Monday, 1 December 2014

panic! - something is eating my wings ...

Something is eating my wings...
I had to put all my small wings in resin a few weeks ago because they were being eaten and I was going to loose them. Blue tit, wren, song thrush and kingfisher. Now the big ones are going and all my feathers are becoming lace. I'm guessing feather mites are the culprits.

I put them in the garage yesterday to sort out today forgetting that when it's cold condensation builds up along the beams and drips onto my table, right where I'd put all my eaten feathers. So I have eaten and soggy feathers.

Anyway the calamity is forcing me to think about what I want to do with them. As I have been asked to put a newt and a frog in resin and I have another invasive marine thing to do, maybe I will do some feathers too.

Bits and pieces of things in resin are accumulating. Maybe next year I will start to put these things together.
Feathers, frog, newt, slipper limpet, butterfly wing - witchy work

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas Arts and Crafts Party

I am taking some of my work to 90 Marlborough Road for their Christmas Arts and Crafts Party on the 5th, 6th and 7th of December.

Really looking forward to it and hope to see you there.

Monday, 17 November 2014

life drawing again ...

I've not had a chance to do any life drawing since early summer. So much for making it a regular thing in my life. But yesterday I got a chance so I packed board, easel, paper and a big box of drawing stuff in the van and drove down to Mullion for a days drawing.

I didn't really know what I was doing or what I wanted to do. I felt fragmented. I didn't stay in one place long or do anything sustained just kept moving and redrawing the same pose over and over...

... and as I forgot to bring a small board so I could move around the room to find the best position the only roaming I did was with my very small sketchbook.

But I like these. After drawing the models curves, hips and hollows over and over again she became hills, stones and bones.

Later a friend asked if I had done any great drawing. I said I didn't but I'm good with that. The point wasn't to do anything great just to draw...

More on my Facebook page.

Monday, 15 September 2014

resins finished and off to France...

I've finished the invasive marine species specimens for ERCCIS.

The last piece, wire weed Sargassum muticum, was poured and left to cure before I went on holiday to Bryher for a couple of weeks in the middle of August. When I came back there was much grinding and polishing of the final pieces to get them finish in time for a conference in France.

And finally there was the fun job of playing with bits of foam and fitting them into their special box ready for transportation.

The complete collection and photos along the way are on my Face Book page. Hopefully I will get some feed back on how the conference went when Lisa comes back.

Friday, 1 August 2014

the orange crab disaster and five more specimens arrive ...

Five new specimens arrived this week. 

But first an update on the Asian shore crab. It went a bit wrong after my last post. Now it's all OK I can own up but at the time it was a bit of a disaster. Remember the beautiful pinned out crab all ready to embed in my last post? Well I poured it and the resin set fast as it was very warm weather and I stupidly got a bit carried away and put another layer on after half and hour, then another after another half hour or so. It all looked great. Till I went back a few hours later. It had got hot. Really hot and not only had cracks popped up everywhere but I'd cooked it!
I was so upset I didn't photograph it. I set to work grinding out the cracks and refilling them with resin so you could see the crab and it looked all right but there was nothing I could do about the colour. What was a brownish, green crab was now bright orange... not much good as an identification tool!
And it had come all the way from France and was the only specimen I had.
Big mess up.

But things always have a way of working out. A few weeks later someone happened to be in France and found another specimen.

Very carefully and very slowly I pinned my second specimen out to dry then set it in resin.

Very carefully...

... and thankfully it came out just about perfect this time.

I think the orange is quite a beautiful colour and this is the sort of happy accident I embrace when I am doing my own work. But it is no good for a biologist. Lessons learnt.

The Natur Cymru, Nature of Wales blog reports finding this crab earlier this year.

The new specimens I got this week are manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum and a razor shell Ensis directus

Then Urosalpinx cinerea, Ocenebra inornata and Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha, which I have started setting today.

I think that is the last of them other than the wire weed which will have a wooden frame like the wakame. Be good to see the whole collection finished. It's going off to France in September. More about that when I know.

So lots of sanding and polishing to do now.

For more information on non-native species go to ERCCIS. There is also NNSS

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

a bit of felt making at Penryn Arts Festival

Penryn Arts Festival is 18th, 19th and 20th July - Penryn is going to be buzzing with so much amazing stuff happening you won't know what to do and where to go first!
I'll be in Fannie & Fox on Saturday afternoon making simple but beautiful felt bracelets - come in and have a go.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

new specimens, a frame for the wakame and a quiet walk to prisk

My room smells of pickling alcohol. I received two more specimens for the job I am doing for ERCCIS today and have been preparing them to set in resin tomorrow. 
This is an Asian shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus. It was all closed up and soaked in alcohol. So I am pinning it out as much as I can as it dries, hopefully showing more of the identifying features. 

Also this bryzoan, Bugula neritina   
Lisa sent me a link to a blog called Harbour Watch with lots of information about this one. But there's all sort of other stuff about marine invasives on American coasts too. Like the blog about massive bits of dock arriving in Oregon in 2012 from the Japanese tsunami of 2011 laden with Pacific marine life. 

