Monday, July 29, 2013

Cloud Dragon


This version of my dragon linocut is printed on sky blue Chinese paper with gray screenprinted cloud pattern and a deckle edge, 27 cm by 51 cm or 10.5 inches by 20 inches. (The irregular deckle edge is a sign that this is handmade paper). The dragon itself also has chine collé (or collaged) silvery blue non-woven silk paper.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Raccoon pillows and soft blocks

raccoon pillow
racoon pillow reverse

I made a couple of raccoon pillows yesterday. Actual pillows featuring my raccoon linocut, not raccoon-shaped pillows. I got a custom order (now shipped off to Australia). Sadly, as soon as I got started, my sewing machine promptly stopped working! Luckily, my mother was able to help me lug it across town for servicing and I was able to use a machine at The Workroom to complete the order. I thought I might as well make two, so there's a new raccoon pillow available in my shop.

raccoon pillow 2raccoon pillow 2 reverse

The other thing I've been working on are a collection of soft (foam-filled) fabric blocks for babies, featuring my linocut letters. These are on hold until I get the sewing machine repaired (*fingers crossed*), but here's a sneak peak:

soft blocks

Each block has three linocut letters and three other fabrics (assorted printed cottons, including vintage and new prints and the digitally printed NASA imagery I ordered). I want to complete the alphabet of linocut letters make other combinations of letters.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1900 hearts!

Warm My Heart - both states As you may know, I love getting hearts. Today I have 1900 hearts on things from secret minouette places! Etsy now calls them 'admirers' but we all know these as ♥s. So, I'd like to take a moment to thank each and every one, as well as the 763 Etsy followers, 821 twitter followers, 995 pinterest followers, 582 fans of the things from secret minouette places fanpage, and last but not least, anyone who follows this blog! It's sort of amazing to me that 1900 people have seen my art, let alone added it to their favorites, so it's really encouraging and appreciated.

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's Better With Bees

Bee biodiversity exhibit

If you missed the It's Better With Bees exhibit (March 30 to July 1, at the Ball's Falls Conservation Centre in Jordan, Ontario), here are a few photos. The exhibit was about bee biodiversity. Along with my prints - which were apparently a useful teaching tool for schoolkids - there was a bee audio box and bee trading cards by Sarah Peebles (check out Reasonating Bodies for more of Sarah's work, lots of resources and a wealth of information on bees), various beekeeping artifacts and a large collection of specimens of different species. I really enjoyed getting so see the exotic bees up close.

The Bees
Detail of The Bees
Detail of The Bees
Bee biodiversity exhibit with The Bees

You can find all of my available bee prints here, or at the gift shop at the Ball's Fall's Conservation Centre. It's a lovely spot, not too far from Hamilton, and only an hour from Toronto or Buffalo - a great place for a picnic. The large print showing all six bees around a hexagon (with lovely Japanese washi tissue paper with a honeycomb pattern) has sold, but I have more multi-bee works in mind! I wanted to comment on the fact that we always think about the honeybee, which is actually a bit atypical and a European import. Our native pollinators are often solitary bees, who live in the ground or simple nests (rather than hives), do not make honey, and can be very unexpected irridescent colours.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Alex Colville

Iconic Canadian painter Alex Colville died yesterday. He was 92. His unmistakeable work includes the 1954 work Horse and Train above (and he was a war painter for Canada in WWII). Beautiful, realistic painting with a aura of dark surrealism, depicting a lot of this country. I went to one of his shows many years ago and met him. I was so impressed that one of the most famous artists in this country would stand around talking with me and my friends for so long. It was clear that we were far too young (and lacking in funds) to be the sorts that came to an opening to purchase art, but he was a kind and genuine person, happy to speak with young people who were enthusiastic about art.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Exciting news!

The Stork

This linocut shows how I imagine the great white stork of European folklore, who carries babies to new parents.
The stork is printed in teal ink on Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, 32 cm by 17.5 cm or 12.5" by 7". There are 4 prints in the edition.

The ancient stork-the-baby-bringer legend was made popular by Hans Christian Anderson's story called 'The Storks'. The stork is quite stylized, inspired by ancient Chinese art, and not an attempt to accurately portray Ciconia ciconia, the white stork, because - spoiler alert! - storks are not actually where babies come from. (The baby is a little more naturalistic and has very cute toes, if I do say so myself). This print definitely goes in the 'UnNatural History' category, with other mythical creatures.

As some of you know and some may have deduced, I'm printing the baby-carrying stork because I'm thinking about how to decorate a nursery. RJH and I are expecting a baby this winter!* I've been debating when to tell people, but I think it should be clear now, should you happen to see me, that something is afoot**, and am far enough along that risk has decreased a fair bit, so it seems like the right time. I'm doing pretty well. I haven't had morning sickness. My doctor is wonderfully relaxed and says the right things to put people at ease. (She told me half her patients are my age or older. She lets me have one large coffee a day, saying there's been no rigorous study showing any harm. She blamed my swollen feet on the weather, rather than my suspicion it was from eating salty Triskets and sun-dried tomatoes, saying, "The truth is, in this heat and humidity all pregnant women have swollen feet." So, I think she's great.) I confuse sonographers with my technical imaging questions, cause it's fascinating and the physics of ultrasounds is basically the physics of seismology, so I get it. I've had some discomfort from other symptoms. Why does no one every warn you about the leg cramps? It's always "weird food cravings" and never "violently awoken by Charley horse at 4 am". Also, I am thirsty all of the time  which is weird for a girl whose mother called her 'the camel' who was rarely thirsty (or needed to pee). I was keeping a glass of water by my bedside until I realized Minouette thought this was a new, convenient bedtime cat watering station, so now I have a cat-proof bedside water bottle. Sleeping is a bit of a challenge and I'm finding the 'extreme heat alert' weather unpleasant. Me and the cat are hiding in the cool basement right now. Mainly, I feel like I've swallowed a large and unruly water balloon, which is flattening all the things I normally keep in my belly.


