Thursday, July 27, 2017

Some of My Favorite Birds

I have loved watching birds for decades and I have several favorites--the hummingbird and cardinal are at the top of my list.

Hummingbirds are the subject of much conjecture this summer. These tiny birds are among the smallest of birds and are between 3 and 5 inches in length. There is a rumor in my area and possibly yours that there are less hummingbirds this summer. I did a brief search on the Internet (non Scientific articles only) and found no evidence to support this theory. My small number of serious birder friends agree that there are less hummingbirds this year and offer a variety of explanations which range from chemicals used on lawns to control mosquitoes to a decline in the bee population.  Who knows?

In the wild, hummingbirds visit flowers for food, extracting nectar, which is 55% sucrose, 24% glucose and 21% fructose on a dry-matter basis. Hummingbirds also take sugar-water from bird feeders. I have a number of friends with hummingbird feeders. Such feeders allow people to observe and enjoy hummingbirds up close while providing the birds with a reliable source of energy, especially when flower blossoms are less abundant. This is a win win for hummingbird fans. A negative aspect of artificial feeders, however, is that the birds may seek less flower nectar for food, so reduce the amount of pollination their feeding naturally provides.

I just learned that one way to increase the number of hummers feeding in your yard is to have a fruit feeder or two nearby the nectar feeders. Using overripe fruit like bananas or peaches attracts fruit flies. Once the birds realize that the fruit is attracting insects, they will fly over to the fruit feeder and eat those tiny insects. In a few hours time a new generation of fruit flies replaces those previously eaten by the hummers. In this way, you can provide both the nectar and insects they need to thrive and keep them around longer. Otherwise, off they go, away from your feeders looking for insects in the wild. Some folks who really want to attract hummingbirds may want to try this. I will not. I absolutely hate fruit flies which hover around my wine for months. I am so paranoid about this I am considering not having any fruit in my house this summer and keeping the windows closed until the first frost.  

Photo of cardinal bird by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

My other favorite bird is the cardinal.  No matter how many times I spot one, I always get excited.  They are robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. The family ranges in size from 4 to7 inches.  They are typically associated with open woodland.   The northern cardinal is so well loved that it has been named the official bird of seven U.S. states. Bright red cardinals are easily identified by even casual bird watchers. They are often seen frequenting backyards and bird feeders. When foraging elsewhere the birds eat insects, seeds, grain, fruit, and sap. Cardinals do not migrate and have traditionally been more common in warmer climes such as the U.S. southeast.  In recent decades they have expanded their common range north through the United States and even into Canada. This population growth may be due to an increase in winter birdfeeders and to the bird's ability to adapt to parks and suburban human habitats.  Even though I don't feed cardinals, I see numbers in my wooded backyard and neighborhood.

Red Cardinal Bracelet by BayMoonDesign

I want to share with you a bird related project of mine.  This winter I spotted a tin can on eBay that had a number of birds on it.  One of the birds was a cardinal so I knew that I had to have this can.  It arrived and I promptly transformed it from a cylinder to a flat surface with some heavy duty shears while wearing gloves.  I invested in a disc cutter and proceeded to make a few disks.  My first disk was the cardinal.  This red cardinal bracelet was handmade using one of the beautiful vintage tin scenes.   Cardinal bracelet comes with a vintage recycled leather button and leather clasp. The leather button comes from a jacket that I wore decades ago.  I loved the buttons so much that I cut them off the jacket and hoarded them.  The bracelet has red colored natural Irish waxed linen thread woven through to add a pop of color. This handmade cardinal jewelry is wearable art that makes a special art gift for you or a friend who is a nature or bird lover.  It is available on in my online store for purchase.

 Bird Connector by BayMoonDesign
I also made a few disks for other jewelry designers to create with.  They are available in my online store.

Blue Bird Connector by BayMoonDesign

I still have lots of the tin can left so check my online store periodically to see what I have to offer.

I am wondering what your favorite bird is and if you have a hummingbird theory.

Friday, July 21, 2017

We're All Ears July Challenge

                                                 Bach, JS: Toccata and Fugue in D minor
animated score by Andy Fillebrown

The We're All Ears challenge for July 2017 is to find a piece of music with a graphical notation or animated score from either Andy Fillebrown or Stephen Malinowski. They each have dozens and dozens to choose from - or any other artist. Then represent that in a pair of earrings. 

