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DIY Upcycled Bird Feeder

Cardinal at bird feeder by HueDew.
A cardinal visits one of my DIY bird feeders after a light rain.

Backyard photo shoot

I spend a good deal of my time out in my garden or in someone else’s garden photographing the things I love to print on photo cuff bracelets, ceramic tile and rubber coasters for my botanical lines at HueDew.

Recently, my attention moved from the flowers in the garden to the critters in the garden. Or in my case, the lack of feathered critters in my garden.

Where were all the birds? I don’t have cats anymore, so I set out to lure birds to my safe, fenced yard.

Easy construction

Step one was making these upcycled bird feeders. A couple of thrift store plates drilled with a ceramic bit to make a hole in the center, some hanging hardware and a measure of fishing line was all I needed to open my backyard diner.

Open for lunch

In a few weeks, I had some curious and hungry cardinals regularly visiting the feeder, so I made another four for the yard. I add water to a few to give the birds a nice, clean drinking hole.

I’ve decided to make more of these bird feedres and sell them at the different street shows I do around West Palm Beach.

FB Bird feeder flyer

 

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DIY Solar Chandelier

Chandelier made into solar light.

I saw the idea for a solar chandelier on Pinterest some time ago, but I never could find the do-it-yourself instructions. Here are my instructions and photos from my own DIY solar chandelier project. My twist is that I added my original photos to the aluminum band of the solar light to give it some color. I call the photograph Lava Light.

Start with a discarded chandelier or thrift-shop find. A friend gave me her mother’s gold chandelier that was destined for the landfill. Thanks Meghan! I didn’t think to photograph the old gold chandelier before painting it as I was too impatient to start the project.

I used a gloss white spray paint for metal to give the fixture a new look.  The tricky part was making the fixture ready for the tops of the small solar light bases.

You need to remove the wires and the metal electrical support to make room for solar light base. HueDew

Make sure your fixture is NOT plugged into an electrical outlet before continuing the project. Strip the electrical lines out of it. Here my husband is demonstrating snipping the wires. Hey, I can’t shoot this tutorial AND show you my hands at the same time! Do I need to tell you that you must NOT have the light fixture plugged into an outlet at any time during this project?

 

Cut electrical wires out of painted chandelier. Do I need to tell you that it should NOT be plugged into an outlet before you starting cutting? Really?

Next, the sockets needs to be reconfigured to hold the solar light bases. The white shaft where the original bulb was extended was made out of cardboard and came out easily. My husband then cut the internal electrical support with snippers, making room for the solar light base.

 

Cut the metal (if your chandelier has one) on the base to make room for solar light.

The lights were $2 each from Target.

The solar path light as purchased (with stake for ground).HueDewTop of solar light after removing it from its stake. HueDew

Once removed from the stake, a little hot glue set the bases firmly into the sockets. Keep the stakes for other projects.

Chandelier with silver solar light before adding photographic twist. HueDew

Because I’m a photographer, I couldn’t just leave the silver rings around the top of the solar lights unadorned. So, I printed out my original abstract photograph I created using gelatin and food coloring. I printed on Lazertran Inkjet Waterslide Decal Paper for Inkjet Printers on my Epson Stylus Photo 1280 printer .

Print photo on special decal paper. HueDew

To release the decal from the paper backing, I simply put the photo into hot water for about 20 seconds using an old cookie sheet to hold the water. Then, I carefully wrapped the printed-to-size photo around the top of the solar light.

Put decal paper in hot water to release it from its backing. HueDew

I allowed the piece to dry and then added three coats of Modge Podge to protect it from the rain. It has been out in the rain several times and seems to be able to handle the moisture.

photograph around the metal decorative ring of the solar lights. HueDew

I want to give the refurbished solar chandelier a new home in our patio screened area. The patio has screen as a roof so the lights will get direct sun. I have to figure out how to hang it dead center. As an alternative, I could hang it under a tree, provided it gets enough direct sunlight, near an old white Adirondack chair in the garden.

