Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Copenhagen Interpretation

SNiels Bohr portrait detailo, I was a little dismayed surprised that my post about my Bohr block print did not get any comments, but it occured to me that perhaps I shouldn't casually mention the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, without an explanation. Maybe, there was simply too many words, of a foreign, quantum mechanical nature. I do tend to the verbose at times.* So, I've found you a puppet show to make it all clear. The production values are terrible, but that's part of the charm. That, and the role of the German Sheppard. Some scientists I know had mixed feelings about casting a Bichon Frise as Einstein, but I feel that the genius of Paul Ehrenfest as a hedgehog makes up for that. Plus, he does make a good case for Wolfgang Pauli as a gargoyle.

The Bohr-Einstein Debates, With Puppets from Chad Orzel on Vimeo.

(via Science Blogs)

*I went and quoted Rutherford, after all. He went around saying things like, "Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting," which is not a good way to make friends in other disciplines.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Niels Bohr Block Print

Niels Bohr portrait 4

This is a block printed portrait of Danish physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962), subject of the Mad Scientists of Etsy's November Challenge. Bohr is an obvious choice - the Nobel laureate not only was one of the central figures of 20th century quantum mechanics, godfather of the Copenhagen interpretation, he was known for his generousity, open-mindedness, and clear ethics (which cannot convincingly be said of all of his contemporaries). He advocated sharing knowledge and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He was also known for taking long walks and thinking out-loud. I often wondered about what Mrs. Bohr thought, faced with his incessant rambling on the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Niels Bohr portrait detail
One of his most famous contributions to quantum mechanics was the Bohr-Rutherford model of the atom. In the print, Bohr is shown in front of the Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom (all the concentric circles are actually at the appropriate spacing, proportional to the n the orbit number squared*). Physicist knew that the atoms were neutral, and yet positive charge was highly localized, in what we now know as the nucleus, from the Rutherford Gold-Foil Experiment. As is traditional in science, this experiment isn't named after those who performed it (Geiger - yes, as in Geiger counter - and Marsden) but after their supervisor, Lord Ernest Rutherford of Nelson. They shot alpha particles (Helium nuclei: 2 protons and 2 neutrons, but all they knew was that they were small and had charge +2) at a very thin sheet of gold foil. Gold can be pounded into sheets which are scarcely a few atoms thick. Anyway, some of the alpha particles bounced right back, which Rutherford famously described thus,
It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you. On consideration, I realized that this scattering backward must be the result of a single collision, and when I made calculations I saw that it was impossible to get anything of that order of magnitude unless you took a system in which the greater part of the mass of the atom was concentrated in a minute nucleus. It was then that I had the idea of an atom with a minute massive center, carrying a charge.[2]

So Rutherford proposed his model of the atom by making analogy to the solar system. He postulated that the positive nucleus is like the sun, with negative electrons orbiting like planets. This model seems to have reasonated with the public (and you still see absurb, outdated images to symbolize atomic physics, with a dot and various elipses around it) - but it's wrong. You see, it suffers from ...wait for it... spiral death! Physicists are a melodramatic bunch. You see, accelerating charges, like electrons going in circles, give off light, hence loose energy, so would be expected to spiral into the nucleus and annihilate.
Niels Bohr portraits drying

Bohr proposed that the orbits of electrons were somewhat like planetary orbits (though circular, and at specific quantized distances). To explain how orbitting charged electrons didn't lose energy he stipulated that perhaps they simply weren't allowed anywhere but the specific orbits. They could lower their energy state if excited by falling to a lower orbit, giving off a specific photon of a specific colour related to the specific, quantized, difference between energy levels. This also explained how the spectra of gases had distinct, thin, spectral lines. I've illustrated this with the Balmer series - because it is composed of lines which are visible to the eye (H-alpha is red and caused by a jump from the 3rd to 2nd orbit; H-beta is cyan and caused by a jump from the 4th to 2nd orbit; H-gamma is indigo and caused by a jump from the 5th to 2nd orbit; and H-delta is violet and caused by a jump from the 6th to 2nd orbit). I've shown both the quantum jumps (squigelly arrows - squigelly lines are traditional for photons) and by the line spectrum below Bohr.

This is a first edition print (one of eight) on Japanese kozo (mulberry) paper, (12.5" by 17").

