Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dinovember and One of a Kind and Scienterrific and the TEST Christmas Market

Well November is always a busy time of year! This year I also curated and showed in DINOVEMBER, November 4 to 14, a dinosaur themed art show at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery! We had a number of fun and beautiful works including painting, printmaking and scupture; jewellery, housewares, cards and toys. Peggy Muddles of the vexed muddler outdid herself, with a large ceramic dinosaur heart (with anatomy inferred from modern-day bird and reptile hearts) with Cretaceous flora and fauna (palms, grains, mosses, and butterflies) which used a proximity sensor to trigger the playing of a sound file (a composition of electronic music inspired by the time period).

Fossil amonnite ring by Slashpile Designs

Terra Incognita by PaperParadigm
Dinosaur planters from
Sonic Bloom

Watercolour whimsical dinosaurs from Deirdre Wicks of Water in my Paint
Screenprinted T. rexes on paper and as stuffed animals by sunandstarsco

Dinosaur heart multimedia sculpture by the vexed muddler

Linocut dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures from minouette

The One of a Kind Show (November 23 to December 3) while always a bit of a marathon for handmakers selling their work, felt like it went faster than in previous years. I debuted my new booth, built by my husband. It's always great to see the "travelling circus" of artists and artisans again. Thank you very much to everyone who came out, helped me, said hello or purchased art!

The next weekend, Peggy Muddles hosted a Scienterrific #sciart pop-up market at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery. Cause she's the best, she let me set-up and abandon my art work there and she sold it on my behalf. I was busy celebrating my son's 4th birthday! His actual birthday was during the One of a Kind, but we opted for the sane plan of delaying the party until afterwards. As one maker friend put it, "Throwing a birthday party during OOAK is like throwing a wedding while at the Olympics!"

Then last weekend was the always-fun Toronto Etsy Street Team Christmas Market at St Stephens-in-the-Fields church in Kensington Market. We had Krampus and Santa visit - as well as an unscheduled visit from the Toronto Fire Department, conveniently from the fire hall across the street due to an alarm! Thank you very much to everyone who came out. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.... but am thankful to be done with all shows and exhibits for 2017. Now I'm going to make some cookies and relax.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UnNatural History

My linocut imaginary menagerie: Snowflake beetles, Chrysanthemum snake, Elusive Cactibou, Iceberg Squid, Batbearoo, Hammerhead Hedgehorse, Duck-billed Deer, Winged Walrus, Mandriltee and Aeolian Jellyfish

 Last Friday, the 13th, was the Opening for 'UnNatural History', curated by Tosca Terán at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery. There were costumes, Tarot readings, and prizes along with a fascinating show of art from 14 artists from Canada, the US, Iceland and Hungary. Works include painting, printmaking, multimedia, photography, bookbinding and sculpture and explore real and imaginary life forms and landscapes.

 This month and for the first two days of November, there gallerywill also host a series of workshops, from creating with thermoplastic, to bat skeleton articulation to decorating sugar skills to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Find out more on the blog and come see the show while you can!
Paintings by Kristen D'Aquila
Photographs of marine plants and animals in multimedia light boxes by Holly McClellan

Sculptures with detail of one of the sculptures, and what lurks inside, by Lavinia Hanachiuc

Photographic sculptures of landscapes by Mar Hester
Hand-stitched, collaged animal illustrations by Judith Pudden

Multimedia by Kest Schwartzman, including cicadas, butterflies and a bat in metal masks and costumes
Kest Schwartzman

Kest Schwartzman

painting by Rosemary Stehlik
Photos by Wilder Duncan and Ralph Smith. Wilder, who is teaching the bat skeleton articulation workshop and does rogue taxidermy, arranges the bones he works with, in paterns like mandalas or geometric shapes and collaborated with still life photographer Smith

Pati Tozer's miniature etchings and hand-bound book, between Schwartzman's cicadas and D'Aquila's paintings

wundercabinet of beaded specimen by Cynthia Winders
Tosca Terán, glass sculptures with wool, moss and lichen, shaped like plankton
Images are 'Ambient Plague' by Elaine Whittaker about microbes around us. Bone sculptures by Tosca Terán, and figurines by Kathryn Bell

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seismologist Inge Lehmann for Ada Lovelace Day

Inge Lehmann, linocut on Japanese washi, 8" x 8" by Ele Willoughby

Today is the 9th annual international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology, science and math, Ada Lovelace Day 2017 (ALD17). I'm sure you'll all recall, Ada, brilliant proto-software engineer, daughter of absentee father, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Lord Byron, she was able to describe and conceptualize software for Charles Babbage's computing engine, before the concepts of software, hardware, or even Babbage's own machine existed! She foresaw that computers would be useful for more than mere number-crunching. For this she is rightly recognized as visionary - at least by those of us who know who she was. She figured out how to compute Bernouilli numbers with a Babbage analytical engine. Tragically, she died at only 36. Today, in Ada's name, people around the world are blogging about women in STEM.
You can find my previous Ada Lovelace Day posts here. 

