Picture of the Week

26 Dec 2016

Heavy Snowfall

An end-of-year heavy snowfall, as seen from the back deck. We had a little over 39 inches of snow between Jan 2016 and Jan 2017.

Location: Clarion, PA

19 Dec 2016

Paws, paws, paws

In-progress casting of paws. I paint the visible outer layers into the molds before assembling.

Location: Clarion, PA

12 Dec 2016


The workshop is active now. I'm still organizing everything as it gets unpacked, and there are also several projects concurrently running in the shop.

Location: Clarion, PA

05 Dec 2016

Sneaky Snek

The Solstice Snek would like to wish all of you a Happy Holidays from her hiding place in the (faux) Christmas tree. She thinks it is her personal jungle gym.

Footnote: I do not know the original source of the above linked artwork meme "sneaky snek." A tip of the hat to the unknown artist.

Location: Clarion, PA

28 Nov 2016

Hoar Frost

It was cold enough this morning that the trees got a coating of hoar frost (top image). It all disappeared a few hours later as the sun rose and warmed everything up a bit (bottom image).

Location: Clarion, PA

21 Nov 2016

New Griffon Paws

This pair has been delivered to the client, so I can now talk about the new griffon paw style. The big scales on the arm and back of the hand have extra reinforcement so they act like scales, not bending easily. The claws are also deeply embedded and extend over the wearer's finger. The palms are more human-like, with no pads. This particular pair also has magnets embedded around the arm opening so the upper arm of the body suit will stay in place over the seam.

These will be available through the workshop. The next pair will also be photographed more properly, when I get a light booth set up.

Location: Clarion, PA

14 Nov 2016

Workshop progressing

The workshop is coming along nicely. The floor has gotten its epoxy coating (with glow-in-the-dark flakes), the walls are painted and workshop tables have been built. What doesn't show is the rewiring in and around the workshop - it's no longer running on a shared 15-amp breaker with an upstairs bedroom, which is how the previous owners had done it.

Location: Clarion, PA

07 Nov 2016

Last of the Fall color

Last of the Fall foliage color, looking out over the Clarion river.

Location: Clarion, PA

31 Oct 2016


One of the Halloween jack-o'-lanterns here at the house. Not surprisingly, we didn't get any trick-or-treaters. It's a bit off the beaten path.

Location: Clarion, PA

24 Oct 2016

Empty workshop

Everything has been moved out of the workshop. All the ancient carpet adhesive has been scraped off the concrete, and the floor has been patched where Hilti nails from old construction had damaged it. Ready for the epoxy coat.

Location: Clarion, PA

17 Oct 2016

Paw palms

Close up of the palm on a paw I'm working on. These are a little different, since they don't have pads. This is a latex pull from the molds seen back on 22 August.

Location: Clarion, PA

10 Oct 2016

Jeep in the woods

The Jeep in its natural habitat, more or less. Taken close to Canoe Ripple on the Clarion River. Time allowing, I want to make a map of all the old place names on the river.

Location: 41° 09' 49" N, 79° 32' 12" W

03 Oct 2016

Ghost peppers

Some of this year's crop of ghost peppers. Had to grow them in pots on the upper deck to keep the deer out of 'em.

Location: Clarion, PA

26 Sep 2016

Autumn Leaf Festival

Part of the carnival set up for ALF (Autumn Leaf Festival) here in Clarion. The rides are set up next to the courthouse square, but there are booths all up and down main street.

Location: 41° 12' 55" N, 79° 23' 12" W

19 Sep 2016

Helen Furnace

This is a reconstruction of the Helen (Highland) Iron Furnace dating from the 1970's; it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and repaired in 2007, omitting the charging ramp. The original furnace was built in 1845, and ran until 1857. The original furnace had been reduced to a loose round "stack" by the 1940's.

For some reason, this site is often confused with another site a little over a mile to the west, on Toby creek.

With the history of the Blackpaws being tied up with the early iron plantations in western Pennsylvania, I find sites like this fascinating.

