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Monday, February 22, 2010

Continued from previous post (even though it appears first...)

This is a short video of me working on a piece of green bottle glass, in our glass working class.
Hi all.

This past week was fun. The kids didn't have any tests so we were able to go out a little bit here and there. There were a few birthdays of people in our orientation group, so we celebrated those at a place called Ciao's, an Italian restaurant. The food was great, they make their own pasta there.
I went swimming a few times, but no major snorkeling. Tuesday Chris, myself and some other VIPs went to a place on the strip called Elvis's Love Shack, owned by Elvis himself- a great guy. Elvis is a Kittitian and one who is very focused on customer service (which is rare here) and really enjoys the company of VIPs and students. He has lots of specials for us, and really tries to take good care of us. There, we placed beach volleyball, and took him up on some specials. While swimming here I stepped on my first urchin- ouch! It hurt for a little while but I was able to walk without pain very quickly. I had several little black holes in my heel, but they have either dissolved or worked themselves out by now, because I can't feel them or see them anymore.
Earlier in the week I went to the library and borrowed 'The Shining' by Steven King. I've seen the movie several times but never read the book. I'm enjoying it very much.
Friday evening was Ciao's like I mentioned, and Saturday we all went into Port. The students really haven't had a chance at all to explore so we spent a few hours walking around town, and checking out some shops. I offered directional assistance when necessary but let everyone find there way themselves... It was nice out, but hot. We had plans to go to Chris's in the afternoon for a little cookout.
At Chris's, in Bird Rock, we grilled some burgers and dogs, had some punch and relaxed, it was a nice afternoon. We briefly played a home-made variation of horse shoes, using coconuts and buckets... still a work in progress but it was fun. Afterwards we walked down to the grocery store to find it closed... so we called our taxi driver 'Showtime' for a ride to another one.
On Sunday morning, Kater and I went downtown for a glass bead making class. The small group got together and we learned how to melt and manipulate glass into colorful beads. It was so much fun. The people teaching the class, are a part of the sea turtle conservation effort here on the island. They teach fishermen how to make glass art and sell it as an alternative to catching turtles and taking their eggs.
There are certainly people making their livings at this, including our teacher, and that makes it seem hopeful that the fishermen can too. It will be a long process, but in educating the locals and helping the community develop in other ways, they wont need to fish turtles any longer and will understand why.
Here are some pictures from our class:
This is Kater working a rod of Italian glass around a 'mandrel'. We would cover a metal rod in a clay-like substance, which would hold the glass in place. Then, by slowly melting the glass and twisting the rod we would create beads.
This next one here is a close up shot of the hot glass being manipulated into a bead. You can see Kater's left hand holding the mandrel, and above it on the other side of the flame is the glass rod.
Here's another one, Kater shows off her cool shades! We had to wear these special glasses to reduce the glare from the flame. It is very bright as you could imagine and bad for your eyes. Isn't she just adorable!!?!

Here Kater is adding accent glass, to the bead. This is how you incorporate stripes, or dots into the piece. This is how advanced artist create texture and or actual little critters crawling on the beads etc...
So this here is me taking my first turn at it. This shot shows pretty well the glass dripping on to the rod, as I twist.
Here I am, after adding enough glass where I was happy with what size the bead would be. Once it has enough glass, you then heat it evenly and allow gravity to help you flatten it out and even out any uneven areas. You can also use a flat surface, like the slate below my hand, to flatten or smooth the glass.
Here you can see Kater setting her bead into a white fluffy material. It's some type of heavy material (like the rope that goes around the wood stove door) that is flame retardant and heavily heat tolerant. We place the beads in this 'bed' to slowly cool. If they cool to fast they will crack and you will lose your piece.
Now we start with bottle glass! Any old bottle will do. Kater here is using glass from an Arbor Mist wine bottle I think the teacher said. We melt it onto the mandrel in the same way as we did the glass rods.
Pretty cool!!! This type of glass was much more stubborn, taking more head and more time to be molded into the desired shapes. It also doesn't come in even shapes so it takes more manipulation to get it to cooperate. I really preferred this type of glass.
Here I am starting a piece of green glass from an old Heineken bottle. You can see that I am using tweezers to help move the glass into the right position to melt over the mandrel.
Close up of the glass beginning to melt! It was really cool to see this right before your eyes.
This is my once green Heineken glass being shaped into a pentagonal shape. Our teacher explained to us that in the years of the early slave trade here in the caribbean, glass beads of this shape were used as currency. They made green and blue, and if found today are worth nearly $100 each at the least. She makes reproductions, and I decided to make a few also.
You can see it beginning to take shape.
The final inspection before it goes to cool off.