*The fact that I needed to make my concentric circles at appropriately spaced radii (and the line spectra are at the right spacing too, of course) probably reflects on my sanity in some way, but you know, how can I resist the Bohr Hydrogen atom? I mean one can actually solve it analytically from first principles! How cool is that? Even though, in theory, one ought to be able to continue with this logic and derive all of chemistry as a simple application of quantum mechanics, it very rapidly becomes too complicated and we must rely on computers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Art Show: A Hidden Place


I (Ele, aka minouette) am very excited to be taking part in this art show, along with Ron Caddigan (aka Cyclops And Owl), Chris O'Brien, Reynardin and Faunalia! There will be music by Synap and Romantis. There will be cupcakes by Adorable Portable Cakes. These are some extremely talented people, and dear friends. The show A Hidden Place at is at 1254Art. I can promise you unicorns, narwhals and dinosaurs. Where else are you going to find that? Please join us for the Opening!

Place: 1254Art, 1254 Dundas St. W (at Dovercourt)
Time: December 3rd, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Info: The show can be viewed throughout December, by appointment.
Please contact ahiddenplace '@' gmail.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Collective

Check out the artists and artisans at The Collective, a gathering of creative artists and artisans for 12 days in December, from December 2 to December 14, 2010 at Triangle Gallery, 38 Abell St., Toronto, Ontario - including pillows, stuffed animals, ornaments and other crafts from things from secret minouette places.

Trans-Canada Etsy Team 12 Days of Christmas

things from secret minouette places and team mates from the Trans-Canada Etsy Team are having our annual 12 Days of Christmas Sale. Check the team blog to find all the participating shops' deals on offer. Shops include:
minouette, RJCharms, MyHandboundBooks, Pixel8ed, bnazar, mythicalmatters, TooAquarius, stringmealong, motivatedmotion, PenelopeKuhn, prairiepeasant, prairiethreads, rikrak, ellecools, paisleybaby, and the TCET shop.

Join us over the next 11 days as the participating shops share some of their favorite things about Christmas.

And, now for the most exciting part of this event!! We once again have a fabulous prize package filled to brimming with exciting gifts from all the shops listed above.
There are two ways to win:
1) Make a purchase from any of the shops above and for every $10 spent per shop, you will receive a ballot.
2) Write a letter to Santa, telling him which item/s from our shops you would like to find under your tree this year. Just type it into our team blog's comments.

We will draw for the prize on Dec 5th.

Remember to check back daily for lots more fun. And thank you for visiting with us today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

for R.

I love stop motion from chloe fleury on Vimeo.

Also, did you know about British WWI & WWII re-enactors? "In this series titled Re-Enactors , British photographer Jim Naughten has beautifully documented some of the people {and their very accurate costumes} who choose to spend their weekends recreating various battles and drills from the First and Second World War. " (via the Jealous Curator)

more ornaments!

Today I bring you a really logical series: Rabbit, Garlic, Rhinoceros, Zebras.

rabbit ornamentgarlic ornaments 005rhinornament 023Burchell over Chevy's zebras

I'd better make some more rhinos. That one sold immediately.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Silver & Red Mega Holiday Giveaway

There's a great big give-away, just in time for the holidays, hosted by the lovely rikrak on the the rikrak studio blog. Prizes include my Radiolarians lino block print. You should check it out! Because she's such a sweetie, participants like me can enter to win prize packs without any of their products, so I'm going to enter. You should too!

Radiolarians - close up

some things, for a hidden place

Arctic wold & narwhal semaphor
Unicorn Amongst Umbrellas III
dinosaur portrait
dinosaur portrait
dinosaur portrait

Photos by RJH. I've been running a framing sweatshop of one today.

Right, now I'm off to eat cake.

more block printed ornaments

We had a mini photo shoot yesterday. All photos by RJH.

nesting doll ornaments
fly agaric ornament
radiolarian ornaments
snowflake ornament set
monarch butterfly ornament
blue whale ornament

Apart from the matrioshka (Russian nesting dolls), I like to think of this as the 'Natural History Collection'. We've got microorganisms, fungi, insects, mammals and crystals. I plan more moons and mammals, and maybe, a bumblebee or two. You can find them all here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


large snowflake ornament

I thought I'd make some snowflake ornaments.

I hope this pretty thing helps me face my dreaded teleconference *shudder* today. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lion & Lioness Pillow

lion & lioness pillow on blue

This pillow features blockprinted fabric, with a portrait of a lion and lioness in the tall grass. I was inspired to carve the lino block by a photograph my mother took in the Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania. It is called, "The Watchers, Ngorongoro". The photo gives the strong impression the lions are watching the people back.

