Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Minouette Live!

Weevil, weevil rock U Tomorrow morning, at around 8:25 am, I'm going to be interviewed live on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. They are very interested in how people with different careers are selling on Etsy, so they love the idea of a geophysicist/printmaker. Apparently, they have some journalist-Etsians, including a very senior journalist who sells her knitware on Etsy. We're also going to talk about Etsy: Made in Canada! If you're a local, I hope you'll listen in and I hope we'll see you Saturday at MaRS!

I'm very excited.

We listen to Metro Morning every morning, as do more Torontonians than do any other radio show.


Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Etsy: Made in Canada

It's just 9 more days until Etsy: Made in Canada, and our nation-wide collection fo pop-up shops! We're really getting excited about our huge sale at MaRS on September 27th. Today Etsy posted about Made in Canada, including some of the fabulous things our makers make, and some of the organizers, like me. You can check out the Toronto selections below and read about some of the other great sales and leaders from coast to coast on Etsy. This is the biggest show I've ever been involved in planning, and I think it's going to be amazing... you don't want to miss it! Hope to see you there.

Meet the Organizers

ele-author-photoEle Willoughby, Toronto, Ontario
Ele is the Captain of the 800-member Toronto Etsy Street Team, which will be co-hosting a 120-vendor market with the 416 Hustler Team at Toronto’s MaRS building. 
I’m Ele Willoughby (also known as minouette). I’m a printmaker and a marine geophysicist; I make fine-art prints on paper, hand-printed textiles, and interactive multimedia artwork. While I’ve had the great privilege of visiting much of Canada, living in a few different provinces, and traveling to many other countries, I’ve got to say that the creative community in Toronto is exceptionally active and engaged. There’s a lot of unexpected collaboration going on: your favorite local designer can recommend her favorite soap maker, the jewelers know the bookbinders, and the printmakers are taking quilting classes. There is so much Canadian talent on Etsy that’s already being exported to the world — now it’s time to let the rest of Canada know about it!

Shop Toronto

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog hop

I haven't been blogging as much as I am usually wont to do these days. It's hard to find time for everything, with busy Mr. Monkeytoes around. But, I've been given a little nudge by the lovely and hilarious Michelle of thunderpeep. She asked me if I would take part in a Blog Hop. It's like a round robin, but with blog posts. No, that's not quite it... we don't make people battle it out. Um... it's like a spread the love to your fellow creatives pyramid scheme... or something. So each participant writes about their nominator, answers some questions and then tags two more people to keep the whole thing moving along. She tagged me here.

I first 'met' Michelle online through Etsy and then later in person. She was moving from Vancouver to Toronto and she wanted to find the local Etsians and join the Toronto Etsy Street Team right away. It wasn't always easy to find people who would participate, especially when we were a smaller team. This, clearly, was someone who was engaged in the Etsy and arts community. She was itching to join while still four provinces away. Plus, we had the transplanted Ontario girl moves to BC for a few years only to return to Toronto thing in common. So we cleverly welcomed her and quickly recruited her to team leadership, in one of our smartest moves ever. Michelle is a graphic designer with a newspaper background, growing her online business to be her full-time gig. She also knows everything you need to know about printing artwork. I love how we managed to get a leadership team for TEST with all these complimentary skillsets, serendipitously. I confess there was no master plan... but our instincts were right. We not only got a great leader for our team, Michelle does all the graphic design for TEST.  You'll recognize her distinctive style from the TEST blog.

Often, what I most admire, are things that I couldn't or wouldn't create myself. So while I often go for colour and patern in a big way, and have a style which is fairly naturalistic with a lot of lines and texture, I really admire artists who have mastered symplicity and economy of line. And, I don't know if it's obvious to others or not, but I'm completely obsessed with typography. I have dozens of books on the subject. So I really enjoy her work, from the somehow magical Arctic animals (Scandinavia is what you might call her spiritual home, an inspiration from folklore, to flora and fauna to design - hence, the trolls) to the typography of cards with her trademark humour, sass and pop culture references.

Arctic animals illustrated card set by thunderpeep

Happy Halloween card Gimme all your candy ax murderer by thunderpeep
Family Christmas wally wagon card by thunderpeep
And now, the questions.

1.What are you writing/working on?
We're both working on making the flagship show of the inaugural trans-Canadian Etsy: Made In Canada pop-up market extravaganza a show to remember - which runs smoothly. It's only 10 days away now and you should all come join us at MaRS, or your nearest show on September 27th. It should be a great show! That's been keeping me pretty busy. I'm also working to prepare for the Christmas One of a Kind Show! RJH has been building prototypes of parts of my booth. We're planning hard, plywood walls, framed in wood and debating the merits of different shelving, lighting and flooring solutions. He even built me a wee diorama at 1/12th scale. He thinks it's hilarious that I printed out scale models of my framed prints.


I've also got several print series on the go, including: scientists, my biology imaginary creatures mini prints, the collaged block prints with multiple Japanese paper and other ephemera, my terms of venery series and more.

2.How does your work differ from others in your genre?

