Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Passenger Pigeon Origami Party

Last weekend we hosted an Origami Folding Party in honor of the Passenger Pigeon.  The passenger pigeon used to be the most abundant bird in North America.  The flocks would literally darken the sky for 3-4 days as they passed.  So it is almost unbelievable that in a matter of about 100 years, habitat loss and over-hunting caused their numbers to fall from around 3-5 billion to zero.  (For a brief history of the passenger pigeon, click here.)

George is helping to organize a celebration and talk at Xavier in conjunction with the Cincinnati Zoo on Wednesday, October 29 (for more info click here).  The title of the talk is "The Legacy of Martha: The Last Passenger Pigeon and the Rise of Conservation."  Martha was the last passenger pigeon in the world and she lived (and died) at the Cincinnati Zoo.  2014 marks the centennial anniversary of her passing and the extinction of the passenger pigeon.   

"How does this involve origami?" you are thinking.  The plan is to fold 2000 origami passenger pigeons and place the whole flock outside on the lawn of the Xavier mall to raise awareness and to publicize the talk.  When George told me this I was super excited because I love idea of combining birds, origami, and conservation.  And what could be more fun than hosting an origami folding party?!  How often does one get that opportunity?  Plus I knew it would be great fun to make the invite (below).

We had a great turnout for the party.  Fifteen intrepid origami folders showed up and we folded from noon to dinnertime. 

As the hours passed the pile of birds began to grow.

George and I even folded a giant origami bird out of a 6 ft.square to greet people at the front door.

In the end we folded around 400 birds.  Now only 1600 more to go!

If you are interested in folding your own origami passenger pigeon visit foldtheflock.org.  They created the beautiful origami design and have an amazing website where you can download a pdf for free.  Plus they have some nice videos about the passenger pigeon.  Definitely worth a visit!

As I was writing this blog entry and looked up the original population numbers it is mind-boggling to think how this could happen to a bird that was once so abundant.  It breaks my heart to think about it and makes me wonder about our future on this planet.  Although we can not change the past I do hope that we can learn from it.  And I hope that by remembering the story of the passenger pigeon we are all inspired to live a little lighter on this planet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LISC Bus Tour Project

I don't often post work projects on the blog but I really enjoyed designing these maps so I thought I would share it here.  Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky LISC was hosting a bus tour for their national group and they needed maps of their route and a booklet describing each stop and their work.  Creating maps is always a fun challenge.  I think the hardest part is getting the scale correct and choosing how much to simplify. You want to keep enough landmarks that people know where they are while also zooming in close enough to show the necessary details. These were printed on letter size paper that would fold in half and get stapled in the middle. So I also had to think about where the folds would go and how the two halves of the map would meet up if printed on separate pages.

Below is the cover of the bus tour booklet.  If you would like to see the entire booklet you can see a pdf here.

I also created eleven posters for the evening event at the CAC displaying highlights of the work LISC does in their target neighborhoods.  Below are three of the posters.

It is so satisfying to see the work in its final venue and to see people interact and learn about the amazing community development work that LISC does in Cincinnati. It feels good to do work for people who do good work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vintage Metal Hooks

If you follow this blog you know that I have a thing for rusty metal objects.  Last spring my mom and I went to the Springfield Antique Extravaganza and guess what I found right off the bat?  Vintage Metal Hooks!  Sometimes when I find heavy metal objects I am forced to carry them around with me until my shoulder hurts.  But luckily we found these when we were still close to the car.

When I saw them I tried to resist but I just couldn't turn away from the gorgeous orange of the large hook.  And then I saw the cute red hook...and then the silver hook had old red paint on it that matched the red hook...and the shape of the dark metal one reminded me of a swan!  This is how my mind works.  But if I am truthful I knew I was hooked the minute I saw the weathered orange metal.    

And I love to imagine the person who designed these hooks.  Who was that person who took the time to choose their shape and think about their purpose and how much weight they could carry?  They probably didn't know a girl would one day find them and marvel at their incredible beauty and bring them home to photograph from every angle.  It's so much fun to find these treasures at the antique show and this coming weekend is another extravaganza.  I will try and restrain myself from purchasing more heavy metal but I cannot make any promises...will keep you posted.     

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On My Walk

Some times I get so crazy excited by the things I see on my walks.  I've never grown cannas so this may be old news to you. But the other day I did a double take when I saw these awesome pods growing on my neighbors cannas!  Not only do I love the bulbous-fingered orb shape, but check out the way the color goes from neon yellow-green to red at the tips. 

And I thought it couldn't get any better than that when I saw what happens to them when they dry up (below).  The pods look like squashed, veined turbans...or maybe peanuts... but very cool nonetheless.

