Some of these stories are about art in my personal collection; others about art that has gone on to permanent homes. Enjoy! (Scroll down past these links for short bits about things I’ve done around the house, including dragon eggs and CD chains.)
Adventures in Rainwater Harvesting
Jewelry for the Garden
Sometimes you just want more sparkle than you can get from a wood carving. My neighbor and inspiration, Jim Massey at Holly Hill Farm (daylilies and crinums), taught me about Dragon Eggs and bottle trees. A woman in South Africa built an entire round-house building out of beer bottles and cement–that inspired me to make a wall out of blue bottles. Haven’t mastered the construction, or the supply. Beer bottles are easier to come by, and they give a lovely amber light. Stay tuned.
Few people are aware that long, long ago, dragons freely roamed the peninsula between the Haw and the Deep Rivers. Avid gardeners and other turners-of-the-land have recently uncovered several ancient nesting sites full of eggs, abandoned for reasons that have not yet been determined. It appears that a female dragon laid a clutch of multi-colored eggs. It is not known if the color of the egg indicates the color of the dinosaur that would have hatched.
The dragon eggs are available for $75 each; shipping via UPS is $20 additional. They make great finials for a porch or deck!
Emily Dvorin‘s work gave me the idea for the hose baskets; she uses new hoses and brightly colored cable ties (among other material). New hoses are pretty but too expensive for the experiment; Jim Massey suggested using dead and recycled hoses. One post on the county chatlist yielded a truckload of dead hoses to play with! I tested the colored ties and they faded badly in the sunlight, so switched to UV-resistant ties, which only come in black.
Baskets are priced individually, $25-$75. Some of the larger ones are wrapped on tomato cage frames; others use discarded electric fan faces as a base to start the coil. I’m still collecting hoses and plan to make a dragon once I figure out how to build a frame.
Everyone wants to know–what comes in blue bottles, and where do I get them? Several wines, Arizona Iced Tea, Clearly Canadian soft drinks, Skyy vodka, one line of GNC vitamins, and very old Milk of Magnesia bottles. I haul my household trash to the transfer station once or twice a week, and I always check out what’s in the green glass recycling bin. Most days I don’t see anything; some days I find one or two, and several times over the past few years, I’ve found a whole trove of blue bottles. Perhaps someone else was saving them and it was time to clean out the garage? Or else it was one heck of a party…
NFS. The blue trees are stunning at sunset. The first picture is several years ago; the second taken in 2007 when the tree reached maturity. The same idea works with green bottles, which are much easier to find. I have a green bottle tree deep in the backyard. I have thought about creating an allee of green bottle trees, with progressively darker bottles.
My CD trees bloom on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and stop blooming just as the daffodils start in the spring. The picture doesn’t begin to do justice to the way these trees sparkle in the sunlight, sending rainbows all around town and into my house. The effect is best with the low winter sun; as the days get longer, the chains don’t sparkle as much.
When I first started, I had a day job with a computer company and was able to rescue thousands of software disks when we moved offices and all the programmers cleared out their bookcases. Since then, I collect CDs as people dump their music collections to online systems. People know I can use old CDs and I have come home to find bags on the porch.
When I made the chains above, I connected the CDs by drilling holes near the edges and linking them together with tiny cable ties. This is troublesome; the plastic melts and grabs the drill bit, and the holes make the CDs more likely to crack near the edges.
Since then, I’ve switched to connecting the CDs through their center hole, using two 8″ cable ties, one through each pair of CDs. It’s quicker, and the chains sparkle more because each pair of CDs is at right angles to the ones above and below.
All you need is a large number of dead CDs and a supply of 8″ cable ties. DVDs are pretty, too. Put two CDs together shiny side out, loop a large cable tie through the hole, and then through the cable tie that runs through another pair of CDs (make one pair stand-alone first). “White” cable ties will eventually disintegrate in the sun, but so will CDs at some point. Black cable ties (UV-resistant) will last longer than the CDs, for sure.
You can also connect two pairs together with a longer cable tie–perhaps 11″, but maybe 15″. Test. These cable ties are more expensive and a bit harder to find. The 8″ cable ties are sold everywhere, in bulk packs.
Christmas lights in the trees make them sparkle even more at night. The chains will set off the motion detector. Birds are not deterred in the least.
I have some videos showing how these chains throw off rainbows. I need to put them on YouTube and link here.
Directions and Notes
Somewhere on the web is a discussion group for people who make art from bowling balls. I’ve lost the link; it’s probably worth a search. A bowling ball, nine bags of marbles, and a tube of the best caulk on the market. (Nuggets, bottle caps, pennies ($12 worth), micro-marbles; whatever. Don’t skimp on the caulk–buy the most expensive one on the shelf. Chose a color that coordinates with the ball and the marbles–black balls get black caulk; colored balls and lighter marbles get clear. Lighter marbles look better in dim lights and are truly amazing by streetlight. My favorite ball is peach marbles on a red bowling ball.
Spread about a palm’s amount of caulk on the top of the ball, set marbles, let caulk set, roll ball, repeat. Some people may be more orderly with their marbles than others. The caulk outgasses a less-than pleasant smell; provide good ventilation. Mount on a 4′ piece of 1/2″ rebar pounded into the ground about 2′. People in colder areas will want to at least cover the ball during the winter, if not bring it under shelter to protect against ice.
Note: Somewhere on the web is a picture of a bowling ball covered with 1″ roofing nails, glued on heads down. Be careful if your mind runs to, “I can top this.” Three 5# boxes of 3″ roofing nails cover about half the surface of a bowling ball, which then weighs approximately 30 pounds. You cannot lift it, and you cannot roll in onto the “nailed” side to finish the rest of the project.
A well-drained hose, cable ties, perhaps a frame–fan face or tomato cage. Use the black, UV-resistant, cable ties. The fluorescent ones that Emily uses in her art will fade and weaken in the sun.