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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My Photographic Art will be at East Main Arts Festival - Saturday, May 4, 2019

As one of the artists gracing the walls of CenterSpace Coworking in downtown Arlington, I will have more of my photographic art with me for sale during East Main Arts Festival in the way of matted prints, ready to hang art, bookmarks and note cards in addition to the artwork on the walls and for sale there the rest of the year. The festival is free and open to the public from noon to 8pm on Saturday, May 4. Enjoy a variety of music from four locations within the festival. Craft beer and munchies will also be on the block.

While most of the other artisans are outdoors, there will be four of us inside CenterSpace, an acrylic painter and photographer, a watercolor
artist, a potter and myself. We are providing a make and take craft as well so stop inside and have some fun with us. I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

National Arbor Day

National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April, which is April 26 this year. Texas celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday of November however. This is because in Texas, November is a less stressful time for trees to be planted than just before summer arrives. As long as soil temperatures are above 40 degrees, root growth should occur and help a newly planted tree get established before the heat and drought stresses of summer arrive.

So instead of urging my Texas readers to celebrate National Arbor Day by planting a tree, I thought I would share some information about some weird looking growths you might spot on your oak trees. The growths are called galls and there are several different ones in a variety of colors and sizes. Often a very tiny wasp (by classification, not the standard insect you think of when seeing the word wasp) laying an egg on the tree is cause of the galls. Fortunately this is one growth on your trees that you do not need to get worked up about. The appearance of galls is often cyclic and even though the wasp causes the tree to grow a protective gall around the egg it laid, very little resources are diverted from the tree to cause it any problems.

How did I get thinking about galls and decide to write about them as part of a celebration of trees? Almost two weeks ago a neighbor asked me about some light green growths on her tree that were a bit bigger than a golf ball. I told her they looked like oak galls and were most likely nothing to worry about. (Although I must admit they were bigger than the ones I was used to seeing.) I told her I would take some pictures, do some research and write up a blog post about them. As I was working on this task, I realized that it was almost National Arbor Day and it made sense to me to combine the two into one post. It turns out those galls are oak apple galls for their resemblance to apples and they can be found on some varieties of red oaks. While doing my research I found two good, Texas based articles if you want to do more reading on this subject. One is from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and the other is found on Neil Sperry's Gardens.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Earth Day - Many Ways to Participate

Merriam-Webster defines Earth Day as, "a day in April designated for promoting concern for the environment". Hopefully we do this throughout the year, but by participating in different Earth Day events each year we may learn about some other great things we can add to our to do list to help our environment. Look on Eventbrite for several Earth Day events around the DFW area. In addition there is the Earth Day celebration at Fair Park in Dallas which has grown into a large event, now branded as EarthX.


This year Earth Day is officially Monday, April 22, 2019. A nationally recognized day with a similar focus is Arbor Day. National Arbor Day is April 26 this year. Texas actually recognizes TX Arbor Day later in the year because planting trees in Texas in the fall helps them get established better to withstand our summer heat than planting this late in the spring. Therefore you will generally find Earth Day events around either date in April in Texas with Arbor Day events in the fall.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Design This - Dragonfly Earrings with Purple and Hearts

There are many teams on Etsy and I belong to a few. They are organized around different purposes. The one I keep up with the most is the Texas Friends Team, especially their general chat threads. We chat about what is going on both on and off Etsy and give each other support when we can. Occasionally I post new listings photos, just to share. I like it when other team members share a few of their listings too because it helps me remember what they offer for sale. I consider it pretty low maintenance networking and figure every now and then it will result in a sale for someone. I was the lucky recipient of a custom order because of this recently.

A couple of months back I shared a photo of an amethyst and quartz necklace and earring set. It was the incarnation of a thought that had been in my head for a while. I was very happy with the way the jewelry set and the listing photos came out so I wanted to share with my team. Then last week I shared a new listing for some dragonfly earrings. I liked the story the stones suggested that I paired with a couple of the dragonfly charms. A fellow team member, who makes wonderful quilted items, connected these two shares in her mind for a custom request. Could I incorporate the amethyst diamond beads from the jewelry set, the largest
dragonfly charm and perhaps a did I have any heart beads that were purple? After asking a couple of questions, I also added sterling silver findings to the requirements list. I looked through my stash of supplies and came up with three design option mock ups as starting points for discussion.

It turned out that the middle design option was deemed perfect, so that is the one I used to complete the dragonfly, heart, amethyst and sterling silver earrings. I enjoy creating and especially creating something for a custom request because I know my finished design will be enjoyed right away instead of waiting for the right person to find it and take it home. Let me know if you have a custom request, whether a jewelry design or photographic art image and I will let you know if it is something I can create for you.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

New Digs - Birds and Dragonfly

Last year I went to a friend's house to help her open an Etsy shop for her amazing polymer clay creations. What a nice surprise when we sat down at her computer to see three of my avian photographic art pieces hanging on her art wall behind the computer. Two of them, the female cardinal and the goldfinch were purchased as matted prints, which she later framed and hung. The kestrel was acquired as a ready to hang piece. (It is a variation of the same photo I created "Iridescent Dreams" from, which I shared in its new home a while back.)


I was focused on helping set up her Ellengant Creations Etsy Shop and did not think to take a picture of my artwork to share. Ellen was nice enough to send me a picture along with a couple of others from where she had my work hanging. My "Blue on Blue" dragonfly gallery wrapped canvas hangs with a fanciful school of polymer clay fish Ellen created for the Inspired by Nature exhibit we were both in last year. She also displays one of my "Psychedelic Gazelle" prints on a wall in her house.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Bluebird Sightings Make Me Happy

While bluebirds hang out in North Texas year round, there are often gaps of time between when I see them in my backyard. I was experiencing one of those bluebird sighting droughts before I mowed a couple of days ago. As I rounded a curve in my mowing pattern I noticed a male bluebird perched near the top of my jujube tree. I looked around to see if there was a female nearby and sure enough, she was sitting atop my chain link fence. It just made me smile to see them around again. Perhaps this response comes from growing up during a time when bluebird populations were very low and there was a push was being made to save them. To learn what you can do to support bluebird populations in your area of
Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife has an extensive, informative pdf on all things bluebird.

I usually see bluebirds in my yard when they're looking for food. They like to perch on my chain link fencing, tall plant stakes, trees or anything else from which they can swoop down and catch an insect in an adjacent open patch of lawn or pasture. I sometimes see newly fledged bluebirds and have even seen their parents feeding them. I don't know if they are breeding in a natural nest cavity on my property or in a bluebird house provided by one of my neighbors. Whatever the reason, I enjoy seeing them around. The photos in this post are from previous years and show a male and female sitting on my chain link and a young bluebird perched on a wooden structure.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Welcoming the First Day of Spring

Often I share images of blooms from my yard to welcome in the first day of spring. This year my fresh blooms are in the form of a new pair of floral earrings I created.

I recently acquired a strand of carved jade flowers. When I was storing my new supplies this strand and the spring-like weather we were having called me to create something using the flower beads. I pulled out several other strands of jade to see what I wanted to pair with the carved flowers to make a pair of earrings. I settled on using a head pin with a ball end on the open side of the carved flowers and a darker green jade sphere on the stem side. For some reason the spherical beads made a more pleasing design than the cylindrical ones that mimicked a stem better.
Now that we have reached the spring equinox marking the first day of spring, we begin to enjoy more light than darkness from now through the fall equinox.

As the daylight portion of your days lengthens, I hope the weather is warming where you are and that flowers and trees are budding out. Sunshine, flowers and spring green everywhere is a great tonic after a very gray winter.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Monarchs on the Move

While the fall monarch butterfly migration seems to be more concentrated through my location than the spring one, it is time for us to be on the lookout in North Texas for the butterflies are on the move. Sightings of monarchs laying eggs on milkweed in Austin have already been reported. Report your sightings too.

You can help sustain monarchs on their journey north by planting milkweed and nectar sources for them. There are many good native nectar sources as well as
flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials found more commonly in the nursery trade.

I have also seen well traveled monarchs on several flowers not included in any of these lists such as sunflowers and hyacinth vine bean flowers as seen in this post. I suggest trying to fit in some of the plants in the lists but if you can't, put out colorful nectar producing flowering plants and hope to see a fluttering patch of orange land on your flowers to refuel on its journey.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Mansfield Arts Week Includes Work by C Stein

Arts Week in Mansfield coincides with spring break. This ten day event (Thursday, March 7 - Sunday, March 17) combines arts from every spectrum. I posted last week about one facet of Arts Week that I am participating in, an artist reception from 6-7 pm, Friday, March 8 at the Mansfield Public Library for artists whose work is currently hanging in the library. This week I wanted to share a few more opportunities for you to find me and my work in Mansfield as part of Arts Week. I have five of my photographic art
pieces hanging inside Calibration Chiropractic, one of the businesses who have offered artists space to show their work as part of Arts Week. I will be there at specific times Monday - Wednesday, March 11 -13.

