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frost catcher 001
frost catcher 002
frost catcher portable 001
frost catcher portable 002
frost catcher portable 003
frost catcher portable 004
frost catcher impromptu
frost catcher portable (009)
ice rain catcher portable
frost heave in a bottle
an experiment of sorts

frost catchers

Frost catchers started as an idea about interacting with the environment.

In December 2006 the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, where we were living at the time, was experiencing a week or so of fairly heavy frosts.

Within that stretch, for a day or two, we had some frosts that were spectacular. Frosts like none I'd seen before. I was out taking photos of the vegetation near the creek and then decided to drive a bit up the road to see what the frost was like in some of the swales. There I started seeing the fencing coated in fuzzy spines.

I heard later that these heavier frosts may have come about because of seeding they were doing near the Airport (about 7 miles NW) to knock down the fog. Whatever the reason, it was quite a show.

After seeing these fences I started thinking about making something that would use different materials and surfaces to interact with frost development, just trying to see what might result. With another cold night approaching I very quickly put together some bits & pieces I had in the shop, strapped it to a shovel and planted it in the backyard. This was the first piece listed above. I did get some frost, and in nice patterns, but I never did see the heavy-spined hoar frost again (maybe they had stopped seeding the fog).

I posted the results (image below) on the fluxlist blog.

The idea was elaborated upon, to great effect, by Allen Bukoff. He started a site dedicated to frost catchers and proceeded to make some wonderful pieces (the image below is a detail from one of them).

The Rogue Valley warmed up too much for my second catcher (listed at the top of the page) to do much beyond some rime (it looked good doing it though).

And then a move to the north end of the Willamette Valley - the other end of the state and a very different climate. The frosts this November (2007) have been fairly heavy and entirely ignoring the frost catchers from the south. I decided to take a catcher to where the frost WAS showing up, my windshield. That's the portable one listed above.

I realized very early on that I didn't know much about the science behind frost formation. And after reading a bit I realize I still don't. It all makes some sense until you actually start tracking the specifics - humidity, dew point, temperature - and then it all starts seeming somewhat random again. It keeps it interesting though, going out first thing on a brisk morning, walking through the fog of your breath, to see what might have appeared from the mists of a cold night.
h o m e
© jamie