Native Bee Bells for Picton Botanic gardens are on the way…

The inaugural Bee Aware Art & Environment workshop held on May 21st at Wollondilly Community Nursery was well attended by an enthusiastic group of participants.

After an enjoyable and informative talk about native bees by Megan Halcroft, workshop participants enjoyed getting their hands muddy, mixing up clay and sand “cob”, a substrate for local Blue-Banded bees to build their nesting chambers. Stabilised with natural fibres – including poodle hair- the clay cob was shaped into a “doner kebab” form and will hang within the copper clad “bee bell”. The cob mix was imbued with native bee pheromone sourced by Megan from a previous clay-cob native bee habitat.

Workshop participants cut leaf shapes out of thin slabs of pre rolled terracotta paper clay
Workshop participants cut leaf shapes out of thin slabs of pre rolled terracotta paper clay

Once the clay cob was formed, participants enthusiastically got to work shaping the terracotta and copper shim leaf shingles that will weather-proof the bee bells. I mixed up an earthy coloured terracotta paper clay using recycled terracotta clay, cellulose fibre and red iron oxide. We used paper clay as it is lighter than regular clays when fired;  the weights of these large hanging bee habitats need to be kept to a minimum.

You can download a PDF for the paper clay recipe here:

How to Make Paper Clay – Ceramic Arts Daily

ceramicartsdaily.org › uploads › 2015/06

 

IMG_3960

Participants cut the copper shim into leaf shapes then "crinkled" them to create interesting random textures.
Workshop participants cut the copper shim into leaf shapes then “crinkled” them to create interesting random textures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the studio, Ana and I welded and wired up two of the native bee bell forms. As I write, the first firing of terracotta paper clay “leaves” is underway.

Putting my welding skills to the test...
Putting my welding skills to the test…
..whilst Ana wired up the steel frame.
… whilst Ana wired up the steel frame
Armature of the first bee bell with copper shim leaves
Armature of the first bee bell with copper shim leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ana and I are looking forward to assembling the bee bells with several of the original workshop participants. The Bee Bell assemblage will take place at Cloudfarm studios, Robertson on Saturday June 25th from 10am – 4pm.

 

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