Picture of the Week

23 Dec 2009

San Francisco Sunset

San Francisco at sunset, as seen from the former Naval Air Station Alameda, looking across the old runways.

Location taken from: 34° 47' 11.4" N, 122° 18' 36.0" W

17 Dec 2009

Lance Pope, 1965-2002

Ysengrin left this small sabertooth plush at Lance Pope's gravesite as a rememberance. Seven years ago today, Lance suddenly passed away

Location: 32° 40' 19.9" N, 96° 48' 43.7" W

09 Dec 2009

Antonito, Colorado

This is the former Denver Rio Grande Railroad depot in Antonito, Colorado; the core structure (built around 1880) is made of locally quarried lava. There's also a bit of Ysengrin's family history here -- his great-grandfather ran furniture and funerary businesses in town and was the first mayor, and Ysengrin's grandfather was born in Antonito almost 120 years ago. Photograph taken August, 1959.

Location: 37° 04' 26.3" N, 106° 00' 27.8"W

02 Dec 2009

Mother Remembered

This was Ysengrin's mother, taken as she perched on the rock wall of a scenic overlook in Colorado back in 1943. She passed away a few weeks ago.

25 Nov 2009

When the power went out ...

What does your place look like when the power goes out? This was the scene in our living room during a long blackout, something you learn to live with in the mountains.

18 Nov 2009


A Foggy Morning

A foggy morning with the sun just touching the trees as seen from our workshop. Ysengrin will be away from the shop for a week or so.

11 Nov 2009

Slime Mold

This is a slime mold (possibly Physarum polycephalum or, less likely, Fuligo septica) that Ysengrin came across, apparently moving up the side of a fallen redwood tree. The yellow mass was roughly 1.5" across.

04 Nov 2009

Werewolf Jawset

Here's the final jawset as it comes out of the 3D printer. Original model created in Blender. We'll make a silicone mold from these masters and make the actual sets for the head with dental acrylic. For some idea of the size, the largest canines are two inches from gum line to tip. The arrangement of the front teeth are based on a black bear, transitioning to hyena on the back molars.

28 Oct 2009

"World's Largest"

Just what they claim. If it filled the building they were in, the size would be squarely in the middle of haunted attractions. Seen in Morgan Hill, California.

Location: 37° 08' 59.2" N, 121° 39' 14.8"W

21 Oct 2009

Arata's Minotaur

Arata's Pumpkin Farm each year builds a massive new hay bale maze for their minotaur. This year was no exception.

Location: 37° 22' 57.6" N, 122° 24' 10.5"W

14 Oct 2009

Field of Pumpkins

A hillside field of pumpkins overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I'm also including a 1680x1050 wallpaper image of this one, for the season.

Location: Along Highway 1 just north of Santa Cruz

07 Oct 2009

Guardian Beast

This fierce metallic beast with his terrible yellow eyes stands guard at Arata's Pumpkin Farm.

Location: 37° 22' 57.6" N, 122° 24' 10.5"W

30 Sep 2009

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

The one-hundred and fifteen foot tall lighthouse at Pigeon Point has been in operation since 1872; the grounds have been a state park since 2005. The original Fresnel lens is still in place but is only used for special occasions; a modern high intensity light mounted on the exterior of the lighthouse serves for day-to-day navigation. The lighthouse itself is closed to the public due to structural damage that occurred in 2001 and awaits funding for repairs. Around the base of the lighthouse is a youth hostel occupying the lighthouse keeper's quarters since 1980.

Location: 37° 10' 54" N, 122° 23' 38"W

23 Sep 2009

Brown Paws

Here's a set of brown hindpaws that shows off the variation in the color; there's a very nice fine texture to the brown skin.

16 Sep 2009

From Computer to Foam

Here's another in-progress photo of a head form. This is pretty much how it looks coming off the ShopBot; you can see the path of the tool as it carved away the foam. The surface could be processed to a much finer finish, but at a cost of considerably more time. It's easier -- and much faster -- to hand sand the foam from this point, especially as we intend to work a layer of clay over it.

