Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bees, Barley and Bavarian Haus

The result of those busy bees this last spring
The summer is winding on, the days are shorter, sad I know, but true. It is still hot, and sunny, the garden is still productive, but I can see that some things are looking tired. The morning does not come so early, and the hops are ready.
Even so, the honey bees are busy gathering nectar from all the flowering squashes, mint and sunflowers. We dig the bees , and I encourage their activities in the garden. After all how would I have gotten my luscious apples without them? I know some apples are self pollinating, but that's not my point.

The Sugar Shack
All seemed right and in balance in the garden, when I noticed an unusually large number of honey bees drinking from the hummingbird feeder. First it was one, then two. Then I went outside to have peek and WOW!! All the openings were choked with golden little bees having a good drink.
Their amber bodies wriggling and pulsating as they jockeyed for the prime spot to get at the nectar. Like WW2 bombers, flying away laden down with sugar water for the Queen..Bees so full of nectar they could barely take off, cruised slowly past my head off to the hive.. The feeder was so jam packed with bees, not even the normally agressive yellow jackets dared to have ago at it.
The hummingbirds had given up, and were nowhere to be seen..
I just stood and watched , mesmerised.
Last year the bees stopped by for a quick sugar water drink, then flew off. The song birds would nip in for a beak full too on the hot days ..But this year is waaaay different with the bees..
I was happy to help feed our local bees, but there was problem.
The problem was that the greedy little bees would climb themselves up into the feeder tubes, and end up drowning in nectar. Seeing their drowned little bodies floating at the top of the feeder, I realised something more sensible had to be done, so I called my bee keeping freind and mead maker Amy aka Wolfwoman..
"Ya need to build them a jar feeder. This time of the year they are trying to gather as much nectar as they can to keep the Queen producing eggs, and to store for winter, so they are really hungry. Iam feeding my hives , and going through a quart of nectar a day."
Who knew? So I got a jar, poked some holes in the lit, set it up on small stones, set that in the middle of a shallow dish, and there ya go! Bee feeder!

Flying in for drink Now I suggest that you set this thing up after it gets to be evening, or you will have as I did, a zillion bees climbing all over you. I mean climbing. Bees buzzing by your ears, face, arms, climbing my hands looking for sugar.. The thing is to just be calm, and slow in your movements, not so much because they will get agressive, but so you do not inadvertently squish one, or squish one between your fingers. Then you'll get stung for sure. It was amazing, the feeling of their wings beating air all around my face, trying to resist that primeval urge to run at the sound of so much buzzing up close. It was cool!!! they did not care a bit about me, except that I was bringing more nectar. Next time though, I refill the thing at night.

The Bar

The way they all lined up reminded me of some little gold bees made for a Scythian warriors garment.....or the sculpture of Diana of Ephesus, she wears a necklace of bees...
They flew past me, ignoring me as another obstacle..So they seem happy, and no more drowned bees.

Bavarian Inn sign
Barley, hops and beer..

The start of the spirals..Iam working on the stein today.
Well, Iam currently slacking off writing this! But the bees were so cool, I had to share!

Here is the study for how to make hop cones, and barley...
The white thing is the study, I think Iam going to use the layered method, cut out and shape the petals of the hops, and them fit them on a central "pin"....The Barley, I still have no idea yet..
This is a cool project, but I best get back to work.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A drawing.

Sometimes I get to sneak in some drawing that is not work related. This is an illustration in progress of the Rune, Sowelo, the Sun. It was for a book project, but then things changed, so now it's just for my own pleasure. It's not finished, as he is standing in a field of barley, and that is not drawn in yet. They loved the drawing, but decided to go with photographic images, and that's fine. I will finish him, and am toying with the idea of doing the entire Runic Alphabet.

Most folks know Iam an ancient history nerd as well as artist. I have toyed with the idea of going off to school to finally become an official history geek, archaeologist/pre-Christian religion scholar, but something always stops me. Mostly money, fear, and well money.

So I have things in the works to combine my love of Viking age history, blacksmithing and art that won't involve hideous student loans.
So back to work..

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Neo Gothic Hinges

Neo-Gothic Hinges in situ

Greetings everyone! Well you may recall those Thistle hinges I was working on awhile back..No? Yes? Maybe? Well, they were finished ages ago, and languished about waiting for their new home to be built. Well happy happy joy joy, they languish no more!
Their new door was finished and the hinges were attached this week. Today was the big day they whole thing was installed on site at the historical Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, here in sunny, scenic Portland , Oregon.
Mike the Wood Guy built a great, heavy bastard of a wooden door for the hinges to live on. Out of solid mahogany. He, the Friends of Lone Fir and my darling Hubbinator were on hand to hang the door, ooh and ahh and revel in a job well done. I was back at the smithy slaving away on another project, so I could not attend.

The new door was built for the McClay family crypt's utility building, an old, musty brick structure known by me as the "spider palace"...there is a reason , a good reason I call it that...Iam not normally scared of insects , but when we went there to take measurements the abundance of blackwidows, and big , brown, leggy spiders hanging about, or skuttleing about, did make me a bit nervous....Think Ron and Harry deep in the woods, with all those giant spiders chasing them...or a certain Indiana Jones flick, dark tomb, lots of bugs, certain get the picture..

A closer shot of the fabulous door
These will be here for another hundred years I hope, it was an honor to make them for the Friends of Lone Fir, and the McKlay/Kerr family.

Thistle head up close, with potentially deadly arachnid
Look! Look! I swear, only on the doorjam like ten minutes and the little buggers have moved in already! See I was not exaggerating!