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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Round About Story About A Concrete Sphere

Years ago, I fell in love with the concrete "dinosaur eggs" made by the wonderful garden artists George Little and David Lewis on Banbridge Island.  To see some of their amazing work, go here.  Their book, A Garden Gallery  is full of more images.  Unfortunately, their garden gallery closed to visitors in 2013.  Anyway, the eggs were gorgeous but the prices were beyond my garden budget so I decided to try to make them myself.  Having very little experience with concrete other than making leaf castings, of which Little and Lewis are masters, there were many rather humorous mishaps in trying to get concrete to stick to a plastic exercise ball.  At the time I was very active in the forums on a great website called Dave's Garden  and posted this picture of my attempts at creating spheres.  Another member of D.G. named Hostajim posted commentary about his process,  You can see the exchange in the forum here.

Photo of another view

While nothing even approaching the splendor of the  Little and Lewis eggs, these were very inexpensive but did take a lot of work.  The smaller one became the blue egg you may remember from this image from my very first post three years ago. 

The larger one became home to this dinosaur hatchling. 



Hostajim, AKA James King went much further than I and perfected making beautiful lightweight spheres.  In an interesting twist, Jim is a friend of the sculptor James Kelsey for whom I was fusing cobalt glass that he included in his sculpture in front of the Tacoma Police Headquarters and smaller pieces at each of the TPD stations.  One afternoon, Kelsey was coming to the stained glass studio to bring specks or something and King came along with three of his fabulous spheres to show me.  What a cool surprise!  I would have bought all three but didn't have my checkbook with me.  Life got busy and the spheres slipped my mind.  Jim mentioned that he'd taken some to Dragonfly Farms and it wasn't until I saw them there that I remembered how well made they were.




Just last summer,  I had the pleasure of touring my blogging pal, Tatyana's (My Secret Garden - find her blog here.) gorgeous Gig Harbor garden and was very surprised to see one of Jim's eggs!  It seems that Tatyana toured her friend Jim's garden on a Northwest Perennial Alliance tour where she purchased this one, the first that he had sold.



In fact, Tatyana did a marvelous post about Jim's garden here.

Tatyana graciously allowed me to use the following two pictures that she took of the spheres in Jim's Garden.



In their natural habitat.


If you're still reading at this point, you're probably wishing that I'd grab the controls and bring this thing in for a landing.  So, here it is...

Last I heard, Jim was no longer creating spheres due to his health so on my recent trip to Dragonfly, where a few of his spheres still are available, I finally purchased one.  Only nine years after first seeing them.  If I only had such restraint with plants...

So, here are the two eggs together. The third is a spherical plant pot tilted up a bit. In looking at the picture, I think that they need a bit of adjustment to look their best and the blue one needs to be repainted but all in all I'm delighted to finally have one of Jim's creations in my garden.

48 comments:

  1. I love them, but I assume they have drainage holes??? Otherwise I'm just seeing a mosquito nightmare.

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    1. Two do, two don't. They hold water as do several things around my garden & I haven't noticed much of a mosquito issue. We have lots of birds and bats that seem to take care of the bugs for us.

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  2. Jim made interesting things, Peter. It has to be very specific garden to set such unusual spheres. I mean as a hill and large leafed plants like on the last picture.

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  3. Hi Peter and congratulations! Three is always better than one or two!
    BTW, I like the spheres in the first picture!

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    1. Thanks, Tatyana. That's how they looked before they got painted.

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  4. I don't know which was more fun, this post or the stories from 2006.

    Seems to me that dinosaur eggs might go well in the company of Cycads and Gingko trees.

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    1. My friend Chris and I often try to make things without reading about how to do it. She and I have had some very interesting Lucy and Ethel moments trying to keep things from falling apart.
      Great idea about the Cycads and Gingko trees!

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  5. Ooo, Peter these are pretty darned cool. I love a bit of art focus in the garden. Nice.

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  6. It's a nice story and I love those spheres. Even thought about giving it a try one of these days. They look great in your garden.

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    1. Thanks Shirley! You should give it a try! I was thinking that it might be fun to play with concrete again this summer as I haven't in quite a while.

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    2. Peter, if you do decide to play with concrete this summer, please invite me over. I'd love to have a go at it with someone who has more experience than I do.

