Monday, January 31, 2011

Block printing blog feature

The lovely textile and print design blog Okyo Love featured my block prints today. I enjoyed checking out the blog and archives (prints, textiles and fashion, what's not to love?) Check out the post and the blog here.

Little Boat, Big Ocean

In case any of you were wondering, "When is that minouette ever going list her tradition Japanese-syle moku hanga woodblock print for sale?" the answer is now.

If you never saw or have forgotten previous posts about this, here's my summary:
'I made this woodblock print made in the traditional Japanese moku hanga style on beautiful handmade hosho paper. I carved four blocks, one for each colour: yellow, blue, violet and charcoal gray. It depicts a folded paper boat containing an unseen fisher, on the ocean, which in turn contains the unsuspected giant octopus. I'm playing with scale, colour, line and legends.

As a scientist who does science at sea, I've learned to remember we are in but a small boat on the big ocean.

This is a first edition print of only 4. Each print is about 14 inches by 11 inches (36 cm x 28 cm).'

Also, my shop has been undergoing a complete make-over, as I've been editing all listings. I've replaced many photos with bright, more detailed scans (using my new scanner). If you have a look, let me know what you think. Thanks!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Animated Science of the Deep

Earlier this week was the 50th anniversary of the first manned dive to the deepest point on Earth: the Marianas Trench, south of Japan, near Guam, along the edge of the Philipine Basin. Wired magazine posted this wonderful, animated documentary. They credit the interview to Victor Ozols, and video to Roman Wolter. Featuring the audio recording of an interview with Jacques Piccard, who made the dive, the stylish animation never sacrifices science substance for aesthetics. Information is clearly and elegantly portrayed in illustrations, sufficiently schematic to be easily absorbed, yet really lovely and engaging. If all science museum exhibits were this good, I'd never escape the museum.

Also, I am reminded once again how much I want to go to the seafloor. I was once on a research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantis and got to see ALVIN, but sadly, no dives were included during that trip.

My mother, who is claustrophobic, has made me promise that if I ever get the opportunity to go in a submersible, that I am not to tell her until I have safely returned ashore.

(cross-posted to my other blog)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bumblebee Best of 2010!

bumblebee 001

Craftster Best of 2010 Winner I'm a Craftster Best of 2010 Winner! My bumblebee linocut was awarded one of the 'Best of 2010' awards from craftster in the "Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects" category! I don't spend as much time on the site as I once did, but craftster is a great site, and being a member really helped me hone my skills and learn how to create things and send them off into the unknown. I'm very flattered they've awarded me a 'best of' once again! The funny thing is that I created the bee with a view to entering it in a printmaking competition (for prints with a print area no larger than 10 cm, or 4 inches, squared) - but I never submitted it. Perhaps this is my cue to submit more art to competitions. Hmmmm....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reading is sexy XLIII

(image by Sophie Blackall from her 'Missed Connections' series)

The connections I notice between the three first novels I read in 2011 are the manuscript within the novel, family, love between siblings, a quest for a father, video games, creative use of fonts, and visceral, unexpected violence. Don't say I didn't tell you.

1. Invisible by Paul Auster. Like his in New York trilogy, a manuscript, or in fact two, play a vital roll in this novel - providing a voice from the past, or even the dead. It begins with the engaging story of a young poet and Columbia student, named Adam Walker in 1967, whose life changes when he makes the acquaintance of a French political science professor named Rudolf Born and his intriguing girl friend Margot. Before long Adam find his life enmeshed with theirs. By the end of the first section of the novel, a shocking event draws the reader in. I was riveted. The novel proceeds in three more sections, with other voices, spanning the rest of 1967, and subsequent events up to 2007, in New York, Paris and a remote island in the Caribbean. The book is about love, lust, family, mourning, justice, war, violence, the value of life and how a single event can change a life. Read it.

2. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie. This is a sequel (though it can be read separately) to the marvellous, or rather fabulous in every sense, Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This story is about the second son of storyteller Rashid Khalifa and his wife Soraya - Luka, who is born 14 years after Haroun. Luka has a dog named Bear and a bear named Dog, who are refugees from a circus where they were mistreated. Luka cursed the ringmaster, Captain Aag, aka Grandmaster Flame, upon learning about the state of the circus. The animals adopt his family when the circus subsequently burns down, and provide extra entertainment when his father is story telling. Luka, and Bear and Dog, get an adventure of their own, when his father falls into a deep, unrelenting sleep, and he inadvertently takes a step to the right to the World of Magic. There he meets Nobodaddy, who is Nobody, but looks like a ghost of Rashid, and who would reap his father's soul upon his death, unless Luka can steal the Fire of Life. From there, the novel proceeds like a fairytale quest, with Luka meeting various challenges and fabulous characters along the way including the elephant-headed ducks on the River of Time, the fearlessly rude Insultana of Ott, various Respecto-Rats, and other stealers of fire like Coyote or 'the Old Boy', Prometheus himself. There is all the wonderful wordplay you would expect from Rushdie, somewhat veiled political satire for the grown-ups, and a well-crafted tale for all, but the way the story is written to mimic a video game (à la 'Scott Pilgrim versus the Whole World'), complete with multiple lives and a counter that is the corner of Luka's field of view, did not resonate with me. Also, I love typography, so I think I am the sort who might appreciate the typographical games he plays with some of his gods and other mythological creatures. However, I thought having Ra the Supreme speak in Wingdings was a bit weak. The SPEdessa font employed for the 'Sumerian' dialogue of Anzu was better, as it was less recognizable and more plausible as cuneiform. However, I think that today, especially if one happens to be Salman Rushdie, and thus in the position to ask his publishers to humour him, one could have made the effort to actually print hieroglyphs, or at bare minimum, avoid characters which are so obviously unrelated to ancient Egypt (including icons for pencils or bombs and so forth). So, of the two novels which he has written more as fairy tales for children, I prefer Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but there is plenty to appreciate and enjoy here as well.

3. number9dream by David Mitchell. number9dream is also a quest for a father, but in this instance, 19 year old Eiji Miyake has come to Tokyo from his small, southern, island town, to find the father he has never met. As the story unfolds we learn how he and his twin sister Anju, were left by his ill-prepared mother to be raised by his grandmother and various uncles. His mother had escaped small town life to work as a 'hostess' in Tokyo, and became the mistress of a clearly powerful man, who anonymously paid support for his offspring. Eiji begins his quest by staking out the Panopticon building -where his father's lawyer keeps his identity- from the Jupiter Café, where he first spies the waitress with the perfect neck. He soon finds that discovering his father's identity will not be easy, but he makes connections with people who prove invaluable. The novel seamlessly combines reality, fantasy, dreams, video games, surreal cinema, past and present including WWII tales of an ancestor and a manuscript of fairy tales. The structure keeps you on your toes. The characters are excellent. Eiji Miyake will be with me for a long while; forthright, unworldly, brave and forgiving. The depiction of Tokyo, from capsule apartment, to Ueno train station Lost and Found, to love hotels, to computer hackers, to a harrowing yakuza underworld, is striking and vivid. It's excellent.

{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}

Cloud Chamber II

The Mad Scientists of Etsy Challenge for January 2011 is 'Particle Physics' so I listed another of the screenprints I made last spring: Cloud Chamber II.

Cloud Chamber II - scan

This is a two colour screenprint I made of clouds and ionization tracks in a cloud chamber.

A Wilson cloud chamber is basically a tank of condensed, supercooled water (or alcohol) vapour. It is used to detect high energy particles - ionizing radiation. The radiation, say from cosmic rays, or radioactivity, or particle accelerators and so forth, leave their distinctive trails in the "clouds". Because of conservation laws (conservation of angular momentum, and conservation of charge, in particular) you get these wonderful spiralling trails. If you look carefully, there's a whole lot of symmetries in the image. In fact, if you look really carefully and measure angles, it's possible to get the mass to charge ratio of the particle in question. It's really a magic piece of 20th century science instrumentation.

