Art and Beauty Bizarrities

Turkish Copperwork from the Ottoman Empire

These Ottoman Empire copper pieces were hand hammered by skilled craftsmen to tell stories and evoke emotion.

Turkish Copper

Large and ornamental but made for use, this ewer, pitcher, and urn have stories to tell and speak loudly when you enter a room.


Art and Beauty Bizarrities

Marshland Meadow by L. Regalski – Oil on Canvas


This painting is both compelling and detailed and transports the viewer to the destination when one looks at it. This painting is masterful and relatively modern by L. Regalski.


Art and Beauty Bizarrities

Oil on Canvas Painting of Mill by R. Popping – 1942

R. Popping Oil Painting of Mill

This painting was done at the height of the Nazi regime during World War II, it’s stark industrial lines are in sharp contrast to the earth tones and pastoral imagery, and yet, when one looks at the long shadows of the trees and the orderly progression of the painting from left to right, symbology becomes clear. Little is known of the artist but his work has sold in major auctions at top auction houses.



Art and Beauty Bizarrities

William Tell’s Dilemma by Gustav Hauser

Gustav Hauser was a little known artist and political conspirator in Switzerland who worked hard with the socialist party to bring about constitutional change and end the proto-fascist rule of the Radical Party in the 1870s and the obstructionist tearing apart of Swiss democracy prior to 1891. This painting, attributed to him, was representative of his work – overtly political with the flame of the candle representing Swiss democracy and the apple harking back to the tale of William Tell, the Swiss hero who overthrew a tyrant. The painting was presented to Captain Preston L. Vapoor by Hauser’s daughter in San Francisco, CA. Hauser died a debtor in a Swiss prison in 1907 after seeing his dream realized. While a great political visionary, he was a lousy capitalist.
William Tell’s Dilemma by Gustav Hauser


The legend as told by Tschudi (ca. 1570) essentially follows the account in the White Book, but adds further detail, such as Tell’s given name Wilhelm, his being from Bürglen, and the precise date of the apple-shot of 18 November 1307.

William Tell was known as a strong man, a mountain climber, and an expert shot with the crossbow. In his time, the Habsburg emperors of Austria were seeking to dominate Uri, and Tell became one of the conspirators of Werner Stauffacher, vowing to resist Habsburg rule. Gessler, the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, raised a pole under the village lindentree, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat.

On 18 November 1307, Tell visited Altdorf with his young son and passed by the hat, publicly refusing to bow to it, and was arrested. Gessler—intrigued by Tell’s famed marksmanship but resentful of his defiance—devised a cruel punishment. Tell and his son were to be executed. However, he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off of his son, Robert’s head in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.

Gessler then noticed that Tell had removed two crossbow bolts from his quiver. Before releasing him, he asked why. Tell was reluctant to answer, but after Gessler promised he would not kill him, he replied that if he had killed his son, he would have killed Gessler with the second bolt. Gessler was furious and ordered Tell to be bound, saying that he had promised to spare his life, but instead would imprison him for the remainder of his life.

Tell was brought to Gessler’s boat to be taken to the dungeon in the castle at Küssnacht. A storm broke on Lake Lucerne, and the guards were afraid that their boat would sink. They begged Gessler to remove Tell’s shackles so he could take the helm and save them. Gessler gave in and Tell leapt from the boat at the rocky site, already known in the “White Book” as the “Tellsplatte” (“Tell’s slab”). Since the 16th century the site has been marked by a memorial chapel.

Tell ran cross-country to Küssnacht. As Gessler arrived, Tell assassinated him with the second crossbow bolt along a stretch of the road cut through the rock between Immensee and Küssnacht, now known as the Hohle Gasse. Tell’s blow for liberty sparked a rebellion in which he played a leading part, leading to the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy.


Art and Beauty

Buy My Art!

This is your chance to own an original oil painting by me. Chances are that I will never be a famous artist or famous anything else – but maybe you like my style, maybe you like my art. These are available for sale. One of my goals this year is to sell a piece of my art to someone who likes it – and isn’t related to me and so possibly inclined to look on bad work favorably. Maybe these aren’t the paintings that will sell – but I will keep trying. These are all oil on board – which is new to me.

1) MonaLisa Simpson

2) The Fool SOLD
3) Hot Virgin Mary sold

4) The Scarlet Letters sold

5) Rising Spider Sun sold
6) Poof Room SOLD
7) The Dictator Strong Man sold

8) Doc Bugeyes sold


Antiques Art and Beauty

Selling My Special Finds Here


It’s funny that it’s taken me this long to come to this decision – but finally, here it is. I’ve decided to start selling those things I consider special finds – here – on my personal website.

