Thanks for visiting my blog! MudBay Musings chronicles creative journeys, with inspiration and humor I find along the way... including my mother's and my artwork, stories, local bird life and garden favorites...
all of which I hope will bring a smile to your heart.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Antique Birdcage

For three more versions of this sweet antique birdcage, click here to visit my vintage images blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Globes de Mariee

During my recent "gal-livantin'" trip with Dolores, we "just happened" to stop by Silverdale Antiques.  They always have a wonderful selection of items to fill the eyes.   At one point, while gawking at something ahead and not paying much attention to what was beside me,  I walked by an antique chair with what I thought was a mohair throw resting on top... and suddenly... the mohair moved!

Look who raised his sweet little head - Kirby, the shop dog!  Can you tell he'd been sleeping soundly until my startled laugh?  Cute little Kirby's definitely a mellow fellow!

Silverdale Antiques specializes in items imported from Europe, and this is where I first saw the Globes de Mariee.  Please excuse the poor pictures - low light by phone - but I know you'll like these two Globes. Aren't they lovely?


For more information and pictures of three more globes on an earlier post, click here.

For those of us who adore these reliquary antiques but cannot afford their price-tag, there is hope...

Ulla Milbrath has offered a free tutorial of a Gilded Fairy Chair, which would be the perfect beginning to your own Globe de Mariee!  Ulla teaches some amazing classes at Castle in the Air, and you can buy some of those special Globe de Mariee supplies at their online shoppe here

For pictures of Ulla's incredible Globe de Mariee chair (French Wedding Chair) class sample, click here.  It's absolutely stunning, and it's hard to believe it's been recently crafted!  It will inspire you!
Have you noticed the pretty little reliquary boxes at the bottom of these Globes?  Ulla sells complete instructions in her Etsy shop on how to make these, and a picture of her class samples can be found here.

Ulla's archived blog:
Ulla's current Tumblr blog:
Ulla was featured in the book  Where Women Create - Book of Inspiration by Jo Packham and Jenny Doh - click here for a look at the picture spread as well as her link to the photo shoot.  While you're at it, spend a few hours perusing both of her blogs - you'll be so glad you did!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Give-Away at Tattered Gold!

My friend Paula over at Tattered Gold is having a wonderful giveaway! 

Paula is one of those rare souls who opens her heart, puts pen to paper, and the most incredible prose and poetry just pour out.  Her blog is a delight to read and will fill your heart.

She's having a fabulous giveaway for her readers.... there are 7 pictures filled with yummy items to feed your "inner magpie."  Post a comment for a chance to win, and double your chances of winning by becoming a follower.  Thanks, Paula for offering such lovely prizes!  Good Luck, Everyone!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh Boy - Koi !

A few days ago, my good friend Dolores and I did a bit of "gal-liv-antin"(my husband's pun) around town.  We seemed to close down everywhere we went, getting to places late and rushing through.  Sometimes fun things can happen at the last minute though, can't they?  We had fifteen minutes to peruse one of our favorite plant nurseries  before they closed, and I had a camera with me.  Dolores had her eyes set on some beautiful geraniums, and I headed straight for the Koi pond.  These fish make me smile.  They're like little water-doggies with scales, coming up to greet you, begging for treats.  Sweet and full of character.  Photo opportunities don't get much easier. 

It was evening and the light was getting a bit low.  As a result, the original photographs weren't that great.  You can guess what comes next... creative play with Photoshop Elements software!

Below is the original photograph of the above piece, before digital altering:

You can see what I mean - the photos were milky and uninteresting, except for the subject matter of course.  The first thing I did with all of the photos was to use the Auto Smart Fix tool - this cleared up the milkiness rather like using a polarizing filter.  Then started playing with the Enhance-Adjust Lighting features,adjusting highlights/shadows and brightness/contrast.  Also did some creative cropping and / or horizontal rotation.  After that, Filter-Artistic-Dry Brush, playing with the numbers for Brush Size, Brush Detail and Texture. 

