We had some volunteer smooth blue asters come up in the yard this year. Our native plant garden is really starting to take off! We are always amazed by how many insects visit our yard now compared to when it was just grass.
These are two patches we designed for Girl Scout troops in Utah. Embroidered patches are so much fun to design.
We are having more iron weed show up in the yard these days. It is a lovely purple addition to the garden in the late summer and early fall.
This is a cute little toad we met on a trail at Griffy Lake. We took some pictures of him and let him go about his business. He didn't seem to care for the attention.
Our Joe Pye weed has gone to seed. We have to admit the seeds are just as beautiful as the flowers!
We took a hike out at Touch the Earth Natural Area. It was the first time we'd been out that way, but it definitely won't be our last! It is a great trail with lots to explore.
Here's a monarch butterfly screen print we've been working on. This one is based off of a photo we took in our yard this summer!
Our native plant garden was really buzzing with our milkweed blooming in July and August. We also planted some Joe Pye weed last fall and it really brought a lot of butterflies to the yard this year with its huge clusters of flowers. Slowly we are really filling in the yard with more native plants each year.
We were also lucky enough to get some monarch caterpillars on our milkweed this summer. We were able to watch them grow from tiny specks to the size of this big guy here. We haven't been able to find a monarch chrysalis in the yard yet. The next goal is to find out where they are hiding.
Here we are enjoying the Monroe County Fair. We ate some fair food (real Indiana corn on the cob and an elephant ear) and visited our favorite part of the fair, the 4-H projects building.
The Blue Aster Studio Etsy shop officially opened!! This is one of the items from the shop. We designed posters featuring natural spaces on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. We both love how much natural beauty there is on the IU Bloomington campus! The shop also includes nature inspired stickers and button sets. Be sure to check it out!
We also took a hike at the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve on Lake Monroe. It was nice to take a little break from everything and let Wallace explore. The preserve is so peaceful in the morning.
We saw this beauty when we were out to lunch! We are the people you'll spot around town taking pictures of insects while dining outside at a restaurant. Be sure to wave and say hi!
Rob Denton, M.S. of The Ohio State University came to us to design a science outreach project about reproductive diversity among animals. Basically, Rob wanted to explain that there are many ways animals reproduce beyond what we're familiar with. Using his and other scientists' research, we created a short animated video and a collection of informative graphics for Rob and his colleagues to share on social media. It was a ton of fun to create. You can check out the video and a few of the infographics below!
We started out May by finding so many monarch caterpillars! We knew they weren't going to survive on their own out in our yard, so we found a preschool teacher who could care for them. We sent seven tiny caterpillars to her classroom and she was able to release six butterflies this spring! The kids enjoyed watching them eat and eat and eat as well as grow into butterflies.
Our peonies are blooming! This is one of my favorite times of the year!
We also took a trip to England and Spain this spring. Here we are in Ronda, Spain taking some selfies and enjoying a beautiful sunset.
One of the most amazing parts of Ronda is that it is built on a cliff and there is a gorge that separates the new city from the old. It is connected by this bridge. We hiked down into the gorge one day and were able to see the bridge from below.
We also visited the coastal city of Málaga, Spain and found this great heart rock on the beach.
In England we were able to visit lots of country gardens and manor houses. And we did what we always do in gardens, take pictures of bugs and flowers. The bees were a little slow due to the chilly weather and we were able to get some pretty nice pictures as well as an up close look at them.
We visited Little Moreton Hall and saw all of its rooms and tudor styling in all of their wonky glory. This house was added to and re-imagined so many times that there can't be a right angle in it. They had great interpretive staff and we learned a lot about sleeping "Tudor style."
We were also able to visit some castle ruins in Wales. These are often entered after hiking a ways through a pasture. These lambs were not too excited about us visiting. They had adopted this goat as their mother and were cautiously checking us out while hiding behind her.
After our trip we returned to a buzzing front yard as our plants had grown double in size while we were gone.
Here you can see one of our planting beds full of Joe Pye weed, ninebark, blue false indigo, Bush's poppy mallow, coneflowers, balloon flower, daisies, rose and common milkweed, lambs ear, prairie dropseed, spiderworts, christmas fern, and many more.
We've added a few new sticker designs to our Redbubble shop. These designs focus on our love for natural places. With the current political climate we feel it is even more important than ever to protect the environment and our beautiful wild areas.
A picture from one of the coffee shops in town that have been helping us get through the winter. When you need to work and need to be caffeinated, the Pourhouse is a good option. It also has the advantage of having huge front windows that help fight off the winter blahs.
We also took Wallace on a hike to a local nature preserve. Trevlac Bluffs is a not-too-rugged hike through a hilltop forest. He loved posing by this little pond.
Our yard started to get some color thanks to these early spring bloomers! It will hopefully be non-stop color from here to Fall!
We've had some monarchs visit our yard already! This is the earliest we've seen them coming around our neighborhood. All that milkweed we've been planting must be paying off!
We were also delighted to be tagged in this picture from our friend Michael Barton of Nature Play Signs. He is sporting our t-shirt design promoting the importance of science.
We stand with science! We appreciate every opportunity we have to work with researchers, conservationists, and science communicators.
