Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Hummingbirds

The first one I want to talk about is a hummingbird new to me and the second is new science.

One morning on our recent trip to Livermore, CA, as I was looking for wildlife before the first of the day's baseball games, I spied a speedy little bird. The movement suggested to me that it was a hummingbird. Quick, zoom in and try to get a shot! Luckily it was still early and the pretty little hummer decided to perch for a bit between short flights in one section of a tree. I was able to close in on foot and with my zoom I was able to snap several pictures before it took off on its daily journey. Upon inspection of my images I realized that the little hummer was different than the ruby throated ones I was used to seeing in TX. (The picture above is a female Ruby-throated hummer.) I'm sure it was an immature male or a female hummer. What I'm not positive about is what species it was. I'm currently leaning towards Broad-tailed hummingbird female even though Merlin seems to think that Anna's or Black-chinned is more likely.

I have included an image of this new to me hummingbird in my new Livermore nature set of note cards which I have titled "Morning Coffee Break".

The second hummingbird with a designation of new is one that was not totally unknown to science, just not properly distinguished from a close relative. It had been thought that the Bahama Woodstar species found in the Bahamas contained two subspecies. Upon closer inspection it became apparent that these two members of the Bee Hummingbird group were actually two distinct species, hence the designation as a new hummingbird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a good article from which I learned about this and has more information on the topic.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Design This - On Trend and Trending Jewelry

A good friend and customer of mine has had me design several pieces of jewelry or accessories for her over the years that represent a current fashion trend, a favorite fashion element of hers or to honor a family member or family event. Earlier this year I was pleased to work with her to create two pair of earrings and two necklaces that incorporated all three.

It had been a while since she had mentioned wanting to incorporate fleur de lis into some jewelry in honor of where her husband hailed from. This was the easy part. I had had my eye out for some fleur de lis that I liked since her earlier comment and had some to show her when we met to catch up and discuss potential new jewelry pieces. She liked them too and wanted a pair of earrings made out of them. One of the other components that I showed to her was a filigreed moon. (Moon, sun and stars are a favorite fashion element of hers.) She loved it and shared a photo of a necklace that the moon made her think of and that she wanted me to use as inspiration for her project. She also wanted me to incorporate at least one star into the design.

It turned out that the inspiration necklace was actually two layered necklaces. Layered necklaces that can be worn independently or together have been trending lately. Unfortunately I did not have any star components that really spoke to my friend so I looked towards my suppliers and an upcoming trade show. I also needed to see if I could find some antiqued silver chains as my selection of silver, silver plated and gunmetal plated chains did not seem to be quite what was needed either. The right stars were difficult to find! I was beginning to despair when I came across some wonderful pave stars and a pave moon and star combo. I also found an antiqued silver chain I thought would be perfect for the project.

Now it was time to make up the earrings and mock up a couple of necklaces for the layered look. After looking at the first image in this post my friend said yes to the earrings but wanted to see the components in person. I brought along the components in the photo as well as some stainless steel chains I had recently purchased. After seeing everything in person she decided a simple single star on a stainless steel chain was what she wanted to layer with the moon and star necklace as pictured in the mock up. She also decided that another of her signature fashion statements, mismatched earrings, would be perfect for some of the other pave charms. Once we had all of the details in place, I created the necklaces and earrings to those specs.

I have seen my friend several times since then and she seems to be having fun pairing different necklaces for the layered look. I have always appreciated her great sense of style. I found it quite interesting how much of a trendsetter she seems to be when I read in a recent jewelry trade mag, "Mismatched earrings and name jewelry was big on the fall runways…", since she has rocked the mismatched earrings look for some time now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Goldfinches are Great

I enjoy watching birds at home and on my travels. It is fun to spot new birds. I spotted a new one for me while in Livermore, CA this summer that was a slight variation on a perky little bird I enjoy seeing at home. In Texas the goldfinches I have spotted have been American goldfinches. The ones in Livermore were lesser goldfinches. The lesser goldfinches have similar yellow, black and white coloration but the green backed males' coloration is a bit more subdued than the American goldfinches' summer color. I snapped a few images of some lesser goldfinches eating dandelion seeds on an unused ball field one morning.

Back home I usually start seeing American goldfinches in the winter in North Texas. I left some small sunflowers standing in my garden one year long after they finished blooming and the goldfinches feasted on the seed heads when they came through. During the winter the males are much more drab but they are still a very streamlined bird with wonderful black and white patterning on their wings. They are a welcome break from all of the little brown birds (so many sparrow varieties) that hang out. The goldfinches will often hang around into the spring after the males have put on their striking yellow and black breeding color and are a festive sight to see before they vanish until next winter.

I also enjoy learning new facts about the critters that I see. I stumbled across a great article about goldfinches last week in which I learned that they are the only finch that is a strict vegetarian. In fact their diet is restricted to only seeds. While other finches rely on insects to supplement their diet, especially when raising their young, goldfinches have hungry mouths to feed when abundant seed heads can be found in their environment to provide enough food for everyone. It was quite an interesting and educational article and instead of listing all of the great info I found there, I encourage you to give it a read too.

Have you seen a new bird recently that you would like to share?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - August 2015

Five Etsy shop owners and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one or more of my items in treasuries during Auguest. Eleven August Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. Two treasuries each featured two of my items. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during August. (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. In addition you will see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured an item of mine.

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

This multimedia artisan creates a range of items from albums to wooden signs to crowns.

CatLadyWatercolorsThis shop offers a diverse collection of original watercolor paintings and prints rich in color, subject and inspiration.

This shop owner turns graphics into button dangle earrings, hair clips, keychains and more.

Handmade artisan jewelry for any occasion made from Baltic amber, freshwater pearls, natural corals and semiprecious stones can be found here.

In this shop you will find rag dolls, stuffed animals, small quilts, mosaics, and coasters.

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.