Turns out there is a lot you can accomplish with Photoshop Elements without having to do any layering, masking, erasing, coloring, etc.  I did use the clone tool to remove weird-looking objects at the end of the digital alterations; sometimes bubbles or floating pine needles left a bright white spot that took away from the final piece.

Here's another alteration of the above photo:

And just for fun, here's a vintage version - very easy with the Filter-Adjustments-Photo Filter- using various strengths of different warming filters.  (Another way of saying I don't remember which warming filter I finally used or how strong it was.)  I was going for a faded, vintage postcard feel:

Following are three more examples of original photos and altered versions.  (Don't overlook your "busy-looking" photos... the last two photos here seemed to have a bit too much going on, but by isolating a few fish at a time the images were usable.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

MudBay Bird House

I've started a new blog called MudBay Bird House as a way to share my home bird photographs with other artists.  I have hundreds of bird photos to share and will be posting many of them during the next few months. 

The photos are not meant to be artistic in themselves, but it's my hope you will find them a handy reference for your quilts, collages and mixed-media projects.

This is a blog for those of us who need or prefer a bit of help in the drawing department...  I've tried to capture various poses of my feathered friends since I always seem to wish I had a slightly different angle of them for this-or-that, but just can't seem to wrap my brain around how to draw the changes.  I hope you find these images fun and useful - thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 10, 2010

From the Garden


Thought some mixed-media garden pieces might be in order in the midst of all of these bird picture posts!  The photograph above was taken at a lavender farm in Sequim, Washington.  Next is my loose interpretation of that photograph.  The poppy heads were made with Golden's light modeling paste and have chenille stems.

I made this second piece for my mom for Mother's Day, to go along with some "real" delphiniums.  Golden's light modeling paste was used for the texture of the fence and the plants, and added dimension was added with bits of vintage lace.  After painting, I added a few garden stakes cut from old pages of text.  I rarely use words in my artwork, so this was a fun brain exercise.  I can see now why everyone loves to add text to their work - it was amazing how many sentences from just two pages of an old story fit the mood

The digital frame I've used in this post can be found here on my images blog.

Thanks for visiting me today!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Little Birdie Told Me So!

The original, totally uninteresting and poor-quality photo (many photos were taken, some slightly different poses, all with the same results.

Poor birdie!  Ever had bird photos that didn't turn out quite as you envisioned?  Hmmmmm.... what to do.... 

My multiple attempts to capture the image of a back-lit song sparrow as I was being serenaded were all utter failures. His songs had been so heart-felt, I just couldn't bear the thought of trashing the pictures of him, even though he wasn't much more than a poor-quality silhouette.

Let's see what a lightened image looks like, with a turquoise sky. 

That looked a bit bland, so let's try a lighting effect added behind the bird.

Time to roll up the proverbial sleeves and experiment!  Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you have nothing to lose, fun things can happen?  With extremely limited Photoshop Elements expertise, it's possible to salvage some very poor photographs.

All of these images were altered using PE color and lighting adjustment tools.  By changing saturation, shadows, highlights and contrast, replacing colors, and doing a bit of creative cropping, I was amazed at the different effects that could be achieved - without any complicated layers or digital painting.

Perhaps a blue sky... and take out some of the bird details with the shadow adjustments, so it looks more like a hand-stamped image using paint on fabric.

Hand-stamping sounds interesting... wonder what it would look like as black ink on paper?

Or as a batik fabric look in warm tones...

Or perhaps batik fabric in lavender and green...

Or as a salt crystal batik fabric with a paint-stamped image?  At sunset?

Or at sunrise?

 Or as a retro silk screen print?

So, the next time you end up with what you think is a useless photo, start playing around with your photo editing software instead of filling up your trash file...

"But how did I find out
What it was all about?
A little birdie told me so!"

(lyrics 1926 by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers)

Daily Double

 SO excited today - the Osprey finally came within 100 feet of the dock!  I heard them calling this afternoon and went down to the water in hopes of getting a few pictures.  One flew on by to our neighboring point, while the other sat across the bay, calling every few minutes to keep tabs on its partner.

