Happy Earth Day!

In honor of your tireless efforts to protect and nurture our shared home, today I’ll take you outside through my photos. Some of these are my favorites and others are most favored by you readers and followers. These represent the reasons that I do what I do. Thanks for joining me.

alluvial fan in Rocky Mountain National Park

Alluvial fan at Rocky Mountain National Park

 

Michigan woodland chandeliers

Nature’s chandeliers in my Michigan woodland

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Alaska summer

Summer in Denali National Park

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pileated woodpecker pair

Pileated woodpeckers in my Michigan woodland.

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ImaginEco newborn fawn

Fresh fawn on the steps outside my Michigan woodland home.

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ImaginEco May apple blossom

May apples in my Michigan woodland.

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cardinal and deer

And one of your most favored photos, woodland pals on a spring day.

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Happy Earth Day to each of you. Keep up the good work. Now reward yourself and get outside! Be sure to follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

If I asked you to picture a fence, you’d likely envision a white painted picket fence or a silver chain link fence, the ones we see most often.  With just a little imagination we can truly make fences beautiful neighbors. Keep these in mind when you’re considering your new fence options.

corrugated galvanized steel fenceGalvanized corrugated steel panels are a sleek modern economical fence.  They are durable and virtually maintenance free.

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redwood fenceThe natural oils in redwood make it inherently resistant to insects, fire, warping, and twisting.  Redwood’s density makes it withstand weather conditions better than other woods, increasing its life span and reducing the maintenance required.  Purchase redwood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that it has been grown and harvested responsibly. This fence combines new and reclaimed redwood.

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Cor-Ten steel fenceAnd my all time favorite material….Cor-Ten steel. Also known generically as weathering steel, its specific alloys produce a stable rust layer that becomes a protective coating. It’s durability in appropriate applications is unmatched, and its patina improves with age. This stunning fence is crafted from individually laser cut steel blades.  Use full size Cor-Ten panels for an economical, show stopping, no fuss fence.

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cedar and fir fenceRed cedar, much like redwood, is naturally resistant to insects, fire, rot, and decay. It’s hard to compete with the allure of beauty, durability, and low maintenance. Show your personality by crafting a unique pattern with different board widths.

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perforated copper panelsCopper panels create one-of-a-kind modern yet timeless fences.  When they’re perforated as in this installation, air and light can pass through.  The patina that untreated copper develops with time and exposure makes it more elegant with age. Perforated panels are available in other metals to suit your taste and budget.

What’s your favorite of these? Mine is the perforated copper. Be sure to share the good fence info with your neighbors and friends!

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Let’s Make Every Day Earth Day

As Earth Day approaches, I’m pondering the disconnect between people and the incredible seasons of nature. Mostly we just complain if they’re not meeting our immediate needs…it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s too wet, the snow will never melt. I’ve found when I stop for a moment to appreciate the power of nature, I learn to see the big picture and the incredibly fine details.  Like this mourning cloak butterfly, who spends the Michigan winter hibernating under tree bark and then pops out when the weather warms to begin his routine all over again.

ImaginEco mourning cloak 1

As the temperatures rise, I’m even more appreciative of the movement of species whose only focus is to live in the present, procreate, enjoy a bit of sunshine, or a tasty well-earned and deserved morsel. Today I watched a young robin meticulously bathe himself for the recognition of potential mates.  And a few minutes later he was gone from my sight as a young lady enticed him away. He knows his purpose and is not motivated by ego or lining his pockets through fleeting meaningless temporary distractions. Though nest lining does need his attention!

The deer and all the wild life around my Michigan woodland home have endured seemingly endless months of record cold temperatures and snowfall.  I’ve watched them struggle through leg breaking ice only to frolic, yes, frolic, as no other word properly describes their joyous antics, when spring sunshine and warmth actually appear.  This morning a doe and a yearling drank together from my heated bird bath, even though fresh water is available in the thawed creek nearby. Ours is a mutually dependent relationship!

My knowledge and admiration of and my compassion for the natural world has increased immeasurably during my nearly 10 years in my woodland home. I’ve spent countless hours watching from inside and out and becoming accustomed to the rhythms of wildlife and plants. As they all work together in such awe inspiring ways they are a powerful force. Witnessing this has slowed my pace, aligned my priorities, and increased my passion to improve your lives through the use of nature and color and light.

ImaginEco pileated pair

So let’s all pull together to appreciate and care for nature, today and every day. If you’ll join me, share this with your friends. Take your own walk in my woodland by viewing the reasons that I do what I do.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

The Art of Fire by Elena Colombo

When grace, elegance, and purpose unite, it is rare magic.  In Elena Colombo’s creations, this trio starts an exquisite fire.

Elena Colombo stainless fire trough on lake-cropElena’s love of nature, and particularly the fire element, is deeply rooted.  She tells me that her naturalist mother was always collecting nests and rocks and stones.  Their suitcases were heavy with nature’s bounty of pebbles when returning from family vacations. A self-proclaimed pyromaniac, Elena credits her father for passing on that gene, a gene that her mother and sister do not share.

Her education is thorough and diverse, and she has earned Bachelors of Arts in both fine arts and art history.  Additional studies of architectural design, sculpture, etching, and one year in Rome studying sculpture, painting, and the Italian renaissance are impressive tools for a classically trained sculptor and designer.  These multiple talents led her to a varied and successful career in television and print until opening her own company, Colombo Construction Corporation, in 1999, followed by Fire Features in 2002.

At her Greenport beach house after the tragedy of September 11, Elena was wishing for a fire on the beach. Wood fires are not allowed there, and she longed for an approved outdoor fire that she could control.  Her creativity filled that need.  She made her first hand-made fire feature with concrete and a burner built by her father.

Elena credits the success of her fire bowls to the nation’s need for a place to gather as a community.  And what better place than “a fire which is a destination”?  She shares that around a fire you put your phone away and talk face to face with others. “People will all come when you have a place to gather, it’s an automatic party.”

Her sculptures are “art that works to honor nature.” The pure vessels contain and enhance fire yet they “don’t compete with the fire.” Elena also finds inspiration in Chinese pottery, Japanese painting, her painting professor George Chaplin, painter Mark Rothko, her mom, and her team of in-house and outside experts and artisans.

This talented team works closely to craft beautiful vessels that evoke nature and function as a convenient modern gas appliance.  A 3-dimensional computer model is developed to work out all of the intricate details prior to fabrication. Nic Spitler, head of design, coordinates the parts that make the art work.  The burner, the control panel, all the constraints of these fire appliances are orchestrated to provide peak performance, ease of use, convenience, and of utmost importance to everyone, safety. Of course all of this is exquisitely manipulated with minimal visual effect on the vessels. Tim Kohchi, metal smith and master welder, brings the pieces to life.

Elena’s excitement was apparent when I asked what her favorite material is.  She loves bronze because it molds to a form that looks exactly like what you’re casting.  You can buff the raised parts of a log, for example, and it “shines like pink gold.” Currently she’s working on cast bronze log sets molded from drift wood that she’s collected from all over the world. And you’re among the first to see her new fire screens, above in cast bronze and below in stainless steel.

Elena Colombo understands our inherent desire to extend our living spaces in to the great outdoors and be close to the natural element of fire.  Her fire vessels prompt us to do that in the most naturally elegant way.

Share the warmth, build a fire, invite your friends.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise