I always enjoy taking special orders. Some of my favorite new patterns come from requests: octopus, platypus, dragonfly, skunk. Even the bunnies that appear everywhere in my booth hark back to a single custom pickled-vegetable crock. So when a field archaeologist in Washington state asked for a Northern Saw-whet Owl mug for a forester friend in 2020, I was happy to oblige.

I didn't know much about them, just that they were small and shy, but Google was more than happy to provide an image, and the mug was lovely. I did a few more, never expecting the pattern to get much traction.

And then that winter, a saw-whet owl was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, where it had ridden all the way down from Maine. Christened "Rocky" by the media, its story was all over the internet, pictures as well, and fantasy/science fiction author Diane Duane was even inspired to write a novella, Owl Be Home For Christmas, wherein the owl took the Wizard's Oath and wound up--with the help of hundreds of other owls--flying his tree back to the north woods.

In real life, the little feller was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, treated for dehydration, and returned to his northern forests, hopefully to find a less portable tree to make his home.

Meanwhile, I continue to paint Saw-Whet Owls on tall mugs, dessert plates, pie plates and bakers. Their big-eyed charm never fails to attract attention.

You saw-whit here first!