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Sculpted Folk Art Walking Cane with Spiral Twisted Carved Wood Spirits Faces Ivory & Scrimshaw

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 12-26-2006 07:16 AM 86233 views 12 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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Sculpted hand carved Walking Cane, four happy wood spirits sticking out of the wood, carved from Kansas Black Walnut Wood.

Although this walking cane has been ”SOLD” and resides in Hutchinson, Kansas USA, I can make you something similar.

The carved canes sell faster than I can do them, so they are all custom ordered. You can go down this listing to see links to many examples of the various canes I’ve created.

If you would like to see a few other walking canes that are finished and for sale, click here

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Welcome Web Surfers:
If you are surfing looking for a special walking cane on the internet, go toward the bottom of this posting where you’ll find a list of canes that I have built that are ready to ship immediately. Also, there are links to several more customized canes that have already been sold to give you ideas for your own commissioned cane.

Slide Show: I have also added a new Slide Show where many examples of my walking canes are shown to give you a feel for the different styles I have done.

You can reach me by emailing to:
mark@decoustudio.com

Or you can click here to visit the DeCou Studio Website

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Just the Facts:
  • Wood: Kansas Black Walnut
  • Carvings: Smiling Wood Spirit, Wood Spirit Sticking out his tongue, Wood Spirit Smiling, and Surprised Wood Spirit sporting only one lower jaw tooth, all shown spiraling down the shaft of the cane.
  • Each Face, Hair, and Beard has been colored using thinned Acrylic Paint.
  • Handle: Kansas Whitetail Deer shed Antler
  • Inlay: Abalone Shell, and Legally purchased Elephant Ivory
  • Tip: Machined Brass Ferrule with replaceable rubber tip
  • Scrimshaw: Monogram Lettering
  • Height: 35.5”

This Cane’s Project Story:
I carved this walking cane for my dad as a gift to him from my mom. On top of that, I wanted to do a little extra effort for him, as he took a week of vacation and went along on my trip to the Western Design Conference Show in Cody, WY this past September (2006).

He was a huge help with all of the driving, lifting, loading, hauling, and customer/prospect contacts during the show, even insisting on paying for his meals. And I, to my shame, hadn’t really done much for him to show my gratitude other than to say, “thanks” many times.

He mentioned to my mom after he returned from the Cody, WY show that he had wanted to buy one of my walking canes, but the last day of the show I had sold the one he wanted. This was all news to me, or I would have gladly given him the cane he liked. So, mom commissioned me to carve a cane for him as a Christmas gift from her, so I used the opportunity to try something unique for him.

I have carved a lot of Face Canes, with the beard, hair, or feathers spirialing down the cane shaft. I did my first one in this style about two years ago the day before the KC Woodworking Show. I took it to the show the next day and walked around with it, sort of like advertising, and sold it in about 15 minutes of entering the door. So, I have continued this style on many canes since then. They aren’t cheap, but they all seem to find happy homes, and they serve as fun “fill” work in my commissioned furniture building schedule.

For this special cane for my dad, I decided to try something I have never done before, and that is to carve more than one Face in the cane. Also, I decided to do Silly Wood Spirit faces, as I rarely see a carved Wood Spirit smiling, when a person, including myself, has carved one. Normally, carved Wood Spirits look very somber, or even sad. In this case, I tried to carve a little bit of humor into each face, so that a person looking at the cane would at least smile a little as they looked at each of the four Faces.

Since walnut is my dad’s favorite wood species, I used Kansas grown Black Walnut. The cane blank started out as a 2” x 2” x 37” long, solid blank of walnut, and I carve all the material away, leaving a smooth, straight tapered shaft down the center, with the faces/hair/beards spiraling down around the shaft, looking as if they are sticking out of the wood shaft. Most people that look at these canes and ask if I glue the faces on the shaft. But, they are all carved from one piece of wood, and so it is fun to explain the technique to people. There are many people that carve Wood Spirit faces into the wood of a stick, but I was trying to do something unique by carving the Faces “Proud” of the cane shaft, having them stick off of the shaft.

Since carved Faces don’t show up too well on a dark wood such as walnut, I used some thinned Acrylic paints to wash some color into the Hair/Beard/Faces so that they are easier to see, contrasted with the darker background natural color walnut. My cheap digital camera has a hard time picking up a good photo of things like this, but I did the best I could with the photos.

