Saturday, December 31, 2011

Old & New

No time for Oddmentification today, so instead I'll share one of my favorite old postcards. It was made in Germany & postmarked 1907.

May all of you stellar beings slide happily into the New Year without being knocked down by passing meteors!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

K is for Krampus

A belated entry for this week's AlphaBeasts! I couldn't resist taking a brief vacation from the Japanese Hokai to pay tribute to a rather sinister holiday character.

I was inspired by this book that I found at the Flea Market. The torn part of the cover seemed to cry out for a Krampus. Even the moon wanted to be a horn, & the sleigh runner made me think of his beard. Santa's baleful expression seemed to fit right in too.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Krampus, he's St. Nick's "bad cop" partner in Alpine tradition. He punishes naughty children by stuffing them into his sack. Whatever becomes of them after that, it can't be very jolly!

I've spent a little time in Germany & Austria near Christmas, & Krampus is everywhere. Chocolates, cookies, decorations-- pretty much any place you'd find Santa. He even gets his own parade!

If you'd like to see the astounding Krampus parade in Graz, Austria, check out this video.

Acrylic on text from a German-English dictionary, with found book cover.

Edit: I've added an animated version, just for further mischief!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Feeling considerably merrier today-- & my to-do list is looking just a skinch less panic-worthy-- so I decided I had time to whip up a jolly little critter for the tree, & for all of you lovely people! I hope your holidays are full of warmth, revelry & good humor.

Acrylic on paper recycled from discarded manila folder, about 2"x2.5"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Joy...

I have an oddment in the works but at the moment things are just too hectic with work deadlines, house guests & holiday madness. So instead I'm posting a teaser. I found this delightful relic at the Fleam. To me Santa's weary expression juxtaposed with the title is hilarious.

I have a little something in mind for this but I may not get it done by Christmas at this rate! So just enjoy it as is for the moment. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, & whatever else you choose to celebrate!

Monday, December 19, 2011

J is for Jinmenju

Hobbling in late in the day for this week's AlphaBeasts! is the curious Jinmenju or head tree. Please forgive my tardiness... trees do move rather slowly, after all. (For instance, our Christmas tree still hasn't managed to make it through the door.)

Instead of the usual fruit, or shiny baubles in the holiday spirit, this particular tree sports living human(ish) heads. Traditionally they are all smiling & laughing, but I've been going through a lot of mood swings lately despite the seasonal ho-ho-hoing, so I decided to let them emote as they would.

I really should have done this one in Photoshop for speed & tweakability, but no, I had to go & do it in acrylic, on a page scanned from Jim Brown's Catalogue, 1939. ~4.5"x7" When I realized I was running late, I rushed through it, & I'm not very pleased with the results... oh well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


This fellow climbed out of a painting-in-progress to hang out here for a bit... keeping an eye on things while I attend to other pressing matters.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

H is also for Hadpanagus!!!

At this time of year, some may have visions of sugarplums... but not Hadpanagus!

This fan-oddment was inspired by the amazing AZ, whose contributions to AlphaBeasts are truly nonpareil & have engendered some pretty unusual fan art too. I tried to resist, butt...

Photoshop with text from The Practical Standard Dictionary.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

H is for Hakutaku

This is a belated entry for last week's AlphaBeasts!

Hakutaku is the Japanese name for a Chinese monster, Baí Zé, who supposedly dictated a legendary demonography. The original Chinese form of this creature was more lion-like, but in Japan it developed a more chimeric form, possessing nine eyes & six horns, a semi-human face & goat-like hooves. Further distorted by me. :-)

Acrylic on an ad scanned from a 1937 True Experiences magazine, ~5.5"x7.5"

I'm hoping to get back to my regular Oddments schedule now, but I am still running behind due to the dreadful computer crash, so please forgive me if I'm a tad erratic!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I is for Inu-gami

The oddments are back with a roar!!!! That is to say, with a ferocious entry for AlphaBeasts!

This avenging beast is the Inu-gami, a dog spirit.  Frankly this one really terrifies me.