Somewhere along the line I think I developed a distinctive style. I often have a subject which sort of floats against a blank field. This comes, I think, from absorbing a lot of Japanese art at a formative age. I recall pooring over an encyclopedia of Japanese art, which I could barely lift, when my father brought it home from Japan when I was three. On the other end of the complexity scale I have prints with elaborate inking schemes. The whole idea of inking à la poupée where different areas of a single block are inked in different inks (as if you were a tiny doll with tiny brayers, I guess) is very freeing for me. It allows me to make multi-colour prints without having to make reduction prints or carving multiple blocks. Likewise using chine collé (which comes from the French expression for glued Chinese paper... and means using small pieces of delicate added papers to add colour and texture to regions of a print). Also, there are the more multimedia collaged block prints, where I print onto and collage printed papers. This satisfies my desire to just luxuriate in a sort of bohemian clash of paterns, and excuses my fantastic hoard of paper and ephemera (ahem). But, in any case, I think you can recognize the prints as mine: having my lines, shapes and textures. I'm getting quite good at fur, if I do say so myself. Perhaps most telling is the choice of subject matter. I do really think of my work as a wunderkammer. I am trying to gather exotic natural specimen, in print form. The terms of venery are about taxonomy as well as a love of words and type. I do think that one should make art of one's own time... so I am interested in depicting things which haven't been depicted before, including say, previously unknown microscopic, prehistoric, or underappreciated creatures. Last, but not least, I am making my own, opinionated, history of science. My own knowledge of and love for science makes my work unique.
3. Why do you create?

Not creating is not an option. I really am driven to create. It's a need and I don't ever recall a time it was any different.

4.How does your creative process work?

I always have ideas on the go. I do make a lot of series of things, which I think works well for prints. I use a lot of photographic references. So, when I choose a subject, I do some research and look at a lot of images. Sometimes I work on the images - very badly and inexpertly - in Photoshop. Then, I draw the image in reverse on to lino and plan how it would work as a print (what is positive, negative space and how it will be coloured). I like the soft artist's lino. I carve away the negative space, pulling the odd proof as I go. Sometimes, when removing material, less is more, so it's important to know when to stop. So proofing is important, cause you can't go back. When the block is done, I cut Japanese paper for an edition. I ink the block and place my paper on top. I burnish my prints using a baren, as one would with a traditional Japanese moku hanga woodblock print. Using Japanese papers and a baren means I can work in my own home, without a press. It also means I can use beautiful Japanese papers.

Now, let me introduce two creatives who inspire me with their work.

Carolyn Eady of Sprouts Press Designs is another local on our team. She's a bookbinder and printmaker. You probably can guess how I feel about books. As well as literature, I love books - the physical books themselves. I've made some of my own, and even took one of Carolyn's workshops (which she graciously offered to her team mates, in our first art/craft skills-based workshop). She is one of the artists I know who does come out and share her knowledge and help others. She makes objects of beauty, simplicity and honest craftsmanship, with real playfulness with the medium. Her entry in last year's 'In the Round' show at Graven Feather, was one of the most original... a sort of deconstructed circular book.

I love the idea of wearing your books:

Mini Book Necklace - Leather Journal pendant from Sprouts Press Designs
You can find all sorts of different types of books in her shop:

Montreal Embroidered Coptic Bound Travel Journal from Sprouts Press Designs
Japanese Stab Bound Journal, Hemp Leaf Binding, Painted Cover, Journeys in Winter Browns by Sprouts Press Designs

I wanted to also profile someone who isn't a Torontonian, whom locals may not know. My friend Tanis is awesome. I first met Tanis Alexis Laird online, on Craftster, years ago, when I lived on Vancouver Island and she lived in Vancouver. She was an artist seeking to learn more about physics, since she was working on a series of paintings about particle physics. I was a scientist needing to make more art. We became friends... though it was harder to manage to meet up in person than you might imagine. I didn't meet her in real life until I'd moved back to Toronto, and came to Vancouver for my job. (She's since moved with her family to the Island.) Tanis is an immensely talented fibre artist, painter, multimedia artist, artisan and all around good person. When I joined Etsy she was Captain of the Trans Canada Etsy Team, and I thought how lucky I was to know someone who was important for Canadian sellers (and I'm sure she'll get a hoot from that). She's not only someone who rallied and organized Canadian Etsy sellers, she's the sort who maintains an international network of artist friends and is more engaged in trying to make the world a better place for all than pretty much anyone I know. She makes all sorts of different beautiful things. You can find her work on flickr,  her blog and on society6. I love having her art in my home!
Tanis Alexis Laird, 2012. soft sculpture.
wired ears, handmade felt fabric, needle felted tail, vintage button eye.

mini nuno wraps and felted fascinators by Tanis Alexis Laird
I love the multimedia combining drawing, painting and sewing.
We Shall Live Here #6, by Tanis Alexis Laird

Go Ahead and Do It

Go Ahead And Do It show at Art.Science.Gallery (photo: M. Weinstock)
For those of us, myself included, who weren't able to be in Austin for the Opening of Go Ahead and Do It: Portraits of Women in STEM at Art.Science.Gallery, our guest curator and science journalist Maia Weinstock shared some of her photos of the art installation.

