Wednesday, September 30, 2009

500 hearts

W00t! I got 500 hearts today for my etsy shop. This was a goal for me. I love hearts. I've been pestering to heart my shop, but I made it to 500 without her. Hearts are not only gratifying (thank you thank you thank you to those who have added me to their favorites list), they are a useful networking tool.

By the way, did you know that the Craft Cult Heart-o-matic is now even cooler? Heart-charts presents time series data of people who have hearted your shop, with hearts, of course. It breaks down the information by time, sort of account (buyer, seller, old, new, anonymous) and gender of user. It's fascinating. I am obsessed.

My next etsy goal is to sell 100 items. I've got a ways to go on that one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pacific tsunami

{image from Preliminary Earthquake Report
U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center
World Data Center for Seismology, Denver}

At 17:48:11 UTC (which was 1:48 pm EDT) today, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake hit on the Tonga trench, just off Samoa. A tsunami has been generated. No reports yet on the number of casualties in Samoa. Authorities are monitoring the risk around the Pacific basin and in Hawaii.

When I worked for the GSC, I knew when a large earthquake hit because the seismologist on duty would run down the hallway, or I'd see it on the seismometers on display, or I'd arrive at work and there would be a news crew. It got so that seeing the news crew was like arriving at work to find the flag at half-staff. It made me sad, prior to knowing why. Now I learn these things from the American Geophysical Union twitter feed.

Earthquake prediction remains an elusive goal. Successes are few (and are either the product of dumb luck, or on the most intensively studied fault system in the world, where population density happens to coincide with wealth and the means for investment, technology and expertise on the San Andreas - and even there, while a tremendous achievement, the the prediction was more vague than one would hope). I do not think this will improve any time soon; it in in the nature of earthquakes that probabilities are likely to be the best information earth scientists can provide. Unless there is some measurable, consistent precursor yet to be discovered, or more convincingly documented, there is not much which can be done. The makes one feel helpless and frustrated. It is one reason I did some research on earthquake hazard in Cascadia (British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and northern California), which is not directly tied to the bulk of my research.

Tsunamis on the other hand, are much more predictable. Since they are triggered by things like major earthquakes, or marine slumps and slides, there are measurable precursors. In the Pacific, where industrialized nations have recognized their risk for decades*, there is a well-established tsunami warning system. There are tide gauges and wave rider buoys and satellite altimetry data all available in real-time. It's hard to think about how much of the loss of life after the Sumatran tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004 was preventable. (It was triggered by a staggering 9.2 event which released an order of magnitude more energy than today's event).

Events like these make me wish I could do something. The instrument we deployed recently, in the North Pacific has and will see the effects of this. The energy from an earthquake of that magnitude radiates outward in all directions and makes the earth ring like a bell. The oscillations will already have been recorded by our gravitymeter (which is sensitive to acceleration and hence displacement of the seafloor). This would have happened approximately 12 minutes after the event. The tsunami waves are not traveling anywhere near as fast. Should it hit Hawaii (which is not a given) it will not arrive until 7:18 EDT (23:18 UTC) and it would be hours later when and if it reaches my instrument. If it does, the differential pressure gauge will record it. The waves I use to make measurements obey the same physics and are of similar frequencies as tsunami waves. So what interests me is have we deployed an experiment meant to image what is below the seafloor, which could also provide useful additional information to either the numerical tsunami modellers or to the warning system. Then, at least, I would feel like I was doing something to help.

*or centuries, in the case of Japan. The Haida of BC preserved their memories of the 1700 event in their oral tradition. The earthquake which triggered that tsunami has been estimated to have been a magnitude 9.0.

Monday, September 28, 2009

traces of things

I was really exhausted this weekend, but still managed to have lunch with NBQ, dinner and a movie with Mom, brunch with and , and attend the 2nd birthday for the DJ.

R&F drove around and did some errands. We ended up in Kensington. F. erroneously asked if it were "pedestrian free Sunday" which made me imagine an entire alternate universe. You couldn't pay me to drive a car through Kensington Market - life is too short for that sort of thing.
Don't cry! Bike!
I'm not sure I understand the punctuation, but I like it. Notice the 'o' is a tear drop. I read it as encouraging of a sad bicycle. However, it could equally be admonishing bicyclists not to scream, "Bike!" What do you think?

Moucha mural

grafitti laneway
tag with cityscape
pink skull
finger shadow puppet

These wheatpasted bows are turning up everywhere, with slight variations on shape and wild variations on colour. This one on Brock St. seems a study on intensity, rather than hue.

I love the ghosts of buildings which once were:
ghost of buildings past

Friday, September 25, 2009

fractal geometry

You were dying to know why I've been hunting ferns, right?

For the month of September, 2009, the MSOE challenge is 'Fractal Geometry'. Fractals are self-similar: their parts mimic (more-or-less) the whole. Some of the exotic species within this mathematical family have precise familiar shapes, like the simplest rectilinear object you could imagine, the triangle. Others have organic lines like coast lines or plants. The fern is a stereotypical example; oblong leaves with branch off of veins which in turn branch off of other veins, in a self-similar manner.

