26 February 2010


Just a quick note. I've been blogging a bit about writing (so far a very little bit, but will do more as I get myself back in gear) over on my other blog BFG. That doesn't mean I won't write about my writing here, just that most of the writing I've been doing lately fits BFG subject matter better. When I do some more writing about craft, I'll blog about it here.

It may turn out to be a bad idea, trying to separate these two parts of my life. In reality, of course, they're quite well integrated in me. But I realize that the people who come to this blog (besides friends and family who have been reading since the beginning) are most likely expecting to read about my art and craft, not about video games and comics (though, of course, I also draw comics, so that's part of my art, too).

Anyway, back to work.

Blog Ring: Tuscan Road Designs

This week's featured blog in the Handmade Artists Forum Blog Ring is Tuscan Road Designs. The proprietor of Tuscan Road says this of herself:
I love to work with color and texture, Swarovski Crystal and the natural beauty of Semi Precious Gemstones. Many of my pieces have an eclectic, asymmetrical style. I have consistently been inspired during my numerous world travels, always keeping an eye out for the beautiful and unusual bead or idea that helps make these one-of-a-kind creations so unique.
She's certainly got a knack for combining a bunch of different elements into funky jewellery, as you can see from this piece:

The featured blogger from the other HAF ring is CJGrand, who just happens to be a watcher of this very blog (hi!).

25 February 2010

[BFG] Aw, Crap

Well, The Madness of Kentaurs didn't make the cut. Here's the pitch that didn't get me to the next round (and yeah, I know, it's not exactly a typical submission pitch--I followed some advice from previous entrants whose pitches did make it through last year):

It is the time of year when once wild things become wild again, still wild things become wilder, and civilized things shut their doors and pretend they had never been wild.

During the season of madness, the kentaurs of the Pelion foothills—those half-horse, half-human creatures that humans call “centaurs”—journey from their home villages to the sacred lands across the Acheron River. Horses find the kentaur herd irresistible and often run away from their human masters to join the herd. One day, Octavian, stable-boy and floor cleaner at the local inn, gets carried off by the innkeeper’s horse, and ends up trapped in the kentaur herd. He is placed under the charge of Ixion, a young kentaur shaman-in-training, who begins to teach him that kentaurs are not the barbaric, half-sentient beasts he had thought they were.

And then the dreams begin. Dreams in which ancient, cold things with too many teeth steal the boys’ tongues and threaten to steal their sanity. Now Octavian and Ixion both have to learn enough about the otherworld to make it though a grueling initiation ceremony across the Acheron, River of Woe. But first, Octavian has to gain acceptance from the kentaur herd.

The Madness of Kentaurs is a young-adult fantasy novel that explores the ideas of difference and belonging that all children face as they become adults.

Stories about who we are and where we came from become very different when told from different points of view, as I learned while studying for my degrees in archaeology and folklore. The concept of belonging is one I have explored in other writing, including a number of short stories published in semi-professional venues.

Yeah, that last paragraph really makes me cringe.

So, what now? Guess I'll work on the pitch a bit, write a cover letter, and send it to some publishers. All they can do is say no.

And I'll get back to work on the next one.

[BFG] Killing Time and Biting Nails

Today is the big day. Well, actually it's only a somewhat significant milestone on the way to the big day, but it seems really, really big right now.

So what the hell am I talking about? Today, February 25, is the day they announce who goes on to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The judging, for this portion, is based entirely on the "pitch." That's 300ish words of me saying why my novel is good. I'll post it later on, maybe, once I find out whether or not I made the cut.

I don't think I'm going to get very much done today.

24 February 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Miniature Pocket Globe

I've been eying this tiny globe from Bo Press for some time now.

Bo Press is the work of Patricia Sweet, who designs and prints (digitally) tiny books and globes and maps and binds them using traditional binding techniques. Not only are the books tiny and lovely, but they are full of exactly the kinds of things I like: science (especially the mad sort), maps, folklore, and the like. Please have a look at the Bo Press Etsy shop, where you'll find all this and more.

I especially want to feature Bo Press, not just because Patricia Sweet makes such cool stuff, but because I am also a happy customer and I can tell you that the customer service is top-notch. I purchased a tiny Bo Press book on eBay some time ago. When it got lost in the mail, it was not only quickly replaced, but a lovely bonus was included as well. I will definitely buy more Bo Press things--and I especially want one of those globes. Plus, I've been inspired to make more tiny books of my own (you can see some of my miniature books, in jewellery form, in my Anagram for Ink Etsy shop).

