Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hold the Door!

Cat wants out. Sorry Cat, it's a Nowhere Door! The Nowhere Door is installed. It gives me pleasure for many small reasons; the lintels aligned perfectly, there's a little gap under the door for the wind to whistle through in winter, the staircase will fit next to it with a millimeter to spare. Although I hoped for all these things, they happened more by accident than by careful measurement.

This is where it started. After thinking it over, I decided that I couldn't live without a door with a fanlight without illumination. Part of the house had to be dismantled to cut a hole in the back wall. In the process walls got dirty and I had to repaint.

Tidied up and measured for the door.

The Del Prado Dollhouse has a plastic front door with a fanlight (left). It will be installed at the front of the house in the future. I made something similar for the Nowhere Door, using several layers of card stock.

With my own studio door as inspiration ;-)

Somehow I lost track of my intention to take photos for the blog, and when I saw again, the door was finished...
I used some pretty lace tape behind the fanlight once again and the doorknob and back-plate were made of card stock and an electrical contact point. I painted it gold, and even managed to cut out a tiny keyhole. Very satisfying.

Note about working with card stock: It's easy to cut with a guillotine or scissors and one can shape it with an emery board, which makes it a pleasure to work with. Once I started painting it warped and blistered here and there. I don't think I'll use card stock again, wood feels better.

Sneak peek at the soon-to-be staircase through an outside window. I'm making slow progress with that but it's coming together.

When one door closes, another always opens. That's how life works. Important doors have closed for me in the last few years, and for a while, it seemed like every new door I tried was a Nowhere Door. Lately, there's an open door in the distance and I'm so excited to see where it leads I feel like screaming at the Universe, 'Hold the door!'. If it's the right one, it will be open when I get there.

It's been a scandalously long time since I wrote a blog. Thank you for continuing to read, and welcome to my new readers. In real life the studio is busy, the new writing job is going well, and a tarantula had 780 babies. That's newsworthy of its own post, but I'm quickly going to latch it on here if you want to continue reading.

The ball that looks like a mushroom in the foreground is the egg sac.  It's about 5 centimeters in diameter. You can see the tools I work with and in the background the glass incubation box.

 Yep, 780 babies in there! They are 7-8 weeks old. At this developmental stage, they are referred to as 'eggs with legs'. The yellow dots that look like their abdomen is actually the egg they developed from. As soon as I opened the sac and saw that it was viable, I sent the picture to the breeder who mentored me through the process. Breeding tarantulas is not like other kinds of pets, it's so complicated that a viable batch is huge news. Within half an hour of posting the photo, all the babies were sold.

 Babies in the incubator. They are about 2mm long.

Over the next several days, each little spider was carefully transferred on the tip of a soft brush to an individual deli cup with special soil and kept warm in the incubator. The little spiders were delivered in batches of 100 to dealers all over the country. They will stay in their small containers for up to two years until they've grown enough to be sold to hobby keepers.

I kept a few of the babies to raise for my own collection and will show progress pictures as they grow. Right now they are what's called first instar slings. They don't eat yet; they are still absorbing nutrients from their egg and although they can wriggle their legs, they can't walk. When they molt for the first time (in the next week or so), they will be second instar slings and will start on a three-times-weekly diet of dead insects, since they are too small to catch their own food.

You might wonder what happens to baby tarantulas in nature if they are so weak and dependent? The mother tarantula guards the egg sack for up to nine weeks. By that time the slings have molted for the first time, and the strongest ones eat their siblings. When the mother opens the egg sac the babies disperse. Some will die of hunger and some will be eaten by the mother if they don't get out of her territory quick enough. Only a few survive. Since virtually all tarantulas are endangered and some species have disappeared entirely from nature, breeders intervene to try to raise as many as we can.