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Tucson in the rearview mirror: and…

I rolled back into Phoenix from Tucson earlier today — the drive seemed nearly instantaneous and was marvelously uneventful, although I did miss the bumper crop of towering dust devils swirling in the dry creosote flats on the Gila River reservation that I’d seen on the way down but was unable to photograph safely from the driver’s seat.  And the windshield made the trip intact, unlike last time.  And once again I failed to stop at the ostrich farm to take pictures as intended, but it was smack in the middle of the day as I zipped by, and it was so damn hot…

Emma the (real live) Desert Box Turtle nose to nose with a clay coati >>

So now I’m at home being given Stink Back by the felines, coddling the pool back to cleanliness after a dust storm that hit after I left, and rounding up moribund insect life that had made indoor sport for the same felines in my absence, and the email is working again as inexplicably as it wasn’t working earlier, and things may return to normal soon.  The Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival was a good show, sales-wise, and I got a chance to meet new folks, visit with bird festival friends, and send Three Star Owl pieces off to new homes, which is always a good thing.  If you missed the Festival, be sure to look into it next year. Thanks, Tucson Audubon Society, for a great effort and a well-organized and graciously hosted first-time event!

Even better, I had some fun with friends — I stayed with Kate, and she and Dustin and I talked and ate good food, and I met JoJo and Dave and saw Bri’s fine octopus (oh, if I’d only gotten a picture: my sub-theme here seems to be missed shots), and netflixstreamed Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man, and went to Copper Country resale emporium (see swell carved boxes scored there >>), and ogled their current beading frenzy.  As usual I left her home feeling that I’d taken away more than I’d left behind, which was physically true because Kate sent me away with many excellent things like harlequin boxes and an articulated silver manpart charm (with a chain to pull to make it either alert or waggle), and more.  I can’t show you the very special thing that came home with me, because I have to check with Dustin first, and show it to E (for whom it’s intended) but I will later, maybe.  And we saw the Gargoyle House >>

And now I’ve got to be ready to hit the ground running, because there is a lot to do, like get the owls to their people…

Postcard from Tucson

Three Star Owl is at the Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival, at the Riverpark Inn just west of I-10 at the Congress Ave exit. I’ll be here from 8 to 5 today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday 19-20 Aug). Come by soon, things are finding new homes at a fast clip!

Posted by Allison on Aug 19th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,three star owl | Comments (0)

Fasten your seatbelts…

….Three Star Owl is hitting the road!

For three days — Thursday, Friday and Saturday August 4, 5, and 6 2011, I’ll have a booth at the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, AZ.

For more info about the festival, click HERE.

<< VLO (Very Large Owl) effigy and a couple of coati tails.

Special Note: THERE WILL BE OWLS.  Also, lots of mugs: hummers, horned lizards, corn, ravens, and more!

Hope you can make it!

Posted by Allison on Aug 3rd 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,field trips,owls,three star owl | Comments (1)

Mess-o’-Owls (with a serious side-bar)

Update: if you’re looking at info on what areas are open for birding/touring in Southeastern Arizona as a result of the fires and floods, here’s a link to a useful and interesting July 19 2011 article in the Arizona Daily Star online:


Last April at “Birdy Verde” (more properly known as the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival), Three Star Owl floated a trial strigid.  That is to say, I put out a couple of Retro Owl Whistle Necklaces, to see how they would go over.  Since the two I had along were gone early in the show (admittedly a small sample), I thought I’d make more, and here some of them are, en masse.

The somewhat artsy, purposely grainy photo to the right shows main necklace components — the owly whistle parts — piled together in a herd.  The finished necklaces are on a faux-leather lace, some with additional hand-made beads, knots, and the like.  They are “retro”-styled, colorful, and shrill, which makes them perfect for everyone except the boring and humorless. Please note, they do not summon owls.  But you can try.  (No refunds for those attracting less desirable organisms.)

