30 October 2008

Antikythera Mechanism, part 2

Happy day (yes, I am that much of a geek)! I was sent this link to a beautiful piece on the Antikythera Mechanism (it looks fantastic when watched full-screen) which also has glimpses of some other re-creations I’m going to have to look into.

*[Kris Hirst's article complements the 'Nature' video and has photos and diagrams from the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project.]

29 October 2008


My camera is refusing to upload pictures of what I’m constructing today. We’ll fight it out tonight and get the photos up tomorrow.

28 October 2008

Antikythera Mechanism

I was hoping, since the news this summer, that someone would come up with better animations of the Antikythera Mechanism but this was the best I could find (besides poor animation and visuals most of the videos have such irritating soundtracks).

*[Later note: A wonderful video with great animations is at Antikythera Mechanism, part 2, and here is a photo essay to complement it with photos, x-rays, and diagrams from the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project.]

27 October 2008


I can see why some people specialize in painting, studying, rescuing, or just watching crows, besides their boldness and intelligence that playful trickster nature is hard to resist. This is one of the study photos I took for a series of works on paper - I wish I had video of the aerial acrobatics that were going on. The crows were showing off and showing up each other with somersaults and tumbling falls. Absolutely amazing.

Although West Nile virus has been especially bad for crows these last few years they keep adapting to exploit more of our technology (I first saw this in Joshua Klein’s TEDtalk which also shows a crow making a hook):

26 October 2008


I was thinking that I should be putting more photos of my work on here, and thinking about how dull yesterday’s post and photo were (repeated apologies to the readers who clicked in to just that post from Korea, the U.S.A., and Cork, Ireland!), but today I’ve been asked to write an article for a magazine and the part of the project I’m working on is not yet visually interesting. What to do. So then, here is one more wave from last week’s day at the beach, and I’ll be over my ocean photo quota for the season. Also over my post-about-writing-a-post quota.

And I’m thinking I shouldn’t make a habit of posting before my morning tea. Or in the hours after midnight.

25 October 2008


This sliding compartment will be held shut by a winding pin, tomorrow I’ll build the setting.

p.s. Clearly if this were to be nominated for the ‘Most Boring Post of 2008′ award the competition would slink away knowing they had no chance. And a thumbnail photo, really! I owe a thousand apologies.

24 October 2008

beach glass

At the beach the other day it occurred to me that I have never lived more than ten miles from an ocean (not always the same one). I had a pet starfish when I was a kid, I’d get mussels and clams from the beach across the street to feed him.

Years later, and further inland, I had a enormous one-eyed frog as a pet (named Argus, of course), who would act peevish when I tricked him into eating a mouse instead of his preferred goldfish. He was actually a mouse-eating species of frog but apparently felt more comfortable as a pescatarian.

23 October 2008


So often people plea to keep the arts in schools because learning to play piano helps math performance, dance enhances cognition, etc. usw. I always thought why not keep the arts in schools for their own sake - because we are civilized, and they are an important part of our lives? Never mind what I say though, Sir Ken Robinson is so much more eloquent in this TED talk:

22 October 2008


One problem with not having a regular job is that people tend to forget I am working because when they come by and knock on the door I’m at home. Especially if my current projects are frustrating it is easy to put water on for tea and bring out the desserts, letting things go until the next day. I hate deadlines, but the occasional one helps the procrastination not get out of hand.

21 October 2008


I cook competently only because I love to eat good food. Every once in a while I’m sure if something were fixed, made available, or changed in some way, I would be motivated to spend more time in creative partnership with my 1950’s two oven, two broiler, six flame Gaffers & Sattler. That’s when I do things like pick up prickly pear trimmings some guy threw over his fence, cure them, and plant them because I love lentil stew with nopales and these prickly pear pads have fewer spines than your average prickly pear, so would be easier to prepare. The prickly pear hedge is now huge, because of course I still don’t cook nopales, but it did prevent the guy who was trying to cut the lock off the side gate from hiding when the nurse across the street got home at 2am one night last year, so I had good feelings about it until today when it tried to St. Sebastian me while I was trying not to startle this little guy. Hedge trimming is on tomorrow’s schedule.


