NEW TIMES, NEW CHANGES IN THE YEAR AHEAD 2017

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mitchellwebster_4-001_thumb1 Ribbed BasketsI know my subscribers to my blog have been wondering why the long abscense in posting to the blog. Well times change, we all change and we have to come to grips with things and change with them.

 

After 5 very long years of not being able to weave my baskets which I had done for over two decades, you just reach a point where you know that a suitable place cannot be found in which to do the behind the scenes work that no one see’s but myself. People used to see me demonstrate at local farmers markets and shows, that is the easy less messy part of the weaving process, where all the ribs are in the baskets.

Ribbed Baskets

What is not seen, is the very messy sanding of the oak hoops and handles, years ago it was suggested that hand sanding be minimized due to the possibility of Carpel Tunnel surgery on both hands should i continue to hand sand, one hoop set can take hours to hand sand and prep ready for staining & finishing. It was suggested by several wood workers, that i get a drill press, with a drum sander attachment and take the worst off of the hoops and handles, round the square edges, then hand sand to the smoothness of a babies bottom with 600 plus grit sand papers and stain, that fine sanding only takes minutes, compared to hours. Alas, the messy part takes a garage, wood shop etc. in which to create that mess, then clean up and get ready to stain and finish.

mitchellwebster_2_thumb1 Ribbed Baskets      zig-zag-twill-vase_thumb

williamsburg-low-basket-with-cane-braid-handle_thumb         100_0106_thumb Asst Basket Styles

I have not been able to find a suitable place in which to do this, after 5 years you tend to give up and move on, this is the point that I have arrived at.

img_2953_thumbI have always loved horticulture, gardening, and working with roses and flowers, well that seems to be out of the picture as well. So I prayed about it, and was shown in a dream, watercolor painting, painting my garden of flowers and botanical, through loose and free painting, as well as botanical watercolor and botanical illustration, all which comes close to the intense focus and design that I felt doing the designing of hand woven baskets. Watercolors are a bit more involved than baskets though. working with the differing techniques of watercolor paint, such as wet into wet, wet into dry, use of transparent colors vs opague, mixing of colors to achieve what you want. when to use granulating paints vs non granulating to achieve multiple textures in your work.

img_2138_thumb          flowers-and-macro-058_thumb

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Photography is a very important element in watercolor painting, collecting pictures of flowers and botanicals, yes and even landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls and streams, all which uses diffing techniques to achieve the end results, which in turn gives you knowledge to apply to the different styles of painting.

Close Up WatercolorI am looking forward to new adventures, and letting go what appears to never happen (basket weaving) again. I am not prepared to waste another 5 years, waiting for something which never will happen, if at some point I am lucky enough to come across a place in which to weave the baskets, then after 2+ decades if weavin I can once again take it up. However painting can be done within the confines of a small apartment very easily.

Close up Watercolor 2  Close Up Watercolor 3

So my blog posts will be geared towards the “Adventures in Watercolor” and the journey this takes me on. Life is just too short to wait on something which may or may not ever happen, in the meantime there is painting. I am looking so forward to putting creativity at the forefont of my life again!

The last three photographs, were taken using extension tubes, focusing on various watercolor paintings I have done, what surprised me was the almost 3D effect that you cannot visually notice in the finished painting, This is where photography works for the minute details you can achieve in a painting, almost like miniature paintings within paintings.

CONTAINER GARDENING 2016

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FLowers of the Balcony

Passion Flower 1  Passion Flower 2

Only in the past two years have I been able to grow the Passiflora “Passion Flower Vine” offered as containter grown plants at my favorite Mennonite Greenhouses, Evergrowing Greenhouses – Steve and Stella Showalter & Family

Over the past 21 years I have become somewhat proficient in container gardening, as I have lived in apartments that if i wanted beautiful gardens, the only way was in containers.

In Bridgewater I was able to have more containers, even though the apartments I lived in, both are south facing, in Bridgewater it was due south, without any obstructions, blocking the sunlight. In Elkton there are some trees and the orientation here is more southeast. There is just a bit of difference in the way the sun strikes the containers and the length of day for them. It is enough to say that they all get 6 hours or more of sun and that is considered full sun.

Below, is the new additon this year garden, it is Lantana, a very tough everblooming plant, the lantan are planted aternately with the Supertunia’s which should cascade through the balcony railings as well.

 

Below are the Supertunia’s that will cascade over the balcony railings

 

The key with container gardening that most people do not think about is they usually pick containers that are way too small for the quantities of plants they plant. The root systems of plants grow large and require more space to grow and sustain themeselves during the hottest months of the year, July and August.