Plus I haven't even mentioned that the above photos were taken with my new google phone.  Often when I am out walking I wish that I had my camera with me and now I will!  George always wanted me to carry my phone on my walks but I always forgot it.  But now I will be definitely be carrying it more.  It is a lot lighter than the Canon, although I will always love that camera.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Flowers

A couple weeks ago my mom bought me these flowers for my birthday from the farmer's market.  Every week we go to pick up our vegetables I am in awe of the beautiful flower arrangements from Hazelfield Farm Flowers.  And I am even more amazed at how quickly Sayward, the owner, is able to quickly compose a beautiful arrangement in a matter of minutes.  If you ever need flowers for an event I highly recommend Hazelfield (you can see their work here and here).  Plus they are chemical and pesticide free!

When I saw this bouquet I fell in love with the colors.  Of course the dusty pinks of the dahlia and zinnias were incredible, but what made this arrangement was the purple basil.  And it smelled great!  Thanks again Mom for this lovely gift that brought me joy all week!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Erika!

I have been friends with Erika since the seventh grade.  When she moved to Norway after ninth grade my sister and I went to visit her and her family.  When we returned I started getting lots of letters from her which I kept in a box under my bed.  I still have all those letters under my bed and I still get hand-written letters from Erika. 

Today is her birthday and I was determined to make a card and send it through the real mail.  So this past weekend I designed this card, printed it, and sent it off Monday.  Hopefully she received it in time and had the pleasure that she has given me so many times...the joy of opening a real letter that is hand-written just for you.  Wishing you a very happy birthday Erika...filled with lots of love and joy! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Spring Grove Sketch

Christina, Amy, and I sketched at Spring Grove Cemetery this weekend.  This particular building has always intrigued me with its Gothic Revival architecture and flying buttresses.  The Spring Grove website says that it was built in 1869 and was built for an English immigrant named Dexter who was a whiskey baron.

Part of the reason I love sketching with Christina and Amy is that it is so nice to sit and chit chat while being productive at the same time.  But I also love to see the different ways we interpret the same object.  You can see their sketches here.  After sketching we headed down to Findlay Market and ate pho.  A wonderful way to spend a Saturday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Erosion Sand Bags

On our trip to Isle of Palms, SC I took a morning walk every day around the top of the island and each day I had to traverse these erosion sand bags.  At first I thought, "How distasteful!  Someone built their condo way to close to the beach and didn't leave any dunes for protection!" 

But soon I was oddly attracted to those erosion sand bags.  I just couldn't get enough of them.  The forms and shapes produced by the eroding bags were stunning!

And look at the way the light illuminated their soft, bulbous bodies!

And when I saw the bag in the photo below it made me laugh to think how the ocean had slowly, wave after wave, molded this sandbag into a jellyfish!  Quite the artiste!

At times the tide was so high I had to climb on top of the bags just to get around the tip of the island.

I suppose there are many lessons to be learned from this situation...like, don't build buildings right next to the ocean with no dunes.  But I also learned a lesson of a different sort.  That it is possible to find beauty everywhere if you have your eyes open...even in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beach Beauties

My main goal this summer was to go to the beach and that is why we went to Charleston, SC.  We ended up staying at a condo on the Isle of Palms and every morning I woke up early and took a nice long walk on the beach.  And the beach never ceases to provide amazing things to photograph.  In the photo above you can see my very favorite beach beauty.  It is a whelk egg case that washed up on shore.  As you know if you follow this blog I loooooooooove repetition so it naturally follows that I love whelk egg cases.  Each "disc" contained a baby whelk.  You can often see the hole in each disc where the young whelk exited and if there isn't a hole, you can open it and find a baby whelk.

The photo below is a cannonball jellyfish.  When I googled it I learned several interesting facts about them.

1) To reproduce they shoot sperm out of their mouth which are caught by another jelly.
2) They are an important food source for the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
3) They don't commonly sting humans (although they contain toxins that can harm us).
4)  They are called "Jellyballs" in Georgia, where they are the third largest commercial fishing industry after shrimps and crabs.
5) The "Jellyballs" caught in Georgia are sent to Japan, China, and Thailand where they end up on the dinner table.

Fascinating, huh!?  My friend Melissa who lives in Charleston said they used to throw them at each other.

This boardwalk was at the tip of the island near our condo.  It was a beautiful, serene place to sit and listen to the marsh sounds while watching the sun rise.

And I can't help but mention that horseshoe crabs (shown below) are totally amazing creatures.  Did you know that the blood of the horseshoe crab is used in the pharmaceutical industry to test to make sure their intravenous drugs and vaccines are free from bacteria?  Every drug certified by the FDA must pass the horseshoe crab blood test.  Each year huge numbers of horseshoe crabs are harvested, bled, and then returned to the ocean.  And their blood is baby blue!  There is a good article here about this industry which states that "every single person in America who has ever had an injection has been protected because we harvest the blood of a forgettable sea creature with a hidden chemical superpower."  And it is suspected their populations are in decline due to this bleeding process.  So whenever I see one on the beach I am reminded of the debt we owe this beautiful, silent bottom dweller.

My last day on the beach there was an amazing sun rise.  There is something that lifts the soul when watching a sun rise at the beach while listening to the sound of the surf.  It reminds me of my smallness and my vastness at the same time.  And as I stand there I don't want to be any place in the world but right where I am.