Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Artist Spotlight - J Blake

Do you remember an art project in elementary school where your teacher had you cover a sheet of paper with differently colored crayons followed by a layer of black crayon? After that you were instructed to create a scene on this sheet of paper by scratching off portions of the black crayon, revealing the colors below? A similar process is mastered by J. Blake as you can see in examples of her scratchboard art.

My first purchase on Etsy, less than one month after I opened my shop EDCCollective with my mom in 2009, was from this artist. I don't remember how I stumbled across her wonderful artwork on Etsy but I was taken with the detail and presence she imbued in her subjects. Much of her work was close ups or portraits of wild creatures. Whether a local squirrel or an exotic tiger, the images were well executed and engaging. I especially liked her images of big cats.

I purchased a set of five, 5x7 note cards that were reproductions of her originals. I framed and hung them in the entrance to my office. My husband named the grouping cats and snacks, which I found to be quite humorous. I had not been going for a theme when I picked the five images that I wanted. I just picked the five I liked the best. Unfortunately her Etsy shop is no longer open but you can see other examples of her work at her link above.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New England Snow Woes

In New England, Boston seems to be the poster child this year for record snowfall. This winter's snowfall in Boston is already the second heaviest on record with only about 9 inches (as I'm writing this) needed to vault them into the number one spot with a good two months of potential snowfall still to go this winter. Boston's February snowfall total this year is already in first place. Much of New England has also experienced heavier than average or record breaking snow totals. Who would blame anyone living in the area for thinking that all this snow was going to end when pigs fly?

I'll admit I’m a wimp when it comes to winter precipitation and cold. Ice and snow can be pretty and I even enjoy it is small doses. In north Texas we can get a heavy snowfall this time of year as we saw during the Great Backyard Bird Count of 2010 but thankfully it never hangs around for very long due to our crazy temperature fluctuations this time of year. So my hat is off to those of you braving the cold and the frozen precipitation in other parts of the country. I have followed some of your reported weather conditions on Etsy forum threads and have shuddered. Here is hoping you stay warm and safe and haven't gone crazy from cabin fever by the time your spring arrives.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Screech Owl Fun Fact is a Scream

I learned a really interesting and surprising fact about screech owls in the Audubon newsletter that I received today. But before I share, I want to remind everyone that the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) starts tomorrow, 2/13/15 and runs through 2/16/15. You will find more information about what it is, why it is important and how you can participate in my recent blog post.

The images of a Western Screech Owl in this post were taken by me last year at the BRIT's Prairie Day in Fort Worth, TX. The owl is a demonstration bird kept by one of the local bird rescue organizations. The rescue group's demo birds are generally birds that have some sort of injury that makes it impossible to re-release them into the wild. It was amazing how the little owl almost seemed to melt into the bark of a tree when the handler held it in front of the trunk. Their camouflage serves them well when their eyes are closed in sleep during the day. The photographic art image (left) of the little guy is available as a matted 4x6 print.

But what about the surprising fact I learned today about these owls? Can you imagine putting snakes in your child's crib? That is exactly what screech owl parents do to give their babies a better chance of surviving to adulthood. No, it's not so they have a food source and it is only one specific type of snake that the parents actually catch and bring to their nests without killing them. It turns out that this particular snake helps keep down populations of the insects and other vermin that would otherwise harm the baby owls. You can read about it for yourself and see some really great owl photos in the Audubon web article about owls that the newsletter linked to. In addition I did some research online before sharing this interesting fact and found a good in depth article about this relationship that I think you will enjoy.

Perhaps if you get lucky you'll get to see and count a screech owl in your bird lists for the GBBC. Happy birding!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - January 2015

Four Etsy shop owners and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one or more of my items in treasuries during January. Five January Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations and three treasuries featured one item from each of my shops. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during January. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. You will also see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured items of mine.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.

This shop offers sparkle and shine at affordable prices. "It's a Bling Thing!"

This shop owner turns graphics into Christmas tree ornaments, button dangle earrings, scrabble tile necklaces & keychains.

The design of the furniture in this shop incorporates the discipline of a Japanese garden and the simplicity of a Shaker.

This shop is filled with an assortment of handmade crafts including crochet, leather work, woodworking and jewelry.

Past, present and future Texans are welcome and encouraged to join this team. The only real rules of the group are to promote friendly, The TX Way, and be respectful to all who participate.