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High Five Elle! [16 Jul 2015|09:12pm]
[ mood | busy ]

High Five ElleA friend emailed last week and said, "You may already know this but I just saw it in the August issue of Elle Canada :) Just wanted to share with you in case!" I did not know and was very excited! She included a pic from her iPhone so I got a peek... but I've been wanting to scan it and share it.

I walked several kilometers with the baby in the stroller, visiting multiple stores, but every one was still stocking the July issue. Finally, I got a hold of one. It's fabulous. It's in with an article called 'Elle Radar Canadian Special' about the 'next generation of artists, musicians and social-medial stars who are redefining Canadiana cool'. It's on a page with what's hip in Canadian whiskey (apparently), and facing Shad's music picks. It's the beginning of their 'Art & Design' section. So it's the perfect place to direct Canadians to come visit their nearest Etsy: Made in Canada this September 26th. Also, it's amazing to be singled out amongst that talented crew! I like their succinct review, "colourful block prints that are equal parts history lesson and tongue-in-cheek vintage Canadiana."

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Koi Tattoo [23 Jun 2015|09:40pm]
[ mood | tired ]

koi tattoo

my brother's koi tattoo inspired by my linocut

My brother got my koi linocut tattooed on his arm! He has several tattoos. The only other print inspired one is 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai, so I'm in good company. I always think it's a great compliment. I like how the tattoo artist has reinterpreted he image to suit the medium. My mother will not be happy with either of us, but he's a grown up and I'm flattered.

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The Keeling Curve, Keeling and the atmospheric CO2 trend linocut [17 Jun 2015|09:03pm]
[ mood | tired ]

Keeling and the Keeling Curve

Charles David Keeling and the Keeling Curve, linocut 12" x12", 2015 by Ele Willoughby

Sometimes, I take suggestions for prints subjects, especially the scientists series. This is a portrait of American geochemist Charles David Keeling (1928 - 2005) whose decades long observations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in air samples at the Mauna Loa Observatory were some of the first direct data to show the human contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming. He was suggested for an upcoming Art.Science.Gallery show about climate change. The 'Keeling Curve' shown in copper and red shows both the seasonal variations (the wiggles) and the strong upward trend with time as CO2, a known greenhouse gas (which traps solar radiation), built up in the atmosphere. It turns out this is topical, not only because climate change is always topical, but this week, the American Chemical Society honoured the Keeling Curve as a National Historic Chemical Landmark at a ceremony at Scripps.

After completing his PhD in chemistry at Northwestern in 1954, he did a postdoc in geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology where he developed the first instrument to measure carbon dioxide in atmospheric samples. He then joined the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD, where he remained for his career, as a professor of oceanography. He had good timing; 1957 - 1958 marked the International Geophysical Year and he was able to get IGY funding to set up a base 3000 m above sea level at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawai'i, where he put his CO2 measuring methods to work. He also gathered similar data series at Big Sur, California and in Antarctica. Prior to his studies, scientists believed that CO2 levels were simply variable, without the sort of clear patterns he observed. Between 1958 to 1960, we was able to show the daily pattern of change due to respiration from local plants and soils as well as the seasonal variations in CO2 levels; by 1961 it was clear there was also a strong upward trend in the 'Keeling Curve' which roughly matched the amounts of CO2 released by our own burning of fossil fuels.

The National Science Foundation cut off his funding, arguing that the results were "routine" though they nonetheless used his data to warn of the risk of global warming. He was forced to abandon his studies in Antarctica, but managed to keep the Mauna Loa experiment going. These measurements at Mauna Loa continue to this day and are the longest continuous record of atmospheric CO2. They show a rise of 315 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in 1958 to 401 ppmv as of April 2014 and this increase has been accelerating in recent years with serious implications for climate change.

Due to the seriousness of these data, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lanunched their own worldwide CO2 monitoring program in the 1970s, including at Mauna Loa, alongside the Scripps experiment. After CD Keeling's death in 2005, the Scripps measuring experiment was taken over by his son, Ralph Keeling, professor of geochemistry.

Keeling received many accolades during his lifetime. In 1986, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994. In 2002 Keeling was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest award for lifetime achievements in science granted by the US. He received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his data collection and interpretation in 2005.

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Thanks for all the hearts! [16 Jun 2015|10:00am]

I like to take a moment to thank people who leave ♥s every time I reach a milestone. It's quite incredible to me: things from secret minouette places has surpassed 2800 hearts! Thank you very much to the 2812 minouette shop favoriters, 985 Etsy followers, 667 FB fanpage likers, 1391 twitter followers, 3956 pinterest followers, 205 instagram followers, and each of you who read this blog or magpie&whiskeyjack!