Red Dragon Wing Begonia (1 of 1)  Bronze Begonia (1 of 1)

During the hottest months containers if they are too small, need to be watered sometimes twice a day, morning and evening. If the container is large, there is much more room for the root systems, as well as it takes much more to really dry out a container. I chose deep plastic totes, which I drilled holes in the bottom and used the lids as saucers under the totes. This helps so much in water retention, that your containers even during brutally hot days can go a day without water. Thorough watering is essential, I have witnessed people watering containers that I know the water penetrates a 1/2 to 2 inches, this only causes roots to grow near the surface and makes them even more suseptible to rapid dehydration. You will find thorough watering in larger containers requires much less watering than scant watering in shallow containers.

Oila Container (1 of 1)  Geraniums (1 of 1)

 

Every year I always plant geraniums as they are heat proof, drought tolerant (to a point) and reward you with constant blooms throughout the growing season til cutting frost. I always try to plant something new each year. as well. Just so that it does not become the same redundant thing every year.

Two years ago I wanted to try to have something cascading fromt the top railing, however as nice as these metal clamp on baskets tend to look, they are impracticle as they only are about 6 inches wide and as deep, with coco fiber lining which does not hold water as well as I would like, the newer ones actually come with a water retaining liner for the bottoms of the coco fiber liners. I had tried verbena last year (hence this years volunteers) they did resonably well, but they do require a bit of deadheading. This year I picked up a pack of six Portulacca plants and they seem to love their new environment!

Excuse the pictures of the Portulacca, they are not as nice as I would have liked, the pictures are more to show the container they are in than the flowers in this post.

Orange Portulacca 2 (1 of 1)  Portulacca in Wire Baskets (1 of 1)

I was rewarded this year with two deep hot pink Verbena that came from seed from last year, total volunteers, as well as a volunteer pale lavender petunia (apparently a gift from a visiting bird) I have 10 geraniums all different colors, as well as 3 Salvia Guaranitica “Black & Blue” Planted around the Oila where they will get a constant supply of water. (Hummingbirds Love Them)!

  

This year the new plantings are a Red Dragon Wing Begonia, Bronze Begonia, Lantana “Flame”, Supertunia “Red” & Supertunia “Limoncello”, Supertunias are billed to be an improve ment over “Wave” petunias, in that Waves tend to die out in the center until seasons end, and Supertunia are to stay growing in billowing mounds, hopefully this is the case as they are planted to billow out throught the deck railings and cascade over the edge!

MY NEW COMPUTER DESK & RESEARCH AREA

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New Computer Desk

While this work area is very much different from what I knew as a basket weaver, it certainly does not take up the vast area that basket weaving did.

I have not given up basket weaving, it is just on hold until a time when the limitations of space constraints can allow me to weaver once again. Until then this is my new work area, many things can be worked at within the limitations of a small apartment.

Computer and Research Desk 2 of 12 (2 of 2)  Computer and Research Desk 3 of 12 (1 of 1)

It is amazing what can be accomplished at at 36” x 145” desk, all construcked without screws, just Birch plywood, and pine trim, the one thing to be attached is the pine “L” trim, meant to be used as corner molding on walls, it neatly hides the raw edges of the plywood desk top and shelving.

The desk took 2 full sheets of Birch plywood with nothing wasted, all parts were stained in natural and several coats of varnish applied. All the shelving is supported and seperated by empty cigar boxes fo various shapes and sizes for what I needed. (a very good use for empty cigar boxes)

The desktop is supported by a two drawer file cabinet, my mothers desk, (provides drawers) and a six foot table from Costco.

My 37” flat screen Smart TV., works nicely as my computer monitor with the assistence of an HDMI cable, since i do not watch much television, this double much nicer as a monitor with much better resolution than most computer monitors at a fraction of the price, should I decide to watch something on TV, just change the HDMI input and there is the TV.

This use of the television is wonderful for working in Photoshop and Lightroom. The desk also has my Computer and Research Desk 4 of 12 (1 of 1)research area where I can set and read books and magazines and make notes. Contrary to popular belief there are some of us in this technological age of computers, smart phones, net books, note books, laptops and I-pads that actually still prefer at time to curl up or set at a desk and read from a book or magazine. I will freely admit to getting tired of constantly looking at a monitor, plus you can curl up with a good book or magazine where you cannot with a computer.

This desk/workstation suits a small apartment nicely and make work flow easy for doing websites, blog posts, even some photography as what I call the research end easily fit my foam core and other photographic needs, as well as more space if and when needed in my art room.