Crazy-working bees provide me with an abundance of beeswax to use in my encaustics, so I got back in the studio and started experimenting with some variations on my technique.
In my previous encaustic works, I did an augmented monoprint technique of melting the wax together with pigments on a heated surface into a thick puddle, laying the vellum on the wax, and pulling the piece up slowly. The stratification effect comes from removing the vellum with a sort of dipping motion--as the wax is pulled onto the paper, it begins to cool, but the dipping motion allows sections of the wax to stay heated for a longer period of time resulting in less wax hardening on the paper. For this round of prints, I expanded on that technique with multiple pressings of the same piece into the wax in an effort to achieve more advanced layering of the translucent material.
These works bring up so many nostalgic wonders for me--I think of the ghostly textures that misused dark-room chemicals left on my photographs in high school; of my grandpa's sand art that sat in the front window and mesmerized me for hours; of eroding lands and terraced hillsides and melting skies; of the art direction for the Nine Inch Nails album With Teeth (as well as my general sense of being when I am listening to Nine Inch Nails). As my eyes move across the works, some also remind me of the pathways of the bees flying through the air heading straight from bloom to hive in a direct zip or meandering through large circles of breeze to reach their home.
Back in February, I made the irrational, irresponsible, and spontaneous decision that Dave and I needed to get chickens immediately.
We have always talked about having our own little backyard flock, but it was a distant-future sort of desire. Sketched plans for a coop adorned our refrigerator since last October. I leisurely researched chicken breeds, space requirements, and care for months. I thought that once I really had this backyard beekeeping hobby down, some egg layers would be a nice addition to our little ecosystem.
On Valentine's Day, after my creepy pillow creation went viral, I was feeling weird. February 14th was spent in a daze of interviews and emails, and everyone wanted to know all about my whimsical novelty craft. My brain doesn't deal with that kind of attention well. It felt like a big whirlwind of horror craziness that I couldn't control. So, after talking poultry dreams with fellow chicken-desirer Rox at a baby shower (which are big whirlwinds of horror craziness unto themselves), I drove to the nearest farm shop.
I told myself that I was only stopping in the store to learn more about what I needed to start a backyard egg factory, but the large metal trough full of week-old chicks standing at the entrance of the shop demanded that I leave with some new friends. "I want some chickens and all the things I will need to take care of them," I declared to a feed store employee. She asked if I already had a coop, and I lied and said yes, I had one. She walked around the store with a cart, filling the basket with all sorts of supplies. I didn't even care what she was choosing for me, as gimme chickens gimme chickens gimme chickens was the only thing whirling around my brain. After five minutes of feed-gathering, she led me back to the trough of featherballs. "One of each, please," and the babies were mine.
I sat in my car in the feed store parking lot, chicks chirping at my feet, furiously googling how to take care of my new livestock. I sent a text to Dave to let him know that, oops surprise, I got three chickens, and, because Dave is the best ever, he wasn't even mad. What a great husbie!
Dave quickly declared that the black chick was his favorite, and we named her Fernandina. Little Fern is a Black Jersey Giant--she will grow up to be about 10lbs, which is more than Nemo weighs. The other chickens (Vidalia, a Rhode Island Red, and Savannah, a Brown Leghorn) are expected to reach 6lbs.
I don't think I ever told you guys this, but back in October my bee hive was robbed by another colony, forcing my bees to take to the skies in a panic. It was a depressing day--Dave and I both loved watching the bees from our living room window, and losing the colony was like losing a beloved pet. I was pretty emo about it.
Since October, I have been continuing to maintain a few hives for some neighbors while they were on holiday vacation (which meant delicious educational experience and delicious honey). The plan was to keep the colonies going strong and to split the hives in Spring, allowing me to once again host some bees in my backyard. I am very impatient. Spring seemed like a really long way off.
The thoughtful and ever-adventurous Linden found out that some bees had moved into a coworker's tree--the hive had been there for awhile and grown drastically in size, and Coworker wanted the bees removed. What excellent news! Linden donned her bravest face and agreed to help me cut the hive from the tree.
The hive was pretty big.
Linden was super brave--she is not generally a fan of insects noisily buzzing around her head, but after a few minutes of nervous hesitation she dove right in to her new beekeeping role. While I began separating the comb from the tree, Linden arranged the removed comb into frames to be put into the hive.
We passed the one-month-in-our-new-home marker!
Everyone is feeling comfortable and finding new favorite spots in the new place. StarFox is fond of staring out the window and watching bikers pass our house on the Pinellas trail, Nemo prefers to cuddle up to anything that was recently laundered, and Dave has been reading/devouring an Orson Scott Card series my mom recommended.
As we fall deeper into a sense of settlement and routine after the move, I am feeling more and more eager to start a slew of new hobbies. That's just how I roll--things feeling normal? MUST. START. A. MILLION. NEW. PROJECTS.
As promised, I have so many pictures of the finished kitchen to show you. Let's look back at how the place looked when we moved in one month ago:
And here is our kitchen now:
I got this chandelier for $40 from the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. It had some frosted glass shades, but I nixed those and opted to go shadeless. That's just how Dave and I roll. The fixture over the sink was $5 from the same store. I still need to paint the ceiling where we took down the old florescent fixture, but it's not high on my priority list at the moment.
I worked at a lighting showroom store for a year while I was in college, and it was the most boring job I can imagine. I passed the time by vacuuming the store and writing haikus about the meaninglessness of it all (college--the emo years). But at that miserable, life-sucking retail job, I learned to hang light fixtures. There is always a skill you can pick up. Can the internet teach you that something much more effectively? Probably. But if you are in an employment situation that is less than ideal, learn what you can, wait for it to come in handy, and be thankful.
My lil' sis took the pictures above the sink in her darkroom photography class last year. The one on the far left features Pikachu. Yes, she really is that awesome.
For and instant party atmosphere, the LED lights above the cabinet also do crazy things, because we are classy like that:
PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY!
Construction of the Laboratory Continues
I am eager to get the shed completely transformed into my art studio. It has been way too long since I've painted. The graphics work is holding me over (and it has been plentiful), but I need to get back to painting or I will die. Not really. But sort of yes.
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