Royal Tyrrell Museum

Another recent trip I took was to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It started out with good intentions; one of the local Steampunk groups was organizing a group trip down there, and I thought it would be a nice chance to meet up with them, dress up a little, and visit the museum, since I haven’t been since Junior High!  My BFF came along as well, since she also hasn’t been able to go for years and years.  We got there about 20 minutes in advance, and waited around until about 15 past the assigned meeting time in the assigned meeting spot.  I sent an email to the event host, and checked the event message board on Facebook, and didn’t hear that the time was being pushed back or anything – so at quarter-past, we got tired of waiting in the heat, and went inside.  (She had another event to go to that evening, so we were working on a schedule…)

So the Steampunk part of the trip was a bit of a wash honestly… as we were leaving (more than two hours later) we passed a couple who were dressed in Steampunk attire, but at that point we were running tightly on schedule, so I didn’t even stop to say hello… 😦  I was kind of bummed out that the specific point of going was to connect with the group, and also disappointed that the organizer never did get back to me.  It’s entirely possible that she wasn’t able to make it herself, and that the two people who we saw as we left were the only ones who even made it at all.  Oh well… I’ll just have to try again to get out to meet up with them.

BUT… since it’s relevant to my blog, I thought I’d share with you some of the photos from the museum all the same.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of how I dressed up for the event, since when we were outside, it was just too hot and sticky, and when we were inside, it was like Disneyland on a Teacher’s Conference day… (insanely busy and full of children.)  Note to self… go to these things on a weekday if possible to avoid the crowds!

Rawr!

T-Rex is obviously well loved here – there were at least three models like this… and they are HUGE!  (Ok.. I don’t know if all of them were T-Rex, but I think they were… I’m not so into it that I can tell them all apart…)

Cool bookshelf

Along with just being a display to coordinate with their prehistoric oceans exhibits, I thought that this was a neat setting for a Steampunk-esque scientist or explorer.  Plus, I love the light-filled shelves…….. hahah

Baby Octopus

One of the displays on those light-filled shelves was this little baby octopus.  It too made me think of the Cephaopod Tea Party blog that I like reading sometimes.

Under the sea....

An interesting under the sea display.

wacky carrot-like nautiloids

The under the sea display had these really interesting nautiloids that look a lot like carrots!  There were a number of other weird ones too, but I couldn’t get a great shot of them.  😦

After the museum we grabbed some lunch (wow it was hard to find a good place to eat in town… we ended up getting stuff from the deli at the grocery store instead) and then headed out to the hoodoos, and from there, home!

If you want to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum for yourself, here’s the info:

Toll free in Alberta
310-0000 then 403-823-7707

Toll free in North America (outside Alberta)
1-888-440-4240

Mail
P.O. Box 7500
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Courier
Highway 838 Midland Provincial Park
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Colossal Squid at the Royal Alberta Museum

In late June I visited the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Alberta.  They had an exhibit called “Creatures of the Abyss”.  (Which runs until September 11, 2011 if you are interested in attending it.) Overall, I actually found the exhibit to be a bit disappointing – it was geared a bit too much to children, so I found the information a bit shallower than I would have liked. All the same, there were some cool displays.

Colossal Squid

The one display that I really liked, and it made me think of a blog I find fascinating (the Cephalopod Tea Party), was the model of the Colossal Squid.  It was enormous and it’s eyes kind of followed us around the room.  Add to that there were a number of displays about how cephalopods use their ink to get away, how different kinds use their legs and jets to transport themselves, etc.  I thought the illustrations of the Vampire Squid were really adorable too.  Also – the Colosall Squid model was scaring some of the children in the room – it was funny to watch and listen to the parents try to convince their terrified children to stand next to it for a picture…

Colossal Squid

From the Cephalopod Tea Party: “a class of active predatory mollusks comprising octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish. They have a distinct head with a ring of tentacles around a beak mouth and are able to release a cloud of inky fluid to confuse predators.”

8 legs in wool

I’ve recently become more and more interested in felting – nuno felting and needle felting in particular.  While I was on Vancouver Island, I did a fair amount of shopping in yarn/knitting  and fabric stores, and wanted to continue while I was in Tofino.

