mirrorshard: (Terrella)
2014-12-03 11:41 pm

December Days: Art & science

I had a choice of two icons for this post, both very appropriate in different ways. One is one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, and of course he's seen as the embodiment of the crossover between the two. The other, which is of course at the top of this post, is a terrella - a spherical magnet, a little Earth - used by William Gilberd in his research into magnetism. They're both my own photography, and being in the presence of these artifacts - in the V&A and the Science Museum respectively - was a wonderful feeling.

Part of the reason I decided not to use the da Vinci icon was because the need for a crossover at all is a modern illusion. Art, as in artisan and artificial, has only recently acquired the airy & impractical ivory tower connotations it has today. In previous centuries, the artist was a tradesman, or at best a professional, on a conceptual level with a plasterer or a chemist rather than with a prince of the Church or of the counting-house, and their labours were devoted towards distinct objects rather than concepts or creations.
As so often happens... )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2014-10-09 02:47 pm
Entry tags:

Garter research

Another instalment in my (very) occasional efforts to research the historical antecedents of people (usually female) wearing pictures of other people (usually male) on their garters. I should stress that I'm doing this for artistic and marketing reasons!

This research is difficult, and usually turns up boring pr0n and members of the Order of the Garter. One common result is from modern wedding tradition, in which it's often a picture of a deceased family member - though putting a photo of your grandfather on your garter under your dress seems counterintuitive.

The only other results so far are two films: Red-Headed Woman (1927, with Jean Harlow in an uncharacteristic non-platinum role) and Getting Gertie's Garter (1927, remade 1945 with Marie McDonald). That's an interesting result, and in isolation implies that it wasn't a widespread Thing.

There are some literary allusions as well, but I've not found anything before the 1970s yet, and that refers to embroidered names, not paintings or photographs. More research remains to be done!
mirrorshard: (Elly)
2012-07-21 05:42 pm


Taken by [personal profile] merrythebard, because I asked for one to show off the barrette I made & have been wearing for the last few days. (Layered & varnished art paper, calligraphy ink, spring clip.) The sheer messiness of my hair annoys me, but I love the reflections.

Self, barrette, Elly
mirrorshard: (Default)
2012-07-11 01:01 pm

Storytelling Speakeasy, 9th August

Once upon a time a young girl dreamt of a playground. It was filled with beautiful men and handsome women. They told stories not just with their voices but with the whole of their bodies. With fire, water, ice and a nipple tassel or two. Now, for one night only, she has taken over a beautiful, Victorian town hall to make it happen.

Alchemist Dreams present a narrative extravaganza at Limehouse Town Hall, with operatic circus skill performances, boylesque, "the myth of Medea... with a naughty twist", delightfully complex & unusual games run by [livejournal.com profile] spiker_uk, and their own artisan spirits & unique cocktails.

I'll be there with a stall (and with [personal profile] merrythebard as my beautiful assistant), selling jewellery, art prints, cards, and miscellanea, all at very reasonable prices and many with a storytelling theme.

I'm told the other stalls will involve delicious baked goods, fine corsetry, and interesting brass jewellery, but I don't have names or links yet.

Tickets are £10 early-on, £20 in advance, and £30 on the door if there are any - last time, everything went very fast, so I recommend getting in early!

[If you're on Facebook, there's an event here too.]
mirrorshard: Photo of a small leather-bound notebook, filled with mirror writing (WIP)
2012-07-06 02:27 pm

Questions about accessories

Dear people who wear fascinators (specifically, but not solely, the kind which consist of extremely small hats) and other things in their hair:

Do you prefer the kind mounted on small combs, the kind mounted on Alice bands, or the kind mounted on those unnecessarily-complicated-looking metal clips?

Or some other method?

Thank you!
mirrorshard: Photo of a small leather-bound notebook, filled with mirror writing (Da Vinci)
2011-11-02 01:03 pm
Entry tags:

Truth & Beauty - The Future We Deserve, Part 1

I went to a talk by Vinay Gupta last night, and have written up my notes over on Eithin. It's long, so I'm not going to copy it all here, but it was absolutely fascinating.

Important question to ask: whether the future actually is amenable to analysis. Strict rationality and utilitarianism will inevitably fail, so at some point you will have to make decisions on moral grounds instead (is it better to save young people, or older people, or families? People here, or people there? To consider QALY, local priorities, or ripple effects?) And the thing which informs the moral frameworks we use to make those decisions is aesthetics. Quert: choice of beauty. Also, EO Wilson’s use of “concinnity”. That’s how we get the title of this series: truth and beauty. “I’m an engineer, and I think have a pretty good handle on truth by now, but I’m getting to level 80 and it’s full of artists! My artist friends are laughing at me, finally asking lots of questions. Join the club, white boy. …Beige boy.”

(read more)
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2011-08-07 05:02 pm

Two Things


This is one of the rowan trees along my road; I took a photo, used Gimp to make it clearer & starker, chose a small section of the interlacing branches, and added a frame. Inkscape let me turn it into vector graphics, smoothing off the edges and eliminating speckles and inconvenient bits, and then exporting that as a DXF file let me feed it straight into the London Hackspace laser cutter. That worked to outline the image onto a piece of reclaimed hardwood (skip-dived, though not by me), and then I carved it out with my normal woodcarving tools; the laser lets me use a much more complex design than I've managed in the past.

It's now basically ready to print, or at least if I need to do any more work on it then I won't know until after I've inked it up and pulled a proof.

Veined nettle earrings 1

These are made from 300gsm recycled paper; the design is a vectorised & messed-about-with scan of an actual nettle leaf, from my garden. If you click through to Flickr, there are a lot of WIP images of the leaf in various stages; I'm entirely happy to let any of you have the SVGs if you fancy playing around with them.

I already have a customer for this pair, which makes me extremely happy! I've got two others on my worktable too, and they're quite quick to reify now I have the completed digital file. It may have taken me 8-10 hours of vector art to get the design right, but now I can just print off a dozen pairs, get out the scalpel, and apply a few layers of ink & glue. It's an interesting inversion of the printmaking technique, and it makes me very happy.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2011-06-10 04:21 pm

5 questions meme

From [livejournal.com profile] sabethea

1. Science Fiction or Fantasy - which do you prefer/where do you make the separation/what do you like about them both. (*cheats with a three-in-one question* The general gist is, please ramble on about them.)

Let's see!

I rarely draw a hard line between SF & fantasy - I'm starting to prefer the catchall term "fantastika". When I do separate them, it's usually a contrast between what Darko Suvin referred to as a "novum", ie. the new thing which makes SF SF, and what I've started to think of as a diversa, a change in the metaphysical or moral way the world works, a way of narrativising the universe and justifying the Gods' ways to humanity. Whether that's "good will win out in the end", "the world rewards hard work and trust in your friends", "it's everyone for himself and all things will eventually decay and die", or "face it, everyone is a bastard deep down" that's... how fantasy seems to work. If we're talking about a change in physics or mechanics, or a new invention, that's a novum, but they can often overlap, as with universes where the Ptolemaic model of astronomy is real (since that's to do with the nature & importance of the world) or as with Valente's Habitation of the Blessed, which starts with an inversion of a classic Greek science text.

2. Photography or jewellry/other things making - which do you prefer?

The latter. I like photography, but I don't have enough... handles on it, I suppose... to be able to get the same level of absorbtion and complexity that I do with physical craftsmanship. I know it does have that level of complexity, and can be a fascinating analogue process, but I'm nowhere near that good. Whilst I can get good results, it's not from anything complex.

3. I gather you're coming up to three years dating [info]mirabehn. Congratulations, and how did you two get together?

We both played Satan in a readthrough of the radio series "Old Harry's Game" organised by [livejournal.com profile] midnightmelody.

4. Favourite Diana Wynne Jones book?

It's a tossup between Archer's Goon (the first one I read) and The Dark Lord of Derkholm.

5. Do you play instruments/sing? If so what?

I drum, though not with any great proficiency, and [personal profile] merrythebard is teaching me to sing.

I may or may not provide some questions to people who ask for them in the comments.
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2011-06-09 11:25 pm

Various Things

1. I had my MRI results the other day: apparently, my brain is nice and healthy, with no shadows, atrophy, or reduction in brain mass. This is very good. When I get the copies I've asked for, I shall make them available.

2. I really need to finish more artwork, including getting back to printmaking properly. Part of the reason I haven't been able to do nearly as much as I'd like is lack of space. I'm considering setting up at the Hackspace for a studio session, but if I'm using proper ink then that means leaving a dozen or two prints to dry overnight/two nights there. Another part of the reason is that I don't have a reliable channel for disposing of the blessed stuff afterwards, other than letting it accumulate around the flat.

3. I really need to get more into permaculture, sustainability, and ninja hippy engineering. It makes me happy and saves me money and gets me better food, and does a lot to counteract the sense of worthlessness and irrelevance that the world often gives me. Part of the problem there, though, is a) that I'm a congenital generalist—I can do some of everything, and there's usually someone around who's better at any given thing than I am; and b) that I'm shy and nervous around strangers, and find it very hard to put myself forward.

Incidentally, I plan on visiting What will the harvest be? near Stratford on Saturday, if health & weather hold up. They have an open day, from 13:00. Anyone else interested in joining me, if you're not Slutwalking? ("Why I'm not doing that" would be an entire other post which I don't currently feel up to making. Suffice it to say that I'm strongly in favour of the event.)
mirrorshard: (Default)
2011-05-16 11:42 pm

Goth Jewellery

Ribbon choker & teardrop pendant

This one, which I've had lying around for quite a while now, has now found an appreciative home (pictured). I'm definitely going to have to make more of these, especially now that I've pretty much perfected the art of laser-cutting complex shapes to make into pendants. It's a double-faced satin ribbon, and the teardrop is copper but future ones will probably be laminated paper.

Laminated paper choker, D-ring, and rectangular pendant

That's actually mocked up with a brooch and a safety pin, but given how it looks there will definitely be some proper ones coming. On the other hand, I'm still not completely happy with the laminated paper bands—especially the ones with D-rings attached—so I'm going to have to make a few more different designs and get some experienced jewellery-wearers to try them out, preferably over an entire day or evening.
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2011-04-29 11:51 pm

Explanation requested


This painting is annoying me slightly. I like the way it turned out, but the significance of two important things is confusing me: a) the frame, and b) the juxtaposition of stark black branches and warm green background. I know they both happened for a reason, but not what it is, or even whether it's the same one.

Clearly, this is the kind of artistic conundrum that can only be solved by an appropriate title. However, none occurs to me that I'm happy with. Any suggestions? Anything I decide to use gets a pint, subject of course to being in the same pub at the same time at some stage.

(Administrative note: Acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 6". I've since given it its first coat of varnish. It'll probably end up with three, for a suitably even density of gloss.)
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2011-04-22 01:19 am

Artwork, pricing, & commissions

Lapis & bronze pendant As all of you who make & sell things will know, pricing your work is both really important and really hard. I've settled on some price points, I think: the new double-thickness (and double-strength) pendants I've been making (see left, and/or ask me for a look at one when we see each other—I'll usually have one somewhere) will go for £5-£10, and from now on I'll keep the single-layer pieces for brooches and sell those more cheaply. The laminated paper chokers... I'm still thinking I need to do a bit more research & usability testing to find a single comfortable design & a good production workflow. Masks will range from £12 or so to about £30.

On the other hand, let's be realistic about this: I'm not in this business to make much money. It would be extremely nice if I did manage more than the small net profit I currently get, but as far as I can tell all the available levers for increasing internet-based sale volume involve hard work on marketing and promotion, and that's not only something I hate doing but something I'm extremely bad at.

I am, fundamentally, in the jewellery business in order to make art, or at least pretty things. The problem there is that a) finished Stuff accumulates, and b) I'm hesitant to give it away unsolicited, either because then it'll just be accumulating dust for someone else instead, or because they might not like it or ever wear it. I'm a good judge of what would physically suit someone, but that doesn't mean it would be in their comfort zone or preferred style, and that's entirely fair enough.

Anyway, the point of this post is basically threefold. First, I have an Etsy shop (nowhere near everything I have in a sale-ready state is listed there, just the best ones I have photos of so far). I like commissions, so long as they're not too detailed—my ideal is "make me something you think will suit me", but I'm also very happy with a colour scheme and an idea of the sort of patterns you like.

Second, I am entirely happy to accept barter. I prefer food, books, & beer, but if you do it and I have a possible use for it then I'll be delighted. (Just to be clear, I expect you to match sale price to sale price, rather than what-it-costs-you to what-I'd-get-on-the-market. If you normally give it away for free, I'm still happy to consider it.)

Third, and possibly most importantly: if you like what I do, and especially if it's the kind of thing you'd wear, please let me know! After all, everyone has a birthday now & then.
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2011-03-25 08:24 pm

Printmaking with children!

I spent this afternoon running a printmaking workshop for small children (half a dozen, 5-8) at London Hackspace. I don't have the energy and coherence right now to tell you much about how it came out, so I'm just going to picspam instead. (All the parents have given their consent for photographs on the Internet, because I know you were wondering about that.)

I will say that it was great fun for all of us, we only had one very minor self-stabbing, and it's reminded me just how much I love children's art.

Using the book press
+4 )
mirrorshard: (Ink & Paper)
2010-09-01 12:37 pm
Entry tags:

2010 Christmas (and Hanukkah) cards

It's September, and therefore high time for are-people-talking-about-Christmas-already?-bah-humbug season.

