Friday, January 25, 2013

A visit from the Frost Faeries

It has been exceedingly cold here the past few days, but there has been magic along with all the extra work of just keeping things warm and not freezing up. I discovered that a very large patch of frost feathers had started to grow on the big window in the end room. This room is unheated in winter and when it gets cold I've seen frost feathers here before, but this time the patch was huge and filled with incredible crystalline designs. (you can click on any of the images and get a slightly better quality view)
 It is hard to tell from the image but the patch is about 24 inches wide and over 4 ft tall.
As you moved in closer you could see the amazing patterns of the frost. This reminded me of a garden border. Not sure why the image is so fuzzy here... it is very crisp in the original.
I've posted these images in different sizes so you can (hopefully) see some of the details.
These crystals are lying flat on the glass yet they look 3 dimensional... it was quite enchanting to disappear into the patterns of ferns and feathers. It was hard to remember that this was just water vapor, caught in the cold. As I snapped the photos I realized that in a few hours the sun might come around the house just enough that it might illuminate the frost directly. I decided to wait and watch.

   I came back a few hours later and saw that the sun might have reached the window but was mostly blocked by some trees. Still, there were a few beams flickering and highlighting some of the frost feathers, so I moved in close to take more images. All of a sudden the crystals began to really sparkle and glitter. I stepped back in a bit to get a better view and in the center of the frost island I started to see an unusual rainbow pattern emerge. It had a symmetry about it but I could not tell you why.
 I could see it clearly but it was very hard to photograph. I had to be at a steep angle to the surface of the window and the field of focus was thus greatly reduced. I did not have my tripod with me and the rainbow shape was intensifying very quickly so I did not dare leave even though the tripod would have helped get better focus. In about 15 seconds the whole center section of the frost was lit up with the most fantastic rainbow design. There were colors present that I have never seen in a rainbow before:

There was a coppery-gold color that was very intense and you can see it here in this image. There was also an electric purple and deep blue-violet that was probably the fabled Indigo that is normally so hard to see. It was almost pulsing with vibrant life! I was completely enchanted.... and then, just as quickly as it arrived, it faded. It lasted a total of maybe 40 seconds. I waited for 30 more minutes to see if it would re-appear but it did not. I came back later (did I mention that the room was UNheated? and it was minus 10 out at the time...brrrr!) as the sun was setting behind the mountains to see what that light might was glinting like gold with tiny rainbow prisms scattered across the whole field of frost.
I hoped the big rainbow might emerge again, but it did not. I stayed and enjoyed the golden glitter light show and even after the twilight began to gather the feathers were still magnificent against the deepening blue sky.
That night the bottom fell out of the thermometer. It went down to -25, which I know by some standards is not too bad, but for here it was impressive. The trees outside crack when it gets that cold. I had to stay up and keep feeding the voracious wood-stove. I didn't mind as I was interested to see what would happen with the frost and the moonlight. I had to wait many hours for the earth to turn around to face the moon, but it was even more magical than daylight, if that is possible. Unfortunately, I was not able to get very good photos as it was just too cold and I had to set the camera very high up on the tripod so the moon would not wash out the image with its bright light.
The island of frost now filled nearly the entire window. And the moonlight cast shadows onto the window outlining the pine tree branches just outside....but the effect was very soft focus because the crystals dispersed the edges of the light and shadow. What does not show very well in this image is the incredible glinting sparkles in every color imaginable.
I tried to get in close but the camera just cannot capture what our human eyes can see...

If you click on this image to get a bigger view, you might get a sense of the magic...the light sky outside is a bit of an illusion, in order to capture the feathers I had to over-expose the sky, it was inky blue black when I took the photo.  For some reason, these all look fuzzy here in the blog editor, but they looked crisp when I uploaded them...not sure how they will look on your screen and apologies if they look out of focus.. these images seem to not want to be reproduced very easily.... perhaps the Faeries have something to do with that!

    The whole experience felt like a glittering Sacred space that the Frost Faeries had created so they could have a place to dance and play. I quietly left the room so they could get on with their dancing.  ;-)

    The frost island was back again today but the crystals were less feathery than the day before. If it is still there tomorrow, I might see if I can make some sort of sculpture with it somehow. If it works you, you'll be the first to know! 

I dedicate this post to my brother Robert, who celebrates his birthday today. Happy birthday little Bud!


Anonymous said...

Wow Sally, the rainbow pattern and the golden glitter are really amazing!
I agree with you: fairies must have
been playing with your window :-)
Thanks for sharing this very special moment! And happy birthday to your brother too!

Valerianna said...

Nice! A display of commitment for art, hanging out in the unheated room on a particular frosty night! I did a post myself on my window ice... its so enchanting.

I succumbed to a little bit of electric heat to augment the wood stove in the morning when my nose began to feel rather frosty in bed early in the morning instead of getting up in the wee hours to put more wood on. It was only suppose to be - 9 here... haven't checked the thermometer to see what it did dip to.

Linda said...

Frost Faires don't usually make it down to South Caolina. I miss them.

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Thank you Marili ! Yes, they were really having fun with me!!


Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Thank you Valerianna, it is amazing how 6 above now feels WARM !! :-)
I will come visit your blog to check out your window ice.

Stay warm!!


Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Hi Linda, I'm glad to share them..they were so magical to see...the next day they were very different, the frost got very thick and less delicate...still lovely though. Thank you for visiting!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these amazing pictures.

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.