The monogram initials on the handle are Scrimshawn letters on a piece of legally purchased African Elephant Tusk ivory that I bought through the David Warther Museum in Dover, OH. If you have questions about how Scrimshaw artwork is done, check out my website, I have some details there for people that are curious. The back end of the Whitetail Deer antler handle has a piece of inlayed Abalone Shell.

Carving something for Dad to use and show others, is pretty intimidating, as he has forgotten more about carving than I have learned in my 42 years of life. I can’t match his abilities to carve, but I think he will be proud of it nonetheless, and I am proud of him and appreciate his encouragement and training over the years, not to mention that trip to Cody, Wy.

Turned Brass Tip with replaceable rubber end:

Scrimshaw Monogram on Elephant Ivory (pre-ban):

Thanks for looking at this project,
Mark DeCou
www.decoustudio.com

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More Walking Sticks & Canes:
If you go to my Mark DeCou Website you won’t find very many canes pictured there. I do realize that I need to invest in improving my website, but until that is accomplished, here are few more of my canes posted at lumberjocks, thanks for your patience.

Handmade Finished Canes For Sale, Ready to Ship Now:

ETSY.com Online Shop Inventory: Click Here to Visit my Cane Inventory Page

- List of Other Canes I’ve built:-

Folk Art & Pop-Art Carved Canes
  1. Bear Head Dressy Cane
  2. Horse Head Dressy Cane
  3. African Safari and Elephant Cane
  4. 50th Wedding Anniversary Staff
  5. Carved Face Life-Story Cane
  6. Motorcycle Biker's Walking Cane, Carved Flames
  7. Elk Antler Handle, Carved Twisting Oak Leaves
  8. Bishop’s Carved Walnut Crosier
  9. Nascar’s Jimmie Johnson Themed Walking Cane
  10. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Stick
  11. Folk-Art Smiling Wood Spirit Face Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle
  12. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  13. Folk-Art Pirate Carved Face Cane w/ Deer Antler Handle
  14. Cartoon Character Taz, Folk Art One-of-a-kind Art Cane
  15. Sculpted Wood Spirit Face Cane
  16. Folk-Art Wood Spirit Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle & Scrimshaw
  17. Folk Art Mountain Man Face Cane
  18. Shamrock Wood Spirit Irish-Theme Face Cane
  19. Walnut Wood Spirit Face Cane with Antler & Turquoise
  20. Collection of Face Carved Canes
  21. Moses-Inspired Face Carved Cane w/ Antler & Turquoise
  22. Shepherd's Stick, Carved Border Collie Welsh-Style Dog Show Trial Stick
  23. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Artwork
  24. Amazing Grace Music Notes Carved Cane
  25. A Lady’s Elegant Red Long-Stem Rose Carved Cane
  26. Prairie Fire Hand-Carved Hiking Thumb Sticks
  27. A Folk-Art Carved Albatross Head & Snake Walnut Cane
  28. Carved Folk-Art Walking Cane; 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' Story Stick with Scrimshaw Artwork-
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Native American Indian Theme Folk-Art Canes
  1. Apache Chief Geronimo Folk-Art Face Cane
  2. Folk Art Native American Face Cane Set
  3. Apache Chief Cochise Folk-Art Face Cane
  4. Folk Art Carved Cane of Shoshone Chief
  5. Indian Guides Chief Big-Red-Cloud Hiking Stick
  6. Apache Chief Cochise #2 Folk-Art Face Cane
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Scrimshaw Artwork Canes
  1. Scrimshaw Quail and Bubinga Spiral Dress Cane
  2. Scrimshaw Art Trophy Buck Deer Head
  3. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Praying Mantis Insect
  4. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Floppy Eared Bunny Face & Walnut Barley Twist
  5. Big & Tall Barley Twisted Oak with Scrimshawn Handle
  6. Walnut & Curly Maple Cane with Scrimshaw
  7. Scrimshaw Art Walnut Cane
  8. Fancy Barley Twist with Scrimshaw Cane
  9. Lady's Dress Cane, Red Oak, Walnut, Black Lacquer, & Scrimshaw Artwork of a Purple Cone Flower
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Natural Sapling/Limb Canes/Sticks
  1. Ash Sapling with Elk Antler and Inlays of Crushed Turquoise
  2. Knarly Cedar Driftwood Topped Sapling Stick
  3. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  4. Nanny McPhee Movie-Inspired Crooked Walking Stick
  5. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Cane
  6. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  7. Shepherd's Crook Hiking Stick
  8. Black Locust Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  9. Red BirchTree Sapling Hiking Stick
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Fancy Barley-Twist Style Dress Canes
  1. Fancy Barley Twisted Ebonized Oak & Elk Antler Cane, Serial No. 2009-05
  2. Big & Tall Walnut & Maple Barley Twist Custom Cane
  3. Big & Tall Red Oak and Antler with Scrimshaw Monogram
  4. White Oak Barley Twist Cane
  5. Osage Orange Barley Twist Cane
  6. Walnut & Figured Maple Barley Twist cane
  7. Black Walnut and Spalted Sycamore Barley Twist
  8. Red Oak Barley Twist with Black Lacquer
  9. Red Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Handle
  10. Dress Cane, Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Ring
  11. Bryan's Cane, The Start of my Cane Journey
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Fancy Dress Style Canes
  1. Ribbed Walnut Cane with Camphor Burl Derby Handle
  2. African Blackwood and Lapis Lazuli Ball Walking Stick
  3. Pink Ivory and Elk Antler Dress Walking Stick
  4. Coiled Ribbon Twisted Spalted White Oak with Walnut Handle
  5. Polished Black Steer Horn Upright Walking Stick
  6. Mexican Bocote Wood, Elk Antler Handle with Hand-Wrought Fine Silver End Caps
  7. Fancy Walking Cane, Camphor Burl, Maple, Bubinga, Whitetail Deer Antler, Inlays & Silver End Caps
  8. Custom Dress-Up Walking Cane, Walnut shaft with a Camphor Burl Handle
  9. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  10. White Birch & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  11. Walnut Bamboo-Style Cane with Chrome Ball Top
  12. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Dress Cane
  13. Bird's Eye Maple Cane
  14. Spalted Sycamore Walking Cane
  15. Walnut Tall Knob Top Opera Cane
  16. Zebrawood & Walnut Knob Top Opera Cane
  17. Dress Cane Set, with several Material Options Shown
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What is Scrimshaw Artwork?:
A Scrimshaw Art Journey: What it is & How to Do it; Five Simple Steps to Success
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Click here to go to My Website page with Walking Canes

