Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Constellation of Cancer the Crab

Cancer Constellation

The silver stars and silhouette of Cancer the crab are illustrated in this handmade block print. I printed an edition of eight prints, 7 inches by 10 inches (17.8 cm by 24.8 cm) on lovely, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with a deckle edge. The word Cancer and symbol ♋ appear at the bottom of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in black-on-silver or silver-on-black as appropriate. There are two star clusters, shown as circles filled with stars. The Beehive Cluster (M44 in the Messier star catalogue) is inside the crab itself. The open star cluster M67 appears by the lower claw.

Cancer is one of the dimest zodiac constellations (or those constellations which cross the ecliptic). If you imagined all celestial bodies we see in the night sky as mapped onto a sphere (the Celestial Sphere) around our Earth, the ecliptic would be the line you would draw to map the apparent path of the Sun through the various constellations. The ecliptic is marked as the dashed line in this print. Because of its dimness Cancer was often considered the "Dark Sign", quaintly described as black and without eyes. It has been recognized as various crustaceans by different peoples at different periods. I've shown it as a crab, which is most common today.

I realize I have many series on the go now. This suits me better than a single-minded approach. I like to switch it up to avoid having creativity blocks. I'm working on completing the other 9 zodiac constellations; I plan two more local bee species; I have 7 provinces and three territories yet to print; I plan monograms for the other 18 letters of the alphabet. This is on top of open-ended series, like 'figures from the history of science' or the 'terms of venery' series, or just plain 'animals'. I have series I would continue (like the 'Imaginary Friends of Science' series) if I ever discovered any further subjects. I also have possible future series, quietly brewing in my brain.

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