Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blue Ice at the Falls

Monday, January 25, Tom said,  "I'll drive you over so you can walk at the falls.  This is the last nice day, we will have for about a week."  

Sunday morning had been 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7.2 degrees Celsius) but Monday was 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C) and still getting warmer.  A raw windy day  and cooler wintry temperatures were predicted for Tuesday. 

We live in a glaciated area of Ohio so a lot of the land is relatively flat.  I cherish the spots that show a bit of variation.  I was surprised at how impressive Charleston Falls looked from the top of the ridge as I was starting down the steps.  Years ago, there were no steps which made for a more interesting and moderately exciting descent.  But, this park is visited by a lot of people so the stairs are a necessary safety precaution.  Part of the reason I was impressed on this particular day was because there were people on the boardwalk at the bottom so the height of the falls was enhanced.

At the bottome of the stairs, I stopped for another photo op.  I was playing with settings on my Olympus Tough camera.  I am amazed at the possibilities provided by "little" snap and shoot cameras now days.

Though the falls looked covered with ice, a lot of water was rumbling down behind the ice.  And there was a pleasant rippling sound from the little creek the water runs through on its way to the Great Miami River.

Detail of the lacy edge.

What pleased me most was getting the following photo.  I have often seen the bluish sheen of the falls but getting a picture of it has eluded me.  Monday, I was successful.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Polymer Clay "Wood"

My eleven year old art student has been asking me to let him model with polymer clay so a few weeks ago, he looked through my polymer clay how-to books and picked out a couple projects.

"Wood" polymer clay masks were one of the projects he picked.  I told him I would experiment with making wood and we would try making a mask.

I found directions, each set different, in four how-to books.  Most of them called for using four wood-like colors but one book called for three.  Since this was a my first attempt I decided to use three colors.  One of the other books suggested using metallic colors mixed with the wood colors to give the wood a sheen.  I used that idea, too.

I used scraps of clay from other projects so I can't give you the amounts by the usual method of one block or one quarter block.  I used circle cutters from my box of cutters which I bought on-line.  I chose a large, a mid-size, and a small size because several of the books suggested using different amounts of the various colors.

It took a while to mix three appropriate colors.  Below is the first combination I chose.  I decided the colors were too contrasting and remade colors choosing colors that were a little closer in value (but still contrasting)  I also decided to mix the colors more thoroughly.

Below is the second set of colors I used. Later I premixed enough of similar colors so my art student and I could each make a wood cane.  His class is one and a half hours long, not long enough for him to mix his clays and also make a mask.

All of the sheets were rolled through the pasta maker at the second thickest setting. The largest circle was cut from the mid-value brown, the smallest circle was cut from the deepest value brown and the mid-size circle was cut from the lightest brown.  Approximate sizes of cutters in the photo.

Next I rolled each circle into a ball, and flattened them with a clay roller so I could put them through the pasta maker again.  I rolled the mid-value color first on the second thickest setting.  In order for the lightest brown to be a large enough sheet to cover the first one, I had to roll it through on the fourth thickest setting.  The dark value had to be rolled even thinner.  I stretched the second and third sheets gently to make them the size of the bottom layer.  Now I had the the various thicknesses several of the how-to books suggested.

Next came stacking.  

Cut stack in half.  Lay one on top of the other.  Do NOT lay the dark against the dark. 

 Cut again.  Note the tiny lines where I released the air trapped under the dark layer.

Stack again.  Cut on the green line for yet another stacking.

Note that the stacks are not precise.  This didn't seem to be necessary.  It is necessary to remember NOT to lay dark against dark or mid-color against mid-color.

Form the stack into a rectangular box.

Bend the box.

Bent box.

Form the clay into a rectangular box and bend again.

Repeat until you like the "wood" rectangle you have made.  It took me three times bending and reforming into a rectangular box to get what I liked.

 Final rectangular box.

Sliced box.

Slices laid so the inside cuts are visible.  These are always surprises.

I laid one slice sliced edge up and rolled it thin enough to go through the pasta maker. ( This slice was from a later rectangular box.)

