Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cicada wings and blooming things

Every year we are blessed with the emergence of one type of cicada or another. They spend most of their lives underground feeding on tree roots, once they emerge and break from their nymphal skins their adult life is relatively short. Their large size makes them easy to spot as they cling on to plant life or other things and I've even found them on the ground attempting to fly but their wings are so weak that all they can do is spin just a little bit.

The above is a photo of last year's Periodical Cicada coming out of its skin.

After looking at their wings closely I thought it would be an interesting fun project to create one in glass. The structure of the wing is really quite lovely.

For the first one I had made I had taken a wing that had fallen off of a cicada and simply scanned it and blew it up to a larger size to create a pattern.

For the first two wings I had created I has used textured iridescent glass. For the one I created yesterday I chose to use lightly textured sea green glass~~its fun to try things in different colors plus I've got a boat load of sea green glass that I need to find a use for.

For the previous two wings I had only added a single loop to the base of the wing, for this new one I've added a loop at a second location along one size as to allow the wing to be hung both vertically and horizontally.

I'm not quite sure if I like the location of the second loop, perhaps it should be placed further down towards the end of the wing.

Assembled using glass, copper foil and solder, the entire outer edge has been wrapped with a type of lead channel to give it strength. Cicada wing suncatcher is available for sale now in my Etsy shop.


Spring has come on in a really strong way here this year. Our winter was really mild so everything had awoken quite early. Most of the trees are in full leaf already, which doesn't usually happen for another month.

A few days ago I had noticed some lovely wild azaleas growing on a hillside just down the road from me. There are quite a few of these shrubs, I had picked the easiest to climb to to get some photos.

The flowers are really lovely growing in clusters, bright white trumpets with a heavenly scent. Members of the rhododendron family, I'm not quite sure which species these are--wild, mountain or other.

This is a view of the shrub I had picked to photo, tucked among various other trees the whiteness really stands out looking for attention.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Golden amber leaves in stained glass

A few days ago I got started on a suncatcher project for my Etsy shop in between some custom orders that I've been working on. This was a piece that I had done once before and loved it so much that I decided to create another.

Some months ago I had come across a fantastic deal on a lot of glass that someone was basically giving away. He had retired from the business and needed to get it moved off his property since the property was sold. Not having the heart to destroy all this glass, out of the blue he called me and asked if I might be interested. I simply could not resist.

Within this collection were some beautiful pieces that I'd never used before. One was this gorgeous dark amber glue chip glass. Glue chip is created when a layer of glue is spread over the sheet of glass, as it dries it pulls up parts of the surface in a random manner leaving behind an appearance of ferns perhaps, or a frosty look.

Another interesting piece was this deep dark brown glass with a granite texture that so reminded me of tree trunk. A color so rich and brown like the woods used in old German cuckoo clocks. These two colors paired with lighter amber I though would make an interesting combination.

For the center leaves I choose a medium and a pale amber colored glass, both in wavy Waterglass texture from the Spectrum Glass Company. Waterglass in all colors is probably my favorite glass to use. The colors are bold and true, the delicate texture lends itself well to so many different applications. Still photos don't do the glass justice as there is so much light play and a feeling of movement to it.

Reversing the textures of both the glue chip glass and the dark brown granite glass gives the piece additional interest once the sun goes down. Interior artificial light gently plays on the surfaces of these areas catching your eye as you walk past it.

This amber leaves suncatcher is now available in my Etsy shop. Measuring 13 3/4 inches diameter, 35cm. The design can easily be customized to colors of your choice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Black Vulture~up close and personal

Quite an exciting event a few days ago in that I got to get close to a Black Vulture and it didn't seem to mind having its photo taken.

The vulture population has always been strong in the neighborhood I live in. This area sits high on a hill top overlooking the Tennessee River. The topographic features attract vultures year round due to the thermal currents that form naturally. Vultures enjoy riding these thermal currents and can soar effortlessly for hours. The above photo was taken a few weeks ago in the early morning hours when I followed them to a clearing where they were already in action.

The trees directly across the street from my house have been a favored roosting area as well. Hundreds of them will settle down for the night in the tall trees there. Occasionally, I'll walk over to take photos of them or to simply observe their behavior. They are not vocal birds, but do make grunts and hissing sounds. The loudest sounds that come from them are when they are spooks and whole flocks leave the trees~I suppose its the motion of air beneath their long wings.

Lately, I've noticed that they are starting to come closer to my house. A few days ago I noticed a few sitting in tall trees behind my house and along with making themselves comfortable on my neighbor's roof.

I had stepped outside to take care of something or other when I noticed a Black Vulture sitting on my neighbor's back deck. What a great opportunity this would be, I thought...I'll just sneak quietly alongside their house and snap off a shot or two...all the while thinking that the bird will probably leave once it hears me approaching. I got lucky and it didn't.

So, I thought I might try sneaking around the other side of the house to their back yard and get some more shots. The bird did not seem to mind at all as I slowly crept up the stairs to the deck and stood about 5 feet from it for these photos. Its a much handsomer bird than I would have imagined~~never seeing them this close before, only through illustrations and photos in field guilds and such. Its feathers were clean and glossy and somewhat fluffy on its head. I enjoyed my time with it and left quietly leaving it alone to enjoy the sunny afternoon. It was a wonderful experience, I'll have to keep my eye out for it again...perhaps it would like additional photos taken of it.

I've got a set on my flickr photostream for more vulture photos I've taken over the years: