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.

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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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Catching up

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.

Bird feather and DNA custom pendant in blue
Bird feather and DNA custom pendant
Soybean and DNA bean pod custom pendant
Soybean and DNA bean pod custom pendant
Moon custom bracelet
Moon custom bracelet
Ocelot custom pendant
Ocelot custom pendant

10 Ways To Boost Your Microbiota On Etsy

This is a guest post by Chris Taylor of tcustom.

Each of us is a walking world of microbes… read on, though, before you start scrubbing! The few dangerous microorganisms tend to get all of the press, but the vast majority of the bacteria, protozoans, archaea, fungi and viruses are indifferent, or even beneficial to us. Artists draw inspiration from all sorts of unlikely sources – even your gut flora! This ‘probiotic’ collection of work created by scientifically minded crafters, is designed to foster appreciation and understanding of this hidden world, which we are just beginning to understand.

Black Petri Dishes Silk Charmeuse Scarf

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Who says bacteria aren’t beautiful? Glamorous and geeky at the same time, this gorgeous silk scarf is printed in vibrant rainbow colors, with a collage of microbes in culture. (Available from artologica.etsy.com)

Bacterial Capsule Hand-Pulled Linocut Print

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Decorate your walls with abstract bacterial art. This print is based off of the nose and throat dwelling pneumococcus. This bacteria can be a goodie or a baddie, so roll the dice and hang one on your wall. (Available from LoveBacteriaArt.etsy.com)

Thermochromic Linocut Louis Pasteur

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This colour-changing thermochromic linocut portrait shows microbiology pioneer Louis Pasteur, surrounded by bacteria. If you heat the print above 30C (86 F) the bacteria turn colourless and disappear, reappearing only when it cools. The print itself is a metaphor for pasteurization! (Available from minouette.etsy.com)

Microbe Buttons

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A diverse selection of protozoans and other microbes are exactingly depicted in this collection of handmade buttons from emerging artist Nicole Edmond. Nicole uses etching, silkscreening, and other print-media techniques to explore the grotesque beauty within the infinitesimal world that surrounds our everyday lives. (Available from NicoleEdmond.etsy.com)

Saccharomyces – Budding Yeast Earrings

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Fermentation, gratification and ornamentation for all beer drinkers, wine connoisseurs and bread lovers alike with these sterling silver Saccharomyces yeast earrings. (Available from Ontogenie.etsy.com)

Sparkly Petri Dish Coasters 

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Use these petri-dish inspired coasters to protect your furniture when you’re feeding your gut bacteria a tasty beverage! (Available from ProtonPaperie.etsy.com)

Microbe Collection Watercolor Print

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Artist Sandra Black Culliton utilizes the fluidity and transparency of watercolor to convey the beauty of microbes as they appear through the microscope. From gram positive cocci to acid fast bacilli, this fine art print gathers various bacteria into one stunning display. (Available from sandraculliton.etsy.com)

Articulating Microbiology Keepsakes 

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Many of these microbiological cast creations have articulating parts, allowing you to peer within at the marvelous microscopic machinations of life! (Available from tcustom.etsy.com)

Pseudomonas earringae Bacteria Earrings

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Pseudomonas syringae may infect your beans, but are perfectly safe for your ears (and they produce a protein that makes ice for your local ski hill, so we love them no matter what they do to our beans). (Available from theVexedMuddler.etsy.com)

Microbial Art Glass

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A wide range of microbial glass art items made by Jane Hartman. These include wall panels, dishes, menorahs, and pendants featuring viruses, bacteria, protozans, and fungi. (Available from trilobiteglassworks.etsy.com)

Etsy shop feature: ESeas

ESeas is a fairly recent addition to the Etsy #SciArt community, but owner Dr. Elizabeth Sargent has caught the attention of ocean lovers with her remarkable polymer clay creations. Strange deep-sea creatures, hypnotic plankton blooms, and even entire marine ecosystems are brought to life on decorative plates perfect for display or for storing little trinkets.

 

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Oarfish dish

 

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Plankton Bloom
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Coral Reef

As a biologist studying phytoplankton and marine ecology, Dr. Sargent brings a wealth of knowledge to her art. Each of her tiny ecological scenes shows key species appropriate to that ecosystem, and both plants and animals alike are cunningly and accurately sculpted.

 

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Sea nettle jellyfish

Check out the full shop at ESeas.Etsy.com for more delightful #SciArt, and follow her on twitter @ESeas_SciArt for art and @esargent184 for science.

 

Show prep and new designs

I’ve been a bit quiet online of late, but life behind the scenes has been anything but. June is fast approaching, and with it the annual meetings of CSM and ASM, where I’ll have booths selling my nerdy treasures. Preparations are well underway, and I’ll have some brand new stuff for the microbiology crowd this year. Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the designs that will be available.

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I’m also working on brand new Toxoplasma gondii and chloroplast stamps, so I should have a few of those ready for the shows as well.

Because I’m not all micro all the time, I’ve got a few new designs that are less microscopic in nature as well. Here are my new cricket, black widow, cobweb, and mammary gland designs brought to life.

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I probably won’t be adding many new pieces to the shop until after CSM and ASM are over, but if you see a design here that isn’t available online, don’t hesitate to hit me up. I’m just stockpiling :)

ASM Art Walk!

In exciting news for #sciart nerds, ASM Microbe 2016 is going to be featuring microbiology art! In fact, ASM this year has wholeheartedly embraced art, with both an Art Walk featuring microbial art vendors, and an entire session of talks about microbial art and outreach.

Titled “At the Intersection of Art and Microbiology“, this session was spearheaded by Vincent Racaniello (@profvrr), Jennifer Gardy (@jennifergardy), and Mark Owen Martin (@markowenmartin), all microbiologists and vocal advocates of science art. Speakers will include artists and professors of microbiology covering a range of topics exploring art as a tool for outreach, engagement, and learning. With a great lineup of speakers, it’s sure to make for an entertaining and informative afternoon. Especially since Michele and I are going to be speakers! Seriously we’re going to be awesome, you should come listen to us.

Now, onto the good stuff: the Art Walk! So far there are three confirmed artists attending, but I’ll update here if more sign on.

Michele Banks (@artologica) is a professional artist whose ethereal microbiology and cell biology watercolour paintings explore not only the beautiful and varied forms of bacteria, viruses, and cells, but also our relationship with the microbial world.

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Jane Hartman (Trilobite Glass Works) is a glass artist with a science background that is evident in the accuracy of her works. Whimsy permeates her fused glass creations, from googly-eyed planarians to escape-artist Cholera cells.

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The Vexed Muddler (that’s me!) is a lab technician, potter, and digital artist with a long history of making up the rules as she goes along.

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You can find all the exhibiting artists in the exhibit hall, by the Wellness Zone.