Back when I was teaching 7th grade English (a whole lifetime ago), I always looked forward to the first snowfall of the season.
Most teachers would tell you the opposite…that kids are squirrelier on that date and never want to sit in their seats and easily distracted. But that is exactly why I loved it! There is a magic in snowflakes that all kids know and love.
On that day, I would abandon everything I had planned for my English classes. I would have white paper and colorful construction paper at the ready. Glue sticks and scissors would be their ticket in to class. This break from the norm on an otherwise mundane Tuesday in December always shook things up. I am sure that some would scoff at me for doing something that seemed much more like elementary school, than middle school, but throwing the plans out the window in a flurry of paper cuttings was exciting for the kids, and I know they loved it!
I would break out my transparencies (yes, it was back in the ‘old days’!) of pages from an out of print, early 1900s book called Photographing Snowflakes by Wilson Bentley that showed the macro photos of some of the 5,000 snowflakes he shot in his lifetime. Bentley described these ice crystals as ‘tiny miracles of beauty,’ and his process for capturing their elusive beauty at the turn of the last century is much the same as the process that is used today.
The kids would write poems about snow while listening to some George Winston Winter music. They would spend all morning reminding themselves how to fold a square piece of paper just right so that they could achieve the coveted six-pointed flake. Then the scissors would be zinging and the paper bits would be flying in a full-on blizzard of wonder. By the end of the morning they would have a poem printed on construction paper illustrated with snowflakes with the extras hanging all around my classroom.
While searching for those Bentley images, I stumbled on a contemporary Russian photographer named Alexey Kljatov. (These are his images that you see here.) I contacted him directly, explained what I was doing, and he graciously allowed me to select my favorites from his Flickr feed. Seriously… such magical artistry… I couldn’t pick just one!
His insightful blog details the process by which he captures these fascinating ethereal macro images. He often shoots on a dark black sweater (which explains the hair-like bits in the dark photos), but I found it particularly fascinating how he achieves the look of the colored images with the snowflakes seemingly floating in space. (You’ll never believe what a plate of glass, a flashlight with a plastic bag to diffuse the light, and allowing the color to creep in from the print on the bags can do. Fascinating!) I would highly recommend a look at his work (and it is for sale as well in many printed items.)
If you are interested in the reasons behind why a snow crystal grows as it does, I recommend heading over to SnowCrystals.com. There is a great page of information on the science as well as some books and images that are sure to excite! This site is created by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a professor of physics at CalTech. He has taken his hobby seriously and has also written a slew of books about the fascinating natural artistry of snow. You have to check out the time-lapse photography on growing designer crystals…yes! Creating his own snowflakes in a lab situation! Brilliant!
The Halcraft bead line has a lot of choices when it comes to an icy inspiration. So this one is open to whatever strikes your fancy! I clearly spent more time in the bead aisle today than I needed to, and came up with at least three different combinations. Here are the beads that I chose…
Our beads for January have that frosty feel with just a hint of the Pantone colors of the year (Rose Quartz and Serenity – it is time to start seeing if we can work these into what we do since we will be seeing them A LOT!). And since Bead Gallery has these great Charm Gallery charms, I couldn’t resist a wee snowflake to bring it all together!
Beads selected from Michaels L to R:
MSKU# 10321920 – crystal faceted drop large (but they had these in a medium and teeny tiny size as well!) MSKU# 10464450 – crystal AB glass 8mm round MSKU# 10242619 – glass beads (slight blue color, rondelle, 1/2 strand) MSKU# 10322065 – pink crystal glass drop 4x6mm MSKU# 10241110 – silver plated rhinestone spacers (can never have too many of these!) MSKU# 10428913 – silver plated stardust rounds 6mm
MSKU# 10288560 – crystal dust round slider
MSKU# 10130214 – silver plated snowflake charm
My Pretty Palettes partner for January is: Heather Powers.
Erin is a color addict who designs one of a kind wearable works of art for her company Tesori Trovati Jewelry. No bead goes unloved in her studio. She loves to mix patterns and textures, colors and metals, simple beads with stunning art beads for looks that have wit, whimsy and tell your story. Follow her creative journey on her blog: http://treasures-found.blogspot.com or find her hand made treasures at www.tesoritrovati.com.