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New work for your perusal (or, “check ’em out”, if you prefer)

Here is a stack of small bowls with horned lizards (horny toads, if you prefer), sculpted in low relief by pushing out from the inside (repoussé, if you prefer) with texture added. They are charmingly eccentric (not perfectly round, if you prefer), and each one is different. They have cheerfully glazed interiors (really bright colors, if you prefer) and are about 5 inches in diameter and just under 3 inches tall (not very large, if you prefer). I’m told they’re a good size for modest portions of ice cream (or oatmeal, if you prefer), drinking morning coffee with milk in the French way (alla francese, si’il vous plaît), or to use in any way you wish. There are several available in various colors but related to the ones shown. Inquire if any tickles your fancy, like a beetle walking up your leg (or something less icky, if you prefer).

Posted by Allison on Nov 14th 2015 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,three star owl | Comments (0)


Really, they’re not so very different.peaspod

(Composite photo of young Gilded Flicker and a whimsical, biologically unsound Three Star Owl clay pterosaur effigy, by A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on May 24th 2013 | Filed in art/clay,birds,oddities,three star owl,unexpected,unnatural history,yard list | Comments (0)

Pondering escalation

It’s Valentine’s Day week, and I’m feeling a little sentimental. So here’s a farewell to a piece that recently found a new home in Florida. It sold from the co-op gallery I’m involved with — On the Edge Gallery, a fairly new outlet for Three Star Owl — and I was there when the customer bought it. It’s a wall piece, not something I frequently make, an effigy vessel of a very much larger-than-life horned lizard. In the lizard’s scaly back is a window into its hollow innards, where a tiny pink and black gila monster hovers in the darkness: the horny toad’s imagination (why not an imagination in a gizzard? — they used to say stegosaurus had a second brain in its hip), where it’s considering what it would be like to be


armed not with defensive weapons like scales and spikes, excellent camouflage, and the ability to squirt blood from your eye, but to be aggressively, offensively venomous. I’d engraved the title, “Pondering Escalation” on a carved banner across the back of the piece, along with the copper hanging wire and my signature stamp.

As I cautiously swathed it in bubble-wrap to defend the clay details against the rigors of travel as carry-on, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to let the piece go. I wished I’d taken more photos, wondered if I’d gotten a photo of the back (I hadn’t, damn it), and hoped it made it safely to its new destination. Like a real horny toad, the clay piece is sturdy and spiky but a little bit tender, and I worried about a horn breaking off, or the tiny inner gila monster on its invisible pedestal being jarred loose on its journey.


We can’t know what a horned lizard would decide after pondering escalation, but I guess that innate tendencies — biology — will always win out: being resilient is a survivor’s most valuable trait. The glow of a vibrant gila monster may enchant a humble horned lizard for the duration of a dream, but after all, venom is expensive for an organism to produce and deliver, and the venomous find it hard to keep friends. Have a happy Valentine’s week.

Posted by Allison on Feb 11th 2013 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,reptiles and amphibians,three star owl | Comments (0)

Executive “fail”!

No one said all artists are good business people!  Frinstance, I just noticed that I hadn’t updated the Three Star Owl events page in like, all year…


But now it’s current.  So, if you’re wondering where to find Three Star Owl this holiday season, click here (or the Events tab across the top of the page).  And remember, Three Star Owl items can be found all day every day at On The Edge Gallery in Old Town Scottsdale.

Posted by Allison on Oct 22nd 2012 | Filed in art/clay,Events,three star owl,Uncategorized | Comments (3)

Cranky Owlet wonders…

…. where the hell everyone’s been since last september.

Posted by Allison on Aug 27th 2012 | Filed in cranky owlet,three star owl | Comments (2)

It’s not all about owls…

… it just seems like it sometimes.

This Friday Saturday and Sunday, from 10am – 5pm March 9, 10, 11, it’s time for the spring Camelback Studio Tour, and if you visit the Sherwood Heights neighborhood of south Scottsdale, you can find lots of things besides owls, even at Three Star Owl Studio (Studio #3 on this map).  Among the exciting Non-Owlular things available are the metal south-west themed garden sculptures of Tracy Paul of Pentimento Metalwork.  Here’s a tantalizing image of the shadow of one of Tracy’s agave-like creations. >> She’s brought a large selection of delectable items and strewn them artfully around our rambling garden, where you can wander around searching them out.