In this mono print, I am comparing and contrasting the aspect of self-similarity, by combining a block printed Sierpiński Triangle (the holes in which could in theory continue ad infinitum, but being human, there is a practical limit to what can be carved) and a printed fern leaf.

Fractal geometry I

Then, I did it again:
Fractal geometry II
Fractal geometry III - detail
Fractal geometry IV - detail

the nook

the nook
Originally uploaded by tanisalexis
Tanis has posted some photos on her flickr stream showing the nursery nook for her & Joe's soon-to-be offspring. It's really lovely, and I'm not just saying that because it contains two of my prints and a seahorse! In fact, I'm flattered to see my artwork amongst such company as Deth Sun, SparklePower, KG crafts and of course, Tanis herself. But the most important thing is how with a little creative, and some hand-crafted items, one can create a beautiful space on a tiny budget.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Y is for yak, yin-yang and yellow

y is for yak, yin-yang and yellow

The alphabet quilt top almost complete!

This is the Y block showing my linocut yak in grey with a turquoise letterpress Y on yellow, and three panels printed with a linocut yin-yang. I chose to purposely have the yin-yangs not aligned.

All letters are now complete.

final corner TUV XYZ

I carved the yak on this lino I bought with R&F which I do not like. Not all lino is created equal! I bet there are potential printmakers out there who decided they are not up for the task, if they are only familiar with this stuff. Two thumbs down on the thin, hard-to-carve, black (so hard to draw upon), "lino" with a non-linear response. However, I am stubborn, hence the yak.

I do love colour.

All that remains for this quilt top is a bordering frame, which I now think I need. Then I can begin the actual quilting part of this exercise. I've bought my batting. I need to set out the backing and start basting. (Do these terms mean anything to you?)

Monday, September 21, 2009


This weekend I got a message out of the blue from Toronto photographer Micheal (anotherangle on etsy), inviting me to join in founding a Toronto area Etsy street team. (Street teams are groups of etsy shops which have something in common and join forces for various purposes. I'm currently in the Trans-Canada Etsy Team, Printsy - the printmakers of etsy and the Mad Scientists of Etsy). This team will have, "regular social events to meet other Sellers, a few events to connect buyers and seller in T.O., occasional ‘chat’ times on Etsy" and will connect with other craft groups in Toronto. I'm all for getting artists and craftsters together, so I'm on-board. You, gentle reader, (those artistic readers in and around Toronto) should join too! He's already set up a Facebook page and a twitter TEST feed. Join and find other Toronto creators. You know you want to. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

the 'hood

newspaperbox ninja
orange and turquoise
graffiti tree
folk dancers and ice cream
street performer
"You can trust me," he said, "I'm a street-performer."
Polish band on Roncesvalles
Despite the polka band, most of the music, currently playing live on Roncesvalles, is classic rock-and-roll, sometimes with Andean pan-flutes, or East Coast Celtic with Newfie sea shanties. There are Chinese as well as Polish folk dancers at the Polish Festival. There are Jamaican rotis with the pierogies and African handicrafts, of course.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon!

detail- méfiez-vous de la contrefaçonI am often surprised by art work and its relative popularity. For instance, I am dumbfounded by the popularity of the chair and I never realized that Darwin still has an active fan club. I have no idea what is so speacial about this photo of my seahorse print and block or why it has so many fans. In hindsight though, I should have recognized the popularity of cats, especially, my one and only namesake. So, the cat print is in the shop by popular demand. It is not editioned, by the way, so it is unique (though there are other prints made with the same block, but with variations).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon!"

post card cat head

I bought this in Paris in 2001. It lives on my fridge. It makes me laugh - it is everything modern advertising is not: paranoid, long-winded and complicated. The slogan, "Méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon!" you might translate it as "Accept no substitutes" if you wanted to be snappy, but it is more like, "Be suspicious of counterfeits!" It goes on to explain that other manufacturers are trying to fool the buyer into thinking they are buying cat (Le Chat) brand with various other animal heads! Like what, I wonder? What sort of animal can one mistake for a cat? So to make their brand more identifiable they have added an octogon (which they go on to explain has eight sides...) etc.

the original
all "Méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon!"
Méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon! (cream)
Méfiez-vous de la contrefaçon! (brown)
You can spot counterfeits by such subtle clues as inverted letters.

This is a block print in black and turquoise on Japanese feathered Obonai paper and on Indian khaki recycled paper. Some are embellished in pen and ink. Some have chine collé.

Strangely, block printing roman characters is much harder than Chinese characters! I almost forgot the cédille and then, there was the 'N'. The brain does not want me to invert letters.
In other news, I'm also watching a live broadcast from sea and texting with RM via Skype. Talk about multi-tasking.

GOOD NEWS: the old unplug it and plug it back in trick seems to have worked! But they want me to be available if they have questions.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Barter with surprises!