Monday, March 11 is Kids Day. A potter will be doing pottery wheel demos from 10am - 2pm that day at the clinic my artwork is hung in. Many other events are happening for Kids Day throughout the city. I will also be at the clinic for both days of the Historic Downtown Mansfield Arts Walk, Tuesday the 12th from 1-4pm and Wednesday the 13th from 5-8pm.

There are plenty of additional activities and events going on during the rest of Mansfield Arts Week. My art is scheduled to continue to hang at Calibration Chiropractic throughout the month of March.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dragonfly and Wildflower Art on Exhibit at Mansfield Public Library

The theme of the new art exhibition at the Mansfield Public Library is the 2019 Spring Mansfield Reads! book Before We Were Yours. Art was accepted for this exhibition that embraced imagery and themes that pop up in the novel. Two of those themes were dragonflies and wildflowers, right in my wheelhouse.

I created a new wildflower piece of photographic art that was accepted as part of the exhibit, along with two of my existing gallery wrapped canvas dragonfly images.

The Mansfield Public Library is hosting an artist's reception as part of their kickoff of this exhibition at 6 pm on Friday, March 8. I plan to attend and would love to visit if you can make it too. If you can't get to the reception, the art will be on display through Thursday, June 20.

This exhibition kick-off is part of Mansfield Arts Week. I will share another opportunity to see more of my work in Mansfield as part of Arts Week in next week's blog post.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fashion Show in AVAA 2019 Regional Exhibition

If you enjoy viewing a wide range of media, styles and subjects of art by local artists, then you need to stop by the Bob Duncan Center in Arlington to view the Arlington Visual Arts Association's 2019 Annual Regional Exhibition. My matted and framed entry, "Fashion Show", of a leafy sea dragon was selected to be included in the show this year. (You will find it in the display case. The reflections from the case and the picture frame made it difficult to see some of the details of the image so I have also included a
watermarked version of the original in this post.)

Some of the art can be viewed whenever the Bob Duncan Center is open. These pieces are on the east wall of the main hallway. The rest of the exhibit hangs inside the room on the west side of the building. As long as the room is not in use, you can view the remainder of the show when the center is open as well. The exhibition opened on February 5, 2019 and runs through April 8, 2019.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Digs - Iridescent Dreams Kestrel

By now, quite a few pieces of my photographic art prints have found their way into customers' homes. And sometimes I am lucky enough to have a customer come up to me at a later show and tell me how much they love their purchase hanging in their home. It always makes me feel good to know that something I created brings joy to someone else. What is more rare is for me to get a glimpse of what my artwork looks like in its new setting.

The very first time that happened was when a customer snapped a photo of a recently purchased matted print they framed and posted the photo to my facebook page. Recently a customer texted me a photo of a ready to hang piece of art in her home that she purchased from me at the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market this past holiday season. My customer was actually also a vendor
at the market and liked my "Iridescent Dreams" kestrel series matted and framed print so much when she dropped off her product that she purchased it and took it home with her.

While I usually don't share identifying information about my customers, when I got permission to share this customer's photo on my blog, she mentioned she would share my post once I published it. Since she was a vendor at the market and has an Etsy store, it only seems fair to thank Sabrina of The Sleepy Cottage publicly for sharing. The eyelashes pillow in her photo looks like her brand.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Great Backyard Bird Count Event in Dalworthington Gardens

On Saturday, February 16, 2019 come take part in the 2nd annual DWG Great Backyard Bird Count event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning in the Annex of City Hall. A short presentation about participating in the GBBC will start at 10 and then participants will divide into groups that will head in different directions around Gardens Park and Pappy Elkins Lake to become citizen scientists for an hour or so while collecting data on the birds we find.