This year, to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day (ALD17), I'm writing about a great a Danish (or, as she put it the only Danish) seismologist who was at the forefront of the field in the early twentieth century, the one and only Inge Lehmann (1888-1993). She was a pioneer woman in science, a brilliant seismologist and lived to be 104. In 1936 she wrote an earth-shattering paper, with an astonishingly succinct title: P' in which she laid out her arguments supporting her discovery of the inner core of the earth.

We now know, as she first postulated, that the earth has roughly three equal concentric sections: mantle, liquid outer core and solid inner core. The crust, on which we live is merely a thin, um, scum really, on top of this slowly boiling pot. The only way to probe deep into the earth's core is to employ massive earthquakes, the waves they generate and the paths they follow. There are two main types of seismic waves used for studies of the globe, unimaginatively named Primary (or P, which are known as pressure waves or compressional waves) and Secondary (or S, which are shear waves). “P is used to denote longitudinal or ‘pressure’ seismic waves. Those that travel in the Earth’s mantle and crust only are represented by P; P’ represents P-waves that pass through the mantle into the core, and then pass through the mantle again,” she explained. The paths these waves can follow through the Earth depend on their nature, and the materials through which they travel.

Even if you don't regularly think about waves, you will be familiar with a type of compressional wave, namely sound. Read this aloud and the air molecules between your mouth and the ears of any listener (including your own) will compress and rarefy in a wave pattern as the sound is transmitted. Shear waves are different, and as the name implies, they are excited by a shearing motion (like you make with scissors, also known as shears). I can't describe a shear wave in air, or any other fluid, for the same reason you can't cut air with your scissors: fluids do not support shear.

Lehmann's 1936 paper presented this (simplified) three-shell model of the Earth.
She argued that P-waves recorded within the shadow zone are caused by
their interaction with a solid inner core. Today we know that in reality,
seismic waves curve as they travel through the layers of Earth.
Credit: Kathleen Cantner, AGI, based on Lehmann’s original figure, redrawn in 2001.
Imagine a glass of water with a straw; the straw will appear broken at the air-water interface, because light bends as it enters the water. Just like light travelling through different media, these seismic waves can bend, reflect or be transmitted at any boundary. The difference in physical properties between the mantle and outer core causes a P-wave shadow, due to diffractions at the boundary (like in the straw in water analogy). For S-waves, the shadow zone is absolute because liquids, like the outer core, do not support shear. Thus, no shear waves can make it through the outer core, and thus we can be certain the outer core is fluid. The faster moving compressional waves can move through fluids, but they refract at the boundary, which causes the shadow zone for seismic stations beyond 105° from an epicentre. Lehmann found that there were some late-arriving P-waves are much larger angles (142° to 180°) which had been vaguely labelled 'diffractions' (shown in orange on the diagram). These were P' waves which had travelled right through the Earth's core, then out through the mantle again to the other side. Some appeared stronger amplitude than expected (red lines, between the two shadow zones). There were also waves inexplicably arriving within the P-wave shadow, where no one expected compressional waves to arrive. She showed that these could be explained instead by deflections of the waves which travelled through the outer core at her postulated inner core boundary. These weird P' waves could only be explained by if there was another interface within the core, between an outer fluid core and an inner solid core!

Modern depiction of the Lehmann discontinuity where there's a
kink in the speed of mantle P waves for three different settings -
TNA = Tectonic North America, SNA = Shield North America
and ATL = North Atlantic. [*]
She later discovered a discontinuity in the mantle (confusingly also called the Lehmann discontinuity). She did important work well into her 70s and lived to be 105.

When she received the Bowie medal in 1971 (she was the first woman to receive the highest honour of the American Geophysical Union), her citation noted that the "Lehmann discontinuity was discovered through exacting scrutiny of seismic records by a master of a black art for which no amount of computerization is likely to be a complete substitute..." (*).

I think her accomplishments are downright astonishing. To have the exactitude to work with the data and the daring to neglect the irrelevant and offer up a simple, elegant - correct! - explanation is a rare and marvellous thing. To be the top of her field in 1936, when she was a pioneer for women in science and had to "compete in vain with incompetent men" (her words *) is heroic.

