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Her majesty deigns to be photographed

I felt like a paparazza, drawing as close as I dared, trying to hold my proper camera with the big zoom steady in the failing light.  But she was calmly perched out in the open, low on our back fence, mobbed by smaller birds.  Hummingbirds orbited her, scolding, like cheeky electrons, but she ignored them. She looked at me, and looked away, bored.  She might be the same one I took photos of last year in our big pine tree; maybe, maybe not.

<< tonight’s Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus (all photos A.Shock, Canon EOS xti)

She was clutching E’s rain gauge — you can just see its acrylic rim over the fence, one of her dark talons curved over it.  Tomorrow morning I’ll go out to see if she left scratches in the plastic, like the woodpeckers do scrabbling for balance on the swinging hummingbird feeders.

I had been hearing the flickers, hummers, a couple of irate mockingbirds, the pair of thrashers who live in the yard, and even a gnatcatcher for a few minutes before it occurred to me go out to see what the fuss was all about.

Flickering flicker.  If you’ve ever wondered why this woodpecker species is called “gilded flicker”, you can see the golden coloration under the flight feathers and tail >>

The owl was overlooking a part of the yard where the cottontails have little cover but apparently there was no action, because after a while, she made a short flight into a small palo verde that has volunteered in the alley, and sat there for a while until it grew dark, looking around at her hostile avian entourage, glaring upward at a circling helicopter as if it were mobbing her too, yet still keeping a downward eye hoping for dinner.

<< On the palo verde throne, fierce-footed

When last seen, she launched towards the butte into the dusk, a gray blur against the graying sky.

Posted by Allison on Nov 16th 2011 | Filed in birds,natural history,owls,unexpected,yard list | Comments (5)

Pick of the litter

Among the sculptural vessels I’ve made recently for upcoming holiday sales, a couple things stand out.  This is one of them:

Feather Bundle Jar with Owl (13.5″ ht, stoneware 2011, photo and object A.Shock)  >>

What you can’t see in the photo is the interior glaze, a fiery glossy red that contrasts strongly with the dry, dinosaur-green outside.  The jewel-like red studs give a hint of what’s on the inside, however.

This piece will be available starting tomorrow at the Three Star Owl booth at Audubon Arizona’s Gifts from Nature event tomorrow and Sunday (12 – 13 Nov, 10am-4pm, click here for details).

I’ll also be offering functional pieces, including frog skeleton mugs, scorpion mugs, beastie pitchers, and ravenware, just for starters.  As always it bears repeating: Come early for best selection!

And, they’ve pretty much taken rain out of the forecast for Saturday, at least — so really, there’s no excuse!

Posted by Allison on Nov 11th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,owls,three star owl | Comments (0)

Happy Halloween!

Not a real owl!  I photographed this owlmorphic clump of cobwebs and autumn leaves in a tree hollow on Cape Cod in 2007.

Posted by Allison on Oct 31st 2011 | Filed in oddities,owls,unexpected,unnatural history | Comments (0)

Happy Owl Face

The Camelback Studio Tour in the Sherwood Heights neighborhood of southern Scottsdale is over until the next one (that’s March 9, 10, 11, 2012, by the way, so mark your calendars now), and I’m tired but happy.  Thanks to all who came by to visit, shop, or both.  The sale seemed to occupy the last hot days of summer — I can’t recall ever getting a sunburn at an art sale before — and now desert autumn has set in, with sudden refreshing showers, cooler temps, and pranking breezes.

<< content horned owl (detail; A.Shock 2011)

My next event is in less than three weeks: the Audubon Arizona Gifts from Nature benefit art event, Saturday and Sunday the 12th and 13th of November.  More about that soon, when I have more details.  Hope to see you there and, the forces of clay willing, Three Star Owl will have some new work for you to take a look at.  Meanwhile, Happy Diwali!

Posted by Allison on Oct 26th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,owls,three star owl | Comments (0)

Drawn in: The Curious Case of the Owl in the Notebook

The VLO (Very Large Owl) sculpture “Windblown Owl” found a new home recently.  The next VLO is underway, currently drying and eventually migrating to a client in California (shhhh, it’s a surprise), and I wanted to use the same greenish-golden surface coloring and glazing effect on the new owl.

I had a basic idea of what had been applied to “Windblown”, but I needed specifics.  That meant doing a bit of sleuthing.  The obvious place to start was my own notebook, which by means of hasty drawings, measurements, and notes records much if not all Three Star Owl clay work, theoretically in detail, although in practice I’m not always as good about it as I should be.  Happily, next to a small sketch, I found helpful marginalia on the slips and glazes used on “Windblown”.

Windblown Owl VLO sketch (photo and drawing A.Shock, click to enlarge) >>

I enjoyed revisiting the drawing, which made me smile, the owl looks so much like a dog riding in a car with its head out the window.  The discoloration of the white background page is a photo-editing effect, a result of mercilessly and excessively bumping the contrast for more stimulating web viewing, as is the ability to see the drawings on the back side of the page, which in the actual book are only faint ghosts of lines.  Shades of paleographical or even forensic document investigation:

  • “I say, Holmes, you can see right through the page!”
  • “Precisely, Watson.  Evidently our potter had made a bowl with a conical foot and hummingbird squares stamped on it, some little time before glazing the large nocturnal bird.”
  • “By Jove, Holmes, how can you possibly know that there were hummingbirds on the bowl?”
  • “Because I’m eating my porridge out of it right now.”
  • [Watson chuckles] “Capital, Holmes — a bowl with cleverly stamped hummingbirds on it.  Well done!”
  • “And, may I add, my dear fellow, it’s made entirely by hand…”

By the way, definitely Rathbone and Bruce, here, I’d say. Brett and Hardwicke would never have shilled for Three Star Owl.

Posted by Allison on Sep 16th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,drawn in,effigy vessels,owls,three star owl | Comments (7)

Owl whistle necklaces

Update as of Monday 22Aug: thanks for all of your enthusiastic responses!  And thanks to Kate McKinnon for posting them, and loaning me the fine box they were roosting in, too!  All the owl whistle necklaces have found new homes — the owl/owl-craver ratio was excellent, and there was only a little disappointment.  If you’d like to be contacted when a new batch is ready to go, please email me.  If you are one of the owl-owners, I will invoice you through PayPal soon after you send me your mailing address, and ship your owl to you after that.  Thanks again, everyone!

Here they are; the six remaining clay “retro” owl whistles from Three Star Owl. They’re all different, and strung either on black faux leather lacing or brown suede lacing. Each has a suitable smaller bead above it. Each necklace is $42, and can be yours if you contact me ASAP on the contact page; it’ll be a first-come-first-served sort of arrangement (perhaps include a second choice?). They’ll be going back into the public eye at the Tucson Bird and Nature Festival tomorrow morning. (Colors in photo are not exactly perfect but fairly close.)

Posted by Allison on Aug 19th 2011 | Filed in art/clay,close in,owls,three star owl | Comments (1)

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)

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