Coral Castle Museum

If you are ever traveling down this way, you have to make time to visit the Coral Castle Museum.

Coral Castle was built by one man, Edward Leedskalnin. From 1923 to 1951, Ed single-handedly and secretly carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock, and his unknown process has created one of the world’s most mysterious accomplishments.

The castle was originally located in Florida City in the 1920’s but was moved single-handedly to it’s present location by Ed in the 1930’s.

It was a fascinating tour. When you arrive you are greeted by one of the tour guides who will direct you to join one of the on-going tours – don’t worry you won’t miss anything as it’s a circular tour and you can join and re-join as many times as you wish if you missed any part of it.

Ed was only 100 pounds and 5 feet tall but as you wander around you will be amazed at how this sleight man could maneuver large heavy and rough coral slabs to construct a selection of beds, tables, walls, his workshop and sleeping quarters.

The gate is perfectly balanced and is able to move by the slightest touch or by the wind - it has baffled engineers and the like.
The gate is perfectly balanced and is able to move by the slightest touch or by the wind – it has baffled engineers and the like.

Some of the features at the Coral Castle include a 9-ton gate that moves with just a touch of a finger, a Polaris telescope pin-pointing precisely where the north star is located and functioning rocking chairs – all made entirely of stone.

There is also the world’s largest and heaviest Valentine. The table is a perfect heart shape and weighs 5000 pounds!

The 9 ton gate is perfectly balanced and moves extremely easily. It is Ed’s amazing engineering skills that continue to baffle experts and visitors.

The gate is perfectly balanced and is able to move by the slightest touch or by the wind - it has baffled engineers and the like.
The gate is perfectly balanced and is able to move by the slightest touch or by the wind – it has baffled engineers and the like.

Ed accomplished this by drilling an eight foot longitudinal hole that precisely aligns with stone’s centre of gravity for perfect balance. The door fits within a quarter of an inch of the walls on either side. The door is so perfectly balanced that it can be easily pushed open using only a finger. How he did this remains a mystery, as even the most advanced electronic analysis equipment we have today would find it difficult to reproduce it.

find out more

Dictionary Corner – Cryptozoology

Cryptozoology – The search for and study of animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated, such as the Loch Ness monster and the yeti.

In fact did you know there’s a Cryptozoological Museum?

The mission of the museum is to share items cryptozoologically collected, since 1960, by Loren Coleman and gathered from other donators to his collection.

They even have a cryptozoological map of the Monsters in America. Check out the monsters living in your state.

Watch out, watch out...there be monsters about...
Watch out, watch out…there be monsters about…

Loren Coleman, author/co-author/contributor of over 100 books, is someone you’ve seen in Bigfoot and cryptozoology documentaries and reality television programs, since 1969. This museum is his legacy, and was founded in 2003. For more on the history of the Museum, click here.

Here in Florida we have the Skunk Ape. It’s also known as the swamp ape, stink ape, Florida Bigfoot, myakka ape, swampsquatch, and myakka skunk ape. It is a hominid cryptid said to inhabit the U.S. states of Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas, although reports from Florida are more common.

Let me know if you spot any of these monsters. In the meantime, I’ll keep a lookout for the Skunk Ape…


Did you miss last week’s Dictionary Corner – Hump Day – why not check it out here


 

 

Glass

Here’s a picture that was taken inside The British Museum in London. It has an amazing glass ceiling.

The British Museum in London has an amazing glass ceiling.
The British Museum in London has an amazing glass ceiling.

Designed by Foster and Partners, the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court transformed the Museum’s inner courtyard into the largest covered public square in Europe. It is a two-acre space enclosed by a spectacular glass roof with the world-famous Reading Room at its centre.

The courtyard had been a lost space since 1857. The re-design of the Great Court meant that this hidden space could be seen again.

The design of the Great Court was loosely based on Foster’s concept for the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany. A key aspect of the design was that with every step in the Great Court the vista changed and allowed the visitor a new view on their surroundings.

Work on the Great Court’s magnificent glass and steel roof began in September 1999. The canopy was designed and installed by computer. It was constructed out of 3,312 panes of glass, no two of which are the same.

At two acres, the Great Court increased public space in the Museum by forty per cent, allowing visitors to move freely around the main floor for the first time in 150 years.

 

 

A Wider View

Today’s Photo Challenge is capturing a wider view of a scene with the emphasis on looking at the basic elements in the scene – what will be in the foreground and in the background of the picture.

I think this photo taken at the Bass Museum of Art hits the spot.

Some interesting artwork in the grounds of the Bass Museum of Art
Some interesting artwork in the grounds of the Bass Museum of Art

Sketching in the Wolfsonian

Each month The Wolfsonian Museum open their doors to budding artists wishing to practice their drawing skills.

My husband and I attended our first session at the end of February. I haven’t used a pencil and paper in a while but they provided the tools and we were ready to pick a subject to draw. I didn’t want to draw just anything so I wandered around for a while looking for something that looked interesting.

My first sketch attempt going back to using pencil and paper.
My first sketch attempt going back to using pencil and paper.

The drawing is from a painting depicting the Battle of La Marne Verdun in the current exhibition ‘Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture’. The painting was large but I focused on one small section which had amazing light flooding the scene.

It was a completely different experience. I’ve been so used to drawing on tablet devices that it felt strange to use a real pencil. Not only that, as the museum was open to the public I felt a little self conscious drawing as people wandered around. Occasionally they would look over my shoulder and I wanted to say, “I’m not a real artist. Focus on that painting on the wall by someone who knew what they were doing”. I decided not to be distracted by what I thought people were thinking and just concentrated on what I was doing.

It’s an unfinished drawing but it was a good test piece. The proportions are not quite right – his hand is too big, his jacket is too short, but for a first attempt (and my first foray into public drawing) I was happy that it actually looked like a person if not a completely true representation of the original. I’m looking forward to exploring using pencil and paper again and hopefully improving my technique.

A painting depecting the Battle of La Marne
The original – a painting depicting the Battle of La Marne

The session inspired us so much that we ended up visiting our local art shop for supplies. I’m looking forward to seeing improvements in my drawings and Sketching in the Wolfsonian again at the end of March.

Windpower Drawing Sketchbook
Strathmore Windpower Drawing Sketchbook

The sketchbook I selected was a Strathmore Wind power Drawing Pad. This line of artist papers has been made with 100% wind power – a pollution free renewable energy resource. Strathmore is the first (and only) manufacturer in the United States to make paper entirely from wind generated electricity. This heavyweight drawing paper is perfect for finished works of art. The bright white paper is ideal for working with pencil pen charcoal or pastel.

Generals Sketching Pencil 4B
Generals Sketching Pencil 4B

We selected a few charcoal pencils, some interesting erasers and a flat 4B Sketching pencil.

The erasers were very interesting. They each have a specific use depending on what type of pencil you are using and the effect you are trying to achieve. My favorite so far is the Kneaded Eraser.

Artgum by Prismcolor
Artgum by Prismacolor

Artgum block shaped, dual purpose eraser and dry cleaner. Containing fine dry powder it cleans the drawing surface by absorbing the graphite and dirt.

Kneaded rubber
Kneaded rubber

Kneaded Eraser – this one is excellent for highlighting and cleaning chalks, charcoal, pastels and colored pencils.

Plastic Eraser – easily removes pencil marks from a range of surfaces.