Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Upcoming Artisan Market for Eclectic Design Choices

One of my two fall shows is coming up the first weekend of September. I will be at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) at their Artisan Market, which is a part of their Fall Gallery Night event. BRIT will have a member event on Friday, September 6 from 5:30 - 7:30pm, with an all day public event on Saturday, September 7. The Artisan Market will be open Friday evening and on Saturday from 11am - 9pm. BRIT will have four spaces set up with different art exhibits and two spaces dedicated to the Artisan Market. I will be located in Atrium II with my photographic art. I will have some of my ready to hang pieces as well as matted prints and note cards.

Speaking of note cards, I will have some boxed sets of my "fireworks" note cards I shared in an earlier blog post as well as my new Texas wildflower boxed set featuring a TX bluebonnet and a TX paintbrush. This project has been in the works for a couple of years. When I first decided I wanted to create a set like this, I found I did not have a suitable photo of TX paintbrush in my stock photos so I had to wait until the next spring to find suitable flowers and photograph them. That was last year. It was not until this year that I had the time to fully develop my photographic art version of my original photos and have the cards printed. This show will be the first time I have had them with me at a show. The boxed sets include three cards of each image along with six envelopes.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bird of Paradise Ornamental Tree

Several years ago I recognized a seedling that came up in my pasture as a summer blooming, water thrifty small tree. I potted it up and waited until I created a good spot in my garden to plant it. About a year ago I figured out where I wanted it. Even though it was a potted plant that had enough time to create a root ball in the pot, the soil was very loose and planting the little tree did not go as smoothly as it should have for a plant in a pot. It did suffer a fair amount of die back but has come out pretty well this year. It even put out blooms that I have been enjoying for most of the summer.

As I was thinking about writing a blog post about this plant, I realized I really did not know much about it other than having seen it in a few locations where its drought tolerance had been touted. I knew a common
name for the tree was Bird of Paradise. I looked for it in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower plant database and did not find it. This concerned me because I had always guessed it was a native. Since it did come up as a seedling, when I did not see it listed as a native, I was concerned about its status. I then checked the Texas Invasives database and was relieved to see that it was not listed there. TexasSmartScape lists the plant as being good for North Texas and it listed the scientific name, Caesalpinia gilliesii, so I could do some more research on the
ornamental tree. It turns out the tree is a South American native from Argentina. Even though it has been blooming all summer, it has produced less than a handful of seed pods. Just to be on the safe side, I will be removing any pods that do form to make sure my tree does not spread itself in the local ecosystem.

It is a lovely ornamental tree with lacy, mimosa like green foliage and exotic yellow flowers with crazy, red thread like stamens. It does have very low water requirements and I am glad to have it as part of my garden.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Perfect Match - Research Project Earrings

My music, math and science jewelry and accessories have been created with the hopes that people who geek out over those topics will be able to find things that reflect their passions. A recent purchaser of my helium atom earrings on Etsy shared her reason for her purchase with me. I was so happy with her motivation, I asked if I could share it with my readers. Keep reading to find out her fun story.

Several years ago when I was thinking of things I could design for my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop for science geeks like me, I had an aha moment for a creative way to turn some of my supplies into a representation of hydrogen atoms. It turns out this design has been popular with both science types who know what they are and people who just like pretty hoop earrings. I expanded my hydrogen atom earring offerings when I found a supplier of similar gold tone hoops and also made a pair using larger hoops. It turns out it was these larger hoops that inspired me to see if I could create representations of helium atoms as well. I had to create a custom supply piece to make it work out, but the bottom line was yes.

So what about the fun story of the purchase? Imagine you are a college student doing a summer research project. You want to be able to subtly share that you are part of this project that involves helium. You search online to find the perfect pair of earrings to tell your story. You find some helium atom earrings and can even choose the color of the protons. Now you will be able to cleverly show your participation in the project as you go about your days at school in the lab and around campus. How cool is that! I love it. I have sold a few pair in person as gifts for people expected to appreciate the chemistry behind the jewelry but this was the first time I knew the story behind the purchase of a pair online.

If you are passionate about science, math or music, check out my sections in my EclecticSkeptic shop. If I do not have quite what you are looking for, drop me a note and I will be happy to see if I can create what you are looking for.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Stinging Caterpillar Cautionary Tale

Last week I was watering my potted plants on the back porch when a small patch on my arm began to sting and burn similar to when I've been stung by a wasp. I had not been near a wasp nest that I could tell however so I was perplexed. I finished watering and took a closer look at my arm. I had about three distinct raised areas and some redness similar to what I'd expect from three close proximity stings but without a telltale center spot where a stinger would have stabbed. I could not imagine missing seeing one very active or several wasps. That coupled with the lack of stab points really had me wondering what was going on. The reaction I was having was similar enough to previous insect bites or stings that I took an antihistamine as I had been previously instructed by my doctor in such an event and I dabbed some aloe vera gel on it. One or both treatments helped take the edge off of the symptoms but I still had uncomfortable welts the next morning.

It was a day or two later that I discovered what likely happened. Again, I was watering my plants and noticed a lot of frass near the base of my burr oak sapling's pot and that some leaves on my little oak had been munched. I looked for the culprit and found some very camouflaged caterpillars. When I saw them I had an aha moment about my mystery skin reaction. The green caterpillars had a red and white stripe running down their sides and their back and sides were covered with feathery looking branched protuberances. I suspected these "feathers" were likely the source of my pain a couple of days ago. Based on when I started to feel the sting, I surmise that I brushed against a burr oak leaf while watering and unbeknownst to me, also one of these green caterpillars.

I grabbed my camera and took some pictures so I could identify them. Then I clipped portions of leaves and dropped the caterpillars I could find in a box. I had nine of them by the time I was done. I relocated them to a tree that could withstand a bit of munching better than my little sapling. The next day I found I had missed one so I relocated it too.

The internet is a wonderful thing. I was able to find out pretty quickly that the feathery green caterpillars would become Io moths and yes, they are a stinging caterpillar. The tips of those feathery protuberances are actually tips of spines that transfer venom to what they come in contact with, like my arm. Not all feathery or hairy caterpillars are venomous but better to err on the side of caution and not find out the hard way by touching them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

New Note Cards - "Fireworks" Just in Time for the 4th of July

While thinking about how to wish my readers a happy and safe 4th of July this year and what photos I could use to illustrate my post, all I could think of initially was how I did not have any new fireworks photos to share. Then I remembered a new set of note cards I recently completed. One of them is titled "Fireworks". That seemed apropos for this post. I hope you enjoy my new photographic art image.

First, I want to wish you a happy and safe holiday with your family and friends whether you will be attending a parade, hosting a backyard cookout, watching fireworks, boating, eating watermelon or one of the other myriad things people like to do on the 4th. Remember the sunscreen, food safety tips if you will be taking food somewhere and please stay hydrated.

Second, I will share a bit about how my new "Fireworks" photographic art image came about. I was hoping to develop a couple of new sets of note cards to be printed on the extra heavy card stock that I then box in sets of six (three cards each of two images). My pop art cards have been popular in this format so I looked
through my photos to see which ones might lend themselves to a pop art photographic art treatment. One of the ones that worked out nicely was of mimosa blossoms and buds that I took a few years ago when my husband was umpiring in Livermore, California. Once I developed the image and started to set up the note card file I needed a title to put on the back of the card. Fireworks immediately came to mind, my husband agreed and so that is what I named the image.

The other card image you see boxed in this set is of a gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar from ironweed flowers. If I don't get these notecards listed in my EDCCollective shop before the 2019 Fall Gallery Night Artisans Market at BRIT, I will have a couple of sets of these cards with me then.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Storm Farms Summer Produce

Almost two years ago I wrote about an organic CSA farm I toured in Balch Springs, TX. While touring I snapped a few photos and turned a couple of them into photographic art. One of the images I developed was a produce still life and I have contemplated adding more to form a series of produce images. I found an opportunity to do so last night.

A local operation, Storm Farm, has expanded its summer produce offerings and I stopped in to see what was in season last evening. Their sign has been advertising tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans. They did indeed have these as well as yellow squash. In addition to green beans, they also had wax beans. I had not seen those in quite some time. I picked up a box of the wax beans as well as some tomatoes, two yellow squash and a cucumber. Upon bringing my produce home, I set up a still life arrangement from them. I must admit that not all of the wax beans made it into the arrangement, they were too easy to snack on. I used one of the photos that I took to let people know Storms was open in a facebook post, in case anyone needed to grab some fresh produce for dinner and I used another photo to create the new produce photographic art piece seen above.

Storm Farms is better known as a U-pick strawberry farm from late March to late May or early June. They are trying to expand their seasonal offerings. Their summer produce is not U-pick. The experience is more like a small farmer's market or roadside stand (which it is). For fresh, locally grown produce stop by. As the harvest warrants, they plan to be open Tuesday evenings and Saturday and Sunday. See their facebook page for the most up to date time and day info. Hopefully we will see pumpkins in the fall and a Christmas tree market in December too (no, the trees won't be grown on the property).

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.