Red Gold – Celtic Cuffs

January 17, 2013

Design based on Bronze Age jewellery. All natural patina & all handmade.

See the Jewellery Page for more designs.

Ladybugs in Love

August 4, 2014

This video should have an advisory rating: PG. I’ll bet your kids will someday come home and ask you about this, so you better be prepared to deal with it.

On hot and sultry summer days with cameras glued to our eyes, we went looking to do some hot buggin’. One such hot spot was the Rosehill Garden on top of the Rosehill Reservoir in David Balfour Park,Toronto. Things were a hoppin’ among the milkweed pods.

It left us marveling at the question of who’s zooming who? Considering the name of all the species is Ladybug – is this a lesbian issue? I wonder what Charles Darwin would think about this.

The Lost Video

March 20, 2013

The Lost Video
The Goose and Two Lucky Ducks – The Sequel

Habitat Selection by Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) overwintering at Lake Ontario
The lower Great Lakes have long been documented as important stopover and wintering sites for waterbirds during various portions of the annual cycle, but wintering ecology of sea ducks at this locale is relatively unknown component of their annual cycle. …..Up to 100,000 long-tailed ducks winter at Lake Ontario and they use offshore locales where they cannot be observed from shore. Thus, monitoring Long-tailed Ducks using satellite telemetry applications is necessary to study habitat selection.



I scrolled for the fourth time through my shots and, again, it wasn’t there. I know if I do this once more I will be doomed forever to scroll through my half dozen shots until Kingdom come as an insane person… I still could not make it be there.

We had been to Harbourfront earlier, and I had been deleting some seagull shots before I uploaded them to the computer. I remember one shot that looked totally wrong and wondered how it even got this far in the process. I now realised, with a growing pain in my diaphragm and temples beginning to throb, this must have been the treasured video; the first prize; the supreme windfall, like a retina, unique and made more precious with its loss.

“I feel so stupid!” I said. Marie says supportively, “Don’t feel stupid, you were excited and it was an accident, it’ not like you did it on purpose, that would have been stupid!”

“But I was so thrilled there when I played it back and saw that I got it; I was so happy thinking about it all the way home. Nothing else mattered; I was all in the moment!”

I could have cried. Instead, I took a deep breath and sighed. The Photographer’s mentality started to settle around me again; there is almost always something to shoot next time, but I couldn’t shake this ill-defined hope that I hadn’t exhausted all the possibilities. Soon a thought began to formulate in and around my head, I have recovered deleted files on my hard drive, could I recover the deleted file from the camera’s card?

It was after four on Saturday afternoon and Blacks could be closing soon. I phoned and explained my predicament to a very smart lady who, with no hesitation, said, “Yes, it is technically possible under certain limited conditions. Have you used your camera after you deleted the video – taken any shots?”

“I don’t think so…I’m pretty sure I hadn’t.” To be honest I couldn’t even remember, I was still running on automatic but I needed to hear what the next step was in case I really didn’t.

“Then you can take it to a camera shop and they can try to recover it for about $50 – $60. (Gulp) “Or” she carried on, “you can get recovery software off the net and get an ‘e-card reader’ for about $10. Take the card ‘out of the camera’, this is very important – out of the camera, and put it into the reader and plug it into a usb port on your computer, then run your recovery program on that drive.

OK! Many, many thanks!” I could have kissed her.

I called out to Marie, “I called Blacks and they said all hope is not lost, but I have to run and get a reader from the discounter. I’ll be back soon.”

I huffed into the discounter and asked if they have an e-card reader. For less than $6, I got the device and as soon as I got home, I set it all up and ran a scan on the card (making sure it was in the reader) and it turned up squat, nuffink. I was wondering if this device even worked, you get what you pay for kind of thing. So I ran the deep scan. “This will take a few minutes depending on the file sizes.” I sat staring at the readout on my laptop. There was nothing to readout, nothing to tell you its progress. I figured the thing was useless and a waste of time and money and my last real hope! I was about to give in when…

There it was at last!!!

“One deleted video in excellent condition!” I could have cried! But instead, I hollered out to Marie, “I got it back! I got the video, there is a God.”

And here it is in all Mother Nature’s peculiarities:

Very special thanks to Alex and staff at Blacks Photography at Yonge & St. Clair.

 The Long-tailed Duck (formally Oldsquaw Duck), a Sea Duck, is one of the very few of our diving ducks that travels underwater by using its wings; other species propel themselves with their feet. This may explain the birds’ ability to dive to great depths – as deep as eighty fathoms. Their food consists of shrimps, small fish, and mollusks. These very noisy birds are noisiest in early spring, when males gather and utter their mellow, barking courtship calls; this pleasing song is audible for a mile or two on a still spring morning. (Source: Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds)


 Saturday, March 10, 2013. The cusp of a new spring in Toronto, Canada. It is irresistible, impulsive and unpredictable, if you let yourself in to it, things do happen.

  It seems that Toronto is having an early spring following a frigid January, and a depressingly dull, unrepentant February, even by Toronto’s  standards. The mouldy but welcomed smells of spring were in the air. The snow was gone from the streets despite the dirt and emergence of modern living’s, derelict artifacts.

 Around noon, having generally enjoyed the morning’s routine shopping at the local farmers’ market and thrift shops, we were headed back home for lunch. Marie said, “We are going to Harbourfront.” Just like that. Harbourfront at this time of year meant duck and goose season. We traded our bags for our cameras, grabbed a half a bag of bread, and for the first, and earliest time ever, we headed for the subway.

