Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We SHOULD be inspired...

Here are a few shots of an inspiration board I made to inspire me to sit down and actually draw birds. I love birds, and I love this inspiration board, but I have yet to sit down and...you know...actually draw birds.
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I used the "Cartoon" feature of my camera and got this effect:

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But I'm in good company. Here are my cats who also show absolutely NO inclination to sit and draw birds despite the presence of said inspiration board:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Urban Blues

I mentioned I've been taking pictures like a fiend with my new oh-so-easy-to-use camera. I'm focusing on (ha! get it? focusing on!) intriguing jolts of color and texture I find on my daily urban excursions. I can't believe how much eye candy there is all around me that I just never noticed before!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Yaba Ding Dings

I am beyond excited to finally be able to take decent pictures of my sea glass collection. For years, whenever I've gone to a beach, I've looked for weathered bits of colored glass and worn pottery shards which I affectionately refer to as "yabas".

Why yabas?

Because that's what the locals on Roatan call found objects...

And where's Roatan?

It's a small island off the coast of Honduras known for fabulous scuba diving. I went there about 15 years ago and have been hooked on diving and collecting yabas ever since. Only the official name is "yaba ding ding".

Yaba ding dings? YABA DING DINGS? You're kidding me, right? That sounds like something Fred Flintstone would yodel.

No, Gentle Readers, I would not mislead you about something with such a rich history.

I first heard that term when my dive buddies and I went off on a wild jungle adventure, getting sunburned in the back of an old pickup truck, bumping over unpaved Honduran backroads, on our way to an obscure field where supposedly a little digging in the dirt often unearthed pottery shards he told us were called yaba ding dings.

Our group spoke no Spanish and our guide spoke very little English, but surely we'd return with a pocketful of yabas, a grand story to tell and nothing a little aloe vera or Pepto-Bismol couldn't fix. But I confess to a little consternation when he stopped the truck in front of a small hut and emerged with an armful of machetes. We glanced at each other wordlessly, our "adventure" suddenly seeming more reckless than recreational.

But he smiled hugely and continued driving us deeper into the island's interior. We lurched and slid into each other when he turned corners or hit potholes; what's an adventure without a few bruises? The weather was glorious, the company grand...but there was still that little matter of the machetes...

Then our driver stopped at yet another small cluster of homes and had a conversation with a gentleman that went a little something like this:

Our Driver: Really-really-really-fast-Spanish-we-didn't-understand.

Man #2, pointing to the machetes: Equally-fast-Spanish-that-went-right-over-our-heads-as-well-since-all-we-understood-was-cervesa-and-bano-and-gracias.

Uh-oh...why oh why hadn't I signed up for Spanish in high school? Or at least paid more attention when Sesame Street tried to teach me the basics. If only we had SOME clue what they were saying. What were those machetes for anyway?

Our Driver: Yet-another-verbal-paragraph-of-high-velocity-foreign-words...and then...yaba-ding-dings!

Man #2, apparently pointing out directions: Something-something-something-yaba-ding-dings-something-something.

We grinned and prodded each other, "Did you hear that? They said yaba ding dings? I don't think they mean to kill us with those machetes after all!"

And sure enough, we were eventually delivered to our first yaba excavation site. According to the Humanities Department of Midlands Technical College "'Yaba Ding Ding' is a colorful term which may be unique to the Bay Islands. Some islanders use it to signify any pre-Columbian artifact, but the term is usually reserved for the great quantity of detached supports or adornments which have broken off the ceramic vessels."

I don't believe any of these yabas are actually from Roatan. More likely they're from the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius (Stacia for short) discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493.

Back in 17th and 18th centuries, Stacia was a common stopping place for ships delivering goods (namely arms and ammunition) from Europe to the fledgling American colonies. Remnants of stone warehouses still line the beaches and all manner of broken pottery, glass bottles and beads can still be readily found around the crumbling walls. I'm sure these ceramic shards are over a hundred years old; just look at the detail of of this transferware, so called because of the laborious process of transferring the intricate pattern to the porcelain.

