Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snowy Owl Stained Glass Suncatcher

I love owls, I really do. Birds of all kinds fascinate me. I got interested in birds about 10 years ago and have traveled to both ends of the State of Tennessee to see various species~a real bird freak. I've been lucky enough to see a few owls out in the wild, but I've never seen a Snowy Owl. They usually don't make their way this far south but there was one that showed up last winter in Spring Hill, Tennessee, just a few hours away. I kick myself now for not making the effort to go see it.
Here is a new owl that I just added to my Etsy shop. Below are are steps involved in creating this piece.
I use the same pattern that I use for my other owls minus the ear tufts. The paper pattern is cut out and glued to the glass. Then the glass pieces are hand cut following the paper pattern outline. I've selected 3 different types of opal white glass along with black glass for the bill and lemon yellow glass globs for the eyes. Two glass globs of similar shape and size are selected making each owl and cat ornament unique.
Next, the glass pieces are grinded down to size to fit together like a puzzle. The bill will be tacked on later.
Each piece of glass is then wrapped with copper foil except for the outside edges.
After all the pieces are foiled, the entire owl is tacked down and its time for solder.
First, one side is soldered then the piece is turned over and the backside gets soldered also.
The entire owl is then wrapped with a "U" shaped lead came for strength and stability.
A single loop is soldered to the back of the owl for hanging.
Black patina is applied darkening the shiny solder and lead came to a rich dark gray.
The black bill is tinned with solder and tacked to the body of the owl. The bill is then treated with black patina.
Next comes the paint. Both pupils are hand painted~not an easy thing to do on the curved surface of a glass glob. The trick is to get both pupils similar. Now, the little guy can see.
I attach about 4 inches of black jack chain to the loop so the owl can hang. Additional chain is available upon request and at a minimal cost. Time to take a boat load of pictures and get this guy listed for sale.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A good week for some big beautiful bugs

This past week has been a wonderful week to find some big beautiful bugs around the neighborhood. Sunday started with the visit of this amazing Monarch butterfly. I was so excited to see it! Its seen here feeding on a plant called porterweed, an annual in Tennessee. It seems to be a favorite of butterflies.

I found this wonderful colorful grasshopper a few days later. He's quite large, probably 2-3 inches long. I don't know the name of this guy, but I like him anyway. Great color combination of red and yellow with black. It almost looks like he's been lacquered.

The neighbor's garden has bloomed some wonderful mammoth sunflowers. Some big bees were enjoying the tiny blooms of this beautiful happy flower.

Friday's beautiful bug was a Green Clearwing dragonfly happily resting on some iris leaves. I love dragonflies but they always seem to get away from me as soon as I try to photo them. Luck was with me when this guy stuck around for a bit of relaxation.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Barn Swallow Colony

There's a culvert right smack in the middle of town that I've been wanting to check out for a while. From the activity on the outside of the culvert I knew that there must have been some good things happening down below. Hundreds of swallows would be flying around on the outside of the culvert and then flying to the inside. Sure sign of an active Barn Swallow colony.
So, I brought my camera with me when I had to run some errands and I was not disappointed with what I found. Above is a view of the outside of the culvert with lots of tall grasses and other native vegetation that acts like a giant magnet for the flying insects that make up the diet of swallows. The name swallow is interesting and pretty descriptive. These birds fly and catch their meals on the wing-that is while they are flying and swallow them. Sorry that I don't have any pics of the adults in action-they are much too quick for me.

Above is a view looking out from the culvert. I'm quite happy that the city has left all of this to grow wild and not sprayed it down with poisonous chemicals to kill it all off.

Here is a view of the inside of the colony, half of it anyway. Both sides are lined with nests. These birds are pretty social in the fact that they build their nest relatively close to their neighbors. The nests are located about 6 feet apart from each other-the brown spots up in the corner that run the length of the wall. There's also evidence of nests that have fallen off the wall, but on the day I visited I couldn't see that any newer nests had fallen to the ground.

I've come to the conclusion that these birds are pretty darn smart in nest building habits. First, these nests are protected from the elements~no heavy rains beating down on the nests, the hot summer sun not broiling the babies, no high winds to shake the nests loose from tree branches. Second, nest predators like snakes and squirrels would have a hard time scaling the smooth concrete walls to get at an easy meal.

The nests are built from mud and grasses that the nesting pair collects with their little beaks then attached to the wall. Hundreds of trips are made to collect the mud and shape the nest and when they are finally finished they let the mud dry for days to harden like a brick. Then, they will line the nest with soft grasses and any other soft materials that they find, like the molted feathers of other birds to make a soft cushion for their eggs.

Its learning about stuff like this that has made me a true freak of nature.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The things we do for love

Kitty love, that is. Anyone with indoor kitties knows how much they enjoy looking out the window and ours are welcome to use almost all the windows in the house for viewing. All but the kitchen window, but there's not much to see out of it anyway.

My husband decided that he would build them a window perch in the basement that would be all theirs. It turned out to be a great success. The setup includes a ramp with treads for them to walk up to their observation platform safely.

The platform seats 3 pretty comfortably. On this day there must have been something in the backyard that was interesting. There's lots of trees out back with plenty of birds, squirrels and and occasional lizard that sits on the other side of the window.

The platform has sides so that they can sleep comfortably without falling off. Here's Big Maggie lounging~its her favorite spot to hang out.

Here's two of my girls, Angel and Maggie taking an afternoon snooze. Snooze away kitties, you know you are so good at it!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New glass for the coming week

Here are a couple of projects I've been working on and hope to have them completed by Monday. The rainbow stained glass peace sign will measure around 9 1/2 inches when completed. The glass I've used for this peace sign is called Waterglass and it has a wavy texture to it.
This stained glass hummingbird will measure around 7 3/4. I've used iridescent glass for the head, belly and wings and the eye will be a solder ball. The pale blue background glass is called Baroque and its full of random swirls. I've got both pieces ready to be soldered tomorrow. I've also started a second peace sign using cobalt blue glass. I'll post a picture of that one soon.

DarkHorseStore on Etsy

Jeanie from DarkHorseStore on Etsy contacted me to let me know that she had included my yin yang dolphins on her blog. I thought that was really cool so I decided to check out her Etsy shop. She's got some really cool handpainted ceramic works like this awesome gecko and this beautiful bronze dolphin.

These chili pepper salt and pepper shakers are hot! She's got some really cute bunnies, howling coyotes and beautiful elephants. Check out her shop full of cute gift ideas for yourself or for someone you love and stop by her blog and say hi.

My garden wish list

When my husband and I bought the house that we live in a couple of years ago it really needed so much work that any thought of landscaping and gardening was put to the wayside. Now that we are pretty much caught up with house things I've been thinking about what plants I would like to have on this little plot of land of ours. So, I've been walking around the neighborhood checking out what other people have planted and have come up with my own garden wish list.

These orange tiger lilies have just fascinated me and I just can't get enough of them. Every chance I get I head out with the camera to get shots of them.

Another must have are these gorgeous purple cone flowers. They have always been one of my favorites and the bees and butterflies are attracted to them also. These are a win-win flower both for me and the flying creatures that I love.

For more warm color I'd like to have some butterfly weed. I've seen some large patches of these around here and they are just lovely.

Four o'clocks for color and lovely fragrance. I've got some wonderful seeds that I brought from our last house~yellow's streaked with red, reds streaked with yellow. I can hardly wait to get the seeds started.

I've also chosen Black-eyed Susans for their smiley happy faces and for the seeds that they produce for my bird friends. Other plants that I don't have photos of but are on the list include Red-hot Poker for the hummingbirds and passionflower as a host plant for frittilary butterflies. I'm sure I'll find more flowers that I'll have to have before its all said and done.