Now, even thought these glasses are very cool, they were incredibly uncomfortable to wear... they were heavy and kept sliding down our noses... Making need for constant adjustments.

Here's a short clip of Kater working some accent glass into one of her beads.

That will do it for now. Another week begins, the last before Kater's next round of tests!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! It's Sunday of course... I surprised Kater with a home made card, bottle of her favorite wine, and some flowers. Simple, but nice I think. She seemed to like it.
She has made it through another week and continues to earn high marks on her exams. She has one more test to go before the mid-semester break which falls on March 1st.
For me, this past week I didn't do much adventuring. I went for a few swims and spent a better part of the week here, working on different projects. I continue to work on Sam and Jam. I have sent in the story board and the first completed page, which in turn is being sent to publishers. Now we just have to wait to hear back. I'm told they aren't the quickest about it, so who knows what that means.

In addition to posting photos here, I also add them to our Facebook albums. You can click here to view the photos there also. Sometimes I have better luck uploading to that site than to this one. It also allows me to add more photos faster too. So you may find some there that I didn't put here. Usually I post my favorites here though.

Here are the photos from this morning and the past week:
This first pic, is of a new humming bird to us! He is very small and as you can see, has a very stylish mohawk! We got a lot of shots of him, but as you know they move so fast it's not easy.
Another shot of the little guy, stretching out his wings. I wasn't ever able to capture it, but every once in a while you can see them stick their tongue out- it's pretty funny.
This is the larger, more common humming bird we have seen here a lot. Kater was able to get this one in flight, which is a hard shot to get in focus. These guys were very territorial over their flowers, chasing off a lot of bananaquits and bullfinches for their food!
Here is a funny shot of a male bullfinch taking a bath! He was getting water everywhere!
Another lizard, which I believe is an anole but have not confirmed as of yet. Most locals just call them lizards, which surprises me.
Another shot of the larger hummingbird. This one really shows off his colors in the sun.
We went for a walk yesterday and discovered these fellas. I want to say they are a type of orb spider but I'm not 100% sure. There were tons of them along the campus edge in the bougainvillea flower bushes. I was able to see some catch some flys too.
You can see this next one here has a fly in its fangs. It's amazing how fast these spiders can run from the center of the web to grab the bug.
This one is the fly wrapped up and being eaten.
I found this feather stuck in a web also... It reminds me of a dreamcatcher, or nature in reverse where a spider caught a bird in a web instead of a bird catching/eating a spider.

Not only were there lots of orb spiders to be found among the bushes, but we came across a few other interesting varieties. This here below is a type of crab spider. They are very small and with the wind here it took a lot of tries to get a picture that was clear.

These last few photos are of the bougainvillea flowers all around campus:

Well I guess the photos worked this time! I took advantage and posted as many as I could get away with. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's market day at Ross once again. I picked up more fresh produce again. It's really nice to have those people come to campus. I got another dozen eggs as well.
Kater had her second exam on Monday, which was Anatomy. She feels like she did pretty well. They will get the results by the end of the week hopefully. The teachers have to score this one by hand as the test was taken in "the field" so to speak. They had to palpate and identify structures of live animals like the dog and horse, as well as speak to their hydration level and many other things I'm sure.
Today they have their third exam, in Physiology this afternoon. After that the next exam isn't until next Tuesday. Hopefully they will take a break for themselves to give the brains a rest even if only for a few hours!
Other than that, it's more of the same for me. I went for a short snorkel on Monday morning. We went out looking for new spots down in the lower peninsula but our map was lousy and we could find roads that would take us to the spots on the map. So we came back up to mid-island and snorkeled off the shore at the Marriott. They have a few real reefs out a little ways so we spent a little time there. The Marriott is on the Atlantic side, so the water is a little choppier, which lowers the visibility. I really didn't see much, except that the reef itself was very cool. It had somewhat of a mushroom shape which allows for one to swim almost under it.
Tuesday and today I've spent a little time working on the storyboard to the Sam and Jam book. Things aren't progressing quite as I had hoped but I still feel like I should linger a little while longer... It could prove to be a good opportunity for me.
This is a piece I began working on for a T-shirt for the Aviary club here at Ross. As a miscommunication, I didn't make the deadline but it was fun all the same. It's my first full computer illustration and I'm pretty happy with it so far. I have an idea for a design including a few more birds, all looking rather dorky... I'd call it 'birdnerds'. I'll post anything new that comes along.
That's all I've got for you at this point. I may go for a swim with John this afternoon. Catch you later.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good morning. It's SATURDAY and a beautiful day at that. It has been a slow week in the way of adventures, however it's been a big week for critters!

(big red crab burrowed under a pipe)
(creepy looking pelican at dusk)
(humming bird feeding)
(humming bird profile)
(humming bird from rear)
(unidentified lizard, approx. 7-8" in length)
(smaller lizard of same species, about 6")
(monarch just hatched from chrysalis)
We were finally able to get some good photos of one of our hummingbirds. We got pictures of some really cool lizards, a pelican, a crab, and another monarch butterfly hatching. Also, not on photo, I saw a whale jumping way out to sea! Something caught my eye and then I realized what it was. We (Chris and I) saw it jumping about 5 or 6 times, each time with a big splash. It was very far out, but only something as big as a whale could be seen from that far making that big of a splash! Very cool.

I've continued working on my art, one of my designs is now up online at www.threadless.com for voting. I honestly don't expect to win the contest, but it's nice to even have it accepted for judging. The submissions are judged by other artists that visit the site. You can click this link and judge my work: http://www.threadless.com/submission/253795/Will_work_for_shoes
This design challenge is in spirit of TOMS SHOES, a company who donates a pair of shoes, for every pair bought. The shoes are donated to children of third world countries who can't afford shoes. I highly recommend visiting their site and watching some of their videos. It is extremely moving and a great cause. I bought a shirt, so I could donate 1 pair of shoes.

The design of the person on the bicycle has been selected for print on the sweatshirts for the YMCA adventure program. This will help them raise money for their department so they can offer more activities to their kids.
(This is a picture of me next to a huge plant, I think possibly an agave plant or similar. This shoot has grown tremendously over the last few weeks from nothing!)
(This is the spot where Kater often studies on her breaks from class, also where we usually meet for lunch.)
Well, I guess that will do it for now. More later.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Well its Wednesday, and it has a been a slow week for me (which is just fine by me). As I mentioned on Sunday in the last post, Kater had been preparing for her first test. I'm proud to say she received an A! Did we have any doubt?! She is very relieved to have that out of the way. The next exam is Anatomy on this coming Monday, which she's preparing for now.
This week I've been working on my graphics projects, including a revision for the YMCA sweatshirts:
They asked me to make a few changes including the positioning of the leg, adding some climbing equipment and a life-jacket. No problem!
I have a few more projects going on as well, including another T-shirt design for the AAV (aviary club on campus), so I'm keeping busy. This is how I've spent my week so far. No snorkeling yet this week!
Today is Wednesday which means the market comes to campus, so I'll be heading over to pick up come more fresh fruits and veggies.
What else, I'm still running regularly- after sunset now. It's so much better once it cools off! I guess it would make sense to run in the heat to sweat more but it's just not tolerable at this point. The gym on campus has opened but at this time they are only allowing students to use the facility. We (the VIP group) are upset with this and are in the process of trying to speed up the process so we can us it as well. They say they want to see how much its getting used first but the impact of our use would be negligible (there are less than 30 of us, and would use it at different times throughout the day- that is IF all of us even went...).
I'll keep you posted on that, we're hoping by Friday some changes will be made.
That's it for now.