Saturday, January 31, 2009

Frog and Lily Cushion

frog and lily cushion
back of frog pillow
This whimsical, one of a kind, throw pillow: the wetlands for the living room. It has a hard-carved linoleum block print of a frog and lily pads with lotus flower, printed on pin-striped lime green cotton fabric with a stripe of faux-bois fabric below. The reverse is a patchwork of cotton prints; another pond scene with frogs, lily pads and turtles in olive green, a very modern circle pattern in pistachio and robin's egg blue and patterned hot pink and fuschia.

The pillow is 35 cm or 14 inches wide by 28 cm or 11 inches tall by 8 cm or 3 inches thick (at its widest).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This card is a linoleum block print brain & text with collage on handmade Japanese papers. Valentines for the pro-zombie cute-phobic set.

I post it to mention hearts- a thought to try cheer myself up. I notice that my etsy shop has now topped 300 hearts!

Thank you to all who have added me to their favorites list. I appreciate it more than you would ever imagine. Secretly the Heart-o-Tron 3000 is quite ah... habit-forming.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Maps, typography, slogans and unfortunate place names...

Via stange maps we have maps which combine two of my favorite things: typography and, well, maps-

[This map is taken from this page at vladstudio, a website for Siberian graphic designer Vlad Gerasimov’s work]

and this one, which admittedly has been all over the blogosphere, but it is so intriguing and pretty - it is a map of use states as their mottos:

[The map, The Fifty United States and their Mottos, 30x40 inches, 2008 can be found on the Two Eyeballs website, where the artist Emily Wick showcases her work. She's also done individual states.]
I am not familiar with the history here, but some of these are quite unexpected (i.e. Oregon "She flies with her own wings"; Kansas "To the Stars through Difficulties"; Washington "By and By" - what sort of motto is that?; and Michigan is so literal that it made me laugh). These are linoleum block prints!

This is a map I found via biophemera. It was published by the NY Times, it shows (allegedly, formerly innocuous) embarrassing place names in Britain, now the subject of two books, "Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire."

Happy Chinese New Year - Niu: The Ox

Niu: The Ox
Originally uploaded by the.minouette
It was so early this year I almost forgot altogether.
Gong hei fat choi!
The Ox sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. I hope that is fortuitous for all of you.

hawk is a good omen

Originally uploaded by the.minouette
What a lovely Sunday... despite the cramped quarters and slowness of service... I loved seeing and , , and for brunch today! It has been too long since we all got together.

After brunch b & b went to run errands while the rest of us bided our time until Cupcake Camp, by going to the Carrot Common. Now, I have nice organics soaps and tea, a belly full of cupcakes. When R and F drove me home we saw two hawks in the park across the street. I managed to get two photos of one of the hawks. They are so impressive, even after spending years on a property on Vancouver Island on which bald eagles nested and barn owls were common. Great raptors in this city; I watch the peregrine falcons at work and hawks at home.

Now I am waiting for the DJ to drive me to Moms for dinner, as if I need an more food.

Toronto raptor; local hawk

hawk in the park

Thanks women!

Re. dairy:
Always Fresh And Sweet
Always fresh and sweet is the way to go.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Reynardin!

Hoping you may find yourself a happy, health and very prosperous fox this year!

fox with duck
(image of fox with duck purchased in the castle district of Budapest, Hungary by the Curious Expeditions)


frost patterns

Dendrites, tree-like advance patterns of crystal growth, in stead of actual trees, are the view out my window this morning.

From the Greek δένδρον déndron, “tree”...

The beauty of physics is the underlining patterns.

Friday, January 23, 2009

vocabulary charity and things one finds in cyberspace

Like words? Feed the world. You can take a few minutes and test your English vocabulary at this site. For each correct response they donate 10 grains of rice. If you keep playing, the difficulty increases, but you can always reset the counter to the beginning. I find it strangely addictive. Also, I am intrigued how often you can guess words you've never previously encountered.

On an unrelated note, I've decided to blog about art, illustration, design, fashion, cabinets of curiosity, and assorted random things I find and enjoy over at Magpie & Whiskeyjack. This blog is a near mirror of minouette but a little more focused.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I is for iguana, and insect, and indigo

I is for iguana, and insect and indigo

This is the latest panel in my alphabet quilt-in-progress. It is a hand-block printed iguana in green ink on an old (though high thread count) cotton shirt in gray. The 'I' is printed with a vintage letterpress block. The insects were screenprinted by Smoking Lily - they sell scraps of fabric with prints they don't use in their clothing line. The insects in blue (on tee shirt material) are reverse appliqued onto the black fabric with one white fly.

What do you think? Maybe 2009 will be the year and I will actually finish this quilt.