I have a mild fear of dogs to begin with, due to the many attacks engraved on my memory from one traumatic teenage year as a bicycle-riding paper carrier-- but that's not why-- it is the way these creatures are created that really give me the creeps:

According to the Obakemono Project: "One method for creating an inu-gami, it is said, is to tie a hungry dog and place a bowl of food just out of its reach. When its desire is thus focused, its head must be cut off and enshrined, moving its ravenousneeds into the spirit world and creating a terrible weapon for the dog's former master."

Other sources suggested burying a dog up to its neck with food just out of reach, then beheading it. :-O

That's what I call a horror story! I fervently hope people didn't actually do this sort of thing... please let it just be mythological...

Acrylic on cover illustration scanned from St. Nicholas Illustrated Magazine, September 1908. Why these finely-clad youngsters were weighing their puppy, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure they weren't expecting this fellow to barge in.

p.s. Yes, my computer is working again! My electrical engineer brother heroically nursed it back to life. I have a lot of catching up to do, but I'm so happy to be back in action! Thanks "Byte Barn"! (That's what he calls his all-too-busy family-&-friends tech service company, ha!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gravity's Rainbow :-(

Oh what a crazy arc this week has taken. It was off to a soaring start with A Word A Day & the new Etsy shop. I've conversed with many wonderful people since Monday & had quite a few Etsy orders. I found some beautiful archival paper for my prints. I had just loaded it into my printer-- & then my computer crashed. Utterly, completely, horribly. I was on the phone with Dell for hours to no avail. There are still a couple of tiny threads of hope that I'll be following, & thank goodness, I do have Crashplan, although I'm not sure how much recent data was lost before it could be captured... we shall see, if it comes to that...

I have to admit there was a moment there when I seriously thought "Am I being punished for selling my work?" I'm trying to quash that line of thinking-- especially because, if all else fails, the Etsy orders will go a long way to paying for a new computer, haha! People have been remarkably patient, kind & understanding about the delay, I must say. I spent a sleepless night worrying that they'd think I was hopelessly incompetent, or worse, running some sort of scam!

Needless to say, Oddments will be on hold for a bit.

I'm told that rainbows are actually circular... like that ol' wheel of fortune.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fresh Squeezed

I've never been a good salesperson. I remember working in a dress shop for about two weeks as a teenager & cringing through every second of it. Luckily a job opened up in the public library & I was off like a shot! I'm sure my departure was as much of a relief for the shop owner as it was for me. Though maybe if I'd stayed, my dismal sales skills would have improved eventually...

But they didn't. And I'm even worse when it comes to selling my own art. Mind you, I definitely love it when people buy my work! I just hate the selling part.

So it has taken me years to gird my loins to set up an Etsy shop, but I've finally done it! The shop is called Curious Art Lab. I'll be listing pieces somewhat randomly & gradually so if there are Oddments you'd like to see there please let me know.

Okay, sales pitch over, whew!

Acrylic on text from New American Business Cyclopedia, 1924., ~3"x3"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

G is for Gashadokuro

This week's entry for AlphaBeasts!

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise... Gashadokuro, the giant skeleton! This huge & deadly creature likes to bite off human heads. Its appearance is heralded by a ringing in the ears. I think I've had some close encounters after performances by loud bands! ;-)

Acrylic on illustration scanned from Frank Leslie's Chatterbox, 1880-1881, ~6.5"x7.5" You may need to click the image to see the tiny human in the picture-- he was much more prominent to my eyes before the skeleton crept in, though luckily he still has his head.

Edit: Isaac asked to see the original illo before Oddification, so here it is! Click for a closer view, & I think you'll see what I mean about the human figure.

Also, I can finally now reveal that the "Mysterious" series was to illustrate A Word A Day for this week! As a word nerd, I dearly love that site, & I've been a subscriber for ages, so I was over the moon to be a part of it.

Speaking of over the moon, I just have to give a shout-out to another Curiosity: the one that's headed to Mars!!

Friday, November 25, 2011


I love Thanksgiving, I really do, but the aftermath, not so much!

I'd actually planned to do this in cranberry "ink" but my first attempt was disappointingly faint, & I really didn't feel like cooking anything else, so I fell back on good old acrylics.

The text is from Little Lessons in Corrective Eating, Vol.II  by Eugene Christian, 1914. I'd planned to tear off the bottom part of the page to make it roughly square, but I just liked that line about skipping luncheon too much to do it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spoonful of Thanks!