The project cost me $12 since the chandelier itself was a gift and I already had the paint from another project. Try your hand converting your chandelier into a solar light centerpiece. It really is easy and fun.

Chandelier made into solar light.

 

 

 

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Nature’s Valentine

A photo of flapjack succulent leaves from subtle hearts in time for Valentine's Day
Flapjack succulent leaves form subtle hearts in time for Valentine’s Day

 

Nature’s Valentine

I was walking through the garden with camera in hand, ignoring the weeds that were clambering up unattended pots, when I spotted it.

Nature sent me a valentine! The backside view of this flapjack succulent has the subtle form of Cupid’s target. What timing with Valentine’s Day only days away! I will now go out in the garden and look for more plants and leaves and flowers that reflect the holiday’s theme.

Since I’m already in love with nature, Cupid may fly off to find someone else who needs his magical love spell! It is a love we can all share!

HueDew

Etsy

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Silver Torch Cactus

Photo of cactus
Cactus

Mystery Cactus

I spent some time at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach the other week and photographed this cactus.

Many of their plants have markers, but this one didn’t. This particular cactus was growing next to a prickly pear cactus. Color me perplexed.

What is the name of this cactus? I really want to know.

Of course, as a photographer, I’m more interested in the play of light on the cactus more than the botanical name, so I’ll add this one to my botanical photography collection.

But aren’t cacti intriguing? Look at all that is going on with this later-to-be-named cactus. You’ve got a succulent stem that stores water and modified leaves called spines that keep hungry predators away. What animal looking for a snack wants to munch on a plant that will leave it pricked and bloody?

Cacti have adapted to live in very dry areas of the country so they make great additions to xeriscape landscaping. Something to consider here in Florida with our lengthy dry season and numerous droughts.

UPDATE: I went back to Mounts today and with a little help from a book in its gift shop, we all decided this is a Silver Torch cactus. Mystery solved.

HueDew

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Powderpuff Pink Tassel-Flower

Pink Tassel-Flower (Calliandra surinamensis)
Pink Tassel-Flower (Calliandra surinamensis)

Pink Tassel-Flower (Calliandra surinamensis)

kal-ee-AN-druh ser-ih-nuh-MEN-sis

The pink tassel-flower can look super charged with the right back light. It takes on an electrical aura thanks to its pollen-laden stamens that look more like fiber-optic cables in the right light.

I used a LensBaby to focus on only a few of the electric pink stamens to make a less traditional image of this hot-pink flowering shrub. As the light changed, I also photographed a more traditional image using the LensBaby.

This evergreen powderpuff shrub attracts butterflies like Giant Swallowtails, Zebras, and Peacocks. Even though it can grow to be 12 to 15 feet high with a 10 to 15-foot spread, it can also be used in bonsai.

Pink Tassel Flower at  Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach.
Pink Tassel Flower at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach.
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Instar larva caterpillar

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed plant.
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed plant.

 

Munch’O Brunch

This little fellow spent its Sunday morning munching on a milkweed plant in my backyard – devouring it to the stem with the help of its famished brethren.

That’s O.K. That’s why I have milkweed in my South Florida yard … to feed the larvae so they can grow into Monarch butterflies.

These clever little creatures have a great chance of survival since they are poisonous or at least distasteful to birds and animals because of the cardiac glycosides inside milkweed eaten by the larvae.

I might be out of a plant at the end of the day, but by the end of January, I’ll have monarch butterflies dancing around with me in the garden.

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Crazy light

Fern
Fern

 

Light

The play of sunlight tickling the leaves of this fern beckons me away from the computer and out into the garden with my camera. Photography is light. I walk toward the light in a focused trance.

Ferns are happy ground covers in South Florida. Mine have come up from nowhere it seems; and they have congregated clique-like in various shady areas of the yard.

Legend has it that you can actually eat tender new fiddleheads of the Leather fern. Adding a balsamic vinaigrette is just the right touch, they say. I’ll leave the urban foraging to you.

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