Sunday, August 29, 2010

A trip to the Black Hills

Last weekend, Stacy and I  traveled down to South Dakota where I had been asked to help judge the leather craft at the Central States Fair with my good friend Kathy Flanagan. We arrived in Rapid City a little early so I got to do a little shopping at the Tandy store there and met the new manager. Then when Kathy and her daughter Sheena arrived, we headed straight over to the fair grounds for the judging. Just a couple years ago, there were 3 leather entries in the fair, this year there were 53. We spent the next several hours going over each item, trying to point out what was done well,  what could use improvement, and deciding what ribbons each entry should receive.  Sheena was a big help writing down all our comments. By the time we had finished, we were the only ones left in the room. It must be easier to judge wine and food :o)   There was a lot of really nice leather work displayed in this show. The Dakota Territory Leather Guild should be proud of the job they did with this show.

We got to spend the rest of the weekend wandering around the Black Hills. Saturday morning we took a trip to Bear Country. Bear Country is always a fun place to go. I'm not sure there is anyplace you can see so many animals up close. It was close to 100 degrees there, even early in the morning so the animals weren't doing much but laying around and panting, but it was still fun to see them all.

In the afternoon, we ran back over to the fair for a little bit, then went to Hill City and took a ride on the 1880's train. The train runs from Hill City to Keystone and back and is a relaxing way to spend a few hours enjoying the scenery.

After the train ride, we made a quick trip through Needles Highway and Custer State Park. On our way through the park, we got to see a herd of big horn rams right beside the road.
We wanted to get to tunnels on Iron Mountain Road  before dark. This is a really cool road with 3 tunnels and several cools bridges. The tunnels are located so that when you are driving through them, you can see Mt Rushmore through the tunnel.

We barely made it to the tunnels before dark, so we didn't get a chance to take any good pictures, but here's one from a previous trip. From here, we continued on to Mt Rushmore to see the faces on the mountain lighted up.

Then it was back to Rapid for a late supper. On Sunday, we drove the Nemo road through more of the beautiful Black Hills to Deadwood. We've been wanting to see Kevin Costner's Tatanka center for a couple years but never got through there when it was open. We spent a couple hours there learning about bison and the Lakota indians. They've got a HUGE statue of indians on horses chasing bison over a buffalo jump that is pretty awesome.
By the time we were through there, it was early afternoon and time for all of us to head for home. It was a fun trip just like all our trips to SD have been.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gone Fishin

I spent the weekend "fishing"  in Billings with Jan Schoonover.  Not trying to catch them, but learning how to carve them. On this trip, we worked on a Brown Trout picture. I've never done an embossed fish before so this was new to me and it was a fun lesson. I learned some new  techniques that will be in the next lesson in our series. Once again, it was a marathon session on Saturday getting the carving, texturing and embossing done. It's a pretty good challenge trying to keep up with Jan along with taking notes and pictures for the lesson, but somehow it always works out. I also had to make a quick run over to Montana Leather to pick up a few things. We called it a day around 7 on Saturday (a long day since I had to be up at 3:30 in the morning to get to Billings by 9). On Sunday we did the touch up work on the picture and Jan painted his fish. There is quite a bit of coloring involved in this project but Jan makes it look easy. I didn't color mine as I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything that needed to go into the lesson. I'll color mine when things slow down around here. This coming weekend, Stacy and I are headed to Rapid City where Kathy Flanagan and I are judging the leather work in the Central States Fair on Friday. Then we are going to just hang around in the Black Hills with Kathy for a couple days. That's going to be a lot of fun!

Here's a picture of Jan's completed trout.

And here is a picture of my trout, without any color yet.  Stacy really likes the picture without any color so I will probably end up doing another one so I can have one colored, and one natural. 
Jan and I talked about ways to try and get more feedback on the lessons we are putting out. We'd love to get comments, questions and pictures of people's projects. In order to encourage people to send us pictures of the projects they make from these lessons, we are thinking of having a contest. We haven't worked out the details yet, but what we are thinking of is picking one picture of a completed project from each lesson and that person will receive a free lesson.  I'll post the details on this as soon as we work them out. 

I'll try and have the Brown Trout lesson finished up by mid September. It looks like the next lesson on the list will be a mountain lion, and after that, possibly a buffalo. If things work out, we'd like to get both of those done yet this year.