At a rental cabin up north we noticed peculiar birds climbing down the trees – the nut hatch. That family like mine found rest and security in our woodland homes.
We had rented a hillside cabin for a week’s rest. It was a rambling house set into the hill. The owners appeared to be bird lovers as there were a number of feeders off of the deck, hanging among the trees. A variety of birds came and went, along with one very acrobatic squirrel. But the birds that caught our attention were small ones with pointed beaks. What was unique about them is that they were usually looking downward as they climbed in the trees. We learned that they are nut hatches, whose unusual view of the world arises from looking for food from the top down. They find what other birds do not see.
It seems as if the human family in our temporary home, perching on the hill, had much in common with the nut hatch family outside our window.
I have taken a piece of found wood from where I live near Nine Springs in Madison, because it had a large knot suitable for a nest. I gathered some dry grass nearby and constructed a nest from it. The nut hatches on the piece are stylized, but I am trying to capture their jaunty pose.
carved from basswood
making milk glue
The challenge of this environmental art project is the finish of the piece. Wood is natural, but often wood carvers use paints and stains that are unnatural and even possibly toxic. So then I have used mineral oil to seal the pieces, natural stains where needed, and used hidden dowels and a milk based glue to attach the nut hatches to the piece. The challenge is also the charm of this kind of art; I expect that the piece will age somewhat quickly on location. Art again follows the course of nature and all things.
We find sanctuary together, not divided.
I’m participating in an environmental art installation project. Here is a hint of what I will be creating
It started with a summer storm. Severe winds tore through the East side of Madison and downed a number of trees. Three of these were saved and taken to the Urban Wood Fest to show how fallen wood can be saved and used. That is where I acquired a slab of ash. This tree came from Hudson Park which features a burial mound. As I walked around the park, I saw other trees, and the mound crowded with prairie plants, carefully not mown down by the city parks workers.
An ancient tribe came here and built these mounds, we are not sure what for exactly. Another park nearby has a bear and a lynx mound. The one at Hudson is not easily identifiable. Just as these visitors found something to commemorate, I remember a previous visit along the shore. We were canoeing between the Yahara and Olbrich park when we saw a blue heron along the shoreline.
I was able to find photographs of the blue heron and so developed this design. I chose to represent the heron in shallow relief, and to develop the color and life of the bird with several layers of thinned acrylic paint. This is the result. I think it is a fitting use for the ash wood that was blown into my way.
We are very fond of Parfrey’s Glen, which is close to Devils Lake in Wisconsin. Years ago we took the kids along a very developed trail. Six years ago a flood came through and demolished most of the trail up the riverbed. Now it is a bit of a challenge but a more natural environment. Here are a few pictures from this past Wednesday morning.
This plant is called butter and eggs.
falls at the top of the glen
water catching the light
nature v. human effort; nature won.
We took a boat trip in the Horicon Marsh for my birthday. There were a couple of highlights, an eagles nest, swallows chasing an osprey, and all on a perfect bit of weather.
vie from the boat
male and female bald eagle
tree done in by beavers
cat tails everywhere
Blue Heron Tours