Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fearrington's Nature Trail Giant Mushrooms

Our nature trail-meister Henry Castner came to me with an idea for a fun project to enhance our Creekwood Trail. Henry designed a maquette and enlisted me to fabricate giant mushrooms for folks to enjoy and sit on while walking the trail.

We dug three holes in our backyard to serve as molds for concrete tops of the mushrooms.

We then mixed batches of my special concrete/peat moss/ acrylic fortifier mixture, and poured it into the holes. We covered them up to protect the pieces from rain. After several days, we dug the pieces up and took them to Henry's house for further work. He cleaned them up, and applied bright colors to them.

After about three weeks for the concrete to cure, we assembled a crew of trusty trail volunteers to install the giant mushrooms along the trail.

We moved the pieces from Henry's van to wagons. Then our merry crew of workers and working dogs hawled the mushrooms for some distance to the site that Henry had selected for the installation.

Metal posts were sledged into the ground to support the mushrooms.

The mushrooms were installed over the posts.

Henry tested one mushroom out for stability and comfort.

Here is our working crew.

And here are our loyal working dogs.

Come out and enjoy our latest feature on the Creekwood Trail.

Photos by Chris Ridley

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Why Trump doesn't trust the intelligence guys

Early in the morning, Kazem was awakened by horrified screams. He ran to the next room where is wife Shatha cowered in the corner. “Look” she demanded. Kazem turned his eyes in the direction of his wife’s extended finger. “There” she pointed again, “Do something”.
Kazem’s eyes then locked on the opposite corner of the small room where Shatha prepared food for the family. In the corner, frantically darting this way and that, was an equally horrified and very small rodent. “Do something” Shatha repeated, with a heightened tenor of urgency in her voice. Kazem grabbed a broom from near the table, and lunged toward the miniature beast – which abruptly turned to the far wall, and scurried through a barely discernable crack in its base.
“Kazem – Do something” Shatha demanded.

Kazem hurried down the street, past one of the towering statues of Saddam, into the neighborhood market place. Making his way through close aisles of merchandise, he went right to the stall of Mogtada, his friend, who sold whatever he could find at a cheap price. Kazem recapped for Mogtada his encounter with the small rodent, and stressed that any level of domestic tranquility in his household depended on his doing something with it. “It is only a mouse” advised Mogtada, “They are everywhere here in Baghdad.”
“What can I do about this mouse?”
“You need a mouse trap.
“OK, sell me such a mouse trap!”
“I wish that I could sell you a mouse trap” Mogtada responded, “But with these United Nations sanctions, Iraq cannot import food and medicines, let alone mouse traps” he elaborated.

Kazem’s mind began to race. He was a very enterprising person, always sensitive to opportunity. “Why don’t we make these mouse traps, and sell them all over Baghdad” he blurted out excitedly. I will be able to do something at home, and we can make a better Baghdad, perhaps even a better Iraq.”

Kazem and Mogtada, anxious to get started on their new venture, rushed to the home of Abu, an influential person in the local Ba’ath Party in Baghdad. They stressed to Abu the importance of ridding communities all over Iraq of these rodent threats. They urged Abu to help them secure the resources needed to design and produce some sort of device for mouse eradication.

Abu was also an astute man with a quick mind for opportunity. He suggested that, for a small percentage of future profits from the venture, he would secure funds from government resources. “Even with UN sanctions, there is plenty for Saddam’s friends” he winked.

The next day, Abu visited the Ministry of Security. His friend, Hamza, was assistant to Assistant Minister of Baghdad Security. Abu outlined for Hamza the strategy for producing devices for mouse eradication. Hamza, quite astute himself, allowed that, for a small percentage of future profits, he would get support from Saddam’s inner circle. “Being well connected in the Ba’ath Party, I will simply send an email message to a very influential person,” Hamza declared.

Hamza sat right down at his computer, one of the very few allowed in Baghdad. He addressed his note to Uday. In the email, he emphasized the critical importance of a program to produce weapons of mouse eradication in order to circumvent the UN sanctions.

In his office in London, Michael sat, bleary eyed from hours of staring at reams of email traffic. Abruptly, his eyes focused tight on the words “In order to circumvent UN sanctions, Iraq’s program to produce weapons of mouse destruction will have the highest priority.” Michael bolted from his chair, and ran into the office of John, Assistant Director of Intelligence at MI6.
John called Clive.
Clive called Reginald.
And Reginald called Tony.
Tony picked up the red phone, and called Condi. “We are getting a bit of chatter about Iraq’s program to produce weapons of mouse destruction to circumvent the UN sanctions, he said.
“Weapons of mouse destruction?” Condi repeated
Condi Called Donald, “British intelligence has some scuttlebutt about Iraq using weapons of mouse destruction against the UN.”
Donald dropped the phone, and strode into Dubb’ya’s office, “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mouse destruction, and he plans to use them against the United Nations building in New York City.”
Dubb’ya just stared back “WMD?”

A few weeks later, Kazem looked up in shock and awe, as bombs rained down on his little home in Baghdad. Kazem, Shatha, their four children, and several very small rodents were killed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Birds As Art Featured at the NC Botanical Garden

Twilight for the Lord God Bird by Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD
I am honored to be included in an exhibit of paintings featuring North Carolina birds in the DeBerry Gallery at the North Carolina Botanical Garden during September and October. Well-known nature-inspired artists featured in the show are: Dail Dixon, Jane Eckenrode, Linda Koffenberger, Kathy Shermer-Graham, Patricia Savage, and Emma Skurnick. The exhibit is part of a Botanical Garden initiative Saving Our Birds

There will be a reception on September 11th at the Gallery from 3:30 – 4:30pm. It will follow a lecture Battling Climate Change in Your Own Backyard for Birds in Reeves Auditorium at 2:30. The talk will be by Curtis Smalling, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon North Carolina.