I make & sell Christmas cards, and can happily supply you with some to send to your friends, relatives, coworkers, archenemies, or complete strangers, at the bargain rate of £1 per card, or 20 for £18 plus p&p if I need to mail them. These are digitally printed on high-quality matte stock (Fabriano Ecologica: acid-free, 100% recycled, very white, and made in Italy using hydroelectric power) with pigment inks. The back has my logo on, and the insides are blank for your own message. They're A6 when folded, so they fit perfectly into standard C6 envelopes.

I'm happy to do versions with custom text on, and I'll probably be posting at least one more design over the next month or so—please post suggestions in the comments, and I won't take any of those as commitments to order some unless you say so. There's no minimum order, and I'm happy to mix designs in any way you like. If any of you are interested in hand-printed woodblock or linocut cards instead, let me know in the comments and I'll try and work up a design; they're likely to work out between two and four times the price of the digital ones.

three more designs below the fold )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-08-24 11:21 pm
Entry tags:

Signal amp - Etsy-sellers' community

I've joined [livejournal.com profile] cat_scradle (which has unfailingly had me wondering what a scradle is - answers on a postcard please) which is a new community set up in response to comments on Cat Valente's "What do you need?" post. (Summary: many, many people commenting saying "I need help publicising and marketing my Etsy shop, and with artistic questions & encouragement." CV: "All of you should make a community.")

It's looking really good so far, so if you have an Etsy shop then you might want to consider joining up. My own Etsy shop, which I've been updating and gardening today, is here.

[Poll #1610298]
mirrorshard: Photo of a small leather-bound notebook, filled with mirror writing (Da Vinci)
2010-02-04 06:01 pm
Entry tags:

Kelmscott Press

I've just got back from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, where I've been doing some light typography research - there's a couple of computer fonts available derived from Morris's Golden Type, and I wanted to compare the one I had to an original edition. So I went to look at a first edition of The Well at the World's End, which is set in Chaucer but was still wonderful, and a collected Keats bound in vellum. Only seven of those were made.

And the curatorial assistant there apologised for the fact that the Kelmscott Chaucer was out on loan. I turned down the offer to look through the Folio Society repro they had on display, because I couldn't justify it with this project, but next time I shall. And when I do get a chance at the real thing...

Anyway, it turns out that Scriptorium's True Golden font isn't a close replica - to be fair, it only claims to be "based on" the original, but with a name like that it's a bit misleading. The weirdest thing is that True Golden has no left double-quotes - it uses identical ones to the right double-quotes.

And looking at the Keats, Morris's double-quotes are perfectly normal. Nice three-lobed diamonds with an elegant curved tail/ascender, about twice the length of the dot, with the only peculiarity being that the left one has the dots centred at x-height and the right has them reaching up to the capitals, so they aren't on a level with each other.

There are a couple of other Golden-derived fonts out there, but I can't afford to go buying them on the offchance, so I've mailed these guys to ask about the reasoning behind it. I mean, it isn't the kind of thing you can do by accident.

Edit: Looking at P22 Morris Golden (since they have a custom-text previewer), they use the same backwards quote marks. Though theirs are nicer, and it'd be a much better font for large sizes. So presumably that was done at some point - I just need to work out when.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-12-30 02:34 am
Entry tags:

Linocut - "Reeds"

A print I'm particularly proud of - original post, with more details, here. I'll list prints of this one on Etsy soon.

mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-12-02 11:18 pm
Entry tags:

2009 Christmas cards

I don't really do Christmas, and don't send (or care about getting) Christmas cards, but I do make them for other people to send. If you give me a small amount of money (£1 per card for these coloured ones, digitally printed with a high-quality inkjet on good recycled card) then I will make you some. You'll need to supply your own envelopes, but the cards are A6 and will thus fit perfectly into standard C6 envelopes you can get anywhere.

This year's designs are below the cut. [Edit: Hanukkah cards have also been requested. I shall see what I can do tomorrow.]
Read more... )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-10-30 02:37 pm
Entry tags:

Finished yesterday

Night cloud pendant

I have two of these - I'll be putting them into my Etsy shop shortly, unless anyone wants to jump in first. Comments screened, since it's nearly Christmas shopping time.

They're made from artist's mountboard, with six or so layers of acrylic and varnish, so they're lightweight, as strong as you'd normally expect non-metal jewellery to be, and waterproof.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-08-28 06:00 pm
Entry tags:

Julio-Claudian family tree

As promised! Click through for the full version - "All Sizes" will give you the huuuge one.

Julio-Claudian Family Tree