Women in Science and Engineering Trading cards starter pack
You can find my portrait of Inge Lehmann here. Both Lehmann and Ada, Countess Lovelace are among the portaits I contributed to the Phylo Women in STEM trading cards (which can be found at the link). The set can be downloaded and printed for free or you can purchase your own set as illustrated.
There are a grand total of three easily found photographs of Lehmann I was able to find on the internet. I based my portrait one of the earlier ones, to match the date of her phenomenal P' paper. I also show her model of the earth (as she herself presented it in 1936) in red-orange ink, complete with mantle, inner and outer core, and travel paths for rays through the layers, including into the shadow zone. One of the great geophysicists - one of the great scientists of the 20th century, Inge Lehmann should be remembered.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Etsy: Made in Canada & UnNatural History plus Dinovember

This Saturday, September 23, we're returning to MaRS for our 4th Etsy: Made in Canada show! 

This year, I'll be selling my prints and hand-printed textiles at Table 38 in the west side of the Atrium off University Avenue. I'm enjoying stepping back a little, playing a role in the organizational committee but not being the leader. I've handed over the reigns to my friend (and show neighbour at Table 40) Emma of Landfill Designs is the ringleader this year! So, I get much more opportunity to simply enjoy one of the biggest and best shows of the year. Show up early for a chance to get one of our fabled swag bags! There will be a great juried selection of 125 local artists, artisans, designers, vintage purveryors and makers. Hope to see you there! Click on the maps to see larger images and plan your route.

I'm also excited to announce I'll be taking part in An UnNatural History! Local multimedia (metal and glass) sculptor and jewellery maker Tosca Terran of nanopod is curating an international group show which takes inspiration from the history of the artistic representation of natural history to investigate the unreal including "hybrid organisms, fictional fungi/botany, distant imaginary worlds, unusual geometry, otherworldly life, geography, animals, minerals, astronomy, genetic mutations." This subject dovetails with my own investigations of fictional science and my "Unnatural history" series of prints and I'm excited to see my work in context of this group and others' interpretation of these fascinating ideas. Tosca is also planning some fabulous events to coincide with the show including a Halloween party Opening, bat skeleton articulation workshops and Dias de los Muertos themed sugar skull workshops all at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery!

Then in November, I'm curating the DINOVEMBER show, celebrating all things dinosaurs! This exhibition will feature art in all media and handcrafted items about everyone's favourite extinct behemoths*, the dinosaurs! For Dinovember we are seeking dinosaur items from imaginative artworks to scientific illustrations to handmade toys and other goods.

Other non-dinosaur Mesozoic creatures are also welcome! We love flying and marine reptiles, prehistoric fish and more.

*Diminuative dinosaurs are also welcome. Find out more here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beetles, Pangolins & Back to School

Beetles, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017
 When I did my demo for 'Washi Wednesday' at the Japanese Paper Place I had the idea of showing how I could print a single lino block to highlight the two main ways I incorporate various coloured and patterned washi papers into my work. I carved a lino block with an array of different interesting beetles and printed them both on papers to let me produce naturalistic images, mimicking as closely as possible the colours and sheen of these beetles in nature, and on a welter of wonderful patterned washi for imaginative reinterpretations of these beetles. The print shows, from left to right, top to bottom: Goliath beetle, Calligrapha verrucosa, blowout tiger beetle, Fruhstorferia sexmaculata, Phaedon oviformis, Reindeer beetle, Ceratophyus martinez, Erythrus ardens. Below are the first four "Other Beetles" in their wild colours and patterns.

Other Beetles I, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles II, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles III, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles IV, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

I've also started on a series of pangolins. The ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), is one of the eight armour-plated mammals of the order Pholidota. The keratin scales made of fused hairs overlap like a pinecone or the leaves of an artichoke. When threatened the pagolin rolls up into an inpreganble ball or emit a noxious-smelling chemical like a skunk. They have sharp claws to burrow into ant or termite mounds and extremely long tongues like anteaters. All 8 species are vulnerable or endangered, due to hunting (for meat and scales) and deforestation. They are the most trafficked animals in the world.

Pangolin I, 16" x 11" linocut print on collaged washi papers, Ele Willoughby, 2017

I am making a series of prints on beautiful Japanese washi papers. The scene is printed on handmade gampi udaban paper, 41 cm by 27.7 cm (16 inches by 11 inches) with a deckle edge. Each of the scales is printed on various handmade, colourful, patterned papers. This print is one of a series of prints, each with its own unique pattern of scales.

Today is a really big day in our household. We sent out 3.6 year old son off for his first day of Junior Kindergarten. It's quite the experience for all of us. I think parents and son alike are filled with excitement and trepedation for this new stage of life. I hope he's safe and happy and learning and having fun. He was very excited to go to school, but looked quite concerned when he realized he would be left there with the other students rather than coming home with me. I've spent most of my day wondering how he's doing, of course.