Go Ahead And Do It show at Art.Science.Gallery (photo: M. Weinstock)

Go Ahead And Do It show at Art.Science.Gallery (photo: M. Weinstock)

Go Ahead And Do It show at Art.Science.Gallery (photo: M. Weinstock)
If you are in Austin, do be sure to check out the show and let me know!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Go Ahead and Do It

If you are in the Austin, TX area be sure to visit Art.Science.Gallery! I am really excited to take part in their show of portraits of women in science, technology, engineering, and math, which begins this weekend. It's called Go Ahead and Do It and I wish I could be there to see it. If you are able to go, let me know and then tell me all about it!
"The pioneers portrayed in this collection offer an encouraging look at what women can achieve in the STEM fields despite persistent obstacles. “If it’s a good idea,” computer scientist and U.S. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once quipped, “go ahead and do it.” A portion of the proceeds from this exhibition benefit GirlStart, a non-profit that provides opportunities for girls to become involved in STEM fields."

Opening Reception Saturday September 13, 2014 7-10pm
Images of Women in Science Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon Monday October 13, 2014 6-9pm
Ada Lovelace Day Party Tuesday October 14 6-9pm featuring a brief talk by guest curator Maia Weinstock at 6:30pm

Thanks for the ♥'s


Oh, I do love those ♥'s. Just a quick note of thanks: today, things from secret minouette places passed 2500 ♥'s which is truly amazing to me! Thank you!

It seems apt to say thank you in French. Though I know my French isn't perfect and I do occasionally make the accidental sin of the anglicisme like many anglophones, I do make a point to run a bilingual shop, to the best of my abilities. Now, most of my traffic comes from the US, Canada and France even ahead of the UK and Australia - which is statistically a bit unusual for an Etsy shop, and the sales do follow suit. So, I would also like to say merci à vous!

While I'm at it,  I'd like to take a moment to thank the 920 Etsy followers, 1020 twitter followers, 2677 pinterest followers, 645 fans of the things from secret minouette places fanpage, and last but not least, anyone who follows this blog!

Æeolian Jellyfish

Æeolian Jellyfish, linocut with chine collé and glow-in-the dark in, 18 cm x 18 cm, by Ele Willoughby, 2014
This is a whimsical mini lino block print of the Æeolian Jellyfish, a widely unknown, and quite possibly, completely imaginary creature. Unlike other jellies, the Aeolian Jellyfish floats in the upper ocean of air, which blankets our planet.

The printed area is only 10 cm (3.9 inches) squared. The jellies have collaged or chine collé fine translucent white Japanese paper with visible fibres. The jellies are printed in UV-activated glow-in-the-dark ink. If exposed to ultraviolet light, including direct sunlight, the jellies glow. Each sheet is 18 cm (7.1 inches) squared and printed on white Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. There are 15 prints in this first edition.

The Aeolian jellyfish (Æolia noctiluca) looks much like its sea-borne cousin Pelagia noctiluca (where "Pelagia" means of the sea, "nocti-" refers to night and "luca" to light). Similarly "Æolia" and Aeolian come from the Greek Æolus, the keeper of the winds, and refers to its air- or wind-borne nature. Also, both jellies are bioluminescent. That is, they have the ability to glow in the dark. There are some important differences between the two, including, of course, habitat. While both animals have radial symmetry, the Pelagia noctiluca has a single body cavity, called the gastrovascular cavity. In contrast, the Aeolian jellyfish has both an outer gastrovascular cavity and an inner air bladder. This latter organ performs analogously to the swim bladder found in some variety of fish (though more closely related to the swim bladder found in Siphonophore colonies like the Portuguese man o' war). It is essentially an enclosed, impermeable, gas balloon, which can expand and contract to allow the Aeolian jellyfish to rise or fall in the air column by adjusting its shape such that the pressure in the air bladder matches that of ambient pressure. The Aeolian jellyfish also has a special adaptation to evade predators like birds; it can rapidly metabolize any food to produce a flash of heat in the gastrovascular cavity wall, lining the swim bladder. This allows the trapped air balloon to be heated, causing it to rapidly expand and the Aeolian jellyfish to rise. To move laterally, the Aeolian jellyfish employs its tentacles to ride the winds.
Æeolian Jellyfish, glowing in the dark

As you might expect for a bioluminescent animal, the Aeolian jellyfish is noctunal. During the day the jelly passive rises as it warms in the sun and its air bladder heats and expands. Thus it spends the heat of the day in the stratosphere, out of reach of predators. As temperature falls at sunset, so does the Aeolian jellyfish, disguised as a twinkling star to the flying insects who are its prey. Hence, while lulled to complacency by this lovely light display, it's death from above for these unsuspecting insects.

Like many jellyfish (but not the Pelagia noctiluca), the Aeolian jellyfish begins its life as a bottom-dwelling polyp - where "bottom" refers not to the seafloor, but the ocean-air interface. They have been found on certain recently-discovered very shallow seamounts in the Pacific. Thus the polyps rest with their holdfast on these plateau-like features, bathed in seawater, while their "mouths" reach out into the air. When they metamorphose into the medusa form, the jellies float up into the sky.