I’ve had an antique shop for years now and been selling on Ebay, through auction houses like Bonhams, Sothebys, and Skinner and at flea markets and antique shows – and for some reason – I’ve been hesitant to sell here. No more.

I will be listing art, ethnographic, toys, advertising, books, and more here. I hope you enjoy these things as much as I do – at the very least – this creates a record of some of the beautiful, interesting, and bizarre items I enjoy the most.

Antiques Art and Beauty

Japanese Statuary – Hakata Urasaki – Beautiful Japanese Life


History of Hakata Urasaki

One of the first items we’ve featured in our brick and mortar art and antique shop is a wonderful collection of Hakata Urasaki figures. These figures vary in size but most of the one’s we have are 8-10 inches tall. The porcelain figures are known for their exquisite details – in particular when it comes to capturing facial details and the minutia of Japanese life.

I should point out right away that there is a distinct difference between a Hakata figure and a Hakata Urasaki. It is helpful to know the history of both.  The original Hakata dolls date back to the late 1500s in Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyoshu. A lord was having a castle built and noticed a worker constructing figures from clay. The sculptor, Sohichi,  was so skilled that he was immediately patronized by the lord and passed his skills and trade secrets on to the next six generations. The secrets died in the mid 1850’s with his final heir.

Hakat Dolls Washable

It wasn’t until 1885 that artisans in Hakata took up the art and displayed their work at a national exhibition. This is where the dolls came to be known as Hakata. The figures became internationally known at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Hakata are earthenware and each is hand painted.  They are delicate and as a result, not many true Hakata have survived.

Hakata Urasaki Dolls

In post WWII Japan, there was a revival of Hakata dolls, mainly as souvenir’s for US troops.  In the 1950s during the Korean conflict, a doll making firm was contracted by the US Exchanges to produce a special line of Hakata dolls, called Hakata Urasaki, after the name of the firm making them, the Urasaki doll store. Hakata Urasaki were painted with a waterproofing coat which allowed them to be washed. These were produced only during the 1950s and only for the exchanges and US Servicemen. The dolls were not as brightly colored as the original Hakata dolls and were not desirable to Japanese consumers and so they were discontinued when the bulk of US troops left.

A special note about these dolls – even thought the labels say they are washable, the washable surface has long worn away with age – these should never be washed with water, only dusted with a dry cloth.

Antiques Art and Beauty

Our New Venture – A Vagabond Antique and Art Shop – Brick and Mortar!

Coming back to the USA was difficult for me. I want the best opportunities for my daughter in terms of health and education and since I can’t move my family to Canada, France, or the UK – it made sense for us to move back to my home country. Coming to the USA has been difficult for my wife – but she is resilient and adapting well.

Marley Horses
Marley Horses from the Fouria Estate

One of the big problems for both of us was that of finding work – much to my surprise, nearly a year on and I find myself doing the same work that was supporting us in Morocco and Turkey (blogging) but in a much more expensive country. Over the past few years, it seems that Google and the FCC really have it in for independent bloggers and they’ve systematically made it harder and harder to earn a buck web logging – and yet – here we are. Still going.

We wouldn’t have made it without a second income – one that has always been a sort of second nature to me – picking. From the time we arrived in the USA we’ve been cruising estate sales, thrift shops, antique shops, and garage sales and grabbing overlooked treasure – then reselling it on eBay. It’s made the difference in making rent and putting gas in our tanks. Picking is a lifetime skill and I enjoy it.

A series of rather lucky events led to me putting my skills to work when a high school friend lost his parents. He needed to have a series of estate sales and didn’t have any ideas about how to run them or price things, research things, or set it up. This was like graduate school for me – suddenly, I was faced with the valuable horde of three generations of art lovers – depression glass, cast brass sculptures, paintings, French furniture, Italian art glass, Turkish brass, Japanese lacquerware, antique wood working tools, paintings and the list goes on and on.

Vagabond Antiques and Art
Our humble beginnings

Over last summer we turned what probably would have been fairly good garage sales into highly profitable estate sales – and – we cleared out a huge amount of day to day stuff in the process. I discovered my sales skills are good enough to sell three cords of firewood for a profit in 115 degree summer weather and during the countless hours of digging on the internet and in antique books – I learned about everything from Bohemian glass to Hummel figurines to vintage fishing gear and old oil cans.

Our first two sales were focused on the less than extraordinary stuff – which, in point of fact, was really extraordinary when compared with most stuff you see at sales, but not so extraordinary as the stuff we didnt’ sell. There is still all the French furniture, the Japanese wood block prints, the Victorian decorative items and more…and a truck load of smaller brick-a-brack of great beauty and moderate worth. The big success was that we cleared out enough stuff so my friends could deal with it and we didn’t accidentally give away any great treasures. We knew what we were selling and we got fair prices for it.

After the estate sales, my wife and my picking became much better. With the knowledge we’d earned, we could go to estate and garage sales – even those that had already been professionally picked – and find the extraordinary that had been missed. An example – yesterday I paid $10 at a thrift store for a painting that is most certainly worth several thousand — there is more research to do – but the painting was done by a prisoner in the Green Haven Prison facility named E. Conway in 1970. The picture does not do this oil on canvas winter scene justice…but certainly it is worth more than $10 – there is something darkly magical about it.

E. Cnway The Woods in Winter

So, my point is that we’ve accumulated a nice collection of items and a storehouse of knowledge that exceeded our eBay store and my office’s capacity to hold them. So, we decided to open a brick and mortar store. We didn’t have the money to open a full store, nor the inventory – so we opted to open a space in an antique mall. The rent is $200 per month and the owner of the mall takes a hefty 15% commission, but the store is well known and has a wonderful location – so, we don’t have to be there or pay utilities or hire employees.

As we were making the arrangements, I wondered if we had enough inventory – then I thought of my friends and asked if they wanted to consign all those boxes of stuff in our shop – they agreed and we took a quick to trip to California to pick it up.  It turns out we probably could have filled our little space – but their antiques and Japanese stuff really brought life to our space and gave us such an abundance of inventory that we don’t have to worry about it being empty for quite a while.  Kismit and with any luck (and hard work), they will get more through our shop than they would through a garage or estate sale.  The past week, I’ve been researching and inventorying hundreds of items – pricing, buying furniture, and setting up our shop. We opened last Tuesday and so far – well, we don’t really know. The busy tourist season on Highway 101 starts in a few weeks – we have our fingers crossed.

Vagabond Antiques and Art

Eventually, we would like to have our own shop and perhaps even our own little antique mall – but for now – we are starting small. Please come and visit.

Brown Dog Antiques – 595 U.S. 101 -Florence, OR 97439  –

Come in and go to the back and you’ll see us. I will be writing more about my research interesting items and art in general on this blog. I hope that we can build a little community around antiques and art – where you can share your treasures and we can share ours.

Art and Beauty

Art Supply 101 – Versatility of Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board

bristol Board

Bristol board is a heavy, strong and stiff paper that comes in different weights. It was originally manufactured in Bristol, England in the beginning of the 1800s, and used for drawing, painting and illustrations. It continues to be used for these purposes today, and has proved versatile enough to find application in the printing of works of art, postcards, invitations of various types, as well as technical drawings. Different weights have different applications. One of the most popular products is the Strathmore 300 series bristol board.

Types, Sizes and Weight

Bristol board, also called bristol paper, is a machine-finished, uncoated paperboard. It has two working surfaces, front and back, differentiating it from illustration board, which is finished only on one surface. Bristol is usually lighter in weight than illustration board, and is typically used for work that is meant to be preserved in the longer term. Bristol paper of the highest quality is even suitable for archival pieces.

The Strathmore 300 series bristol board is available in a smooth, plate finish or a regular vellum finish. Vellum is paper treated with a texture so fine it appears smooth but a closer inspection reveals a light, but rough finish. Some people have said it feels like the shell of an egg.

Both smooth and vellum sheets of the Strathmore 300 series bristol are available in pads of 20 sheets each bound on the top with tape. The pads are available in a range of sizes from 9 X 12 inches through 11 X 14 and 14 X 17 inches to the largest at 19 X 24 inches. It is all 100 lb. paper and importantly for archival work, is acid free. Although white bristol is most popular, it is available in many other colors.

Common Uses of Strathmore 300 Series Bristol 

Most parents have bought bristol poster board for their children to use to put together a display for a school project. Hand lettered notices of school outings, church bazaars, and community potluck dinners are often posted on bristol. However, there are also many commercial uses for the product, such as the postcards and invitations as already mentioned.

