Saturday, September 27, 2008

Monarch Butterflies in Pyramid Mountain Park

I'm fascinated with butterflies. Even more so with Monarch Butterflies that manage the unthinkable every year with a 2,000 to 3,000 mile migration.

Imagine a creature as delicate and ephemeral as a butterfly traveling the distance from Mexico to various parts of the United States and Canada and back again.  Every year.  

No other insect undertakes as long a migration.

Monarch butterflies make their way  back to their 'overwintering grounds' in Central Mexico [more specifically the Oyamel fir forest] in September and October.  Hence the recent Meet a Monarch Butterfly Festival  at the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic area in Montville Township in Morris County, NJ - as well as many other areas around the country as reported in USA Today in an article titled "Catch the monarch on its migratory path."

The Daily Record reported on the Pyramid Mountain event in Imaginations aflutter at butterfly festival; Hands-on Kinnelon event teaches visitors about Monarchs' life cycles which my daughter and I attended.  It was fascinating.

From the press release, I learned the following: "Weighing only half a gram, monarch butterflies travel up to 80 miles a day to cover a dangerous 2,000-mile journey to Mexico."

We missed the butterfly tagging demonstration during which trained naturalists attach tiny numbered tags onto the wings of the adult monarchs, immediately before releasing them to begin their journey.  I presume they use a tooth pick...

However, we did enjoy a tour [actually several] of the butterfly garden immediately next to the Visitor Center. There, we saw a monarch caterpillar in a "J" position about to enter into the pupa phase and turn into  a chrysalis [see photo above left].  We saw several chrysalis further along and even returned the following day to admire a newly emerged monarch [see below].

Critical to the survival of monarchs is the milkweed plant.

Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed plants.  The milkweed also protects the insect in its butterfly stage as the acidic milkweed 'milk' that the caterpillar eats voraciously is toxic to many animals.

No surprise, the Native Plant Society of New Jersey had displays and information about the benefits of a multitude of native New Jersey plants, including milkweed. Note: the NPSNJ website offers lists of native plants by county.

I came across milkweed for the first time during a walk last summer and fell in love with the sweet smell and the intense flowers. When I noticed that I could purchase seeds, I did so and we plan to sow them next weekend.
I came across this article titled Monarch butterfly: Color protects it from predatory birds which lists details on the monarch butterfly.  Pay special attention to the life cycle section [also check out the Wikipedia article referenced above].

Other sites I discovered:
+ Inner clock may lead monarch butterflies

+ KidZone information on the Monarch butterfly with terrific pictures and monarch-related kid activities.

+ And, you can help track the monarch butterfly migration each fall and spring by becoming a member of this site - Journey North: Monarch Butterfly Migration - and reporting your observations.

Although this is the third year of the Meet a Monarch Butterfly Festival, this was our first visit.  I doubt it will be our last, though.  There's too much that's marvelous about these insects.

By the way, at the Pyramid Mountain visitors' center, you can sign up to receive email updates on the scheduled hikes and programs.  That's how I learned  about the Festival.

I can't wait to plant our milkweed seeds and eventually welcome monarch butterflies to our yard.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Louis C. Tiffany and St. Hubert's Interior

As mentioned in St. Hubert's Chapel Visit, Francis Kinney commissioned Louis Comfort Tiffany for the interior of St. Hubert's Chapel in Kinnelon, NJ, some time after 1886 and before 1889 when the Chapel was dedicated.

Louis Comfort Tiffany [1848 -1933] was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany who founded the venerable Tiffany & Co. A talented artist, he was known for stained glass windows and lamps, ceramics, jewelry, blown glass and glass mosaic. He was originally trained as a painter, learning from George Inness and Samuel Colman, both landscape painters. Tiffany captured an Art Nouveau sensibility [also see Art Nouveau].

Despite the painting background, from 1875 on Tiffany became increasingly interested in glassmaking. In 1879 with several other artists he formed Louis Comfort Tiffany & Associated American Artists. This was dissolved in 1885 so he could focus solely on glass arts, when he launched Tiffany Glass Co. [which in 1902 became Tiffany Studios].