I usually have a few canes in stock at:
  1. Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works in Wichita, Kansas
  2. Prairie Past Times Antiques & Crafts in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

You can contact these gallery stores directly and see what they still have in stock. They will ship to you if you buy something. If you prefer, you can also email me, as I keep fairly current on what is “unsold.”

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Background: My Cane Making Story:

I enjoy sculpting walking canes. Some folks call them Folk-Art Canes, while others call them Artisan Canes, some call them Carved Canes, while others call them Walking Sticks. There is quite a bit of argument about whether something should be called Sculpture or Carving. They could be considered Functional-Art, which is the type of work that I am usually drawn to. No matter what these canes are called, they seem to bring joy to the owners, and I have been asked to make quite a few of them in the past 5-6 years.

I started making canes on the request of a nice married couple I met on a church-building short-term mission trip to Mexico City in the early 1990’s. Several years after our trip, their son-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer, and so they wanted to get him a specially made cane that he would enjoy using. They had heard from others that I had quit my corporate office job and started doing woodworking full-time. So, they contacted me to make his cane.

Click for details

Sadly, I also built him a casket, another first for me, about a year later

Click for details

Since the time I did that first Cane for Bryan, I have enjoyed the work on the canes that I have been able to make, but more importantly, the people that I have been able to meet and help along the journey. I do make a bunch of unique items and furniture, but without a doubt, I receive more correspondence and thank-you cards from cane customers than any of the other items I make, combined. So, they are fun for me to build, and I look forward to each new person and situation.

To keep a handle on all of the memories, I engrave a small serial number on each brass cane tip, and then I keep a detailed database log of each cane, customer, and situation. The list always brings me warm memories each time I scan it and remember the folks that have supported my work over the years, and vice versa.

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Still Want to See more of my work?

Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Art-Furniture I've Built
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools

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(This text, all photos, project design, are protected by copyright 2007-2012, M.A.DeCou, all rights reserved and protected, ask permission first! Weblinks to this page are permitted)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com





27 comments so far

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2842 days


#1 posted 12-26-2006 07:26 AM

As we say in Oz, goodonya, Mate!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2911 days


#2 posted 12-26-2006 07:40 AM

Mark do you use a Dremel or just a carving set? Great gift enjoy your Dad whiile you hve him. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2911 days


#3 posted 12-26-2006 07:40 AM

Mark do you use a Dremel or just a carving set? Great gift enjoy your Dad whiile you hve him. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2871 days


#4 posted 12-26-2006 01:10 PM

Hi Mark,
I have been looking at your walking canes lately and must say that I am quite impressed.

I would also congratulate you on your ability and foresight in the area of creating, “Silly Wood Spirit faces”.

Actually there are three areas I would like to felicitate you on here:

a) You are right about how that spirit faces can usually apppear as glum or full of doom and what you are showing us is full of joy and life.

b) I also like how you talk about doing “something unique by carving the Faces “Proud” of the cane shaft”, and your acquisition of skill level at bringing this forth, and yes I know how it can be fun to explain to folks how you’ve did something, especially when its your own techinique.

c) I noticed how you mentioned adding some ‘color’ as a wash into the wood to offset and compliment the dark background of the walnut and bring forth the spirit faces even more. Almost as if the face is stepping out of the wood and as I’m sitting here looking at that smile I can almost imagine the laughter that is yet to come. I have recently being doing some test pieces with colored pencil on maple and am finding this a little hard, as it goes against my ingrained teaching of what is acceptable and not, according to those who tell us workers of wood, how we should work. Ha! I am getting good feedback though, so will continue to burst this bubble.

Mark, I am glad to ’hear you write’, and how you reveal a part of who you are and how your art comes from inside you and those who surround you as part of your life. I always enjoy it when workers of wood can drop the book techinque and share fom the inside of where they are as humanity. This is what makes us art-fully wookers of wood and just not another power tool.

You truly are a master and an artist after your own and I can only say thanks for what you have shared. Keep on writing the wood you live!!!
Have a very good day!
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Mark A. DeCou's profile (online now)

Mark A. DeCou

1996 posts in 3070 days


#5 posted 12-26-2006 08:55 PM

Hey Mike:
I use a combination of tools:

1) Legacy Ornamental Mill
2) Dremel (two of them)
3) Pfingst Flexible Shaft ginder system (looks like a Foredom
4) Palm Hand carving set
5) Three whittling knives with different shaped blades.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2979 days


#6 posted 12-27-2006 01:01 AM

Interesting cane. I like the use of color against the walnut and the combination of different crafts. The father son thing touches me also.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile (online now)

Mark A. DeCou

1996 posts in 3070 days


#7 posted 12-27-2006 01:25 AM

Thanks Frank: I wish I had your gift for poetry and expression. Thanks.

Dennis: I was reading that Frank was working with coloring on Maple. You might point him to your carving projects where you colored your carvings. As you know, taking digital photos of wood objects with coloring using a small camera lense and a small front facing flash is really difficult. The photos don’t really do the painting justice, but the concept comes through, so I posted the photos.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2976 days


#8 posted 12-28-2006 12:15 AM

I just love the wood spirit carvings. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad that you do. Eighteen hours! Are you sure? No only do you do very impressive carving, but fast too. I’m sure he was very touched by your work and is very proud of you. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2992 days


#9 posted 12-28-2006 03:20 AM

what a fantastic caricature!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Mark A. DeCou's profile (online now)

Mark A. DeCou

1996 posts in 3070 days


#10 posted 12-28-2006 06:07 AM

Thanks Oscorner: 18 hours might be a hair over-exaggerated. the inlayed ivory and abalone, and the scrimshaw monogram took me a couple of hours, which is included in the total, as well as fitting the handle and the brass the ferrell on the tip. I sort of lost track of exactly how many hours I spent the last night I worked on the cane, as I was jumping back and forth between a Cowboy Nutcracker on Horse, and Fancy Walnut Wall Curio Display Box, and putting together two bicycles for the kids to find on Christmas morning, while trying to finish and wrap the cane up in a box. I finished up the “night” about 3:30am Christmas morning, and so I had to sort of guess how much time I put in on the cane project that last night. I try to work really fast, because if I don’t, the price gets so high on them that they don’t sell. Also, I have carved those little Wood Spirit faces quite a few times, which really helps with the speed. I added the toothy smiles this time, which takes a little longer, but I think I am hooked on the smiles and will continue them on future cane projects. My dad didn’t say anything to me about the cane, as it is hard for he and I to talk on that level for some reason. He told my wife that he really liked it.