I remember reading, years ago, on kozyndan's old blog, that they felt that once you reached a thousand fans - people who would appreciate and purchase your artwork - that you could make a reliable living as an artist. I don't know what the true ratio of ♥s to fans who collect your work might be. Maybe half of the ♥s are people who just want to tell you that they like your style, and want to bookmark your shop, though they never purchase anything. That's still cool and much appreciated! Maybe it's more than half. But once you start to see numbers in the thousands, I think that means you've gotten to the right order of magnitude! Maybe you're only one tenth of the way there, but it's not a hundredth and it might be only a half or closer. Thank you thank you thank you.

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Bee Homes - linocut audiovisual multimedia bee piece [31 May 2015|10:26pm]
[ mood | tired ]

For a long time, I've had some version of this in my head. This week I finally managed to complete my multi-bee interactive audiovisual multimedia piece... just in time for the Bees (& the Birds) show at Graven Feather. You may recall that a few years ago, I made a linocut bee in electrically conductive in (specifically Bare Paint, which I mixed with some block printing extender to get a better viscosity for making a linocut). I combined this with an Arduino microcontroller so the bee itself could act as a capacitative sensor. In simplest terms a capacitor is made of two electrically conductive - usually metal - plates with a gap between them. The gap can be nothing but air, or a variety of electrolytes.  If there was a wire between the plates, charge would flow freely. Because of the gap, charge builds up on one plate a dissipates at a certain rate to the other. The rate at which this happens depends on the capacitance, which in turn depends on things like the physical properties of the plates, electrolyte and the size of the gap. So, a capacitative sensor takes advantage of the latter to sense proximity, or, measure capacitance to tell you the gap between two "plates". In my case the "plates" are bees printed in electrically conductive paint and my hand. This is the principle behind the theremin (though, they are of course, a great deal more sophisticated, but the idea is the same)*. Here's an example of an earlier prototype from 2012:

buzzing bumblebee print prototype

So, I can use my linocut on paper connected to an Arduino microcontroller as a sensor, and use the Arduino then to trigger a audio response when someone approaches the linocut. A very simple speaker can be made from a current-carrying wire in a spiral, affixed to a membrane, next to a strong magnet.** So, above I made a speaker with a piece of paper, copper tape as wire and a magnet. The next step was to carve a spiral lino block and block print a speaker on paper with electrically conductive paint, which I did. Thus an actual print, a sheet of paper, becomes both sensor and speaker. I had planned to then make a piece which had multiple bees as multiple sensors which would trigger different reponses. I created the artwork in time for my show about bees in 2013.


The Bees, Ele Willoughby, linocut on various Japanese washi, 18" x 24", 2013.

I had planned to add sound to this piece, but didn't have the opportunity.

I had two issues. First, my prototype used only an Arduino. I was able to play back sound by keeping the recording length quite short and the sampling rate low. There's only so much on-board RAM. I could make multiple sensors each play the same recording, but I simply ran out of memory using only an Arduino.

Secondly, I got pregnant and chose to put electronics aside for a while. I couldn't find any reliable medical guidance about soldering electronics while pregnant or in the proximity of babies (as if there aren't in fact large numbers of engineers, scientists, artists and hobbiests who are women of child-bearing age, ahem!), but jewellers were warned to avoid lead solder, and I opted to err on the side of caution. Lead and developping nervous systems struck me as a bad combination.

So, now that my son is one and a half, I've had an opportunity to return to the idea. The obvious way to add more sound to a project is the off-the-shelf solution of adding a Wave Shield to the Arduino. This is a second circuit board which plugs into the first to let you control and play files from an SD card to a speaker. (Bare Paint has recently released their own microcontroller, the Touch board based on the Arduino, but specifically with their applications for their paint, such as capacitative sensors, in mind. This might have been an easier way to go... but I had an Arduino, so I chose to add a Wave Shield).


My bee lino blocks and spiral lino speaker block, along with the Arduino and Wave Shield. You can talk to the Arduino via serial port. I combined the open source code wavehc_play6.pde (which plays different 6 audio files when 6 different buttons are pushed) with ArduCapSenseBlinky.ino which employs a collection of capacitative sensors to trigger a collection of LEDs to flash.


To make an electrical connection from my 6 bees (honeybee, bumblebee, leafcutter bee, long-horned bee, blue orchard mason bee and sweat bee), which I block printed in Bare Paint with block printing extender on Japanese kozo paper, I sewed through the paper with electrically conductive thread. I wanted the speaker, magnet and electronics to be behind the sheet, so I needed to pass through it.


