Sunday, March 24, 2013



The symbols of the Northwest Territories, its territorial symbols the gyrfalcon and mountain avens flowers cover the hand-carved linocut map of NWT. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, gray-brown, green 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 a variable edition of eight.

NWT is one of three Canadian territories, sandwiched between the Yukon to the west, and Nunavut to the east. Its waters currently include the Earth's North Magnetic Pole. Bodies of water shown include Great Bear Lake, the largest lake entirely within Canada, and Great Slave Lake, the deepest body of water in North America at 614 m, as well as the mighty Mackenzie River. In Inuktitut, the Northwest Territories are referred to as ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ (Nunatsiaq), "beautiful land". (I love other alphabets and syllabaries).

The Gyrfalcon, also spelled gerfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is the largest of the falcon species and are found throughout the tundra, including all the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This beautiful bird of prey has been an official symbol of NWT since 1990. The mountain avens (Dryas octopetala, common names include white dryas, and white dryad) is an arctic-alpine flowering plant which grows on a small prostrate evergreen subshrub forming large colonies. It grows abundantly in the eastern and central Arctic, as well as in parts of the Mackenzie River.

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). I have yet to visit any of the territories, despite my best efforts. Some of my research, in my day job as a scientist, relates to the Mackenzie Delta. I've spent many hours looking at maps of this region and one day, I hope to see it in person.

I've now completed all 3 territories and 10 provinces, which I wanted to do before the OOAK. I might make a Canada print too... but not before the show.

Friday, March 22, 2013



The symbols of Prince Edward Island, its provincial bird, the blue jay and its tree, the red oak cover the hand-carved map of PEI in this linocut. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, reds, blues and black, 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 a variable edition of eight.

So, I've only got NWT to go! RJH, like a good Maritimer advocated for PEI to be printed before Nunavut, but I was really concerned about how to fit an animal into the small shape of the province... and no, increasing the scale of the island wasn't the answer, since the relative scales matter. But, in the end, it wasn't too hard... the real trick was conceiving of how much of each the blue jay and the red oak were needed in order to be recognized. Luckily, oaks are perhaps most easily recognized by their leaves. I could have gone for a less contrasting colour scheme, but perhaps inspired by the name 'red oak' I portrayed the tree in autumn.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nunavut, rock ptarmigan and purple saxifrage


The symbols of Nunavut, its territorial symbols the rock ptarmigan and purple saxifrage flowers cover the hand-carved map of Nunavut in this linocut. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, lavendar, beige, black and red, 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 seven.

Canada's most recent territory, Nunavut (from the Inuktitut : ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ˈnunavut, for 'our land') which separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 (though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993), includes all the islands in Hudson's Bay not specifically claimed by Ontario or Quebec, so I've included the boundary of Hudson's Bay and James Bay.

How wonderful are the words 'ptarmigan' and 'saxifrage'? I mean how many 'pt...' words do you know? I can think of pterodactyl and Ptah (the Egyptian god). Saxifrage apparently comes from the rock-breaking nature of this tundra and alpin-dweller, but I think it just sounds cool. Also, who could resist the male rock ptarmigan's extravagent scarlet eyelashes eye combs?

Meet the artists

Check out Etsy Canada's Lookbook for the 40 artists and artisans who will be exhibiting in the Etsy Section at the One of a Kind Spring show ... next week! I'm really pleased to see my Grey and White Cat Pillow included. The portrait of this cat will be available at the show. If you mouse-over my pillow you see the by-line "grumpy cat love", which is hilarious. I actually thought this cat looked almost lascivious, rather than grumpy, but I, like many, do love that Grumpy Cat. Etsy also featured my 'Cloud Classification pillow' in their newsletter. The same print on paper, and other cloud prints, will be at minouette's table (L-04-29). Come by and see me (at the Direct Energy Centre on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds) from March 27 to 31!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

One of a Kind Display

dispaly2 I've been working on my display for the One of a Kind show today. RJH built me two wooden stands with two tilted steps and three risers each. We collaborated on the design. RJH went above and beyond, making all joints with dowels and avoiding wood screws, which he didn't think would look nice. He's going to sand and stain them later, but they're already lovely. I wanted to place increasingly large prints on each step so that the biggest ones could simply rise above the top. We also each, independantly picked up a pair of tiny easels at the dollar store, which was a cute coincidence (so, now I have four of them). I'm going to get some postcards printed with my artwork, booth number (L-04-29) and a discount code for future purchases from things from secret minouette places, online which I can disply on the easels. The steps are each deep enough that I can layer serveral prints, so buyers can come and see what else is available. I can layer sets of prints, like the zodiac set, Canada set, or terms of venery set.

I got a Square card reader. Now I just need to get a smartphone and I'll be able to accept credit cards as well as cash at the show.

