Entries tagged with: nature

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Road Trip: Oregon + NorCal Coast

roadhome0.jpg 4,000 miles and 2.5 weeks later - we are HOME! From LA up to Alberta and back… the first part took us from LA to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the second part was 8 days exploring as much of Alberta, Canada as possible, and this final part is the journey home! To get home we crossed over to British Columbia and crossed the border into Idaho through Spokane, WA over to the Oregon Coast and followed the ocean down to San Francisco then dropped back down central California home to Los Angeles! I’m still amazed (and exhausted) reliving how much we’ve seen and done the last few days as i put this post together! Take a peek at the journey and discoveries on the next page - from the “world’s largest truck” to a few breweries to spontaneous forest (and redwood) hikes to a cheese factory to driving the NOTFZJ80 on the beach to 3 dozen elk and mini deer to finding a whole new level of “dog-friendly accomodations” and the pushed up ocean floor at the Stornetta Public Lands… phew what an adventure! Though it is good to be home, even for a few quick days!

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Intoxication Season at Kew

kews.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

Today the The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are launching a new exhibition, Intoxication Season. All about mind altering plants and fungi, the month long program offers a chance to discover how plant chemicals can be used as medicines and intoxicants, with some socially acceptable (coffee, tea, alcohol, aspirin), yet others seen as socially unacceptable “drugs” (cannabis, opium and a host of others!). These mind-altering drugs span across cultures and have shaped our lives, founding the basis of entire economies. The same plant chemicals that can be used to create medicines and save human lives can also lead to addiction and death in the wrong doses. The exhibition and series of talks and seminars throughout the season explore these seeming contradictions in our relationship. See it all on the next page.

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Inspiration: Glacier Water Blue...

lakes0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

This trip I may have found a new favorite color: that magical Glacier Water Blue! My first taste was the incredible Moraine Lake. And then i’ve shown you the powerful Sunwapta Falls! Well on the drive up the Icefields Parkway from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park, almost anytime we saw the word lake/creek, we tried to pull over and check it out. Sure, it made the drive a bit slower, but each and every one was worth it! No matter how many we saw, the color really doesn’t get old. The varying shades of minty turquoise of sorts… a greenish robin’s egg blue? a saturated Tiffany blue? As for what causes the unique colors, it comes from the light refracting off the rock flour suspended in the water from the melting glaciers. It varies from lake to lake, depending on the not only the rock flour, but also the lighting/weather/time of day… but the color is always spectacular. See some of the incredible Glacier Water Blues we encountered on the next page.

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Animals of Jasper National Park

animal0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

As you know, we’re pretty animal obsessed over here at NOTCOT. So when we heard there we lots of critters to see in the National Parks, I was skeptical but hopeful to get to see at least a few! When at Mount Engadine Lodge we were lucky to see a few moose, deer, and a mama and baby black bear… but when we went to Jasper National Park… driving around we found Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Canadian Geese, and some monster crows. Far more than I expected, and so many of each! The one elusive creature we tried to find, but will have to come back for? Beavers! Check out the amazing animals we found on the next page…

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Sunwapta Falls, Jasper, Alberta

sunwapta00.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

Sunwapta Falls - another favorite so far that I definitely need to get back to next time we’re in Jasper National Park (Notice, we haven’t even left, and i’m already planning a trip back?)… We debated whether we were losing too much sun to pull off when we saw the sign, but decided to rush over and see what we could anyhow… and WOW. So worth it, though I can’t wait to see it in bright sunshine! The glacier blue falls come down and around an island then rush into quite the drop before swooping onwards. I could have stood and stared at it all on the bridge for ages… also the tree roots that form steps down to the falls are mesmerizing in their own right. Check it out on the next page.

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Moraine Lake in Banff, Alberta

moraine0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The BLUE! That Glacier Water Blue… to be honest, I thought most people’s pictures were over saturated or photoshopped, but no. It really is THAT blue. It’s amazing how quickly the weather changed - from our snowy adventures at Spray Lakes to heading up into Banff National Park. My first stunningly glacier blue lake was Moraine Lake. We’d heard rumors that it is even more breathtaking than Lake Louise, so we detoured over first, and WOW. It is AMAZING. And beyond the lake views as you wander around… the Chipmunks! I’ve never seen such chubby little chipmunks run right up to you. Even crazier, they run up to BUCKY! And stand up in his face. You’d think a pup like him would go after it, but when it came right up to HIM, he had no idea what to do. And once you wander up past the chipmunks, the view down at the lake is just incredible. It was hard to leave Moraine Lake, but I had to keep reminding myself this was just the beginning! Check it out on the next page.

