Thursday, November 7, 2013

Five Science Things - Nature in Clay

Among other things, my wife and I collect pottery.  Some of our pottery collection is old, some of it is new.  Many of pieces have images of nature on them.  Here are a few of those pieces.

This decorative tile bears the image of a Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).  The tile was made by Sporck Tile Art in Suttons Bay, MI. 

The actual Red-backed Salamander is a small amphibian that is found in deciduous woods throughout Michigan.  Red-backed Salamanders are among the smaller salamanders in the state and only reach an adult size of 2.5 to 5 inches.  Unlike most salamanders, it spends its entire life cycle on land - even its eggs are laid on land in moist dark places under logs and rocks.

The second piece of pottery is another tile from Sporck Tile Art.  This one shows a Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on a Common Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca).

This photo of a Monarch on a Common Milkweed is from 2009.  Monarch populations have declined severely over the last three years.  There are several campaigns underway to help restore Monarch Butterfly habitats and populations (Monarch Waystations, Bring Back the Monarchs, and Wild for Monarchs)

The third piece of pottery is a small vase made by Odawa Indian artist Shirley K. Brauker (Moon Bear Pottery) from Coldwater, MI.  This vase is decorated with a design of Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana).

Wild Strawberry is a low growing perennial wildflower that is found in nearly every county in Michigan, every state except Hawaii, and every Canadian province.  To Anishinaabe people in Michigan the Strawberry is known as ode' imin (heartberry) and the month of June is known as Ode' imin Giizis (Strawberry Moon).

The fourth piece of pottery is by the Roseville Pottery Company.  This small bowl (as it was called by the company) was made between 1943 and 1954 and depicts a White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

The White Water Lily is a floating wetland plant found throughout most of North America.  It a characteristic plant of emergent marshes throughout the state of Michigan.

The fifth and final pottery piece is a small decorative tile by Pewabic PotteryPewabic Pottery is a Detroit, MI company established in 1903.  Since 1907 it has operated out of the same registered historic building.  This tile is decorated with a design of a small turtle - probably a Painted Turtle.

This small Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) was photographed on a lily pad sometime between 2002 and 2005 in Mt. Pleasant, MI.  This very common turtle will grow to a size of 4 to 10 inches as an adult and may live for more than 25 years.

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