Alright ladies and gents, I’ve got it. I decided to name the new project “Worker Bird” (as in, busy as a bird). I’m not entirely sure how I plan to reconcile this space with the new space but I think it’ll all fall into place as I go. I think this blog will be used for general posts about the chickens, illustration projects, client work, life, etc. I think Worker Bird will be solely about the products I design and make under that name. We’ll see. Maybe in the end I’ll fold it all together under one umbrella.

Thanks to everyone for your ideas and suggestions. I need to get to work – Worker Bird will make its debut at Handmade Arcade on December 8.

Lastly, please visit Sweet Six to read a little interview that my friend Jenny did with me. And order some tasty hand-crafted candy while you’re at it.

A blog I love, My Owl Barn, is graciously hosting a giveaway of my Halloween Tray from Wendell August Forge. Head on over to the site and take part today – you could get lucky!

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I love to name things – Christmas trees, cars, plants, animals – but not anything of my own.

I am taking a leap this Fall. I am going to start – FOR REAL – making and trying to get an audience for all sorts of art and craft-related things that float around in my head but never see the light of day.

So I need a name. What should I call this venture? I welcome any ideas and thoughts and suggestions. The name I’m mulling over is “Beehive Crafted.” I love bees and their unwavering industriousness. Someone opined that this is a forgettable name (JERK) and someone else said it might be “too cutesy” (DOUBLE JERK) for the things I make. So…back to square one? Or not.

The first step in my giant leap was to apply to vend my wares at Handmade Arcade. I’ve done this show in years’ past at the L2 Design Collective table and I love every second of it. It draws a huge, selective crowd with great taste and to be accepted to exhibit is a pretty big deal. Fingers crossed.

I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks about the products I’ll be making. Of course I will feature my Love Letter to Pittsburgh series of prints on wood (along with bees, chickens, etc). But there will be other new things in the works. Standby.

And do let me know if you come up with anything magical.

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**UPDATE: My dear, sweet, best big brother pointed out that by calling people JERK and DOUBLE JERK for giving feedback might dissuade others from offering their thoughts. He’s so right. He’s always right about everything.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello and meet the girls at today’s Mt. Lebanon Earth Day Festival. I loved seeing so much excitement over keeping backyard chickens. Also wanted to show everyone the three gorgeous eggs that the girls laid as soon as we got home. It was hysterical to see them dart from the crate, across the yard, into the hen house and up the ramp into their coop. And then, like, magic, these:

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Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about chickens. I will do my best to answer or direct you to great resources. Email foxbury [at] mac dot com.

It is a slow process, this current renovation. If I’m being honest with myself I will admit that we’ll never actually be “done” and that’s fine. What would we do with ourselves if we finished? Start over somewhere else, I guess. And I’m not remotely interested in moving again so I plan to draw out this renovation for our eternity. Today happens to be a gorgeous one so I thought it was high time to show a before + after of what we’ve done to the back of the manse.

Way back in the olden days:

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Step one was to remove the crazy arborvitae that was glomming onto the house.Image

Step two: blow a big hole in the back of the house.

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Step Three: Have Bradley and Bradley Jr from Decks Decks Decks come out and work their magic.

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Step Four: make a margarita and then another and then another.

And just like that (2.5 years later) we have a great space to live in and hang out and watch the hens doing their thing in the yard below.

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Happy Spring!

OK – I am NOT tooting my own horn, here. I don’t like to do that and I cringe when other people do it. What I’m talking about here is the loveliness in something – anything – that is so clearly made by hand. Yes, I did some illustrations for Wendell August but their artisans turned them into something really worth putting on your tree. I was happy with the photos I saw in their catalog and online but when I received the samples in the mail this past week, I loved what I saw. You can tell, looking at each ornament, that someone – a real, live person, touched every piece of pewter and softened the rough spots and polished the surfaces. Each piece is stamped on the back and – gasp – the stamps aren’t uniform! I love it. I am so thrilled to be a part of this great group of people in Western PA that appreciate the value of the handmade.

