Wednesday, October 15, 2014

OOAK Prep - Multimedia

SailsXXI

My next big adventure is the Christmas One of a Kind Show! I have a piece in the upcoming 'X Marks the Spot' show at Art.Science.Gallery and I need to complete my 'In the Round' artworks for the Graven Feather show, but the big thing on the horizon is OOAK. RJH has been building parts of my booth. We're planning hard walls on which I can hang framed artwork, with an overhead lighting system affixed to it, and some hopefully simple flooring. He's also planning to build me frames for my artwork. I've been researching where I can get glass, and we've ordered a proper mat cutter and we hope to have this scheme underway shortly.

UnicornXXXphoto

Right now, I want to stock up. I've been making more of my multimedia series: unicorns, ships and balloons. Soon I'll move on to two-headed turtles! I've also been printing second editions of popular prints. I'm almost out of poppies so I made a new edition with thicker scarlet kozo paper. I want to list it before Remembrance Day.

BalloonsXIV2

On the home front it's been a challenging week. When I was doing laundry, soapy water started flooring up from the basement floor drain. It turns out that the roots from the neighbour's tree have crushed our clay drain pipe underneath our front lawn. While the water appeared soapy it had gone down the drain until it couldn't proceed and then came back - which means it had been where our sewage goes. This needs an immediate and expensive fix. I also did some emergency gardening as I suspect plumbers might destroy my garden if I didn't transplant any fragile plants before they did up and replace the pipe. Meanwhile, I think the baby must be getting another tooth because it's been some pretty sleepless nights. I'm not always sure when I can get some studio time; he's not much of a napper, and if I try to work after he goes to bed the cat stages a vocal protest*, which risks waking him up (and another sleepless night). So, I am now trying to make art when there is a quieter moment during the day and working at the computer after baby's bedtime, whilst keeping our cantankerous elder cat company.

So it's 8:40 pm and I'm going to bed. G'night!

*she makes this cry which would be useful if you were producing sound effects for horror movies, which means "I'm bored and lonely, come downstaits". It's horrible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Portraits of Women in STEM for Ada Lovelace Day

I'm slowly gathering my own chronology of women in science and technology. I've printed their portraits and written about the their lives. Check out these heroines of science:

Hypatia1
Hypatia (sometime between 350 and 370 - 415 C.E), mathematician, astronomer, inventor


Caroline Herschel
Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848), astronomer, comet sweeper and 1st professional salaried female scientist
Mary Anning
Mary Anning (1799-1847), Great Fossil Hunter & Paleontology Pioneer

Ada Lovelace, 3rd edition
Ada, Countess Lovelace,  (1815-1852), world's first programmer

Florence Nightingale portrait
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910), nursing, statistics and data visualization pioneer


Sofia Kovalevski linocut
Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevski (1850-1891), mathematician and writer


Marie Curie linocut glows in the dark
Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867 – 1934), physicist, chemist, double Nobel Laureate

Henrietta Swan Leavitt
Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921), astronomer whose work set the scale of our Universe


Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner (1878 – 1968) and Nuclear Fission

Inge Lehmann print
Inge Lehmann (1888 – 1993), seismologist who discovered the Earth's inner core


Mme Wu
Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) and the Violation of Parity

Hedy Lamarr linocut
Frequency-hopping with Hedwig Keisler, aka Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)


Jocelyn Bell and the LGM-1
Jocelyn Bell (Burnell) (born 1943) and the LGM-1, astrophysicist who discovered pulsars


Mae Jemison linocut
Mae Jemison (born 1956), astronaut, chemical engineer, biotech innovator, dance and choreographer

Ada Lovelace Day 2014: The hard-earned fame of Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Ada Lovelace, 3rd edition
Ada, Countess Lovelace, 3rd edition linocut by Ele Willoughby
Today is the 6th annual international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology, science and math, Ada Lovelace Day 2014 (ALD14). I'm sure you'll all recall, Ada, brilliant proto-software engineer, daughter of absentee father, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Lord Byron, she was able to describe and conceptualize software for Charles Babbage's computing engine, before the concepts of software, hardware, or even Babbage's own machine existed! She foresaw that computers would be useful for more than mere number-crunching. For this she is rightly recognized as visionary - at least by those of us who know who she was. She figured out how to compute Bernouilli numbers with a Babbage analytical engine. Tragically, she died at only 36. Today, in Ada's name, people around the world are blogging.


This year I'm participating in an entire group art show celebrating Ada Lovelace Day. The Art.Science.Gallery show Go Ahead and Do It: Portraits of Women in STEM culminates today! I will share all of my portraits of women in science (and links to where I tell their stories) below.