Location: 41° 17' 10" N, 79° 19' 15" W

12 Sep 2016

Dawn over Clarion River

Dawn and light fog over the Clarion River.

Location: Clarion, PA

05 Sep 2016

At home with monsters

Can't make it to LACMA for Guillermo del Toro's exhibit At Home with Monsters, but this is the next best thing. Hopefully can catch it in Toronto next year.

Location: Clarion, PA

29 Aug 2016

Fingers always break

Doesn't matter how carefully you open the new molds, the fingers always break off the sculptures.

Location: Clarion, PA

22 Aug 2016

Molding new paws

Making molds of new griffon paws.

Location: Clarion, PA

15 Aug 2016

Workshop cleanup in progress

Ysengrin has been working in the western end of the workshop while prepping the eastern end for improvements. Here's a side by side comparison of the east end of the workshop under the previous owner and how it looks today, with the carpet and wallpaper stripped out and lights put in. The concrete floor will have an epoxy seal put on it soon, and the walls will be repainted.

Location: Clarion, PA

08 Aug 2016

Catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar

This is a late instar of the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar (Ceratomia catalpae); they're just starting to appear this season. The younger caterpillars look quite different. They only feed on the catalpa tree, of which there is one large specimen in the front yard. For such a flashy youth, the adult moth is quite drab. The three-inch long caterpillar is supposed to be an excellent fishing lure.

The catalpa tree itself was heavily stripped of leaves across the following two weeks - the second picture was taken mid-August and added later. While the tree has evolved to readily produce new leaves, repeated waves of caterpillars can kill the tree.

Location: Clarion, PA

01 Aug 2016

Cicada nymph shell

A bit late in the season, but recent rains have brought out the cicada nymphs. This is almost certainly one of the Neotibicen cicadas, as the 17-year periodic cicada brood for the area - Magicicada sp., brood VIII - isn't due until 2019 (and would come out much earlier in the year).

Location: Clarion, PA

25 Apr 2016

The village of Piney, Pennsylvania

You're looking generally east, across the Clarion River, at the site of the old wharf at the village of Piney, Pennsylvania. From 185 to 135 years ago, that bank was the site of a little river port. Iron ingots from the Beaver and Madison furnaces were shipped south to Pittsburgh on flat boats built here, with 75 to 100 tons of metal on each boat. Later, fire clay was shipped as well. Going south from the wharf stood boat scaffolds, a saw mill, general store, blacksmith's shop, a hotel and several homes. Hahn's Ferry (now the site of a highway bridge across the Clarion) was at the southern end, where Piney Creek entered the Clarion.

None of this remains now, though a careful eye can still trace the remains of the old dam across Piney Creek that directed water to the sawmill's spillway. The coming of the railroad to Sligo in 1873 shut down the river trade, and the village of Piney slowly slipped away as acid runoff from the mines increased.

The forest you see dates from well after this period.

Location: 41° 10' 13.8" N, 79° 28' 17.0" W

11 Apr 2016

Snow panorama

We had a spring snowstorm on 09 April. Here's a stitched parorama of what it looked like before Ysengrin shovelled the deck off.

Location: Clarion, PA

04 Apr 2016

After a rain storm

Don't think I'll ever get tired of the view. Looking out over the Clarion River after a rain storm.

Location: Clarion, PA

28 Mar 2016

The View Out Back

... and what a view it is. That's the Clarion River, about 200 feet below, and the Interstate 80 bridge over the river in the distance. Sharp eyes can just make out the top of the Clarion county courthouse above the trees.

Location: Clarion, PA

21 Mar 2016

The New Digs

A panoramic shot showing the new location without snow. Living space is up top, workshop and mold storage is downstairs, and you can see there's plenty of parking. The large deck up top is there for the view ...

Location: Clarion, PA

14 Mar 2016

First Look - Workshop

The new workshop space is the previous owner's "man-cave," coming in at almost 500 square feet. This is one end of it, with all the mess of unpacking going on. The lights are new. The wallpaper is old (and will be coming down).

Location: Clarion, PA

07 Mar 2016

First Look - Mold Room

There's now a dedicated indoor space for mold storage. There's quite a lot of room for expansion for more molds, too.

Location: Clarion, PA

29 Feb 2016

PA Ride Inspector Seminar

Despite being ill since October and throughout the move, Ysengrin did manage to make it to the Pennsylvania Ride Inspector seminar in Harrisburg to renew his certification - specializing in haunted attractions, naturally. This was a quick shot of one of the lunch breaks.

Location: 40° 14' 30" N, 76° 48' 01" W

22 Feb 2016

Arrival - With Snow

The original plan had the workshop moving in August 2015. Various issues with the buyer of the old place kept pushing the date back, until they finally closed in early January 2016. That also meant the move happened in the first really cold snap of an otherwise unusually warm winter - so several five-gallon buckets of latex were ruined in transit. It also meant there were several inches of snow on the ground at the new site.

Location: Clarion, PA

15 Feb 2016

Crossing the Mississippi River

Crossing the Mississippi on the Poplar Street Bridge in St. Louis during the move, looking south down the river. The bridge also straddles the Missouri-Illinois state line, and of course the Mississippi is the accepted division between the Western and Eastern United States. Crossing the Mississippi pretty much symbolises the whole workshop move.

The first picture was off the western shoreline, the second off the eastern shore. The eastern end of the bridge touches down on Bloody Island, site of many duels up through the Civil War.

Location: 38° 37' 05" N, 90° 10' 57" W

08 Feb 2016

Beware the Elk

Eastbound on Interstate 40 near Crookton, Arizona. That's Picacho Butte in the background, 7168 feet (according to USGS maps); don't confuse it with Picacho Peak in another part of the state. It's an old volcanic dome.

Location: 35° 16' 27" N, 112° 45' 48" W

01 Feb 2016

Last Meal in California

Pea Soup Andersen's, in Santa Nella, California. The best split pea soup, and one of the best chicken fried steaks. Ysengrin and DarkFang pulled in about nine P.M. on the fifteenth of January for Ysengrin's last meal in California (DarkFang returned to California after the workshop move). This is the second Andersen's location, built in 1976 complete with the "working" windmill. This was a regular stop on Disneyland trips.

Ysengrin's meal? The Andersen's Split Pea Soup Traveler's Special, of course.

Location: 37° 06' 33" N, 121° 01' 00" W

25 Jan 2016

Loading the Truck

Loading up the truck; the first image is the almost-empty truck, with only a couch and two shelves of plaster molds. The second is a two-thirds full truck. Ysengrin was too tired and rushed to get a pic of the full truck - it was filled to within a couple of inches of the rear door and to the top, and some stuff still had to be left behind. The third picture on the bottom is the heavily loaded truck towing the equally loaded Jeep, just before pulling away from the old location.

The next few Pictures of the Week are from the move.

Location: 37° 45' 25" N, 121° 27' 09" W

18 Jan 2016

End of the Day in California

Photo of the sunset looking down the street at the old California location. This was the last sunset there before Running Wolf moved to it's new location.

Location: 37° 45' 25" N, 121° 27' 09" W

11 Jan 2016

Jackson Rancheria's Eagle

Originally installed in August 2007, and re-installed in September 2012 after major rennovations of the casino, this sculpture of a bald eagle launching from an rocky peak has a wingspan of twenty-six feet. No information on the sculptor was available.

Location: 38° 23' 12" N, 120° 44' 00" W

04 Jan 2016

Casino Buffet

All-you-can-eat Christmas buffet at Jackson Rancheria Casino. Yes, that included the lobster - DarkFang and Ysengrin ate several between them. Also multiple helpings of Beef Wellington. An excessive indulgence, but it was worth doing once.

Location: 38° 23' 13" N, 120° 44' 03" W