I went to a great workshop this weekend just gone, with Annie Smits Sandano.  More to say about that later, but the workshop got me thinking about permutations of colour combinations in woodcut layering.

I wasn’t sure why, but the idea of layering three levels of semi transparent colour on top of each other to create a multicoloured image that also features white, blew my mind.

Annie taught us the useful and practical technique of using tracing paper to develop the colour layers, which was perfect for the workshop.  Later I got thinking about how to explore ALL the different layering options there were, and exactly HOW many there were.  I found the Combinations and Permutations calculator and found 6 combos for three colours, and then went to photoshop to play.

Here are my results.  As you’ll see, I also played around with transparency.  I also tried out just using two of the colour plates.

First, here’s all the images with the green layer on top. (I’ve labelled each with the colour order)

greenmen Now pink on top:pinkmen Yellow on top: yellowmen


Here are my picks of the bunch:



Exploring Island Bay Marine Reserve

Feeling distinctly like a penguin, I waddled into the water.  I was lucky enough to be able to borrow an underwater camera from my guide, who knows a lot more about diving, free-diving, crayfish hunting and spear-fishing than I do.

Knowing I love strange underwater creatures, he chose us the best day of the year for a dive; a fresh sunny summer day with only a whisper of wind, the fourth in a row.  The water was clear, calm with a swell and freezing.  I was really glad for the 7 cm of wetsuit-blubber all over my body and pretty soon my face was too numb to feel anyway.

P1000285 P1000290Everything moved in sway with the swell, making it almost impossible to snap a clear photo – I loved every second.

P1000322 P1000356 P1000387Aenemones hanging out in their natural habitat:

P1000307 P1000315

Tough competition in the attention economy

There is just so much to this article Making It – pick up a spot welder and join the revolution in the New Yorker recently.  Evegny Morozov deconstructs the Maker Movement and its social politics.  It’s fascinating to reflect on how making things has become a ‘movement’, why, and whether it’s really as radical and democratising as it’s made out to be.

And it’s especially interesting to me, of course, because I’m a maker. I’ve always been a maker of things, but now I’m an aspiring Maker with a capital M as well – playing around with 3D tools, manufacturing on demand, setting up my Etsy shop…

The article makes the point that some of the movements proponents “argue that the success of the maker movement shows that the means of production can be made affordable to workers even under capitalism. Now that money can be raised on sites such as Kickstarter, even large-scale investors have become unnecessary. But both overlook one key development: in a world where everyone is an entrepreneur, it’s hard work getting others excited about funding your project. Money goes to those who know how to attract attention. … Inequality here is not just a matter of who owns and runs the means of physical production but also of who owns and runs the means of intellectual production—the so-called “attention economy”.”

So far, I’ve had 8 visits to lichenandsponge.  All of those are from me. Granted, it has only been open a few days, but still, it’s made me hyper-aware of the need for online marketing – how the * am I supposed to compete with the millions of other Etsy shops, with their billions of items, all more or less unique and cool?

I should get into growth hacking, but its just so …scary!   “A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users.” Alternatively, it could be the occupation for the villain in my book 🙂

“Growth hacking appeared as the modern way in the age of Web 2.0 to reach a market and distribute an idea. Instead of classic marketing which typically interrupts your day, a growth hacker uses “pull”; he or she understands user behavior provides value immediately to persuade. A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users. A growth hacker will leverage across disciplines, pulling in insights from behavioral economics and gamification, to find the right message to pull in users.

A growth hacker finds a strategy within the parameters of a scalable and repeatable method for growth, driven by product and inspired by data. Growth hacking’s goal are based in marketing but driven by product instincts. A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing. A growth hacker lives within the product team and has a technical vocabulary to implement what he or she wants.”

And look at what can happen When Growth Hacking Goes Bad!  “Due to the App Store’s nearly impossible to break into Top Charts, app makers have to manufacture and force growth to attract their initial users, and kick off those “viral” effects”.

I want to join the Society for Printable Geography!

I wish this was a real Society that I could join.  The Society for Printable Geography creates jewelry using real satellite data. It’s pretty cool. Here’s their ‘North Island of New Zealand’ cufflink. I can even get a cellphone cover with the terrain of Australasia.

I found a beautiful new addition to my sea sponge collection this morning on the beach. The question is – how to convert this image into data, then into a 3D printed object.

Lately, I’ve been trying ‘displacement mapping’ on Blender.  I make a 3D bowl, then map a black and white image to it. Then ‘displacement map’ turns the darker parts of the image into depressions, and the lighter parts into hills, bumps.  So you’ve got a 3D texture, derived from your 2D black and white photo.

At the moment, I don’t understand how this works though.  I thought if I made a black and white dot 2D pattern and map it, then it would make a bowl with raised bumps all over it.  NO! Its not so easy.

If I took this sponge to Massey University Fab Lab and scanned it using their 3D scanner, I would have a 3D image of it that I could print.