I need to finish the 'N' and 'O' panels, which are in progress. I have to start 'Q', 'U', 'V', 'X', 'Y' and 'Z'. Then the actual quilting process can begin.

Alphabet quilt 1st rectangleA is for angelB is for bear, bats and blossomsC is for clouds and cats
Alphabet quilt: D & EE is for elephant and eyesalphabet quilt- F is for frog and flowerG is for giraffe, gryphon and grass
Alphabet quilt: HI is for iguana, and insect and indigoJ is for jellyfish (and Japanese) -alphabet quiltalphabet quilt in progress- k for koi
L is for leaves, lemon and limeAlphabet quilt M
P is for Phoenix (and polka dot)R is for ribbon, rhino and rhinocerous beetleS is for sun, snail, seal and stars
T is for turtle and tigeralphabet quilt in progress - w

Iguana between horse and jellyfish

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

With a face like a mirror and frozen toes...

Originally uploaded by tanisalexis
I tried to get out of here yesterday afternoon to go renew my passport, to no avail. N keep calling and the visiting Taiwanese student kept asking me questions (actually, I really like teaching, but sometimes you just want to leave). LR asked if passports weren't by appointment - which says something about the relative scale of our home nations, and made me smile at the thought. So first thing this morning I took the King streetcar down Roncesvalles, across King to Victoria and went to the Passport Office. It's -14C but it feels a lot colder today. I had to squint at the signs because my glasses fogged up. You must wait in line to be pre-screened and receive a number in order to really wait. Unlike most people, I passed the pre-screening quickly- having done this several times and being able to follow written instructions. I even (of course) had a book to read for my wait. Last time I renewed my passport was in Victoria- where I wanted to hit the belligerent man in front of me, bellyaching about having to line up for 15 whole minutes.* When my number came up, the lady fretted about my photos. She told me in a barely audible voice with a thick Russian accent that the highlight on my face made it look like someone had severed my ear - how charming - and that there was a shadow under my chin! She was good at her job though; she managed to be personable and make me feel like the copy shop had done me wrong, rather than Passport Canada. She gave me a special pass so that when I returned I would not have to wait again. I asked her where was the nearest location I could get new photos and, though she told me, she insisted that I should take the passport photo rejection form and demand my money back from the copy shop.

I walked back down Victoria St to the photo shop and waited my turn for photos. The man said it would be 15 minutes, so I went for a walk and did my banking before returning. When I returned later he said there was a highlight on my face and he would have to take another photo. They had taken three photos before satisfied at the copy shop, so by now I am feeling freakishly pale and reflective. He said they were really fussy about highlights, and I couldn't argue, so I had to wait a further 10 minutes. When I got back to the Passport Office, the man at the front of the pre-screening line glared at me, but was too non-confrontational and Canadian to suggest I was jumping the queue, which would at least have allowed me the opportunity to prove him wrong. However, now I had so many forms I was showing the wrong one to the Commissionaire (who was understandably bewildered with my "photo rejection form" in lieu of my get out of jail free no waiting form). I had to search through my entire purse before I found it, piling random bills, scraps of papers, a screw driver set and assorted oddities into my hat. By the time I got out of there, I was pretty cross, having spent three hours on a simple errand.

I walked by the Dundas Square and was confused by the crowds. There were maybe 150 people there, in the cold, watching the US presidential inauguration on the big screen. I can understand watching, but I couldn't understand watching out-of-doors. Here at work, people are listening on the radio.

I thought about stopping at the copy shop to demand my money back, but by the time I got there I was frozen, hungry and just wanted to be done with this expedition.

When I got to my office, I found my friend Tanis' tree cozy project which cheered me up immensely. In Vancouver, "Granville Street is currently undergoing a redesign. If you've wandered through the area recently you'll notice that the trees that lined Granville Street between Drake and Cordova Streets are now shoulder-high stumps.

The planting of new trees is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2009.
In the meantime, it's January, and those stumps look pretty miserable.
What say we decorate them?"

tree cozy 12
Originally uploaded by tanisalexis

Check it out here and here. Mmmm... street art and trees. Nice. I am quite heartened that someone loves the tree stumps. I love finding unexpected guerrilla urban art; I love that someone cares about the tree stumps. I suspect these trees, like the tiny Chinese vocalist, are simply deemed not sexy enough for the Olympics; but Tanis and her fellow artists love the stumps. The one illustrated is wrapped in a gorgeous piece of textile art.