I have started my second love letter to Pittsburgh. (The first love letter was a project for Wendell August Forge and I’ll certainly shout from the rooftops when it’s complete.)

It is no secret that I am in love with this place. I love most everything about it and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and, more importantly, filled with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

So I’ve had this idea flitting around in my head ever since I was lucky enough to have an exhibit at Wildcard (awesome shop if you haven’t been there – and if you have, you know of what I speak!) and since I’m an ace procrastinator it’s taken me this long to get on it. But I did get on it. Today. And I think I’ll even have a few pieces done in time for Handmade Arcade this weekend. Stop by the L2 Design Collective table and say hello, will you?

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to what this blog would make you think about our lack of progress on the house we have been working like crazy. Our recent big project was a hen house for our girls, Chunky Penny, Lady Whistle and Ms Jackson.

Naturally before building a hen house we thought we should go ahead and tear out the non-retaining retaining wall that the previous owners “built” out of broken bricks and concrete blocks. Here’s a quick BEFORE shot to make you see just how heavenly our back yard looked when we moved in:

FULL DISCLOSURE: the yard didn’t look this nice when we moved in. I took this the morning we started the new retaining wall which was just a couple of months ago. Since we moved in we added the butterfly bush and the rain barrel that will eventually catch the run off from the garage.

Anyhow – after a day of building the wall and learning that our next-door neighbors are really amazing, wonderful and generous (even moreso than we previously suspected) this is what we had to look at:

 

 

The next step was to build the hen house. Little Brother Anthony arrived (in jorts) to aid in the construction.

 

 

We made a ton of progress that weekend and then promptly walked away from the project for awhile due to work, travel, etc. You can see by the change in attire and the leaves on the trees how much time passed.

TIME WARP:

This is much nicer to look at, no?

Now the girls live out there as happy as can be. I love to look it every day as more leaves fall and it settles in to look like part of the landscape.

This project would not have been possible without the help of friends and family who donated time, supplies and food. I feel like I’m dedicating a book. Huge thanks go out to Anthony for jumping in and getting us moving on the construction; to Sierra and Tommy for helping to engineer and build the wall; to Ton and Sonja for lunch, tea service, gravel and dirt moving and all around moral support (and for giving birth to Sierra all those years ago); to Tammy, Barbara, John, Eric and Jan – neighbors who donated scrap lumber, chicken wire, shovels, etc.; to Dad, Kate L, Terry, Natalie, Cliff M and Janice D for donating license plates; to Mom for hanging out with Whistle and most of all, to Steve, who continues to indulge every crazy whim I get.

I am so happy to have built something for the hens to live in that makes our home a more interesting, fun place to live, with the generosity and kindness of so many people involved. My heart swells.

 

 

And just like that, with a call from the post office, we became chicken farmers this morning. It was like Christmas around here  – for all of us. I remember getting chicks at Easter as a kid but I did not remember just how dang charming they are. I know we are supposed to be giving them some peace and quiet for awhile to adjust to their new surroundings but we are doing poorly in that regard. They’re too cute to ignore.

What is cuter than chubby kid-fingers reaching for baby chicks? NOTHING. End of discussion.

I am surely not going to get any work done today.

The chicks should be arriving next week and we’re so excited to see the wee things. Fingers crossed that they arrive safely. We’re busy prepping for their arrival and also planning the large outdoor “Chicken CUBE” that we’re building. We have pretty much decided to build a fully enclosed space and then site the coop – and all other hen-related things – inside the cube.

First we have to relocate the castle:

 

Then try to build something a lot like this:

Then put this little guy into the “CUBE”

 

(and finish staining the deck and rebuild the retaining wall and stack the firewood and and and)

This past weekend we took a quick trip to Chadds Ford, PA and spent a few hours roaming around Terrain at Styer’s in absolute awe of it all. I know where I want to be buried. Hope the fine folks at Terrain won’t mind. Every square inch was inspiring. Maybe we will face one side of the CUBE in funnels?

 

More on Terrain later. Headed to the incredible Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

 

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