Sunday, June 10, 2012

From Squirrel Feeders to Disintegration Bundles

I just love the internet. Sure there's some bad stuff out there that you should avoid and some people should probably steer clear of it completely but for information junkies such as myself it's an eternal fountain of joy.

I especially love it when I start looking for one thing then accidentally stumble upon something even more delightful. That happened again this morning.

We like squirrels. Some people get upset when squirrels steal all the goodies from their birdfeeders. We get upset when angry birds dive bomb the squirrels in our yard. Especially the blue jays. What's up with them? They are a bird with a bad attitude.

About a week ago we caught this little guy chilling out on the fence one afternoon.

How cute is that? For some reason Jayson became fascinated with him and started leaving treats on the fence rail for him. Little squirrel loved the grapes but turned his nose up at the broccoli.

It wasn't long before the little guy invited his friends over and now they regularly hang out in the yard, waiting for us to leave them a snack. Jayson actually went to the store and bought a bag of raw peanuts for the squirrels.

This is fascinating and confusing since we used to have a pet squirrel that Jayson didn't like at all. He didn't handle her as much as I did so she wasn't as comfortable with him as she was with me. She was VERY comfortable with me.
Peanut and her mommy.
Peanut may have accidentally bitten Jayson a time or two. She never bit aggressively. When she attacked something she used her claws, not her teeth. Jayson just had the misfortune of letting his hand come between Peanut and her food. He liked to try to give her treats but his big hands often didn't get out of the way fast enough.

I have a picture of Peanut's teeth somewhere but couldn't find it. Squirrel teeth are quite impressive. I don't know what goes on in the back of their mouths, maybe they have tiny little molars back there or something. All I know is that their top 2 front teeth are blunt and unremarkable but the bottom 2 front teeth are frightening. They are about an inch long, which is huge if you consider the size of the average squirrel mouth, and they are needle sharp. Like fangs. Squirrels must also have some amazing jaw strength which is evident if you've ever seen them rip through a walnut shell in one bite.

So Jayson never had a great love for Peanut but today he asked me if we had something we could use as a squirrel feeder. I couldn't think of anything off hand so I did what I always do: I Googled it.

Most of the DIY squirrel feeders were in the shape of a little house and made from wood. I typically avoid having to saw wood whenever possible so I eliminated those. I did find a few places to buy squirrel feeders and one that I especially liked was made from a gallon size glass jar. It was attached to a wood or plastic house that could be mounted on a tree.
Jar feeder from Duncraft.
Then I spotted this jar feeder that could be hung from a branch. I started thinking that maybe I could DIY something like this if I had a big jar and some heavy wire.
Hanging jar feeder from Duncraft.
Of course I could always just order one of these feeders but if I did that I would miss out on wasting several days of my life, using up energy that I don't have and spending twice as much money. That would be a shame.

After kicking myself for throwing out my sun tea jar back in the early 90s, I did a quick Google image search specifically for glass jar squirrel feeders. One of the images that came up was this one:
Battery jar squirrel feeder on Etsy.
I wish I had never seen it. I want it BAD but I just can't make myself spend $95.00 on a squirrel feeder. So, what do you do when you need something but you don't want to spend that much money on it? You make it yourself, of course.

I cruised on over to eBay to see how much these old battery jars were fetching. They're fetching a lot which made the overall price of the feeder seem a little more reasonable. But just a little. I checked prices on other types of jars, including some really cute pickle barrels, and decided they weren't as awesome as the battery jar but they were doable.

Mind you, I still don't know exactly how I'm going to make this happen but that's the normal way I do things. I've always designed backwards. Instead of coming up with a design then finding the materials to make it happen, I look at the available materials then design something out of them. It'll work out. Somehow.

I put several jars on my eBay watch list then went back to Google images to make sure I didn't overlook something even more fabulous. This is one of the images I saw:
Judi Hurwitt's thread schmutz.
It's one of those squirrel feeders that holds a corn cob but a fiber artist used it to hold fabric scraps that birds can use for nesting materials. What a great idea! Here's what she said about her "thread schmutz":
"Over time, it has begun to resemble a "disintegration bundle", which I've found fascinating. (A disintegration bundle is a package of paper, fabric, metal and fibers that some artists hang from fences and trees in order to study the effect the elements have on the materials.)"
A disintegration bundle. I've never heard of those. Suddenly I didn't care if the squirrels starved to death. I had to know about disintegration bundles.

I discovered that I'd somehow missed out on a couple of collaborative projects involving disintegration bundles which are also called erosion bundles. The first one I found was Seth Apter's Disintegration Collaboration in 2010. Then there was the Erosion Bundle Project in 2011. I couldn't find any collaborations for 2012 so I decided to just give it a go on my own.

I read through some of the experiences that participants of the past projects had and determined that a successful bundle needs to be wrapped loosely or left exposed completely and it should include some organic matter. That part scares me a little because it's bound to significantly increase the yuck factor when the bundle is opened.

The only concern I have about trying this is that I won't be able to leave the bundle alone for 3 months. I can just imagine it hanging from the tree in the backyard, taunting me, daring me to open it early. I'm not sure I will be able to resist. Maybe I should have Jayson hide it from me like an artsy Geocache.

I have what I think is a pretty good plan for staying on schedule if I can just resist the inevitable temptation. A friend from Lafayette comes here for a doctor's appointment every 3 months and she stays overnight with us. She will be here this afternoon which is when I plan to hang my bundle. Then I just have to try to ignore it until the next time she's in town which is when I will take it down. Maybe I should send it home with her and ask her to hang it in her yard then bring it back next time. That would solve my problem completely but I'm afraid I would just break down and make a second bundle to torture myself with. I'm a little 'off' that way.

I'll show the contents of my bundle in another post. I'm still finding little things around the house that I want to put in it. I'm trying to avoid any more Googling today since it will distract me from my current project and lead me to another one that I feel I must try. And Pinterest? Ugh. Don't get me started.


donnaj said...

i did that bundle collaboration that seth had few yrs back. If you haven't gone to check out his link to the bundles-you ought to, there were some cool ones (mine was not) :)

Shannon Green said...

I saw them...way cool! A lot of them didn't appear to have 'disintegrated' much so I might try to leave mine out a little longer. Or spray it with the hose now and then. Or something.