Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three for the Miramichi

The Miramichi Salmon Association's (U.S.) annual Boston fundraising dinner is Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.  I like to contribute what I can (which is surely not cash!) to the evening's profits.  In the past, my contributions have mostly been limited edition prints that I've collected over the years. Last year it was the framed flies I did for Mike Valla's latest book.  That project (the framing - not the flies) really got me interested in framing and matting and shadowbox construction.

The genesis for my contributions to the dinner this year starts with my new interest in tying featherwing flies.  Took awhile to get the hang of that, but once I did (well, at least as far as I'm concerned), I really developed an appreciation for their beauty.  So pretty that I decided I'd try my hand again at constructing a shadow box for them (see my blog post here to get an appreciation for the process:

The master of shadowbox art and fly framing was William Cushner. His work is really inspiring; I thought I'd try my hand at combining art with my featherwings.  The only salmon art I had was a piece of clip art that came in a book I bought once upon a time.  The framing, in its first form, came out pretty well...good enough so that I posted a photo of it on one of my favorite forums, Speypages.  In the text I added to the post, I mentioned that I was donating the framing to MSA, but I bemoaned the fact that I had to use clip art.  Later that day, I got a private message on that forum from a fellow Speypager, Nate Carter of Mount Shasta, CA.  He said he liked what I was doing and volunteered to do a watercolor for the framing!  We only had a few days in which to arrange all this, but Nate jumped on it, and within a couple days, the painting was at my door.

This story gets even cooler:  The mats that I had originally used with the clip art looked awful with Nate's watercolor; I had to change them...and time was really getting short.  A few months ago, I visited the only framing shop here in Bennington, VT to see about buying a couple 11X14 inch mat boards.  They wanted 54 bucks for the two pieces!  Not happening.  So I decided to try another frame shop, up in Manchester, VT, Jenner Custom Framing.  I've been getting my hair cut up in Manchester at the same place for 22 years and needed a cut pretty badly (Side note - the World's Most Interesting Man - from the beer commercials - gets his hair cut here, too!)  so I figured I kill two birds with one stone: hair cut and frame shop.  I found the frame shop on a side street in Manchester.  When I walked in the door I was greeted by a friendly little boxer dog...a good sign.  A nice red-headed woman came out from the back of the shop to see what I needed.  After a bit of explaining and a show and tell of Nate's art, she went back into the back of the shop and came out with a sheet of the perfect match for the art.  How much did I need?  Two 11X14 sheets, please.  She tossed the big sheet up into her cutter, did the deed, and handed me the mats.  How much?  No charge, sounds like you're doing a nice thing.  Perfect.  WAY better than 54 dollars.

We chatted a little more.  Since I worked in Manchester for 6 or so years while executive director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, I knew some people she knew.  I can get kind of excited when I talk about things I'm passionate about, especially Atlantic salmon.  I guess she got kind of caught up in it.  She said she had something that had been kicking around in her shop for years, a Churchill Ettinger  limited edition watercolor litho, and would I like it?  I am familiar with Ettinger's drypoints, but had never seen one of his watercolors.  Turned out to be a nifty fishing seen on the Restigouche, and into my truck it went to be used at an MSA fundraiser one of these days. How cool was that?

Well, that's a lot of words to describe how this shadowbox came about.  I guess it's time to show it (you can click on the pics to see a larger image):

I cannot tell a lie:  I cut down the cherry tree that the frame is made up and ripped a few boards out of it before the rest of it became firewood.  Good thing no one's is tracking the time invested in that frame from felling to milling the actual frame!

But wait! There's more.  Remember, the title of this blog post is Three for the Miramichi.  So far, we've only seen one.

I started tooling around ebay looking for cool salmon art; I wanted to do a couple more framings for the dinner.  Can't really do anything heavy duty for awhile due to a surgery in early January, so this is a good way to wile away the time.

I found a neat reproduction of a William Schaldach drypoint depicting a leaping salmon.  Perfect.  And only $9.99.    I love Hunter Green, had some matboard in that color, and it worked great with the aging reproduction.  I added a set of Rats:

Still cruising ebay, I found another pretty neat salmon.  $14.99 delivered.  Fit my wallet to a T.  And already had mats that complimented the image very nicely.  And back to the cherry frame:

And there you have it: three for the Miramichi.  The framing with Nate's original will be in the live auction, the other two will be in the silent auction.  Hope they raise some good bucks for salmon conservation!

Brodie looked me in the eye when this was all done...

and said he thought that wasn't quite enough...remember, there's a silent auction just of flies.  OK, OK, so one more last little donation to get Brodie off my back:

Now I have to go clean this up:



  1. Replies
    1. My pleasure, Gregg. Always good to hear from you!

  2. Beautiful work Gary or should I say Norm Abram. Hopefully they will raise some serious funds for MSA
    Brian C

    1. LOL about the Norm thing, Brian. And I hope they raise some bucks, too!

  3. You're a generous man Gary, thanks very much. Brad

    1. For the joy Atlantic salmon give to my life, it is very easy to be as generous as I can. Thanks, Brad.

  4. What???? I always thought you were the guy in the beer commercial!!!
    What an awesome story!
    Good things happen to good people!
    Seems like you're surrounded by good people! more....
    You get what you give!
    Good stuff, Gary!

    1. LOL, John, it's a hoot, ain't it. And I am surrounded by good people...what a wonderful circle of friends Atlantic salmon have brought're an integral part of the circle, John, and I thank you for your friendship...and Sopresetta!!!!

  5. Gary,
    I enjoyed your blog and respect your donations to the MSA. Your tireless work to donate your work and energy to the MSA certainly deserves some applause.

    When are are you going to recuperate from your surgery? It seems that that you are more active now than before January. Thanks for the great work that you are doing and yo save as a great example.


    1. Doug, recovery from the spinal cord stimulator implant surgery will take awhile, but I'm getting back in the groove, slowly but surely. Am wickedly out of shape, though, and need to fix that!
      Thanks very much for your kind words and concern; deeply appreciated!

  6. Very nice work on the framings; hope they were well received. Looking closely at the flies, I began to wonder; is there a feather wing Celtic Beauty in the "development" stage? We all appreciate all you do for the salmon, thanks. Larry G.

    1. I appreciate your comments, Larry...and yes sir, I've done the feather wing Celtic Beauty! Dyed up some goose wing feathers in that nice dark green. I'll post it up with some of the other feather wings, particularly those developed by Ira Gruber.

  7. Gary, Wonderful blog! I'm leaving for the Matapedia soon and will get over to the fly show on the 22nd. I hope to see you there.