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Well. Look, it’s November!

My laptop just broke so I’ll cruise along with the ‘net at work and my first ever smartphone I just got delivered. Naturally, “just when I was going to get started with blogging regularly again”, as if anyone still following this blog would believe that.

This means that I will not be updating (at least not with any quality pictures) until March 2016, when my budget will allow a new laptop (no money trouble, just strict budgeting). Lots of scanned images are lost, unfortunately. I did have everything safely backed up, except pictures.

I do plan on making a post or three from my iPad, if I manage to get the new smartphone to work as a router (ugh). I know it is not difficult, but the day job and life in general have been keeping me insanely busy and tired this year (still loving the work, though).

I do have some blogging plans. I have made an order from Goulet pens and one from Cultpens.co.uk with many exciting pens to review (Namiki Falcon, among others). I have finally gotten orchid seed to germinate asymbiotically on agar gel nutritious media in my small home laboratory (an aquarium, a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide solution, gloves, canning jars and lots of clear garbagebags). I recently started sowing and growing (in a more standard, low-tech way) tropical hibiscus hybrids. In October I participated in a LARP based on Gaimans American Gods. I bought and borrowed some fantastic books (currently reading China Miévilles Three Moments of an Explosion). I played boardgames and music. I even did some drawing, mostly calligraphy stuff. In a professional capacity I have had to learn a lot about image processing, so I hope I will get the opportunity to apply this knowledge to illustrations and drawing in 2016.

In May I visited Faroe Islands with a friend and a smaller friend (pictured). I had a lovely time and I will definitely return in the future.

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…Sometimes you really have no good excuse for procrastinating, so you should just shut it and get on with it.

Things I have done recently rather than blogging:

1. Researched biopunk. Oh, yes.
2. Continued to plan my collection of botanical SF, Day of the Triffids upcoming. Recommendations of other works welcome by mail or in the comments.
3. Watched plants grow. It is more enjoyable than it sounds. Re: above.
4. London. Once again Kew and Cass art. Bought Bristol board, maybe partly because Ian Miller uses it. I am very curious about it.
5. Failed at keeping in touch with people. An old favourite, unfortunately.
6. Grown Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Swan Lake, a k a Dainty White. This is supposed to be the ‘Fantasia’ cultivar which sometimes have partially/all pink flowers. I will post again if this happens. The plant is from Madeira Exotics, a Portugese shop on British Ebay. I bought it last year. Growing Hibiscus from cuttings is not very difficult, but not for complete beginners either.

HibiscusSwanLake

I might have drolled around a bit. The title of this blog post is called Back to the classics for a reason, as this is very much nothing new at all and I wish I had something more bombastic to offer. Though there is fish, eyes with feet and what looks like an alien owl involved, which means it cannot be all rubbish.

uggle

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The two areas of intrest that have held my attention the longest are exotic (house)plants and fantastic literature. I have been into plants since I was about 12 years old, and at that time I was already an avid reader. A long-standing favourite book that combines these interests, a book I have previously mentioned on this blog, is Hothouse, by Brian Aldiss. His Saliva tree is also a classic in its own right. Of course, there are plenty of others. In my botany-related to-read pile is Phytosphere by Scott Mackay and Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. Maybe a future area of collecting, botanical SF and Fantasy? I haven’t even gotten into green/macro biopunk yet. Just wait til I get my lab up and running… Any book recommendations?

I am growing tiny black holes in my bedroom window...

Huernia keniensis. I am growing tiny black holes in my bedroom window…

With an interest in the odd, grotesque and strangely beautiful, the more common houseplants did not do it for me, at least not for long. So I researched… Among the orchids there are many species that look beyond weird but I will start this series with another class of plants, the Stapeliads (tribus stapeliae). To add even more epicness, almost all the generas have names that really trigger the imagination: Huernia, Carraluma, Stapelia, Quaqua and Tromotriche. The genus Hoodia that has been featured in the weight-loss press, is also a stapeliad.

Stapelia grandiflora

Stapelia grandiflora

Probably Stapelia lepida

Probably Stapelia lepida

I wouldn’t go so far as to say reality is more fantastic than mine (and your) imagination. But I would say they are equal, if you know where to look.

These plants are E A S Y to cultivate, cheap to buy cuttings of (but you’ll have to wait a while for them to flower if you buy smaller cuttings) and generally awesome. They do like to dry up between waterings and a sunny, but not burning hot, spot in a bright window. Fortunately, as opposed to several orchid genera, they tend to look nice (Well, barbed-tentacle-nice) even when not flowering. The only disadvantage might be the stink. Yep, most of them are pollinated by flies, not by butterflies or moths. Ergo: “scent” of rotting meat or days-old cadaver. Some species are worse than others. When growing them in a small apartment I either open the window a bit or (really!) cut the flowers off and throw them away after a couple of days.

Upcoming: at least several posts on different orchid species, various pretty-leaf plants and probably more stapeliads, since the ones I bought a couple of years ago now are flowering size. Also, maybe a drollery or to inspired by my plant collection? Moving into my new and plant-wise very optimal apartment next week. Can’t wait!

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I am leaving this part of the country on Friday. All monsters are packed and the amazing carpet is safely stoved away and will remain so for a while til I find somewhere more permanent to live. I have my books, clothes and some steampunk gear packed in the car and I am bringing approximately 25% of all my drawing supplies. Yes, only a quarter. Yes, it was very hard to choose what to bring. No, I am not finished yet.

I have, as usual when moving, ceremonially decided to never move (this far) again, come hell, high water or an apocalypse. I am really quite finished with moving around and I doubt I’ll change my mind anytime soon.

Now, I have still had time to draw, write and read these past couple of weeks. Thankfully, or I’d have gone insane.

