Sometimes projects don’t work out quite the way we intend. Sometimes you get done with a thing and think “wow, that is not what I was going for”.
A while ago I had the brilliant idea to make a vase in the form of the bacterial type III secretion system. This is basically an assemblage of proteins that some bacteria are able to make, which they use like a tiny syringe to inject stuff into cells that they want to hijack. It’s a pretty cool shape:
I took an unplanned 3-week break from the studio shortly after starting the base structure (the blue section). The shape was pretty much where I wanted it, but I needed to add the upper segments. Unfortunately by the time I got back in to the studio again, the main structure had dried too much to add pieces, so I had to make them separately and add them on. it didn’t really work as well as I’d hoped, and frankly I got a bit demoralized and rushed the collar section, so it’s not really the right shape or scale at all. I am pretty happy with the base and the detail I added on the underside, though, so I’ll definitely revisit this design later on down the road and try to do a better job of it. Heck, I might even try making it on the wheel.
For several years I’ve watched on Twitter as my art nerd friends made gorgeous ink-based illustrations for #Inktober. This year I finally got up the nerve to participate, despite that a) ink is not my medium and b) I haven’t drawn on actual paper in years.
I’ve decided to collect my various scribbles here for posterity. Here are this week’s #Inktober doodles. Click the picture to see the original tweet :)
Muddles even made a timelapse gif of me drawing the last one :)
I was going through some old photos on my phone and discovered a few custom pieces I never ended up posting about here. Most of the time when I do custom orders, they’re for designs I already have in the shop, but just in a different colour or shape. Every once in a while, though, I get to flex my sculpting muscles a bit and play with something completely unique. Here are just a few of the special orders I’ve created for customers over the last couple of years.
I’ve done a few fun things with spiders recently, and thought I’d share them with you. Over the last couple of years I’ve made friends with some spider nerds on Twitter, who have naturally only encouraged my existing fascination with these elegant critters.
One of these delightful humans is the excellent @Cataranea, who studies Latrodectus spiders – you’ll know the most famous member of this genus as the black widow. Catherine asked me to create a logo for a crowdfunding campaign last year. She was raising money for field experiments in BC, looking at mating habits in a wild Latrodectus population there. My design for that project needed to be friendly and accessible, but still capture the essential form of the male and female of the species:
Catherine is also responsible for a new jewellery design :)
It took a couple of tries to get the stamp sculpt right, and frankly these are a huge pain to glaze, but man, are they ever worth it!
One more black widow design came out of a ridiculous Twitter conversation, and quickly because one of my favourite t-shirt designs to date:
Finally, I turned my attention to one of the world’s most charming dancers, the vibrantly-coloured Peacock spider. I’me particularly delighted with how well these beauties came out, and hope to sell out of them soon so I have an excuse to paint some more!
I’ve always been more of a skirt-and-tee gal than an all-out dress-wearer. There’s something about a flouncy skirt that’s just a little sassier, a little more casual. While I’ve been able to offer some pretty nice clothing through RedBubble for a while now (albeit with depressingly low margins), I’ve long hankered for a skirt option. After a lot of research, I’ve finally found a way to make it happen without having to maintain a warehouse full of stock :D
I’ve partnered with an awesome Canadian company that makes great activewear to be able to offer not only skater skirts, but also capri-length yoga pants that are actually tough enough to stand up to some fitness-related abuse. For now I have five skirt styles and one yoga pant, but I’ll definitely be offering more in the near future, so watch this space.
One of my big projects from last winter was a Zika virus vessel. It’s a semi-functional piece – you could use it as a candy dish or some such, but it’s a bit cumbersome for everyday use.
The main structure is two half-spheres (one for the base and one for the lid), on which I sculpted the capsid proteins in my best approximation of the correct symmetry for this virus.
I left the capsid coat incomplete, because at the time that I was working on this piece, the Zika outbreak was still very much a developing problem, and I suspect we’ve far from seen the end of this virus’s potential.
For the pedestals, I’ve incorporated three of the Zika virus’ primate hosts (capuchin, marmoset, and of course human), and included infants for the human and marmoset figures to represent the tragic effects of this virus on a developing fetus.
I also incorporated the virus’ vector, mosquitoes in the Aedes genus, to complete the cycle. Both adult and pupa stages are shown to remind us that control for these vectors begins with environmental and cultural conditions.
I used a watery blue glaze for the uncoated middle section to evoke the water in which the mosquito hosts lay their eggs, and because it makes the whole thing look a bit like a globe – Zika isn’t just a local problem, and diseases like it have the capacity to cause great harm on a global scale.
All told, this beast took about 6 months to complete. While I spent much of that time cursing myself, the clay’s drying speed, and Zika’s complex capsid pattern, I’m pretty pleased with the final outcome.
This Saturday, September 23rd I’ll once again be selling at the Etsy Made in Canada show at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto!
Check out the LookBook to see some of the gorgeous and creative goodies that will be available, and don’t forget to arrive early – the first 100 people through the doors get a fabulous swag bag! Here’s a sample from last year, and I hear this year’s is even better :D
I’ll have a few new product lines at the show this year, including Drosophila larvae, peacock spiders, and a very cool dinoflagellate!