Sunday, October 4, 2015

Minouette at the Big Magic Pop-Up Toronto Etsy Street Team Market

Earlier this year, Penguin Random House Canada contacted the Toronto Etsy Street Team and to ask for help staging a little pop-up market. They let us know that they were planning the book tour for  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, the worldwide bestelling author of Eat, Pray, Love, and since this book was all about creativity, what it is and how to nurture it, how to welcome ideas and how everyone can live a creative life, they thought that partnering with Etsy sellers was a great fit. We loved the idea of welcoming creativity into your life, and celebrating Gilbert's book with a handmade market. Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for the invitation and our hosts Indigo at the event! The audience at the Isabel Bader Theatre on Monday, September 28th had a chance to shop the market of a variety of 22 different handmade sellers before and after Gilbert discussed her book.
They kindly sent me an advance copy of the book. I had thought I didn't need a pep talk about creativity, since I tend to feel compelled to create, but it was so enjoyable to delve into the question of the nature and source of creativity and ideas. My thoughts are a bit more hard-headed and unsurprisingly scientific than hers. I heard her interviewed on Q where she joked about her own pre-Enlightenment magical thinking take on ideas, which (whom?) she almost personifies - or imagines as a daemon. Thus I enjoyed her stories about her own experience interacting with ideas the way I love magical realism in fiction. The pragmatic advice, kindness and compassion which she brings to her exhortation to pursue the creative outlets that make you truly you is something I needed more than I knew, and I would recommend to anyone. You can read more about what Elizabeth Gilbert has learned about creativity and shares in the book on the Etsy Blog

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Minouette at Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto 2015

Me at the minouette table at Etsy: Made in Canada, September 26th at MaRS (photo credit: Peter Power)
Well, we pulled it off for a second year running! I'm really proud of the tremendous show we put on this Saturday. Totally exhausting, but it looked fabulous, there was a great crowd and a great feeling to the show. I love seeing that thousands of Torontonians come out to see our great local (and some farther afield Canadian) sellers and shop their handmade and vintage wares. I had several people stop and talk with me and when they realized I was an organizer of the show, volunteer that they felt it was the best craft show in the city.

Our enthusiastic fans began arriving at 5:30 am for a chance at getting a swag bag! This is the line outside MaRS at 7:30 am, when we already had 69 lucky people who would get one of the 100 swag bags. The swag bags were pretty awesome. I saw some of the incredibly generous donations from sellers before the bags were stuffed and was blown away... in fact, I started to worry that my swag offerings were inadequate. Some people really outdid themselves. (photo: Ele Willoughby)

photo credit: Peter Power

photo credit: Peter Power
photo credit: Peter Power

Throughout the day, there were eight workshops, free to the public - both DIY handmade items and how to assess and care for vintage items. I'm so impressed with what people will take on. One teacher volunteered despite also getting married and having her honeymoon this month. Another teacher sadly had a family emergency, but handled the situation with consideration and grace and quickly helped us find one of her friends and colleagues who could take her place. I'd like to thank all the workshop leaders and these three in particular (you know who you are!).

We had some minor snafus (last minute security requests for tables to be moved, brief electrical disruptions, missing chairs), but nothing we couldn't handle and we were able to get help from our hosts.

The crowd was as engaged as last year. I got questions like, "Is this woodcut? And this chine collé?" which pretty much tells me they are educated about printmaking. One shopper got excited and asked if a portrait was of Jane Austen. I had to tell her though it was the right era, the portrait was of astronomer Caroline Herschel, to which she replied, "Well, that explains the comets." There was a great mix of people of all ages. At one point, I ran into my son's pediatrician, who asked, "What are you doing here?" and I replied, "I'm running the show!"

photo credit: Peter Power
I think I should maybe sleep for a month now! But no rest for me. I had the Big Magic pop-up market already, on Monday (more on that soon), and I have my sights on the One of a Kind Show in November.

I've written a longer post about Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto on the team blog here. You should check out our #EtsyMICToronto hashtag on Instagram to see some of the amazing things which were there.

