getting back to painting tonight – and doing whatever web work for web clients I can, because I will need to finance insulation, drywall, subfloor panels, electrical wire, flooring, sinks, a toilet, light switches, outlet plates – and that is just if I want to get the space back to as it once was – the very basics…

Of course if you know me, then you know I have in my head murphy beds, fold out art tables, custom-built desks and cabinets, recessed lighting, lighting strips, lots of custom storage, new windows, a balcony, and a giant telescoping laser – because a project can never be too ambitious.

That Beth and I managed to do the clean out and demolition on this space in such short time is something to be somewhat proud of – Though I haven’t squashed planet Earth yet, haven’t built my pyramid, nor have I won the Noble Prize, these small accomplishments are what matter most when one has no large ones.

On that note, we are now going to regroup, and I am going to get back to all the net and fine art stuff I have neglected this past week and a half. – Look to see something new from me in this space really soon.

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The Lake Michigan Whalers’ Society proudly endorses:

Thaumoctopus mimicus, the Indo-Malayan Mimic Octopus, can take on a variety of shapes and behaviours as defense, or to entertain others at parties.

In less than a second, it can change to imitate a flounder, a lionfish, a ray, Wilford Brimley, a sea snake, or any number of dangerous ocean-dwelling creatures.

In the Octopus family, it is second in cunning and resourcefulness only to The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. Though unable to write brilliant articles such as these, Thaumoctopus mimicus makes up for its apparent illiteracy through deception.

You can read more things, perhaps even factual things about this amazing cephalopod here, at

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Holiday Delays

This is just a quick note to let people who have ordered between December 24th and January 1st, that shipments coming in and shipments going out, have been slowed by the holidays, making for a combined delay of about 3 to 4 days more than the average shipping time (different from product to product).

Apologies for any inconveniences this might cause, Giclees ordered between the 26th and the 1st will ship on the 8th of January, anything else is shipping today.

Otherwise, we are now back on regular schedule and back to business as usual.

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Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Yes, it is… but not for any of those reasons portrayed in stop-motion claymation.

No, this is the time when artists and musicians tend to release a lot of great new stuff.

Magenta (the real one), Bella Morte, Voltaire, Ego Likeness, and ZOMBINA AND THE SKELETONES have all released new albums this month.

I have been hooked on Voltaire’s “To the Bottom of the Sea” for weeks. I think he probably wouldn’t appreciate being compared to other artists, so let me just say that it reminds me a lot of what would happen if Squirrel Nut Zippers and Weird Al had a demon-posessed love child who sounded remarkably a lot like Voltaire. It is a bit more serious and thought-provoking in parts than expected, broken up by huge doses of his usual hilarity. This CD is definitely my pick of the season, unless I find something better.

Ego Likeness has released 300 and only 300 limited edition CDs of their newest cut, regular issue editions following. I, for one, prefer the idea of having a hand-signed one of 300 CD, and anxiously await mine. With it being Ego Likeness, I know I will love it – and I think you will too.

Magenta has just this week released their long-long-long-awaited CD as a digital download. The physical CD will be available later this year, but if you don’t mind digital and want to be among the first to hear it – you can hear it free (and.or buy it) here.

Zombina and The Skeletones – well, there has never been a Zombina album I have not been ecstatic and unbelievably thrilled to hear. Their music is more fun than waxing the stairs at the old folks’ home, with equal amounts of guilt, and yet only half the risk. Their latest album, much like all their other albums, is a ‘must have’ for this gift-getting season.

I have not yet heard enough of the Bella Morte CD, “Beautiful Death”, for me to give my opinion on it. I can say that I have been a fan for a very long time. Right now, they are offering all 6 of their CDs for $70– which comes up to $11.67 a piece, or two CDs free – however you choose to look at it. Whether you love or only like the new CD, it is still one hell of a deal, and well-worth the price if only for the other CDs included.

More music stuff soon.

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Rescue Sale Part 2

Where a need to help neglected animals, a need to help family (who rented to the hoarder), and a need to move to someplace more affordable intersect (thank you Bush) – is a spur of the moment shipping of all our things, and driving across many states… and an interesting adventure on the turnpikes of northeastern through middle America – one in which we almost ended up stranded on the New York Turnpike for lack of gas stations, and had to negotiate to the last dollar on a room in order for us, and several animals, to not freeze to death.

It was a lot of work getting here, but the work has only just begun.

There is a lot of work to do – so much that Beth has not yet managed to take down the sale on 16×20 prints and other things at, and I have yet to take down the sale items here.

The space will not be livable for a long time – lots of money, lots of time, 3 of the 20-some cats still need homes (aside from those four we are keeping). 

Imagine being told that you need to go to Silent Hill and clean it… then imagine Silent Hill with smell, not just images. That is pretty much what the place is like, seriously… even if you tried to imagine, you would be unpleasantly surprised if you saw it.

There are feces piled feet thick on every spot of floor, every appliance, every furnishing – 500-some cigarette butts piled on a sink that was used as an ash tray and (until full), a litter box. In the mix are empty bottles and food containers, mattresses and couches soaked with urine and piled upon with crap. There have even been some more cats found over past weeks, living, possibly more to be found as we dig out and remove hiding spaces.

I can’t imagine what sort of excuse for a “man” could have let animals live this way, let alone lived amongst the filfth with them. It is utterly… I am at a loss for words for what to call it.

For now, we are staying outside the apartment, wrapping our mouths in rags and throwing on gloves and goggles whenever we venture in for another round of digging… the closest we can manage to hazmat suits on a shoestring.

We could really use some Grand Rapids Michigan pet adopters, we could also use some money for city trash bags, dumpster rentals, pet carriers, cat food, cat litter, drywall, flooring, new appliances, and possibly even for hiring help… however, we would rather simply seek assistance for the sake of the animals – that assistance coming in the form of purchases, or donations – either one would help greatly.

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Animal Rescue Sale

During Beth’s family visit in Michigan, she found that there was a pet-related emergency in need of attention. We went back there a few weeks later and brought two cats home with us, bringing us up to the legal limit of four cats.

The trip, and the vet visits, pet meds, tapped our resources to the last dollar.

This week, Beth needs to go back again, and take care of the remaining cats, of which there are many.

It is hard to address this situation fully. This post should not be about the caretaker, it is about animals in need, and about finding a solution.

If you live near Grand Rapids Michigan, and would like to adopt one of these cats, that would be best. You can write me to make arrangements; They will need to be fixed, dewormed, checked for common feline ailments, and given a lot of love, attention. Most of all, they would appreciate some good human companionship and they have a lot of love to give.

Otherwise, we are currently trying to raise money to get her back to Michigan, and have put together a sale. My part of the sale can be found in the sale items part of my site, there is also a new book from Bethalynne Bajema on presale at her site.

… not to say that other purchases will not go towards this purpose – just that these were items I could afford to reduce in price in order to add incentive.

The proceeds will go into getting her there, covering her stay, and regretably, towards getting these remaining animals into a shelter, if homes cannot be found for them during her stay. If donations to the shelters will ensure better chances for these animals, then we are also trying to get that together. Other parts of these proceeds will of course go into supplying and shipping whatever goods are offered. Any excess, if there is to be excess will of course go into replenishing our funds and making up for the lost work hours and resources – though that would be an incredibly optimistic expectation. If we reach that point I will post so, though the sale prices might remain until supplies are gone.