Exquisite Feathers

Bird feathers are evolutionary wonders.

“As the saying goes in architecture, ‘form follows function,’ but when it comes to feathers I would say if form follows function, then beauty follows form.”

The book Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage by Robert Clark  is brimming with exquisite photos and facts to tempt the curious mind to embark on a journey filled with beauty and ideas about how the thousand of varieties of feathers have developed throughout history. Feathers have been designed for warmt, camouflage and sexual competivesss. This book is a perfect marriage between art and scienc; detailed cl0se-ups of feathers is paired with text about the utility as well as the evolution of the feather on the photo..

Robert is taking us on a journey filled with elegance as well as the past and interesting uses of feathers.

“The ways in which feathers have evolved and manifested themselves over time is riveting to me; over millions of years the scales of a dinosaur deviated and began to grow upward in spines that covered the body of birds. Through many generations, these spines spread, evolving specific purposes for the regions on the body on which they grew; eventually these spinal structures were imbued with extravagant colors and features,” writes Robert.

The aim is to make the feathers “look as if you could pick them up” and I could not agree more. So pick up the book and enjoy!

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The colour of scarlet macaw’s feather helps it live and blend in various different habitats. This is a secondary wing covert feather.

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Bird of Paradise.

 

Golden Headed Quetzal (Pharomachus auriceps)
Golden-Headed Quetzal (Pharomachus auriceps)
FEATHER TYPE : contour feather from the flank   LATIN NAME: Ithaginis cruentus   ENGLISH NAME: Blood Pheasant   REGION: Asia   OTHER NOTES: The green colour stems from a rare pigment called Turacoverdin   Further Information contact : Dr. Peter Mullen Kirchplatz 6 42489 Wuelfrath email: petermullen@gmx.de cell: +491726411691
The green colour stems from a rare pigment called Turacoverdin. Blood Phesant.

FEATHER TYPE : Wing   LATIN NAME: Lamprotornis superbus   ENGLISH NAME: Superb Starling   REGION: Africa Further Information contact : Dr. Peter Mullen Kirchplatz 6 42489 Wuelfrath email: petermullen@gmx.de cell: +491726411691

Superb Starling

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Magical Winter Light – Comforts Us and Gives Us Strenght

Searching for bright spots in the woods where the pale winter lights dance through the trees and kiss our cheeks not only brings comfort it also gives us strength to face challenges.

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The smell of frost, the sounds of a stream, and the scenery of a frosty winter forest provides relaxation. Natural stimulation brings comfort to our present stress-filled society.

Nature connectedness, where we include nature as part of our identity, includes an understanding of nature and everything it is made up of. If we feel connected to nature, we are more inclined to care about nature and protect the environment.

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This connectedness can be described as containing three parts:

  • how included we feel,
  • how much we care for nature,
  • how committed we are to protect nature.

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It is worrying that fewer and fewer children are connected to nature. Studies in the UK, have found that some adults think that nature is dangerous and dirty.

On my daily walk with my dog, I cruise on a path littered with litter – plastic cups, cans, tins, wraps,  papers, and bottles. Britain is one of the most litter-blighted countries in Europe.

But not only the streets are littered with litter. So is the nearby woods.

Does nobody care?

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How connected to nature does your family feel?

How green is your workplace?

Does your organisation give extra marks for a green approach?

Would your family throw away a bag filled with plastic bags that had been used for shopping once in the bin?

What about your workplace?

Would your organisation or company allow employees to throw away a bag filled with plastic bags?

Would you even notice or care?

And would you do something about it?

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Biodesign – Intersection between Art, Design and Biology

Creating a closed loop economy for the fashion industry!
An industry where the textiles are biodegradable and also serve as nutrients for future textiles and products.

Biodesign is an exciting approach to design and fabrication. The term refers to the incorporation of living organism as essential components in design. The underlying idea is that the incorporation enhances the function of the finished work. This approach is different from biomimicry, there the idea is to use nature as inspiration for new ideas and ways to solve a problem. It is a brave step away from imitation and mimicry to use and integration. Boundaries are dissolved and new hybrids of living objects are created.