Cloud Chamber II detail- scan

I printed the sky in pale blue, using a digitally manipulated photograph of the sky, and the ionization trails in sunny yellow. This is an artist's proof.

Cloud Chamber II (detail)- scan

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Victoria & Sidney

After a frustrating week of being right, I went down to Victoria on Saturday, to meet friends for brunch.

Blue Fox

Tragically, the Blue Fox was closed. Faunalia can tell you why this is tragic. We ended up at Floyd's, which just isn't the same. I ran out of batteries so you get one more photo downtown:
victoria 006

Note to self: check out the Milkman's Daughter next visit.

I did treat myself to some Smoking Lily goodies.

On Sunday, I had brunch with MR in Sidney, then spent my eveing with F&L and their rapidly growing kids.

Pat Baypond
peninsulagrass on statue
boats in Sidney
punk seagull
sailing by Sidney Spitharbour birds

Yes, January on southern Vacounver Island: the locals were sailing or crab fishing, and the snow was already gone.

keep out

It was good to see so many friends and colleagues. I got a possible invitation to return in February for a meeting about working in the Arctic (if you've followed this blog, you'll know I have this inexplicable desire to get sent to the Arctic). We didn't get everything settled, but my equipment is functioning well, and *fingers crossed* we might get a chance to do a different experiment. My trip home was mostly uneventful - though I recommend avoiding smaller airports, if you can.

I feel pretty lucky to be met at the airport, with flowers, and come home to a vaccuumed apartment and a contented cat.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


reproducing like rabbitsI submitted my 'Tu-z: The Rabbit' block print to YEAR OF THE RABBIT 2011
International Print Exhibition & Exchange
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
PROOF Studio Gallery, Distillery District, Toronto

Opening reception: February 3, 6-9PM - Chinese New Year!
Exhibition runs from February 2 - 13, 2011

So, you should come see it and all the other bunnies on Chinese New Year.

Thus far, I'm doing well on the 'submit more art for exhibition' resolution.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Shoot - linocut
This original lino block print, 'Shoot' shows an old Leica M6 SLR (a favorite amongst photographers, I'm told) and its reflection. It is printed in black ink on white Japanese kozo (mulberry paper). It is one of an edition of 8. Each sheet is 8" by 12.5" (20.3 cm by 31.8 cm).

When I asked my favorite photographer about the 'camera that got away', he told me it was a Leica M6. He knew I couldn't get him one as a gift, since such a classic camera would break my budget - but I was able to surprise him with a print.

'shoot' frames

This one was a challenge. I so rarely depict inanimate objects. Also, there is a lot of very small text on the M6. It was much appreciated by its recipient. He thought everyone would think his gifts unromantic, but I can't tell you how happy and amazed I am with my new wireless scanner-printer and sewing machine!!! They show he thought about what I would really want.

I had such good intentions today. I was going to go to the post office and do some grocery shopping, but instead, I played with my new scanner.

holiday with cat-angel

minouette tree

So, unfortunately for me, I was ill for most of my holiday, but, I did get a tree, for the first time! After avoiding the crooks on Roncesvalles (whose already inflated prices - $45 for a small tree! increased by 10 dollars between first quotation and our trip to the bank), we bought a nice spruce from a heavily-caffinated, but very friendly hipster-florist. We decorated it with some old, nostalgic ornaments, LEDs, new disco-ball style balls and more handmade, handprinted fabric ornaments than I thought I had made. I realized I lacked a tree toper, so I whipped up this demented Minouette-angel (purple block printed Minouette on striped gold silk, with felt, vintage islet frabric and Japanese washi cardstock). It's quite crazy, but it makes me gleeful.

Angel-minouette tree toper

Minouette approves, and prefers to sit under the tree, like a furry present.
minouette tree