Some of my most prized yabas include the glass stopper at the bottom of this picture and the glass handle near the middle. And the tumbled marbles are cool, too. I actually found them on a beach near my house in Seattle. Not exotic, but darned convenient.

It's always a treat to find cobalt colored bits, especially the old marbles and glass button. I always wish that I could listen to the stories these pieces could tell...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Like a crow...

A few weeks ago Piz and Tracie came over to have a little art playtime after work. While looking through this library book, we saw these really cool fairy wings made from wire, tissue paper and resin and decided to give it a whirl.
They're quite simple...we just formed rough wing shapes out of thicker wire and then wrapped skinny wire around a few times. Then we used Elmer's glue to attach a bit of metallic tissue paper to the wire. When that was dry we spread some Easy Cast epoxy resin (the "mix-2-equal-parts-of-the-2-bottles-together" stuff) on them, suspended them from a little dowel and let them dry. Here are the results...

I didn't make this sparkly wire "flower"; I saw it in a floral supply store, and like a crow was immediately drawn to its shiny-ness. "Oooooh, it sparkles...I want it" is pretty much the primitive state my brain reverts to in such situations. But look...it sparkles so nicely, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Radioactive Asparagus?

I have been a picture-taking fool with my new camera (a Kodak Easy Share M863). I love, love, love it. It's small enough to put in my pocket when I go for walks so I've been experimenting with it madly. It's AMAZING what I notice now that I'm taking pictures....things that I sauntered past dozens of times now catch my eye.

Generally, that's a good thing. But this week I noticed these crazy looking plants sprouting up near work. What the heck are they? I'm hereby putting out a Flora-911 call to Salvage Studio Lisa who is an expert in these things. Lisa...how worried should I be?
Heck, how worried should the greater metropolitan Seattle area be?

I think they look like radioactive asparagus...or perhaps something from the movie Avatar.

P.S. I know many of you are wondering, but no, I do not have a celebrity endorsement contract with Kodak. I do for so many other products, but my agent and I turned this one down...I was just too busy...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pig & Fig Newtons!

Years ago a neighbor told me that as a child, she had a pet pot-bellied pygmy pig (say THAT 3 times fast!) named "Pig Newton". Somehow in the course of ordinary conversation (ordinary on what planet you might ask) that fact came up with a former coworker, Kristin, who was a wonderful industrial designer. I found this little treasure on my desk later that day and saved the faded post-it of Kristin's artwork ever since.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Too much Twister!

Wow...I guess this is what happens with birds play Twister...maybe this is where scrambled eggs come from???

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mosaic

This is a mosaic I made after taking a class with Laurie Mika who combines polymer clay tiles with found objects. I raided my treasure trove and anything that was blue or green was fair game to end up glued down.

I spy...a chopstick holder, costume jewelry, buttons, copper beads, fish, faces, a bottlecap, glass shards, watch parts, tiny bottle, words, a dragonfly...what did I miss?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A box from the sea

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to go to Rarotonga for a scuba vacation with some friends. I had never heard of it before they told me to buy a ticket and pack my bags. Rarotonga is a tiny island way, way, WAY in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While there, I collected all manner of shells and shards from the beach and I glued them onto the top of this cigar box (that I brought filled with a few art supplies). The paper fan came from Goodwill and the ceramic birds from...well, I have so many ceramic birds I've forgotten where these particular ones came from...but I love how they add to this little house vignette.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The BIGGEST "Lie of Omission"

My back yard is truly "Where the Wild Things Are"...wild blackberry, wild morning glory, wild dandelions, me after several hours of maddening weeding. Nevertheless, dedicated as I am to misleading photography, I managed to find these little oases of calm and beauty buried within the dispiriting jungle behind my house.
Spring comes very early to the Pacific Northwest:
. Weathered metal scrollwork on my equally weathered fence:
These thrift store birdhouses are perched (somewhat precariously) on a discarded ladder. I felt so very "Salvage Studio" when I thought of displaying them thusly:
And that, Gentle Readers, is all the news (from the garden) that's fit to print!