Monday, January 11, 2021
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Artist Adriano Manocchia and I go way back...so far back that I can't remember just how far back far back is! We've fished together a lot, mostly on the Batten Kill, but some warm water stuff, too. Even a trip to Pennsylvania to fish together. We've worked on his vehicles a bunch, too. Everything from classic pick up trucks to his Austin Healy. Good times.
He has had an MGB restoration project to keep him busy during the warm weather and I have never-ending yard work to do then as well. But as the cooler weather was showing up, we starting talking about what we were going to do to keep out of trouble when the weather started keeping us indoors.
I've been tying some older featherwing flies over the last year or so; I enjoy the look of them, and once I got bronze mallard feathers to bend to my will somewhat consistently, I began to enjoy tying them. Out of the blue one day a month or so ago, Adriano wondered out loud to me about doing an etching centered around those old featherwings. He didn't have to suggest that to me twice; I jumped right in and sent him photos of the flies I had done to date.
He came up with a lovely concept that harks back wonderfully to days gone by on the Miramichi. Love the gent poling - not paddling - the canoe. Just the way it's done on that river. He hand-colored the flies, really capturing the look of 'em.
Uh oh - my turn. While Adriano is selling some of the edition of twenty unframed (go here: http://adriano-art.com/), my job was to create a fly plate (when did shadow boxes full of flies ever become known as fly plates?) - one for him, one for Bridget and me, and one as a donation to the Atlantic Salmon Museum up in Doaktown, NB. I said I'd like to frame 3 or 4 to sell mostly to raise money to buy more framing and matting materials for more donations to groups associated with the Atlantic salmon. A guy can only dip into his social security check so often.
I usually fool around with a design for matting on a big piece of white cardboard or paper and then transfer that design to a first set of mats. In this photo, you can see the white paper under the double mat, which really shows all the changes I end up making to the design.
Once I've got the mat scheme down to what I want it to be, I've actually learned that it saves a lot of time if I do however many sets I'll need all at one time. If you have a small shop like mine that has to serve as both a woodworking and a framing space, there is a major clean-up that has to be done, say, between making frames and making mats. Sawdust is the enemy. So here's a tidy stack, with a couple different mat options, ready for flies and frames:
Friday, October 16, 2020
I did not know my own grandfathers well at all. Truth be told, I never even met my mother's father, but I think, based on the one photo I have of him, that I inherited my moustache from him. My father's father was an avid bird hunter and gear fisherman. I have a photo of two of his setters, and a few of his shotgun shell boxes. You can click on the pics to see an enlarged version.
Sadly, I never got to hunt or fish with him.
Not so for a fellow that recently contacted me about a creating a shadow box through Speypages message system. Johnny Maltby's grandfather Charles (Chuck) Maltby was also a serious hunter and angler, and he and his wife would, according to John, often pick him up and take him fishing after school. Chuck Maltby and his wife relaxing along the Ausable in Michigan:
John relates that his granddad was an architect, but was mostly a troutfisher, woodworker, and grouse hunter. And an artist on several levels. He made John this bobbin threader:
He made these tackle boxes for the Kalamazoo Trout Unlimited chapter every year:
John told me that the binders behind the box above contain his grandfather's notes on every trout over 6 inches that he caught between 1951 and 2011. John wryly noted that "everyone thinks Robert Travers caught the most trout in Michigan...they are very wrong!"
Chuck Maltby took many trips to Yellowstone over the years, and would draw his own post cards to send back to the family. He also tied his own flies. These two facts lead us to why John contacted me in the first place: he wanted a shadow box that contained mementos of his grandfather's talent and thoughtfulness. I agreed that it was a delightful idea, and why didn't John send me some cards and flies and we'd see what would become of it.
John sent me these two post cards that his grandfather drew, and 6 flies he tied:
I was unsure about how to mount the post cards and so purchased some clear "envelopes" that post card collectors use to store their cards. That was never going to look right, so I eventually mounted them the same way I mount lithographs - with an acid-free hinge/tape system.
I played around with arrangements, and settled on this one:
That's the easy part. Now a person has to start worrying about windows and spacers and such, and draw it out.
So, you get the top mat all cut out and put back together, now you have to stick the bottom mat on to that with two sided tape, and map out all the new cuts. Gets a little dizzying!
I selected mats that I thought complemented the art, and I think it worked out. I also used only an eighth inch difference between the mats, instead of a more customary one quarter inch.
Adding a one half inch foam core spacer gave the framing the depth it needed for the flies:
Now, about those flies. I'm used to mounting nice big Atlantic salmon wet flies, either on their own posts or using beads:
These flies were little, puffy trout flies. What to do? I can (and do) make myself superglue a big salmon fly to a post by the hook point. That's still what museum folks (remember, I used to be one of those) want: a reversible attachment. And the bead method is totally reversible. Time for some experiments. I have seen stiff, tiny diameter wire twisted around a fly to mount it (I have a John Betts litho with the fly mounted that way by a fellow in Denver), but this framing has to travel from Vermont to Chicago; I need a pretty bulletproof method to keep the flies aligned.
I needed a different kind of bead to "shroud" the wire. Enter Heddie, from my high school homeroom fifty two years ago. We are "friends" on facebook (even though she became a lawyer after high school) and I knew she is into "beading." She turned me on to what has to be the world's biggest bead company, and we came up with just what the lawyer ordered...a little tiny clear tube that the wire could pass through on its way through the matboard to be secured on the other side.
My first attempt looked like this:
That silver wire wasn't going to cut it, so yippee, more fly tying materials!
A nice delicate yet stout arrangement:
Pretty invisible set-up looking head on:
I chose a red chestnut stain for the oak frame. Think it complemented the artwork nicely.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Except where noted in the framing, I tied the flies.
I got into making shadow boxes in the first place simply as a way to donate a BIG batch of hairwing salmon flies to the Miramichi Salmon Association. I detailed that process here: https://theriverscourse.blogspot.com/2017/01/shadow-box-framing-start-to-finish.html. These were the first shadow boxes I ever made. They had pine frames, were sold at a Boston MSA dinner, and reside now in one of my best friends homes here in the states. The framings (you can click on the pics for the enlarged versions):
Steelhead living legend Dave McNeese also donated flies for the same book that mine were in, and gave them to me to frame for the same MSA auction:
Rather than present things in some sort of chronological order (and because I'm too lazy to figure that order out), we'll just cruise through the little collection of my work as it comes along.
It's been important for me to get better acquainted with Microsoft Word, not only to name the flies in the frames, but to add maps and photos and such to them. One that took quite a bit of work to figure out how to get both a map and fly names on the same sheet of 140# watercolor paper is this one:
That last photo details the way I've begun mounting larger flies. Here's the same frame concept, done earlier for an MSA online auction, with modern flies and using the "bead" method of mounting the flies:
I recently found a source for legal, open-edition, prints of Ogden Pleissner's work, printed on canvas. The giclee' printing method that the vendor uses allow them to print on a variety of materials, and they can do them one at a time....no runs of a thousand prints to store. I purchased one (I hate paying retail, but what can you do?) and came up with the largest frame I've done to date. The print is Pleissner's "Deep Pool."
One of the most enjoyable salmon fly-related events I've been invited to was the Atlantic Salmon Fly International gathering in Miramichi, NB,Canada back in July, 2018. The organizers (volunteers all!) did a fine job of promoting the event and creating "take-aways" for the tyers. Here's the poster they created for me, which I downloaded from their website and printed on a quality photo paper:
I always liked taking photos of flies dug into pieces of driftwood and the like while on the river. It struck me that a frame with the flies in a piece of a beaver cutting would be cool, so I started collecting pieces of those cuttings along the Miramichi and smuggled 'em home. Found one that I could cut in halves the long way on the band saw and came up with these:
I probably thought a little too much of myself when I created this framing in a limited edition of 10. But they sold well, and made a few grand for the MSA and the Atlantic Salmon Museum. I even gave one to the Atlantic Salmon Federation to sell, and I'm mad at them. By the way, that's a photo of my wet fly box, which I took emulating a photo of Warren Duncan's box in Judith Dunham's The Atlantic Salmon Fly. In fact, it was that single photo that got me into salmon fly tying.
Over the years, some good friends and FAR better fly tyers than I gifted me one of their classic salmon flies, which sat on top of a bookcase in plastic baseball card holders. It took some thought (which always gives me a headache), but I came up with a way to feature them on our wall, and keep them safe for a couple generations at least. I was able to cut the ovals with a gargantuan oval cutter given to me by fly tyer, author and stone polisher (I forget what people that work with stones and jewelry are called) Paul Rossman. It takes two very strong people to move that thing!
Classic tyers Stephen Nye and Brian Cuming contributed multiple flies to my little collection; I came up with this way to preserve, protect and display them:
And yes, I spelled FredERicton wrong. NOT taking that framing apart!!
One for the cave wall, and eventually the camp wall. I've always liked Henry McDaniel's work, and when one came my was a thank you, I gratefully accepted it. It is a fall scene on the Miramichi, so I framed it with some barn wood I boosted from my pal Vin Swazey's wood pile, and smuggled it home. Don't know why (well, yes I do) Customs doesn't like to see wood like that and my beaver cuttings coming into the country.
Some artist friends and acquaintances have donated their work that I could put into a frame and raise funds for my favorite two groups. My own sister, Kathy Rasimas, stepped right up and donated a watercolor of a salmon that was fun to sell (I was the auctioneer):
John Maticko did a painting of two salmon flies:
Val Kropiwnicki is an artist with brush, feathers and metal. He gave us this painting of a camp on the Miramichi:
And Nate Carter, from all the way out in California, contributed this one (it was an early one for me; in retrospect, I wish I had used a light background for the flies):
My friend and fellow MSA board member Brad Burns asked his friend, tyer Bill Utley, to do up a set of Cains River Streamers for an online auction Brad was hosting. He then asked me to frame them. It was the largest frame I did as of that date, and was the very good reason I used to convince she who must be obeyed (that would be Bridget) that we needed a large format printer that could print on heavy, 140# watercolor paper. It was a fun project, and made a LOT of money for MSA. The photos of the framing are by another MSA board member, Ralph Vitale. It takes a village!
A couple small ones, that I have made several sets of (these are those that we kept), that feature reproductions of William Schaldach's work:
I contributed some framings for this summer's MSA online auctions. Happily, they raised some pretty good funds:
This one had a little Pleissner reproduction in it:
Finally, a framing that is popular in the silent auctions I've donated it to:
Some day, when I grow up, I'd like to be able to build shadow box fly frames as well as William Cushner did. When I ran the American Museum of Fly Fishing, this was my favorite of all the artifacts (or, if you're one of those Canadian spellers, artefacts). He framed it, and I boosted the photo from AMFF's website. LOL, sue me.