Thursday, March 31, 2011

Head banging robin

Oh dear.  The last couple of days we have had an upset Robin outside. He consistently flies into one of the windows - and not just now and again - but every couple of minutes or so.

Photo by Dendroica cerulea

After doing some research, it appears that it is a territorial response.  He and his mrs are obviously building a nest close by - and we've heard some knocking on the roof near the window too.   However, the male sees his reflection in the window and thinks another male is in his territory so raises his head feathers to try and warn his off. Unfortunately the other robin - ie his reflection - raise his feathers too - and so the robin tries to attack the other bird and send him away.  Obviously the other bird does the same thing and so Mr Robin spends all his day attacking his reflection instead of nest building, singing and eating which he should be doing.

Photo by ibm4381

We've put up a cover on the one window so he can't see himself in it and hopefully he will get back to his normal spring time activities instead - and get rid of his headache! 

Poor little thing.  We'll be keeping an eye out for him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

13/52 Bird a week challenge - Quentin Quail strolls in the garden

Yes, Quentin has finally joined the "bird a week challenge"!!  For those who don't know, Quentin is an old friend who lives with us here in Birdland. He is a California Quail who shares his life with his wife Queenie and their numerous babies. During the winter he hangs out in his covey of other quail friends.   If you look under "caption competition" at the top of this post, you'll see Quentin and some of his friends from last year!!!

Well today he is hanging out on one of my leafy aluminium bracelets, entitled "Quentin strolls in the garden":

He likes wandering among the leaves and looking for food...... I think maybe later in the season when he has his family, it would be good to see all the quails together on a bangle. What do you think????

Doesn't he look handsome!

A group of us are all challenging ourselves to make a bird a week for 2011, and here we are, already on week 13 - a quarter of the way through!  I hope you'll take the time to see some of the other birdies created this week by clicking on the links below....more and more links appear as the week goes by as people finish their birds. Hope you enjoy them:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lily earrings

I've been trying some metal forming techniques on the aluminum and  a new design for earrings came about from it. Little hanging flowers that make me think of lilies.

Each has two petals and hanging between the petals are beads for stamens.

 The little bead makes the tiniest sweet sound against the aluminum.

I'm enjoying trying the metal techniques and look forward to seeing where it takes me.... Just playing around for now and being open to where it goes......

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mystery footprint

I spent my studio time today making some photopolymer plates for a commission.  Photopolymer plates are used to create the impression/texture/pattern in silver clay, a bit like a rubber stamp.

The commission is to make another animal tracks bracelet, but the customer wanted specific animal tracks included, not the ones that I used before.  Her choice includes elephant, rhino, buffalo, owl, etc.... Here's my original animal tracks bracelet:

I write on the reverse of each square, which animal made the foot print  - so it's a learning tool too!!

The bracelet is a gift for the customer's daughter who is graduating with a master's degree in animal science. She gave me the list of animal tracks she wanted, but helped out finding one of them.  Here is the track that she supplied: 

Any idea what animal made it?

I'll be working on the bracelet this week, so I'll post photos of the finished product when it's done.  Go on - have a guess at the mystery print .......

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Flowers

I finished a few more aluminum bangles this week. Here are a couple of "happy flower" ones.

I'm thinking at least one of these will end up with a little creature on I now have a little stash of fine silver bugs. 

The colors make me think of skies and yellow flowers. What do you think?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekly Bird in the Hand

Here is this week's "bird in the hand" - the things I am grateful for:

Photo by greg westfall.

  •  Bella. Bella - a little white fluffy dog - arrived here at Birdland on Thursday. She is our friends' dog but they are away so she is staying with us for 4 weeks!  She is a happy little dog and had her first big adventure today in chasing away the turkeys from the vineyard!!! There were about 20 of them and she was fearless!!! She came in soaking wet, muddy and looking a disaster - but as happy as could be :=D  Now she is a brown not so fluffy dog!!
  • My new series of creations (like the ladybirds shown this week)  where I combine metal clay with aluminum, using threaded connections.  I just love making tiny little silver screws.  You'll see some more this week.
  • That my friend had good test results back from his medical tests.
  • My new Mifi from AT&T. It now means I can be online in my studio and also acts as a back up for when our Comcast internet connection fails (which seems to happen nearly every day!).
  • A good voice lesson yesterday.  Thanks Karen.
  • Watching all the quails run and call out to each other in the rain.
  • The vase of colorful daffodils and narcissi on our kitchen table that looked so cheery all week long.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Merry go round - "Introduce us to an artist you find inspiring"

It's the last Friday of the month, so join us on our merry go round for a quick spin.  The merry go round is where a group of 11 artists/craftwomen link together around the world and tell you a little about their art and craft, through blogging on the same topic.

