Friday, November 23, 2012


It's all block printed dinosaurs around here.


Winter Wandering Craft Show

I'll be doing two of the Winter Wandering Craft shows this year! You can find me all this weekend at:

Saturday November 24th 11 am to 7 pm & Sunday November 25th 12 pm to 6 pm

Magic Pony, 680 Queen St. West

Then in two weeks' time you will find me at the Gladstone:

Sunday December 9th

The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. West

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Scorpius and Seahorses

I made another linocut in the zodiac series - Scorpius the scorpion (associated with Scorpio, of course).


I printed an edition of six prints, 5 inches by 9 inches (12.7 cm by 22.9 cm) on lovely, deep blue, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with silk fibres.

And a couple of seahorses: Mirabelle (the bird watcher) and Seymour (the cryptozoologist with a sea monster obsession).

seahorseMirabelleseahorseMirabelle reverse
seahorseSeymourseahorseSeymour reverse

I've got some dinosaurs on the go too, but it's really too dark here for any proper photos.

I hope any of you celebrating Thanksgiving south of the border are enjoying yourself. Here apparently all the news is about whether or not Calgarian football fans could ride a horse through the Royal York hotel (eventually, they did). I swear that's all the mentioned on the radio, all day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leo constellation


Leo is my 6th in the Zodiac series. I printed an edition of eight prints, 8.5 inches by 7.5 inches (21.6 cm by 19 cm) on lovely, deep blue, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with silk fibres. The word Leo and symbol ♌ appear at the top of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in silver-on-blue or blue-on-silver as appropriate. There are five bright galaxies or star clusters shown as circles. 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.

Leo is one of the oldest recognized constellations. Not only does it appear in Ptolemy's 2nd century catalogue, there is archeological evidence suggesting the Mesopotamians knew it 4000 BCE. It was known as the lion to the ancient Persians who called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, who called it Artan; the Syrians, who called it Aryo; the Jewish, who called it Arye; and the Indians, who called it Simha.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pillows too

I've also been making block printed pillows, and pillows with printed fabric showing my 'It's not the moths' linocut.

cat pillow
cat pillow reverse
It's not the moths pillow
reverse of not moths pillow
tiger flower pillow
tiger flower pillow reverse

Santa's sweatshop

This year I've decided to do a number of craft shows. So I'm working away at creating stock, including the sort of Christmas ornaments which might prove popular this time of year. Which is ironically Sisyphean when people come and buy the ornaments as I try and make them, but on the other hand, that is the point, isn't it? So, let me share the new ornaments still in my possession:

Fly Agaric Ornaments
Jellyfish Ornaments
Tapir Ornament
Radiolarian Ornaments
Rhino Ornament
Snow Ornaments
zebra Ornaments

I'll need to go buy some more ribbon! You can catch this Cabinet of Curiosities for your tree, at the Wandering Winter Craft show, this weekend at Magic Pony! I'm excited about the venue. If you're around you should come by and check it out, either Saturday November 24 or Sunday November 25, 11 am to 5 pm.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pisces Constellation


The silver stars and silhouette of Pisces the two fish are illustrated in this handmade block print. Pisces (♓) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. I printed an edition of 8 prints, 7.5 inches by 10 inches (19 cm by 24.8 cm) on lovely, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with a deckle edge. Since the paper is handmade, there is some small variation in size and the edge of each sheet. The word Pisces 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's a star cluster, shown as a circle, and the lines for the constellations of Pegasus, Triangulum and Aries.

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.

dinothings banner

As I was putting this in my shop I noticed that I now have 1600 hearts! I do love seeing all those hearts and thank every single person whose added my shop to their favorites. While I'm at it, thanks to the 543 Etsy followers (who can see all new things in my shop or favorites), 506 FB fans, and 665 twitter followers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Québec, snowy owl and yellow birch

Québec, snowy owl, yellow birch linocut

My latest in the provincial series shows the map Québec, its provincial bird, the snowy owl and its tree, the yellow birch. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, Payne's gray, gold, black and yellow, in different areas) and printed by hand on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Each print is 23.5 cm by 31.8 cm (9.25" by 12.5"). The print is one of an edition of eight.

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is found throughout the circumpolar regions. The nest in arctic regions (including the northermost tip of Québec), but range throughout much of Canada when they are not breeding. Many Canadians will be nostalgic for the Inuit ookpik*. The yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) is a yellow-bronze birch found from the Maritimes through southern Québec and Ontario into Manitoba and south to the US northeast.

I've had the great priviledge of having seen much of this country and having travelled from coast to coast. (I am still hoping to visit the third coast). Québec is the third province in which I've lived, if only briefly. I've visited Québec many many times since I was a small child. I've had the opportunity to explore Gaspé, north of the river, and even sail the mighty St. Lawrence itself. La belle province is dear to me and I would love to explore it further.

I could have chosen to include the provincial flower, the blue flag (Iris versicolor) - a choice which obviously looks like a fleur de lys and sounds like it is literally describing the provicial flag. However, it's an iris with a complex shape and coloration which really wouldn't translate well to a block print. The snowy owl and birch were a more logical pair.

An Ookpik is nothing but hair.
If you shave him, he isn't there.

He's never locked in the zoo.
He lives in a warm igloo.

He can whistle and dance on the walls.
He can dance on Niagara Falls.

He has nothing at all on his mind.
If you scratch him, he wags his behind.

He dances from morning to night.
Then he blinks. That turns out the light.
-Dennis Lee, 'Alligator Pie'

Next thing you know...

Minouette blogging

she'll have her own blog. I don't know what she was reading when RJH captured her with his iPhone. Luckily, I've managed to keep my passwords from her, but should any uncharacteristic posts appear here, they might be from my feline friend.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I spent my free time making new banners and doing blog and shop make-overs (including making-over the Toronto Etsy Street Team blog with its new look thanks to thunderpeep). What do you think?

This is for the minouette Etsy shop.


dinothings banner

And, for the minouette blog, where there was initially the same banner as the shop...


The original banner meant something to me and did say something about what my shop was about. It shows a manipulated photo of the Toronto skyline (so, where I am) with an image of a sea creature which I captured when using a ROV during fieldwork in the north Pacific (which hints at some of my interests). The image is scientific, yet surreal, and the colours and typeface are supposed to suggest art and specifically printmaking. However, it's been there since 2007, it's a photo rather than a handmade print, and I thought I could make something which was a better representation of me and my art.

The shop banner shows two of my linocut dinosaurs (an euoplocephalus and a torosaurus, respectively), so it shows the sort of natural history (and specifically paleontology) which appears in my work, along with the idiosyncratic lettering, stars and the thought-bubble with a heart to show the quirky side of what I create.

The blog banner is made of the monograms I've been printing, so we get a little typography and natural history (complete with dinosaurs) and a few mythical creatures thrown in for good measure. This strikes me a a pretty good synopsis of my subjects of late.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

I made my sixth bee of the region. This is an important local bee, Osmia Lignaria, known as the orchard mason bee, or blue orchard bee, in a lino block print on Japanese kozo (mulberry) paper with gorgeous, irridecent, translucent non-woven blue and gossamer-like white silk tissue washi chine collé (collaged fine Japanese paper). Each print is 15.2 cm (6 inches) square. The print is one of only 7.

Working with these papers was challenging. They are remarkably strong for their nature... but they are almost more like barely-there fabric, than paper. The white tissue really is like spider silk; strong, yet breakable and very very fine.

We think of bees as living in hives, but these bees live in reeds or natural holes which they divide into chambers with mud walls. We also tend to picture yellow and black stripes, but this small bee is blue to blue-green. Osmia Lignaria is a common species used for early spring fruit bloom in Canada and the United States, though a number of species of other Osmia are cultured for use in pollination. Bee keepers often make collections of paper tubes of wooden 'bee condos' in which these useful bees can make their nests. You can build your own bee condo, if you are interested.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Hope everyone had a great Hallowe'en!


I enjoyed my first Toronto Hallowe'en giving out candy from my own place. Almost everywhere else I've lived in the city hasn't been on the ground floor and never got any kids. In my third year of undergrad I shared a house with and and some others and we did get some trick or treaters, but that wasn't my own place. Though we did enjoy another science student's access to dry ice. Sadly, RJH was trapped at work. That meant I didn't get a chance to check out the neighbourhood. But, I sat in the front room (alone, with all the candy) and tweeted the experience.

