We’ve got Wi-Fi !

For sure this would be old news for most nowadays, wouldn’t it?!

For the 14 years Dog Bark Park Inn B&B has existed our guests have enjoyed the absence of electronics that can distract from a truly relaxing stay.  And today’s visitors will still not find a television, phone or other media devices inside the big dog.  However, Wi-Fi connectivity is now available.  We simply felt it was time to modernize just this little bit.  Thought we’d share this tiny, but perhaps, important news.

 

Gift Certificates?

dog artIdaho bed & breakfast  Yes!  Gift certificates are available.

 They can be purchased for any    amount & made redeemable for products from our store or online gift shop as well as for overnight lodging in the big dog, or both!  Each gift certificate is custom created & can be mailed either to the purchaser or to the gift recipient.  To order kindly phone or email us using the contact info on our website.

Nomination as a Top 10 Best Quirky Landmark

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/  Dog Bark Park View from Roof - Cottonwood Idaho

Keeping Waste out of our Shipping Department

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.  

Image

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! 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Activities at Dog Bark Park, a blog by Frances Conklin

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.

Hibernating beagles

Hibernating beagles

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.

Dennis, Frances and Sprocket

In the studio, photo by David C.

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.

Creating a dog carving

Creating a dog carving

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.

Dog carvings on shelves

Dog carvings on shelves

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.

Winter at Dog Bark Park, photo by Wild Web West

Winter at Dog Bark Park, photo by Wild Web West

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.

How we do it – create a German Shepherd dog carving that is

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.

This blog will describe some of the processes we use in our studio at Dog Bark Park to create a chainsaw-carved dog carving, specifically a German Shepherd Dog.     

German Shepherd Art

German Shepherd dog carvings

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.

chainsaw carving, chainsaw art, dog art

Cutting log into slabs

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.

Dog art, chainsaw carvings, German Shepherd dog

Carving a German Shepherd

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

Dog Art, Chainsaw dog art, German Shepherd art

German Shepherd Dog carving ready to paint

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.       

Dog art, German Shepherd Dogs, Chainsaw art, gifts for dog lovers

German Shepherd large ready for paint, small ready for adoption

Fun Source for planning Family Travel – FamilyDaysOut.com

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.

Sweet Willy is 10 years old – Specials offered

 This year marks the 10th year that guests have been arriving to stay inside Sweet Willy’s giant dog body. 

Sweet Willy the big dog inn for humans

Over his ten years, he has gained much notoriety and blazed trails for Dog Bark Park around the world.  We think he has easily earned a Perfect 10 for good work!
 
To celebrate, Dog Bark Park is offereing 10th anniversary specials throughout the year.   Look for announcements of the specials here & on our social media channels.
 
Our 1st special is all about another breed of dog – labrador retrievers!
 
Order 2 small-size labrador carvings from our online gallery and receive a $10 rebate.  This offer is valid until March 10, 2012.

Labrador Retriever - Black, Yellow, Chocolate, shown sitting pose

 
 Labs are available in sitting or standing poses.  Each comes with a brass license tag located underneath the red neckerchief & an informational hangtag. 
 
To receive the $10 rebate, both dogs need to be ordered at the same time & shipped to the same address. 
The $10 rebate will be issued as a refund at the same time we email acknowledgement of the order.

Labrador Retriever - Sitting, Standing

 
 
     Please join us in observing Sweet Willy’s 10th birthday.  If labradors aren’t the breed of choice for you or yours, do check back from time to time for other surprise specials.
 
    Sweet Willy thanks everyone for being a part of his first 10 years.  “Keep on barkin’!” is this beagle’s message when asked about his special birthday!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Connecting with Art – In Bed with Art

In Bed with Art by Katharina Kneib

 
In Bed with Art, published by Verlag-Hellblau, is a travel directory of selected inns & hotels from around the world that place emphasis on art.
 
The author, Katharina Kniess, contacted us many months ago with interest for Dog Bark Park to be included in the 224-page book.
 
Dennis & I were delighted to share our thoughts about art as it relates to our business & lives.   What follows are excerpts from the book.
 
We are connected to art on several fronts: the most major as husband & wife artists we produce and market our own unique artwork.  We are chainsaw carvers with folk art-style renditions of the world’s many dog breeds our specialty.
 
We have great interest in all genres of art and architecture.  Both of us have dabbled in artistic endeavors from our youths.  With his yearning to create art, Dennis gave up his career in the design & building trades of many years to become a chainsaw artist. We met a decade after that, which started our combined work as artists.
 

Dog Bark Park Inn B&B under construction

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This eventually led to the design & building of Dog Bark Park Inn Bed & Breakfast located adjacent to our art studio and gallery.
 
The connection of art to our inn is that the very building itself is an expression of art.  The entire building is what is often referred to as mimetic architecture; a building that looks like something else; in this case, a gaint beagle dog……The big dog building was self-designed and constructed entirely by Dennis. 
 
We eagerly interact with our guests to share our art processes & experiences in Idaho.  This interchange enriches our lives and we think deepens the appreciation of our guests for the art and lifestyle we have here in Idaho. 
 
Pedestrian entrance to Dog Bark Park – Diaphonous

Working in the arts is a satisfying outlet for our self-expression.  We endeavor to exercise that creativity in everything we do at Dog Bark Park. 

In addition to our studio gallery we have an outdoor sculpture garden of self-constructed objects, like a giant red fire hydrant, an old-fashioned electric coffee pot, an intricately designed roofed walkway, etc.
We are very fortunate to earn a living doing exactly what we want to do with art!

A slideshow peek & Holiday picture of Dog Bark Park

Holiday decorations & Mr. Sprocket

 
Besides our regular listing & wonderful visitor reviews on Trip Advisor we can now also be found on Trip Advisor’s Vacation Rental link.  As part of that a new video-style slideshow of updated images.
 
Welcome to the Dog Bark Park Inn, Bed and Breakfast by Frances Conklin in Cottonwood, Idaho. Brought to you by TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, powered by TripWow!™ 
 
So much marvelous technology is out there to utilize & this is but one of them.  Oh, to have the time to explore all the fun stuff out there!  Being a mom & pop business tending everything ourselves from maintenance to marketing, Dennis & I must always remain mindful of the most important parts of our endeavor – creating our chainsaw dog carvings & keeping the big dog happily housing our bed & breakfast guests.  The connections with our visitors & guests is absolutely the best part of our business!  Everything else is simply the way we get to meet and interact with our visitors.