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Mount Engadine Lodge + Spray Lakes

engadineMAIN.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The one thing you can count on on a multiweek road trip is running into the unexpected. In this case the weather took a turn to the cold and snowy for a few days! Like wake up to half a foot of snow sticking kind of snowy… and that didn’t stop us from genuinely, excitedly trying to go find a camp site by Spray Lakes. The camp sites are THAT stunning just off the water nestled in the trees. But like in a fairy tale ~ we headed to dinner at the Mount Engadine Lodge around the lake, which appeared like an adorable Swiss chalet mirage through the low visibility of the snow and trees… and with dinner, they offered us a spare room and told us not to be silly instead. By the time i woke up and saw the inches of fresh powder everywhere, i think we made the right decision!

Honestly, there is something just magical about Mount Engadine Lodge. Beyond the adorable chalet style, the people both running it and guests immediately treat you like family as you curl up by the fire, play games, and join the communal dining area. The first thing you are offered is to get out of your wet shoes and slip on some colorful hand knit slippers. Then you hear “BEAR” and “MOOSE” and then “TWO MOOSE!” within moments of arrival… and it’s not joke. Staring out the vast windows overlooking the meadow, sure enough there is a mama and baby bear sauntering down, and two moose chowing down in the mud pit. Often you read things are “like the Serengeti for wildlife viewing”, but to pop in and have all of this happen so fast… magical! See our adventure to Spray Lakes, Mount Engadine Lodge, and the rather precarious drive out on the next page!

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Inspiration: Waterton Lakes National Park

watertonMAIN1.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

We made it! We crossed the US/Canada border in the NOTFZJ80 with dog and all with no problems, and even finally got to make use of our passport cards. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited Shawn and I are to embark on the adventure we’ve dubbed the NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape. As you know, the NOTFZJ80 Project was all about building a rig that could take us to experience new things and get inspired in a whole new way. So when Travel Alberta asked us to come explore their province - and were cool with us not only roadtripping up from LA (allowing for some fun adventures along the way) but also bringing Bucky along as he turns 2 next week… we couldn’t say YES fast enough. After crossing the border, we headed to Waterton Lakes National Park, which is essentially the Canadian side of Glacier National Park. In fact, in 1932, the United States and Canada joined together to create the world’s first International Peace Park: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to commemorate the peace and goodwill our two nations share. In 1995, UNESCO even designated it a World Heritage Site. What more perfect place to cross over and start our adventure? See what we found on our first day into Alberta on the next page - from Bison to stunning lakes, to Pop Shoppe, to our campsite and more!

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Inspiration: LA to Yellowstone to Glacier

precanada0.jpg Almost a week into our adventure to go explore Alberta, Canada… and first time curled up in a hotel (now in Calgary!) to catch up and give you a proper update. As the last post told you, Bucky, Shawn, and I are adventuring north in the NOTFZJ80. A mix of remote roof top tent camping and hotels as we work our way around. Here’s the update from LA blowing through Las Vegas and Salt Lake City heading up into Yellowstone, around Montana, into Glacier as we got ready to cross the border to Canada into Waterton as our first Alberta stop. Here’s a peek at everything from what we saw on the road to the magical sites in national parks to roadside bison, sunsets, pasties (and cocktail pasties!), google map detours that turn into off road courses to get around highway closures, dozens of miles of dirt roads to get to the perfect camp spot by a lake, unexpected little towns, ridiculously good huckleberry pancakes and pie, and one of the most epic drives i have yet to experience (Going-to-the-sun Road!)… ready to get the quick version of the last few days? To the next page!

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*notcot in nature - 1 Notes

Grow London 2014

grow0.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

Last week we attended the garden party preview of Grow London, the contemporary garden fair at Hampstead Heath. While we love the tradition of Chelsea, Grow promised contemporary new solutions for urban gardeners and we were excited to see what it was all about! The preview supported the Garden Museum and offered a fun mix of installations, contemporary garden products and more unusual items like fertilising tea!