It's time to start stirring things up for the biggest food-focused holiday of all, here in the US anyway. So I thought it would be fun to paint a spoon. This was the first time I've tried smashing a spoon flat. (I was afraid it wouldn't scan well otherwise.) I used a rubber mallet, laid the spoon on a towel on the basement floor (cement), & waled away-- it was harder than I expected & the results were a bit lumpy, but that just helped me come up with the contours for the silly face.

Acrylic on an old silver-plate spoon, ~7" tall.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm immensely thankful for all of you who visit me here, & especially those who follow & leave comments!

p.s. I'm about to open an Etsy shop, finally!! If you have any favorite oddments, please let me know & I'll try to list them soon. Thanks again, y'all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

F is for Futakuchi-onna

This week's entry for Alphabeasts! is Futakuchi-onna, the two-mouthed woman. A woman who has been starved,  often by a miserly husband, develops a second mouth in the back of her head, two snaky ropes of hair that reach out to grab whatever food is nearby, & a hugely voracious appetite, though no food passes through her normal lips.

Acrylic on ad scanned from a 1937 True Experiences magazine, ~5"x6"

Isn't it interesting how much ideals of beauty have changed since then? And how little advertising has? This magazine was full of weight-gain snake oil ads... exactly the same tone of shaming & quick-fix hope as in today's diet ads, only in the opposite direction!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Island Earth

More tweaks & additions to the "Mysterious Series"... the first state of this one is here... not sure if there will be more.

{Edit: It can now be revealed that this piece was for a series of illustrated definitions/initials on the wonderful word-lover's website A Word A Day! This one illustrates the word "terrene."}

The original art & prints are available in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Days (& Days) of Wine & Roses

Yes, this is a piece I've posted before, but I really felt like it needed a little something more, so I added this garland of roses, which I hope will reinforce both the "pleasant fragrance" & "redolent of the past" elements of the definition.

Incidentally, this was redolent of my own past, since I seemed to get a great many overly-sweet, decorative, flowery jobs when I first started freelancing. Much as I love flowers, that rut got very boring very soon, so I did something of a rubber-burning U-turn away from rose-land, & I am painfully rusty with rose painting now! (As I'm afraid is obvious here.)

Not long ago I was contacted (via web) by one of those early clients who asked if I was the same Leah Palmer Preiss who used to do pretty things!  I had a good laugh over that one. I can wax nostalgic over many other things, but oh, I'm so glad I made that move.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Strong, Silent Type

I've had a devilish time painting this fellow, & I'm still not happy with him-- maybe because life is super-hectic at the moment & it's even harder than usual for me to channel yogi-like balance & quiet mind...

Easy there, steady now, Leah!

I'll probably give him a few more tweaks before I release him into the wild, but for now, I think I'll go do a little yoga myself. Though maybe not this exact pose... ;-)

Acrylic on text on canvas, 6"x6"

If you're curious about my process you can see a very early state of this piece here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

E is for Enenra

This week's entry for AlphaBeasts!

Enenra is a smoke-monster, normally found hanging around bonfires, but today emerging from a pack of pipe tobaccy. Can you believe this ad, from a 1939 True Detective!? Nothing like a whiff of good tobacco smoke to cure what ails you!

p.s. Yes, I live in Raleigh, NC, tobacco country. But my grandfather smoked a pipe until the day he could no longer breathe. He died of emphysema. So did my grandmother, who only inhaled his (nonstop) second-hand smoke.  I am not a tobacco advocate!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yogi, Barely

Apologies... this is the least finished oddment yet! Just way too much going on... but I will try to update it with further process over the weekend.

Acrylic on text, ~6"x6"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy The Cat(bird) Seat?

Dear friends, I don't want to dangle an unattainable goal before you, as this fat cat is doing, so I must clarify that there isn't an obvious unifying theme or secret message to this mysterious mini-series. The only thing the images really have in common is what inspired them & where they will be going when they're done. And honestly, that would be pretty hard to guess! The backgrounds do provide a (very slight) clue...

Acrylic on text on canvas, 6"x6"

Also a belated but heartfelt THANKS to Noah, Tatman & the gang @ skulladay for featuring The Girl with the Oddment Tattoo on 1 November! I just now found out it was up there. Yay!

Monday, November 7, 2011

D is for Daidara-bocchi

This week's entry for AlphaBeasts!

This fearsome yet playful giant was apparently very fond of messing about with mountains, hence the setting for this portrait, taken from Redway's Natural Elementary Geography, 1897.

I must say, as fond as I am of old textbooks, their blithe stereotyping & patronizing tone often make me squirm. I wonder what Daidara-bocchi would think of the excerpt here....

Acrylic on found illustration, ~4½"x5½". By the way, the big old scratch where D-b's fingernail lands was on the original-- I suspect the engraver's plate had been damaged.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stealth strike?

Last summer our hammock was stolen from our backyard. I wonder if this guy was the culprit? He looks so innocent, though... & he's actually rather small.

Acrylic on old matchbox label, ~1½"x2"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Emergent Earthlings

Late again, & still unfinished, but since Isaac was asking for process shots I don't feel quite so bad about it! I'll post finishes on Saturday if I can get all my deadline work done tomorrow. %}

Acrylic on text on canvas, 6"x6"

Third in the mysterious series... all will be revealed anon!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I almost forgot that today was an odd day too. Had to squeeze this in at the last minute... I think poor James is about to get squeezed too!

Acrylic on stamp, ~1½" square
Her Odd Materials No. 18

Monday, October 31, 2011

C is for Chōchinobake

I was so tickled to discover this monster, clearly related to Jack-o'-Lantern, just in time for the Halloween edition of AlphaBeasts!

Acrylic on found illustration, ~4½"x5½"

The illo in the background is from one of my favorite Fleam Finds, The Museum of Science & Art, 1855. I couldn't bear to tear that one up, so I scanned  & printed it to paint over. If you click to enlarge & look very closely, maybe you can see the flying bat-skulls on the wall. I didn't even notice those until I started painting-- kinda spooky! Happy Halloween, everybody!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


As mentioned in the previous post, I have an irrational fondness for dip pens. No matter how much I use & enjoy technology, I still can't live without a good scritchy nib. If that makes me a dinosaur, so be it! And I also leave a handy trail of ink spots behind so future paleontologists can track my every move. (Although Google & Homeland Security will probably save them the effort.)

Apologies for the lateness of the post-- I have so much going on right now I was afraid it wouldn't happen at all, but I made it at the quasi-proverbial 11th-ish hour. (Though it still needs tweaking.)

This is the second piece in the mysterious series. Acrylic on text on canvas, 6"x6"

Let me tell you, it was tricky to paint calligraphy at this size!! Ironically, I had to use a fine brush rather than a pen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mini Monster Mash

I'm feeling a bit dizzy at the moment, with five different projects underway (in addition to Flash classes & deadlines) & none of them quite scanner-ready.

So I decided to post this little doodle, completed while watching online Flash tutorials, in between taking notes on the stuff I needed to know. (Yes, I do take notes with a crow-quill sometimes! Call me antediluvian,* but it helps keep my calligraphic hand in fighting trim.)

I thought it looked a little like a particularly odd Halloween party.

I draw this sort of nonsense often-- it helps calm me down when my brain is boiling. You should see my college calculus notebooks. By the way, I firmly believe that doodling helps me concentrate. I caught no end of grief for it in school (even though I made good grades) but a couple of years ago I saw this study & felt vindicated. :-D

Hunt's flexible crow-quill pen & ink on legal pad, ~3"x4"

*This is actually a teaser for one of the pieces I'm working on!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mystery Series!

{This piece isn't quite finished but as it's already so late, I'm posting it anyway. I'll tweak it & replace it if I have time.}

This is the first in a little mini-series of 5 images. I dare you to guess what is special about this series.

Acrylic on text from The Practical Standard Dictionary, 1943 on canvas, 6"x6"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

B is for Bake-Neko

This week's entry for AlphaBeasts! is again inspired by Toriyama Sekien's Gazu Hyakki Yakō.

The bake-neko is a giant ghost-cat. According to The Obakemono Project, "...bake-neko could exceed normal cats in size by orders of magnitude, reaching their enormous arms in through doors looking for human prey like an average feline pawing around in a mousehole...."

