Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011~The year of the turtle

According to the Chinese zodiac the official animal for 2011 was the rabbit~but for me it was the year of the turtle. It seemed everywhere I went I'd have an encounter with one or more. Red-eared Sliders were found both close to water where they like to be but also one made its way through my yard which was a mystery as my yard is high on a hilltop. Eastern Box Turtles were found both in my backyard safe from vehicles, but a handful needed to be rescued out of the highways as well.

Here are some of my favorite turtle photos of 2011, I couldn't list them all as there were so very many. I hope you enjoy this collection.

Wishing all a very happy and healthy 2012. I'm very excited to find out what my animal for the coming year will be.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The black cat and the moon

Last week, I started working on a new panel to add to my Etsy shop.  The idea for this piece came about as a lot of projects do and that's by doing some simple sketches, doodling really, with no real intent of creating anything but somehow things just start to fall into place.  The original sketch for this was on scrap paper at about 3 inches tall.  After some thought and erasing and adding and white out I finally came up with the plan that I wanted to use.  Next came choosing the glass for it.

The glass I chose for the background sky is an interesting color~some of the time it looks purple, some of the time it looks blue~its always changing with any light behind it.  At first I thought to do all of the parts besides the sky and the moon in black to appear as silhouettes.  But, black is black and I was afraid that it would not be the look I wanted.  I decided to use a dark amber streaky type glass for the trees and another type of dark amber for the ground, glass that is more dense than the tree glass.  Of course, the kitty is black.  One of my black kitties loves to sit in the big oak tree in the backyard~~maybe I was thinking of him when I starting doodling for this piece.

A few days into the project and all the pieces were cut, fit and foiled.  Since its a rectangular piece I used rigid zinc channel to frame it.

Once all the parts were reassembled back onto the pattern, I measured and cut the zinc.  The ends were cut using a hacksaw and a miter box.  You can see the open channel on the second piece up for the glass to set into.  

Once completed, this Black Cat and Full Moon Panel measures at 15 3/8 inches tall by 14 inches wide, 39cm by 35.5cm.  I've had a chance to study this piece for a few days now since its currently hanging in my living room with good southern exposure lighting coming through it.  Sometimes I'm not sure if I've chosen the right glass to use for a project and with this piece the ambers were questionable.  But, now I'm glad that I've used them in that when the moon glows the brightest and whitest with strong light behind it is when the trees and the ground glow the brightest as well~similar to the way an actual full moon lights up the ground beneath it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I've brought the duck back

A few weeks ago, I met a most interesting duck at a local state park.  I watched him as he would wait for fishing boats to be offloaded and then he would follow the boaters around the gentle cove but never venture out for to the main river.  Around the cove he would swim, he was pretty fast about it.  Finally, he came over to where I was at and I got to take a good look at him.

He's really a beauty--all black with feathers that are iridescent in the sun.  His bill reminded me of a Mallard Duck, so I'm not sure if he's part domestic duck, part Mallard or what.  There is a duck called an American Black Duck--but they don't look anything like this.

This duck got me thinking about bringing out an old pattern that I had done of a duck a few years back.  I knew I wanted to make some changes to it before doing another.  I played with the pattern a bit--made the cattails larger, changed the position of some of the grass and made those parts larger as well.  One thing I wanted to do with the new duck was to use brighter colors for some of the features.  The last duck I had done had darker colors which made it difficult to photograph.

The pattern I had developed was on a regular sized piece of paper-I enlarged it and got to making my copy.  I thought it would be interesting to do something different with the eye.  For that I chose to use a black glass glob, a/k/a glass gem, half marble.  They are a bit larger than needed---I grinded the glob on all sides to fit and took a bit off the bottom of it as well so it wouldn't stick up way higher then the glass.

It was really very fun choosing all of the different colors for this piece.  I thought also to use denser glass on the main features with the thought that this might be an interesting piece to hang on a wall since not everyone has big windows for big suncatchers.

After days of glass choosing, cutting, grinding the pieces and foiling them I was finally ready to solder everything together.  This is an exciting time because once I have one side soldered I'll finally be able to pick the piece up and see what everything looks like together.  The reverse side is then soldered and lead channel wrapped all the way around the piece.

I hung the duck up inside and thought it looked pretty good this way.  It was then that I realized that I was not completely done~~~I still needed to hand paint some features onto the duck.

A little nostril and some lines by his webbed feet are what I added.  I never realized how important this nostril is until I spent time watching that black duck.  He seemed to blow air out of it when he had his bill in the water--kind of what people do when they swim.

I'm very happy with the outcome of this new Mallard Duck design, available for sale in my Etsy shop.  This suncatcher panel measures 15 inches diameter, 38 cm.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I've been visited by royalty

Royalty~~in the form of this fantastic Regal Moth caterpillar, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius). I've seen caterpillars that are stunning and some that are large--but I've never seen such a big beauty as this one.  The outside cats had brought it to my attention~~well, not really, actually I check on them throughout the day to make sure that they are alright and haven't gotten themselves into any trouble.  I peeked outside and could tell that they had something large, green and interesting.  I was in for a real treat.


I'm not one that usually grabs a glove when something like this presents itself~~I've been known to handle frogs, toads, lizards, snails and even a slug or two without a problem~~but I could tell that this caterpillar was going to be quite strong in its gripping abilities.  Of we went together into the backyard, me and the caterpillar minus any cats, where I could study it closer and take lots and lots of photos of it.   I was truly amazed by its beauty--from the thorny horns on its head to the lovely marking on the sides of its body and everything in between.

This caterpillar is also known as the Hickory Horned Devil~~one of its host plants in the hickory tree. Oaks along with various hickories make up the backbone of the woodlands in this area.  After nearly 12 years of living in these woods I'm surprised that this is my very first encounter with one.  More great information about this caterpillar and the moths that they become is located  here.
I knew I had a great moth caterpillar in my hand but was unsure which specie it was, I set it down for a minute and ran inside to get the field guide along with a ruler to measure it.  By the time I had made it back the caterpillar had wondered off to isolate itself from this entire ordeal that it had been put through.  Sad to see it go, I was thankful for the opportunity to have seen it firsthand.

The field guide that I own was able to show me exactly what type of caterpillar I had just encountered and also the moth that it will eventually become. Since I enjoy posting my photos to Flickr I thought that I would take a look and see what other photos of the moth I would find there. I was really delighted to find a wonderful photo of the moth.  With permission from the photographer, Myeyeongaia I've posted two wonderful photos of this winged beauty.  The above a lovely female and below a couple in the midst of continuing the cycle of life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stained Glass Rainbow Butterfly~~new and improved version

Last week I had begun working on a new version of a Rainbow Butterfly in stained glass.  I had come up with the original idea a couple of years ago and have done a few versions of it.  For this new design I changed things up a bit by adding a lot more detail in the wings of the butterfly and also adding swirls and curves to the background--to give the piece more of a feeling of movement.

As in the previous butterflies I chose to use a textured glass made by the Spectrum Glass Company called Rough Rolled. It has a sparkly texture that really shimmers with sunlight or even objects behind it that reflect light.  For the background pieces I was able to piroot through my leftover scrap box searching for odd parts to use~~as it turned out I was able to use seven different textures to surround the butterfly.

This was the very last rainbow butterfly that I had done before making the changes that I did.  When working on the one above the thought came to me that I really wanted the colors to flow from the center outward--the only way to get that to work was to add more pieces to the project--which of course involves a lot more cuts and a lot of small pieces to wrap with foil. Also, even though I love the deep purple that I used its such a difficult color for me to photograph that I figured that I shouldn't use it again for a butterfly.

Shown here with all of the pieces for the project cut and about half way through the process of foiling.  Even though some of the pieces were/are tiny this step seemed to move relatively quickly.

Here it was ready to be soldered together.  When doing a piece like this with tiny parts its real easy to get globby and sloppy with the solder.  Remember to bring your patience to the soldering party.