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Endless Species by Kathryn Fleming

endless0.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she visits the London graduate showcases. This post is from Show RCA 2014.

Another of my highlights from the Design Interactions program was Endless Forms/Endless Species: Explorations in an Evolutionary Development Park by Kathryn Fleming. I loved her combination of imaginary creatures alongside taxidermy and beautifully illustrated field guides. The almost Seussical creations are the charming inhabitants of a fantastical Regent’s Park. We’d love to find wild High Wire Herbivores, Ground Working Insectivores and Retro Reflective Carnivores! See it all up close on the next page.

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The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

chelsmain.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw!

This year we were back at the Chelsea Flower Show, which brings together stunning displays of uniformity and diversity through selective breeding, as well as showcasing some incredible design. On a hot, sunny May morning, many plants were flowering early and the displays and show gardens looked incredible. More show highlights including a barbecue-lover’s dream garden, Chelsea pensioner sheep and more on the next page.

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*notcot in playful - 1 Notes

Kraken Black Roses

kraken1.jpg Valentine’s day is around the corner, and the Kraken Rum just surprised us with a V-day card, adorably mini rum, and a black rose! For their Kraken vs Cupid campaign, the lucky folks in London have a chance to pick up a bouquet of black roses paired with a bottle of Kraken (vs champagne)! How do they do it? “The black roses for sale are created by placing dark red roses in vases filled with a Kraken’s ink in place of water. This ink is then transported up the stem, via the xylem, to the leaves and petals turning them black, a scientific process that will also be showcased in the space. For dramatic effect some of the flowers will also be turned black using special floristry dyes.” and they will be paired with “… Calendula Lily Eclips and Queen of the Night Tulips, both darkest purple in colour looking visually black to the human eye.” Take a peek at details of the gorgeously dark surprise we received on the next page! And if you’re in London, visit the Think Ink Florist on Feb 14th!

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*notcot in travel - 0 Notes

ROADTRIP! LA to Park City + Audi Q7 TDI

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Oakley Factory Pilots - Der Fliegende Fish

*notcot in nature -

Knopper Galls

gall1.jpg Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.

As we move into late summer, fruits and nuts seem to be forming everywhere in all sorts of shapes and colors. While walking through London, these oddly-shaped green acorns caught my eye, with their ridges, knobs and slightly sticky appearance. On closer inspection, most of the acorns were covered with these intricate, ridged growths, called Knopper Galls. The galls result from a chemical reaction in response to the gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis), which lays its eggs on the developing acorns. The shapes and textures of the resulting galls are fascinating (and quite variable). The degree of ridging on the gall is thought to be related to the number of larvae competing within the gall and we found as many as three separate galls on a single developing acorn. Their name “Knopper Galls” comes is thought to be derived from the English word ‘knop’, meaning “a small rounded protuberance, boss, stud, button, tassel or the like” and German ‘knoppe’ meaning “a kind of felt cap or helmet worn during the 17th-century”.

Galls like the ones we found occur on the Pedunculate or Common Oak tree (Quercus robur), but the wasp also requires a second oak species, the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) in order to complete its life cycle. Like aphids, the wasp undergoes both a sexual and asexual components of its life cycle. The knopper galls we observed are part of the agamic (female only) generation. Only adult females will emerge from the Knopper galls in the spring and these females will go on to lay their eggs on the catkins of the Turkey Oak. It is from these small conical galls that a sexual generation of male and female wasps will emerge, mate and produce further knopper galls. As a result, knopper galls are only found where both Common and Turkey Oaks grow. While galls have a negative effect on the reproduction of the trees, they don’t appear to harm other aspects of the tree’s health and in a typical biological twist, the wasps themselves are also often parasitized by a number of hyperparasites! You can find out more at ARKive, The Wildlife Trusts and Hedgerow Mobile, but for now see more pics (and my dissection) on the next page!

