So, Ron hasn’t posted for a while. A long while. So I, Otter, will post for him. Because I natter enough on my own blogs.

Last year at MuseCon, Ron wanted to do the stained glass class, but didn’t. This year he did, and assembled a rectangular panel from pre-cut pieces. That was Saturday/Sunday (sorry, he hasn’t taken a picture AFAIK).

The Thursday after MuseCon we were at one of the local shops buying glass and tools.

This is the result, a Prairie-style design from a magazine:

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I didn’t quite like the design, which is kind of a Frank Lloyd Wright stylized wheat design, so I drew my own, which had three arms, and the ends of the arms vertical. Ron was playing with the beveled clear piece we’d bought for it, which resulted in a re-design by me, Ron, Xap, and Robin.
Here it is, hanging in my office window:

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He also made two versions (same design, slightly different background colors) of this design, from a different magazine (pre-soldering):

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 He ended up with two versions because we massively over-estimated how much glass it would take, so he had plenty for two.

Ron did the soldering on mine and the two green ones last Friday, as well as patina-ing (chemically blackening) the metal on the two green panels. Wherein lies a story. I got home from a Windycon meeting, and noticed that the house was really smelly. Ron said it was the patina chemicals, plus the flux+solder combo. He took a shower before bed to try to shed some of the smell, but it was persistent, and pervaded the whole house. I mentioned it smelled kinda skunky.

If you read my blog, you probably see where this is going.

Our room was still skunky come morning, but the hallway, not so much (we keep the bedroom door shut to keep the dogs in).

Yes, you guessed it, the smell was skunk, not stained glass chemicals. Pippin went to the vet for a bath, and Robin washed bedding. In our defense, Pip was not nearly as bad as Elrond when he got skunked last summer. But it was still a headdesk realization.

Anyway, Xap liked my design enough that she bought glass for one for Ron to make her one (my ego, let me show you it):

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Ron also did a couple-three smaller pieces. These are from a book of prairie-style miniatures. The vertical one is a bit under 11″ tall, the Transformers-ish-logo one is 4-6″ wide:

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Prairie style is nice for starting out on, because it has lots of nice straight lines.

I put together another small thing out of scraps from my panel, which looks a lot like mountains.

At lunch today I borrowed the office planimeter and was measuring the area of the parts for some more designs – some with lots of curves! And I bought an older mechanical planimeter via eBay. I was going to check and see what model the old mechanical one we had at the office was and look for one of those (since I know how it works), but it seems to be hiding from me. Hopefully not stolen, although we have a newer, fancier digital one. Locked up. Anyway, the one I got from eBay includes the manual, so it should be fine.

I think the plan is to go shopping for more glass tomorrow before the MuseCon post-con post-mortem. We’ll be going to Classical Glass, in Algonquin, who are very nice and helpful and totally sold Ron a grinder after letting him try one of theirs. Suevel Studios/Chicago School of Glass Art (two links for two sides of their business) are also very nice, but Classical Glass has a better selection of Glass. We won’t be going back to O’Reilly’s Stained Glass in Crystal Lake, the person who was there when we went was opinionated, and rude about it – no, using X size material is not “wrong”, thankyouverymuch, and it isn’t absolutely required to take formal classes to learn. The lady who runs A Glass Act in Elgin is opinionated but tactful, and quite happily gave Ron hints to get better patina results. No link only because she doesn’t have a web site.  And she’s not far at all from the Tandy/Leather Factory store, that I can hit from work at lunchtime.

No, I haven’t tried stained glass yet, other than putting the foil on my scrap/mountain suncatcher. I’ll stick to sorting pattern and glass pieces and maybe come up with another design at some point.

Looked in the new hive today and took a picture. In the process of snapping the pic I accidentally captured a short movie so I am including it also.

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I cant seem to embedded it but clicking on it will show it..

Here are some stills that I meant to take.

Some built out comb

Another shot of the comb in the hive

They seem to be coming along just fine.  There are 4 bar’s worth that seem to be fully drawn out one seems to be halfway out and one more just started.  They also seem to be working the comb it the right direction.

The neighbors have people in doing some work before they move in and our doofus just had to supervise.

As you can see he takes his job very seriously…

Well kinda… We picked up two packages of bees today from Dadant up in Wisconsin. We repopulated the hive that starved out last winter, and also got bees into the new top bar hive that I made over Easter weekend.

In order to encourage the new package of bees to stay in the new hive we tied a couple of pieces of honey ladened comb to the top bars. It seems to have worked.

