Category Archives: Contests

Our 2nd Naturalist Class for the Summer, 06-14-19

Today’s class focused on collaboration and interpretation, data gathering, field journaling, how to record volunteer hours, and how to use online websites and cellphone apps to correctly identify species. Students were provided with practical learning opportunities by the class instructor, Bill Grabert, and our volunteer, Roxanne Moger.

Roxanne had brought in her collection of plant samples and seeds (which were gorgeously presented in clear boxes, some with magnifying boxes inside to show off the seeds). While the students signed into iNaturalist, Roxanne showed them how to identify the samples through the app.

Our guest speaker today was Our speaker, Nancy Ullrey, the Executive Director of the Cache Creek Conservancy.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

Working on Piñatas: The “Any Bird”

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes. What you see here is the “Any Bird” sample piece.  The “Any Bird” piñata form is a very generic one, and it allows participants in the workshop to decorate it to make it look like any kind of native, nonnative, or imaginary bird they want. I based this sample on the male Western Bluebird.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

The bluebird’s feathers are made of tissue paper and created using two different techniques: flat scale feathers and “fringe edge” feathers. The eyes are surrounded by an eyelid made by twisting two different colors of tissue paper together.  The wings and tail are made of poster board and covered with varying layers of tissue.  Te bird’s bowtie is made of construction paper and turquoise glitter.

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Any Bird doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, the head of the bird  can be removed in order to fill its body up and empty it out again.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at