Marie Curie linocut glows in the dark
Marie Skłodowska-Curie, linocut with glow-in-the-dark ink by Ele Willoughby, 2014

In previous years, I've specifically avoided writing about Marie Curie because she is often the one historical figure people can name. I don't like to do the obvious thing and particularly want to highlight the under appreciated heroines of science. However the result is that her truly remarkable achievements haven't been celebrated here, just because of her fame. So, with a collection of portraits and stories written on the less well known, today I'll write about the well-known and why she in fact deserves her fame.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934), Polish-born, naturalized-French physicist and chemist, as the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the only woman to ever win TWO Nobel prizes, and the only person ever to win in two different sciences: physics and chemistry! She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. Born Maria Salomea Skłodowska in Warsaw, she studied secretly at the Floating University there before moving to Paris where she earned higher scientific degrees, met her PhD supervisor and future husband Pierre.

She was one of the pioneers who helped explain radioactivity, a term she coined. She was the one who first developed a means of isolating radioacitve isotopes and discovered not one, but two new elements: polonium (named for her native country) and radium. She also pioneered radioactive medicine, proposing the treatment of tumors with radioactivity. She founded medical research centres, the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw which are still active today. She created the first field radiology centres during World War I. Each one of these achievements alone would warrant being memorialized in the annals of science and medicine; she did all of these things. She died in 1934 from aplastic anemia brought on by exposure to radiation, including carrying test tubes of radium in her pockets during research and her World War I service in her mobile X-ray units.

Her pioneering work explaining radioactivity earned her the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. At first, the Committee intended to honour only Pierre and Becquerel, but Swedish mathematician Magnus Gösta Mittag-Leffler, an advocate of women in science, alerted Pierre to the situation. (You may recall that it was the same man who helped Sofia Kovalevski secure a University position in Stockholm and that she collaborated on works of literature and had what was called a "romantic friendship" with his sister Duchess Anne-Charlotte Edgren-Leffler).  After Pierre's complaint, Marie's name was added to the nomination. The 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to her "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element."

Her life and legacy are truly extraordinary!

MarieCurie_glow
Marie Skłodowska-Curie, linocut with glow-in-the-dark ink show in the light and dark by Ele Willoughby, 2014

Not only was her work original and providing revolutionary insight on the theoretical side at the time, but the sheer heroic dedication and labour involved in her experimental work cannot be overstated. Having recognized that pitchblende ore must contain multiple elements which were giving off radiation, she and Pierre were able to show in 1898 that two new elements Polonium and Radium were needed to explain their observations. They then sought to actually isolate these elements. From a ton of pitchblende, she separated one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride in 1902. In 1910 Marie Curie isolated pure radium metal - a full 12 years after she and Pierre published their preliminary evidence for its existence. This involved working in a shed, meticulously separating the radioactive material from the inert and then dividing the radioactive material into its various sources for many years - all the while raising their young daughter when not at the lab.

Both of the elements she discovered are radioactive, meaning that they spontaneously give off radiation. All of the isotopes of polonium emit alpha particles, but Polonium-210 will emit a blue glow which is caused by excitation of surrounding air. Radium emits alpha, beta and gamma particles - that is 2 protons and 2 neutrons, electrons as well as x-rays. Thus, I've shown her sample surrounded by the symbols of these particles: the straight and wiggly lined arrows for the massive particles and high-energy light photons or gamma rays respectively, and made the sample with glow-in-the-dark ink. While the materials she discovered and worked with would have glowed due to radioactivity, never fear... these prints glow due to phosphorescence - a different process which is not dangerous. The ink will absorb UV light (for instance, from sunlight) and re-emit it in the dark.

The linocut is printed on Japanese kozo paper 9.25" by 12.5" (23.5 cm by 32 cm) in an edition of eight.

You will soon find links to my previous Ada Lovelace Day posts and other short bios and portraits of heroines of science in my next post.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Etsy: Made in Canada wrap-up

Etsy: Made in Canada at MaRS
Etsy: Made In Canada at Mars

I feel like I'm still recovering from Etsy: Made In Canada. Our show was a great success! We think we had 8000 visitors - Etsy fans all.

The Toronto Standard interviewed me about the show, the team, and life as a geophysicist/printmaker.

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.

Eek!

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.

OOAKdiorama2

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!
wabbit
Tanis Alexis Laird, 2012. soft sculpture.
wired ears, handmade felt fabric, needle felted tail, vintage button eye.


Fascinating!
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