Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Glass, End of Term

Sadly the end of term has come for stained glass, although there are two more weeks for fused glass. I put my fish up a couple of weeks ago. In the last class I needed to do something quick&simple, this is an idea to build on, maybe bigger and hexagonal next time with less dense glass and a bit more decoration. This and the fish were copper foiled rather than leaded. You put sticky-backed copper tape on the edges and solder it. "Proper" stained glass is leaded and demands very much more accurate cutting.

The bowls are fused glass, a different glass is used, cut decorated in layers and fused at high temperatures, for bowls it's then slumped in a mould. The colours sometimes change after firing, this purple started as dark blue, but I like the unexpected effect. I should have looked at the colour chart! The decorations are piped on like royal icing and melt into the glass.

This one is similar, in a four-bowled mould, the spots are glass fragments.

Finally jewellery:

All in all a constructive term's work, one big piece to finish so watch out for it.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Orchid 15 and friends

 We had another wander over the North Downs yesterday, I'd seen some unidentified orchids several years ago, but I don't have a photographic memory for maps, so couldn't find the place, but did find number 15 on my list of British orchids, the White Helleborine, quite different in colour from the Broad Leafed  I found by the canal last year, shyer and as usual hiding under beech trees.

We also found another Common Twayblade  a little wind&rain battered

 and my old friend the (not very) Common (not always) Spotted

Thursday, 20 June 2013

More Mind Improving Books

I've been lazy about posting, but not totally lazy, I'm now up to 47 mind improving books, although I'm not quite sure how to define "mind improving",  you could argue that almost any reading broadens or improves the mind. I'll add some poetry, when I've finished the ones I'm reading. My old English teacher, herself rather a good poet, used to tell us to learn lots of quotations because they were likely to be better than anything we could write! Here's the next lot.

      Wolpert:How We Live and Why We Die, the secret life of cells.  Given how articulate Wolpert is when broadcasting this was disappointingly stodgy to read. It’s not particularly long, 200 or so small pages, I suspect he tried to cover too much. A longer fuller illustrated edition might be much better, it had lots of potential, and should have been brilliant. 
        Ed. Turney:Science Not Art, Ten Scientists’ Diaries is as it says, brief diaries over a short period of time to give some idea how frantic their lives are, not just slaving over hot computers and test tubes, but a recurring theme is the fierce competition for funding the next project, and endless forms to that end. Very articulate people, but all high fliers when chosen, and ten years later many must be at the top of the tree, Marcus du Sautoy is, of course, now well known. Sadly only two of the ten are girls, but we’re increasing! I found it interesting enough to order the companion volume, Art Not Chance, Nine Artists’ Diaries.
         Ed. Allen:Art Not Chance, Nine Artists’ Diaries was not as interesting as the scientist’s ones, which was paradoxically far more comprehensible. The prose in this one was a bit rambly. The best by a long way was composer Errolyn Wallen who did the opening music for the 2012 Paralympics. She’s also done a lovely percussion concerto. Another interesting coincidence was the rather good poet Jo Shapcott, who we’d heard talk at the Cheltenham Science Festival, on the Science and Art of Patient Care on the morning I got to her section.
       Brasier: Darwin’s Lost World looks at very early fossils and explores pre-fossil life, the and reasons for the “Cambrian Explosion” and how life started & survived at all. Fascinating for the slightly geeky!
       Holmes: The Age of Wonder explores Science in the late 18th & 19th centuries, Joseph Banks, William & Caroline Herschel, Humphry Davy and Mungo Park amongst many others are the stars. Intrigue & rivalry feature strongly, with financial and political goings on. What’s changed? It’s interesting how many people were renowned in both worlds of science and the arts in a way that sadly doesn’t happen now. Davy was a well known, but now largely forgotten, poet. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a learned “natural philosopher”. Compulsory reading for anyone with an interest in history or science, or even the rise of women’s power. Caroline Herschel is a fine role model.

        Capon:Botany for Gardeners I thought it was time to learn some of the science behind the plants I grow, having done zoology Alevel they were huge gaps in my understanding, largely filled by this book. It’s readable for the non-expert, but has gaps and leaves lots of questions: How does a whole plant revert to the wild type? Can they communicate insect danger & how? It was also a bit muddly on genetics, but on the whole good, worth a second read.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Floral Fringe Fair

A couple of weeks ago L&A took me to the Floral Fringe Fair, this year at Knepp Castle in West Sussex. It's paradise, and one of our warm days. A mixture of craft stalls, locally produced food, (samosas and brownies to commit murder for) plant stalls and vintage things stalls, L bought some classic children's illustrated books from the 1930s. It was an excellent day, to be repeated if it's reasonably local next year.
As with all good village affairs there were Morris Dancers, but not your average white flowery bridal bell-clad frolickers, the Mythago Morris are more sinister black Tibetan scare-the-evil-spirits-masquers. The Tibetan Monastery impression is enhanced by almost-prayer-flags

                                         I must look into the history and stories behind these.

                          Even more heretical there was a woman dancing with them, that really is emancipation.                          Hooray for Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison!

Orderly and Fishy (49)

I wonder why cygnets are so much better behaved than a group of humans of the same age. Tinbergen's and Lorenz's work on imprinting baby birds shows how they follow a (surrogate) parent through anything, would it be ethical to try the same with children? No more worries about losing the toddler in the supermarket!
Has anyone read King Solomon's Ring? Marvellous, the title is from the ring that Allegedly gave Solomon the power to communicate with animals, among his other wisdoms.

In a different vein, but still vaguely zoological, this is my first go at stained glass. Highly addictive and really fiddly to get the shapes to fit, the next will be better. Only 11 more new things to go, but so many have been such fun I may aim for a nice round century!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Not the Ladies' College but the science festival. Everyone knows about the music one, but this is a veritable treasure trove of discovery and excitement. It caters for all ages and academic levels and is particularly good at enthusing children with a huge range of hands-on stalls, like a cross between the best of university and the village fete. Did you know you could set fire to wire wool just with a fire alarm battery? Or that wandering albatross attract squid at night by stirring plankton into a storm of bio-luminescence? Or that dolphins use sunscreen they get from fish who eat coral with sunscreen in it? Subjects range from the discovery of the Higgs Boson to the botany of gin to the chemistry of fireworks.
Everyone was there, Brian Cox, of course, Peter Higgs of the boson, James Watson of DNA, Dara O Briain, Iain Stewart, Marcus du Sautoy, Lucy Worsley, Quentin Cooper, Jim Al-Khalili, Rev Richard Coles, Robin Ince... A Who's Who of science and TV. It's fascinating to see these people in the flesh, and many are free to chat or answer more questions afterwards.
Anyone with an interest in any form of science will find this quite addictive!