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.

 

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.

Do you Zip Line? Idaho has 7

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

National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 15-22

According to figures from the insurance industry, dog bites account for more than one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims & resulting in untold pain, suffering & even death for bite victims and the dogs.

Please do your part to keep dogs and humans safe.  The American Veterinary Medical Association is one resource for more information.

Honoring Arbor Day

Yesterday we planted six blue spruce seedlings at Dog Bark Park for Arbor Day.  Our local library has been giving these Idaho grown seedlings to library patrons to encourage awareness of Idaho forest products and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Planting blue spruce seedlings for Arbor Day

 
In a few years we will move the seedlings to permanent locations on our acreage.  Right now they are together in a small plot with east sun & a bit of protection provided by the big dog from southwest winds & summer’s hot afternoon sun.
 
Seedlings planted a few years ago are now approaching 3-ft tall.  Other larger pines transplanted longer ago are now being used for nesting robbins as well as shelter for other songbirds, flickers, cats & at least one racer snake.
 
From our carving studio we can see most of the trees, all ones added to what was a grass only landscape when we founded Dog Bark Park 14 years ago.  We enjoy the beauty of the changing light on them through the day & across the seasons.
 
 
Not long ago our largest blue spruce became the canvas for nature’s art.  With an abundance of moisture this winter & spring our pines should have a great start to the growing season when warmer temperatures & plentiful sun arrives.

Blue Spruce transformed