And, there are three other studios to visit filled with paintings, clay, jewelry, glass, and gourds handmade by local artists Lynn Gustafson, Vickie Morrow, Pam Harrison, Jan Campbell, Chris Demma, Reg McCormick, Bernie Nienebar, Lynn Strolin and Margaret Sullivan.

Of course, Three Star Owl Clay is stocked as usual with a motley assortment of owlishness (that’s motley said with pride), some new like the Boiled Owl Sake Sets (see previous post for photos) and Napping Owl Tumblers — which exude a quaint whiff of Victoriana, pushing Retro all the way back to the Martin Brothers.  But I’ll also have on hand some non-owl favorites like Horned Lizard Bowls, a Gila Monster Effigy bowl, Frog Skeleton Mugs, and also a bit of species-faithful Wazzo-ware for the birders among us, and more.  The photo above is my studio bench tonight, with new items waiting to be photographed and priced — note the Gilded Flicker in the Saguaro vessel: definitely Not An Owl, for a change.  Oh, and a couple of Writhing Rαt Dog planter/bowls.

<< And for the first time ever, I’ll have hand-knit hats for sale by Sylvia Schoenfeld (my mother), like these.  And yes, those are owl cables with button eyes — which makes them most definitely mostly about owls.

(All photos A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on Mar 7th 2012 | Filed in art/clay,effigy vessels,Events,three star owl,yard list | Comments (3)


Once again, and for the usual reason, my blog posts have dwindled to a sticky, paltry stream with occasional tart strands of zest, like marmalade that didn’t set.  It seems that when I really have to turn on the afterburners in the clay studio to meet a deadline, my brain shunts itself into non-writing mode.  This is acceptable because it results in Concentrated Clay Effort, but really making art doesn’t have to interfere with the amplitude or frequency of this space: after all, a picture’s worth a thousand words, and I can be fully entertained by one simple striking image.  Perhaps you are too, so here’s a double-duty photo for your perusal: self-promotional eye-candy, but still full of tasty chewy, glazy, custardy goodness, like a good doughnut.

You are looking into the woozy interior of a small repoussé sake cup: the swirly glaze is very sensitive to its own thickness which varies considerably because each tiny cup is owl-shaped, modeled by pushing out with the fingers and in, usually with tools, so that the inside reflects the outside.  The resulting curviness in the walls gives the glaze lots of moguls and dips to flow into and around.  (The opalescence of the rim is an artifact of light: it’s the reflection of the blue sky overhead, and if the cup were in your hand, you’d see the whole effect of the glaze was more like golden honey than sky-rimmed lava.)  The slick, glossy interior flows contrast with the hair-like scoring on the outside of the pieces like marmalade on toast.

Here’s the entire “Boiled Owl” sake set, two tiny cups and a small pitcher meant for sake but good for any potent liquid that needs judicious sipping.  >> This one and a small number of others will be debuting at the Three Star Owl open studio during the Camelback Studio Tour Friday Saturday and Sunday of this week (9,10,11 March 2012). I hope you can stop by and check them out.  More details later!

(Both photos A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on Mar 4th 2012 | Filed in art/clay,close in,three star owl | Comments (5)

Willcox at eye level

Like the Sandhill cranes, I usually visit Willcox in the winter.  That’s when the town hosts Wings Over Willcox, a birding and cultural event celebrating the cold season presence of Sandhill cranes, who dwell in the fields and wetlands of the Sulphur Springs Valley from October to March.  (below, Stewart St. in Willcox AZ.  Photo A. Shock)

In winter when the trees are bare and the lawns are brown, the city of Willcox Arizona looks very close to the earth: the houses and buildings in the older neighborhoods seem to sit right on the dirt, as if they’d pushed up through the soil like sensible angular mushrooms after a rain. It’s a down-to-earth kind of place, surrounded by ranches and farms, and snow-dusted peaks.

<< Sandhill crane eye, mounted specimen.  Very dinosaur-y, isn’t it?  When I see this eye, I’m glad I’m not a seed.

