Tag Archives: Garden Art

Plans for Making Ceramic Sundials

I was talking to my husband, Mark, about the idea of making my own sundial. We couldn’t think of any reason why I could not be able to make one out of clay, if I took care with the planning and design. I looked into sites about making homemade sundials and it seems it is something I would be able to do. In How to Build a Sundial That Keeps Time, author Brian Airman carefully outlines what one must do.  What he says could be applied to a disc of clay. I think I would like to make a mock-up, first, then transfer the measurements to clay. While I was checking out the British Sundial Society, I clicked on some site links. I was intrigued by Sundials on the Internet, in particular, as it clued me in to the fact that I needed to do a little more research. Apparently, calculations must be done to figure out what is called true solar noon. (Whenever I’m investigating something, I never cease to be amazed at how many new terms I learn!) So, from that last site, I moved to this one: Print Your Solar Noon Calendar. The site states that “the time of solar noon depends on the Equation of Time and on the difference in longitude between your location and the standard meridian of the time zone you are in.” It continues to explain that “it is slightly different for every day of the year,” but that their “calculator will provide you with a table showing the exact time of solar noon for your location for each day of the year.” I did not know about solar noon, other than calling it high noon, until was till I starting delving into this sundial business, but solar noon, according to Wikipedia, “is the moment the sun appears highest in the sky.” So, I can make any sundial I want, but I am going to have to line it all up with solar noon for my area when I get to that point. And that is fine, as I have plotted latitude and longitude on many maps. I will also need to know how to set up a sundial, by finding True North. I realize that this is putting the cart before the horse, but I do like knowing all the elements of a project before I begin. One of the trickiest aspects will be making the numbers. I will have to decide if I want to use Roman numerals, which are classic for sundials. They can be molded, as with sprigging, or carved, incised, stamped or made with cookie cutters. Here is a Roman numeral converter, by the way. Once I’ve made my sundial, I can embed it with cement or grout, place it on the top of a pedestal or deck ledge. One thing is for certain…if I want a year ’round sundial, it will have to be glazed, otherwise it would crack.There are still many things to consider, but I’m convinced it’s workable and I’m going to come up with a design and get to work on it.

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Clay mushrooms as garden art

Last year, I made my first mushroom, an amanita muscaria, reminiscent of life in Germany, where it is considered good luck. Each Christmas, I get out my little collection of the red and white mushrooms and put them on our tree. While I don’t like things that are cute, I do like well-made representations from natural materials. My mushroom can be said to border on cute and many people have said just that about it, but they didn’t know my background and why I chose it for my garden. I put it right outside my front door over the year, by the red twig dogwood. I knew it would always look cheerful, no matter the season. It looked neat buried in snow in the winter…but while I glazed it inside and out, I did not glaze the rim and tiny bits of it broke off from freezing and thawing. I might see if I can scrub it up, glaze the edges, and refire it inverted to seal it. Amanitas are one of the most beautiful of fungi, but it has a bad rap because it is both highly toxic and hallucinogenic. If left alone and just admired they won’t hurt us, though. I remember when my friend, Gary, took a mycology class in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, a locale not much different from here. The place was teeming with mushrooms and there is nothing like cooking with a fresh morel or chanterelle mushroom! I would like to take such a class here. Also, I would like to make small versions of these to nest in clusters outside my greenhouse. Morel mushroom look almost brain-like. I know my Mom used to pick them in the wild, chanterelles, too. Both of these mushrooms have an uncanny resemblance to marine organisms. The chanterelles have soft, golden, leaf like parts that look like sea cucumbers. Nature is so amazing! I think I could make some out of white clay, then use white underglaze with red Shino over to make a nice representation. I know I can make this work and it’s the perfect little project for me at the present. Yesterday, I made some  ‘toadstools’ of white clay. The stems are stylized and squiggly, as I want a nested group that fits together a certain way and is sort of funky. The caps will be textured with fork tines. I plan on staining them with iron oxide, then wiping it off. The stems will be reinforced by wrapping copper  wire around them before they’re placed. It will age nicely. I hope to get some nice natural mosses growing on them, too, but not covering them up. My husband was game when I asked him to hold them up for a slideshow, which runs below and includes all the mushrooms, too. He held up the three outsize ones I’d made, a small, medium and large. I’ll nest these together after completion. I learned with my red and white one that the base doesn’t have to be as stocky as I made it. The ‘stems’ I’m making now, with their fanciful curves and twists are less stable, but maybe my wire-wrapping will strengthen them. If not, I’ll see what else I can do. I really like the idea of these little guys in my garden, though!

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