Guided by knowledgeable birders, we will identify and record the many birds who live in or are visiting Gardens Park, make new friends and enjoy the time outdoors, rain or shine. No experience is needed. Bring binoculars and/or
your camera if you have them. Download the Merlin App or we can help you that morning (works with android or iOS devices). Last year, spotters identified 34 species in about 1 hour, including the two species photographed in Gardens Park and included in this post. Light refreshments will be served when we meet back up to discuss our discoveries. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fellow Etsian Sighting - Ellengant Creations

If you happen to be at the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (DAMC) office, you should be able to see this cute ray from EllengantCreations in person. How did this come to be? DAMC partnered with 817ArtsAlliance to bring the community a unique holiday shopping opportunity last year in the form of the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market (HHPM), held in the front portion of their space. It was filled with creations from fifteen local artisans. Ellen's whimsical polymer clay creatures were part of the assortment.

The admin at DAMC kept being drawn to Ellen's sand colored ray and finally decided it needed to join her family. As a token of appreciation for sharing space with HHPM however, 817ArtsAlliance would not let her purchase it but gifted it to her (after paying the artist for her work). I embellished a plain black stand with seashells to complement the ray. Last time I was in the office, the ray was hanging out as part of the decor. One of these years I imagine it might go home with the admin. Until then, you can see one of Ellen's creations in person. More whimsical creatures can be seen in her Etsy shop, EllengantCreations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mistletoe - Friend or Foe?

Some things that I have heard during my life about mistletoe are: 1) stand under it if you are looking for a kiss, 2) it is poisonous and 3) it will kill your trees. You may have mistletoe in some of your trees, so it would be nice to know if it is friend or foe. The answer however is somewhat mixed and might be subjective based on your situation.

Various kissing traditions about standing under mistletoe have flourished for hundreds of years. I will leave it to the reader as to whether this informs the mistletoe as friend or foe discussion.

Yes, mistletoe is poisonous to some living creatures including humans, dogs and cats. Mistletoe varieties growing in America are purported to be less toxic than mistletoe found in Europe. In Europe extracts from mistletoe are showing signs of being less toxic than chemotherapy and effective against colon cancer. Some mammals consume mistletoe as part of their normal diet, especially during the
winter when other food sources may be scarce. These include squirrels, deer and cattle. Many birds such as robins, bluebirds and waxwings eat the berries. Other birds such as spotted owls, chickadees and nuthatches use the "witches broom" mass of branches to nest in. Mistletoe provides an early pollen and nectar source for bees and 3 species of hairstreak butterflies depend on this plant as food for their caterpillars. These are just some examples that can confuse a friend or foe discussion with regards to mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a parasite. It does draw its water and a portion of its nutrients from the host tree. The place on a branch where mistletoe attaches to will become noticeably thickened and if you wish to permanently remove a mistletoe clump, you can't just chop off the base of the cluster of mistletoe branches. You must also cut the limb about a foot towards the center of the tree from the thickened attachment point. But should you do this? The answer will vary depending on your situation. I read about a biologist whose work with mistletoe began with a focus to find a way to eradicate it. After decades of studying the plant he came to appreciate its part in the overall forest ecosystem and introduced some to a few trees in his own yard. Mistletoe can definitely weaken a host tree, especially if there is a heavy infestation and/or if extreme drought occurs. As part of an overall forest ecosystem, mistletoe infected trees will likely have shorter lifespans and according to several studies will contribute to a higher percentage of snags and nest cavities and therefore a larger population of cavity nesting birds in the forest.

So, mistletoe, friend or foe? You will have to decide for your own unique situation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Design This - Sheep Jewelry Part 2

In my previous blog post I described how I came to make a pair of sheep earrings for a friend of mine to give as a gift. The byproduct of this process was a sheep bracelet mock up that sat on my bench for a couple of weeks before I decided what to do with it. Between the holidays and running the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market, I did not have time to put away unused supplies from the few pieces I managed to create during December.

When I finally had time to start putting away those unused beads and findings, I contemplated what to do with the bracelet mock up. I really liked the way the faceted black agate beads complemented the single lampwork sheep bead
that would be opposite the clasp in a finished bracelet. It would have taken a similar amount of time to disassemble and properly stow the parts as it would to complete the bracelet so I decided to finish it up. The mock up anticipated a sterling silver toggle clasp and findings to finish off the bracelet. Since I was no longer constrained by the request for sterling findings, I could now consider other options. With the beads being mostly black and white, I thought gunmetal would be the perfect color for the crimp bead covers, jump rings and toggle clasp.

Now that I had a plan, I gathered up some beading wire, crimp beads and gunmetal tone findings and set about to turn my design into a finished bracelet. I liked it so much I listed it in my EDCCollective Etsy shop.