After being rolled through the pasta maker.

Cut an oval that will use about half of the sheet.  The oval will become the mask.  The rest of the sheet can be used for the nose, ears and other additions to the mask.

A drinking straw can be used to cut out the eyes.  The ring in the nose is a jump ring which can be bought in a jewelry craft section of craft stores.

Cut a heart in half lengthwise to make ears.

Lay the finished mask on a sheet of clay rolled at the second thickest setting on the pasta maker.  The first time I didn't do this and the ears fell off.  The backing sheet also adds color to the eyes. Cut carefully around the mask with an Exacto Knife.  It is easier to cut off sections rather than cut around the whole mask in one cut.

Bake at 275 degrees for 25 minutes.
I baked the mask on a curved metal bowl but it could be baked flat.  Fortunately, I remembered to cut a hole at the top with a straw so I could hang the head on a keyring after it was baked.  The hole could be drilled out afterward, also.

Below is the mask my art student made.

Here is another mask, this time with two holes cut into it so it can be hung on a necklace.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winter or Not

Winter or not, that is the question.  It depends on the day in this part of Ohio.

I posted a photo a few days ago of Charleston Falls on January 7 in the afternoon when the temperature was 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius)  Here is a reminder...dozens of icicles as well as water pouring over the ledge.  That was because we had  had 20s (-6.6 Celsius) for three nights previously.

On Friday, the temperature hovered around 40 degrees ( 4.4 Celsius) and rain fell most of the day. It was a depressing day...gray skies and washed out colors everywhere I looked.

On Saturday morning when Jeanne and I walked the temperature was 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 Celsius) .  We were expecting to see remains of the icicles but this is what we saw.  Only a remnant of ice remained at the foot of the falls.

But we were reminded that winter was at hand when we stopped at Cedar Pond.  It was covered by a skim of ice.

By afternoon the temperature had risen to 51( 10.5 Celsius)  Tom and I ran errands, attached a new battery to the generator and planted a few bulbs.

So we  have arrived at Sunday. This is what we were greeted with this morning.

We've been having flurries and gusty winds all day.  Twice we lost electricity for a moment or two and had to reset clocks.  The temperature has been going down all day after a high of 35 (1.6 Celsius) early this morning.  Now at 5 PM it is 21 degrees Fahrenheit -6.1 Celsius).  Lower temperatures are predicted for tonight.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Quest of a Lifetime, the Search for the Monarch Butterflies Wintering Grounds

I was pleased to see Google's Doodle this morning.  I checked out some of the sources provided by Google.  Ken Brugger and his wife Catalina Aquado discovered the wintering grounds of the Monarchs high in Mexico's Sierra Madre Mountains in 1975.  They were among the first "citizen scientists" recruited by Fred Urquhart, a Canadian scientist.  Urquhart started research on the route and destination of the Monarchs in 1937.  The search lasted thirty-eight years.

There is a group from Brukner Nature Center planning to visit the wintering grounds in February.

Tom and I won't be with them but we did see the wintering grounds of the Monarchs on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.  They winter along the California coast.  We saw them in a Santa Cruz  park and also in Natural Bridges State Park.  It was surprising to me how much they blended into their surroundings...until they moved.  Seeing the butterflies set forth in the morning from the trees in the Santa Cruz park was like watching flowers flying off the trees.

Friday, January 8, 2016

41 degrees Fahrenheit and Icicles on January 7

I walked out to the falls in early afternoon, thinking there is not nearly as much to see in the winter.  I wondered if I would find anything worth photographing.

I heard the falls before I saw them.  I expected water but I did not expect icicles, too.  I had forgotten, too, how attractive the falls are when the sunlight spotlights them  and the limestone wall behind them.

It takes a closer look to see the water pouring over. And even this photo doesn't show the full effect of the roaring water.  It does help to click on the photo and enlarge it.

This photo taken from the side gives a better idea of the amount of water flowing over the ledge.

And here is the best one of the array of icicles.