*Victorians; lovely, friendly people, strangely insensible to living in Canadian paradise, and fond of bitching about Toronto. Occasionally you just want to pelt them with non-existent snowballs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading is sexy XV

Batut (image: Léopold Batut (1856-1902) Jeune femme au livre. via Guada chi legge)

1. The Radiant City Lauren B. Davis. This is an amazing, though sporadically gut-wretching book. A Canadian journalist, Matthew Bowles, a world-weary war correspondant, recuperates in Paris, after being shot in Gaza. He does not like being the news. This is a man with PTSD, though his depression, of course, has much deeper routes. He re-connects with a war photographer and sometime mercenary Jack, and his friend former NYC cop Anthony (whose career ended when he was hit with a table). Slowly, he is adopted by the Lebanese family who run the cafe across the street from his apartment; mother Saida, shy about her acid-burned neck, frustrated teenage son Joseph, Saida's brother who dreams of a life where he will be more than an outsider, a refugee, and their father. This is a novel of outsiders, and of bridging the gap. The characters seem full and real. Paris itself is a character- and is alive. This book is a real accomplishment- it left me shaken, though there is hope. I am particularly impressed by how she made this rather macho, male-dominated world of war correspondents real- she gets in their skin. Read it.

2. The Disheveled Dictionary Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Apparently, I now read dictionaries. This was fun. Her irreverent and rococco definitions are something else.
coruscation a gleam, glint, sparkle, glitter. Before getting the sack for making a crack about "Molotovian cocktail hours," the captain's recreation and refection officer vouchsafed to the refugees from Bosoxia shipboard romance against nacreous nightscapes, which included pelagic acrobats amidst phosphorescent coruscations glancing off the surface of the sea."

3. Playing Sardines Michèle Roberts. This is a book of short stories. They are clever, but hard to summarize. They are mainly about women, looking for things in the wrong place. And food. Fairy tales and families, Mary and occasionally, obsessions. An enjoyable read.

4. Of Love and Other Demons Gabriel García Márquez. This is a beautiful short work of fiction. I would have read it for the image of the snowing paper cranes on orange trees alone. It tells the story of an eighteenth century young 12 year old girl, Sierva María, the neglected daughter of the less-than-sharp Marquis and his manipulative wife (whose let herself go to her cacao, honey - not to mention adulterous sex - addictions), abandoned to be raised amongst their slaves, who one day is bit by a rabid dog. Five months later superstition wins and her life is ravaged by her "treatment" and her response to the alleged evidence of rabies. The "medicine" is so primitive and painful her response is viewed as evidence of rabies. Ultimately, she is entrusted by her father to a convent, when the Church decides that rabies (which she does not have) is in fact a mere smoke screen for the demon possessing her. Having been raised by the slaves, and being fluent in African languages and religions, her behavious is taken as evidence against her. The Bishop assigns Father Cayetano Delura, to her case. Surprisingly, this is a love story, a story of superstition, human stupidity, ignorance, books, beauty and tragedy.

5. A House Called Brazil Audrey Schulman. This one was usual. Our narrator, remembers the period of her life 20 years previous, in 1970 at age 19, when her called her daily from an unknown location, to tell her all the tales of her ancestors. Her mother left her when she was 14 and she had been living on the family farm in rural Ontario by herself since then- going to boarding school, forging her mother's signature as needed, generally carrying on. The way she copes with this abandonment is touching. The stories of her ancestors are staggering; there are saints and murderers, lovers and thieves, cigar-smoking grandmother entrepreneurs, and hundreds of them living in a house called Brazil in Ft. Lauderdale. This is quite the read- I recommend it.

6. The Pharmacist's Mate by Amy Fusselman - I bought this book because of the rave review by Zadie Smith and the cover by Marcel Dzama. So far, so good...

Who mixes Mr. Brown with Panic in Detroit...

Thinking of books, Gorey-lovers should go here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

me and my neighbours....

...we are cold, but this is the sort of thing Canadians live for, because we are demented. It was -20C last night and we want to feel tough, going without power in the winter*. See, the power went out at 10 pm last night, after a broken water main flooded the Toronto Hydro station. The article, if you read it, is silly and misleading, and the comments, as usual, are worse**. It states that 22,000 people remain without power. I heard it reported that 100,000 people were without power (I guess that was last night). However, that seems ridiculous to me. There must be more people living between St Clair and Queen and Spadina and Jane! That's a serious chunk of a city of 4 million. Plus, there are no traffic lights and no subway service, so a much greater proportion of the city is affected. The power might not be reinstated until 10 pm tonight.

