Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rabboratory Thump Day Report

The Spots insisted on a photo session with a proper back drop, for artistic flavor. Once installed it was as fun to be behind it as in front and, of course, it's always fun to eat during your close-up.
Those are edible Chrysanthemum greens fresh from the chilly garden.

No match for Tyler, he'll take them on any day, any time.

Sydney wonders who is the rabbit behind the curtain 
and is unconcerned with the twin shadow rabbits. 

Sydney uses her ears to create an indoor Aura Borealis.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monday Bunday: More BunTraining

Tyler as Top Bun; four paws on, on the couch with a fresh bag of organic spring mix.

Yes, the Spots are still in training. Three out of four meals involve some sort of interaction and behavior molding. It seemed like one drawback to sitting on the floor and asking for four paws on was the unsteadiness of the terrain (i.e. my cross legged leg) so we have some meals on the couch. It is great fun to see them flying on and off it. Tyler takes it at full speed from far away, Sydney is more circumspect and will dilly dally around on the floor before suddenly appearing. At the start of each session they are eager to have a bit which they often take off the couch to enjoy on the floor. As time goes on Tyler will stay and have a good nosh while Sydney looks on from below. Sometimes they will both be up and eating, though this is a bit crowded. Sydney usually comes up later and often we have a good long chat over a snack. 

One difficulty is rewarding both rabbits at once and taking a photo.

With both rabbits I am stroking them more while they eat, not too much to annoy them, just trying to git them more used to being touched all over. I do touch  and pet them when they have their morning pellets, which is not a training session (I just want my tea, please). One thing I have learned is to favorite treats in reserve for introducing new levels of behavior. This is how I convinced them both onto the couch at once. In the case of the Spots apple bits is the ultimate lure. Sydney will do anything for oat groats and she may well have to prove her love for them in the future! 
It is nice to have two buns side by side with paws on.

At this point the beneficial side effects of Spot training seems to be that they both are less likely to run away when they hear the kitchen door open. Tyler is once again allowing me to pet him more, in the beginning of training he had stopped letting me pet him (yes, my little heart broke into 10,000 pieces). Sydney is getting more friendly and jumped onto the couch with me, briefly, yesterday to see what I was doing on my laptop. 

Sydney with four paws on, the yellow things are Calendula petals a favorite bun dessert.

Rabbit's Guy gave us a very nice award, Lemonade (see it to your right), for Spot Training and we would like to pass this on to Mum of Critters for her new bunny and to Alice from Potentially Nervous for her atmospheric and fantastic bunny photos. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Through the Glass Lightly

There was a little get-together down the street. There were dog and cat people and rabbit people too; a second grader and some retired folks; some college professors and a few artists. Our magnanimous hosts served Champagne, which I hardly ever drink and never in the morning, but today I was feeling just a little like Audrey Hepburn perhaps, so I raised my glass to our new president. The new day has come.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Monday BunBumday;Rabboratory Report

Note foot,tail and glare positioning for maximum disapproval

After modeling for BunBumday Tyler went to work in the Rabboratory with Sydney and the Simple Assistant. As good fortune would have it the Spots were blessed with some Willow cuttings. As you know Willow wood  is a non-toxic chew favorite. It became quickly evident that the Simple Assistant was not, despite her supposedly superior digits, able to make anything close to a ball. After much discussion it was decided that balls and cubes were in a fact a "man" made shape and that these shapes were used not because they are particularly appealing to lagomorphs, but because it makes marketing easier. How could you get anyone to buy a Willow construction of unknown shape? Simply impossible to mass market. The Spots worked hard and came up with some interesting lagomorph centered constructions. These will be dried as the hardened work will give teeth more of a workout and once hard they will be less likely to spring apart when chewed; now all the pieces are under tension.
Tyler puts finishing touches on his creation. It features both thick and thins chewing options and enough space to really get in there and get a good tooth workout.

Sydney thought something small would be nice; something a girl could carry to a quiet corner for a good gnaw away from prying eyes and cameras.

Here the Spots confer on the final design refinements of a piece that sports width, height, thicks and thins; small enough to move around and large enough to share.