· one miniature lion, a Renaissance highwaywoman, a cat burglar and a cow... enjoying my 1st Toronto Hallowe'en at ground level...
6:28 PM - 31 Oct 12

The first visitor, a toddler dressed as a lion, was perhaps the cutest. His parents explained it was his first Hallowe'en. I opened the door and he walked straight past me into the house, so I had to scurry to get ahead of him with the candy and crouch so he could see me. I explained that it was my first time as a home owner so it was exciting to me too. I knew the highwaywoman and cat buglars, two neighbouring sisters from a couple of doors down. I asked the elder sister if she was a pirate and she explained that no she was like a Renaissance villain. "Like, a highway man?" I asked, but she didn't know what that meant. Perhaps I should have come up with the French term as her bilingual family is half-francophone, but I confess I have no idea how to say highway man in French. (I associated with the specific, yet hard to explain costumes. At her age, I was an Egyptian princess, but not Cleopatra as everyone assumed. No, I had done research on the Old Kingdom, and had nothing to do with Ptolemaic Egypt, but after a while, I gave up and let adults assume I was Cleopatra). Her sister was a jaunty little cat burglar and their friend the jersey cow looked great.

never got any trick or treaters in the apartment
6:28 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

Spiderman (who does Spidey moves and demonstrated his skills) and a motorcycle cop complete with fabulous handmade cardboard motorcycle!
6:47 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

The young man (aged 3) from two doors down, who calls over to RJH to let him know he should be wearing a hard helmet, when he works on roofs, arrived dressed as spiderman. I gave him his candy and his mother asked if he would show me his Spidey moves. He did a few poses, including a weird sort of one-handed handstand. "Wow, that's awesome," I said. His mother agreed saying, "I have no idea what that was, but it's definitely awesome." Then the young man investigated all my skeletons and started identifying their parts, until his mother convinced him to continue on their way. A 7 year old in a helmet, wearing a cardboard motorcycle with egg-carton lights and pipe cleaner antenna was next. I was very impressed to see such a hand-crafted item.

one skeleton and one tiny fire chief, both of whom had specific tastes in candy (rockets and lollipops, respectively)
6:57 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

The tiny fire fighter thanked me for his candy and his parent tried to leave. "Can I have a rocket please?" he asked, steadfastly refusing to move on with his parent. I had way too much candy, so I asked him to indicate which candy he meant and then gave him five. Imagine preferring coloured sugar to chocolat! To each their own. The skeleton received the candy I offered, then silently looked me in the eye and reached for a lollipop and placed it in his bag.

a tiny chef with a stuffed turkey on his head. He said he wasn't the Mr. Bean Christmas special. That mean someone else wears turkey as hat?
7:07 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

a cowboy... very old school
7:12 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

I wondered if he was specifically Emiliano Zapata with his impressive mustache.

2 Freddie Kreuger's, 2 witches, a cat, tiny guy in hockey jersey, and another lion
7:26 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

The Freddies, one cat and one witch were a troupe of larger children. Then came a mid-size lion with great face paint and a small and friendly pink and purple witch with good manners. I wasn't sure what the little guy in, possibly, one of the Freddie's hats, and a hockey jersey, was supposed to be. I did ask, but I couldn't understand his response.

it's a lot of responsibility being left here with all the candy
7:45 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

a tiny witch and a girl in leopard-spot pj's complete with sleep mask
7:45 PM - 31 Oct 12

Need more trick or treaters, but I think they're deterred by the rain. We still have so much candy. Don't give up, sodden costumed kids!
8:10 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

two cold and wet warrior princesses and one bloody skeleton
8:17 PM - 31 Oct 12 ·

Two older girls were on my door step. One clearly had a crown, and I later noticed a sword. The other appeared to be bundled in a large coat. I asked the bundled one, "What are you?" The first give replied in a British accent which I had not expected, "Ha! Yes. What are we. We're supposed to be warrior princesses." The bundled one struggled to move her arms and lower a sword so I could see it at the bottom of the coat. "Oh, that's great. You look cold! Stay warm," I said as the masked skeleton complete with flowing fake blood barged in to claim his candy.