The front of the pillow is a patchwork with a contemporary paisley fabric in grass green and teal, with a blue faux-bois print. The reverse is a pale green corduroy with a stripe of vintage floral fabric. The pillow is 15.5" by 11.5" (or 39 cm by 31 cm).

lion & lioness pillow  back

closeup- lion & paisley

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reading is sexy XLI

{image: painting by Tamara de Lempicka}
30. Solo by Rana Dasgupta I selected this book because it won the Commonwealth Writers' prize and likely because of the rave review by Salman Rushdie. I don't really see why it received these. It is well-written, and yet not marvelous, not different, and it feels like the author keeps his readers at arm's length. The are in fact some interesting characters, and sporadically compelling situations, but I never entirely cared about any of them. It was a bit of 'wandering characters in search of a plot'. He started with interesting ingredients; a Bulgarian centenarian, Ulrich, reviews his life and its worth, trains, blindness, chemistry (but, despite the reviews on the back, and one glorious scene where Ulrich makes an analog, burning flame frequency analyzer of music, there is little real love of science here - anyone can allude to Einstein now and again, particularly if they don't really tie the science to anything), crossroads, war, failed marriage, Communism and oppression, youth rebellion, death and isolation, and yet, I not sure why I should care. The second half of the book, the blind Ulrich invents three more characters, so we get three more lives to follow: Boris, the orphaned violinist trained by gypsies, with endless creativity, like the son Ulrich lost or the self he might have been, and the siblings Khatuna, the Georgian gangster moll, determined never to be poor and needy and helpless like her mother, and Irakli, poet, iconoclast yet unhappy and insecure. These people are interesting, though scenes feel clichéd. We move from the former soviet bloc to New York city. The Georgian dancing, or Bulgarian music never really felt real to me. It feel like self-conscious exoticism. Perhaps a meditation on failure isn't supposed to make me care about its characters. Perhaps I expected too much. Probably. The ingredients of this novel are excellent; I just failed to care.

31. Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel García Márquez. García Márquez started his life as a reporter and in Clandestine in Chile he is acting somewhere between novelist and reporter, closer to reporter. Based on 14 hours of interviews with exiled Chilean film maker Miguel Littín, who risked his life in 1985 to return in disguise to General Pinochet's Chile to make a documentary about life in the dictatorship. The story is written in the first person, which makes the reportage feel more novelistic. It's fascinating to read how Littín struggled with his disguise as Uruguayan business, his self rejecting the foreign persona and rebelling to be true to himself, despite the perceived danger. We read how he felt when he could pass friends or family members on the street without being recognized. With the help of the underground, he employed three film crews from three different nations, each pretending to be shooting something else (a nature documentary, a commercial, a documentary about the architect of the presidential palace) to gather a "105,000-foot donkey's tail of film" to pin on Pinochet. The story of his experience, twelve years prior, of Pinochet's coup, and his arbitrary escape, because he happened to meet a soldier who was a film enthusiast who recognized him, was harrowing. The story of his clandestine time making his film was a bit more peculiar - the danger is never clear, that late in the game - but compelling. I was particularly fond of the upper class grandmother whom he works with, who discovered that actually, her talents had been wasted in her staid and conservative life, and that she should have been a spy and a revolutionary. The idiosyncratic introduction by Francisco Goldman, putting the author, subject and larger politics into perspective was interesting, though it almost skewered the lot of them. A very intriguing book.

32. 500 Handmade Books - Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form If you love books like I do, you should buy this one. The introduction and discussion of the selection process is food for thought. What makes a book? What 'rules' can be broken, which ones cannot? The collection, and the information about the books is very well curated. You can see the thinking behind it; comparisons and contrasts, without a lot of wordy justifications. They let the photos (and captions) speak for themselves. The publisher, Lark Books, does not list an author, but I think that the credit lies with Steve Miller, a bookbinder who juried the collection.

33. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. Really, you must all start reading David Mitchell if you are not yet doing so. His writing makes me think about what it is to be a person. Black Swan Green is the story of a 13-year-old clandestine poet, Jason Taylor, growing up in a sleepy village in Worcestershire in Thatcher's England, in 1982. Jason has a stutter, which he personifies to himself as Hangman, which he strives to hide from schoolyard bullies. The voice inside his head, which is needling and self-critical, voicing the pressure to conform with his peers, is the Unborn Twin. He is clever enough to hide his intelligence, his writing, and his speech impediment from his peers. The society of adolescents in which he lives is so very real - the complex social ranking, the bullying, the way in which they hoodwink adults. It places the reader right back in that world. His parents' marriage is unraveling. His older sister calls him 'Thing'. The people around him are caught up in the Falklands, or local strife about Gypsies camping. A certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck ties the novel subtly to Cloud Atlas. The novel is beautiful, compelling and real.