Her Odd Materials No. 16
Acrylic on a torn-out portion of an illustration from St. Nicholas magazine, August 1920, ~4"x5"

Friday, October 21, 2011


I live in Raleigh, NC, USA, a.k.a. Oak City. At this time of year, our lawns, streets & sidewalks are scattered with vast herds of these zoorobotanical beasties. Please watch your step if you come to visit!

Her Odd Materials No. 15: Acrylic, brass wire & rusty tacks on acorn. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back in a Flash

Last year it crossed my mind that I should learn how to do a bit of animation. The idea of making my creatures & letters move was tantalizing. The software & class costs were a bit daunting, though, so I applied for a United Arts Artist Project grant to help out. I honestly didn't think I had much of a chance of receiving it, but surprise! It came through!

The grant covered most of the costs & gave me the much-needed impetus to make the leap into learning Flash. What it didn't cover was the time it would take to get the hang of the program (which I found far more daunting than Photoshop or Illustrator)-- not to mention the many, many hours I'd need to invest to create actual animations! Nor did I quite realize the toll it would take on my computer... especially when I was trying to run Flash, PS & AI all at the same time. I think they might have named it Flash to rhyme with crash. ;-)

In other words, the process has been something of a struggle for me and my computer. But last night there was a reception for the United Arts Project Grant winners, & I was determined to bring a sampler piece to the event to show that their generosity was not entirely wasted! The above piece uses nearly every technique I learned in Flash 1.*

One of the hardest things about Flash for me is finding the balance between finesse & practicality. In my paintings & calligraphy, I'm all about details & subtleties. When I work in Photoshop, my files end up being immense, with many layers & high resolution. But part of the deal with Flash is making the files small enough to run efficiently, & letting the "tweens" do as much of the work as possible. Which means relinquishing a lot more control than I'd like. Looking at this piece quite honestly makes me cringe for any number of reasons. I could easily spend another two weeks refining it, except that I don't have two more weeks to spend! But I'm hoping that with more experience I'll learn where I can cut corners & let Flash do its stuff, & where I should invest the time & file-size to tweak frame by frame. I certainly hope my skills improve, but at least this is a start!

*About a week ago, I got a call from the school where I'd taken my class. Apparently they had had many complaints about the teacher, & were offering the next session of Flash 1, with a different instructor, free to those who had taken the first session. Hmmm. Now I feel a little better about my slow & steep learning curve-- maybe it wasn't just my inadequate brain! The new class begins this Friday, so we'll see if it helps... stay tuned.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A is for Amikiri

Today is a red-letter, red-monster day: the beginning of a new alphabet project, AlphaBeasts!

Successor to Ben Towle's Animal Alphabet, this one is hosted by Andrew Neal & will center on mythical creatures. I think it may be even more fun than the last! I'm hoping to do all 26 letters, & looking forward to discovering many new oddities along the way.

My first AlphaBeast is the Amikiri, or Net Cutter, from Toriyama Sekien's Gazu Hyakki Yakō. I'd never heard of this curious creature with its very specific form of mischief before. I certainly hope it leaves my curtains & fishnets alone!

While this is AlphaBeast No.1, it is also Her Odd Materials No.13. Hmm, sounds like something from mystic numerology.... Acrylic on a cutting from a Larkin Catalog, c.1940, ~5"X6", found at the Fleam of course.

By the way, if you'd like to see my entries for the last series, Animal Alphabet, you'll find most of them on my sketch/process blog, Curious Art Lab. I was late to the party though, so you won't find all 26 letters there, alas!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Light-Headed Contraption

I loved IF's prompt this week-- I only wish I had more time to make more elaborate contraptions! But I'm crazy busy all week, so just time for a quickie today. 

Acrylic on found red light bulb, antique shears & miniature pliers, held together (badly) with copper & brass wire. About 5½" tall.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Micro-Mold Monster

One of my odder Fleam-ish purchases was a box of used microscope slides. I think even the vendor was a bit grossed out by them-- she looked quite shocked by my purchase! But they actually make a fun micro-canvas. It was an interesting exercise to fit in a little-bitty monster without covering any of the handwriting.

Her Odd Materials No. 11, Acrylic on used microscope slide, ~1"x3"

p.s.Anyone out there with a clue who R.E.M. might be? I seriously doubt these slides belonged to the recently-disbanded band... though many have accused them of moldiness in their latter years.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Home for Halloween

I thought I'd try my hand at animating Home Sweet Home. This is pretty rough. Flash is definitely an "Odd Material" as far as I'm concerned. I know it's second nature for some people, but I find it both frustrating & fascinating. For one thing, I still don't quite understand why some videos export & post without issues, & others simply refuse to cooperate.