Thanks to everyone who came out, and made this possible! Especially my super fabulous collection of fellow organizers from TEST and 416Hustler, who are the best. Period. Thank you to all the talented vendors who made the show look and feel amazing and for all your kind words. I really appreciate it. Thank you to the volunteers (especially Becca, who helped me in particular), Pete for the great photos, and of course, Etsy Canada, MaRS, and our sponsors.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Storms and coffee, raccoons and books

Oh, poor neglected blog! I'm sorry I've been so busy. I spent much of August travelling through New England and the Maritime provinces and I'd love to share some photos (as soon as I have some more time and can get them from my husband's computer, where we dumped the data while on the road). After that, it's been non-stop Etsy: Made in Canada planning! We've been working on it since January and now it's practically here. Please do come out and see the show this Saturday, September 26th, 10 am to 6 pm, at the MaRS Centre Atrium at Collge and University if you're in Toronto. If you're not, you can find 33 other shows at cities across the country.

Keeling and the Keeling Curve I've even failed to mention other shows. My portrait of Charles Keeling was in Art.Science.Gallery's show about climate change, 'From the Mountains To the Sea'.

I have a coffee-themed linocut which will be exhibited as part of the Coffee Art Project at The New York Coffee Festival from September 25th – 27th 2015. The Coffee Art Project is a competition and sale, with proceeds going to Project Waterfall which brings clean water to coffee growing regions in the developping world. (If you're in NYC and want free tickets, drop me a line. I can't use mine.)

Last weekend, I participated in my first outdoor show, the DECAF show in East Lynn Park (bit of a coffee theme here...). Saturday was, frankly, terrifying. RJH encounted some difficulty as the advance party, sent to set up my borrowed 10' tent

(thanks to some unsolicited but well-intentioned "help" we ended up with a broken frame).  I was managing okay with our jerry-rigged set-up until after lunch, when the light rain turned to violent, gusting wind and a sudden storm. It was the sort of weather where all sane people go inside. I was there by myself and called RJH for help. I didn't even have proper walls; we had suspended tarps. We ended up with the two of us holding the tent down, so it didn't fly away with the baby in the stroller in the middle of the tent to stay dry and safe. When the rain let up a little, I ran home with the baby and called my mother for help. She was able to babysit, so I could return... but by that point everyone was closing for the day and all I could do was mop up the mess. While I had to go through all of my prints and dry them off, damage was minimal because they are sealed in plastic envelops. It was just nerve-wracking. My friend Queenie said it was her first and last outdoor show. Maybe the risk of weather just isn't worth it for those of us who make paper goods. Luckily, the Sunday was beautiful. RJH re-jigged the tent with new and more thorough tarps. Hilariously, I had a raccoon visitor in my tent, presumably there to check out my raccoon high five prints.

After Etsy: Made in Canada I have one more thing to do before I can relax, and take a break. Next Monday, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) will be in Toronto at the Elizabeth Bader Theatre to discuss her highly-anticipated new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I'm going to be there as part of the Toronto Etsy Street Team pop-up market before and after the event! Penguin Random House Canada sent me an advance copy and it's really great. I enjoyed it much more than I imagined I would. I'm always a bit dubious of the bestsellers or blockbusters, because sometimes wildly popular means less than challenging, or middle-of-the-road and I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love. I also didn't think I needed a pep talk about welcoming creativity, but I think now that even those of us driven to create can learn to be more gentle with ourselves and open to creativity. We're also likely to enjoy thinking about the very concept. Big Magic reads like having a frank, free-wheeling discussion about creativity and what's she's learned about being an artist (both before and after acheiving fame and financial success). It's also a sort of caring, empathetic manifesto for why and how you should do everything to welcome creativity into your life. Her experience with creativity is as a writer, so she writes a lot about writing, though she defines creativity quite broadly and includes examples of everything from ice skating to ecology. I love the idea of celebrating a book about creativity by hosting a hand-made market at the book reading. It promises to be a interesting night. The reading is sold out, I'm afraid... but she's got some great things to say. You can catch some of her take on the creative life today on the Etsy Blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

High Five Elle!

High Five Elle
A 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."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Koi Tattoo

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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Keeling Curve, Keeling and the atmospheric CO2 trend linocut

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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Thanks for all the hearts!

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.