This is my awazing swap package from Tanis! Lots of handmade felt and Nepalese textiles and lace and prints of her work and
Japanese scarves
a couple of Japanese silk scarves which go with the one I got from MotherII and this gorgeous tree on handmade felt which is the softest thing ever:
Tanis tree

It felt like she's been here and thought to get me more of the things I like, but she's just that clever.

I sent her a zebra print and a seahorse and jellyfish pillow and assorted fabrics and prints on fabric. So the neat thing is that we will each be able to encorporate the other one's prints on textiles into new things, and see what the other one does.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

cool cats

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

a noir animation via fenris_lorsrai on LJ.

Grafitti by Brusse in Barcelona, via Wooster Collective

Oh, and for the Josh Whedon hos, the craftster blog has posted Whedon themed needlework. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I just bought myself a print by Alec Thibodeau cause he's awesome, and I can. I have one unicorn multimedia in Who's printsy this week (along with a Torontonian I really admire). I have a second unicorn multimedia in this teamcanada treasury and my Ox in this one.

Just Y left to go

quilt progress

This is cheating a bit - the last two rows are not attached yet, just lain there... but I wanted to have a look at what it would be like.

In other news, it appears that RM got Shanghaied.

Monday, September 7, 2009

last long-weekend of the summer

Friday, I went out for lunch with my brother (the DJ) and Mom. I duct taped the level I bought him to my bike and rode to Queen and Niagara, because I'm crazy, but it did work. When I crossed Roncesvalles, I stopped to plug my ears, since it appeared that the street was being buzzed by a vintage jet. The girl on a bike behind me said, "I hate the airshow! It feels like we're under attack." After lunch we went to the White Squirrel for ice cream, which we ate in Trinity-Bellwoods park. The DJ got annoyed, when five bike cops rode leisurely by, since he overheard one say, "Check out the girl in the bikini." The DJ does not think this is what we pay the cops to do; I thought it was sweet that he was irked by this.

loop and into sun
in three directions
upside down
sewn grafitti
airshow from the park
jet with tree

I rode home from the park, stopping to buy jeans at ShopGirls and batting at the workroom. Ok, I also got some more fabric... wouldn't you?

graffiti on Queen W
garage mural
graf mural
graf mural 2

On Saturday, I ventured out and wandered down poor, torn up Roncesvalles. I decided to try the southern Polish postal outlet, because the people at the northern one, frankly, drive me up the wall. You have to plead with them to get postal rates, or they just eyeball your package and make up an estimate, which is generally wrong. The young woman at the counter, not only was polite, she had mastered the use of her computer and was fluent in English. I have found a new postal outlet. (As an aside, can someone explain to me why it costs more to send things to BC than it does to Australia, which costs no more than sending something to the US? What is wrong with Canada Post?)

The ease of my one errand seemed auspicious. I continued south, and found a fabulous brooch by Jen Ham at Frock, at greatly reduced in price. Check out her site. My pin reads, "Desperado". I got a screenprinted tee at Mrs. H, which shows the Roncesvalles streetcar. Then I continued onto Queen St and poked in all the antique shops. I found a vintage circular frame, for which I have an idea. I wandered home, stopping for juice on the way.

Sunday, I continued to work on my Unicorn Amongst Umbrellas, this time with fabric. Then discussing our picnic with reynardin, and considering the things in the fridge and pantry, I made peach cobbler. Then I carted my dessert, paper plates, and a warm jacket, I wandered into High Park and walked straight to the outdoor theatre. Proximity to the park has its advantages. I staked out places front and centre.

reynardin, faunalia and beccatree joined me in the nick of time. Still very early for the play, it was becoming difficult to guard these prime seats from the growing audience. We enjoyed our picnic of garlic-maple chicken wings, heirloom tomatoes, carrots, string beans, hummus, Russian bread, potato chips and peach cobbler, and settled in. We all enjoyed The Tempest. There's something magical about seeing Shakespeare in the park. Even though the theatre was packed, it was the final performance of the summer and the large number of children in the audience for Family Day, they garnered full attention of the audience. Passing the boat through the crowd during the storm scene at the beginning was very clever. R. said it made us complicit in the performance. The sets were simple and elegant, suggesting trees and water, and casting fabulous shadows. I particularly liked the giant face masks employed by spirits. The decision to cast a female lead as 'Prospera' was a success, as it was largely transparent and unnoticed. Further, making Gonzalo into Gonzala seemed to add to the humour, as a matronly, loquacious, optimistic and dutiful woman, loyal to the Duke of Milan, changed the dynamic and made his comments requesting peace more pointed. Casting Antonia, as the usurper, made for a different, more lustful, interaction with Sebastian. The balance of power between the genders seemed more modern. Stand-out performances by the creepy Caliban, humourous Gonzala, ebullient Ariel, enthusiastic Miranda and of course, our sorceress Prospera.

Today, I completed the U block for my alphabet quilt (unicorn, umbrellas & underwater), tidyied and generally completed tasks.
Tomorrow, the new term begins.

U is for unicorn, umbrella & underwater