Given the dates, I assume that Tiffany Glass Co. is the organization that Francis Kinney worked with for St. Hubert's Chapel.

From The Saint Hubert's Chapel booklet: "In order to carry out Kinney's plan for a medieval church, Tiffany assembled a team of artists and antiquarians. Under the direction of J.A. Holzer, a prominent artist, they set out to research the life and times of St. Hubert. The group spent three years locating art treasures and exploring museums in Belgium and throughout Europe to collect data. Sketches, models and drawings were made and sent to New York where a highly skilled group of professional craftsmen under Tiffany's supervision, carefully recreated the various artworks that were to be installed at St. Hubert's Chapel."

I have found references to J.A. Holzer and Louis Comfort Tiffany working on the following projects - all after St. Hubert's Chapel: Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University built from 1892 to 1894; Church of the Covenant in Boston, MA [redecorated in the 1890s]; Marquette Building in Chicago built in 1895; St. Paul's Church in Troy, NY in the 1890s; Willard Memorial Chapel completed in 1894 in Auburn, NY.

My conclusion: St. Hubert's Chapel represents a very early Tiffany Glass Co. project. I expect that many aspects of the Chapel's interior captuer early concepts and techniques that Tiffany and Holzer would have developed further in subsequent projects.

According to Cornie Hubner in a Didja Know? article titled "St. Hubert Chapel": "Two complete families of sculptors and masons were brought from Italy and resided on the estate for more than two years. Their work and that of the wood carvers and carpenters was directed by the Tiffany supervisor, Mr. A. Holyer [i.e., Holzer]. He also designed and supervised much of the interior with its tile floor and many inlays."

"The Tiffany organization supplied the altar and fixtures, furnishings and vestments decorated with many long gone semi-precious stones. Scenes of the Forest and the hunt were pictured in original windows. A wood sculptured confessional, a fireplace, and pews provided seating for 24."

The Chapel Brochure describes the baptistery, site of the magnificent Tiffany window, as follows:

"In the baptistery of the Chapel is a Tiffany double-paned window in the shape of a Celtic cross. This thick glassed window is filled with a most elaborately wrought cross of lead grill-work. The lumps of glass are broken roughly to make as many facets as possible, so as to reflect the light and add to its brilliance. The lower portion of the cross originally contained the symbols of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the foundation of the faith which is represented by the cross itself. [Two of the symbols were removed by thieves during the past forty years.] Above, in the arms and top of the cross, the symbols of the four Evangelists, the channels of the faith, are represented respectively. The exterior glass of the double-paned window was selected to appear as a mosaic in the stonework and enhance the beauty of its interior view when sunlight is transmitted. "

According to Wikipedia's entry on Tiffany, "In the beginning of his career, Tiffany used cheap jelly jars and bottles because they had the mineral impurities that finer glass lacked. When he was unable to convince fine glassmakers to leave the impurities in, he began making his own glass. Tiffany used opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. This can be contrasted with the method of painting in glass paint or enamels on colorless glass that had been the dominant method of creating stained glass for several hundred years in Europe."

From the descriptions, it sure sounds like St. Hubert's Chapel's Celtic cross of stained glass captures Louis C. Tiffany's unique glass works technique and sensibility. I hope to get better photos when I next visit.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website comes information on Tiffany's stained glass work:

"Beginning in the late 1870s, Tiffany and his early rival John La Farge revolutionized the art of stained glass. Until then, the craft had remained essentially unchanged since medieval times. La Farge and Tiffany, dissatisfied with the limited colors and poor quality of available window glass, experimented with novel types of materials, achieving a more varied palette. Opalescent glass, internally colored with variegated shades of the same or different hues, enabled artists to substitute random tonal gradations, lines, textures, and densities—inherent in the glass itself—for the pictorial details that previously had been painted on the glass. Other innovations involved plating, the addition of one or more layers of glass to attain greater depth of color and three-dimensional effects and to blend different hues. Tiffany drew from a stock of thousands of different types and colors of glass, some of which were given dramatic textures and shapes through the use of molds and through manipulation of the material in its molten state."