This month's topic is to talk about an artist whom we find inspiring.

The first artist that came to my mind is Andy Goldsworthy OBE. Andy is a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who was born in northern England in 1956.

The materials he selects for his work include brightly coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, stones, pine-cones, snow, twigs, thorns, etc.  His work is often ephemeral and transient, only lasting a matter of minutes or hours before nature over takes it.  Thus his photography of his work plays a crucial role in his art.

Other more permanent pieces, like his dry stone walls, just meld into nature and seem to start and end with nature..... Andy says he doesn't try and can't improve on nature - but loves the collaboration. 

Ultimately his goal is to create "a beautiful moment" and he often uses the word "time" to describe his work.  It may be that for only one instant in time the sun is in a particular place to illuminate the piece completely, or the tide comes in and interacts with his piece as one wave laps against it ....and then he gets that beautiful moment.

So often we seem taken up in using archival materials, creating art that will last "forever" or at least a long time, but Andy is so 'present' in his work and is happy to create something that lasts just minutes or even seconds.  He inspires me to interact more with nature and be spontaneous!  I have enjoyed creating a few goldsworthy-esque 'moments in time'.....and maybe writing about him here will encourage me to get back out there soon and try some more. And maybe you too? 

If you want to see more of Andy's work, he has numerous books - many of which I have and also a wonderful documentary DVD called  "Rivers and Tides" that I highly recommend.  For those in the US, the DVD is available on Netflix.  There is a podcast of an interview with him here too, well worth listening to, as it tells about his inspirations etc.

While Andy may not be a new artist to you, I hope you have enjoyed a recap of his work and maybe he can rub off on us a little and persuade us to get out there and make something transient!

I hope you'll take the time to read about the artists that other members of  the merry go round have selected. You will find their post through the links below.  We all live in different places around the world, so time differences may impact when we all get our blog post up.

Samantha at Vintage is for lovers -
Jen at Painted Fish Studio -
Bethany at Dirksen Dabbles -
Laura at Blue Terracotta -
Monika at Red2White -
Mitsy at ArtMind -
Kim at Vilt a la Kim -
Sara at Crafts of Texture -
Mariana at Florcita -
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent -
Ruth at Birdland Creations -

Or else you can click on the blog hop below.  If you are a merry go round participant, please add your link if it's not already included. You can then copy the code and put it on your blog post too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring is definitely here: there's another ladybird!

Well, the first day of spring was this week and all we've had is rain, rain and wind.....but I saw another ladybird today.... so maybe there is hope?  You may remember there was a ladybird/ladybug on some flowers earlier in the week, but today's is just on a leaf:

I have some other similar pieces in progress too.....but you'll have to wait until they are finished.  I just love the brightness of the color you get with anodised aluminium, and then by mitering the edges, the silver of the aluminium shines through, and picks up with the fine silver sculptured ladybird.

Have you seen signs of spring at home yet?  Is the sunshine there? Maybe you can share it a little??? Can't really complain - we normally have lovely weather here in Northern CA, and these rainy couple of weeks are quite out of character.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

12/52 Bird a week challenge - Teeny weeny bird

I am enjoying trying different media and this week, I've been looking at some different air dry clays.  So I decided to make my bird of the week out of one of these.  I wanted to see how small the clay would let me work, and try some color blending.

This clay is made by Deco and used a lot to make flowers.  It is very light and airy.  The colors mix beautifully and I really like that about it.  This bird ended up so light, I think he could probably very well fly :=D  And he is only about 1cm tall!

At the moment, he's busy eating so maybe he will gain some weight!!!

Please take a look at what the others in our year long challenge to make 52 birds in 2011, have created this week by clicking on the links below:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I do think the British term "ladybirds" is so much nicer than the American "ladybugs". It just conjures up a lovely image - not a buggy one.  So I guess it is one British word that I still prefer to use, over the American.

And so it is a ladybird who has decided to land on my dogwood bangle.

I've been thinking about different ways of combining silver with my color anodised aluminum, like the rose windows I posted about yesterday.... and now attaching silver to the bangles fills me with new ideas! 