As you might imagine, I've responded by making things! So far, I've made 7 reversible fabric bibs (whales, mermaids, fortune cats, psychedelic blue squirrels, an urban scene, mushrooms, vintage cameras, constellations, flowers, numbers, cupcakes and elephants) and a block printed camera toy (because baby will want to be like Daddy I figure). I'm planning some fabric, block printed alphabet blocks too. I'll make duplicates for my shop, should you want any for your favorite wee one. I have other plans too, of course, but this is a good start.

camera toy
camera toy

* I'm pretty sure if he reads this he'll tell me I've buried the lede, but I'm not a newspaper man and like a little suspense. 

**Though, luckily for me, all the summer clothing is light, and airy and not fitted, so it seems not everyone figures it out on sight.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Making The List

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 11.43.01 AM

I was just reading the Etsy Finds newsletter. Today they've gathered the 'Tastemakers' - a collection of Etsians with curated collections of favorites who you might like to follow. I was actually wondering to myself what makes a tastemaker? Is it a large number of followers? A particularly huge collection of favorites? I started looking at the collections which caught my eye, when I spied my own name! See, I was pretty pleased to learn that they've added new tools to organize your favorites. I know I add items to my favorites for different reasons: to collect gift ideas, to gather suggestions for when my loved ones demand to know what I want for my birthday, to bookmark things which inspire me and more. So, when I read that Etsy users can now make their own lists to organize their favorites, I took the time to organize the literally thousands of favorites I've collected over the years. I know I'm more likely to buy something which is already in my favorites, and this makes finding the right thing much easier. Also, anyone who does follow me and wants to check out a certain category of my favorites, if they are looking for something in particular can now search my favorites by collection. I guess all this obsessive organizing - or as they say curating - caught Etsy's attention too.

You can check out Etsy's collection of users with carefully curated favorites here and follow my own favorites or get ideas for how you might organize your own here. But, if you are one of my personal friends or part of my family you aren't supposed to look at the gift ideas board. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Canada: 10 provinces, 3 territories and their symbols

A couple of people asked whether I could print my series of province and territory linocuts on one giant pieace of paper. I was thinking that a book might be a better format. You see, the provinces are not at all printed to scale (and may even have some variations in projection). I made this decision consciously. You see, the smallest province PEI is 5,660 km2 whereas Nunavut, the largest of either province or territory is  2,038,722 km2- that is a bit more than 360 times as large. So, unless I was making art for a very very large space indeed, and could make prints in tens of square metres, I would never be able to acheive enough detail in the smaller provinces. However, it is possible to digitally place all the images side by side, and with a little Photoshop magic, you can see all of Canada. The pieces don't match perfectly; but, between inprecision in my carving, and variations from map to map (of scale, resolutions and maybe even projection) it's a pretty good fit.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A smack of Jellyfish

Smack of Jellyfish

My latest 'term of venery' print is done! This linocut shows a smack of jellyfish. The collective noun for a group of jellyfish is a "smack". This amuses me, because I imagine them smacking their tentacles together in some sort of deepsea high five. To be honest, marine biologists speak of 'blooms' and we do tend to lump in a bunch of soft-bodies marine creatures into the term jellyfish, all of the gelatinous zooplankton (there's a term for ya) in fact.... but 'a smack of jellyfish' is the traditional term of venery for a group of such creatures. I've included only those translucent, tentacled umbrella-shaped creatures, which are truly jellyfish, or the major non-polyp form of individuals of the phylum Cnidaria.

The typography I designed for the words represents their meaning; "smack" mimics the motion of a smack with the letters colliding; the word "Jellyfish" is made of tentacle and bell-shaped letters.

These linoleum block printed jellyfish are printed on Japanese kozo, or mulberry paper. The block is inked 'à la poupée', meaning the multiple colours (blue-black, navy, pale violet and pink ink) are all inked at the same time, in small areas, and the print is pulled all at once. Each print is 15.5" by 12.5" or 39 cm by 32 cm in dimension. There are 8 prints in the edition.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Hot Air Balloons


Carved in linoleum, and printed on variety of Japanese washi paper (kozo, or mulberry and chiyogami and katazome-shi patterned paper), Thai paper, screenprinted faux-bois and actual thin wood paper is a collection of hot air balloons in a cloudy sky in the afternoon. This piece employs the techniques of printmaking and collage. I am making a series of these multimedia; each one is unique. This is the third in the series. Dimensions are approximately 12.5 inches by 15.5 inches (32 cm by 39 cm).

The balloons are inspired by some of the wonderfully elaborate balloons by pioneers of flight (or, floating, at least) like the Montgolfier brothers in the late 18th and early 19th century. These beautiful and romantic vehicles were carefully decorated and often included baskets like sea-going ships, to sail the skies.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Unicorns Amongst Umbrellas

Continuing on the theme of multimedia artwork printed on washi or ephemera, I extended the 'Unicorn Amongst Umbrellas' series.


Carved in linoleum, and printed on variety of Japanese washi paper (kozo, or mulberry and chiyogami and katazome-shi patterned paper) and Thai paper is a unicorn, strangely amongst a welter of lovely umbrellas. This piece employs the techniques of printmaking and collage. I am making a series of these multimedia; each one is unique. This is fifteenth in the series.
Dimensions are approximately 12.5 inches by 18.5 inches (32 cm by 47 cm).

Next up: Balloons.