Do you hear "Happy Halloween" in the audio, or am I hallucinating from excessive computer hours? It was a free download by alextundra, btw, from

Flash, Photoshop, acrylic over text from an old dictionary. I wonder if my mixed media conglomerations will some day reach critical mass & explode. They have already had questionable effects on my computer, & possibly my brain.

edit: At Ted's request I'm including a looped version, for those who are gluttons for punishment!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Hot tea suddenly becomes very enticing at about this time of year! I figured I might as well paint with the dregs.

Concentrated Earl Grey with white gouache & touches of Raspberry Zinger on found paper, ~4¾ x 3¾". The book this page came from is Consumer Goods/ How to Know & Use Them by Reich & Siegler, ©1937.

How useless to the novice is that "method" at the bottom!? :-D Especially considering that the book was aimed at "young people," according to the editor's introduction. Not even a hint about brewing time, &c. I suppose it was understood that one could always ask Mother.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I believe this is actually an old piece of window hardware-- if you look closely you can see the screw holes. I'd intended to paint it in color, but after I'd sanded down the tarnished brass I loved the resulting texture so much, I decided to let it shine! I used only black & white acrylic to define the shape & details.

It's quite small for a dinosaur- only 1 inch tall x 2½ wide.

Monday, October 3, 2011

B-Side Beastie

I was sorting through a box of Victorian scrap hunting for something to use in Her Odd Materials, when I happened to glance at the back side of one of them, & immediately saw a monster-head. So of course I painted it!

The image below is the original chromolith, i.e. the A-side of the Oddment. (If you're having trouble seeing the shape, note that it's rotated 90° & flipped. Her head is the beastie's nose.)

H.O.M No.7: Acrylic on reverse of Victorian scrap, ~2½x3½"

If you missed the link on the last oddment, I'm a "Cryptkeeper" for be sure to check out the other spooky/monstrous/festive blogs on the site!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oddment Sings the Blueb's

It's October! Time to curl up & hide!

Okay, not really. I love October-- the crisp weather, the leaves turning, Halloween*-- also, it's always my month to host Book Club, which I thoroughly enjoy. It's actually not until November that I start to feel tinges of those Winter blues, drifting toward the "discouraged, morbid & ill."

Truth to tell, today's experiment was a bit discouraging too. I tried blueberry ink for the first, & probably the last, time. I had some "blueb's" that were beginning to go mushy, so I picked out the bad ones, smashed them up with a bit of white vinegar & salt to preserve color & prevent ickies, & strained them 3 times. Then I tried to concentrate the color in the microwave. Having made jelly in the past, I should have known better!

Due to the sugar & pectin in the fruit, it was very hard to get the ink dark enough to be more than faintly visible without having it gel up. I never did achieve a strength & consistency that satisfied me. Also despite using a super-fine strainer, there were little dark flecks in the ink that were a bit irritating. But oh well, the pallor, spottiness & stickiness sort of fit the gloomy theme. And experiment, successful or not, is part of the idea behind Her Odd Materials. (This is H.O.M. No. 6.)

Pencil, blueberry ink & white gouache on found paper, with some Photoshop tweaking.

The background of this one is a page from Reading Character At Sight, Seven Simple Lessons by Katherine M.H. Blackford, M.D., ©1922. The book is hilarious reading, purporting to psychoanalyze strangers instantly, using such vital clues as the fineness of their hair. It seems to be aimed mainly at salesmen. It was of course a Fleam Find.

*Fellow Halloween enthusiasts might be interested in, a blog that rounds up blogs with an October focus on Halloween. I'll be participating in this year's countdown!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

El Curiosidad

When my husband visited Mexico a couple of years ago, he brought back a set of Lotería cards for me to play with. Mind you, I'm not much for card games, but he knew I'd have fun with the images. Thanks, T!

For a monster, this guy doesn't look particularly ferocious, & I think it would be pretty amusing to see him chasing his prey, given his obvious lack of aerodynamic finesse. But he does look as though he has managed to devour plenty of something, so if you should ever see him coming, beware!

