sharing brunch with a wee friend

it’s a holiday here in Soviet Canuckistan today, so i took the opportunity to go have a relaxing brunch on a local patio. i planned to read afterward, but i was so charmed by this little visitor that i ended up just sitting in the dappled sunlight, watching the bird’s nervous antics as it tried to steal my leftover bits of french toast.

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how a pendant is born, part 2

last time i showed you how i craft my stamp designs, and how those get imprinted in the wet clay to form pendants.

after that initial firing, those dull grey pieces come out something like this:

next, it’s time to glaze.

i start out  glazing the front with anywhere from 2 to 4 glaze colours. i like to play with the colour combinations, because the chemical interactions between the different glazes sometimes give interesting and unexpected results. i’ve glazed the piece below in dark red and saffron, a combination i’ve used many times before. one of the awkward things about glazing is that it’s not at all like painting, even though it feels exactly the same. the glazes melt and change drastically in the kiln, thanks to the crazy chemical reactions that occur when you heat stuff up to 1800°. as a result, you can never really tell how a piece is going to come out. there’s a certain amount of experimentation and a certain amount of blind faith in every piece :)

now i do a clear glaze on the back. yes, it looks green. no, i promise it will come out clear. this is part of the blind faith thing i mentioned. clear glazes generally have dye added to them so you can see where you’ve applied them. the dye burns off in the extreme temperatures of the kiln.

finally, each glazed piece gets  hung on my fancy schmancy bead rack, which then goes into the kiln. the process for magnets is much the same, but the backs don’t get glazed, and there are no holes, so i just lay them on the bottom of the rack.

next time, i’ll show you how i assemble the finished pendants :)

you got your art in my science!

mmm, delicious.

The Canadian Society of Microbiologists is making a great big peanut butter cup of awesome at this year’s annual conference.  For the first time ever, CSM will have art booths! Nicole Edmond (@NicolePrints) and I will have booths overflowing with cool microbiology-themed art and wearables.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the cool stuff you’ll be able to purchase at this year’s conference:

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(above images from Nicole’s Etsy shop)

(bottom two images from my Etsy shop)

For updates on the conference, follow @CSMRegina2015 and the #CSMRegina2015 hashtag

Science Caturday: Introducing KittyBiome

Cats, science, crowdfunding, lols…what’s not to love?

The Finch and Pea


Scientists have made huge strides in understanding the human microbiome, and now they’re ready to move on to more advanced creatures – cats. A crack team* of microbiologists headed by Jonathan Eisen, Jennifer Gardy, Holly Ganz and Jack Gilbert** just launched KittyBiome, a citizen science project that aims to understand “how microbiomes differ among cats, whether those differences reveal insights into cat behavior and biology, and how the kitty microbiome depends on and may shape the health of your cat.”


Among the questions they plan to address are:

  • How do grumpy cats compare to happy cats?
  • How do athletic cats compare to couch potato cats?
  • Does it matter if you feed your cat a paleo-mouse diet?
  • How do indoor and outdoor cats compare?

They reckon the answers are in the poop.  For a $99 donation to the KittyBiome Kickstarter, any cat owner can send in a fecal sample…

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here be dragons

this one has been a long time in the making.

about two years ago, i started vending at small local craft shows, getting my feet wet and trying to figure out how one does this selling-of-art stuff. one of the graduate students in my lab, who is quite possibly the best person on the planet, and certainly better than you or i, soon asked if he could come assist me at my table. he asked nothing in return, and in fact refused to accept any reimbursement i offered. he helped me at a half dozen or so shows over the course of that year. finally, he asked one small boon. a little thing, really. no trouble at all. he just wanted a dragon mug.

well, how could i say no? it wasn’t possible to refuse. so i tried. i made aborted dragon mug attempts again and again, never happy with the results. they were too heavy, too awkward, too unbalanced. not at all the thing to repay a young man for so very many hours of carefully preparing packaging, sitting my booth while i got up and chatted with other vendors, and generally keeping me sane. it took me several months before i hit upon the design that would work, and another four months to implement it, since i couldn’t do it at my usual studio*.

so here it is, in all its glory, with in-progress shots from every stage of development: the dragon mug.

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gosh i hope he likes it.

*my usual studio is all low-fire earthenware pottery, which is fine for decorative work, but not really sturdy enough for daily washing and microwaving and such. i made the dragon mug from a stoneware clay that was fired at a much higher temperature, and should withstand years of abuse.