There were more pictures but silly Blogger refused to down load them, even though it was tried several times at different times. Bye for now, have a good Martin Luther King Day and a great and historical Inauguration however you observe it. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Message Received

 "What's this?" I asked Boyfriend "this is freakin' me out." As you may remember I worked for Lou Harrison many years ago. Boyfriend confessed he had put the little note on the table just to freak me out and he had found it in a book he had checked out from the UCSC library called "Social Security; the Phony Crisis". The calligraphy is Lou's for sure, as is the signature, I had a signature stamp that was exactly the same for signing letters.  And this is exactly the sort of thing he would say. Lou passed in '03 and how this bit of him came to be it that book could be any of 10,000 stories and the chances that it would find it's way to me are astronomical........A latent treasure surfaces unexpectedly and now I share it with you. Read it and go make something beautiful and tender, be it art or food or love or a garden or..............Good luck, yeah!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday BunBumday

Orlando's person, DKM, put out a spotted bunny bum challenge. We cannot rise to the wonderfulness of Orlando's pose, but do humbly submit these views for your consideration.

Please note my lovely rear angle, so acute and so cute.

My back spots are a special design, like vertebrae showing through my furs.

Feet tucked, tummy fully extended, how many points for this, judges?

Backfield in motion, moving the bum, bun moving.....

Enjoy your Bunday.

Friday, January 09, 2009

See Spots Learn

Here they are waiting for training. Sydney is seeking reassurance from Tyler who seems to have his eye firmly fixed on the greens bag.

Training is progressing. The other day when I didn't have time to do  a proper feeding training session, I just picked some fresh Chicory from the yard and put it is the Spots bowl. Tyler hung back and gave me a look. Either he isn't too smart and has completely forgotten how to eat on his own or he does think it is a nice way to have a meal. Indeed when I stock up the Bunvention they both seem to think it more fun to be fed strands of hay rather than rummage in the Bunvention.

Tyler with all four paws on my lap, he is getting really good at this. I am trying to reinforce the word "lap", but he seems to think that just hearing "good" means jump in lap and have a snack.

This morning Tyler spent about 75 percent of the time in my lap (that would be all 4 paws on). When he is there I touch his ears a forehead, not too much just a bit, since these are bonding gestures. Sydney seemed to put out  and she sulked under a chair. I addressed her a few times, because she does know her name, so she wouldn't feel forgotten. Finally she came hopping out, did a sort of half bink with a shoulder shake and planted herself in my right knee for her breakfast. She had decided she could play too and wasn't she a good girl!. For awhile I had both rabbits with 4 paws on on my lap (getting mighty crowded). Didn't get a picture of that because my camera batteries ran out.

Tyler firmly on lap with Sydney showing that she can do 2 paws on very well.

Giving credit where credit is due: I have to say that reading Furrybutts tale of Yohji gave me courage/motivation/faith to try training the Spots. Thanks Furrybutts !!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday Bunday; Paws On

Meal times for Tyler and Sydney have become an intensive training session. Since they are free roaming the Spots think it is easier and more natural to run away from a person rather than be friendly, and I can see their point in terms of "rabbit think". I consulted Rabbit Haven a couple times as regards their behavior and was pleasantly assured that these things take time and that Tyler and Sydney were raised as snuggle buns.

Tyler demonstrates  2 paws on.

Indeed at the adoption show Tyler was a total snuggle bun. I was advised to pick them up a lot, but if you can't catch them this doesn't work. I tried putting them in a closed pen, but feared they would hurt their teeth with the break out attempts they immediately demonstrated. This is fear grounded in reality, I did have a rabbit who got her teeth caught in a Xpen and very nearly died from the resulting injury. Being able to handle my Spots without major trauma seems important for nail trimming, grooming. trips to the vet and such, not just my selfish need to hold a rabbit.
Sydney shows 2 paws on with a stretch and says where is my nose?

 I tried Clicker training, but Sydney was scared of the sound. Feeding in their open pen and hand feed treats just didn't seem to be making much progress, so two weeks ago I started them on a new program. A hungry rabbit is a friendly rabbit, so I feed them a bit less and all food is hand fed, even pellets (unless I have to run out or something). Bunnies must demonstrate "paws on" to get some food and "four paws" on gets constant rewarding. Sometimes they have to push between my two hands held like an open clam shell to get the food.

Sydney with 2 paws and a nose

Some interesting results have occurred in two weeks. Tyler is very possessive about food and sometimes growls at Sydney. He also will no longer present himself to me for petting(oh well). He will come up on my lap with 4 paws and eat. Sydney comes out more frequently than before when she sees me on the floor and will sometimes sit nearby and groom herself. Sometimes she boycotts hand pellet feeding and sits by her red bowl letting me know she disapproves. 
Tyler with 2 paws on shows his smudge nose

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Real Blockbuster

Henri Matisse said, and I paraphrase slightly,  that much of the beauty of art comes from the struggle the artist has with the medium. Here are some of the tools that one struggles with in Moku Hanga. 
After the design is done, and we won't go into that wrestling match here, one must carve on the blocks. You can see some un-carved blocks under my knives. I use Shina plywood and carve both sides, this appeals to my occasionally thrifty nature. Some people use a dremel to carve and some use wood burning tools. Just now I am stubbornly traditional, partly because I love the look of the knives and partly for the challenge.
Ink is applied with brushes. I have found that it is worthwhile getting the best brushes one feels one can afford; crappy brushes can drive you mad, if you aren't there already. Of course there is a technique to applying the ink and getting the mix of water and nori (rice paste used as a medium to help the ink print evenly) correct. 

The paper is dampened slightly so that it is soft and placed on top of the block and the baren (the cute round thing with the handle) is pressed and rubbed about on it. There is technique to this pressing part and strength. Large solid areas require quite a bit of pressure. Unlike oil printing or press printing where the ink is on top of the paper, Moku Hanga impregnates the fibers of the paper with color. This can be seen on the back of the print. I'd show you a scan but I haven't got one....
For Year of The Ox the first color was Green, here's the block. The lighter colors are usually printed first. The second color was Magenta on just part of the green block using a "bokashi" or gradation technique.
Then it was blue blocks turn to strut his stuff. First the whole thing was printed with Ultra Marine Blue then I did a "bokashi" of Prussian Blue along the top. You can see on the block where the Magenta off set from the paper onto the block. The moon looks even less round than in the print because I sanded it's edges to create another kind of "bokashi" called "ito bokashi". It worked OK there's a nice fragmentation of the moon edge on the actual print. Edges are very important to pay attention in art.
Here's a close up of the blue block, I admit I love the texture and (ahem) would run my fingers over it just because.
Next is the Gold block, it is a color called Quinacridone Gold of which I am very, very fond. You may have notice it in the background of 2 Rabbits as well as 2 From Nottingham. This block shows the "kentos" that are used to register the paper for multi block prints. They are on the right hand corner and on the bottom to the left. The paper is cozied up to these little bumpers and is in the same place on each block. Does that make sense? It does work, mostly, if you are careful.

Black is the last block, this is printed using Sumi ink. Because the paper was getting damper and damper from printings I had to let the prints dry a bit so the Sumi wouldn't wander too much and the paper wouldn't sag and catch ink it wasn't supposed to and get blotchy, yuck.

Finally done. I set about making the cards. Although simpler than printing it was labor intensive and I shortened my mailing list considerably; removing those individuals I thought might throw away their Ox....I think I'll do some color xeroxes and paste them on some good card stock for those particular suspects.......

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Here Comes Another

Here comes another New Year. Hot on the heels of the Solar is the Lunar New Year on the 26th of this month. This year will be the year of the Earth Ox and I just finished the prints that will become cards; 43 oxen pressed and teased from wood, ink, water and paper. A surprising percentage are without gross error, just a few are not even fit to go to my most elderly and dim sighted relatives. Some will be put up for sale on my Etsy site, both as cards and matted prints.

Happy Solar New Year to one and all.