This is nearby as I am sanding and waxing some old, very dusty wood. I have not decided how elaborate to get with this one, but I have plenty of time to consider my options because there are approximately 100,000 other projects ahead of it on my list.

postscript: Now I cannot lift my arm because my shoulder objected to all the sanding and waxing. I think it prefers making smaller pieces of art.

20 October 2008


These pieces have such a great rich colour. They fit together, hiding a secret compartment.

19 October 2008


‘You will ask — what is the feeling of hatching? Oh, no doubt, there is a rush of panic to the head, a thrill of breathlessness and strange sensation, but then the eyes see, in a flow of sunshine, the butterfly sees the world, the large and awful face of the gaping entomologist.’

..Vladimir Nabokov

18 October 2008

a richness

Frustration! I haven’t really been productive since moving into my new workspace. A lot has been going on outside work, and I got another mass of totally different material to create with, and somehow the wealth of everything has paralysed the tinkering.

Hmm, re-reading this, I’m even less articulate than I usually am (hard to imagine that would be possible). I think I should take a day away to do something completely different (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!), and resume Monday morning.

17 October 2008


I grew up in a map & chart loving family, they hung on the walls, filled drawers, burst from pockets in the car, and were consulted frequently. I especially love ancient maps, they are so beautiful, at the same time more complicated and simpler than modern maps. Just looking at them brings adventures to mind - Maria Sibylla Merian arriving in Surinam in 1699, my aunties bribing their way across a Chinese border decades ago (and getting arrested), being 17 and trying to find a long enough train ride in Austria that I can get some sleep. Because I have been working with metal recently they are not very prominent in my current pieces, but some boxes develop stories as they progress and end up with a map fragment hidden somewhere inside.

16 October 2008


I’m fond of the steampunk genre because, as a tinkering-type person, being able to see guts, seeing what leads where and what turns which bit, keeps my attention. When the workings are visible I find myself automatically trying to figure out if I could make them do something else, or if I could make something else perform the same task.

Also, as a visual person, I love that antique innards are often etched, decorated with trim, and might include a graceful signature. That someone wanted to spend time on aesthetics after perfecting the function makes it even more wonderful.

virtual geography

I saw a list of blogs that a search engine thought were similar to mine and clicked on one at random and the top post was about the blogger’s paintings being photographed by Eduardo Calderón, whom I’ve known since I was a kid! I love his photographs, but it’s much nicer when I run into him in person because then we can go to lunch and chat.

The picture is of a shallow etching I am trying to work into a piece. It is not cooperating.

15 October 2008


In several writer’s biographies I read recently the curse of an interesting view was discussed - so my new workspace is blessed by the lack? The light is good though, and there is a micro-balcony for procedures that need maximal ventilation. The last hibiscus peeks through the railing, and hummingbirds buzz down to catch drinks from the falling water.

14 October 2008


After moving my tools, paint, and a miniscule portion of the bazillion little bits I use for sculpture I’m picking out some images for etchings I’ll be doing a couple weeks from now. That task and some warm (Indian) pumpkin milk pudding made taking a break from moving seem unavoidable.

12 October 2008


Now that the weather is cooler and windows on three walls are not wide open day and night this production needs to move to an area that can be sealed off and ventilated separately. A side effect of moving could be better organization since the first effort was so rough, or I might just focus on getting everything moved fast so that I can spend time filling several boxes in a great used book store that is closing down (family owned for two generations, in a historic building, but bought for demolition by the city).

11 October 2008


The retreat is over and I’m here to testify that luggage filled with tools is heavy. Very heavy. But the steel bench vise did come in handy! The retreat was fantastic, being with other artists is energizing, but I have a hard time creating around other people, so I didn’t have to worry about carefully packing up a lot of delicate finished pieces for the trip back. Just heavy tools. Did I mention the bench vise includes an anvil?

The box in the photo is a simple one, I love the face. I’m trying to find more of these vintage white tins, they are by far my favourites.