On this job I've also nearly finished the frame for the wakame Undaria pinnatifida ... 
... and have pressed some wire weed Sargassum muticum gathered from Prisk a few days ago.

Gathering the wire weed meant a long slow walk along my favourite beach where I found along the neatly sorted tide lines, shells, crab moults, dried seaweed and most importantly, peace and stillness.

Life is so busy. This is just one job of many. Where is the space for stillness and my art I wonder?

But as I made the frame for the wakame I looked around my garage and picked up things half finished, remembered ideas unrealised. The busy time will pass and I will be pouring resin tomorrow.

I have not poured any resin for ages - there are plenty of bits lying around.

I will play with a few things...
... with words that need new wings. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

embedding marine non-native species ...

Tonight instead of kayaking in the rain (which I was looking forward to) I have been pressing seaweeds. But I can paddle any time and this batch of fresh wakame had to be dealt with imediately. From past experience I know if I leave it till tomorrow I'll have a bucket of slime. Not nice.

So now they are in the press and the kayaking club have gone without me I have the evening to explain why.

The wakame is part of a commission I have been asked to do for ERCCIS (Environmental Records for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly) They want me to embed in resin some marine  non-native species  for a European Interreg 3C (Channel Catchment Cluster) project.

It probably won't be possible to embed all the species but we are trying as many as we can.

The first species I got to do were the sea squirts Asterocarpa humilis and Styela clava. The specimens were pickled in formalin and I had to dry them out but keep the funnels open so I stuck straws in them. Then I filled the bodies with resin before finally embedding. All very fiddly and I wasn't sure if it was going to work but considering the fleshy nature of sea squirts they didn't come out too bad.

The Darwin's barnacles I did next were much more straight forward. I was given various object with the offending barnacle attached to embed. My favourite was the green shoe. Sadly not used as it was too big and an awkward shape.

Here are these three finished with Cornwall Wildlife Trust logo and name of species embedded within them.

So far so good!

Then came the wakame...

The identifying features of wakame, Undaria pinnatifida, are the central midrib, the wavy finger fronds and the frilly holdfast and this piece has it all. I pressed it on tissue which will become transparent when I embed it in the resin, with the holfast dangling out the end of the boards.

The only problem with it is it's huge. We would end up with a block of resin 60 x 40 x 11cm. So Lisa, who has commissioned me to do this and is collecting the specimens for me, found some smaller bits today.

All the way from Plymouth the next batch of wakame. See how this one works. Then I have wireweed, slipper limpet, oh and a few other things I can't remember right now. The one I am really looking forward to is the mitten crab.

More posts on this project to come.

This isn't the first time I have been involved with the issue of marine invasives. Two years ago I was commissioned to design a board illustrating some of the species causing problems in marine waters. It can be found in the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. The board is down in the tidal zone where you can see the tide rising and falling through big glass window.

For more information on the species go to the ERCCIS website. Investigate Invasives campaign aims to identify non-native invasive species that threaten the habitats and native wildlife of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

a whimbrel on Prisk

I wandered slowly along Prisk a few days ago looking for shells and things. Found 21 cowries, a few bird bones, crab moults and a lovely plant skeleton. I think it is a reed mace flower dried and hollowed out.

But the most amazing thing I found was a whimbrel.
One of my favourite migrants their calls always fill me with joy. Like the first swallows they tell us summer is believable and winter is at last a dream. I think in the north they are known as 'the seven note whistler' because of their call.
It was sad and strange to find one fairly recently dead, lying above the high tide line. But I feel so lucky to be given such a beautiful and rare thing. I brought her home to draw.
I will put the drawings on my Face book page  as I do them.

If you find a dead sea bird please report it to the Marine Strandings Network 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

pink sea fan

I want to share this amazing thing I found today. I think it is a pink sea fan Eunicella verrucosa, which is a soft coral. Reading what Natural England says about them makes me think maybe it is a sad thing that I found so many? I found this one and seven others on a beach off the Lizard, near the Manacles. Wishing I could dive and see them alive. Information about these beautiful creatures in Cornwall can also be found on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's website Pink Sea Fan Project

Friday, 25 April 2014

fish, wakame and Fannie & Fox

... been painting more fish.
This week it was mergim and plaice.
I started a lemon sole this afternoon. I know it looks very orange at the moment but it will be fine - honest!

... and I've been pressing seaweeds. I am embedding invasive marine species for  ERCCIS (Environmental Records for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly) - a blog about this to come sometime soon as it is very interesting.
A load of wakame was brought to me this evening to press so my garage is full of dripping seaweed!

... and now am sanding and polishing resins. Getting stuff ready to set up a new exhibition on Tuesday.

I am joining Fannie & Fox in Penryn, which is going to be run as a co-operative. I have shown work in exhibitions at this beautiful gallery before but now you will always find my work there and for two days in every month you will find me too.

We will be opening with new work on 1st May.
Opening times are 10 - 5 Tuesday to Saturday.
There are 10 artists with a wide variety of beautiful work including jewellery, felting, etchings, paper cuttings, ceramics, painting, sculpture and cards.

I will have small resins for sale and be showing my new wax pieces.

Will say more about this soon.