I also printed each bee block on a variety of Japanese washi papers, to get the colour and texture of the bees and wings. This also hides the stitching/electrical connections. The story I'm telling with the piece is about how bees live here. We all know the honeybee, with its hexagonal cells in its hives, but it's not native to North America. Most of our native bees live in holes and burrows. They also come in a wide range of colours. So the other collaged, handmade papers, represent how the bees live, from the hexagons with the honey bee at the top in yellows, to the circles in blues and greens at the bottom. In this shot you can also see the spiral speaker printed on the reverse. The sheet is on kozo paper which is very strong, but not at all stiff. So I backed it with book board to have something on which to mount the electronics. My trusty multimeter is there so I can check that each bee does have good connectivity through to the digital I/O pin on the Arduino.


This is what's hiding behind the piece. I affixed a small box to hold the Arduino. There are six DIO pins at the top of the Wave Shield board connected to wires in purple, green, yellow, orange, red and brown. These in turn are connected using copper tape to each of the 6 conductive threads coming from the 6 bees. The threads from either end of the speak spiral are likewise connected to the speaker output and ground.

I made a short recording for each bee. I tried to find audio recordings of each different species. Back in 2012, Sarah Peebles directed me to some of her audio recordings on Reasonating Bodies. I also simply searched YouTube for videos of each type of bee. I combined these (using Audacity... which is pretty awesome freeware for simple sound applications) with my spoken words about the bees and save these as .WAV files which can be played by the Arduino Wave Shield. So I was able to say how though the honeybee might be our idea of the canonical bee, our "default" bee, it is in fact not native to North America, and many of out native bees are quite different; many are solitary, producing neither hives nor honey, and coming in all sorts of colours. You can see and hear my piece at the Graven Feather show the Bees (& the Birds), which runs June 4 through 27. I'll post a video of the piece in action later. You can find each of my bees prints separately here (and learn a little bit about each species too).

*In fact, this is how the gravimeter I used for my doctorate worked too. Picture a mass suspended on a spring such that the spring force upward is balanced by gravity downward. Should the force of gravity change as you move the sensor (due to a large buried mass below, for instance) the mass on a spring will no longer be in equilibrium. The sensor was the most extraordinary, delicate, tiny, spun quartz spring terminated with a tiny piece of quartz coated in gold between capacitative plates. When the mass moved, an electrical restoring force was applied to the plates which returned the sensor to equilibrium. This restoring force could tell you the change in gravity, or, in my case acceleration (since I kept the gravimeter still, it was the seafloor which moved up and down).

**A good source of strong magnets: old hard drives

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SciArt Meet-up [20 May 2015|11:23pm]
[ mood | tired ]

Austin Monthly for October 2014 included my linocut of

Florence Nightingale in their write-up of the 'X Marks the Spot' show

at Art.Science.Gallery

Today I got to meet-up with a group of scientists/artists: Hayley Gillespie (ecologist, artist and founder of Art.Science.Gallery), Peggy Muddles (aka the Vexed Muddler, who works on the genetics of bacteria in lungs of CF patients by day, and amazing SciArt ceramics by night) and Rovena Tey (cancer researcher on mat leave and science-inspired cardmaking genius behind Handmade By Rovena)* and have a tour behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum! The ROM is a rightfully famous museum, which boasts not only a world class archeological (especially Egyptian) collection, but a proper natural history museum, which has always meant that it was a research institution as well as a public museum. One of Hayley's friends from grad school is the curator of freshwater fish, and he was kind enough to give us a tour of the freshwater fish, and mammals and enlist his colleague to show us the invertebrate collection. Sadly, photographs were not allowed for security reasons (as it's best not to publicize the inner workings of a museum which houses some very valuable artifacts).

As token physical scientist, when the conversation turned to finer details of genetics and mapping family trees (if you will) of huge datasets of species, I felt like saying, "Oh! Bayesian regression! I know what that means!" with a little wink. The physical specimen themselves and the tour was fascinating. I could certainly relate to the problems of data archiving and preserving physical specimen, as these are serious problems for earth scientists too (especially the marine ones, as some ocean bottom cores need to be frozen and pressurized to avoid essentially melting or exploding, or both). I wouldn't have guessed that most of the ROM's collection of fishes is housed outside of the city, because that many tens of thousands of alcohol filled jars is deemed too great a fire risk downtown! It really is an incredible feat for these scientists to have even gathered all these species, let alone all the work of detailing and studying them, tracing their evolution, afterwards - and an invaluable resource.

We saw a few thousand sample jars of fishes, as well as some mammals (like bats) which are stored in alcohol. We saw their large collection of mammal pelts, which sort of takes your breathe away. The ROM is a museum of a certain age; at some time in the past they were gifted a large collection of mounted mammal heads (presumably from the estate of a hunter). I saw the head of a black rhino, now on the brink of extinction. It was staggering in size, even compared to the other rhino head. There were more heads of assorted quadrupeds than I knew how to identify.