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*notcot in travel - 2 Notes

Inspiration: Sitka, Alaska

sitka0.jpg On amazing experiences ~ the opportunity randomly came up to spend the last week in Sitka, Alaska salmon fishing, and we had to go! My dad has been going annually with the incredible Angling Unlimited folks for over a decade now, so Shawn and I were thrilled to finally get to join in the fun. Beyond the excitement of finally going to Alaska ~ we were lucky enough to have incredibly beautiful weather, calm seas, and great fishing, and even see many humpback whales, puffins, otters, deer, bald eagles, albatrosses, giant slugs, and so much more! When it happened to drizzle/rain on us ever so slightly, the perfect semi-circle of a rainbow came out. Beyond the wildlife and fantastic fishing ~ we also got to know the adorable island town of Sitka, visiting local bars, the totem park, raptor center, the airports infamous pie spot - Nugget Restaurant, the only brewery on Baranof Island and more… only thing we didn’t make it over to which we’ve shown you before on NOTCOT was the Fortress of the Bear! The sunsets were breathtaking every day too… Take a peek at all the inspiration and randomness we discovered on the last week’s adventure in Sitka, Alaska on the next page!

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*notcot in design - 0 Notes

Gabriela Tomczyk at Central Saint Martins

horn2.jpgHere’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she visits the London graduate showcases!

I popped over to the Central Saint Martins 2013 Degree Shows after a day at the Horniman Museum & Gardens and was delighted and surprised to see some of my beloved Natural History specimens within the show, through the illustrations of Gabriela Tomczyk. Natural history museums and art are a natural pairing, and this hasn’t been the first museum/grad show crossover, but it was fantastic to see some of my favorite specimens illustrated so beautifully!

Gabriela’s “London’s Natural Curiosities” took the form of a multi-fold brochure-like series of illustrations and featured some of my favorite London treasures, not only my beloved Horniman Museum & Gardens, but also the Grant Museum of Zoology (see our earlier post on the museum here) and Hunterian Museum. Her sketched pages look like a much friendlier and thoughtful guide to treasures in London and really communicate time taken to enjoy the details and a real appreciation for these museums (and their specimens) and the piece was titled I love that she included specimen numbers too as I recognized specimens like familiar friends! More photos on the next page and on Gabriela Tomczyk’s website and behance.

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*rugenius in design - 0 Notes

Anabela Chan at RCA Show 2013

RCA-show-2013-detail-6127.jpg

Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw as she visits the London graduate showcases!

Wandering through the halls of the Battersea campus during press day at Show RCA 2013, I turned the corner to find a beautiful table filled with iridescent natural history curios. I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous glass domes housing beautifully arranged butterfly wings, stunning pieces by Anabela Chan. Chan is a student in Goldsmithing and Metalwork and the intricate sculptures made from butterfly wings are part of her Beauty & The Beast Collection, which she has photographed beautifully. The artist even blew the glass domes herself! The stunning pieces are showcased alongside her jewellery range that also incorporate beautiful, iridescent natural history objects like parrot feathers, beetles and of course, minerals! More photos on the next page.

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*notcot in nature - 1 Notes

LA Natural History Museum Nature Lab

nhm00.jpg On the plane about to land in memphis and battery about to die, but wanted to share this with you first! More details to come soon…

On the must see when in LA list ~ or the, if you live in LA, must see list ~ the LA Natural History Museum’s newest additions the Nature Lab and Nature Gardens literally bring it all to life! Being a born and raised angeleno with a sister who ended up getting her doctorate in animal behavior, you can only imagine how many local creatures large and small i grew up (and continually am) fascinated by all around me… from the parrots, finches, hummingbirds, etc. that constantly take over the yard, to the coyotes, deer, raccoons, alligator lizards, spiders, and so much more… Well for their 100th Birthday, the NHM has brought in quite the selection of living creatures that are all around us in a beautifully designed urban/modern interactive exhibition that is not to be missed. They create such a personal awareness about the interaction and roles that our city and communities have played in the rise and urban evolution of certain species, as well as teaching us all a bit more about all the creatures we encounter (and may not even notice) regularly here in Los Angeles. It was so inspiring to see kids and adults alike completely mesmerized, engaging with the exhibits with giddy smiles as they darted from one thing to the next. I couldn’t help but constantly wonder, “where was THIS when we were kids running around trying to find all these crazy creatures?”

So, we went to the 100th birthday bash for fun, and i wasn’t thinking about it as a post, but it was so exciting, Shawn and i ended up snapping a bunch of cell phone pics to share with Justine, and while cleaning them up, realized the inspiration (both from content and design) was too awesome not to share with you too! Take a peek inside the Nature Lab on the next page!