These new pro-science designs we've created are inspired by vintage campaign buttons. We're donating 50% of proceeds from these designs, and forthcoming designs in the collection, to Science Olympiad!
Available on tees, mugs, totes, and more at the Blue Aster Studio on-line shop.
After launching our on-line store with the Snake Shop collection, we've been adding new merchandise. Recently, we launched a new Great Outdoors collection. This collection includes these fun badge designs that focus on different natural environments - mountains, desert, and woodlands. Available on shirts and other garments, totes, stickers, device cases and skins, and more. Head to our store to check them out, and if you pick one up, send us a photo of our design "out in the wild!"
It's been a busy autumn! We've had many family commitments and plenty of work to keep us busy, but have made time to do some of the seasonal activities that make the approaching cold of winter a bit easier to take. Enjoy these photos from September and October, and keep watching this space for more fun stuff.
October is LGBT History Month! The official observance celebrates a different icon of LGBT rights every day of the month. To join in, we added seven of our own to create a rainbow-colored series of illustrated portraits, sharing them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook throughout the month. Here's the full set!
Working with Dr. David Steen, we have put together a twitter chat to provide a forum for the public to have all of their snake questions answered! Read the press release below for all the info.
BIOLOGISTS TAKE TO TWITTER TO ADVOCATE FOR SNAKES
A team of experts answer public questions about our slithering friends
Snakes play a vital role in the environment, but are also the subject of unfounded fears and prejudices. On September 7, 2016 from 7pm - 9pm EST, a team of snake experts will hold the first #SnakeTownHall on Twitter to allow the public to get answers to all of their snake questions.
The event is organized by Auburn University wildlife ecologist Dr. David A. Steen (@AlongsideWild) and Bloomington, IN design firm Blue Aster Studio (@blueasterstudio). Dr. Steen, dubbed the Best Biologist on Twitter by Slate Magazine, regularly engages with the public to advocate on the behalf of snakes and prevent their needless killing, particularly when harmless snake species are mistaken for venomous copperheads and cottonmouths. The #SnakeTownHall team of snake experts will also include Melissa Amarello (@snakeadvocate; Advocates for Snake Preservation), Dr. Emily Taylor (@snakeymama; California Polytechnic State University), Dr. Bree Putman (@breeput; University of California Los Angeles), Dr. Sara Ruane (@sara_and_snakes; Louisiana State University), and Dr. Jennifer Moore (@DrReptilia; Grand Valley State University).
Believing in the possibilities of partnerships between science and art, Dr. Steen will also be using the #SnakeTownHall to launch a new set of illustrated snake identification graphics designed by Blue Aster Studio, providing a fun, memorable accompaniment to his Twitter interactions. In addition to answering questions from the public during the #SnakeTownHall, Dr. Steen will be providing trivia challenges featuring Blue Aster Studio graphics and users of the #SnakeTownHall hashtag will be entered in random drawings to win merchandise featuring these graphics.
Please join us on September 7th at 7pm EST on Twitter to experience first-hand how social media can be leveraged for science outreach at the hashtag #SnakeTownHall.
We talk to a lot of scientists and educators and they're always looking for new ways to get their messages out to the public. One of the best ways we know of is using graphics to start a conversation on social media. To mark Mosquito Day on August 20, we designed a set of graphics to dispense quick facts to spread the word about ways to minimize the aggravation mosquitoes cause while also appreciating them as part of the circle of life.
One of the fun aspects of these was that they were a departure from our Shark Week and Tiger Day graphics. This time around, we found Creative Commons licensed photos, pairing them with simple typography. We were thrilled with the response. We did not expect that the "Annoying but Necessary" and "Not Just Blood Suckers" graphics would be the most widely shared. It just goes to show that the element of surprise works to your advantage when creating social media graphics!
If you've got a message you want to spread via social media, send us a message and let's talk!
It's International Tiger Day! Since we had so much fun designing our Shark Week graphics, we decided to put together some small infographics for tigers. We had been wanting to create some graphics based on vintage children's book illustrations and thought this was the perfect time to make that happen. Using both interesting facts and conservation messages in these bite-sized graphics, we hope that they can bring awareness to the plight of tigers around the world.
Our launch coincided with another event: the annual Shark Week, which was begun by Discovery Networks as a week-long block of shark-themed programming, but has been seized upon by savvy conservation researchers, activists, and organizations to educate about the challenges sharks face in the wild. We thought it was a great chance to design some graphics to promote shark conservation and celebrate these amazing animals.
We started off with a colorful tiger shark illustration to celebrate the event.
Then, we launched a series of graphics to promote sharks that are on the IUCN Red List, the world's most comprehensive database of endangered species. It was fun to research and create these and highlight some lesser-known sharks - in addition to one of the most iconic.
To round out the week, we devised "Shark Size Extremes," a fun infographic that compares two of the largest sharks, the whale shark and the long-extinct megalodon, with one of the smallest of the sharks, the bioluminescent dwarf lanternshark.
It was a blast to create this set of designs celebrating sharks. We plan on creating similar graphics for other environmental observances throughout the year, so please do follow us on our social media channels - again, those are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We are keen to work with non-profits as well as private companies to devise new ways to educate the public, produce content marketing materials, and help increase awareness of important environmental issues. Contact us to get the ball rolling!