Powdery Mildew

August 28th, 2015

A month ago I bought a begonia boliviensis. Very beautiful plant. I had’t even popped it in the ground yet, when I noticed the flowers were dropping. According to what I read that is not uncommon.

Begonia

Then I noticed powdery mildew. A small bit of powdery mildew can be seen in the upper most leaf. I couldn’t remember how to treat it, so I googled it. Everything I read stated that the plant should be destroyed.

I contacted a friend and he suggested:

“…a mixture of 8oz isopropyl alcohol (70%), 8oz water, 1 Tbsp Dr. Bronners Peppermint castille soap. It works really well on arthropod pests but also has a slight fungicidal effect. Fairly non-toxic to boot.”

I do love peppermint soap, so I gave it a try. Shortly after the application all of the leaves dropped.

This week I started to feel a bit positive about saving the plant. There are a few new leaves.

Begonia after treatment

The leaves appear to be healthy and clear of powdery mildew. Now I wait.


The Agave Today–August 28, 2015

August 28th, 2015

Agave

This is How the Agave Looks Today.

Agave Pod Litter

Agave Pod Litter

Agave Seeds

The seed pod was not mature, but I took a look inside.


Plant Mystery–What Is It?

August 20th, 2015

A few nights ago my nephew sent images of a plant that he saw on a walk in Hawaii.

Foliage and Flowers

Foliage and Flowers

Pods

Pods

Seeds and Silk

Seeds and Silk

I thought that it might be in the milkweed family, but most of the Asclepias pods that I have seen have a nubby texture.

I sent my nephew an email with my thoughts. Later I received an email from his mother and she thought it was similar to the silk cotton tree, Kapok. I checked out her guess, and noticed there were several differences.

So, I sent an email to my friend who works at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. And this is what he wrote–

Calotropis procera (formerly Asclepias…good call). The Kapok tree (either Ceiba pentandra or Ceiba speciosa or [Chorisa speciosa]) is quite a robust tree which has prominent black spines on the trunk, even when young.

I googled Calotropis and found this great picture to confirm the mystery plant’s identity.

Calotropis

Mystery solved!

Thanks, Bryan.



Sticks and Stones Finally Done

August 10th, 2015

I spent several months deciding how to complete this piece. Attempted several borders, finally decided to make a coco fiber border. Coco fiber is pretty, but it is sharp and prickly.

Text

The piece has bundles of bound twigs used in place of Morse Code. The dots are bound to the hardware cloth vertically, and the dashes are bound horizontally. Each 4×4 square block represents one letter. And each block has a stone.

The message in the piece is: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?

Yep, it does have a question mark in the code.

Sketch

The piece has two layers of hardware cloth and a layer of coco fiber between.

I have included an image of the back of the piece. Even though the back can’t be seen, it still exists. Also the back piece of hardware cloth has ready made hangers.

Text

Detail of sketch showing the code and a detail of the front of the piece.

Sketch Detail

Front Detail

The finished piece is 32.5″ x 16.75″ x 2″.
Materials List: hardware cloth, stones, coco fiber, cotton fabric, wool, hemp, stones, and starch.

I am seriously considering including the materials and code layout in a small cotton pouch attached to the back for easy access.

As for signing the piece, I will use some type of stitch work. Here are some examples of previous signatures.

Signature

I have also used stitched perforated discs. The code starts from the left and spirals in. The code is in brown and tan. The rest is spacers and fillers.

Signature

They are rather nice because they are about the size of a quarter. There are a few patterns that can be used. This attempt was to be a bit willy nilly.

Back to Sticks and Stones–I need to sign it and hang it.

Miscellaneous information–the twigs are from a birch tree. Some believe that birch represents health, wisdom, and safety.

I select materials for what they bring to the work visually, but also culturally. Sometimes a material is selected because it has a connection to my personal history.

Does anyone need to know that when viewing the work? Probably not. Will knowing all of my reasons for making a work and selecting materials change how a work is viewed? Maybe…


Agave Buds and Seed Pods in Progress

August 5th, 2015

Agave Leaves

Agave Leaves with a Sticky Residue and Dropped Buds

Agave Buds

Agave Seed Pods in Progress


Agave and Hummingbird

July 29th, 2015

Today near the top of the agave there was a busy little hummingbird.