In my eternal search for tools I have not been able to find anyone locally who carries a riveting hammer that is steel and has a round head, so I’m off to order one on-line because my next projects involve a lot of riveting.

06 October 2008


This box is small enough to sit on a large coin, the jewel swivels and catches the light when it swings out.

I’m packing up the power tools for an art retreat, and finding that there is not really a good way to pack a drill, dremel, saw, hammer, scrap metal, varnishes, paints, and so many bits and pieces! I am really looking forward to this, I had been planning on making some much larger pieces and some jewelry this month, but maybe what I do this week will change those plans.

03 October 2008


My neighbour is positive that crows are eating her lawn and that is why it looks so bad (my small stretch is not a lush green carpet, but that’s because I keep it on desert-drought water rations and rarely get around to feeding it). I suggested that they might be eating the inch long grey-brown beetle larvae who are snacking on the grass roots, but she seemed unconvinced.


Almost done, I just need to shut the lid of the inner box and wire the capsule into that empty cavity.

02 October 2008

in situ

This is where the box-inside-the-box-on-top-of-the-box sits, it is removable. I’ve changed around the scarab on the top since the last photo was taken, and as soon as I put the map inside the lid of the box-on-top-of-the-box, recopy the hieroglyphs and demotic on to some antique paper (regretfully, not papyrus), roll that up and put it in the capsule, and affix the wire to hold the capsule in its place it will be done.

Then a good-bye photo, and off to its new home.


Two shots of the market in my mom’s town, taken by a friend, Derek. I was never really a dapple grey person, but I really like that horse. My great-grandfather’s horses consistently took top awards, the ancient amulets I’ve seen from where our ancestors lived are suns or horses (or both), all my cousins had horses, but my mother is somehow immune to their charms (and that of any other animal). I’ve been reading my great-grandmother’s journal where she writes about how she gets so absorbed by reading that she doesn’t want to eat or sleep until she finishes a good book, which I completely understand. I have never read a book while riding a horse though.

not a hinge, yet

This is the first time I have used one of these bits as a hinge, most cannot make a tight enough angle. Many times the back of the watch face is a beautiful as the front, I love the soft colour and crazing on this one.

It can take a while to figure out how to solve some engineering problems with materials I have at hand. Occasionally in the night I spend hours working out various solutions for a latch or hinge (my two biggest issues) and finally fall asleep after settling on the most elegant way to do it. Sadly, when I get my hands on the pieces the next day I sometimes realize immediately why it won’t work, giving me another chance to exercise the little grey cells.

01 October 2008


Actually I wasn’t thinking of him as Horus until I put the jewel on his head. I seem to be on some sort of ancient Egypt kick lately. I keep coming back to the Victorian expeditions as inspiration, but haven’t realized many of those plans (yet).

I’m not really happy with the metal glue I have, so I’m off to find something better, plus I’m hoping to find a steel hand vise locally.


When I first saw pictures of Joseph Cornell’s stash I thought I would never need that kind of space. Silly me. Having a luxury of pieces to choose from is wonderful, but continuous organizing would be the key, eh?

The wear on the bare metal boxes is lovely, but I do wish I had more of the white ones (and maybe fewer pink ones, yellow ones, and I have no idea what to do with my lone orange tin). The variety of sizes I’ve found makes decisions easier, I had no idea there were tins less than a centimeter across, but now I have a dozen - both round and rectangular.

Hinges are still scarce though. I’ve been making them out of various non-hingey things, but someday I may break down and buy teensy dollhouse size ones. I wonder if there are any that click closed, that can be very handy for secret compartments.

art gallery and momentum

A picture of one of my lovely sisters getting her first gallery ready to open. Her second will open soon, and will include a café. I wish she weren’t an ocean away!

I work best when I have long stretches of time alone. As I work, my momentum builds, so at ten hours or so I am going at top speed and am most productive, after seventeen or eighteen hours I’m feeling that I’ve finished what I need to do and am ready to wind down. Eighteen contiguous hours of solitude is not a common occurrence in my life though.