I really enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music and watching  3D music animations with notes passing all around and lighting up. I ended up selecting a piece of music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in the 18th century--Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

Long Orange Earrings by BayMoonDesign
Long Orange Earrings by BayMoonDesign
The colors and linear movement in the animation inspired these carnelian earrings.  I paired orange ceramics and carnelian beads with copper to capture the orange colors. I then used copper head pins to get the linear movement. These long orange earrings have a modern and contemporary look. If you are looking for edgy orange jewelry these are a great fall choice. These long orange earrings dangle about 2.5 inches and have great movement just like the musical animation.  They are available for purchase in my BayMoonDesign online store.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sand dollars: It's Alive

An alive sand dollar

The familiar exoskeleton of a sand dollar is often found cast up on a beach. When it is on the beach it is white, with an obvious five-pointed shape on the back. But a live sand dollar has a different look. Densely packed, tiny, dark purple spines cover live sand dollars and hide the star design.  Sand dollars are amazing creatures that are in fact alive despite seeming like they do not move. This video shows that sand dollars do move, as well as the difference between a live and a dead sand dollar.

I love the beach and spend a lot of time on the beach as well as in the water. The sand dollar is a favorite motif found in my Bay Moon Design jewelry.  


My latest sand dollar design is the sterling silver pair above on the left.  These are gorgeous round shaped earrings with textured sand dollar in the center of a sterling silver frame. The beach sand dollar and ear wires are sterling silver also.

The pair on the right are one of a kind handmade sand dollar earrings that are made with white sand dollar polymer clay beads and aqua blue cultured sea glass. I love the look of the aqua beach glass with these ocean earrings. These earrings are hung on natural brass ear wires.

Another pair of my handmade sand dollar earrings are made from natural brass sheets that has been embossed with a sand dollar pattern. I then hand painted and sanded these boho earrings with blue, yellow, and green patinas to created ocean earrings. I used blue beads to accentuate the royal blue in the metal . The metal has a protective coating to keep the color vivid for years to come! I have hung them on gold brass ear wires to bring out the yellow and brass metal that show through the patina.
All 3 pairs of sand dollar earrings are made with different materials and are different styles. I have also used the sand dollar motif in necklaces and bracelets.

This sand dollar bracelet features a white sand dollar bead, blue beads and handmade brass artisan clasp. This unique aqua bracelet has beautiful blue sea glass like beads. I was inspired to make the bracelet as a reminder of a recent swim in the Atlantic Ocean. I made a clasp that reminds me of the sun. The water and sun made a perfect beach day.

These are some of my favorite sand dollar facts:

The sand dollar's mouth has a jaw with five teethlike sections to grind up tiny plants and animals.

 Sometimes a sand dollar "chews" its food for fifteen minutes before swallowing.

 It can take two days for the food to digest. 

Scientists can age a sand dollar by counting the growth rings on the plates of the exoskeleton. Sand dollars usually live six to 10 years.

Sand dollars are fascinating creatures that provide me with plenty of inspiration.  I have lots of jewelry and handmade greeting cards that are inspired by the ocean in my online BayMoonDesign store.
Which of these sand dollars of mine are your favorites?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July Art Bead Scene Challenge

Tiger in a Tropical Storm
Henri Rousseau
Oil Painting
July's Art Bead Scene challenge has a tiger ready to pounce on an unseen prey as the subject. The story is left to the viewer. Tiger in a Tropical Storm was the first painting that Rousseau painted in his signature jungle scene in a dream-like style. The painting was first rejected by the salon show but was exhibited at a non-juried show where it received mixed reviews. Henri, a self-taught painter, was not favored by critics, however, he was admired by artists looking to break away from the art establishment.  The painting is detailed in it's lush, tropical foliage. It shows a sophisticated use of color and brushwork.

 July palette
The July palette has lots of vibrant colors. I decided to focus on the lush greens in the foliage. I selected a green bird with multi colored floral details by polymer clay artist Humblebeads. The bird has a pattern with some blue and gold flowers on his chest. The same blue and gold colors are in the palette.   I added a handmade ceramic green bead to the floral bird to add some additional green color and texture. The ceramic is made by my cousin Sandra Sapienza who is a well know fiber artist.   I used some brass leaves to create what looks like a little nest for the bird to sit on. All were combined to make the statement focal for this bird necklace. I hammered a piece of brass wire to flatten the bottom so that the stack of beads would stay in place. On the top of the bird a made a messy wrapped loop to attach to a large jump ring that I covered with some brass beads.

Green Bird Necklace by BayMoonDesign
Green Bird Necklace by BayMoonDesign

I used brass chain and wire to add some gorgeous green Czech glass leaf beads and a butterfly. It is a modern necklace for anytime of year. This art necklace  is a perfect birthday gift for bird lover! It is available for purchase in my online BayMoonDesign store.
Green Bird Necklace by BayMoonDesign
Green Bird Necklace by BayMoonDesign

I love how this painting inspired this necklace.  Art and nature is a winning combination when it comes to inspiration.  What inspires you?