Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's Not the Moths Pillow

anti-moths broadside pillow

This one of a kind, handmade pillow features an image of my 'Moths' linocut, printed on a cotton silk blend fabric with a soft sheen. The reverse of the pillow is pin-striped greys and browns with irridescent threads and a beige and turquoise butterfly print cotton. The pillow is about 14.5" by 12" (37 cm by 31 cm). You might recall my explanation of my broadside:
I got no quarrel with the insects. Just because they have six legs and an exoskeleton is no reason to revile 'em. The beasties of the Lepidoptera order are beautiful and multifarious. We take their cousins the butterflies as symbols of the soul. I've personally long maintained that butterflies are the new pirates, with their ever-increasing popularity. I understand that insects will share my habitat - and even my home - as they, after all, were here first. We may even compete for the same resources in our shared environment. It's just the expensive tastes of the moths... they've crossed the line. It's not like I even own very many cashmere items, and the little #$@& went after them all.
So, I had the broadsides printed onto fabric, to make lovely cushions. Surely, the moths are now quaking in their boots. All 6 of them.

reverse of moths pillow

Monday, August 13, 2012

That look says

Minouette guards Thai dinner

"What do you mean, 'Cats don't eat Thai food?'"

(photo by rjh - please ignore the mid-small-reno kitchen mess)

A nest of rabbits

a nest of rabbits

This linocut shows a nest of rabbits. The collective noun for a group of rabbits is a "nest". This amuses me, because I imagine bunnies in bird's nests, hatching from eggs. However, rabbits really do make nests (complete with piles of bunnies), so it's not so strange a term. The typography I designed for the words represents their meaning; "nest" mimics the shape of a bird's nest with egg-like 'e' and 's'; the word "rabbits" is made of rabbit-shaped letters and a nose-and-whisker 'T'.

These linoleum block printed rabbits are printed in brown ink with black words on Japanese kozo, or mulberry paper. Each print is 9.25" by 12.5" or 23.5 cm by 31.7 cm in dimension. There are 8 prints in the edition.

This is the seventh in a series of 'terms of venery' prints!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

adventures in readings

chick comes prepared I've been feeling under the weather for about a week, but I thought it was some low-grade virus I could shake off. Unfortunately, I also (or so I thought) had water in my ear which was beginning to impede hearing. I finally went to the doctor yesterday and was prescribed rest and antibiotics for an ear infection. I'm not so good at doing little.

Tuesday, I went to hear Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess) give a reading at Indigo at Bay and Bloor. It was extremely crowded and I was reminded of Someotherathena's dread tales of crazed Jamie Oliver fans who showed up at his reading. All the seats were taken when I arrived (40 minutes early). I found a spot to stand at the back next to two people who were already there. Unlike most people, I looked over my shoulder to make sure that I stationed myself so that I was not impeding the view of those who arrived before me. There was an Indigo employee doing her best to prevent people from standing on the stairs and in the aisle, but she was no bouncer. A man came and stood right in front of us... but then, he wouldn't even stay still and he stepped on toes and bumped into all of us, repeatedly. The couple who were there before me looked hard put upon (aha!) and rolled their eyes. I said, "Excuse me," being Canadian, and he stared at me blankly. So, I was forced to continue, "You keep bumping into me so I wanted to make you aware..." "I never bumped into you." "Yes, actually, about three times." He turned to look at the couple for support and they glared at him, so he weaselled away. So I seemed to have impressed the couple and we chatted a bit. They told me that if there was a rush to the velvet rope when the reading began I should stick with them. A mother came by and said excuse me (though there was a free path to move on the other side of me) and before I could respond, she took me by the shoulder and forcibly displaced me, setting a lovely example for her daughter on how not to negotiate a crowd. The man told an employee that they had been waiting patiently for an hour, following the instructions to stay out of the aisle and then later arrivers had just come and stood in front. She marched around with her little microphone and vaguely shooed people who ignored her. Later, since apparently she had no short term memory, she came at me aggressively and told me I would have to move. The man told her I was with them, in a tone which made her back off. Sure enough, when the talk began, we got to go right up to the back of the seated audience, after all that fruitless audience wrangling. He said next time they were going to spray paint a box on the floor to mark the spot they staked out and I suggested wearing protective clothing. 

The interview and reading were indeed hilarious. She has great comedic timing which is not a given. Just because a writer is funny it doesn't follow that they are funny in person, but she is. She interjected with funny tidbits left out of the book or anecdotes about the response she had received (from everyone from her in-laws to Pepto-bismol). It was really entertaining. I joined the long line to get my book signed. Reynardin called so we passed the time. I thought I would leave if I hadn't made it to the front within an hour, but it seemed so close then that I stayed. By the time I got to the front, I was exhausted. I had been standing for three hours. I was more sick than I realized. I couldn't hear out of my right ear. I suddenly realized I had nothing articulate to say and I hadn't brought a camera (people bring cameras to readings?). So I said something inarticulate about how it was a riot and I was glad she came to Canada and I came to the reading. She said she loved my shirt (as illustrated above) and I said I had thought it was somehow appropriate. She said it was very appropriate and thanked me for waiting so long. She has a weakness for (taxidermied) animals doing odd things, so a chick with a fish strapped to her back seemed like something which would be her thing. Since much of her writing actually reveals the hilarious-in-hindsight aspect of generally speaking her mind heedless of her perhaps over-developed sense and appreciation of the absurd and the social awkwardness caused by anxiety disorder, I thought of all people, I should not worry about having said something odd and inarticulate to her, because she'd get it. Plus, she told us she was doped up on anti-anxiety meds... 