Better keep this post short and get back to my studio before my head bursts!!!

I hope you like it. Look out for more :=D

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cathedral rose windows

I made another pair of cathedral rose window earrings, as I had a request from a seller in Germany.  This pair I made using different colors of "stained glass": one is predominantly blue and the other red.

I love the combination of silver and colored aluminum and want to do more of this style of things.

I have very few pairs of earrings are that totally matching.  What about you?  I think earrings should look like a pair, but don't have to be a mirror image.

I'm interested in what you look for in earrings - matching or coordinated?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Green Glint Pin

As part of my green glint series, I also made a simple pin.  It can be worn either way - vertical or horizontal. 

Here's the back with the pin fastener:

And here are the earrings I made a while ago.

And the pendant:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekly Bird in the hand

Gosh - Saturday comes around quickly!  So it's time to remember the things I am grateful for this week - my "bird in the hand".

Photo by jurvetson
  • The support people are giving those in Japan affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.  Such a horrendous situation, but at least people around the world are working together to help each other.
  • Book club - I do so enjoy my book club. We met up yesterday to discuss 'The people of the book'.  I'd never have read this through my own choice - but am glad I did.
  • Having a Sunday off from singing at the cathedral. As much as I love it there, it's still nice to have a break now and again. In fact, my hubby and I have gone away for the weekend, to make the most of it :=D
  •  The vineyard workers for doing all the pruning and tidying up of the vineyard this week.  It looks so neat and orderly!
  • Having the chance to catch up with my friend Jayne after way too long!
  • For Susie, for caring and Suzanne for just being such a nice person.
  • For finishing up my last master muse!  Phew!!! And especially to Angie and Marly who loaned me their goodies for this final project :-D  It'll be published in a few weeks......

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bird Signs - Pelican

Well, I should have paid more attention to my bird signs from last week. I had the Jay which stands for communication and I really didn't communicate very well on a couple of occasions.  Oh dear.  Lesson learned??? This week, I'll try and pay more attention to the guidance and wisdom from our feathered friends.

So, my Bird Sign for today - from the book by G.G Carbone- is The Pelican, symbolizing Spontaneity, something I am a big fan of.

Photo by mikebaird

I think Pelicans are wonderful birds and used to enjoy watching them all the time when we lived in Florida.  In fact, I rescued one on the beach once that was very ill.  Gosh, I couldn't believe how light such a big bird was.  He was very ill, so I covered him in a towel and took him to the wildlife rescue place. He hardly moved, didn't seem to have the energy to panic as I sat in the car with him on my lap.... Poor Pelican.....Now we still see them on the coast here in Northern California - but not so many - and I always look out for them on this patch of water in a quite busy area on the way to the city. It is only white pelicans that I see there.

The bird cards say that when the Pelican appears, it's time to toss aside my schedule and routine for one day and go have fun.  Spend the day doing whatever refreshes the spirit. Spontaneity is the key: do whatever appeals at that moment.

Photo by mikebairdbird

This is perfect timing!  This Sunday, for once, I am not singing.  We have the day off, so hubby and I are going off for the weekend just to do something different and make the most of our free weekend.  While I love singing at Grace, it'll be great to have a break.  I wonder what spontaneous things we'll do???

Hope you find the chance from some spontaneity this week too.  Let me know if you do.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A day with resists

I had a day in my studio today. It is far too rare an occasion unfortunately - but nice when it comes. I didn't make anything new, but instead was experimenting with some new dyes and resists for aluminum. 

As you can see here with the bird cage, the resist was used to draw the cage the birds and then the aluminum was dyed and sealed.

In these two pieces, the dye seemed to not take evenly and showed water-type marks.  Here's the trees in resist:

And in this piece, I was going for a Baroque look:

This water-mark dyeing occasionally happens and I'm not sure why.  Guess I'll have to keep experimenting.....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

11/52 Bird a week - Rare bird sighting

This week's bird for the bird a week challenge is two little silver birds. They are both unusual species of birds and thus the necklace is called "Rare bird sighting".

As you can see, they are quite in love, so enjoy hanging around together.

They hang on a long chain through a clutch so you can adjust the length that each bird "flies".

Have you seen any rare birds lately?  There are always quite a flock at the Flickr group for our Bird  a week challenge, so I hope you'll take a look at the links below: