Saturday, June 22, 2019

Polished Ammonite Fossil Pendant Necklaces

I don't think it is necessary to be a math, science or paleontology geek to enjoy these beautiful ammonite fossil pendant necklaces. However to paraphrase my new listing, if you are, you will find different aspects of them to appreciate in addition to their beauty.

Ammonites are fossil relatives of living nautiluses although they are actually more closely related to today's octopus, squid and cuttlefish. These pendants are made by cutting ammonite fossils in half, polishing the cut surface and mounting them. I have so much fun looking at all of the
different ways they became fossilized when I come across a selection at a trade show. Different minerals produce differently colored areas. The septa, the walls dividing the different chambers in the shells, generally mineralize differently than the chambers so that the lovely patterns they create are visible. The chambers can be varied colors in the same specimen, sometimes they even sport crystals. The backs of some of these pendants show some opalization and flash different colors when light shines off them from various angles.

You will find these as well as other items for the math or science geek in my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop. If you have a special request, let me know and I will see if I can fill it for you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Design This - Black and White Necklace

This custom project was not initiated by a customer nor was it a design for myself, rather it was an appreciation gift for a city staff member who made the right connections and accomplished getting last line designation with the post office for our city. That might sound like pretty dry stuff but since this has been a work in progress on and off for a really, really long time and is very important to a city's identity, I wanted to recognize this accomplishment with more than a pat on the back.

I thanked the staff member and told her that I wanted to create a special piece of jewelry for her as a token of my appreciation. I suggested a necklace and asked what colors or materials she liked. She told me she really liked a black and white color scheme but did not have any specific materials in mind. I looked through my beads and thought my snowflake obsidian teardrops might make a good focal point for
such a necklace. I brought those and a couple of other beads to show the employee. She liked the snowflake obsidian and picked out a teardrop. We decided on a beaded necklace rather than chain with pendant. Then I needed to know how long the necklace should be. I learned long ago that most people can not tell me a measurement but will say something like, "I want it to come to about here." The problem with that response is that not all people are the same shape so the length needed to get to there varies. To address this, I made a measurement chain for people to clasp at different intervals until it lands in the spot they want their necklace to go to. Armed with answers to my questions I set off to design the necklace.

I pulled out all of my beads that were black, black and white, off white to white and clear that I thought would play off the central snowflake obsidian teardrop. After trying several design ideas I settled on the beads shown in the second photo. I chose some additional shapes of snowflake obsidian, crackled quartz, quartz and shell as well as spinel and other black gemstone beads. I decided to use stainless steel findings to finish off the beaded necklace. While I had a specific length necklace to aim for, it can be tricky to get to that exact length with the different sizes of beads and findings used. Luckily everything came together to give the desired length. It was nice to be able to reward a special effort with an item designed to the recipient's specifications. While not a total surprise, I felt better knowing beforehand what style, color and length the wearer would be most interested in.

If you have a favorite color scheme or material choice, I would love to see if I can fulfill your request. Contact me at the email listed in my custom tab of this blog.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dragonflies vs. Damselflies

A friend of mine recently commented on seeing a skinnier dragonfly than she is used to seeing. I asked if it was a dragonfly or a damselfly. When she was not sure, I realized a post about their similarities and differences was in order. While going through my photos for this post, I also realized I have some images of damselflies that I should create some photographic art from, stay tuned on that thought. Dragonflies and damselflies both come in a variety of colors. I have seen much more variety in dragonflies however. Also, I have only ever seen one size of damselfly but many sizes of dragonflies. The first photo shows a damselfly next to a wasp to get an idea of their size.

As you can see from the photos, dragonflies have much bulkier bodies. (Note: The dragonfly I am using for comparison is a blue dasher and I consider them a mid sized dragonfly. Both insects are resting on similar stalks of dry grass.) And while both insects have large eyes, dragonflies' eyes take up most of their head and do not stand proud or separate as damselflies' eyes do. The resting position of their wings is also different. A dragonfly's wings are held separately at rest and are positioned like airplane wings. However a damselfly holds its four wings together and over its body at rest instead of to the side. Damselfly wings are more slender than dragonfly wings and uniform in shape, unlike dragonfly wings.

Both of these flying insects prey on smaller flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes. In fact Houston is trying to increase their populations to naturally combat mosquitoes and the diseases they spread. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Planting Choices to Attract Birds to Your Landscape

I have written about planting native plants in your gardens to attract butterflies, and I know that some flowers produce seeds that are attractive to certain birds but I had not given much thought as to the type of tree growing in my yard making a difference to what birds might visit. To me trees were a source of perches, a safe place to build a nest, a roost away from predators, but it turns out trees provide much more for the birds. Since specific trees are hosts to certain butterflies, those trees could be full of their larvae for birds to dine on. Other trees might host a variety of different avian snacking choices other than the fruits or berries they might produce.