The ROWNs won’t be available until they’re officially debuted at my next sales events, which are coming right up: the 20th Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival* in Sierra Vista: it’s August 3-6 at the Cochise College Campus.  Later in the month, Three Star Owl will be at the brand-new Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival, August 17 – 21.  Click on the names of the events above to link to their websites for more info.


For those who are wondering, the organizers, guides, and local birding hosts of SWWings are carrying on with the festival despite the Monument Fire which affected so many of the rich and unique sky-island Huachuca mountain/canyon habitats that are home to wildlife, plant, and human communities.  They will be running fieldtrips into unaffected areas, such as the riparian zone along the leafy San Pedro River (left, shot in early spring — it would be much leafier now), the arid grasslands of the valley, and forested parts of the Huachucas that didn’t burn.  The Southeastern Arizona birding community, many of whom make their living guiding, hosting, conveying, feeding, and otherwise welcoming birders and other nature-enthusiasts, could use your support.  Visitors, where access is allowed, can see the results of astounding heroic efforts made by fire and public safety teams in the Huachucas and the Coronado National Monument during the fires and the subsequent monsoon storms to keep people, habitats and wildlife safe to the extent possible. It’s an ongoing process: the fires burned hot in many places, leaving steep slopes bare of vegetation, and subsequent seasonal downpours have washed feet of black ash and rubble into homes, property, and waterways in the canyon foothills, changing the natural and human-modified landscape for the long-term.

(All images A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on Jul 16th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,close in,cranky owlet,effigy vessels,Events,owls,three star owl | Comments (0)

And now, some owls

Here are some metal owls that roost on the cast iron stove in our den.


Posted by Allison on Jun 27th 2011 | Filed in close in,effigy vessels,owls,unnatural history | Comments (2)

Baked clay

This time of year — for the next three or four months, in fact — my studio is hot.  Very hot.  Hotter than it is outside, by about five or six degrees, thanks to its translucent acrylic walls and ceiling.

To the right is the actual reading for Wednesday afternoon ( 106.7ºF = 41.50ºC = 314.65ºK) >>

Until the soggy (by desert standards) air of monsoon season arrives next month, the heaving, laboring swamp cooler can knock only about ten degrees off ambient outdoor temp. It also loudly pumps up the humidity in the small space. This means that by early afternoon when the June sun beats down on the transluscent panels of the roof and walls turning my work space into the optimum greenhouse for growing organisms native to the planet Venus, I will be working in 96 degrees and 44% humidity — genuine jungle hell in the desert.

<< tilt-shifted portrait of Three Star Owl studio

To combat this unavoidable Venusian greenhouse effect, I usually limit summer work hours to dawn to mid-day, and, when deadlines press, night-time, when the evap cooler doesn’t have to out-compete the rays of the sun.  After that, I shut the machine off and let the room revert to its natural state of solar oven, until my next work session.

But it’s not so bad: that’s the time when the studio takes on its other role, as a highly efficient dehydrater of wet clay objects, like this quick-drying rattlesnake Beastie Mug >>.

(photos A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on Jun 16th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,three star owl | Comments (6)

Three Star Owl in Dead Horse Ranch

It’s time for the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, and Three Star Owl will be there in the big white tent, along with other vendors and exhibitors Thursday 28 April until Sunday 1 May, 9 – 5 Thu-Sat, 9 – 1 Sun.  Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ.

Come on by and see what’s new!  The event is free, but a park entry fee may be required, although they may waive it for the Festival.

Click here for more info and directions.

Hope to see you there!

<< the Bundle-feather jar with Owl finial will be there (stoneware, 10.5″, A.Shock, 2011) And, definitely click to enlarge to see piece in truer, richer, color.

Posted by Allison on Apr 26th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,three star owl | Comments (2)

Owl? What owl?

Yesterday an MLO (Medium Large Owl) emerged fresh from the kiln, all mute greens and golds, looking wind-blown and content.  I’d built this owl outside on the back porch, in a plein-air studio annex location during our in-between-not-too-hot-not-too-cold season, and I put it back outside to save indoor shelf space. Anything on the porch is considered Part of the Field by the local wildlife: the raccoons drink from the water bucket on my work table, the finches and doves and cactus wrens forage around it, and Hoover the hand-tamed African Collared Dove, perched on it, hoo-ing, as he had all through the construction process.