34. How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers. This collection of short stories is compelling and inventive, as one would expect. Some stories are strange, some simple slices of reality, some seem straightforward and yet are not. I feel that he takes on voices well: stories narrated by women, and even one narrated by a dog, are believable. This is a good collection.

As a Canadian, I was annoyed by the offhand comment that faced with genocide in Rwanda the UN sends in "15 Belgians" because General Roméo Dallaire, Commander of the UN forces there, is the sort of person who makes me proud to be Canadian. Though, I think I should learn not to be irked by offhand comments which are really examples of hyperbole in fiction, for heaven's sake.

35. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. It seems that Chabon found a book called Say It in Yiddish, published in the 1950s and wrote a controversial, ironic essay 'Guidebook to a Land of Ghosts'. He could not envision a place where Yiddish would be the lingua franca, post-WWII, but he did not realize that in the 50s, despite the fact that Israel selected Hebrew and moved away from Yiddish, as official language, that it remained so common that the guidebook was both useful and popular. He alluded to a little known suggestion in 1940, that European Jewish refugees could be moved to Alaska, and imagined briefly what it would be like to have a Yiddish speaking 'country' of the Frozen Chosen. He received a fair amount of flack for his article, so he decided to take it one step further and wrote a novel. On the surface, the novel is an alternate history: what if the state of Israel had not succeeded, and millions of Jewish refugees had in fact been living in the Yiddish-speaking Federal District of Sitka for sixty years. The District is scheduled to revert to Alaskan control. The setting is marvelous - the combination of Jewish and Alaskan Native culture, the Yiddish language, the Pacific Northwest landscape, the sense of impending doom. In this setting walks Meyer Landsman, a star detective down on his luck - his life and marriage have fallen apart and his whole world is ending. He wakes up one morning at his rooming-house style hotel to find one of his fellow tenants, a one-time chess prodigy and possible former 'black hat' Orthodox, has been murdered in his bed. He cannot ignore this case, in his own home, so to speak, so despite the order to start closing down cases prior to Reversion, he becomes embroiled. The hardboiled detective story is rife with full characters, from his partner and cousin, half-Native 'yid' Berko, an outsider to both communities, his ex-wife Bina, the newly installed police chief, a good cop with uncontrollable curly red hair who carries her life in one giant, leather tote, down to minor characters like the Fillipino donut-man/informer. This is a story of life, death, the reality of relationships, love, the tragedy of families, land, Messiah and magic, refugees, religion and politics. It's great.

Also, the design of my paperback, put out by Harper's Perennial, in black, red, white and turquoise, combining Native imagery, Jewish symbols, chess and stylized cityscapes and guns, is excellent.

36. White Noise by Don Delillo. I've just started my 25th-Anniversary Edition, and it's hard to put down.

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL}

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Poppies detail
lower poppies

A group of poppies is illustrated in this original first edition linocut print, with chine collé. The poppies are printed in black ink on white and red Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Each sheet is 32 cm high by 24 cm wide (12.5" by 9.5") with a deckle edge. The first edition is limited to eight prints. It's a very graphic print in red, black and white.

The Trans-Canada Etsy Team selected the theme 'Red for Remembrance' for the month of November. I thought I would be direct about it and illustrate some poppies. They are beautiful, laden with symbolism and very graphic in red and black.

Monday, November 1, 2010

street art - Ossington

gaze and girl - detail fiat mihi mural

This is one of my favorite pieces of (guerilla) public art. The photo is one of the more popular ones in my flickr stream. I don't know the artist, but this mural on Bousthead Avenue, off Dundas St W, says 'Fiat Mihi' on it. Clearly, the piece on an exterior wall on Ossington, between Dundas and Queen, is by the same artist. I asked RJH to photograph it:


We had gone to see some of the PRINTOPOLIS exhibits, on Saturday. Along the way, we stopped to explore an alleyway, where I shot the graffiti.

face + vinedino + sax + fisheyes & pirate
bike + dog baby head in teeth

Yes, that's a cement baby-head in the teeth of the 'Private Property No Dumping' sign.
painted garage doorface + teeth on sidegarage doors
garage mural
stencil crittertags in Ossington alleyrobot teeth
skull + tags
face on garage door
who for mayor?

Bit blurry, but I also appreciated the rabbit, sauntering down the street in his velvet jacket.
rabit saunters down Ossington