May 2020
Crows and ravens are our subject this month. They're both part of the Corvid family, which also includes other birds, such as blue jays. 
Last weekend I enjoyed a collage interlude and made this cover for a hand made book. I wrote the text in Theban Script which is simply another alphabet which I like because it has a mysterious look, The text on the front cover is in praise of crows. The narrow strip on the back cover says 'love.' The crow is a photocopy of an image I found on the internet. All the other collage images are from an old magazine - a spring issue.

When I start a collage, all I have in mind is a general concept and from there I just let the images that appeal lead me. The hardest part of collage, at least for me, is covering something that I like. But it's the layering of images, textures, and colors that, in the end, makes a piece special.
Here's the finished book. Its pages are 5 1/2" wide by 8 1/2" tall, and there are 64 of them. As you can see, there's a built-in satin ribbon bookmark and satin ribbon ties to close it. Making these books is a great joy to me. I'm thinking of doing a book on making blank books. Stay tuned!
A Mystical Corvid.
With ceramics, one of my common themes is the shaman, so it was inevitable that a corvid shaman appear at some point. This one sold pretty quickly from my Etsy shop, attesting, I guess, to the wide appeal crows have for us.The shaman characters are fun to make, not just because it's fun to sculpt the animal, but also because it's an exercise in imagination to decorate the cloaks.

I used stamps for this one, including alphabet stamps and a pretty swirly star. But sometimes I sculpt decorations like sculpted leaves. The writing on the cloak says "majikal messenger." Misspellings are encouraged! Oh, and I should say something about the glazes. It's important to select glazes for the stamped areas that will settle in the indentations and give a darker color. Surprisingly some glazes wouldn't allow one to see the stampings!  
Corvid Heroes from History
This is the frontispiece from my book "Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor" and the two crows, Rose and Rupert, are characters in the book - guardians of the Milkweed community. It's primarily a pencil drawing, but after completing the drawing I tinted it with colored pencil and transparent acrylic washes. It makes a good accompaniment to these two historical crow tidbits.

In 332 BC, as part of Alexander the Great’s time in Egypt, he visited the oracle of Zeus-Ammon in the Siwa oasis. Siwa was 350 miles west of Memphis across a desert of great heat, with no water along the way, and shifting sands and sandstorms. Three centuries earlier, Camyses, the Persian king was lost on a similar venture along with his army of 50,000. No traces of them have ever been found. Ancient sources tell us that Alexander nearly met the same fate, but crows appeared and led him safely to Siwa. According to legend, Alexander asked the oracle who his true father was. The oracle answered “Ammon,” which meant Alexander was a God.

In London, during World War II, ravens at the Tower of London served as unofficial spotterss for enemy bombers. All but one, Gripp, died in the bombing. Winston Churchill acquired more ravens for the Tower. According to legend, if ravens were to leave the Tower, both the Tower and the kingdom would fall. The tower ravens are enlisted as soldiers and receive attestation cards, as are soldiers and police. A tower raven may be dismissed from service due to unsatisfactory conduct.

I invite you to do more research on these two tales, as well as other crows in history. By the way, while I was researching the London ravens, I discovered one of the recent Tower ravens was named Merlina. I'll remember that name - it's a great one!
May Coupon - Sales Proceeds go to Animal Rescue Organizations

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, 20% discount in my Etsy shop. And, this month, I'm donating all proceeds to animal rescue organizations. Any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Proceeds from all other sales will go to Sierra Wildlife Rescue. Everything in the shop is hand made by me.  From May 1 to May 15, just use discount code FORWILDLIFE20 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and shipping is free.  Click on the image above to go to my shop!
This Month's Free Downloadable Art

This was a super fun but also challenging project. I coated my board with a mish-mash of gels and grounds creating lots and lots of texture. Then I painted over it and finally added some pen details. Hope you like it! To download, click on the image and it will open in a new window (from  You’ll see the image, and at the upper right of the window you’ll see three little dots.  Click on them to open a menu, then choose “download.” Please note that this image is copyright protected. I’m sharing it for your personal use only. Also, it's 5 mb.
Next time?
Wonderful Animals of Down Under!
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