<< Hoover on MLO (all photos A.Shock, click to embiggen)

For him, landing on the clay owl’s head to cock his seed-beady eye at me and beg for safflower and peanuts is no different from landing on a branch or a chair-back to seed-schnorr.

So, the next time you’re tempted to try to “scare birds” from your roof or garden with one of those Plastic Owls, here’s your pin-up poster of how effective it will be: Not.

Still, Good Feathery Detail is its own virtue — this plastic Snowy Owl purchased here in Phoenix (and fully 100% guaranteed to be totally unrecognizable as a threat to desert birds) became ours simply on the strength of its shapely molding and piercing yellow eyes.  It stands impotently in our herb garden perfectly disregarded by greens-pecking quail hens and greedy-cheeked rock squirrels.  Still, despite slightly opaque corneas (UV causes cataracts, you know!), you can tell from its expression that it takes its job very seriously. And in fact, we never have had even one lemming in the garden yet.

By the way, the Medium Large “Windblown” Owl (18″, top photo) will be available (without dove) at the Three Star Owl booth at the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival at the end of the month.  It’s hand-built, glazed stoneware, one of a kind, and perfectly suited to deter pests (or not) in your garden or outside living space.  (The cheap plastic snowy owl effigy is not for sale, sorry; we fear too greatly potential inroads of the arctic vole here in Phoenix.  You can’t be too vigilant when it comes to inroads, or so our governor tells us.)

Just a reminder from Three Star Owl

I wrote the following promo last month and then promptly forgot all about it in my WordPress “drafts”. So, here it is, to be used as a reminder that the exhibition is almost over:

Allison Shock/Three Star Owl is pleased to debut the new piece “Assemblage: Owl Hives” at the Arizona Clay Annual Juried Exhibition at the Chandler Center for the Arts. The “Assemblage” is a group of artefaux which may provide evidence for the ancient and apocryphal practice of strigiculture — the raising of owls — for either domestication or ritual purposes.

detail, “Assemblage: Owl Hives” (photo and piece by A.Shock, click to enlarge) >>

The Exhibit features work by more than 40 Arizona clay artists, and runs from 18 March – 16 April 2011. Come to the Chandler Center for the Arts, and see what the Arizona clay community is up to.

An Exhibition of Clay Works by Arizona Artists

March 18 – April 16, 2011

Jennifer Allred∗Linda S. Baker∗Barbara Baskerville∗Sandra Blain∗David L. Bradley∗Cheryl Brandon∗Sarah Brodie∗Stephen Bunyard∗Tristyn Bustamante∗Robin Cadigan∗Susan Cielek∗Jeanne Collins∗Shirlee Daulton∗Ken Drolet∗Paulette Galop∗Jan Gaumnitz∗Audrey Goldstein∗Rena Hamilton∗Lisa Harnish∗Pam Harrison∗Susan Hearn∗Julie Hendrickson∗Janet Wills Keller∗Alene Kells∗Sue Kopca∗Gabrielle Koza∗Sandra Luehrsen∗Patricia Manarin∗Steve Marks∗Constance McBride∗Mirjana McLadinov∗Kim Mendoza∗Candice Methe∗Kaye Murphy∗Virginia Pates∗Karen VanBarneveld Price∗Kazuma Sambe∗Allison Shock∗Phyllis Stringer∗Genie Swanstrom∗Christopher Torrez∗Neal Walde∗Diane Marie Watkins∗Annette Weaver

Exhibition Dates: March 18 – April 16, 2011
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturdays, Noon – 4 p.m.
at: Chandler Center for the Arts
250 North Arizona Avenue
Chandler AZ 85225
Sponsored by the Chandler Center for the Arts, the Chandler Cultural Foundation, and the Chandler Arts Commission, Chandler Cultural Foundation
Images courtesy of the artists.
For more information call 480-782-2695.

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