I'm feeling nervous, but I think I'm actually pretty well prepared. I'm glad I know several other sellers who are also preparing. We've been sharing our strategies and have an informal support group going. ;)

10 days to go!

minouette at the Spring One of a Kind Show L-04-29


Who's planning to go? Come by and say hello!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Newfoundland and Labrador linocut

Newfoundland and Labrador

The symbols of Newfoundland and Labrador, its provincial bird the Atlantic puffin and flower the purple pitcher plant cover the hand-carved map of The Rock (and Labrador). The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, black, orange, lime and burgundy, 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 a variable edition of eight.

This linocut was no mean feat! I notice the remaining provinces and territories all have coastlines and islands. I pointed out the challenge of carving the irregular shape of Newfoundland and Labrador to my family. My brother "helpfully" pointed out that there were two rectilinear sections of the border of Labrador... but I'd like to see him cave fractal coastlines, in reverse.

My previous puffin linocut has proven popular. A couple of customers have shared their inspiration for buying the print, and each of them wrote of travelling to the coasts of England and Wales. It's funny for me, since I associate the puffin so strongly with Newfoundland (where, apparently 95% of North American Atlantic puffics come to bred).

I also notice that Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province to have selected a carnivorous plant as its floral emblem.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

squares baby quilt

So since I was busily quilting, I went ahead a made another quilt for a friend who's expecting. This one is more free in terms of colours, but simpler in terms of design and assembly. This one includes squares with my block prints (and one screenprinted bear silhouette) and a few squares with my friend Tanis' block prints (some fabric I've been hoarding for some time).



The reverse is mainly night-themed fabric: stars, NASA imagery, imaginary constellations (along with mushrooms and Russian nesting dolls).

Baby square quilt reverse signature

Here's the reverse of the Baby W's quilt:
baby quilt reverse

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby W quilt

I realized I didn't share the baby quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law's soon-to-be baby:


I wanted to avoid any colours which we tend to ascribe too specifically to girls or boys (the parents don't know if I'll have a niece or nephew, plus the whole gendered colour scheme thing is sort of demented), or anything too bright or colourful, because my SIL really goes for the monochromatic. It's a running joke with my brother that he's only allowed black and white art. I've made a few black and white animal prints for them, and they decided this would be a good theme for the nursery, so I knew including my block printed animals in the quilt would work. I realize there is a lot of colour here, actually, but charcoal to gray, white, pale yellow, turquoise, and purple is subdued for me, while still being cheerful enough for a baby. Luckily, the bedding they selected is in a gray and white pattern with elephants, so I think this goes well with the nursery. The quilt was a hit at my SIL's shower.

There was always a tradition in my mother's family that the grandmother would make every grandchild two quilts; at birth and when they reached 13. My own grandmother died fairly young and my mother never learned to quilt. I was always touched that my grandmother's sister (whom I had only met a couple of times) took on this duty and made quilts for all my grandmother's grandchildren. This was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to make quilts. So, I'm happy to be able to make this for my niece or nephew to be (who is due now, in less than a month....)!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day

AdaLovelaceIIHenrietta Swan LeavittInge Lehmann printHypatia2Lise MeitnerMme Wu

A collection of pioneers and revolutionaries in science, who were women, for International Women's Day. These women foresaw the potential of computer programming, set the scale of our universe, discovered the inner core of the Earth, were the preeminent mathematician of their time in Ptolemaic Egypt, discovered and explained nuclear fission, and discovered that the Weak force violates parity (the first discovery of 'symmetry breaking' in one of the fundamental forces of our universe).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

mapping minouette


I've been looking at some of the great, free data visualization tools that are available on-line. So, to have a dataset to play with, for the mapping visualization, I decided to look at minouette sales (just by total purchases, ignoring whether a buyer bought multiple or single items). Chartsbin let me great the interactive map above, complete with my own colour scheme and my self-selected bins. Maybe you have to be an earth science nerd to think this is cool, but there are all sorts of other options, including the more plotting by equal interval, natural breaks (or Jenks), quantiles, a smooth heat map type (which they call unclassed) or using mapped scaled symbols. You can also control the projection. You can include all sorts of metadata, including mapped images and charts. You can embed them (either interactive or static versions) into your blog or website or even Powerpoint.

Friday, March 1, 2013



I completed the 12th of the Western Zodiac. This is Gemini, the twins (aka Castor and Pollux). It's a very small print (7 x 7.5", or 17.8 cm x 19 cm) on lovely deep blue Japanese kozo paper with exposed fibres.

In other news, my studio roof appears to be leaking. RJH has the day off and he's gone onto our roof to shovel off the snow. I've evacuated that side of the room. It's not like my studio isn't crowded enough with the OOAK-prep! Excuse me while I go eat all my chocolat rather than fret.