Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Find EclecticDesignChoices at the Fort Worth Herb Festival this Saturday, May 20 2017


I will have much of my photographic art and a limited selection of my jewelry with me this Saturday. The forecast has some rain in it but I hope that won't stop you from coming out and enjoying the festival. Please stop by and say hi if you get a chance to come out.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Design This - Gathering Pin Black and Silver Request

A potential customer found an item in my EDCCollective Etsy shop whose function fit what she wanted but the color was not what she was looking for. She sent me a convo from a listing of my 3 inch pink, silver and floral gathering pins. She asked if I had any options in black and silver. I did have a two inch pair of black and silver gathering pins that was not currently listed, however she needed the three inch pins.

I checked my bead stock to see what I had in black and silver that would fit the three inch pins and sent her a picture of the bead choices. My customer let me know which beads she would be happy with and I came up with a couple of designs based on that input. She picked one of them for her custom order which I made up for her and shipped them out after she purchased her listing. I liked the other design too so I added it to my shop.

Contact me about any of my designs if they are not quite what you are looking for. I'd be happy to let you know if I can create what you have in your mind's eye. This offer obviously goes for my jewelry creations but it extends to my photo art items too. I have many stock photos and might have that flower or critter that you want on a print, note card or bookmark. I enjoy creating custom items, so please get in touch with your custom request.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Surprise - Dewberries for Dessert

Instead of collecting Easter eggs, I was presented with the opportunity to collect dewberries this Easter. While mowing my yard this lovely Easter afternoon I noticed that the native dewberries had begun to ripen. I picked one from my riding mower as I went by. The berry was tasty so I planned to see how many I could collect after I finished cutting the grass. After mowing I grabbed my Easter basket (colander) and headed out for the hunt. It turns out this is the best year for the native Southern Dewberries that hug my fence in a couple of areas of my yard in quite some time. Based on recent years, I was expecting that I might gather a couple of handfuls to put over some vanilla ice cream.

Instead I found enough to make my simple berry pie. This pie is pretty foolproof. There are only 4 ingredients, 1 store bought graham cracker pie crust, 1 - 8 oz. block of cream cheese, 1 cup of honey and enough berries (blackberries, strawberries or blueberries) to fill the pie crust (slightly domed). Instructions: Let the cream cheese warm up and soften. Rinse the berries. Mix the softened cream cheese and honey. Pour the berries in the pie crust and gently pack them down. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the berries. Now bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

Southern dewberry is a small native, trailing, prickly vine that is closely related to blackberry.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Perches in Bluebird Habitat

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about creating bluebird habitat is man-made nest boxes. Bluebirds are cavity nesters and destruction of this part of their habitat along with competition from invasive bird species, compounded by some natural climate cycles, caused a major drop in bluebird populations beginning in the 1950's as I previously posted about in detail. Perches are another critical part of bluebird habitat that you can help provide for their success.

Don't think caged bird perches or protected roosting tree perches in this case. Bluebirds are hunters. I have seen estimates that insects make up from 60-80% of a bluebird's diet. To catch insects, bluebirds like to scan the area around a perch and pounce on their prey on the ground or sometimes catch it midair. Because bluebirds hunt in open areas, their perches are often found on the edges of these areas, limiting their ability to hunt a large open area in its entirety. The chain link fence around my backyard is a favorite perch. I have also seen them on swing set beams, branches of shrubs and trees (especially before they leaf out so the birds have a good view of the area) and garden art that is somewhat tall and pole like.

When I was mowing the back pasture this past winter there were a couple of tall, sturdy weeds whose main stalk remained after the first mowing pass. Since they were interior to the open area that bluebirds and a couple of other feathered friends like to hunt in from perches, I decided to leave a few of the sturdier stalks to expand the bird's hunting area. I was rewarded with bluebirds utilizing these perches and was lucky enough to get a few decent pictures of them in use. You can see a male bluebird scanning for prey and then swooping down to catch its prey in the pictures in this post.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is in the Air

The spring equinox is one of my favorite days of the year. According to the calendar, we can officially say we are through with winter and can welcome in springtime. Unfortunately Mother Nature does not always follow the calendar. In North Texas it feels a bit like we jumped straight from winter to summer with a forecast high today of almost 90 degrees. Signs of spring have been around here for a few weeks already, from spring blooming bulbs to flowering trees and the pretty green of new leaves on trees that don't put out a flush of flowers. I have been watching birds gather nesting material. I saw a crow this past weekend flying with a big twig in its beak and the blue jays have been gathering up fallen bald cypress leaves.

Along with the signs of spring outside, it is almost time for a favorite indoor spring event, Spring Gallery Night. Join the Texas Pottery and Sculpture Guild (TPSG) for their 2017 Spring Gallery Night Sale at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. The sale begins Saturday morning, March 25 at 10 am and runs until 9 pm that evening. The guild has invited a few non-pottery artists to join them and I will be one of them. Many of my photographic art pieces are spring themed. Watching this YouTube video showing examples of artists work will give you an idea of what works you can expect to find.

Typical Gallery Night crowds are fairly large, so if you want to avoid the crush come early to do your shopping. The Fort Worth Community Art Center is located at 1300 Gendy, Fort Worth TX, 76107 across Lancaster from the Amon Carter Museum.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day 2017

Since 1989 math and science geeks have celebrated the all important mathematical constant pi and used the day, along with other folks, as a good excuse to indulge in their sweet tooth while eating some pie. The society of physics students has also turned Pi Day into a celebration of support for undergraduate involvement in the physical sciences. Pi appears in more than just mathematical equations, it is also found in many science formulas. You can help support STEM by helping undergraduate physics students get a piece of the pi(e) through your donation. (If you don't know, I have a Bachelor of Science in Physics so I think this is a great cause.)

The pi in this piece was made from some leftover pie dough from last year's Pi Day project.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Design This - Short Flying Pig Earrings

Last spring I received two convos from a nurse, each with a request for an alteration to one of my flying pig listings to make a short pair of earrings. The earrings needed to be short for wearing at work. One request was to have just the flying pig charms dangling from French ear wires without the heart in between the two and the other was to ask if I could use the image on my flying pig cufflinks to make a short pair of earrings. And she had sensitive ears so she initially asked for sterling silver ear wires.

The first request was easy to fill by making a new pair of earrings with just the flying pig charms. I did want to ask her about ear wire choices for sensitive ears though. Niobium ear wires are a great alternative to expensive pure metals and they come in a variety of colors. Luckily the second request was also fairly easy to fill since I was already doing something similar with my music note bezel earrings. This customer was a joy to discuss her options with. She was very upbeat and excited about having a variety of choices for new earrings with a flying pig theme based on her needs.

After nailing down the details I was able to get started on this custom order after finishing up another project I had in the works. The bezel earrings take a couple of days to complete. Once they were finished I took a picture for review by my customer. She was very pleased so I got them boxed up and shipped out so they could wing their way to their new home.