Artists, both amateur and professional, particularly appreciate Strathmore 300 series bristol board. There are online reviews that attest to how perfect the smooth version is for artists who use color pencil and pen, and how the heavier weight can stand up to plenty of scrubbing by an eraser. One art teacher says he recommends the Strathmore 300 series bristol from to all his students.

An illustrator who scans and prints his work insists the best copies come from the true white Strathmore 300 series bristol. Someone new to drawing for the comic book industry appreciates the variety of sizes. People are happy with the results they produce on Strathmore bristol products whether they are using pencils, paints or inks.

There are many varieties of bristol paper and board on the market. However, the quality and versatility of the Strathmore 300 series bristol board position the product at the top of its category. It is readily available in both local stores and online shops.

Art and Beauty

The Mystique of Fly Fishing – Lure of the Wild Rivers and Lakes

I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly fish. I admit, part of it was reading Hemingway when I was young and feeling the romance he described it with. Another part was being raised in California and Oregon mountain towns and just feeling that amazing feeling of freedom that comes from the isolation of the streams and rivers of the Northwest.  Yet another part was the beauty of the motion – fly fishing might be something anyone can do – I don’t know about that, yet, but it might be – but it doesn’t look like something anyone can do.
fly fishing
Fly fishing isn’t anything like traditional angling – it’s not a sport where you bait your hook, drop it in the water, and wait for the fish to hit – it’s not about getting in a boat and going out into the ocean – it’s about the dance. It’s about the motion, it’s about the art. Watch a fly fisherman and you can’t help but appreciate the grace of motion, you can’t ignore the vitality of the visual experience.

Then there is the art of the gear and tackle. Tying a fly is an art form. The most valuable flies sell for hundreds of dollars – these aren’t flies you would fish with anymore than you would smoke a cigarette rolled in hundred dollar bills – these are art and those who tie them are artists. Each fly represents meticulous work on specialized tools by artists who have studied the patterns and habits of game fish.

And it’s not just the flies that are valuable. Vintage cane fly rods go for thousands of dollars and a vintage #44 fly reel by BF  recently sold for more than $5000 on ebay – even the fly tying materials and tools are sought after as collectibles with a vintage fly tying vice going for anywhere from $100 to $3200.

It’s not the prices of the gear that have drawn me to this sport, but rather the sport has drawn enthusiasts who frequently claim that fly fishing is an addiction which will consume you completely – it is that enthusiasm which has driven the gear to such levels. That and the fact that this is not a mass produced sport that is suitable for the masses – there is something magical about it.

hand tied flies

Hook and sinker fishermen can often be heard saying that fly fishermen are snobs. Maybe they are right or maybe they just don’t understand the way this sport hooks into your soul.

In any event, I have always been drawn to it. Over the past several months, I’ve been quietly amassing a bit of fly fishing gear and trying to give myself the courage to try. It’s terrifying to contemplate something so beautiful and to wonder if one can succeed at it. It’s not a cheap sport to get into. I’ve managed to put together a relatively cheap rod and reel, some floating line, a bit of leader, some flies and even an old canvas creel (which is too fragile to use but which I hold as some sort of talisman.)

What was missing was the opportunity to have someone show me what the hell I was doing and to give an okay to my gear as a starting point. I never had a grandfather, father, uncle, or anyone else that took the time to teach me these things – maybe they didn’t fly fish or maybe the timing was wrong.

So, this past weekend, I saw a flyer about the Reedsport Fly Fishing Expo and there was no way I was going to miss it. I am so happy that I went.

I had the chance to meet fly fishermen, the chance to have experts evaluate my gear – which I’d hoped might be expensive and valuable but I was happy to learn is serviceable and a good starting point for me. Even better, I won a new fly rod in a raffle along with about fifty flies tied by the members of the Lower Umpqua Fly Casters – and then, really the ultimate I could have hoped for – I had the chance to learn from a legend.

92-year-old Frank Moore was offering free one-on-one clinics where he helped those who already and those who want to learn to fly fish. Frank and several other members gave me the guidance I needed to know how to cast. While there is a lot more to learn – suddenly I feel like one of my lifelong dreams is coming closer to reality.

Frank is the most famous fly fisherman on North America’s west coast. He stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II and has fished every river you can imagine to ask about. There is no greater authority of west coast fly fishing and I was humbled and honored to be able to get even a tiny bit of his knowledge.  Frank is an inductee in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and an incredibly kind and gentle soul. A moment of hearing Frank talk about fly fishing and you might know why this sport calls me the way it does.