The kinda comes in, in that I had divider boards in the hive to try to limit the space that the bees had to build in to start with. Unfortunately the top bars were all pushed to one side leaving a quarter inch at one end which the little ladies promptly found and decided to invade… So I ended up removing one of the divider boards and give them a lot more room than I intended.

I hope that the Queen stays near where we have the bate comb so she stays mostly centered in the hive…

Unfortunately  Otter was stung and now looks like she walked into something with her eye.

Hive maintenance

on April 27, 2010 in Bees | No Comments »

I am a little bummed out.

The new hive I made over Easter weekend needed maintenance.  I painted the roof and everything else with exterior latex paint.  Today I noticed that it was bubbling up in some places.  So I scraped off the bad paint (some rather large sections that didn’t stick to the wood at all) washed it down to clean it off.  I have now put a new first layer of paint on it, let’s hope it will stick better this time…

I figured out how to get WordPress to automatically recognize various mobile devices and to use a different theme so it is easier to read.

It really was not that hard to do all it took was installing a plugin.

well since www.dracos-otter.com is our playground I thought I’d play…

Now what to do…

Hive Cleanup

on April 5, 2010 in Bees, Photo | No Comments »




Tuesday morning I cleaned up the east hive, which died out over the winter.  We should have removed a couple of the boxes, I think they had too much space to try to keep warm in, so part of the failure was freezing.

The other problem was, I think, starvation, even though there was lots of honey left – bees are brilliant in an instinctive-behavior sense when it comes to things like building comb.  When it comes to things like reversing what direction they’ve been moving over their honey stores over the winter to get to a place with plenty of honey . . . not so much.

The first two pictures show the top of the top box of the hive, with come that they built between the tops of the frames and the inner cover – gives a sort of cross-section view of what wild-built comb looks like.  Not so neat and perfectly even as you might be led to believe.

All the bees you can see in the first two and the third picture are dead.  The third picture probably best shows some dead with their heads still in cells.  That’s a sign of starvation.

See all the capped (closed) cells on the frame in the fourth picture?  They’re full of honey.  The reverse side of that frame has even more honey-filled cells.  There’s really quite a lot left.  Hence our assumption of guilt on not reducing the number of boxes for the winter leading to freezing.

This fourth and last picture also shows a kind of strangely-built area in the center of the frame.  These plastic frames, it turns out, need to be pushed up against each other, or there’s enough space that the workers can get . . . creative in their comb-building. We thought we had remedied all their creatively-built areas, but apparently not.

I removed sections like that from several frames, hopefully the new bees will fill in with nice neat comb, like the lobes on the outer sides of this frame.

It was cool enough Tuesday morning that the two surviving colonies of bees were still snuggled in their hives, so I was able to clean up this one with no gloves or veil on, and could easily take pictures with my iPhone’s camera.  Elrond wandered around and did wander through to see what I was up to, but didn’t seem particularly interested in the dry, empty old comb I’d scraped out of some areas.

Finished these socks last night, here they are on Ron’s feet this morning.  Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight, in the Knitters Without Borders colorway, with cuffs out of Shadow (black) from the Raven Clan set of colors.

Much of what looks black in the Knitters Without Borders part of the socks is actually purple.  And hot pink, not red.  Good thing Ron’s secure in his manhood.

The socks were knit toe-up, in a chevron gansey pattern on the top/front.  The back of the legs are ribbed, so they have a chance of fitting Ron’s ankles while being big enough for his feet and to get his heels through.  They’re still a bit looser than he’d prefer through the ankles.  I used up all but a smidge of the Knitters Without Borders, stopping at a logical place in the pattern, then switched to ribbing for the black.

The colors do a continuous stripe around the foot one way for the first part, then reverse when the (non-obvious) gusset increases start.  you can see that on his left foot.  Go back to striping for about one round, then kind of zig-zag up the leg.  Interesting.

Picture taken with my iPhone.  Pretty good little camera, really.

Whril at play

on November 29, 2009 in Zoo | No Comments »

Friday Otter and I went to the Brookfield Zoo and brought our cameras with. It turned out that Whirl, one of their Amur Tigers was rather active. It ended up as a day to do a tiger study. See Whirl at play on one of our other sites.

We ended up taking 449 photos of her all told after eliminating the various blah photos we ended up with 212 good pictures. Yesterday we made another pass to pick the best of the good photos, 88 in total, and that is what I posted at the above link.

Windycon Pictures

on November 16, 2009 in Photo | No Comments »

Too many to be post here, on our website at: http://dracos-otter.com/windycon36/