09 Sep 2009

Collapsed Railroad Tunnel

This is another abandoned railroad tunnel in the Santa Cruz Mountains that was in use until 1940. This is not the same tunnel as last week's image, though it was part of the same railroad. That railroad still partially survives today as the Roaring Camp Railroads, extending from Felton south to Santa Cruz. The abandoned tunnels are all north of Felton, and were part of a railroad line running from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos.

02 Sep 2009

Old Railroad Tunnel

This is an abandoned railroad tunnel in the Santa Cruz Mountains dating back to the 1880's; it was in use until 1940. The facing of the tunnel portal and much of the hillside it was set into have been lost to erosion over the last seventy years. Originally over six thousand feet long, it now ends in a collapse just a few tens of feet into the tunnel.

Thirty-two Chinese laborers died during the construction when the release of natural gas during tunneling resulted in an explosion. The San Francisco earthquake triggered massive landslides in the surrounding hills, and caused a five-foot horizontal jog in the tunnel where it crossed the San Andreas fault line. The railroad was abandoned after massive winter storms in 1940 washed out large sections of track, and the tunnels were dynamited shut by the Army Corps of Engineers shortly afterwards.

The once popular resort and park next to this tunnel entrance shut down quickly once the railroad was gone.

26 Aug 2009

Head Core

This is the result of some R&D here at Running Wolf Productions; it's a core form that Ysengrin will be sculpting on top of. The form was created as a 3D mesh in Blender based on concept art from Solid Asp and modified to fit over a mesh of DarkFang's head. The form was then cut into slices that were milled in Foamular (extruded polystyrene) on a ShopBot. The slices were assembled and given a coat of resin to give a hard surface to add clay to for sculpting the fine detail.

19 Aug 2009

3D Printed Jaw

Here are before-and-after images of a new jaw; one is in Blender and only exists virtually, the other is printed in hard plastic. The process allows us to fine tune a jawset to a much greater degree than we could before. We will use the printed jaw as a master and pull a silicone mold from it for actual use.

12 Aug 2009

Lockheed Wildfire

This photo is actually taken on the 13th; it's the smoke from the Lockheed wildfire, about three miles from our workshop. As of this writing, the fire covers over 3,000 acres and is 0% contained. The wildfire was also less than twenty hours old when this photo was taken.

05 Aug 2009

What Might This Be?

A closeup of a block of extruded polystyrene foam (AKA Pink Foam or Foamular) being carved on a ShopBot. This is another experiment in making computer-generated forms physical.

29 Jul 2009

Homemade Signage

Highway 9 is well maintained two-lane mountain highway that attracts a large number of both two wheeled and four wheeled enthusiasts to come play. Highway 9 also has a reputation for having an unusually high number of accidents. Some of the local riders have taken to placing homemade signs along the way as reminders to not ride over your head.

Location: somewhere along Highway 9

22 Jul 2009

Taungpulu Monastery

The Taungpulu Kaba Aye Monastery is nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains just a few miles from our workshop. One of the notable features of this monastery is the Kaba-Aye Pagoda; the top of a smaller pagoda can be seen through the trees in the linked full-size image. The monastery (and the associated meditation center in San Francisco) offer Theravada Buddhist teachings as practiced in the Forest Tradition.

Location: 37° 10' 14.4" N, 122° 10' 15.8"W

15 Jul 2009

Yukon Husky

Another mask commission; Yukon Husky wanted a head to go with his fore and hind paws.

08 Jul 2009

more R&D Projects

Here's another 3D printer test and an Arduino Duemilanove with a SD card reader. We're experimenting with the Arduino as the controller for moderately complex animatronics. The one-inch cube was a test of various capabilities of the 3D printer we're using.

01 Jul 2009

Computer to Real World

Something we've been working on. This half-mask (that fits DarkFang) was created in Blender and then given physical form via 3D printing. The full-size image also shows the Blender model it was printed from. This was done as a proof of concept; expect more elaborate constructions in the near future.

24 Jun 2009


Some of the artwork of the Flaming Lotus Girls, as seen at Maker Faire this year.

