Monday, October 31, 2011

The Slump

Quilt I bought at an antique store.  
I have been working on my quilts for the siblings.  It is intimidating too, to face five quilts on a deadline.  All of them are sandwiched (top, batting and backing spray basted together) and ready to be quilted.  One is done and I'm about half way through with the second one.   I sure am loving my Janome Horizon and the space it has in the harp area.  And, I'm loving my new table with the machine inset so that the surface is level with the table.   I can't even imagine trying to quilt these things any other way.  
Made this Hunky Cowboy quilt for my friend Mary
Somehow I'm not taking any pictures these days.  Got to fix that during this gorgeous weather we're having.  

Guess I've been in a bit of a slump.  Don't seem to find anything that strikes my fancy to post.  So, hang in there and I'll try to get myself out and about and enthused about something to share with you.    

Y'all take care. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heritage Festival

Immediately following the trip to DeSoto State Park in Alabama, I spent a week camping in Blackwater State Forest in preparations for the Heritage Festival.  I'd never stayed in that particular campground before but I really liked it.  In fact, I like it much better than the one we normally stay in.

My Birdlady friend came up and spent part of the week with me.  We spent two long days covering sections of the forest for our survey.  The wildflowers are in full bloom. 

None of these pictures do them justice, of course, but they are beautiful. 

At our campground, I was visited almost daily by pileated woodpeckers. 
We also had the resident gray squirrels.  This one quickly found a few seeds that had fallen on the table when I filled a bird feeder.
I think the most exciting thing that happened all week was that I got to see Eastern screech owls live in the wild!!!   I've seen them once in captivity before.  We were sitting inside reading one night and the windows were open, of course.  Suddenly, I catch this faint call and quickly turned my head.  Birdlady wondered what happened and I told her.  

So, we gathered out flashlight and the recorded bird calls and went outside.  She told me ahead of time what to expect as we stood quietly in the dark.  She turned on the recording for just a few seconds and heard nothing at first.  Then there was a slight rustle in the leaves overhead.  She turned on the flashlight and there on a limb not six feet over my head was a gorgeous little red screech owl!!   His eyes were big and golden and he was turning every which way trying to see us.  After a minute, he flew over to another branch and there was a scuffling sound.  When we aimed the light in that direction, we discovered another one!!!!  This one was mottled brown and gray but just as gorgeous as the other one.   I got really good looks at both of them and I don't think I'll ever forget those eyes.   These guys are little - only about 8 inches tall.  Had the first one not bumped a leaf while landing on the limb, we never would have known they were there.  They make absolutely NO sound when flying.  I was listening closely and anticipating, but didn't hear a thing until that leaf rustled.   No pictures, needless to say, except those etched on my brain.

Over the weekend, the Heritage Festival was held in the park where we were camped.  One circle held heritage crafts and exhibits and the other was general exhibits.  Our Audubon booth was across the little road from the Florida Wildlife Commission's huge exhibit, so we were in a good place.  As an exhibitor, we were allowed to camp  on premises and set up our display in front of our site.  We had a great opportunity to share our knowledge of the birds in the forest with the local residents.  Of course, they also shared their knowledge with us.  Some of these folks live on private inholdings totally surrounded by the forest and they can be very knowledgeable about the animals and birds there.  

We shared our space with quilters, and since I'm a quilter, too, I was pleased to have them join us. 
There was an excellent turnout on Saturday, but not so many on Sunday. 

Fall is one of the best times to live in this area. 

Y'all take care.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hot Glass

While in northeast Alabama, hubby and I took a day to drive the Little River Canyon loop.  The canyon is carved by the Little River and is just east of Ft. Payne, Alabama.  At the end of the day, we rounded a corner and took a fortuitous turn to check out a park nearby.  Never made it to the park because there before us was Orbix Hot Glass works.   I had wanted to see the glass blowing studio but had not made an effort to locate it. 

I am so glad that we lucked up on it.  We spent at least an hour or more watching the glass artist, Cal Breed,  and his assistants creating a  couple of pieces.   Although my husband enjoyed the stay, I was absolutely enthralled by the magic that took place before our eyes.   
After picking up a small glob of molten glass, he started shaping it on a metal table.   Then the picked up  more glass which his assistants had prepared.  That was then taken to the kiln for heating. 
At first, I wondered why it took three people to work, but as they progressed I understood better.  The young lady had just started working at the studio and her job was to open and close the kiln as needed, fetch heat shields, get the wooden molds from their water baths, move the propane blow torch as needed, and anything else that was required for the artist to to his work.    The artist assistant helped with all the tasks between the basics and the actual glass work.  Actually, he also helped with shaping and heating the glass, and it was his job to take the artwork from the rod and transport it to the cooling bin.  Foolishly, I didn't get a picture of him in his Darth Vader like heat shield transporting a piece of artwork.  When you are working with glass at 1,500 degrees or so, safety is not something to be taken lightly.  
In the above picture the young woman is holding a wooden heat shield between the hot glass and the artist's arm.  It has been thoroughly charred due the the extreme heat of the glass.
After the large orb of glass was suitably smoothed, two blocks of soaked wood were used to mold the glass into smooth ovals.   After a couple of passes, the wood actually catches fire due to the heat.  It's quite a spectacular thing to see.  
Metal tools can be used to make impressions or indentations.  In this case, a new rod was heated and used to form a small protrusion that was attached to the bottom of the original piece.  As you can see above, it certainly takes all three people working harmoniously to accomplish the task.  Shortly after, the original rod was tapped and the piece was then on the new rod.   

Once the artwork has been put into the cooling bin, it takes several days for it to cool off completely.  

I was also amazed by the sheer physicality of glass work.  I never would have realized the strength required without this visit.  Molten glass is very heavy, even though there are stands and trolleys to help. 

If any of you are ever in the Ft. Payne area, I strongly recommend that you make the trip to Orbix so that you can see the same magic as me.  Mr. Breed was a very cordial man and was happy to answer any questions we had.  He's been doing glass work for seventeen years now and lives with his family just up the lane from the studio. 

Y'all take care.