I do have a picture I took of a tree sparrow in a cedar elm as it was budding out one year in which I captured the bird while it was eating. Since it had something the same color as the budding leaves in its beak, I thought it was feasting on the buds. However, after enlarging the photo, it is definitely a caterpillar or worm of the same color as the leaves that the sparrow is chowing down on. I have seen
woodpeckers searching for their food in trees and I know that cedar waxwings, robins and mockingbirds adore yaupon holly berries when they are ripe. But until I read this article promoted by Audubon, I did not think about specific trees providing migrating flocks of songbirds much other than shelter and a place to rest. The article focuses on areas of the country outside of Texas but some of those same trees and species of birds can be found in our great state too. The article does also include a great resource to help someone find, by zip code, native plants from flowers to trees that will attract specific species of birds. While it is easier to update the flowers and possibly the shrubs in your garden, if you happen to be thinking about planting a tree, you now have another criteria to add to your tree selection process.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Design This - Custom Beaded Necklace to Complement Inlaid Gemstone Pendant

Earlier this year I made time for a project for myself that has been a few years in the making. A while back I purchased a silver pendant with inlaid gemstones at a trade show. The most prominent inlay was a beautiful piece of charoite. The pendant also showcased opal and shell. I have been collecting strands of beads since then to make a beaded necklace that would incorporate the pendant. Early on I identified some oblong quartz beads that would work well to secure the pendant in the design. While I had some amethyst beads, I did not have any charoite and set out to find some as I thought their character would work better with the charoite in the pendant than the amethyst I had on hand. While obtaining some charoite strands, I also increased my stash of amethyst beads.

When I finally carved out some time for this project of mine, I gathered up all of the beads that I thought I might work into the design. The strands of beads pictured here are just the ones that made the cut. What turned out to be pretty funny was that none of the charoite beads that I picked up found their way into the design but quite a bit of amethyst did. I am glad I waited to create this necklace. The large faceted amethyst beads I included were a recent acquisition and I also had a better variety of the smaller amethyst beads with color variations that made them a good pairing with the inlaid charoite, better than what I had when I bought the pendant. In addition to amethyst and quartz that I have already mentioned, I also incorporated beads of rose quartz, faceted crystal and a couple of shades of naturally colored pearls in to the necklace design. I finished it off with sterling silver findings to match the metal of the pendant.

Whether designing around a newly obtained component or updating vintage jewelry, I enjoy making custom pieces of jewelry that will be cherished accessories for the wearer. I know I will enjoy my new necklace for a very long time. Contact me if you have a project in mind.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Backyard Wildlife - Baby Red-eared Slider Turtle

We never know what will fly or cruise through our yard next. While we have had turtles wander through after periods of heavy rain, I have never seen as small a one as I saw today while mowing the grass. Luckily it was in a sparsely vegetated area and as I was approaching on my riding mower, I remember thinking that it looked like someone had dumped a pet store turtle in my backyard. The area it was in was sparsely vegetated due to the heavy rains we have had pretty much since September of last year. In fact it was a good thing I had to stop to check out the turtle because otherwise I might have gone too far into a soggy area of the yard and gotten stuck.

The little turtle did not duck and cover as quickly as the big turtles I have come across previously. The leaf in the picture of the turtle walking is a burr oak leaf for size comparison. I decided to put the turtle in my pond to avoid running it over. I placed it on the dry portion of a rock that was partially submerged. It sat there for just a bit, then dove into the water and disappeared. Another reason for releasing it into my pond, is that while I love my water lilies, they need thinning regularly and I know that turtles will munch on them. Perhaps this young'un will help keep them in check.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Photographic Art on Display at this Thursday's Symphony Arlington Concert and Art in Bloom at BRIT

If you will be attending the final Symphony Arlington concert of this season on Thursday, May 9 and want something more to do than hang out in your seat during intermission, head just outside of the seating area to view a collection of my photographic art pieces. There will be some flyers and business cards on the table for you to pick up if you see something you want to follow up with me about. Unfortunately I will not be there to talk with you in person on Thursday as I have a previous engagement to attend.

A piece that you won't see Thursday night is one that was accepted into the 2nd Annual Exhibit of the Botanical Art Collective of North Central Texas, Art in Bloom. This exhibit of botanical art runs from May 10th through June 20th, in the gallery at the the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The gallery is open during weekdays from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. I do anticipate being at the opening reception on Friday evening, May 10th, from 5:30 pm -7:30 pm. This is an opportunity to meet many of the artists and see who receives the “People’s Award” at the conclusion of the reception.

Thirty two local and regional artists are represented. Mediums range from watercolor to gouache, oils, acrylics, mixed media, graphite and colored pencil, pyrography, wood inlay, and photography. It is a celebration of the beauty and diversity of the plant kingdom.