Friday, October 10, 2008

Mad Science Meets Art

What happens when science and art collide, when that path of black and white empirical data has to make way for the intrusion of the other colors of the spectrum?

You get an artistic scientist…or a scientific artist…or Amanda Giesler, aka Ulixis.

At the ripe age of 21, she is a Master’s student in Physiology and Pharmacology, researching the link between obesity and asthma on a cellular level. Sometime in between working in the lab, doing literature searches, reading papers, authoring approval forms for research funding, and being a teaching assistant (whew!), she manages to find a little time for her art. And that is where the collision takes place, in all its wondrous colors and shapes. Be it jewelry, paper art, or just collecting fun beads and buttons, Amanda takes her inspiration from nature around her and her wonder at it all.

“I grew up in the middle of nowhere, the middle of Northern Ontario. My parents owned a tourist camp beside a river and 100 acres of land.”

This bucolic setting afforded hay in the autumn, a forest to get wood to heat the house in the winter and to gather the annual Christmas tree. And inspiration for Amanda. In school when all the other little girls were professing a desire to become teachers, Amanda wanted to be an artist.

“I grew up in a very picturesque place. I’m always more creative after a trip home.”

She now lives in Hamilton, about five hours away from her roots, on the seventh floor of an apartment building. Even so, she feels being there has helped her creativity. After putting aside her craft endeavors while concentrating on school, she rediscovered that side of herself after finding all the resources in a larger town.

“I see my artistic evolution as a revolving wheel of media. Just taking the past year into account, my work has improved a lot.”

Still, she feels she has a long way to go.

Her current family includes her boyfriend Pat, whom she met in high school over seven years ago and her pet finch, Michael.

“Pat has been pretty tolerant of my crafting. He helps me solder, comes with me to crafty stores and markets and puts up with the mess without complaining *too* much.”

Aside from her science and her crafting, she loves to cook.

“My science side is reflected in some of my work (the Mad Scientists of Etsy team challenges, mainly), as well as in my cooking. Once you know how to follow a protocol for an experiment, recipes are no problem. But I prefer cooking, because you can add your own twist to it without ruining anything!”

And how does Amanda define success as an artist/craftsperson?

“I don’t really consider success as an artist. I don’t create for success or money. It is a joy, a pastime, a stress-buster, a lifestyle. I get satisfaction from seeing what I have done with my two hands.” Validation is good, but the sheer joy of creating and sharing is what keeps her going.

And the future?

“Looking at my work, my style has matured… but I’m still young. My experimental years aren’t over.”

Ah, those experiments! Einstein, Hawking….Giesler?

One never knows!

Please visit Amanda’s shop at to see her fun (and experimental) items.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'm Gonna Be Featured!

Yay! Thanks to The Bath, Body, Candle blog -- for offering to highlight me on October 21. There will be a giveaway: my French Vanilla and Amber candle, just for logging on and leaving a comment.

I must say the blog is a fun shopping trip in the land of handmade bath and body products. Ever since Michael started making soaps six years ago, I haven't touched a bar of commercial soap unless I was forced by circumstance. This blog is like handmade soap HEAVEN! In scanning the older posts I found something that just tickled my fancy:Is this not the cutest little shop? Take a look: What a fun conspiracy of artisans! Okay, I'm putting this is my future "wants" file -- a little shop shared with fun artists! Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bandit, My Dear, Sweet Canine Friend... home.

A little piece of him is missing, right below his right shoulder. It was an interloper, an unwelcome guest. It was cancer -- technically a mast cell tumor.

My old guy is back at his post, under my office chair. He's a little out of it. He has a Frankenstein scar the length of my hand to show for his long, hard day. But with the help of Fruit of the Loom, and some major painkillers, he is looking quite cozy.

I wish I could hold on to him forever, but I know I can't. It is part of life, this death thing. We all succumb and my dear canine is no exception. I am sure he has been around before, though, as he has been my angel for so long and will probably follow me elsewhere, in another form, as another being.

He looks up with his big brown eyes. He knows. We've saved him once again.

And he is grateful.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Debra Linker - An Artist's Way

Long ago and far away, there was a band of roving gypsies….

Uh, oh, there I go again listening to those voices in my head!

Thanks to Debra Linker, a dear Etsy friend, who has agreed to be my guinea pig for my first blog interview! Please visit her extraordinary shop at

Debra grew up in Dallas, Texas and moved to Seattle about fourteen years ago, following a technical career path. Hers is a story of the left brain finally finding its right counterpart, a balance that was to change her direction in life toward a new identity: that of an artist.

“Growing up,” Debra says, “I was not even remotely interested in artistic endeavors.”

Then, one day, a good friend suggested she “should paint.” Out of the blue!

“I immediately disregarded it!”

But husband Bruce saw something in the possibilities. Curious to see what she was harboring, he took her shopping for art supplies.

Then, another friend recommended she read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Within days, she was attending a workshop based on the book. People were urging her to paint, cheering her along the way. She took lessons. She started exhibiting in a friend’s shop. A chain of events, a series of synchronicities….

Like Cinderella at the ball, she found that she had, indeed, been an artist all along.

Enter Etsy, a creative community where Debra could further foster her creative forces while being surrounded by like minds. And where she could actually SELL her works and be supported by others who were creating businesses out of their creations.

“I am daily inspired by the scenery, the nature, and the art community” in Seattle. “I live in a well-groomed evergreen forested area and there is no lack of subject matter for any of my art ‘phases.’”

“For the first time in my life, I am finding a desire to express social and political views that I have previously kept pretty much to myself. An example of this is the recent completion of ‘Viridis.’”

Her technique is as simple as it is difficult.

“I simply just start putting paint on the canvas – any paint, any color -- and, before long, I have the next stroke, and the next, and soon, I have another painting.”

And what does she see in her future? What defines success?

“Being able to paint another day; to have the materials, the time, and the ability to just paint another day…that would be my definition of success.”

To learn more about Debra and to see more of her beautiful work, please visit:

5:00 am. My favorite time of day. A soft glow emanates from the unit against the wall, the tiny lamp in the kitchen. A hush, heavy against my ears like a veil. The sharp edges of daylight are but a blur. The world around me sleeps, breathing heavy and rhythmic. The breath of life, in stillness, surrounds me. Peace. No screaming politicians, no whizzing traffic -- just me and my steaming mug of coffee and my God. We sit together each morning, no words needed. At precisely 5:30 the world will start to stir as my son gets up for school. I hear the squeak of his door, the sound of a CD, the water running in the shower. My peace is punctuated, as it always is, at this time. I put down my mug and wish my God a silent prayer of gratitude, for all that I am, for all that I have, for those two teenagers upstairs who will soon break open my veil of silence. I wonder what I have done to deserve this life of wonder. But it doesn't matter. I am blessed, for the moment, so I will savor it.