I don’t know where it comes from, the desire to recreate a sponge shape in ceramics or plastic.  Its a mysterious, nonsensical thing to do.  What’s the point?  It’s not as if it had a practical application.  A sponge is such a complex shape –  think I want to understand its form.



Corinne Hansen made the ring below – I found it here on Shapeways.  She helpfully includes the software she used in making it.  Created in rhinoceros, edited in Magics, colored in Z-edit.  What I want to know is, does it print in all those different colours and textures?

I want to try i.materialise.  For the record, here are some other 3D printing sites to try out, at some articles comparing them. The sites I’ve found are i.Materialise, Kraftwurx, Ponoko, Shapeways and Sculpteo.

I never thought I would ever do computer programming in a million years – just shows you never know what’s going to happen!  I’m learning how to use the Processing language, and I just got my first two little programs up on my website

I love all the examples of code that the site gives

There are tutorials, forums and also a Learning place

These amazing tools from Nervous System were all written with processing – mindblowing.  Maybe one day I’ll be using it to generate my own jewellery with algorithms too.

My next step on Processing is to use a data source as input data to move an image on the screen.  First data visualisations here we come!

Molecular Aesthetics

My most exciting moment in Sydney was pretty geeky.  My wanderings through the city took me to the NSW State Library (thanks for the tip Shelley!), to the bookshop (via a 2 hr stop in the library to investigate “60 Innovators: shaping our creative future” where I found THIS:IMG_20131203_152728 IMG_20131203_152749

The coolest thing about this book was its contents page – an pre-compiled set of course materials for me in my most exciting subject – science mixed with art.  It actually makes me smile with joy… I can’t stop smiling!!!

These names and phrases, typed into the wonderful web of knowledge that is the internet, is taking me on a crazy journey that leads off in so many different directions that it’s intoxicating.  Here are a few:

Joanna Aizenberg and the The Aizenberg Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab:

I loved Joanna’s lecture at Harvard on “Natural Glass Houses in the Deep.  She moves smoothly from Ernest Haekel (one of my favourite artists) to chemical structures, to sea sponges (one of my favourite items to collect, gaze at and draw), to nature, to biomimicry, to 3D printing, to 3D modelling, to the structure of bones and shells (also favourite objects!). It feels so beautiful; a drawing-together of so many of my disparate interests into a coherent whole. :

This is amazing too:

This place has an artbase of projects by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers as artwork.

This is "Boolean Nature" by Hugo Arcier, which I found on the artbase

This is “Boolean Nature” by Hugo Arcier, which I found on the artbase. have a conference…Right now, I feel like I have NEVER wanted to go anywhere more in my life than I want to go to this conference:

I mean, just look at what the subject matter is!!!


The Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference at the intersections of art, science and culture seeks papers that explore the theme of the cloud and molecular aesthetics.The third international conference on transdisciplinary imaging at the intersections of art, science and culture will focus on:

~ What is the new objectification of the imaged world around?

~ What are the aesthetic and artistic – the theoretical and the practical – implications of this new topography of data?

~ What alternative idioms exist to critically consider imagery and image making?

~ What is our contemporary understanding of clouding, assembly and camouflage in a post material age?

~ How does the cloud phenomenon precipitate thinking about new ways of curating, publishing and configuring modes of engagement?

The aim of the conference is to bring together artists, theorists, scholars, scientists, historians and curators. The conference invites papers that respond to the above provocation in areas related to: Painting, Drawing, Curating, Installation, Film, Video, Photography, Computer Visualization, Real-time Imaging, Intelligent Systems and Image Science.”

Next stop, Victoria Vesna, James Gimzewski and UCLA

Here’s a link to a promo for the UCLA Art|Science Centre & Lab

Victoria Vesna and her research partner found that the live cells they were studying were vibrating.  They took a digital file of the vibration pattern and converted it into a sound file, enabling them to ‘listen’ to live cells.

(The iridescent blue in butterfly wings has no pigment – it’s made up of nano-optics: textures and patterns)

They wanted to measure the vibrations of a chrysalis turning in to a butterfly, and to listen to the vibrations.

By throwing a laser on the chrysalis they could measure the vibrations of the metamorphosis over about 2 weeks. They realised that rather than being slow and gradual, change in the chrysalis happened in sudden bursts. The experiment became a piece of art; a metaphor for the drastic disruptive change going on in the world  wow – the sound! so haunting and spooky.

Victoria and James made zero@wavefunction


The Zero@wavefunction installation and interactivity is based on the way a nanoscientist manipulates an individual molecule (billions of times smaller than common human experience) projected on a monumental scale. When a person passes by, they cast a larger than life shadow on the molecule and activate responsive buckyballs. The visualizations are of buckyballs that respond via sensors to the movement of the person’s shadow and the possibility of manipulating the molecule emerges.

THIS is how the technology behind it works (hmm this pretty visualisation make it look so easy but I bet it is a little more complex in the background, maybe good for me who is just starting with the basics though!):



“The atoms and electrons in a rock are as subtle and alive as the ocean is.”