Wood Gone Viral!

After seeing how amazing my first batch of laser-cut wood designs turned out, I decided I needed to make a LOT more!

With the approach of ASV 2018, viruses were the obvious choice. It doesn’t hurt that viruses lend themselves beautifully to a clean, graphic style that works so well in this medium! I came up with five new virus designs, covering a broad range of known virus families.

With so many recent business expenses, the only way I can get these done is with a bit of external funding. That’s where you come in! I’ve created an IndieGoGo campaign, “Wood Gone Viral“, where you can support my art efforts and get one or more of these awesome new designs! Of course not everyone is a huge virus nerd like me, so I’ve also created a reward level that lets you choose from a limited selection of the earlier wood designs instead. Or, if you just want to show my campaign a little love on a tight budget, you can get an exclusive photo of one (and if you’re lucky, both) of my beautiful kitties, or a set of virus stickers!

I’m pleased to announce that the campaign is halfway funded, but there’s still a long way to go, and only 17 days left to get there. I also have some fun stretch goals planned, so the more love this campaign gets, the happier we’ll all be!

Please share this with all your friends and help me make ALL THE THINGS!

A whole new world (of wood!)

…or maybe that should be “a whole new wood”! There’s been all sort of fun new stuff happening in the Land of the Muddlers lately, and there’s more to come very soon (but that will have to wait for another post). The big news for today is my new line of laser-cut wood accessories! I’ve been working with the fantastic folks at The Maker Bean here in Toronto to develop these, and boy howdy are they ever SWEET (I mean the new products, but Lorraine and Chris are also utterly delightful).

I’ve started small with a handful of designs made into keychains and/or earrings for a grand total of 9 new products. All are now available in my Etsy shop :)

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Flagellate bacteria earrings (Pseudomonas syringae) – 5cm long
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Flagellate bacteria keychains (Pseudomonas syringae) – 6cm long
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Jewel beetle keychain (Buprestis rufipes) – 8cm long
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DNA earrings – 5cm long
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DNA keychains – 8cm long
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Tardigrade keychains / purse dangles / luggage tags – 8cm long
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Icosahedral virus stud earrings – 1.5cm wide
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Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) earrings – 4cm long
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Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) keychains – 6cm long

Inktober 2017 – week 4

Inktober is almost at an end! I’m finding myself a bit ambivalent about the month coming to a close. I’m a little relieved that there will no longer be so much pressure to find time to draw Every. Single. Day., but it’s also been a lot of fun and a great challenge for me. Since I’m naturally rather lazy (and simultaneously extremely busy due to work + business), I’m concerned that I won’t keep up with playing around in traditional 2D media. I know myself too well to believe that I’ll make time for it without having some sort of specific time-limited challenge or goal, but this is something I want to keep mucking about with. So, I put it to you, dear readers: what is my next challenge? How do I keep driving myself to play with actual pigment on paper? I welcome your suggestions, either here or on Twitter.

While you mull that over, here are this week’s offerings. As always, you can click to see the original tweet.

Previous #Inktober posts:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

 

Day 22: autumn leaves
Day 22: autumn leaves
Day 23: Cookie sea star
Day 23: Cookie sea star
Day 24: Pseudoscorpion
Day 24: Pseudoscorpion
Day 25: Moustache tree
Day 25: Moustache tree
Day 26: Skin cross-section
Day 26: Skin cross-section
Day 27: Figure planning sketch
Day 27: Figure planning sketch
And just for interest’s sake – Day 27b: Figure first draft (digital media)
Day 28: Alaus oculatus click beetle
Day 28: Alaus oculatus click beetle

Inktober 2017 – week 3

Week 3 of #Inktober on Twitter is complete! I splurged and bought myself some decent pens midway through the week so I’m no longer stuck with Sharpies pilfered from the lab :)
Previous #Inktober posts:
Week 1
Week 2
As usual, you can click on the images to go directly to the original tweet.

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Day 15: a bacterial scene
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Day 16: I was really sick all week.
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Day 17: A Western conifer seed bug.
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Day 18: I was tired and lazy like a baby panda.
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Day 19: Playing with new pens!
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Day 20: Nudibranch (Chromodoris annae)
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Day 21: a bacteria’s-eye view of an attacking bacteriophage.

Project: Type III Secretion System (T3SS) vase

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:

Figure from: Structural and functional genomic analysis of the salmonella enterica host-restricted serotype abortusovis by Massimo Deligios

 

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.

Inktober 2017 – week 1

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 :)

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Muddles even made a timelapse gif of me drawing the last one :)
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Project: Zika virus vessel

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.

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It begins.
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Laying out the symmetry for the capsid proteins
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Filling in the remaining capsid proteins

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.

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Human pedestal
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Marmoset pedestal
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Capuchin pedestal

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.

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Aedes mosquito pupa
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Aedes mosquito adult
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Glaze application

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.

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Finished piece
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Detail of adult mosquito
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Detail of mosquito pupa

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.