I'd never been to a reading which was quite so overfull with fans (as in fanatics), complete with jockeying for position, though I did once crash a reading with Reynardin. Though that was an innocent mistake. We went to hear John Le Carré on campus. R had got the tickets. One of the grad students had defended her masters so I was coming from the pub and frankly was a wee bit tipsy. I told R we could take a short-cut across campus and I lead her into the back door of the building where the talk would be and confidently assumed we could find the auditorium because it was so large. We did in fact succeed, entering the auditorium through the stage door. I saw that it was quite full and did not want to make a scene so I dragged R to the first available seats I saw - in the front row (quite oblivious to the fact that R's tickets were for two specific numbered seats, much further back). In hindsight, the front row was empty as it was reserved for VIPs. After a bit the man in charge of the readings series came and sat a few seats down. He raised his eyebrow at us, but said nothing. I think he was amused by the perceived moxie and pleased that anyone would care enough about a reading to sneak in. Though of course, we legitimately had tickets, and I had ignorantly taken the front row seats in an attempt to be inconspicuous. 

I think I'll try and do a better job of taking it easy today. Certainly no running errands or standing on my feet for hours. I can't wait until I have two fully functioning ears again. Tragically, we are out of coffee and I cannot will coffee beans to be delivered to my door. I'm hoping RJH can pick some up on his way home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The latest bee: Melissodes


This is a linocut with two sorts of (collaged) chine collé papers (pale yellow body and translucent paper with foil inclusions for the wings) on Japanese kozo (or mulberry), 8.25" by 6.125" or 21 cm by 15.6 cm. There are 18 prints in the edition. I used the two coloured papers to try to replicate the insect's lovely pale yellow body and translucent wings.

Meet another bee which is native to this part of the world (the new world, or western hemisphere). This is the Melissodes, or Long-horned bee. These are small to medium sized bees, ranging from 7.5 to 18 mm long (0.3 to 0.71 inches). They are robust with fuzzy yellow hairs and conspicuous hairy legs. When you look at an enlarged photo of a Melissodes their hairy legs remind me of a sheepdog. The front part of the female's face is usually yellow. Like most bees in the tribe Eucerini, males have long antennae. Males are long-bodied, while females have short antennae and are round-bodied. This print shows a female. These are solitary bees and live in individual nests rather than hives.

I'm planning to make a total of 6 bees, all of which can be found here in Ontario.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Reading is sexy LI

(image credit: Chris Silas Neal)
12. The Sea - A Cultural History by John Mack This was an very interesting book, though somehow it didn't quite keep me engaged. I would recommend this book as an interesting read, perhaps in small doses, along with some other reading. In fairness, I think I am not well disposed to reading uncorrected page proofs (like this one). I do get caught in details.* The one thing I would have preferred in fact would be more. Some of the things which interest me, like (obviously) marine science**, exploration, map making, the depths, shipwrecks, and women at sea, naval architecture and piracy are given short shrift. I think this book could easily have grown into a much larger project. As it is, it's more of an anthropological, sociological and English literature history (with a touch of art history) of the sea than a full cultural history of the sea - which is a fascinating thing, but not a complete thing. I did particularly appreciate the careful study of cultural differences in navigation. In the west (particularly the Mediterranean) we historically focus on a tradition of 'coasting' (travelling from port to port, largely within sight of shore) and we give a lot of credit to explorers' "discoveries" (of inhabited, clearly already discovered places). Too often we learn western history as world history, so the details on Ibn M jid and 15th century navigation in the Arab world were refreshing. I appreciated the contrast between (southern) European methods with the tradition of navigation in the Arab world (which largely involved knowing the monsoonal weather patterns and latitudes of all ports, finding the requisite latitude and going straight across a line of latitude). This in turn can be contrasted with the Polynesian navigation tradition, which was more about relative headings maintained with reference to astronomical cues in the presence of currents, wind and waves. In an oceanic world dotted with small islands, the sea is viewed as connecting, rather than separating people. I also enjoyed learning of societies like the Sea Gypsies of Malaya, who, as near as possible, live on the ocean.
(image: by

 *Like most people who go to sea, I admire Captain Cook and thus was stumped when I read about his contributions to "geography and hydrology". Hydrology? Cook did many things, but nothing like the work of hydrologists I know (who study the action of water in geology). Eventually I concluded that this was a typo and hydrography was intended - something more obviously paired with geography, after all. But, I wasted a lot of time puzzling over this. Also, when the Nootka people of BC are described as living on an island west of "Victoria Island" it really annoys me; there is no "Victoria" island. I know it's confusing that Vancouver is on mainland and Victoria is on Vancouver Island, but since the Nootka were mentioned when discussing Captain Vancouver, you think it might have occurred to someone. It's the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand, so it's sort of hard to miss. I don't think most people would be irked by such details (unless they happen to have lived on Vancouver Island and done marine geophysical research off Nootka Island).


{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,XLI, XLII, XLIII,XLIV, XLV, XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII, XLIX, L}