USA Today recently launched a readers choice on-line contest to name the 2014 Top 10 Best Quirky Landmarks in America. Dog Bark Park is proud to be a nominee. The contest ends June 23rd and Dog Bark Park invites your daily vote. Click here or type this address to vote: http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-quirky-landmark/
One large back corner of our studio contains a disorderly collection of cardboard boxes. Some are empty shipping cartons we’ve picked up when shopping the local grocery stores. We’ll use the boxes for shipping our dog carvings. Other boxes, along with an odd medley of large plastic bags, are filled with Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, air sacs, packing paper & such donated to us from friends & neighbors who don’t like the idea of putting re-usable or, for our area, non-recyclable materials into the local waste stream any more than we do. We try to use it all. Held in our storage area long enough, eventually all will be sent on to hopefully be recycled again at the receiving end.
It’s feast or famine it seems for matching the quantity of materials to our need for them. However, when a oversupply arrives we always manage to find room for the excess somewhere. Often our access passageway to the shipping corner is reduced to less than a body width, yet the inconvenience is negligible compared to the sense of doing our part to do right when it comes to reducing waste.
Today, when packing an order of Great Pyrenees & Bernese Mountain Dog carvings instead of rolling off new paper to wrap the dogs in, I delved into a 5 ft tall clear plastic bag to retrieve thin lengths of foam sheets as wrap. Double satisfaction arrived when a used cardboard box of the right dimensions was found in the jumbled mess of potential shipping cartons. By a little bit we’ve reduced the back corner clutter, saved a little bit of green & saved someone’s waste from going to the landfill. Nice.
Where else does our shipping conserve resources? Well, all our orders are printed on the back side of letters, statements, & any other old office paper. Unfortunately, going paperless is not yet an option for our business at this point of time. So we settle for re-purposing whatever suitable paper comes into our household & business.
Additionally, almost all of our correspondence with customers & potential customers is conducted online further saving the use of paper for mailing invoices, statements, etc. Receiving checks in the mail is all but a thing of the past, with most payments handled electronically in one fashion or other.
Back to boxes. If we don’t happen to have a box of the right dimension for a particular shipment, we’ve become rather proficient at re-making a box into the configuration we need. It has given us much appreciation for the art of carton design, of which there are endless methods of constructing a box. Call us creative or call us cheap; it’s your call. We’re glad to re-purpose a box is all!
Filed under: All About Dog Bark Park, General | Tagged: Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, re-purposing cardboard boxes, Recycling packaging materials, small business waste reduction, waste reduction | Leave a comment »
Dennis & I are often asked what occupies our time at Dog Bark Park during the winter when our bed & breakfast inn is closed from November through March.
While the big dog is in hibernation & traffic is light out on the highway during winter, as much as we might wish to join the big dog for a long sleep, we instead focus on activities that can only be accomplished during this slower season.
During November, December & into January we’re kept busy in the carving studio making dog sculptures ordered as special holiday gifts. By the end of the holidays we’re typically depleted of inventory for our gift shop.
After a short break in January, we take up the saws & paintbrushes again to begin rebuilding inventory of dog carvings in preparation for the busy summer season ahead.
Last week we increased our supply of carvings from 24 pieces on the shelves in our gift shop to 64 pieces completed & ready for sale.
We didn’t make such rapid progress this week preparing & packing some wholesale orders for shipping & doing other tasks in and away from the studio instead.
However, by the time April arrives we should have nearly 200 pieces stocked for shipping to customers or selling directly from the shelves.
After the holidays, while our bodies continue resting from the long days of activity during the previous months, we kick our mental energies into high gear creating new ideas for our art, business marketing & such. This is when we develop new postcard & other product designs, clean up the shop & store, order in new supplies for the inn, establish goals & objectives for the new year and the like.
We also allow ourselves more flexible work hours at the studio; sometimes not opening when the weather is too inclement.
We enjoy a bit more time at home reading, watching television & spending creative time in the kitchen & on the computer; all leisure luxuries mostly unavailable to us during our vibrant high season.
By mid-March we eagerly await the return of spring’s beauty & the opportunity to welcome visitors & guests to our wonderful part of Idaho.
Filed under: All About Dog Bark Park, General, Travel | Tagged: Beagles, Chainsaw Art, cottonwood Idaho, dog art, dog show trophies, Gifts for Dog Lovers, Idaho, unusual place to stay | Leave a comment »
What seems uninteresting & unremarkable to artists is often not the case for non-artists. Many times artists’ fans & collectors are fascinated by the seemingly mysterious processes involved in the making of art.
Using a gas Stihl chainsaw we cut a slab of wood from a log stored outdoors in our log yard. Imagine the large log being rather like a loaf of bread that is sliced into appropriate thicknesses for the various uses intended for the bread; perhaps thicker for french toast & thinner for sandwiches, for example. Similarly, we cut the log slice to the appropriate thickness for the size of the piece planned.
