Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Nature Alphabet Book

At last, it's ready!

When I first thought of making a series of nature-themed images to illustrate the alphabet, I was also thinking it would be neat to make a simple, informative children's book out of it. I was trying to find a way to have it printed as a rigid board book (sturdier for young tots) but it seems like all printers of such books are large factories in Asia. They're cheap- by the book- but I would have had to order cases of 1000 or something, which wasn't an option.

So I went with Lulu, the self-publishing company. I was very impressed with the quality, considering how easy the process was. Fortunately, my book had enough pages to get a perfect-bound spine, which I think looks much better than saddle-stitch and closer to my original board book idea; nice, square and flat:

It's titled 'Acorn, Bur, Conch' and has a little, simple blurb on each natural element chosen for each letter, an array of fruits, plants, animal elements and minerals. I think it's pretty cute and it's dedicated to my daughter- who is, conveniently, currently obsessed with the alphabet- Penelope.

Available for sale through Lulu's site. There's a preview as well.

Individual letter illustrations are available in my Etsy store.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween costumes!!

This was a busy month indeed, after making loads of little masks for Maker Faire, getting ready for our first Zombie Walk and now just finishing our Halloween costumes. Whew! November is going to be looking rather mellow after this.

So after the gore-fest of Zombie Walk (and a very effective mess of corn starch, corn syrup and food colouring)...

..we're going classy again with some more masks. We experimented with new materials this time: Jacob modeled and sewed together the base shapes with foam board (bristol boards with a layer of foam sandwiched in-between) which created nicely detailed yet comfortably light masks. He has a plague doctor costume and I just had to go with a spider (after making the miniature mask).

Jacob's mask has polymer clay eyepieces that I painted to look like oxidized copper. There is an inlay of red cellophane to look like red glass lenses:

My mask has (once again) a Venetian feel to it with golden patterns, a few Swarovski crystals and 8 ostrich feathers (to somewhat evoke the spider's hairy legs). I'm conveniently reusing my wedding dress for the costume (which was a simple raspberry red dress) under a black cape:

We'll try to take nice pictures in a park near our house (with old buildings and an old creepy well to boot). It was too windy to get it right today...

Hoping the weather allows for lots of little ghouls visiting us tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alphabet series!

It had been working on a series of illustrations of the alphabet for about 5 months.

The theme was natural elements or objects and it took me about a month of research on appropriate terms for every letter (some letters took a rather long time and much debate). It got tedious at times since I wanted a variety of vegetal, mineral and animal elements (although no actual animals, only animal creations or products); it was a matter of keeping a good balance and not having too many flowers or rocks or of any given type of 'thing'. Each item had to be visually appealing in its own way and they also had to look good together.

At last, the last letter was finished last weekend! So here is the full alphabet poster design (each letter- and the poster- are available in my Etsy store, of course):

And here's the alphabetical list:

Geode (as a gemologist, I have an especially soft spot for this one)
Kumquat (thank you cute little fruit for starting with the letter K)
Nut (Pedant alert: The ones I portrayed are 'true' botanical nuts, not the ones commonly found in trail mixes. It's surprising to learn how many 'nuts' are in fact seeds, fruits, legumes, etc...)
Ulexite (very cool mineral. Get some: It's cheap)
Xerophyte (funny enough, I had several contenders for the letter X; xylocarp almost made it but it would have been redundant with 'Nut' and it was neat to get cacti in there)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire 2012

Finally taking a few minutes to post about the fabulous weekend Jacob and I enjoyed at the latest Ottawa Mini Maker Faire. We were lucky enough to have had the opportunity exhibit our masks and met loads of amazing people in the process. Where to begin... We spent the couple of weeks prior to Maker Faire frantically making our signature miniature masquerade masks in order to showcase as many designs as possible. We have been making masks ever since that minotaur mask I've posted about a couple of years back (for Jacob's Halloween costume) and brought our full-sized masks as well. Here are a few of the newest masks we managed to finish on time (we had several other designs already completed, namely the ones featured on our Etsy store). As usual, we had a great time thinking of a bunch of small creatures and decking them up carnival-style:

Of course, things got too hectic for either of us to remember to take pictures of our own table (have a few taken by friends floating around that I might get a hold of eventually... fantastic blogger I am). Anywho, the event was a success, attracting hundreds of visitors and featuring a colourful and eclectic mix of traditional art, cutting-edge technology and science mingling together in various ways.
The crowd was simply amazing: Visitors and exhibitors shared a playful curiosity and enthusiasm that gave the environment the vibe of a bunch of children in a fabulous candy store (there were actual children in the mix as well, as the entire effort was very family-friendly). We got to meet lots of great creative souls despite the fact that it was difficult to pull away from one's table due to the steady flow of visitors (which is a pretty good thing all things considered!). One of them was fellow mask-maker Ian Langohr whose giant, clever masks were a neat complement to our tiny masks. As Jacob and I verified, his masks were as cushy and comfy as they were funny:
We unfortunately didn't get to cover every single exhibitor (or even to see everything on display) but the list is still available on Ottawa Mini Maker Faire's site and is absolutely worth perusing (many great projects and websites to enjoy). Really looking forward to next year's Faire (definitely being discussed and hopefully even bigger!). Awesome way to spend a weekend!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Something wicked...

...this way comes.

Kitsune - Fox Spirit

New illustration post, again. I haven't been very good at this whole blog thing. The point is probably to say a tiny bit more about my art and (gasp) thoughts than just "here's a drawing", which is pretty much what my latest posts have been. Will try to elaborate a bit more in the future... And by that I mean not today :P Anyway, here's one of my latest illustrations, out of the Shinto mythology theme I've got going... I've had this image of a Kitsune- or fox spirit- floating in my mind for a while...

More action coming soon...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Magnificent Frigatebird

Here's a new finished illustration. A Magnificent Frigatebird in flight. The male inflates a bright red pouch to court the female. I thought it looked a bit like a big red heart in some angles, which was a bit like the bird carrying a Valentine around to his belle ;)
It is available as a print on my Etsy store... as many other illustrations of mine. I ought to advertise about it a bit more about it :P

Monday, February 20, 2012

Barn Owl Illustration

Two more illustrations of animals: A barn owl and a giraffe.
My next idea is pretty epic (still fauna) and I'm so excited about it that it's going to take me a little while to plan out the layout and exact elements. I want it to come out perfectly. To be continued...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blue Whale and Giant Squid posters

Two new finished pieces: A potential duo, appropriately themed- and sized- to be printed as posters (up to 16" tall). They were loosely inspired by Alphonse Mucha's art nouveau posters for plays and various products. At first, I wanted to put more text, like they were advertisements for the animals ("Blue Whale - Gentle giant of the sea!" Or some such) but in the end, I opted to leave most of the space for the fauna itself. I felt that too much text was taking away from the actual subjects.

Here's the majestic blue whale:

and the mysterious giant squid:

I'm working on more nature-inspired posters, but all I'll say for now is that the next one will either be an insect or a bird...

However, when I was looking for ideas and references, I ended up spending so much time admiring the amazing shapes and colours of various tunicates (the plant-looking animals underneath the squid) that I'm thinking I might dedicate an illustration just for them...