Wilt, winged walrus, faceI called Reynardin to see if her power was out too, curious how much of the city was down, last night. When we realized that power was clearly out from my place to hers and beyond, that was the hint that this was a bigger problem. This morning at 8:37, Dad called. He actually volunteered to pick me up and drive me to work. I declined - since I'm not teaching this term, the chances that I am ready to leave at 8:37 are nil. He gave a mangled version of what public transit was working - I'm glad I didn't listen to him. He asked if I didn't have some sort of news sort, like one of those wind-up radios. I was proud of myself that I had candles and matches and I could find them in the dark - I actually used the glow-in-the-dark tusks of my winged walrus as a sort of flash light. I don't have a wind-up radio. I decided to walk to Roncesvalles, since he said he'd heard something about Dundas West station. The streetcars are obviously on a separate power grid that the rest of us - we know this because we've all seen the streetcars stop when we still have power. Incredibly, they weren't even short-turning the cars, and we had "normal" service.... but the traffic made things so slow it took an hour to get here. At Roncesvalles and Howard Park, there were about 30 people waiting... they were chatting and waxing nostalgic about the last blackout - but how much nicer that had been in the summer. I think this is very Canadian, to consider trials and tribulations a bonding experience.

I fussed about Minouette. I was worried she would get cold today. I watched her systematically try sitting on each rad in vain. She settled on the warmest sun-beam. I brought her a blanket.

*Though the ice storm in Montreal - that must have been too much.
**One ninny asked how could there be a flood if it is so cold? It's a water main, silly. It is designed to keep flowing even in sub-zero temperatures. They heat it if they have to. The obvious way to get a flood in winter is because of the cold... one frozen pipe, water under building pressure and pow! Flood.
Really, if your head serves only as a hat-rack, must you power commentary on the national newspaper's website?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Faunalia

[Arnold Böcklin (1827 - 1901) Faun Whistling to a Blackbird, 1875, Oil on Canvas]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009



I knew the iguana had a dewlap (the flap of skin below the lower jaws) and a row of spines running down their back to their tail. I had no idea the two species of iguana had a third eye on their head. This eye is known as the parietal eye, which looks just like a pale scale on the top of their head. Clearly this is an animal unlike any other.

This is an original, first edition, lino block print iguana in olive green on handmade mustard yellow Japanese gampi paper. It is ~11" wide and 8" tall (28 cm by 20 cm). It is one of only 6 prints in the edition. The print reflects the intense colours of the iguana's Caribbean home.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Minouette's Home For Unloved Chairs

Victorian chair BEFORE Yesterday, I joined and for PROJECT OTTOMAN, which entailed a Dark Horse coffee-fueled treck from the east end antique shops to the west end antique shops, looking for raw material. We failed to find a single ottoman. Where have they gone, I wonder. Instead, I got a $20 damaged antique chair (as shown, complete with spring bursting out from underneath), three lamp shades and yellow stocking (haha!). Apparently, I now adopt unwanted and unloved chairs. I have yet to finish the previous set, because I want to replace the one missing wooden bar before re-finishing... but I did re-upholster them in woven silk (salvaged from the designers who work below R & F's loft).
found chair in progress

After a lovely day with the girls, I re-wired an antique lamp, placed the lamp shades on said lamp and the wall sconces in the back room and then attacked the broken chair seat. The seat contained a lot of burlap, horsehair and an astronomical number of nails, which I painstakingly removed.
Victorian chair without seat

back room progress
Slowly, the back room is progressing.

In other news, i is for iguana. Thought you might like to know... Here is a short run of iguana lino block prints on mustard-yellow Japanese gampi paper in olive green water-based ink, drying on the lines. I will put the iguanas on gampi in the shop and use an iguana on fabric for the interminable alpahbet quilt project.
i is for iguana

Friday, January 9, 2009

Milky Way Transit

That's right - it's a map of the Milky Way in the quintessential subway map form (à la Harry Beck's London Underground Map). He's made an effort to faithfully represent arms of the galaxy and have stations at reasonable, real, locations. Too cool. {by Samuel Arbesman via The Map Room}

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Craftster Best of 2008

I feel like a crafty superstar this morning ... oh, er.. @#$% alarm clock didn't go off afternoon! Craftster has selected their best of 2008 which includes:

AFTER: the chair
The chair in HOME SWEET HOME: Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General

sun at center of Copernicus' head
Copernicus in IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES: Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects

jellyfish chunky page
The Chunky Page Swap Gallery, a swap I participated in for ORGANIZED SWAPS > Most Popular Swaps of 2008

Hope: the phoenix
A Book of Hope... by alteredmommy - a collaboration to raise funds for cancer research, to which I was proud to contribute for PAPER CRAFTS, JOURNALS & BOOK MAKING: Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General

I'm flattered. The great thing here is that I think this has kick-started calls for Round two of the Chunky Page Swap, and alteredmommy is planning a similar fundraiser this year. I love the idea that things I create are making their way out into the world. Also making something for a good cause is more my style than, say, running for a good cause.