Edit: Also check out the Bo Press website for all the books and globes, and if you feel like buying something, I'd advise buying it from the website rather than the Etsy shop, so more of the purchase price goes to the artist.

23 February 2010

New Neighbour

This rather dashing fellow stopped by for lunch earlier today.

I'm not sure if he's new to the neigbourhood, or has just been shy.

Monday Multiples (a day late): Belted Kingfisher

This week's Monday Multiple (yeah, yeah, late again), presented by Anagram for Ink, is a print by Anagram Press. Nice name for a press, don't you think? This print is part of a series of birds, which I'd love to bind in an album, but the printer also makes artist's books and probably doesn't need my help (grin).

Anagram Press is Chandler O'Leary, who does letterpress, lino and artist's books. You can read more about the work on the Anagram Press Etsy shop, website, and blog, or follow them on Twitter.

20 February 2010

[BFG] Video Game Art Review

Video Game Art by Nic Kelman. New York: Assouline Publishing, 2005. (Cover image copyright Assouline Publishing and Konami.)

Being poor and a lover of books, I often find myself shopping in the remainder (aka "Bargain Books") section of Chapters, even though both Chapters (big box store for books) and the idea of remaindered books are a little dubious. Still, it's possible to get fantastic deals there, especially in art books.

Anyway, on my most recent trip, when the boy and I went after the holiday rush was over, one of the books I brought home was Video Game Art by Nic Kelman. I picked it up mostly because I'm interested in the whole phenomenon of digital art, and it's nice to have mementos of well-designed games that I'll probably never play again (for the same reason, I have art books from Gadget, Myst and Syberia--and the Syberia one is in French, of which I can read only a very small amount). The cover of the book does not inspire confidence, featuring a tacky lenticular image as it does, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot more than a superficial look at the art design of games coupled with some nice pictures.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover a very readable scholarly essay on why we should count video games among the media allowed in the hallowed records of art history. The author placed particular emphasis on how games reflect myth and the heroic journey, which is a strong argument. It would be interesting to compare some video games with Joseph Campbell's hero's journey (even though I think Campbell vastly oversimplified mythology, he's very popular in film scholarship).

This book would make useful reading for game designers, as Kelman points out some of the ways game design has become codified (or petrified), and how it could venture into new territory. The emphasis is primarily on games with narrative structure, though there is some discussion of non-story-oriented games, too.

My primary quibbles with Video Game Art are physical. The gimicky cover I've already mentioned. The paper was also a little problematic. Though the heavy, smooth stock that the publisher chose was really good for reproducing the images, the book is not particularly large for an art book, so the stiffness of the pages made turning and holding them for reading more awkward than it should have been.

The really big issue was a printing problem. In at least three places, when a sentence broke off at the end of the page, it simply vanished and was never completed. And the last time this happened, instead of picking up at the next sentence or paragraph, the opening paragraphs of the chapter were repeated. Add this to the rampant minor typos, and the copyeditor in me was continually jarred out of the joy of reading the otherwise well-written prose.

Anyway, problems aside, Video Game Art is a useful addition to the so far scarce scholarly literature on video games.

Airship Blueprint

One of the things I'm working on right now is a commission for a large-scale blueprint-style airship drawing. I recently posted six concept sketches on my Flickr and had the client look at them. He sent me his comments and ideas, so now I'm working on a sketch that incorporates everything.

The Jules Verne is Frisland Air Ships' flagship, and is most famous for having carried the infamous Dr Sophia Shallowgrave around Frisland on one of her early exploratory journeys. Currently, the Jules Verne is a luxury passenger liner, with regular sailings to Frisland's far north, as well as to destinations overseas.

DAV Santos-Dumont. Darwin Aero Vessels prefers to keep the gasbag entirely separate from the gondola and observation posts, and frequently chooses non-rigid and semi-rigid designs.

Though Frisland Air Ships currently builds only rigid airships, it has experimented with semi-rigid designs, such as the Lebaudy-Julliot.

The pirate ship Flying Fish may have been constructed by the pirates themselves, as there are no records of it being built at any of the shipyards or workshops in Frisland.

Courier Ship Shooting Star, built at the Mountain Vista Shipyards in Peak City, Frisland. This ship features a single steam ray cannon, multiple black powder rail cannons and two experimental steam propulsion units.

The HMS Sgian Dubh was secretly constructed for Queen Victoria by Frisland Air Ships of Darwin, Frisland, as the Royal Air Navy's flagship. Armaments by Darwin Cannon & Sidearms Manufactory of Darwin, Frisland.

Now I think I'll repost this over on BFG, due to the extremely geeky nature of this particular project.

18 February 2010

Spring Cards: Proof

I don't have much else to show on the spring cards. I had planned to have them printed by now, but I got sick, then it snowed, and then it snowed some more. I'm hoping now to get in to print them on Monday, along with a reprint of a self-published poetry book cover for a local aspiring writer, and some ink tests for an upcoming wedding invite job. But it all depends on the crazy Nova Scotia weather.

Anyway, here's a digital proof of the bluejay card. Keep in mind that it will look much better as a letterpress card. Sometime soon I'm going to put together a sample book that shows letterpress vs digital printing with the same images side-by-side. I might use the bluejay card as one of my examples.

More for Sandra Brownlee: Deluxe Edition

A while back, I bound a big pile of exhibition catalogues for textiles artist Sandra Brownlee. More recently, I worked on the deluxe edition of the catalogue, which featured hand-worked pages, textile additions and a woven paper cover. The inclusion of pages made from textiles and the mounting of various items meant the binding went much slower than that of the paperback edition, even though most of the textblock was the same. It was also more challenging--and thus more interesting--to work on.

To speed up the process of punching sewing holes--a tedious exercise when you're doing a lot of them, I used this jig made of stiff card, needles, and tape. The closest needle in the photo sticks out quite a bit farther than the others, to rest the bottom of the sections against, so all the holes end up punched in the same place on each section. The main problem with this process is that, with so many needles, it's much easier to jab yourself. (My number one bookbinding injury is needle pokes.)

Some of the added pages in the deluxe edition were actual textiles. There was a section of folded polka-dot sheer fabric, a translucent fabric section with a photograph digitally printed on it, and this one, a handwoven hemp page.

Other deluxe pages feature hand-drawing, embroidery, hand-poked holes, texture, and this fold-out section showing the whole length of one of Sandra's weavings.

There's some possibility that the non-deluxe, paperback edition of the catalogue may be reprinted, and if that's the case, I'll probably work on the binding again. Sandra is a wonderful person to work for. She's so enthusiastic about craft and appreciative of even the most basic handbinding, that I always go away from our meetings feeling fantastic about what I do.

Recent Reading

So lately this blog has turned into a showcase for cool art by other people, which is fine. I love to share the great stuff I find. On the other hand, this blog is supposed to be mostly about my own work. So today I'm going to spend some time writing about what I'm doing here in my studio home in the snowy woods (and oh, yes, it is snowy).

So first, I mentioned somewhere back there in a previous post that I was going to try the 50 books blog challenge again this year. So far I've read a bunch of stuff, but haven't blogged about it. So here are the things I've read since the beginning of the year.
  1. Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet by Stephen Jay Gould and Rosamond Wolff Purcell (non-fiction) buy from Amazon
  2. Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale (fiction) buy from Amazon
  3. Mouse Guard by David Petersen (comics/graphic novel) buy from Amazon
  4. The Complete Guide to Prints and Printmaking ed. John Dawson (non-fiction) buy from Amazon
  5. Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder (fiction) buy from Amazon
  6. The Blue Girl by Charles deLint (fiction) buy from Amazon
  7. Mangaka America ed. Steelriver Studio (non-fiction) buy from Amazon
  8. Video Game Art by Nic Kelman (non-fiction) buy from Amazon

I've got a few others in progress, too, so I'm doing pretty well. I might end up dividing the list in 50 each of fiction, non-fiction and comics/GNs yet.

Re-Post from My Other (new) Blog, BFG

Once upon a time, I used my blog to write about everything. I blathered on about writing, reading, my art, comics, craft, and my life. It was kind of a public journal for my friends and family to keep up to date on what I was doing, because I have a tendency to pick up and move to the other side of the country with little or no warning.

Now that I'm trying to become a little more serious about my letterpress printing and bookbinding business, it seems that craft and art have taken over Anagram for Ink. And I realized that the people who read my blog for my writing about art and craft might not be interested in video games, or comics, or anime. But those are still things I love and things I am around every day. Also, even though I can use my work blog to talk about videogames, my job is really supposed to be PlayStation Portable specifically, so I can't really babble about the great anime I watched the other day.

It feels a bit like I'm separating myself into two different personalities, but this way the people who want to read about bookbinding and printing can go to Anagram for Ink, and the people who want to read about comics and videogames and SF can go to BFG. And my poor friends and family will just have to read both. But then some of them think I don't blog often enough, anyway.

17 February 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Winged Scarab Necklace

Unfortunately, today's wishlist item was sold some time ago, but I love it so much I just had to feature it anyway. Behold the Winged Scarab Necklace in Copper by Clockwork Crow.

