Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Nature Observations

We live in the country.  When we decided to move here, a friend of Eric’s said “You realize you are moving next to the middle of nowhere.”  Now it really isn’t that bad.  Our main street has two traffic lights and one blinking yellow light.  We have a couple of restaurants in town, two pizza joints, a gas station, and a corner market; we’re not that desolate.  

Our home is surrounded by woods which lead into conservation areas.  And that means mother nature with her wild critters and strange sounds at night.  Several months after we moved in two female wild turkeys visited with their combined brood of 17 chicks.  Talk about a woman having command over her kids!  The females heard us make a noise in the house as we watched them from our family room window.  A signal went out.  Immediately the chicks disappeared in the tall grasses.  Zip. Gone.  The females gingerly walked around and when they determined all was safe, 17 little chicks popped straight up from the tall grasses and proceeded on their route.  It was hillarious and fascinating.

We’ve had our share of deer (adults and fawns) visit the yard too.  We do, afterall, have a wonderful salad bar for them to enjoy.  In fact, I told Eric that he couldn’t leave the house straight away one morning because a fawn was feeding in a garden bed and mom was surveying the area.  The sound of the garage door opening surely would’ve spooked them. 

Periodically a coyote will wander through the yard (their dens are somewhere in the woods and we do hear them at night) and a fox is sighted here and there.  And I can’t forget the owls and hawks and the heron that landed once in the neighborhood pond.

This year we’ve also been hosts to a burgeoning chimpmunk population, several mice and their offspring, and godparents to two nests full of robins.  And the rabbits that showed up when I started reading Alice in Wonderland.

But this morning I observed something I’d never seen.  

Over the weekend I noticed a hole in a crevice between two paver stones in our walkway.  The hole was about 1/4″ in diameter; you couldn’t miss it.  Aside the hole was a pile of crushed stone and sand.  I showed it to Eric; we figured that a cicada or locust had crawled out and then we covered up the hole.

The next morning the hole was re-opened.  Hmm, okay.  This was curious.

I spent some time this morning weeding the garden beds.  The hole was still in the crevice in the walkway.  I pushed some of the sand back over the hole and continued weeding.  And then it showed up.  A wasp.

A wasp building a nest. That is what created this hole in the crevice.  I watched as the wasp moved aside the crushed stone and sand and then dove down into the hole, brought up more sand and deposited it into the pile it had created.  Fascinating.  It did this for several minutes.  Tiny ants that were in the vicinity were shooed away by the wasp.  Even as I walked by it rose from the walkway and flew around.  “This is my home” it seemed to say.  “Stay back.”  Yet it wasn’t aggressive.  It didn’t zoom after me but just wanted to get its message across.

I was so impressed by this wasp’s diligence.  It had found where it wanted to be and was determined to claim its territory.  It was attentive to its space, carefully clearing away the stones.  And it has persevered over the last few days, re-opening the hole every time we covered it. 

It made me think about surviving as an artist with a small business.  How we must be attentive to our craft, perfect our skills, and claiming a stake in the world.  Every day we clear away little stones on the way to happiness.  Sometimes we’re successful and sometimes someone pushes the dirt back over us.  But we persevere, dust off the dirt, and keep on digging and moving forward.

This particular wasp is known as a Great Golden Digger Wasp.  They are independent, non-aggressive, and love nectar.  Read more here.

This wasp is my hero today.  Nature really is wonderful.


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Material Inspiration

I do not make canes with polymer clay.  It just isn’t something that I fancy for myself.  I have made some basic canes (stripes, checkerboard, bullseyes) but rarely anything complex.  So I’m not sure what prompted me to make canes this weekend.  Perhaps it was my desire to take a break from making wine bottle stoppers.  Perhaps it was the two logs of scrap clay that have been resting on my work table waiting for rejuvination.  Whatever it was, here is what I did and the results:

I started with scraps of leftover clay that I rolled into a log and twisted till it swirled.  Then I put the log into a clay extruder with a square die and extruded it. Twisted clay 

  Extrusion

The extruded clay was cut into 16 pieces of equal length and restacked into a 4 x 4 square.  This square was then wrapped with two layers of contrasting clay, cut on a diagonal into four equal pieces and reassembled.  Then I wrapped the cane again with a single layer of white clay.

4×4   Wrapped stack   Cut and reassemble

(NOTE: If you do not have an extruder, you could roll your scraps into a log, 1″ in diameter, and square it up.  Or use a solid color log of clay.) 

I decided to add a little more color to my cane.  I cut the cane vertically and inserted a sheet of red pearl clay.  Then I made two horizontal cuts and inserted two more sheets of red pearl clay, compressed the cane and started reducing it.

Vertical color   Horizontal cuts

I reduced the cane, cut it into four equal pieces, inserted a thin log of red pearl clay at the center point where all four cane pieces met, compressed and reduced it again.  Then the cane was cut in half one more time and I mirrored the images for the finished cane.

Reduce center color   Reduce assemble   The finished cane.

And here is this cane sliced and rolled into a sheet.

Plaid sheet

It definitely has a plaid/tartan feel to it though I’m not sure what Clan would claim it as their own.

Making this cane was fun and it will make some great cloth for art doll clothing.  I mentioned that I made two canes.  The second cane is not yet finished.  I’ll post that one later.

To see some wonderful canes made by wonderful polymer artists, visit:

Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg (Riverpoet Designs)

Sarah Shriver

Barbara Sperling

Jana Roberts Benzon

Karen Lewis (Klew)