Unfortunately, Tofino has a number of galleries and artisans, but there weren’t a number of supply shops – which isn’t surprising, it’s a very small town on Vancouver Island that although isn’t ‘touristy’ (in the way that Banff has become, for instance), obviously has discovered the tourist dollar and there seem to be more restaurants and hotels then people.  (I’m exaggerating, but there were a lot of restaurants!)  I first saw a fabric store (which happened to be around the corner from a place where we took a whale watching tour) and wanted to head in, but was disappointed.  They had a very, very small selection of quilting fabric, and even less fashion fabric.  It’s obviously a VERY new store, because half of the shop itself was devoted to classroom space, and I can’t find them online at all.  In the location where I would expect to find them on Google Maps, there’s a bake shop listed instead.  (Approximately 421 Main Street).  We were in and out within 10 minutes, though I can see it will be a charming space once it has the opportunity to establish itself.

Since I didn’t see anything there, I headed to a little shop on the next block called Knits by the sea – which also is a very small shop but seemed to be better established.  (They boast on their website about being voted a favorite new business for 2010, so they’re pretty new themselves!)  They carried mostly commercial wool, with a small selection of hand-dyed and spun skeins from local artisans.  They didn’t have much in the way of roving (which was what I was more interested in for felting), but they did have a number of little needle-felted animals (ones that would be local to the region).  I ended up picking up a kit for a North Pacific Giant OctopusThe kits come with the roving you’ll need, two felting needles, some thread and a sewing needle along with some beads for the eyes.   Photo illustrated step-by-step instructions are also included.  I’m certain that the label said that the kit was supposed to include a piece of foam to work into (to avoid pricking your fingers) but mine didn’t.  Guess what I was doing while sitting in our hotel, watching the ocean the next evening?  Yep.. pricking my fingers!

(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did try to email the shop to let them know – but the ‘info at  knitsbythesea.com’ email from their website bounced back.. maybe they’ll find this post at some point?)

So… I’d like to introduce you to my new little 8 legged friend, along with his friend, a little starfish  (which I made blending the orange and the white wool together with my fingers).

Slightly out of his aquatic element, sitting by the window.

Slightly out of his aquatic element, sitting by the window.

Cute little face...

Close up of his little friend

"I"m bigger than you! ... as long as you have a macro lens..."

If you happen to know the name of (or even better, a website for) the little sewing shop around the corner from Crab Apple flowers – please let me know in the comments below!

Or, if you’re in Tofino, you can visit Knits by the sea (or if you’re not, they have online shopping too…)

Knits by the sea
366 Campbell
Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0, Canada
(250) 725-3700

Making duplicates

I really like some of the resin/brass things I purchased recently, and I got thinking about using them in ways that might not work wonderfully with those materials – or simply I just don’t want to have to buy so many and have them shipped here like the originals.

So, I started thinking about molding material – both making molds of the originals and then casting them with different mediums.

Mold, original, polymer and resin copies.

I started off with the molding material – it’s a two-part chemical which is sort of a putty.  I found that I had to work really fast – it sets up quickly.  I also found that I needed a large enough ball of putty – too thin and it didn’t seem to work as well.  I tried the octopus twice, my wings from the Military Medal twice, and then a cameo and some gears which didn’t turn out very well either.  However, there were some successful molds, and from them I made a few things just to start off.

In the picture above, the copper necklace is the original, obviously the purple circle is the mold itself, the white is a resin casting, and the gold and silver are both polymer clay castings that have been painted and sealed.  The castings don’t have quite as much detail as the original, but I still think they’re pretty good duplicates!  The resin didn’t set up as quickly as I thought it would (I’ve added a white pigment to it btw, it hasn’t been painted yet) but next time I do it I’ll either mix up less, or have more molds – because I ended up using the molds I had, and then trying to quickly make some more to use up the rest of the resin.  FYI, the molds need to be really dry before pouring in the resin.  Oops!

Now, just to put these things to good and crafty use!