Monday, July 30, 2012

Birds in Art

A piece of mine was accepted in the 2012 Birds in Art show, put on by the Leigh Yawley Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin.  Each year they put out a nice full color catalog with accepted artists’ works from all over the world.  An Olympia artist, Judy Smith gave me several of the previous year’s catalogs  where I gleaned several ideas for new pieces, one of which I pursued.  One piece that gave me the idea for a new piece was a sculpture by John Richen titled Symphonic Flight. It is bronze and stainless steel and sort of looks like two feathers but one looks more like a bird in flight with some wind added.  It set me to thinking.  Just the shape of a flight feather suggests movement.  Since I strive to honor the qualities of the feathers I work with, I used a pair of matching flight feathers set as dual images and kept one uncut, whole.  The other I subtracted bits and pieces and ended up with the feathers shape but with a lot of connected bird shapes in flight. This may be the beginning of a series.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Many Eagle Feathers

eagle flight feathers

In just one mile on a remote Washington beach laid all these and more eagle feathers.  They were sitting on the sand and mixed in the drift at the high tide mark.  After being arranged in a circle, the tide redistributed them up and down the beach where they now lie.

Curiously, almost all of these feathers were from the tips of the wings, the primaries.  These birds more or less shed only two matching feathers at a time, one from each side.  Most small birds start their molt in the middle of the wing and proceed outward over a few months until growth is complete.  Larger birds like the eagle may take several years since it is harder for them to fly with even one feather shed from each wing.  I wonder where all these feathers came from since I only saw about half a dozen eagles all day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Warm Feathers

Growing Goose Feathers are warm

My geese are molting their feathers.  Unlike most birds, geese and other kinds of waterfowl shed their feathers all at once.  So now, the goose feathers are strewn all around my field. Sometimes my geese get out which is where they were when I got home this afternoon. As I herded them back into the field, I caught one to see how its feathers were growing back in.  When I grabbed the bird, it felt warm as they always do since their temperature is 6 or 7 degrees warmer than ours.  What surprised me was that the growing feathers were just as warm.  

I had never felt warm feathers.  But it isn’t really so surprising when you know that the growing feathers are heavily supplied by blood.  So much that if I cut the bigger goose feathers off at the shaft, the bird could bleed to death.  So this is a time of their lives that try to treat themselves more gently until the feathers are fully grown.