“biodesign is not about merely taking cues from organic structures and operations. It’s about harnessing the machinery of the natural world to perform as nature does: storing and converting energy, producing oxygen, neutralizing poisons and disposing wastes in life-sustaining ways… In the wonderland of biotechnology, bacteria is beautiful, moss is electric and decorative tiles are animated.” New York Times

The overall winner of the Biodesign Challenge this year was taken home by artist Luke Jerram. His Glass Microbe is a symbol of mixing art, design, and biology.

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His sculptures have been shown in museums all over the world and you can buy limited editions print of his sculptures here.

Book Tips

Bio Design: Nature Science Creativity

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Sustainable Algae-Based Ink

Let’s make something different using nature’s palette!

Have you ever bought algae biofuel? Lots of things are tricky to sell like solar panels, Eco-clothes, and algae biofuel. Two entrepreneurs who struggled to make fuel from algae decided to make something different. Time-lapse ink.

This is the first ink that grows and  slowly reveals what you write, sketch, or paint over several days.

This may sound only like a fun product that is quickly ready for the market unlike many algae bio-products but I think that anything that captures people’s attention to new innovative ideas like using algae is a step in the right direction. It is easy to dismiss creative ideas and there is plenty of research to support the idea that scientists, executives, and teachers are biased towards rejecting creative ideas.

Scott Fulbright and Steve Albers are also planning to make colouring books that come with living ink to teach children about biology. The idea is to send out a petri disk and prompt children into thinking that it could be fun to write a message. An interactive approach to teaching children about biology.

Traditional ink is often made with petroleum so more sustainable solutions are needed. There are soy-based ink but they soy content is typically as low as 7 per cent and the ink also contains heavy metals. Some algae grow quickly, the cells divide, every 20 minutes, and they also use few resources.

The first colour that is going on the market is going to be green, but there are cyan, magenta, and even black algae. What can be better than ink based upon nature’s palette?

Sculptural Magical Food Forest

Love the way artist Jeeyun Ha fuses ecological landscaping with visionary magical design. Ecological landscaping reaches a new level in the interactive art installation rooted in ecological sustainability and landscaping that takes the climate into account.

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The growing towers called tuteurs are made of branches and surrounded with edible and native plant. Composting has never look this attractive  – compost baskets and worm bin baskets. This installation is designed with the climate in Southern- California in mind, it is drought- friendly and there are swales as well as berms for capturing roof runoff.

Go here to read more and perhaps start the journey towards owing your own magical growing tower.

Day 11 – Christmas Sustainability Challenge

LS-TDC-11-PipersPipingPhoto: Lori Siebert

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas my true love sent to me

Eleven Pipers Piping

Bake them a cake, give them a hug, sing a song and blow the pipes. Media, advertisers and even governments link consumption with happiness and prosperity. Today chants and carols are competing with Christmas albums and there is stiff competition between artists to gain the top position on the Christmas sell charts. Music was an early part of Christmas celebrations yet today we are often simply consuming music.

Throughout centuries, shepherds have played pipes. In Scotland, pipe music played an important part in the prehistoric society and pipes were used as instruments to evoke atmosphere. Often the skins of local animals such as goats  and sheep were used to make the bags. More recently, synthetic materials have become increasingly more popular.

Imagine that you could make a Christmas instrument built by using sustainable materials that captures the spirit of the Festive season. What would it look like?

Need inspiration. . . look at animals and plants around you and see if they can help just like sheep may have inspired shepherds. . .

GePS, gesture-based performance system has been developed by Cedric Spindler and Frederic Robinson. This wearable glove lets you create electronic music with hand gestures. Some gestures remind me of bird feathers dancing in the winter wind. . .

To play the blue AlphaSphere is easy – simply press on the soft pads that are covering the dome-shaped body. looks almost like a Christmas bauble or. . .

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Day 10 – Christmas Sustainability Challenge

On the Tenth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me

Ten Lords a-Leaping

Fanatical about skiing? Crazy about ice-skating? Dreaming about a new pair of sport shoes?

How can you shop outside the box when you look for sport gifts?

Can you redesign sports or outdoor equipment?

To raise awareness about ocean garbage, Adidas designed a shoe made from recycled plastic ocean waste. Sadly you cannot buy this concept shoe but something similar is planned to be released later.

Can you design an item that you use when you are exercising or walking in nature that is made of recycled local waste?

Let your ideas fly as high as a skier in the sky. . .

Skier jumping