I hope that you will join us,

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Making of the Scroggs Frog

Scroggs fourth-graders get hip hop lesson

January 19, 2015 

Chapel Hill News

CHAPEL HILL — Fourth-grade students at Scroggs Elementary are studying North Carolina artists.
Sarah Cornette, the school’s art teacher, asked guest artists to come speak with the fourth-graders. The guest artists included Sam Ezell, folk artist and painter from Hillsborough; Barbara Tyroler, a photographer from Chapel Hill who has worked extensively creating portraits of children; Forrest Greenslade, a retired biologist who now creates sculptures and paintings for the Botanical Gardens; and Michel Brown, Chapel Hill muralist.

Scroggs students learn from local artists
Jan. 17, 2015 @ 06:25 PM
The herald Sun

Fourth-graders at Scroggs Elementary School recently got a chance to meet and work with local artists

Sarah Cornette, art teacher at Scroggs Elementary, invited the artists as part of the fourth-graders’ North Carolina Artists unit.

Cornette shared the artists’ work with her students before they visited, and they prepared questions to ask the artists.

later in life.Forrest Greenslade, a retired molecular biologist who lives in Fearrington Village, now paints, sculpts and writes. He brought his personal favorite painting to share with the class Tuesday afternoon.

“The reason this is my favorite painting is because the idea for it started when I was exactly your age,” he told the class as he displayed his painting of an ivory-billed woodpecker. “This painting really represents my entire life.”

He told of being inspired by paintings of birds as a young member of Junior Audubon Club. These images inspired him both to study science and become a biologist and to paint animals 

But the students didn’t only learn about Greenslade’s work — they also rolled up their sleeves and created something of their own.

Greenslade taught the students how to collaborate with each other to create small clay slabs that would eventually fit together to form a giant frog, Scroggs’ mascot.

“Find places and just poke it in right there,” Greenslade coached as the students lined up with slabs of clay

flattened with their hands and rolling pins.

The project was also a larger collaboration between two classes. Monday’s class formed the bottom of the frog, and Tuesday’s class formed the top.

Students patted down clay around a center of cellulose beads, or packing peanuts. Greenslade said he hoped the beads would burn up when the frog was fired in the kiln, leaving a hollow frog.

However, there was also the possibility that the frog could burn up in the kiln.

“We’re going to take a risk and try something new together,” Greenslade told the class.

Student Sonia Levin-Metcalfe said she liked studying and meeting local artists because “we get to learn different kinds of art and different types of it.”

She also said she liked the frog project because “it’s a lot of teamwork and it’s a big experiment. So you don’t know if it’s going to make it through the kiln and actually become a piece of art. But it’s fun to try.”

As the students patted down their clay, the frog began to take shape. Then it was time for smaller embellishments, and students set to work making frog toes and eyes.

“I like how it all comes together,” said student Griffin Nargi. “The art of it is just to put in the perfect details.

Other guest artists for the week included Chapel Hill photographer Barbara Tyroler, Chapel Hill muralist Michael Brown, Hillsborough folk artist Sam Ezell and Cornette’s daughter, Sadie Cornette Cook, who attends the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

UNC Advertising Major Discovers Her Inner- Maker

University of North Carolina advertising major, Emily Overcarsh approached me for a series of interviews for an honors course she was taking on the role of the artist and artisan in modern culture

. I agreed, and we began meeting and talking. She observed me working in my studio, and noted that she had never actually made anything with her own hands, and was not familiar with using tools. She commented that her father had a shop, but she had never worked in it.

  1. Emily expressed a desire to try her hand at making a sculptural piece. I was designing a series of humorous floral sculptures for the Sculpture in the Garden show at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, so we decided that Emily would attempt to make a similar piece. Here is Emily with my prototype design. Over the next few weeks, Emily came to my studio and worked under my watchful eye to ensure that she used tools and materials safely.

Her first task was to envision her piece, and start on an armature, the skeleton of the sculpture. She cut petals from 100 year old tin roof shingles that I had in the shop. She then hammered them into shape She assembled the petals into the flower’s face by wiring them on a hardware cloth circle. She added chicken wire to complete the armature.

Emily then mixed a concrete composite of Portland cement, screened peat moss, an acrylic fortifier and water, wearing a mask to keep dangerous dust from her lungs. She sculpted it onto her armature, being careful to protect her hands using surgical gloves. She made glass eyes by painting the backs of half-marbles.

After the concrete cured for a few days, Emily coated her flower with a bronze acrylic, and tarnished the metal surface with an acid stain. She allowed the tarnish to act for a few days, and then applied a wax to burnish the surface into a lustrous glow

Here is Emily and her flower in my garden in Fearrington Village. She has now graduated from UNC, and lives in the Atlanta area. Her flower adorns her family’s garden.

Emily says that making a piece of art with her own hands opened her mind to new ways of thinking and creating. She says that she plans to always find ways to do things with both her mind and hands.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sex In The Afternoon: Paintings Inspired By The Chatham Mill Pollinator Garden

Chatham Mills “Pollinator Paradise” Garden

A demonstration garden created by Agriculture Agent Debbie Roos of the
Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension
The garden is at the Chatham Mills complex
in Pittsboro and is open 7 days a week.
Address: 480 Hillsboro St. Pittsboro, NC 27312.

Paintings by Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD
I love this garden,It is a continuing inspiration to me as both a gardener and an artist. I am trying to learn more about pollinators and the plants that support them. 

Pollinator Paradise

The View From Chatham Mills

Chatham Mills

Let's Bee Friends

Fireworks In The Afternoon