Thanks Scott: you are an ongoing encouragement to me.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2826 days


#11 posted 01-19-2007 04:46 PM

magnificent piece of art and story.
Isn’t it interesting that we each find our own unique ways to interact with family members. The trick is to be able to read and respect the underlying messages and to not let things slip into the “regret bucket”.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2826 days


#12 posted 01-19-2007 04:47 PM

also, which is your favourite Dremel bit (for carving)?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Mark A. DeCou's profile (online now)

Mark A. DeCou

1996 posts in 3070 days


#13 posted 01-19-2007 05:40 PM

Hey Debbie: I use a whole series of bits, and I hardly ever go by a store that has bits, without buying more. I work a lot in deer antler, and the High Speed Steel bits seem to dull fast in that material. The carbide ones work much longer, but are twice the cost of the HSS bits. I have found that the extra cost is worth it, and I try to buy carbide bits whenever they are available in the profile I need.

The folks at Legacy Woodworking www.legacywoodworking.com, who made the ornamental mill that I use to rough out the cane blank have asked for me to do a video for them on the techniques of how I make this style of cane. They have my first cane in this style in their Provo, UT headquarters gallery. If I had a good video camera, someone to do the camera work, and some time to do it, I would complete that project for them, as I think it would be fun, and who knows where something like that might lead. Norm can’t keep going for ever you know. ha.

The next time I make a cane like this, I will take some snapshots as I work through the process, and I will photograph the dremel bits and burrs that I use throughout the process.

I don’t have any orders for this style of cane right now, so I am not sure when I will get back to carving another “Face” cane similar to this one. When I get an order, I’ll take a couple of days out of my furniture commission work and make the cane. If my furniture schedule can handle the delay, I will often make 3-5 extra canes similar in style at the same time, and then I consignment sell them at a couple of small retail stores.

I have found that all of the canes seem to find homes, although I can’t predict when the income will arrive, so I can only afford to do them a few at time without a paid commission. Even then, it always seems like I can’t afford to be spending the time on them. I’m told that In Heaven, there will be no bills, and that is just another good reason to hope for that day.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the pressure of being professional in this work, I need the push to stay productive and on task. I can easily sway off task and start doing cool things I have been wanting to play around with if I don’t have the pressure to stay on task. Even then, my wife checks on me quite often to make sure I haven’t gotten side tracked on something that seems more fun to do than the paying task at hand. I guess I am mostly a prototype builder, and I get bored quickly with things that require me to do repetitive functions and parts, and seem to find myself drifting to something more challenging and fun to accomplish. I feel it is both a gift and a burden, so the pressure of the bills helps me stay focused.

thanks for asking, keep posting, I enjoy seeing your work.
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2826 days


#14 posted 01-19-2007 05:56 PM

I know what you mean, about the gift/burden. I’m a thinker/creator person and have tons of ideas that are BRILLIANT… so, you make sure that you fit those fun things into your schedule so that we can benefit from your ideas.

I’d love to see the dremel in action. My creativity is bursting inside me, waiting for the venue to show itself. I enjoy using my Dremel, for the uses I’ve found so far so I’m itching to do some carving with it.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2842 days


#15 posted 01-20-2007 01:42 AM

Dick and Debbie, another perspective on this gift/burden issue is to realize that someday you will both have the time and means to do the one-off “gifty” stuff.

My working career stretched from 25 years of age to 60. But since then, I’ve been free to explore and experiment as much as I like. It’s one of the reasons I resist taking on any commissions for woodwork. In terms of my creativity, I’m free to go where my mind and spirit direct me.

Unfortunately, when you are young, retirement may seem a long way in the future, but believe me – it will arrive only too quickly. Enjoy the moment!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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