Fascinating, isn't it? What a gem and historical masterpiece available in Smoke Rise and Kinnelon, NJ. If you haven't already, do make a point to visit St. Hubert's Chapel.

The St. Hubert's Chapel Conservation Committee replaced the entry, baptistery and bell tower roofs in 1992. Electrification and alarm system came in 1993. The Tiffany Celtic Cross was removed for restoration in 1993, and reinstalled in 1994.

The Chapel's entrance door [pictured above] was also designed and created by Tiffany Studios. It was restored in the mid 1990s.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meet Tom Kline

Tom Kline is an amazing man in my estimation. He is responsible for the ongoing restoration of St. Hubert's Chapel. Talk about boundless passion for a historic labor of love.

He started the project as a teenager. The story I heard is that he created a calendar with photos of the chapel and went door to door selling the calendar to raise money.

Cornie Hubner writes the following in a Didja Know? article [written in the late 1980s]:

"For the last 14 years, one man has been making heroic efforts to research and restore St. Hubert's Chapel on the lake. Despite vandalism and the ravages of nature, his efforts and that of his family have made progress in one direction while losing ground in others. These many hours of research, hard labor and no little personal expense will have been wasted unless the project is recognized, supported and funded."

Cornie provides historic perspective on the construction of the chapel, which the Kinneys used for family mass into the 1920s. The chapel served the Smoke Rise community in the early 1950s until the congregation became too large and services moved to the Smoke Rise Inn.

He continues: "There followed a period of destruction by vandals which was not discovered until too late. A reward of $100 was offered and several perpetrators were discovered. Little or no action was taken and damage to a greater or lesser degree continued. Several efforts were made to organize restoration programs but lacking protection, no progress was made.

The curiosity of the son of a long time Smoke Rise resident led him to research that soon resulted in his approved restoration activity. With the help of his family and their financial assistance, this produced some lasting results.

The clock works and chimes, requiring replacement parts mostly hand made, were restored to full working order. Soothing chimes, from the huge brass bells rang out across the lake and resounded in the hills until the nightly serenade caused some annoyance and were stopped. The unique soothing sound can again be enjoyed if we can provide a control to allow its performance only during daylight.

The damaged clock faces were reproduced by making almost 1000 wood screws and many special parts. More than 2,000 pieces of colored glass have been designed to remake the mosaic back of the altar. A new roof is being prepared for the Belfry and when help is obtained will be erected to protect the delicate controls from the nesting birds whose droppings and other debris threaten the painstakingly restored equipment.

Tom Kline, for many years residing on Ski Trail, is continuing his solitary efforts to preserve our unique inheritance. His dedicated untiring efforts can only succeed if a concerted drive is made to enlist help and financial support. This provides an opportunity to contribute your ideas, exercise your artistic talents and have the satisfaction of preserving a historic landmark. Tom will be very happy to hear from you and give you the details."

Tom routinely conducts tours of St. Hubert's Chapel to tell its story. I've been on two tours, the most recent this past July 6. Both took place around the July 4th holiday Smoke Rise Days, with residents volunteering to boat visitors out to the island, and back.

Last summer, Tom also presented a historic slide show with the most amazing images of Smoke Rise and Kinnelon in the time of Francis Kinney. I wish the slide show were a regular presentation at the Inn or at the Kinnelon library. It's marvelously full of information and perspective on the area.

Cornie Hubner ends his Didja Know? article with a plea to support the restoration of the chapel.

I end this post with the same plea to please support St. Hubert's Restoration by sending a tax deductible contribution via check payable to the Kinnelon Heritage Conservation Society, Inc., address: 1 Perimeter Road, Kinnelon, NJ, 07405.

BTW, Tom Kline sits on the Kinnelon Historical Commission.

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