Completed this butterfly measures 12 inches wide by 10 1/2 inches tall, about 30.5cm by 26.5cm.  Available for sale in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A little bit of time for some exploration

With the record heat this summer, its sad to say but I have not had much desire to go out exploring.  Sure, I think about it and that's as far as it gets.  I know I have missed so many wonderful happenings out in nature.  When I knocked off working this afternoon I was just itching to get out, even just for a few minutes.  That's about all the time I got, soon after arriving at a local county park thunder was heard in the distance and rain started heading our way.
There were lots of lovely water lilies close to the shore.  I was glad to see them--they have been doing an extensive 'clean up' of the brushy areas in the park--the places that I love to explore.  Good to know they didn't touch the lotus.

I just can't help but think of ET whenever I see one of these seed heads from the American Lotus.  From the looks of broken off stems, somebody must like them and have picked them to take home.

Lots and lots of dragonflies flying about this afternoon.  These two stop to take a break and seem to be sizing each other up.

Butterflies and more butterflies.  This Spicebush Butterfly has definitely seen better days.  Huge chunks of its wings were missing, but it didn't seem to have a problem flying from one buttonbush bloom to the next.

Last year, they had cut back these lovely buttonbush plants to the ground.  Thankfully, they had let them grow back for this year~~the butterflies were all over them.  Here a Tiger Swallowtail feeds alone...not for long.

This second one thought that the first one had an extra special flower and wanted a taste of it as well.

Such a short visit today~as it was time to head out I spotted this Great Blue Heron feeding close to shore in the shallows--looking for a tasty meal~~~maybe a small fish, maybe a frog.  It stayed in place for a while--but not long enough while I fumbled with the settings on the camera.  Just as I was about to take a shot at it, it decided to take off--it ended up being a pretty cool shot anyway.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Something a bit different~Abstract Blue and White Suncatcher

I've had the thought of trying this idea for a while--design something without the use of a pattern.  Finally, I've gotten around to doing just that. I started this piece off by simply drawing a circle on a sheet of paper and then filling in the circle with various pieces of glass, mostly scrap pieces that were sitting in boxes.  It was a bit harder then I thought it would be--but very fun anyway.  Some of the pieces were just a touch short~~that's when I had the idea of putting a couple of glass globs in to fill in the voids.

One I had all the pieces foiled and started the solder process, I thought to pull an old trick out of my hat by adding this solder effect.  When the solder is hot, a wet sponge is smashed onto the solder lines creating this crinkly effect.

Two shades of blue along with white glass, a dark blue gem, two light blue gems and one clear gem all together in this abstract suncatcher~~available for sale in my Etsy shop.
This one of a kind piece measures 8 3/4 inches diameter, just over 22cm.

Looks interesting hanging on a wall as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why did the turtle cross the road?

I would have to think he did because he wanted me to write about him.  The other day I was leaving to run to town to take care of some errands and I've learned that its best to bring a camera along.  This Eastern Box Turtle was starting to make its way across the road~~of course I had to pull over and take a look.  It really did put a smile on my face when I realized it was so close to the speed limit sign.  This will probably qualify as a turtle rescue--there have been a few this year--pulling turtles off of busy highways.  And although its posted at 20 MPH not many people pay attention.  Even the school bus driver thinks he's trying to qualify for a NASCAR race when he comes through.

The shells of these turtles are just so beautiful. Such wonderful color and design. 

When I first took an interest in the workings of nature and bought loads of books to learn about the wonderful creatures around me, one of them was a book on reptiles and amphibians, their life histories and such.  Unlike mammals and most birds, reptiles show little outward signs of their gender.  With box turtles, eye color can sometimes be a determining factor along with the shape of the upper shell.  If the tail is visible, the male's are usually longer and wider than the females--although it would be difficult to compare without multiple samples. Here's a way to distiguish the two sexes.  The underside of the shell, known as the planstron will be concave in males and flat in females.  So--this one looks to be a boy.

These turtles have another wonderful design and that they can completely close themselves into their shells in case of danger--the planstrom is hinged to allow this.

Time to let him go.  After a few minutes I moved him over to the other side for some peace and quiet.  When moving turtles out of harms way--most likely a roadway, its important to move them in the direction that they were travelling--not back where they were since they will set out again.  There's a reason they were heading the way they were.