Agave and Hummingbird

Agave and Hummingbird


Agave July 28th

July 28th, 2015

Agave

Agave Detail


Wool Bowl–Update on Rust Promoter Test

July 27th, 2015

The test piece is still a bit damp and continues to change.

This is how the test appeared yesterday–

Test 1

This is an image of how the test looks today. The piece next to it shows the original color of the cream wool yarn and the safety pins.

Test 1 Day 3


Don’t Piece in Progress

July 26th, 2015

I started the Don’t piece after watching Blink one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who. The episode introduces the Weeping Angels, sculpture that isn’t really sculpture. When you blink or look away the Weeping Angels move. When they move they are dangerous.

In the episode Weeping Angels also known as the Lonely Assasins are explained:

“You die in the past, and in the present, they consume the energy of all of the days you might have had-and your stolen moments. They live off potential energy.”

What if you approached viewing art in the same way? Well, not with the fear that you might be sent back in time to die, but to really look. To see what is there, you must look. Not give the art work a passing glance, but really look at it. What about being a version of the Weeping Angels by snagging some of the energy put into the work by the artist…

I started a piece that has coded into it, “Don’t turn your back, Don’t look away, Don’t blink” some of the warnings in the episode.

Dont

I used color for the dots and dashes of Morse Code–rust yarn for dots, gray for dashes, and cream for spacers.

I cut the squares of mirror in half because after wrapping the hardware cloth with cream wool they were too large. And I like the idea of sharp edges.

Dont Code Detail

The frame will be bound to the coded piece. Actually the frame has code as well. The frame has the repeated word, see.

Dont Frame

The plan is to age and wax the coded piece and the frame. Then bind the two pieces together and the binding.

Dont With Frame


Wool and Safety Pins

July 26th, 2015

What happens when you find a stash of safety pins? What do you do with them?

Safety Pins

Had just make a rope and wool yarn bowl for a birthday present.

Birthday Bowl

I enjoyed making the bowl. A nice break from making wall pieces. I wrapped rope with cream wool yarn so the cotton rope would not peek through.

Formed the bowl by binding it with cream wool. Added additional binding in cream, gray, and brown. It is code for the person’s name and their date of birth.

Back to the safety pins–I decided to make I-cords, full them, and then pin them together to make a bowl. I pinned the cream wool I-cord together and took it apart 3 times. Just couldn’t get it quite right.

Cream Bowl

While I was working on putting the cream bowl together and taking it apart, I made two smaller pieces.

The I-cord is made of gray and cream wool yarn.

Gray Bowl

The exterior of the bowl.

Gray Bowl

Then I flipped it inside out.

Gray Bowl

I tried the same process using two kinds of brown wool yarn.

Brown Bowl

Exterior of the bowl.

Brown Bowl

Flipped inside out.

Brown Bowl

Flipping the bowl inside out was the solution. After finishing the pinning of the cream bowl, I flipped it inside out.

Cream Bowl

Once the bowl is aged and then stiffened I think it will be done.


How to age the bowls?

Test 1 Rust Promoter
4.0 parts white vinegar
1.0 part peroxide
.5 part salt

Test 1

Test 2
1 Tablespoon epsom salt in boiling water. Submerged the piece. Then added another tablespoon of epsom salt.

Test 2

This really did not work. It seems to have cleaned the oxidation off of the safety pins. The result brought to mind the ugly surface of silicon bronze when it is sandblasted.

Test 2

Rust and bleeding onto the wool is definitely necessary.

When I finish adding some age to the bowls, I will most likely add an application of faux beeswax. Adding an all over application tends to help integrate the materials.

After the wax is applied a heat gun can be used. With some wax a hair dryer can be hot enough. It takes longer but, it is worth it to keep the integrity of the wool. I have found that microcrystalline wax requires a higher temperature and the wool can appear plastic.

I have attempted making cold wax, but still need to heat the piece to smooth out thick areas.


Rust Promoter Formula

It occurred to me that I did not give credit to the person who posted the rust promoter formula. I found the formula several years ago. I looked through my notes and sketchbooks, but I could not find reference to the formula or the fellow’s name. He made beautiful bells and used the rust promoter to give the appearance of age.

While writing this post, I googled bells and rust promoter, but did not find his site. When I find it, I will post a link.