Except for the newer part of town, which is latched onto Interstate 10’s throat like a tick, the town has pretty much one of everything — just what folks who live here need, but no more: a couple of gas stations, a mechanic or two, a winery, a golf course, a handful of restaurants that may or may not be under the same ownership each time I return, or even open at all; schools, fire department, churches.  But down-to-earth Willcox also has a big sky feel.  This time of year that sky infuses the fields and grasslands with earnest birds, gleaning seeds from grassheads, foraging the fields for leftover crop — not only large cranes, but also lark bunting, meadowlarks, vesper, savannah, song, white-crowned and lark sparrows.  Raptors and shrikes follow the birds: the kestrels, merlins, and accipiters sharp-eyeing the sparrows, the larger hawks stalking rodents above ground during the sunny days; owls take over the hunt in the waxing moon nights. Ravens hang in high places cawing, opportunistically looking for a tidbit or some fun anywhere.  Birders and tourists flock here as well, to the festival and on their own, following all of it: cranes, owls, raptors, sparrows, and scope-toting tour leaders with fieldguides tucked into their khaki vests. (Photo above: twilight over the Sulphur Springs Valley outside of Willcox.  There are thousands of invisible cranes in this picture, standing in the yellow grasses in the mid-distance.  The black dots in the air low on the left edge of the image are cranes coming in to join them to roost for the night.  Photo A.Shock)

All of this activity is watched over by Willcox’s long history.  Once known as the cattle capital of the U.S., ranching and agriculture are still big here, although Interstate 10 has replaced the railroad as the town’s main lifeline.  But freight still rumbles through town, rolling between southern California and Texas railyards: the noisy calling of cranes in the fields is often momentarily drowned out by train horns, a more soulful, lonely sound than the busy clacking of the social birds.

>> Rex Allen also watches over Willcox. The Willcox native, known as the “Arizona cowboy”, was a Western singer and actor known for his folksy film narration.  His autographed images hang on the walls of just about every joint in town, from Tex’s BBQ Dining Car to the chain hotel lobbies.

Posted by Allison on Jan 15th 2012 | Filed in Events,field trips,three star owl | Comments (2)


Tens of thousands of Sandhill cranes winter in the fields and wetlands of far southeastern Arizona each year, and they have their own festival: Wings Over Willcox, held in mid-January by the historical community of Willcox, AZ. This year is the 19th Annual WOW Festival, and it’s part of SE Arizona’s celebration of the state centennial.

>> Dawn pinkens sandhill cranes standing in the icy waters of Crane Lake south of Willcox, AZ (Photo A.Shock)

There are tours to the local hotspots, not just for crane-sighting, but for other winter birding specialties in the bird-rich, high-desert grassland in and around the Sulphur Springs Valley: the Chiricahua Mountains, Whitewater Draw, Lake Cochise, and more.  Not all of the outings are bird-related: there are historical, agricultural, gastronomic, and archeological tours, too. Check availability for tickets here. There are also seminars by local experts on anything from photography to astronomy to more birds and birding, which I believe are free.

If your tour of choice is sold out, don’t despair. The cranes can be viewed (and heard!) flying in v-formation overhead often, but you can also visit places like Crane Lake (above) and Whitewater Draw at dawn and dusk to see flights of cranes leaving (morning) or returning (afternoon) to and from foraging in the agricultural fields during daylight hours.  Driving the public farm roads south of town at any time of day, you can luck into hundreds of cranes moving in a group through a field, or a fierce bird of prey like a Ferruginous hawk patrolling the skies or perched on a wire over the field margins.  Loggerhead shrikes are fairly common, as well: check out a previous post of mine for more photos.

<< three Sandhill crane magnets by Three Star Owl will be available at WOW for $16 each

Three Star Owl will be at the Nature Expo portion of the event, held in the Willcox Community Center, which is the headquarters for the festival.  The Nature Expo will be open from Thursday afternoon until Sunday, check my Events page for more specific hours and a link to a map and driving directions.  If you’re in the area, please stop by and say Hello — admission to the Nature Expo is FREE!

A word of advice to those planning on visiting: although sunny winter days in this part of AZ can be comfortable, Willcox is at 4200 feet above sea level, so night-time temps usually dip well below freezing this time of year, and if it’s windy or overcast, daytime temps will be brisk.  So if you plan to get out into the world on your trip here, dress for the weather!

Posted by Allison on Jan 6th 2012 | Filed in birding,birds,Events,field trips,natural history,three star owl | Comments (1)

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