Monday, April 27, 2015

minouette on Etsy & the Etsy: Made in Canada community!

Carving a lino block in my studio during the Etsy Canada photoshoot!
(photo by Nicole Breanne Hudson)
A few weeks ago, we had a little photoshoot in my studio! As the captain of one of the largest teams in Canada, and someone actively involved in planning Etsy: Made in Canada, Etsy asked if they could profile me as a member of the made in Canada handmade community. The photographer Nicole, Tanya from Etsy, and my fellow Toronto Etsy Street Team leader, Candice joined me in my studio with the baby (who thought this was a riot!) and, Minouette the cat. Though she (Minouette) can often be shy, she seemed to have decided that this was clearly all about her, and she should be the centre of attention. She stole the show. I guess that makes sense, since I named my shop after her. Anyway, I'm honoured to get to represent so much amazing talent involved in Etsy: Made in Canada, and excited to be profiled on Etsy. You can find the main landing page for Etsy: Made in Canada at the link and read the profile, complete with a peak inside my studio on the community page here!

In my studio, Minouette stations herself on my desk, so she can be sure to be in the shot (photo by Nicole Breanne Hudson)
I was also flattered to see that BlogTO listed me as one of  The top 20 Etsy sellers in Toronto by category in 'Art' writing, 

Minouette's prints and cards feature woodcut illustrations of historical figures, zodiac signs, and fluffy animals. Relevant to Torontonian interests: this high-fiving raccoon ($35)."
It's been a good week for press for the shop!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gregor Mendel and his Peas

Gregor Mendel with his pea plants
Gregor Mendel, 11" x 14" (28 cm x 35.6 cm), 2015 by Ele Willoughby
This is a linocut portrait of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), scientist and Augustinian friar who posthumously gained fame for establishing many of the rules of heredity, fundamental to modern genetics.... more than three decades after his death (though even he didn't realize the importance of his crossbreeding studies). By carefully crossbreeeding pea plants and tracing seven characterististics (plant height, pod shape and colour, seed shape and colour, and flower position and colour) he was able to deduce what are now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. Apparently, pea plants were the most popular of his projects with his colleagues. His mouse experiments were frown upon by his bishop (all those copulating rodents!) and his particularly aggressive Cyprian and Carniolan bees proved an annoyance to his fellow monks and visitors to the abby.

He coined the terms "recessive" and "dominant" traits. Some of his findings are subtlely alluded to in the layout of the pea flowers, like a Punnett square depicting a cross between two pea plants heterozygous for purple and white blossoms - that is, purple flowers are a dominant characteristic and the first generation of crossbread plants will have all purple flowers, but the recessive white flowers can reappear in subsequent generations. The first edition is a variable run of 8 prints, each 11" by 14" (28 cm by 35.6 cm), on ivory Japanese kozo paper with "chine-collé" white and mauve paper.

Apart from completing this print this weekend, I unfortunately got to spend most of the beautiful Sunday afternoon inside, in line.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking that I don't get out enough with the baby and still had not used gift certificates I got at Christmas. It's a challenge sometimes to work around his meals and naps and get anywhere on public transit (especially if that means carrying him and his stoller up and down three flights of stairs cause so many stations are still not accessible in 2015!). So, I made a point to go to a certain shop with the intent of replacing my 10 year old, twice-repaired shoes. I found the shop mostly empty of shoes but I did buy myself a dress on sale, and went across the street and bought myself an organic fruit smoothie at the Big Carrot, which I shared with the baby. At the time, I thought I'd done really well. As locals will know, a server has since been diagnosed with Hep A, and thus, like hundreds of other patrons, Gabriel and I got to wait in line to be vaccinated. It's unlikely we've been exposed; we would have had to have been served by the particular person and he or she would have had to had improperly washed hands... but it's not worth risking (and the young can show no symptoms while readily infecting others). Not how I would have liked to have spent the first lovely warm day of the year... though I was kind of impressed that everyone took the public health advice, turned up, and waited patiently. The elderly couple behind us offered to push the stroller and hold out place in line so I could at least let Gabriel run around a little. He's not too rambunctious and people were patient with him, which I appreciated. It helps that he smiles at everyone.