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  7. Any post with "concrete" in the first sentence means I'm hooked, especially when "spheres" are mentioned too. Very nice!

    (email me please Peter)

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  8. What a wonderful story that came a full circle: after all, this post is about round things.
    And so it seems you have yet another talent: you can make spheres! A Pete of all trades.
    I love curves in the garden, both in paths and borders. Sadly, I don't own a sphere (yet).

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    1. It did come around nicely! They're fun and inexpensive to make if you don't mind hauling around sacks of cement and there are at least a couple of very good concrete garden art books that show how to make them.

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  9. I didn't realize when you bought that sphere that you were fulfilling a seven-year dream. It's pretty cool, but the ones you made are very nice too.

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    1. I kept thinking that I'd get one later or next time or something like that and finally decided to throw one in the car. Now I'm thinking it would be fun to try and make more this summer.

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  10. Glad to see that Jim's creations finally made it to your garden Peter, and they look fab! Such a cool thing to have in the garden!

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    1. Thanks gentlemen. I enjoy looking at them every day. Notice how restrained I was in not making a tasteless connection between these balls and the things that were hanging over your head a week or so ago.

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  11. "A Pete of all trades"...I like that almost as much as I like your statement "I love making things and to prove to myself that I could"

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    1. A Pete of all trades and master of none!

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  12. Those things look great in any setting, but especially the woodsy one. I like yours even better than the more "perfect" ones.

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    1. They are pretty cool and would look faboo in your garden!

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  13. I love these so much!!! Maybe someday...

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  14. I think you're amazing - daring and accomplished!

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    1. Oh Rebecca, you're too kind. Really just lucky.

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  15. I love these! Congrats on finally getting one.

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    1. Thanks Heather. You could make these with your eyes closed!

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  16. They're awesome! I am quite impressed with your restraint. These would have been hard to resist. What a cool art piece. I love them!

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    1. They are lots of fun to make as well! Maybe this should be the summer of the sphere and we'll all have a go at it!

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  17. These spheres are great!!!! Congrats on the purchase - it looks like it was worth the 9-year wait (sometimes it just has to be done).
    But, you known what? I think your spheres are just as good, and I would pay for one of them!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I like mine as well but greatly admire the finesse and thin walls of Jims work. The Little and Lewis work with their exquisite paint is out of this world wonderful.

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  18. Clearly a journey guided by destiny. The broken eggs are wonderful but where did the baby dinosaur go?

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    1. There's the one hanging around in one of my eggs but the rest are kept in an area of the state we like to call Jurassic Park.

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  19. Awesome eggs! Congrats on having one! I'd like to have one as well... Happy weekend, Peter!

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    1. Thank you Satu! You are so talented that you could make these yourself!

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  20. I really like the spheres!! too bad Jim is not able to make more at the moment. They look great in the garden. I also like very much the big ones you made!!

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    1. I enjoyed making them and certainly do enjoy having one of Jim's creations in my garden.

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  21. Love the eggs...great when things come full circle, meant to be!

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  22. Very cool, Peter, although I confess my first thought was the same as DC Tropics': mosquito breeding. I guess you can tell we're both from the hot, humid, mosquito-buzzin' South.

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    1. It's strange that we don't have more mosquitoes here with all the standing water. The larvae make great fish food and I sometimes net a bunch of them to throw in the pond.

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  23. I didn't know L&L closed the garden to visitors! A bunch of us visited in 2011. I loved this saga of how the spheres came to be in your garden. Amazing what stories inanimate objects hold.

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  24. Just found your blog and have been enjoying all your post. I live in Oregon so I really enjoying your nursery reviews. Just visited Dancing Oaks and Seabright Garden this past month, I took cash with me and left credit cards at home because I knew I would be tempted to buy everything! The spheres you made are lovely and look beautiful in your garden, I'm just getting into working with cement so will need to try making one. I didn't know you could paint it and not have the paint flake off. What kind of paint do you use?

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    1. Sorry, just found this comment. U use whatever's cheapest. Black is usually rustoleum paint because it's glossy which I like for the interiors. Otherwise, latex paint is great. Sometimes I mix it with water to get a less solid effect. You can also apply one color and then wash over it with a diluted second color. It's great fun to find the oops paint on sale at one of the big box stores and play with colors

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.