EDIT: I stand corrected; this is the work of Charles A. Gadeken, a founding member of the Flaming Lotus Girls, and is caled Pnuema.

Location: 37° 32' 51.9" N, 122° 18' 07.4"W

17 Jun 2009

Maker Faire

Maker Faire: yeah, it was kinda like that.

Location: 37° 32' 51.9" N, 122° 18' 07.4"W

10 Jun 2009


An example of an old idea on the rise again -- membership-based workshops where the members have access to equipment and training that would normally be much harder to come by (or prohibitively expensive). TechShop is a Silcon Valley based franchise, but there are several other workshops springing up across the country as people with similar needs pool their resources. Some are geared towards the DIY and maker crowd; other workshops are more directed at artists.

Location: 37° 28' 59.8" N, 122° 10' 40.6"W

03 Jun 2009

Electric Giraffe

The robotic Electric Giraffe (Russell, according to his name tag) was spotted at the Maker Faire this last weekend, sporting a new paint job along with other upgrades.

Location: 37° 32' 51.9" N, 122° 18' 07.4"W

27 May 2009

Brass Dragon

This six-foot tall brass dragon -- and it's mirrored twin -- were seen in one of the shops in Chinatown.

20 May 2009

Chinatown Gate

Ysengrin is still fascinated by the gate at San Francisco Chinatown. Even on a weekday, it's also very popular with the tourists.

Location: 37° 47' 26.5"N, 122° 24' 20.1"W

13 May 2009

San Francisco Cable Car

Cable cars wait just before the Powell Market turntable for their turn to load.

Location: 37° 47' 04.9"N, 122° 24' 27.6"W

06 May 2009

Barbary Coast

These brass markers for the Barbary Coast walking tour are scattered around downtown San Francisco, set into the sidewalk.

29 Apr 2009

Lingcod Skeleton

This large lingcod skeleton is on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The lingcod is native to the Pacific coast of North America.

Location: 36° 37' 05.7"N, 121° 54' 05.3"W

22 Apr 2009

Tom Scribner

This bronze of the musical-saw-playing labor activist Tom Scribner graces downton Santa Cruz. Fresh flowers are placed daily on the statue by locals. A biography of Tom can be found here (pdf).

The artist is Marghe McMahon; the bronze was created in 1978.

Location: 36° 58' 31.6"N, 122° 01' 35.3"W

15 Apr 2009

Spring Cleaning: Shop

Here's the "back corner" of the workshop, taken a couple of weeks ago. On the table you see a new set of pawpad molds, a set of masters waiting to be remolded, a bucket of claws to have the flashing removed and a pair of paw sculptures from a cancelled project that Ysengrin keeps threatening to finish and mold anyway.

Location: 37° 08' 06"N, 122° 08' 25"W

08 Apr 2009

Double-legged Tree

Here are two of the last surviving Circus Trees at the old Lost World site (now a shopping center in Scotts Valley). Once upon a time, these two trees were joined together and shaped into the Double-legged Tree. Sometime after Lost World closed they were cut apart, and when the other surviving trees were relocated this pair was left behind.

Location: 37° 02' 58"N, 122° 00' 56"W

01 Apr 2009

Spring Cleaning: Molds

With a weekend without rain, we finally pulled all our molds out of the shop as part of spring cleaning. The linked image shows about half of all our molds. Stay tuned for the post-cleaning workshop.

Location: 37° 08' 06"N, 122° 08' 25"W

25 Mar 2009

Lost World Bears

These two bears in MacDorsa Park were once part of the Lost World, a tourist attraction in Scotts Valley, and were donated by the Lost World owners, Larry and Peggy Thompson, after the attraction closed in the late 1960's.

The Lost World was a re-imaging of an earlier attraction, the Tree Circus. The Lost World maintained arborsculptor Axel Erlandson's world-famous trees, but once Lost World closed the trees were left to fend for themselves until the mid 1980's, when most of the surviving Circus Trees were moved to Bonfante Gardens (now Gilroy Gardens).

