Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eat For Two

The other day when I was working from home at my computer desk I was, as usual, totally enchanted with the birds at and around the feeder right outside my window. Birds are actually pretty much pigs on the black sunflower seeds... one of the bloggers I like to read who has a bird feeder for the first time noticed how much seed they can go through and had some commentary on it that made me bust out a belly laugh. Go here and read it for yourself - enjoy!

I've noticed before when a male cardinal would feed a female cardnial, and it was really cool to watch. There was a pair that day, and at first I thought it was a pair as in Mr. & Mrs., but... the female looks very young....

There was just something about the pair that made me think they are father and daughter...

And this time, I not only got photos, I took video! and set it to appropriate music...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Birds for Joyce

Even though I have been trying to practice throwing on the wheel at the pottery studio, I still love hand-building. I made a set of small, shallow dishes for Joycie recently by using slabbed clay (the studio has a slab roller) and plaster forms.

They are squarish bowls, about 5" diameter and only about 1" depth.

My thinking when making them was to use them for olive oil dipping for breads, because we love that... a good olive oil, a nice spice and some balsamic vinegar. Yum.

I ended up making her a set of 9 because they all stayed intact! A couple of them had cracked when I was making them because I dried them too quickly, but they all made it through the bisque and then the glaze firing just fine. So now she has extra.

I decided to paint on the dishes doing something from one of my favorite illustrators, Charles Harper. I love his work. I've mentioned him before on my blog, from the "Twenty Froggies" poem in Childcraft. I searched for images of his work on the 'net, and there were just so many of his birds I liked, that I finally settled on doing all birds... but then there were so many birds to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down to 9! Have I mentioned I love his work?!

The studio uses a medium-fire stoneware clay, white. I made the bowls and let them dry, then I traced the birds onto the bowls with carbon paper (remember carbon paper?!). I then used underglazes to paint the birds and the outsides of each bowl. Underglazes are basically like colored clay, and you can mix the colors to achieve different colors... and pretty much the color you paint onto your greenware piece (prior to bisque firing, or on bisque if you prefer) will be the color on the final piece after glaze firing. This is much different than typical glazes for bisque which are made up of glass and chemicals, and where your green glaze will be a shade of gray until it goes through the final glaze firing in the kiln. After the bowls were bisque fired, the underglazed colors were very dull. I dipped each dish in clear glaze, and then after the final kiln firing, they were all nice and shiny. I like working with underglazes for detailed painting. Unfortunately, I can't draw, so I usually trace and then paint.

I surprised Joycie with them the other day, and she was pretty happy. Another something for her "hope chest"...

Mike liked them, too. I can't believe they are getting married in less than a year. Time flies! Like the birds...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.

I've always liked bugs. As a kid, I'd look for them everywhere outside. All the little parts of the bugs kinda fascinated me. I'd make the ants go one way, then block them off to make them go another, and another. Major summertime fun.

That's not to say I am 100% a fan of bugs 100% of the time. If there's one in my house, I'll send it to that great big bug heaven in the sky no problemo. And spiders can really creep me out. Through becoming somewhat obsessed last spring & summer with taking photos along our ditch of all the floral and fauna, including bugs and yes, many spiders, I've come to not only appreciate spiders more, but all the weird and the familiar bugs I came across. It's their shapes - geometrical, flowing, long, short, skinny, fat... and all the colors. The colors! Truly amazing. And the combination of colors. So pretty. Pretty, pretty bugs! And the legs and wings. Weird eyes. Hairy parts... Interesting, very interesting.

I have accumulated a lot of close-up photos of bugs. I've been sorting through them all, and I've been able to trash a kazillion and one jpg files off my computer's overloaded hard drive the past couple of weeks. Following are some that I have decided I like... enjoy - I hope you don't get creeped out (Kathy!)...

(Click on the photos to enlarge 'em and really see some detail... on most of them, some of them I saved a cropped smaller photo and deleted my nice large original jpg file... *sigh*)

The end. (Do you feel itchy all over?)