I was pleased to happen to see a giraffe weevil along with a fabulous, large bronze sculpture of a giraffe weevil, on a plinth in the hallway between offices for scientists. I had only seen photos when I made my linocut. The invertebrates curator was an expert on leeches (which yes, are gathered the hard way... as any Canadian who has portaged a canoe through swampy water will be familiar). There were marvellous and/or scary arthropods including a mantis shrimp the size of my forearm, a roughly metre long South American earthworm, delicate and beautiful shell of a paper nautilus (or argonaut), adorable slipper lobster, and all sorts of other crustaceans... as well and swapped tales of fieldwork and labwork (mis)adventure.

Afterwards we were joined by Hayley's husband Cole (a psychiatrist) for a lovely lunch and discussion about that inspiring intersection of art and science. It was a real treat!

Hayley also brought me a copy of the Austin Monthly from October 2014. They included (part of) my portrait of Florence Nightingale in their write-up of the 'X Marks the Spot' exhibit at Art.Science.Gallery. It's always great to see my artwork in print, but I especially like that they've selected the perhaps unexpected. People will know her name, but as a nursing pioneer, rather than a statistician and data visualization pioneer, but she was both. She also brought me Ada Lovelace bookmarks from the 'Go Ahead and Do It' women in STEM show. Gabriel promptly ate one when I got home.

*We missed Glendon Mellow (aka the Flying Trilobite), scientific illustrator, SciArtist and Scientific American blogger, who couldn't make it.

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Surveyors, an all femal survey crew in the American west in 1918 [16 May 2015|04:37pm]
[ mood | busy ]


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage topographical map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby

All female survey crew working on the Minidoka Project, Idaho, 1918.

I love when people approach me about doing a fascinating custom order. An artist, Krista Caballero who has been collaborating with many others on a project called Mapping Meaning which brought together "artists, scientists and scholars to explore questions of social, mental, and environmental ecology. Inspired by a photograph from 1918 depicting an all-female survey crew, the project is rooted in a five-day experimental workshop that takes place biennially on the Colorado Plateau." She wanted to thank her collaborators with the gift of a print and wanted to know if I could make an edition inspired by this very 1918 photo. Since one of the things I do is communicate science through art with portraits of scientists (with a special focus on women in the history of science) and I have also done a variety of earth science surveys and mapping, this is very much my thing. In fact, I worry sometimes about hagiography... about only present heroes and heroines, or perpetuating the myth that science is a series the story of a series of lone geniuses. Plus, those survey rods with their odd symbols are so graphic and tempting to one who makes relief prints.

I proposed portraying these women and incorporating vintage geological, topographic and seismicity maps of the western North America, so that each print would be unique. All of the vintage maps came from the Geological Survey of Canada and were actually used in the field - as a tip of the hat to these women. I felt that any marking on the maps actually made them more app. The maps are also from western North America, and are decades old - a little further west and north, and later than these women worked... but they can be tied to similar pioneering surveying work. These hard-working women would have produced the sorts of data fundamental to producing the maps like these geological, topographic and seismicity (or earthquake) maps. The history of science is not only a series of exploits of well-known genius experimentalists, famous for their eureka moments; nor is it simply a tale of paradigm shifts brought about by wiser theorists who suddenly saw the need to shift the entire underpinnings of a given field of science. The history of science is also a tale of hard work by countless unknowns; an all-female survey crew from the early twentieth century seem especially unknown. We have no record of their names and they do not fit our preconceived notions of who explored and mapped the west, or who did fundamental scientific grunt work. I think Idaho in 1918 would still feel like the wild west and imagine these women to be quite fearless.

There are a few extra available here.


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage topographical map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby

The Surveyors, linocut with vintage topographical map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage geological map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage geological map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage topographical map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage geological map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby


The Surveyors, linocut with vintage seismicity map, 14" x 11", edition of 10 each unique, 2015 by Ele Willoughby

And do check out Mapping Meaning - there's some very interesting stuff there!

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Happy Birthday Draycevixen! [05 May 2015|09:04pm]
I hope you are having a super fabulous day, to launch your best year yet!!

Here, I thought you might like your own Cumberbookmark. Enjoy.

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minouette on Etsy & the Etsy: Made in Canada Community! [27 Apr 2015|03:24pm]
[ mood | exhausted ]

Carving a lino block in my studio during the Etsy Canada photoshoot!

