Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Books and butterflies

Ages since I last posted but I have reasons. No excuses, just reasons,  but I've made it here now.

I've finally made a decision on the format of my next edition of books for the BookArtObject collective and I feel if I tell enough people about it then it's all that much more definite in my mind. So here is a mock up and I have my fingers crossed that I can produce about 16 identical copies. There will of course be text, covers etc.

S & I had a wonderful experience in the garden last week. A mating pair of Orchard Swallowtail butterflies were swooping and dancing so close to us that they were almost touching, and S (nearly 5) thought they would tangle in her long curls.

The very next day we were examining the lemon tree for caterpillars when a female Orchard Swallowtail hovered over a leaf and gently deposited an egg on the undersurface. Can you imagine the excitement - I'm not sure which of us was more elated but it was a pretty good moment. Now this little lemon tree was already the host to several Orchard Swallowtail caterpillars in various stages, right from a tiny instar looking like a bird dropping (their camouflage) right to very fat and mature ones all bright green and black. In addition we also had two pupae attached to branches, so from watching the mating dance, S had before her the entire life cycle of the Orchard Swallowtail. The egg has now hatched to produce an almost invisible caterpillar who immediately started eating the leaf it was on, and we are waiting to see the pupae turn into butterflies in a couple more weeks.

I am indebted to Lesley Smitheringale for the photograph of the Orchard Swallowtail butterfly - I've never been quick enough to get one like this. Find Lesley at Oz Wildlife Studio where she has a blog, shop and art classes. I really love the work she is doing with children.

For more of Lesley's photos of the Orchard Swallowtail, go here.  As you can see I handle my poor caterpillars, lovingly moving them from one tree they nearly demolished to another slighter bigger. I am constantly watching them and taking photos and they've never bothered to give me the danger display that Lesley has photographed in the above link.

I think just about everyone around the world has heard about the floods here in Queensland and now in Victoria as well. There are many artists donating to the flood appeal including Lesley. I purchased a delightful print of two lorikeets and all the money goes to the fund. From Lesley's page you can go to the Etsy group who are donating more items to the flood appeal.

If I seem to be a bit obsessed by the animal life here, I guess that's true. Between the caterpillars, stick insects, cicadas, lizards and most spiders, I'm in my element. However, I had another close encounter with a male funnel web spider last week, too close to my bare foot and I'm afraid he came off second best. He's the first I've seen inside this summer, and yes, I know I should be more careful...

I've signed up to do Michael De Meng's Art Laboratory, which is online and lots of fun. I went out and bought the most expensive set of paints for this course so I'm just hoping I learn a heck of a lot about paint effects and finishes. I've been looking at his work for ages and thinking I wanted to know more about it so here's my chance.

I've got some new books on books to show you but I think that will wait til next time.

Thank you to everyone who has asked about the floods and whether I'm near by. Not only am I well away but we've hardly had any rain here for weeks, which is unusual for us in summer. It seems very unequal that we are trying to keep the garden alive while so much of the country is under water - crops, livestock, native animals, people, towns, cities.

I suspect that the photos which matched the text perfectly when I've set out this post will not look the same when I hit publish. Sorry!


  1. Enjoy the class with Michael de Meng, Carol! I'm a big fan of his and actually managed to catch him live when he came to Toronto a few years ago. You will have a blast and those Golden paints are amazing :)

  2. That looks like some fine folding Carol!
    It's good to commit yourself to something isn't it.
    I'm not having much luck making plans for it in India! So many other things have my attention. I'll wait until the excitement wears off. My brain might work properly then.
    So glad you are okay where you are and very sad news it is about the floods. We have been watching the news with dismay in India.
    Love your lifecycle before your very eyes!

  3. orchard swallowtails are just about my fav! (well you can't half tell - with pics everywhere on my blogs!)
    I've never known much about their pupae stage - so now I'll know what to look for (yesterday I too saw two swallowtails dashing madly after one another.....ahhhh LOVE)

    and I can't wait to see how that paper/book stack turns out (VERY interesting) I've got a few quite well formed ideas about the 'wrestling' piece - which is why I asked sara about joining in with that mob too - now I just need to get a few spare (????) moments!!!!

  4. How lucky you are to see the whole life cycle there in one go! Beautiful! And your book structure is AMAZING! Like Ronnie, I actually have some ideas about Paper Wrestling myself, but I'm hesitating about joining in - don't want to put too much pressure on myself. Your work so far is making it hard to resist...
    An online course with the Master (well, one of them), sounds fantastic and bound to provide loads of inspiration. I'm off to check out your link now. Great post Carol, x

  5. looking forward to seeing your book Carol - the twisted spiral is a great form. so glad to read one of your blogs again ...alway love your images and hearing about the creatures in your garden.
    jane a

  6. You have such wide interests.Perhaps you could do a post about the cicadas? I'm still trying to get my head around all the different types,sounds and seasons you mentioned.

  7. Last year, I also worked with the spiral accordion form and made a tiny edition of books with it (which I haven't published online yet). I am very curious what you will make of it! Cordially, astrid

  8. Holly: I'm in love with the paints. I didn't realise that Golden made such wonderful colours.

    Loulou: I hope the folding doesn't get the better of me. So far so good.

    Ronnie: My faves too. Oh well, along with the cicadas and stick insects...

    Amanda: I love all the life cycles happening around here, except perhaps for the Bronze Citrus Bug. They're not welcome.

    Ida: I worry a bit that my book blog is really a natural history blog but I guess that's my life.

    Dinahmow: I'm sure cicadas will be on the list soon. They're still drumming up a storm out there. And the temp is 40'C. H.O.T.

    Tulibri: I'd love to see your edition of spiral books. Do let me know when you're about to publish.

  9. The structure for your new book looks very interesting! I am looking forward to seeing what you will make with it!

  10. Oh Carol I am so excited by your format - it looks amazing and makes me think my imagination is very poor in comparison.

    A fabulous tale of wandering in the garden and having magic happen - so true. Enjoy the summer days and all the bits of beauty

  11. Buechertiger: Thank you, I hope it will be interesting when completed.

    Fiona: Lovely of you to say that, I just hope my skills fit my imagination. Still very much a work in progress in my head. I suspect the folding is the easy part.

  12. lovely spiral design. looks enticing.

  13. C-love the spiral design - hope the process of replication by 16 goes well. B

  14. Lovely sculptural work Carol. I wish I could do that. Sculpture was not my strong suit at art school, and I really admire a beautiful structure such as yours.

  15. The mock-up for your new book project looks fantastic Carol.
    A funny coincidence is that I'm just researching the story of the barnacle goose tree for an essay I'm writing, so now I know how your blog name came about!

  16. Carol, I love the book mockup! And I certainly hope to see it finished.

    I can tell we are kindred spirits...teaching our grandchildren about nature and art and life. Love your blog and will add it to my website!


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