 The opposite shore is too far away for the 200mm camera lens to capture much detail, although that embankment does make for some spectacular binocular viewing.  To my delight, the osprey decided to check out our side of the bay for a change, perhaps out of curiosity and the noise of the camera shutter, or perhaps from being harassed by the kingfishers.  After a short, uneventful fishing expedition, it alighted in our neighbor's tree.

 I realized after about 20 minutes of contorting my body to keep the camera steady on the rail (keeping the camera body braced squarely while looking sharply upward took some doing, let me tell you)  that some canoers were watching with some amusement from the opposite shore.  All I can say is, when an osprey lands near you, sacrifices in poise must be made!  And there is no dignified way to inform people a few hundred feet away, "I have a camera." (Like that would explain everything.)

 This was a busy day for the Kingfishers across the bay as well.  Both parents have been constantly scouting food, chattering so loudly that they can be heard several hundred feet away.  Each time they enter their nest hole in the embankment, it sparks quite a racket!  I hope to get across the bay soon with the camera in hopes of catching them close up. This is the clearest picture I have of them to date, not for lack of trying.  They flew by several times today, and I just held my breath, kept the auto-focus on, and panned with them.  They are seriously fast flyers!  It's quite a treat to watch them with binoculars this time of year - one parent always guards the nest from a nearby tree entanglement and harshly reprimands anyone that gets within a close proximity.  Both adults dive-bombed the perched osprey, which worked to my advantage today, unsettling it from it's far-off tree.  Life is Good!

Thanks for visiting today!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fishing Lessons


One of the joys of living in Western Washington is the variety of bird life here. We keep track of each species we find here at home, and watch our feathered friends with great joy and awe.

Tasty morsel of crab.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a group of Great Blue Herons fishing at low tide... one of those magical days when sunshine, moderate temperatures and a "low" low mid-day tide happened to coincide - the perfect chance to view the herons at work.

Fishing lessons... doesn't the little one look a bit bewildered?

Stalking worms (!)

Mealtime tug-of-war... herons three, worms zero.
I had the camera resting on the dock rail for stability and used auto-focus capability "sans eyeglasses." Due to the lack of prescription eye-wear at the time, I couldn't tell exactly what the herons were eating, but assumed they were pulling some type of mollusks from their shells.

 The second-biggest worm of the day.

 What I thought at first was a mollusk body...

  Biggest catch of the day - a large, tasty sea worm.  (EEEwwwww! No more walking in the mud for me!)

Wrong! Once we downloaded the pictures and zoomed in, I realized that their tasty morsels looked like small, red snakes. After a bit of online research, I realized they had been catching polychaete worms. Who knew? It blew my mind that we've lived here for ten years and I've never seen these large sea worms before. You can be sure I'll be thinking about that the next time I think about dangling my toes in the water!

This juvenile was getting a bit aggravated by this point, not having much fishing success.

Juvenile camouflaged in muddy plumage -and just look at those muddy "leggings" - aren't they great?

Squabble between the siblings, which ended in one of them flying off in a huff.

The hour of watching was a dramatic one, complete with squabbles between juvenile herons as well as heron-gull tiffs. The gulls were relentless, each following their "own" heron, leaning in upon each catch hoping to snag leftovers or snatch the prey from the inexperienced juveniles. The juveniles were awkward and didn't have much success at the dinner buffet, but from the amount of worms the adults swallowed I have no doubt there was dinner for all back at the nest last evening.

"Mine."  "Mine."   "Mine."
Ratio of gulls to herons - 1:1

A few words were said to the gull beyond the picture frame at right; amusingly enough, the gull above seems undaunted by the harsh reprimand.  ("Who, me?")

A bit perturbed, this heron had finally had enough of the gull invading his personal space.
Gulls - nature's "Peripersonal Space Invaders"

My favorite picture of the day; I love the way the light reflects on the rippled water and the water reflects on the heron's under-body as it flies past.   And honestly, who wouldn't love those long, lanky legs and "turkey feet?"

Hope you enjoyed our little outing - thanks for visiting!