(photo by Nicole Breanne Hudson)

A few weeks ago, we had a little photoshoot in my studio! As the captain of one of the largest teams in Canada, and someone actively involved in planning Etsy: Made in Canada, Etsy asked if they could profile me as a member of the made in Canada handmade community. The photographer Nicole, Tanya from Etsy, and my fellow Toronto Etsy Street Team leader, Candice joined me in my studio with the baby (who thought this was a riot!) and, Minouette the cat. Though she (Minouette) can often be shy, she seemed to have decided that this was clearly all about her, and she should be the centre of attention. She stole the show. I guess that makes sense, since I named my shop after her. Anyway, I'm honoured to get to represent so much amazing talent involved in Etsy: Made in Canada, and excited to be profiled on Etsy. You can find the main landing page for Etsy: Made in Canada at the link and read the profile, complete with a peak inside my studio on the community page here!

In my studio, Minouette stations herself on my desk, so she can be sure to be in the shot

(photo by Nicole Breanne Hudson)

I was also flattered to see that BlogTO listed me as one of  The top 20 Etsy sellers in Toronto by category in 'Art' writing,

Minouette's prints and cards feature woodcut illustrations of historical figures, zodiac signs, and fluffy animals. Relevant to Torontonian interests: this high-fiving raccoon ($35)."

It's been a good week for press for the shop!

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Gregor Mendel and his Peas [13 Apr 2015|04:19pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Gregor Mendel with his pea plants
Gregor Mendel, 11" x 14" (28 cm x 35.6 cm), 2015 by Ele Willoughby

This is a linocut portrait of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), scientist and Augustinian friar who posthumously gained fame for establishing many of the rules of heredity, fundamental to modern genetics.... more than three decades after his death (though even he didn't realize the importance of his crossbreeding studies). By carefully crossbreeeding pea plants and tracing seven characterististics (plant height, pod shape and colour, seed shape and colour, and flower position and colour) he was able to deduce what are now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. Apparently, pea plants were the most popular of his projects with his colleagues. His mouse experiments were frown upon by his bishop (all those copulating rodents!) and his particularly aggressive Cyprian and Carniolan bees proved an annoyance to his fellow monks and visitors to the abby.

He coined the terms "recessive" and "dominant" traits. Some of his findings are subtlely alluded to in the layout of the pea flowers, like a Punnett square depicting a cross between two pea plants heterozygous for purple and white blossoms - that is, purple flowers are a dominant characteristic and the first generation of crossbread plants will have all purple flowers, but the recessive white flowers can reappear in subsequent generations. The first edition is a variable run of 8 prints, each 11" by 14" (28 cm by 35.6 cm), on ivory Japanese kozo paper with "chine-collé" white and mauve paper.

Apart from completing this print this weekend, I unfortunately got to spend most of the beautiful Sunday afternoon inside, in line.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking that I don't get out enough with the baby and still had not used gift certificates I got at Christmas. It's a challenge sometimes to work around his meals and naps and get anywhere on public transit (especially if that means carrying him and his stoller up and down three flights of stairs cause so many stations are still not accessible in 2015!). So, I made a point to go to a certain shop with the intent of replacing my 10 year old, twice-repaired shoes. I found the shop mostly empty of shoes but I did buy myself a dress on sale, and went across the street and bought myself an organic fruit smoothie at the Big Carrot, which I shared with the baby. At the time, I thought I'd done really well. As locals will know, a server has since been diagnosed with Hep A, and thus, like hundreds of other patrons, Gabriel and I got to wait in line to be vaccinated. It's unlikely we've been exposed; we would have had to have been served by the particular person and he or she would have had to had improperly washed hands... but it's not worth risking (and the young can show no symptoms while readily infecting others). Not how I would have liked to have spent the first lovely warm day of the year... though I was kind of impressed that everyone took the public health advice, turned up, and waited patiently. The elderly couple behind us offered to push the stroller and hold out place in line so I could at least let Gabriel run around a little. He's not too rambunctious and people were patient with him, which I appreciated. It helps that he smiles at everyone.

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Immortal Jellyfish [30 Mar 2015|04:07pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Immortal Jellyfish

Immortal Jellyfish, Ele Willoughby (c) 2015, 11" x 14" (27.9 cm x 35.6 cm)

This hand-printed linocut of the Turritopsis dohrnii is the only known animal to be able to revert to its younger colonial stage after having reached maturity - that is the full-grown T. dohrnii jellyfish medusa, if it gets stressed, or old and sick, can revert back to the polyp stage, form a new polyp colony and start all over. So in theory, the jellyfish can bypass death and this cycle can go on forever. The jellyfish is "biologically immortal"! In the real world, there are diseases and predators which interfere with the T. dohrnii's plans of immortality, of course... but unlike the rest of us, it's not an impossible jellyfish dream.

T. dohrnii are hydrozoans which begin life as a sort of free floating fertilized egg known as planula larvae, a sort of plankton. These settle on the seafloor and a colony of polyps, or hydroids, attached to the seafloor like a little garden of multi-branched soon-to-be-jellyfish. The jellyfish, or medusae, bud off these polyps, each a genetically identical clone to the next. The medusae swim freely until sexual maturity. After that, should the T. dohrnii face environmental stress, assault or simply age and illness, it can revert to the polyp form, found a new colony and begin again! This cycle can, in theory, repeat ad infinitum.

The "immortal jellyfish" was formerly classified as T. nutricula, which had also been confused with the similar T. rubra. It turns out that it's quite the challenge to tell one Turritopsis from another. Currently only one scientist, Shin Kubota from Kyoto University, has managed to sustain a group of these jellyfish for a prolonged period of time in captivity; in two years, his colony rebirthed itself 11 times! Wanting to avoid the mistake of confusing one Turritopsis for another, I was glad to read the New York Times Magazine profile of Shin Kubota and the Turritopsis dohrnii - so I could be confident their images were of the right animal!

Incidentally, googling "immortal jellyfish" turns up a lot of strange things, including harebrained anti-aging schemes and vampire fans.

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Art shows: Sheep, Space & Bees [26 Mar 2015|08:36pm]
[ mood | busy ]

I feel so behind in my blogging. Sometimes wrangling a very busy toddler, running a business, making art and running a thousand-member team (thankfully with help from excellent collaborators!) and you know, basic life stuff, like buying, cooking and eating food seems like more than enough to fill my days. Recently, we had a bit of a photoshoot in my studio... and I don't mean with the official family photojournalist (aka my husband). Some of the things I do for things from secret minouette places and for the Toronto Etsy Street Team will soon be getting a little press. Can't wait to share that! All these things keep me very busy, but, I don't want neglect blogging. Let me play catch up.

Year of the Goat show at PROOF Studio Gallery in the Distillery District

Like previous years, I was happy to take part in PROOF Studio Gallery's international print exhibit celebrating the Chinese New Year. This year of course is symbolized by yang, an animal which can be translated as sheep or goat. I've leaned towards 'sheep' and included my Cloned Sheep (the 'Hello Dolly!' one) and Yang: the Sheep or Goat prints.  (I can see them in the photo: Cloned Sheep is the colourful one with the blue mat in the centre and Yang in three over to the right). The show ran from February 18th to March 1 at PROOF and then hit the road, visiting OCADU print department, the Ottawa School of Art,  Concordia University Mouse Print Gallery in Montreal and Muskoka Arts Place.

Local gallery Artisans At Work is hosting

Terra Nova & Friends Exhibit
Show runs through April 2015

Artisans At Work
2071 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Hours: Mon: Closed; Tues & Wed: 10-6; Thurs & Fri: 10-7; Sat & Sun: 11-5pm

Terra Nova & Friends Exhibit: Mother Nature, Intergalactic & Extraterrestrial Art.

First Friday Reception: April 3, 2015, 7:30-10pm. Music by The Sidewalkers, licensed bar, treats, art, and local artists.

So, I've been framing some of my earth and space science and scientists prints for the show!

My friend (and fellow TEST leader) Christine Pensa is co-curating a show about bees in June with the lovely women of Graven Feather gallery, so I'm planning to show my bee prints there, perhaps including some new ones. See Christine's Art That Moves blog for more information, or to apply to the show.

Coincidentally, Art.Science.Gallery in Austin is also hosting a bee themed show. The Buzz Stops Here (April 18 - May 30) will feature encaustic artworks (which involves painting with melted beeswax) about the science and conservation of bees! The medium really is the message here. I've never tried encaustic, so I won't be participating in their show, but I've recently sent a big package of my bee prints to their shop the Supply Room, to be available during the show.

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Women of Science bringing Science to the Public on Twitter [09 Mar 2015|10:13am]
[ mood | busy ]

I was really flattered to be included in the io9 article by geophysicist and science writer Mika McKinnon's round up of all sorts of scientific women who are actively communicating science, in all sorts of ways, on twitter! She mentioned my science and history of science linocuts (including the tweet above), and listed roughly 40 others, both well-known and not. Just recently, I was asked by a couple of my mother's friends about twitter: why would one be interested and how can it take up one's time. It was one of those, "Why would you want to read, 'I ate a sandwich for lunch!'?" type questions. I gave a fairly standard reply that if that is in fact the only sort of thing a person tweets, you simply don't follow them; instead, you can follow @NASA. This round-up is a better answer; you can follow - and actively engage with - some of the most creative, knowledgeable and interesting, entertaining people out there. You can stay abreast of your own interests and follow those who work in radically different areas and are excited about topics which you might not even have known existed. If you're looking for great people to follow, and kick-ass women in STEM to boot, this is a good place to start, as well as the other lists she links to.

The #SciArt tweetstorm did put my work in front of new eyeballs and I'm also flattered to have gained new followers. Thank you to all 1258 twitter followers, 667 FB fanpage followers, 960 Etsy followers, 2700 Etsy , 3861 Pinterest followers, and 83 Instagram followers. I had to correct the numbers in the previous sentence twice, in the time it took me to type it (and I type quickly). It was quite amazing to find my work spreading so quickly and get so much feedback that I could barely keep up. If I failed to reply to you, my apologies; please try again. I usually do reply promptly and don't usually feel that popular. ;)

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#SciArt Tweetstorm [04 Mar 2015|03:41pm]
[ mood | busy ]

A lot of the artwork I make is directly informed and inspired by science, and this is the week for art about science or #SciArt on twitter. Local Scientific American blogger Glendon Mellow (aka @FlyingTrilobite), part of the trio behind the Symbiartic blog (@Symbiartic) about the intersection of art and science, declared a #SciArt tweetstorm. He suggested that those of us who care about scientific illustration and art inspired by science should:

  • tweet at least 3 artworks a day (March 1 through 7) tagged #SciArt

  • retweet at least 5 #SciArt tweets daily

  • or more...

#sciart Twitter NodeXL SNA Map and Report for
Monday, 02 March 2015 at 18:50 UTC from Marc Smith

The resulting storm is in fact raging. #SciArt is trending on twitter and has been for days. In fact, Symbiartic has posted some statistics. Marc Smith of Connected Action produced this figure showing how the 4000 odd tweets and twitter accounts posting #SciArt are interconnected. As you can imagine, I'm all over this, and am in fact the 5th vertice of 2,227 users, ranked by centrality within the first 24 hours. Read more and see the figure in full detail here or by clicking on it.

You can follow some of the other blogs write-ups of the tweetstorm via Symbiartic and find  Nature's post here.

But what you really should do is simply go check the #SciArt hashtag right now! There are some truly wonderful things being shared from that fertile intersection of art and science. There is everything from scientific visualizations, to art quilts inspired by neurology, to microscopic photographs, to science comics, to fine art on scientific themes, to a cupcake periodic table. Do not miss out. It's inspiring!

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memes for B [16 Feb 2015|02:40pm]
blythechild is a fan of the meme, the quizzes and so forth, so I thought I'd take part in this one and get her to assign me a letter. Today is brought to you by the letter G.

Something I hate: gladhanding (We Canadians can be a bit reserved, but on the other hand, we don't do phony friendliness and have little patience for it).
Something I love: Gabriel! Giggles (baby giggles are where it's at). Ganache. Garlic. Ginger. (Hey, it's lunch time)
Somewhere I've been: Gatineau (Quebec), Germany, Glencoe (Ontario), Grand River (Ontario), Great Britain, Groton (Conneticut),
Somewhere I'd like to go: Guatamala, Galway, Geneva, Gibraltar, Glasgow, Gold Coast (Australia), Greece, Greenland, Guadelupe,
Someone I know: Gabriel! (Ok, I've used him twice, but to know him is to love him.)
A film I liked: Grand Hotel (1932): Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford... it's quite something. I also loved the Grand Budapest Hotel. They share a few things in common, including, a great cast, heists, rough setting in terms of time, place and foreshadowing of the rising threat of Nazism, unlikely loves, ethics, feats of cinematography and a nostalgic affection for the opulent old school hotel and its unlikely inhabitants. They are very different films, but I have this quiet suspicion that the one alludes to the other.
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Local TESTy Valentines [08 Feb 2015|10:25am]
Lovely, funny and yummy food puns by Gotamago

One of the lovely and talented local artists I know, Lichia of Gotamago, tagged things from secret minouette places to point out I'd gotten some press. It's one of the great things about being part of TEST or the One of a Kind, is that you get to know your fellow makers. So when BlogTO does a round-up of fun Valentines by local artists to let you "bypass Hallmark cheese [...] by making dorky puns, poking fun at the awkward side of relationships, or making artwork so beautiful and intricate it'll melt even the coldest, Grinchiest heart," there are several great picks from teammates. They included my thermochromic Valentine amongst their 10 favorites. Half of them are TESTy people, of course, cause our team is so awesome. ;)

minouette's thermochromic Valentine for the nerd in your heart
simple and sweet I Heart You by HeyRube
Gorgeous, customizable, hand-cut Valentines by Light&Paper
For true love, even first thing from Sea&Lake
(more or less x-posted to the TEST blog)

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Etsy Team Captain Summit [05 Feb 2015|04:37pm]
[ mood | busy ]

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Etsy Summit here in Toronto. Along with some of my fellow team captains and leaders from across the country, Etsy staff and guests, we've been planning the (anxiously awaited) follow-up to our amazing Etsy: Made in Canada show! It was such an astonishing success, we're going to try to make it a yearly event. Saturday, September 26th, the Toronto Etsy Street Team and 416Hustlers are planning to do it again, at MaRS. There will also be many more simultaneous shows from coast to coast to coast!

Besides meeting like-minded makers, sellers and leaders, we had a chance to really learn from everyone else's experience. We started with a bit of fun. The icebreaker challenged each table of participants to represent Canada using a bag of random craft items and items our peers had brought with them from their various home. Our diorama was the only one with an actual electrical circuit.... how could I resist? We had a PEI potato, wire, pliers and tape. In case you can't tell the first photo is supposed to be Celine (as wonder woman with balloons) and Cirque de Soleil acrobats (and former Olympians) preforming on a stage. It's a conceptual piece. Other hilarious and creative contributions included everything from maps of provinces, woodland and winter scenes, jewellery from artifacts, Niagara Falls, to wearable hats!

Some of the highlights included talks from our peers. The tireless powerhouse from WEST (the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team), Ruth Schulz Smith shared her Event Management expertise and enthusiasm. It's no coincidence she won the only award, having been nominated by her peers. Jessika Hepburn, one of the Halifax leaders and creator of Oh My Handmade! gave an amazing talk about community building and working with partners big and small. I don't want to sound corny, but it was really inspiring. One of my neighbours said she felt her mind so teeming with ideas that she couldn't sleep. As a group, we are consciously coming from the vantage of the handmade movement; we all want to grow our small businesses, but we are also fostering an economy that values the artists, designers, the handmade, the local, the eco-friendly, the repurposed or vintage treasures over the mass produced.  All of the captains and leaders volunteer their time for their teams, and are working to make things easier for all of these handmakers and vintage sellers to run their businesses and maybe even make a life from what they love. Maybe it isn't surprising that they had such interesting things to say about community, partnerships and creative businesses working to improve their corners of the world.

Ruth with rapt audience

Jessika talks about getting involved

We also heard from Etsy. We had some fun PR role playing with the lovely Etsy PR folks as well as their publicists. There was a great talk from their guest colleague Moishe Lettvin, an engineering manager for Seller Growth. He started his talk with images of his mother's pysanky (Ukrainian style) eggs to explain how he'd grown up surrounded by handmade items. While his creative outlet is writing code, he explained that finding a job at Etsy, after Microsoft and Google, felt like coming home. I enjoyed a peek at the technical stuff about the back end of Etsy, but it was also great to hear his enthusiasm for the things we do, and making it easier to run our businesses. Lastly, we got a chance to ask some questions about what the future may hold! I think people left reinvigorated, full of new ideas and happy, which is wonderful.

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Happy Groundhog Day! [02 Feb 2015|09:22am]
[ mood | busy ]

groundhog 002
Thermochromic Groundhog Day linocut, with and without shadow

May the weather prognosticating rodents be kind to you!

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Love, art and cinnamon hearts [27 Jan 2015|03:40pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Finding just the right Valentine's gift can be a challenge. I know I'm always trying to invent something new every year.

If you're seeking a one of a kind, hand-printed, colour-changing, thermochromic Valentine, or the chemistry of attraction in linocut form, or art for dog and cat lovers and more, I can help with that.

Apart from cinnamon hearts, I would definitely love a $500 Etsy shopping spree. Check out the #etsymatch question here, answer on twitter with the #etsymatch tag for a chance to win a $500 Etsy gift card.

And remember, I'm not kidding about the cinnamon hearts. You can send all you unwanted cinnamon hearts to me!

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Time for some weather prognosticating rodents [26 Jan 2015|04:07pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Thermochromic groundhogs

Since we're catching the tail end of a blizzard here, it seemed nice to contemplate the end of winter.* We might imagine that the end of winter is in sight, and the celebrity weather-prognosticating rodents may not see their shadows next Monday, hahaha! Anyhow, I printed a new batch of thermochromic Groundhog Day linocuts, with disappearing shadows.

I'll be busy on Groundhog Day, myself. Etsy Canada is hosting another Summit, here in Toronto, for team Captains and Leaders from coast to coast. I ought to get cracking on my presentation.

*Apparently, we'll avoid getting really dumped with snow (unlike our neighbours to the south) because it's too cold and windy here. Um... I guess we're lucky?

p.s. Good luck to those of you who aren't lucky and are expecting almost a metre of snow.

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