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*notcot in nature - 1 Notes

NHM 100: Otis Booth Pavilion Unveiling

unveil0.jpg The Los Angeles Natural History 100th Birthday Bash was incredible ~ inspiring, innovative, playful, and filled with incredible energy! From the updates to the displays in their historic building to the launch of their impressive Nature Gardens surrounding the museum and Nature Lab showcasing some of the wildlife that surrounds us all… to the unveiling of the stunning new Otis Booth Pavilion! It resembles an apple store like monstrous two story glass cube with a whale skeleton suspended within, and between performances by GZA/the Genius and DEVO, they had a super heartfelt look back through the history and adventures of the NHM and a look at how LA has evolved over the last century, then the digital whales burst on to the projection… even breaching at the top! and then pretending to break through the glass, dropping the curtains and showing off the new pavilion. So many random pictures from that evening, but first, take a peek at the whale filled unveiling moments in pics and video on the next page!

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*rugenius in nature - 0 Notes

Highlights from the 100th Chelsea Flower Show

garden.jpg Here’s the latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw from the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

One of the most incredible aspects of flowers shows like RHS Chelsea is amazing range and breadth of both wild type and cultivated plants. Leaves and flowers come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures and even closely related cultivars can look strikingly different. Yet, cultivated varieties are bred to consistency and this simultaneous diversity and uniformity are highlighted at shows like Chelsea where large stands are filled with nearly identical blooms of each variety. More photos from Chelsea on the next page.

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*notcot in design - 0 Notes

Invasive Growth by Xuedi Chen

invasive00.jpg Explorations in 3D printing + growing wearable = Xuedi Chen’s Invasive Growth! We’ve been curiously following along on instagram for some time now… and the project is now live! I love that it’s “…inspired by my fascination with cordyceps, a fungal parasite that attacks arthropods. Once infected, the fungus slowly takes control of the insect both mentally and physically. Before the insect dies, the fungus makes it climb high onto a branch and grip on, giving it an advantageous place to spread spores. Once the insect is dead, the cordyceps protrudes out, breaking through the exoskeleton.” And the final pieces play with moss growing on wearable neck/head pieces… imagine a day when you need to water your jewelry regularly? Take a peek at the process and details on the next page!

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*notcot in nature - 4 Notes

Laser Challenges #9 + 10: Bird Feeders

birdfeeder0.jpg This post is part of the NOTlabs Laser Challenge: The ground rules are: Shawn and I are alternating days with executing and sharing a Laser Cutter involved experiment! And most importantly - we’re supposed to have fun, explore ideas, and it’s less about a fully formed product/concept at the end of the day, but more about seeing where the experiment takes us!

Laser Challenges #9 and #10 are here! We’ve slipped behind a tiny bit, but the rules still hold that each project goes from idea to post in less than a day… so today we teamed up for a pair of projects that complement and grew off each other. Looking around NOTlabs, i’ve had glass bottles around that are too pretty to throw away, but we also couldn’t figure out what to do with them (other than vases and as “future projects”) ~ including these Aladdin Sake Bottles and the Sofia Coppola Bottles… we also have a yard full of birds, from finches and jays to parrots and hummingbirds and more… so we decided to try turning them into bird feeders, with just laser cut acrylic and paracord. Of course all of this turned into a fun late night experiment playing with finding the perfect curves (and my learning more rhino from shawn), mastering snap fits down to such tiny measurements, and then a late night bird feeder hanging and photoshoot! Shawn’s #9 turns the wine bottle into a beautiful feeder that plays off of the curves so nicely! My #10 plays off of his ideas and takes them one step further with the stacked sake bottles of food and water (yay for the magic of surface tension) which can also be turned into a finches and little birds on top - hummingbirds downstairs set up. Just took the picture above while sitting here waiting to see if the birds come today… but for now, see the process and details of our two bird feeders on the next page!

p.s. If you have ideas, or want some laser cutting done, or want to play with us… feel free to use the contact form or leave a comment! And if you’re curious about the laser cutter we’re using, here’s the unboxing.

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*notcot in nature - 4 Notes

Spider

spider1.jpg Today’s NOTlabs inspiration is coming from this furry little visitor that just showed up outside… a Jumping (thanks, commenters!) Spider! Couldn’t help taking a few portraits of his fuzzy little face and rusty colored patterned body before relocating him… take a peek on the next page!

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