Marion’s Cape Town Proteas

Marion Russek kindly sent some protea family photos from her visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Though the peak bloom season is from June to November there, she still got some sumptuous shots. I cropped them pretty tightly, and sampled some colors from the flowers for additional eye candy :)

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Pulling swatches really helps me understand what colors are going on, and provides a natural starting palette. Many, many thanks, Marion, for sharing the warm sunlight of South Africa with us. Plus! I learned a new word: fynbos.

Color + Form Research

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Spent a drizzly hour+ marching around the South African garden at UCSC Arboretum, taking reference photos of proteas for the upcoming kit, inspired by Keli’s free-style flowering.

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So many other-hemisphere plants to see. Not all are in peak bloom, but I was more interested in surveying the range of protea forms, their structures and colors.

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I didn’t even concern myself with recording variety names, since I plan a sort of hybrid form for the kit. But the colors, the colors!

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This one is a Leucadendron, “Inca Gold”. So luminous.

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In the transition zone between South Africa and succulent gardens, there were flowering eucalyptus. The scent was heavenly! There’s nothing quite like being in a deserted botanical garden on a rainy day, with only hopping bunnies and many small brown birds.

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Look at the subtle coloration and bold pattern of this succulent.

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Again, but with the spiral nature of growth (and decay).

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These were quite a surprise. Smallish, leathery, spiky, but what?! If I had done these colors I would call it a mis-step, but now I am emboldened.

This field trip was a wonder. I’ve many more examples of natural plant colorations that will probably necessitate having to buy more markers.

 

Wheelie Has an Outing

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Today, Wheelie and the rest of us (literally, I’m guessing half the Bay Area) ventured out to the Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. But first, we were hungry, so we found an awesome nearby neighborhood restaurant called Hakka, on Cabrillo Street. Highly recommend!

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We considered global plate tectonics.

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As always, the ongoing Color of Life exhibit is fascinating. Wheelie discovered an affinity with the polymorphic Gouldian Finch.

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We enjoyed visiting Claude in the Swamp, from a downstairs Steinhart Aquarium vantage point.

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But I feel fairly certain that this little girl in front of us was enjoying it the most.

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Not being divers (yet!), the local California coast kelp forest exhibits are mesmerizing.

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The jellies never fail to entrance. Ever.

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Wheelie discovered another kindred soul.

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The culmination of every visit to Cal Academy of Sciences, for me, is the pilgrimage to the living roof. One of my very favorite places.

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Wheelie likes it, too! She feels her spirits soar.

 

Dresden Trim, New Avatar

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I was given a wonderful pack of assorted Dresden Trim, as well as an entire sheet of fish. I spent a pleasant few hours sorting through the scrap, snipping and arranging the bits and pieces. Things got interesting when I started combining parts of one with another. Above is the beginning of an illustration for 2018.

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I cut the wings from a bird in flight (a swift? a swallow?) and this happened. I felt an instant sense of recognition, like I had met a new old friend.

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I made the ladder longer, and glued the pieces together.

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The back is reinforced with toothpicks and cardstock circles cut to the wheel dimensions, stacked and glued together, then glued to the outer rim.

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Because I’m not a stamped gold foil kind of girl, I spray painted her matte black. Please say hello to my new avatar.

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She shows up strikingly against many backgrounds.

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I gifted her shoes made of black eyelets and tacky wax. She stands freely, observant, curious and full of questions.

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However… sometimes it’s hard being 2.5D in a complex 3D world. You can lose touch with essential parts of yourself.

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We believe it’s good to have your head in the clouds, and your feet on the ground.

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And have your heart wide open… but sheltered by something good.

(These particular Dresden trim pieces came from Castle in the Air, but I have since found three other good online sources: Rose MilleDresden Paper Crafts; and Walter Kunze.)