Acrylic on Loteria card.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Girl with the Oddment Tattoo

Some people look little & cute, but inside they're ferocious. A touch of ink can help bring the inside outside. ;-)

Acrylic on found doll, with bead & pin for belly-button piercing, about 3½" tall.

p.s. Anyone recognize this doll? My sister found it on the street & kindly gave it to me, knowing I'd do something odd with it. If it's yours, I apologize.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yeasty Beastie

Poor, unsuspecting children & shop-clerk! Little did they know that an innocent purchase of Lupulin Yeast Gem would awaken this ferocious oddment.

Acrylic on Victorian advertising scrap, ~2½x4"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tyrannical Time

Time is a ferocious beast that devours my dreams on a daily basis.

I'm possibly the slowest painter in the universe. That's one reason I usually work small. I have so many ideas, so much I want to do, but there's always a huge backlog. I started this project to try to speed up my process, & to some extent it has, but never enough to keep up. Once I start painting, I go into a sort of trance, & next thing I know, hours have passed. Sigh...

This one was actually a quickie though, because it's so tiny! Acrylic on an old watch face, ~1 3/4" in diameter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Java Jump-Start

Introducing the latest Oddment series (with a nod to Philip Pullman): Her Odd Materials.

I've been itching to get away from the computer, & I'm a pack rat with collections of all sorts of curious bits & pieces. So I've decided that the next few Oddments will be creatures created with unusual media, or on unusual substrates, or both.

It seems appropriate (for a caffeine junkie like me anyway) to start any new project with a nice cup of coffee. And so I decided to inaugurate this series with a painting using coffee as medium.

Coffee, pencil & gouache on found paper, ~3"x4"

Details: I boiled down some coffee so that it would be dark enough for the darks, used normal-strength coffee for the palest tones, & white gouache for highlights. The background paper is from a Workman's Weekly Time Book (pocket sized). Not sure of the actual publication date, but the entries are from 1929-30.

Warning: Boiled coffee smells utterly vile, & the reek ruins the flavor of any good coffee one happens to be drinking!

Monday, September 19, 2011


An undersea slacker of sorts, this curiotype need not stir from his seat to hunt for dinner. Rather, he lures passing prey with mesmerizing undulations of his graceful faux-fronds, then "welcomes little fishes in with gently smiling jaws."

To be honest, "zoophyte" was already becoming obsolete as a term of scientific classification when the background text was published in 1906, but I ask you, how could I resist ending the alphabet with a botano-beastie?

Photoshop with text from Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1906.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Okay, so Y is another tricky science letter. (See W.) I was almost stumped for a visual until I read that yttrium is a key ingredient in the formula for some synthetic garnets. That was the inspiration for this curiotype. You probably need to click on the image to see the face.

Photoshop with text from The Practical Standard Dictionary.

I wish I really had a bottle that looks like this. I have a bunch of wonderful old chemistry glass thanks to my dad, but I've always coveted really strange stuff like alchemical ware & Klein bottles. (Topology was one of my earliest science/math obsessions... right after malaria mosquitoes. Both due to random museum-visit epiphanies.)

Hey, this is Oddment number 50! And the curiotype alphabet is almost done. I'm a bit surprised I've made it this far. Raise a glass (of some non-yttriferous liquid) to the Oddments!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I'm quite fond of cacti, but I wouldn't want this prickly curiotype as a pet-- imagine how it would feel to have him brush up against your legs!

Photoshop with text from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1949

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It's a rare & beautiful thing when two individuals transcend the boundaries of self & begin to move through life on precisely the same wavelength. These synchronous swimmers were loosely inspired by the astonishingly graceful & romantic waltzing weedy sea dragons.
(Many thanks to Isaac for introducing me to these real-life oddments!)

By the way, you may note that this curiotype is a departure from the more arcane vocabulary of previous entries. That is because there was no W in classical Latin, the base language of most scientific terms. I'm rather glad since it gave me the perfect opportunity to celebrate sea dragons!

Photoshop with text from Steele's Fourteen Weeks of Physics, 1878.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This curiotype is something of a gourmand... & he wears his indulgences proudly.

Photoshop with text from Gray's Introduction to Structural & Systemic Botany, 1876