 We missed going to Harbourfront the year before and we were trying to remember, at Union Station, where we accessed the streetcar, which ran along the lakeshore. At the best of times, it is tricky enough to navigate the city’s major transportation hub among the constant rush of commuters, tourists and local Toronto denizens. Somewhere, in an obscure little corner, were the stairs that led to the Harbourfront streetcar stop that we were trying to picture.

 We got out of the subway at Union and ascended into the middle of a massive construction zone. So huge that our brains went into auto-pilot and we stood dead still at the main level. The only thing our minds could grasp was a transit official who gave us directions to street level to circumnavigate Union Station’s ongoing renovation. We took the shuttle-bus as the streetcar was not running due to the construction at Harbourfront (Harbourfront Re-vitalisation Program).

 We made our way south until we reached a small park by the ferry terminal. Tucked into small bays between jetties were places where people sometimes go feed the birds. The last bay had a pair of Canada Geese and a couple of ducks further out. Marie got her camera ready and then took some bread out while I scouted some other shots. There was one other person there watching the birds. While Marie was feeding and shooting, I watched some ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, I had never seen before come check out the food. They didn’t come near the geese, while I thought they were wary of the geese, they surprised me and dove down to the shallow bottom darting about looking for pieces of bread that had dropped.


photo: john

 When one goose couldn’t keep up with his portions, and they started to sink, that attracted two ducks who immediately dove beneath him and for a good minute flitted and swooped this way and that under his feet. The goose had trouble trying to keep his eye on both of them and his head was swiveling about and, like us with our cameras, trying to follow them. His scraps sank to the delight of the ducks.

 The three of us were swaying about with our cameras trying to take pictures of them as they darted around. It must have looked quite the sight as there were two ducks under water taking two different paths and three people’s cameras trying to follow one or the other. I’m surprised that someone didn’t get bumped into the lake.


photo: marie

 Other passers-by began to gather around out of curiosity and brought out their cameras to take pictures of the activity. Marie used up her bread, the crowds moved on, and the lady who was with us taking pictures thanked her and rushed off, saying she was going to be late. The birds paddled off to do what ever it is they do in the harbour and we were high on one of those things that occur when you least expect it.

 That’s the joy of photography and the beauty of having learned to let things happen!







The Toronto Writers’ Co-operative 5th Annual Exchanging Notes: a literary cabaret

at the Alleycatz Restaurant & Jazz Bar in Toronto, January 22nd, 2013

Once a year for the past five years, the members of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative celebrate their collective and diverse energies to perform, generally unrehearsed, with musicians and in the spirit of spontaneous creation – the exchanging of notes. It is an opportunity to work off some winter cabin fever, and a signal to the groundhog that his performance is due in a week and a half. The intention of this event is for members and guests to join together and “push the boat out”.

Exchanging Notes: a literary cabaret 2013

photo: marie van schie


The event this year fell on a brutally freezing night. Many were delayed by ice-build up on the soles of their boots, including some of the musicians; but one crucial element was in place, the sound system, jacked, patched and ready. By the time we were ready there was a pretty fair house of curious people thawing out with the offerings of the bar.

 Out of nineteen performances, I pulled number three, following a ‘beat’ type act with solo sax, then a truly hilarious, x-rated, cabaret act with the same solo sax. Next I knew I was on the stage with a backup I wasn’t expecting. I had a really cool stand up bass who I was expecting; a drummer who I vaguely remember  musing out loud about, and this genius of chaos, the sax player, like an apparition, appeared in front of my face.

 I googled “cabaret” to give me a clue on how to perform (I had an inkling), which, in essence, boiled down to, “let yourself be over-the-top”, “go-with-the-flow”, “let-it-all-hang-out”, and these guys I know were able to do that.

 So with all of the above what could be more inspiring to perform in ‘spoken word’ my lyrics, Wintertime, “in four part harmony, with feeling” (Arlo Guthrie).

 For a cabaret newbie such as I, it was a bit elusive to gauge the totality of the volume levels and grooves of my back-up musicians; I trusted to their experience that what the audience was hearing was what was intended. The feedback and applause answered that question. So props to David Thiessen on stand up base, Wayne Collins on sax and Isaac X on drums.

Exchanging Notes: a literary cabaret - 2013

photo: marie van schie


Thanks to the Co-op, the guests and Alleycatz, we had spontaneous creation!


The Great Copper Heron

January 14, 2013

The Great Copper Heron

Great Copper Heron

A Garden Sculpture

Copper roof flashing, fridge tubing

“The Great Copper Heron”: a slightly abstract, outdoor or garden sculpture. It was originally commissioned in 2002. I am pleased to say that it has been requested several more times by people who have seen it, and others that have heard about it.

It stands apx. 24″ high without the base. Bases have always been found objects, usually oddly configured roots.

Enquiries welcomed.

Welcome to metalbender.

January 14, 2013

A site for mindbending metalworks.


Handmade copper cuff with natural patina.

This piece of copper actually had been buried for over 50 years. It was used to cap the foundation of a building. It has an oxidized finish that you could envision as having been excavated from an ancient  site.  There are a limited number of cuffs from this sheet.


Landscape Cuff

This is a picture of a landscape that appeared as it was being prepared. It was originally painted white but where the part of the copper was unpainted it was exposed to oxidation. You can easily see the earthen fields in the foreground with a grove of trees bordering it and a sky with white clouds above it. There are a number of cuffs from this sheet.


A mottled cuff.

Like us all, no two cuffs are the same and this diversity is to be valued. This is a variety of a mottled patina – it sort of broods


A banded variation.

A very handsome brown & green banded variation.


A landscape, holed cuff.

This, to us, is a special landscape cuff. There is an ancient philosophy, and in current rare remote areas, that holes are made to allow the movements of a spirit. Possibly a priestly or shamanic belief.


A relatively clean cuff.


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