The original site of the Lost World/Tree Circus is now a shopping center.

Location: 37° 02' 58.4" N, 122° 01' 05.6" W

18 Mar 2009

Redman-Hirahara House

Easily seen from Highway 1 in Watsonvile, California, this house built in 1897 for James Redman. In the 1930's it passed to the honorable and distinguished Hirahara family, but after the Loma Priada earthquake it was abandoned. Due to the efforts of local groups, it was placed on California's list of historic locations in 2004, and the Redman-Hirahara Foundation came into being to restore the house as a museum. In September, 2007, the house was lifted and placed on beams so a new foundation and cellar could be laid in place.

Unfortunately, progress seems to have halted at that point, and the Foundation filed for bankruptcy last week. As you can see in this photo taken on the 14th, the house still rests on the temporary beams, in the middle of a field, awaiting a new foundation.

Location: 36° 53' 46.55" N, 121° 46' 37.88" W

11 Mar 2009

Stone Heads

These two stone heads (only one is seen in the thumbnail image) are part of a decades-old stone retaining wall, but were hidden under thick growth until recently. CORRECTION: Ysengrin swears he remembers these heads from years gone by, but the current Brookdale staff say they're new.

Location: 37° 06' 26.4" N, 122° 06' 34.5" W

04 Mar 2009

Minos, Slayer of Pumpkins

Well, actually we don't know the story behind this large metal figure, except the folks at Arata's Pumpkin Farm bring him out every year for the Halloween season.

Location: 37° 22' 57.6" N, 122° 24' 10.5" W

25 Feb 2009

Brookdale Renovations

Three years ago I mentioned the Brookdale Lodge on these pages. Since then the lodge has changed owners and is now know as the Brookdale Inn & Spa, with the Brook Room now known as the "Brookroom." After a rocky start, the entire lodge is being refurbished in stucco and stone, with the exception of the Brookroom with its bisecting stream where Sarah Logan drowned in the 1940's (her restless ghost supposedly still haunts the lodge). As you can see, the Brookroom is no longer white -- painted to match the stucco of the wing of rooms, perhaps -- and the property is being re-landscaped.

Location: 37° 06' 26.26" N, 122° 06' 34.48" W

18 Feb 2009

Lion Dancer

One of the neat things about being the the San Francisco Bay area is that lion dancers appear fairly often.

Location: Somewhere in San Francisco

11 Feb 2009

Morsus - FC2009

A new Morsus head we delivered to a customer at Further Confusion 2009.

Location: 37° 22' 17"N, 122° 55' 18"W

04 Feb 2009

GreyFang - FC2009

GreyFang, wandering around Further Confusion 2009. She's a Canadian werewolf, and this was her first visit to the San Francisco Bay area.

This image is ©2009 by Changa_Lion and is used with permission. Check out his flickr set for FurCon 2009.

Location: 37° 22' 17"N, 122° 55' 18"W

28 Jan 2009

Further Confusion 2009

Ysengrin's bodysuit hangs drying in the hotel room after a day of running around. This was the last Further Confusion to be held at the Doubletree Hotel; next year it will be held at the Fairmont in downtown San Jose, January 21st - 25th.

Location: 37° 22' 17"N, 122° 55' 18"W

21 Jan 2009

One of our clients (Abraxxus FX), taken back in April, 2007, at the Whitby Goth Weekend.

Approximate Location: 54° 14' 29"N, 0° 31' 35"W

14 Jan 2009

New pawpad

This is a new pawpad sculpture that we'll be selling by the end of the month. For those of you attending Further Confusion, we'll be using this sculpture in a demonstration of how to make and cast pawpads.

Location: 37° 08' 06"N, 122° 08' 25"W

07 Jan 2009

Winter Leaves

We're low enough in the mountains that we rarely get snow -- but we always get several inches of fallen leaves. Here, DarkFang pauses for thought before clearing our front walk.

Notice that we're moving the Picture of the Week from Sunday to Wednesday; we're finding that our weekends have gotten quite busy.

Location: 37° 08' 06"N, 122° 08' 25"W