You'll find Clockwork Crow's Etsy shop full of other lovely adornments in copper, silver, brass and found objects. The airship pendant is also very, very nice, and would have been my pick for the wishlist if the scarab wasn't so stunning. You can also find Clockwork Crow on Facebook.

15 February 2010

Blog Ring: Red Fox Jewelry

The featured blogger from the Handmade Artists Forum this week is Red Fox Jewelry. I can't help but like something with "fox" in the title, even before I see the work. Which is silly, I suppose, but I like foxes.

If you pop over the the Red Fox Jewelry Etsy shop, you'll find all sorts of pretty things to adorn yourself with, made with chainmaille, beads and wirework, including this delicious bracelet.

The second featured blogger ('cause there are actually two rings) is Reef Botanicals, maker of lovely smelling soaps, candles and related products.

And to catch up with those blogs I missed the past few weeks while I was sick and/or trying to remember where I left my brain, here are the featured blogs from Feb 7 -14. From Ring One was Haffina Creations ("a mum of 5 who creates unique pieces of jewellery and beaded items") and me (you are here). Yeah, I missed my own week as a featured blogger. Sigh. I need to assign myself a specific day to do the blog ring posts.

And from the week of Jan 31 - Feb 6 we have from Ring Two: A Painting Mom ("Random thoughts and quotes shared by a happily married mom with three kids trying to balance family life and a thriving home based business") and from Ring One: 'Twas Brillig, who says this: "Often found tinkering with things probably best left alone. Happy when playing with power tools and/or wire cutters. Bead-a-holic. Shutterbug. Will spray paint anything that doesn't move. Runs with scissors."

Monday Multiples: Vixen in the Snow

This week's print was so hard to choose. I knew exactly which artist I wanted to feature, but she has so many lovely things. Science! Sea things! All those things I love. I had decided on the nautilus, but then I found this lovely fox.

You'll find this linocut print and other equally beautiful ones in things from secret minouette places on Etsy. You can also find out more about minouette on her blogs magpie & whiskeyjack and the ongoing saga of minouette. Plus, she's got a Facebook fan page, so go become a fan if you like her work.

10 February 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Octopus Love

So, it's getting close to that love-it-or-hate-it holiday, Valentine's day, and to celebrate I present to you the perfect Valentine's gift for your sweetheart. If your sweetheart happens to be me.

This is the Octopus Love pendant from OctopusME Jewelry on Etsy. Each piece is hand cast in sterling silver from real octopus tentacles, then hand finished. I love just about everything in this shop, but mostly the tentacles.

09 February 2010

Monday Multiples (a day late): A Walk in the Woods by Atelier Conti

I was in the big city all day yesterday, and didn't get home until midnight, so this week's Monday Multiple is a Tuesday Multiple.

This time I bring you a beautiful print from Atelier Conti, a printmaking studio in France. Do take time to browse their Etsy shop; it's full of beautiful work. The one I'm completely enchanted with, though, is this:

It's "A Walk in the Woods," a 5-colour aquatint etching. I wish I had a fraction of such ability with aquatint.

They've also got a blog, if you want to see what the studio looks like and learn more about the processes involved. If I ever go to France, I'll see if they'll let me drop by for a visit.

03 February 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Octopus Pendant

For this week's Wednesday Wishlist, I bring the truly wonderful work of Sheryl Westleigh (aka noadi on Etsy). I had such a hard time choosing one piece to feature here that I have to recommend you go browse through her whole shop. It's "Squid & Science Inspired Jewelry"--truly an artist after my own heart.

I finally settled on the Orange Octopus above to show you, but I love them all. Each one is hand-crafted from polymer clay and you can tell from the photos how lovingly made they are. Not only are there octopuses, there are also squid, cuttlefish, nautiluses, and things in jars! (And yes, I would happily trade a calendar or book or something for one of these. Or real money, if I had it.)

01 February 2010

Monday Multiples: Morning Walk by Rudolf Kurz

There's just something about the line quality in an etching that makes it so rich. Just looking at it, you can almost imagine running your fingers over the surface of the print and feeling the raised lines of ink.

This week's print pick is "Morning Walk" by Rudolf Kurz (aka Rudolfkurz on Etsy). The artist describes this print as, "Two slightly seedy looking characters are taking their pets for a walk." Their pets, of course, are little dinosaurs, which appeals to my sense of the bizarre and whimsical.

You can find this print and other, similarly strange, works in the artist's Etsy shop. It's also included in a lovely book, Looking for Snails on a Sunday Afternoon, published by the fabulous Porcupine's Quill (who also publish the printer's journal Devil's Artisan).