We bring the freshly cut slab into our studio where the rest of the chainsaw work is done using an electric Stihl saw. We begin by drawing an outline of the desired dog on the slab, being mindful to “read” the wood to avoid placing a knot or other undesirable characteristic in a location that might compromise the final outcome of the carving. A large knot on the nose of the dog, for instance, is detrimental to the structural & cosmetic integrity of the piece.
Dennis then begins cutting away in large chunks any wood outside the German Shepherd shape penciled on the wood. Eventually the dog begins to emerge into a 3-dimensional piece as the carving process continues as he reduces the thickness of the nose, makes the cuts to fashion the ears, tail, feet and so forth. The final stages include rounding all the squared edges to give a finished more natural look to the dog. The scrap wood scattered on the floor around the wood carving platform after the piece is finished is a large volume of wood than what is in the finished piece. All this scrap is stored becoming our fuel for heating the studio.
After being carved the dog is set aside, either indoors near the wood stove in winter or outdoors when sunny weather prevails, for a few days or couple of weeks to dry before prepping the carving for painting. How long a piece takes to cure depends on moisture levels in the wood, the ambient air humidity & such factors.
When cured, the dog is given eye & nostril cuttings using a Dremel tool. The dog is brushed to remove any thick globs of sawdust and then it is lightly burned with a propane torch to burn off any remaining loose material as well as any residual chainsaw oil. The burning also provides a final cure & adds color to the pine wood.
The German Shepherd carving is then taken outdoors to a painting table to spray paint on the black saddle markings. At least two coats are applied, with drying time of a few hours or couple of days between coats. Next the dog is moved to our studio paint table where its eyes and nostrils are hand-painted black. Final finishing includes affixing a brass license tag to the dog’s upper chest, tying a red fabric neckerchief around its neck & attaching hang tag.
At most times of the year our carvings are made to order, meaning they will be packaged for pick-up or mailing to customers upon their completion. This process is often called on-demand manufacturing. In any case, what it means for us is that typically our carvings sell faster than we can replace inventory in our shop store. We do try to maintain an inventory of at least 50 small-size carvings of various breeds at any one time to be able to fulfill orders for them quickly.
Somehow this large-size German Shepherd
has not been spoken for. We have left it “naked” for the time being in the event someone is interested to have a white shepherd, all black one, or one with markings different from the typical black saddle & muzzle. If ordered this week we could still complete paint and ship the Shepherd to arrive before Dec 25th.
This award-winning website, FamilyDaysOut.com, is a great resource for family travel planning. In existence for 16 or so years, the fun website is chockfull of ideas for places to go & places to stay for families.
From the homepage map click on the region or state and then select more options from there depending on the ages & interests of your family. Another way to get info is to enter a town or zipcode in the search box.
For example, here’s the entry for Dog Bark Park. It might be interesting to see what comes up when entering the zip for your town. There just might be an activity or nearby place that would be perfect for your family’s next outing.
When asked what there is to do in Idaho besides come stay in the big dog for those expressing interest in adventure we mention Idaho’s spectacular zip lines. Four are located within a few hours drive of Dog Bark Park. Might be fun to plan an entire Idaho vacation around visiting each line.
Seven Zip Lines Across Idaho
Zip Idaho provides a unique eco-adventure that combines Idaho’s longest zip lines with tree based canopy-tour style zip lines. The course offers seven lines, ranging from 175 to 1700 feet in length. Zip Idaho is based in Horseshoe Bend, just a half hour north of Boise and a nature lovers dream. Whitewater rafting, swimming, mountain biking, fishing, and scenic train rides are just a few activities to enjoy in the area.
Tamarack Canopy Zip Line Tours, located in the mountains overlooking Donelly, Idahopromises a thrilling, action packed mountain tour experience. Eight zip lines range in length from 250-800 feet, whisking zippers above 4,425 feet of rugged, scenic terrain with a 1,700 change in elevation. The tour soars over creeks, canyons, and forest and experienced guides narrate the journey sharing information about plants and animals native to the Payette River Mountains and the history of this area
Heise Hot Springs Zip Line, in Ririe in Southeast Idaho, consists of seven zip lines covering almost a mile of terrain. The experienced tour guides do all the work so riders can experience the adrenaline pumping, jaw dropping thrill ride! During the two hour tour adventure riders learn the history of Heise Hot Springs while enjoying the beautiful mountains and the valley and river below. More activities are available at Heise, including swimming, golf and fishing.
Schweitzer Mountain Zip Line is just one of the many activities available at the Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort near Sandpoint in northern Idaho. Stretching over 700′, the zip line begins at the resort village and runs towards Lake Pend Oreille, offering spectacular mountain and lake views. A dual zip line allows two riders to experience the fun side-by-side.
Lava Zip Line Adventures is located near Lava Hot Springs in eastern Idaho. The zip line tour covers several thousand feet, travelling through a scenic canyon and can be enjoyed winter or summer.
Silver Streak Zipline Tours, located in Wallace in northern Idaho, is expected to open in May, 2012. Reservations may be made by calling 208-512-3965.
Magic Valley Flight Simulation Zip Line – Twin Falls: Coming summer of 2012