I have written very little of the project I am thinking about making and selling on RPGnow. Put simple, it is a way for me to hopefully spread my work a bit, at the same time giving the opportunity for various smaller RPG companies/people/game masters to use art at a bargain price.

Pen: Parker 51 EF
Ink: J Herbin Perle Noir (not satisfying, too little pigment to make a good black)
Paper: Seawhite of Brighton
Verdict: The idea? Borders. Borders, walls, separators and other stuff to reign in text. B&W linedrawings that work digitally and IRL. Below are drolleries. The finished work will be much more detailed and larger in size. I plan at least seven different themes to begin with. Below are freehand drolleries of the first one and a tiny bit of inspiration for the second.

BordersFirst

Please excuse the abhorrent image quality. My scanner is in a box somewhere so I had to use my digital camera and tried somewhat unsucessfully to clean the images up in PhotoShop in various ways too tedious to recount here.

DrolleryDetail

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Sinningia muscicola 1

Another look at the vivarium, now with flowering Sinningia muscicola Rio das Pedras.
This species is one example of a collection of species and hybrids commonly called “micro-mini Sinningias”. The diameter of the plant rosette is about 3 cm (that’d be a little more than an inch). The flowers are about 5 millimeters, pure white except for some vague blue mottling in the throat. My plants really thrive in the humid environment with constant air- and water circulation and good lighting (all these variables are important to avoid molds, algae overgrowth and rot. More on the construction of the vivarium in this post). There are other micromini species and I plan to try them all out. Having a vivarium this small is a bit like having a reverse bonsai, grooming meticulously inwards instead of pruning borders. I am looking forward to continue working with it. I do like the idea of restricting my huge intrest-drive to a smaller space like this. Restriction makes for quality and lots of time for this one structure. This thing is like a tiny green jewel.

There is a lot of information on Sinningia cultivation on the ‘net. A good start is googling “micro-mini sinningia” or visiting the American Gesneried Society homepage. I joined the Swedish Gesneriad Society earlier this year and I am very happy with the magazine and general attitude towards newbies (the homepage is partly in English).

Sinningia muscicola closeup

Thanks to my father for taking the very fine photographs!

In other news: two weeks until I move and start working at my new, very exciting place of work. Looking forward to it immensely.
Recently read: I finally got to read Jasper Ffordes Shades of Grey, and oh, was that a great read! The only good thing about putting off reading it for so long may be that the next book in the installment (of three, I believe) comes out later this year. The wait from 2010 would have been long, had I read the first installment earlier. Since I love reading about colour, perception, weird stuff and dystopia-flavoured adventures in mad bureaucracies, this book is just up my alley. The general colourfeeling of this book is a somewhat bleak sepia tone. The constant referencing to colours messes up my synaesthetic book-sense, though (and I am not bothered by that in the least). This book is among getting-in-hardback-for-regular-price-territory for me, which is sort of epic since I am a bit neurotic when it comes to spending money. I have gotten better about that, though. Largely because I like authors getting their due.
Future plans: I wish I could get started making small illustrations related to books I have really enjoyed, to try to capture the vividness of imagery a really well written book creates in my mind. Next blog post is wholly original though, but unfortunately not yet finished (and may never be…).

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Thumbirds3

Packing and unpacking, you get to appreciate your belongings. Or, get annoyed at the amount of belongings you somehow managed to accumulate. Since I have some months off, I have taken the opportunity to really go through all my stuff. Now, the movers were of the decided opinion that I didn’t have that much stuff (17 standard boxes, ten smaller boxes, a desk, a bookshelf, a table and chairs and a mattress plus some odds and ends). Yes, I asked. I, on the other hand, felt drowned in stuff and I still do. I am way too fond of slowly collecting things to become a true minimalist, but in my own way I am looking to simplify. So, enter the idea of going through everything one more time and sort stuff out. I am currently five big boxes and three book-boxes ahead in this adventure.

Packing and unpacking, you also stumble upon of serendipitous combinations of stuff. In this case, some appreciated books that just matched SO well. Serendipity is, by the way, one of my favourite words and I am happy I got an opportunity to use it.

Prettycovers

I have mentioned it on the blog before, I know. I have an idea of illustrating a book while I read it. Among the first fantastic books I read were Jules Verne (which I have also mentioned before). The copperstick illustrations always got my imagination going. I like the style as well, and I hope to incorporate it in my own style of drawing (that is: continue with focus on ink but add some planning and more elaborate backgrounds). The book I’d definitely choose for the first book is Kraken by China Mièville. Keep your eyes out for some drawings of bug familiars on strike, scary tattoos and such. The matching bookmark is from Black Gull Books .

I have my friend at Pimpinett to thank for getting me into Chesterton. Thank you again, K! I implore everyone to go read The Man Who Was Thursday, it is a perfect introduction to his work.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline… I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work years ago. Probably looking for subversive literature as a teenager. I enjoy the (extremely) black and dry humour and, yes, the misanthropic bent. My translation of Voyage au bout de la nuit, is a later one, evidently challenged since it was considered too modern by some. The defenders insist it is more true to the sentiments of the original novel and in some ways more correct in the harshness of the language. I still wish I could read it in French, though. Never been good at French. My grandfathers brothers wife was French and recently passed away. I sort of regret I never discussed Céline with her. I have a feeling she wasn’t a fan, but it would still have been interesting. The fact that I never broached the subject is a combination of me not daring to and us being not close at all, I met her two or three times the past five years. But still.

Upcoming: today I made soap again. I used smoked tea, clary sage, green mint, lavender, propolis and spirulina algae. If all goes well, this soap will have an earthy, green, smoky and minty type of fragrance and a pretty three-colour swirl in dark brown, grey and dark green. If it goes not-so-well I will have a vague minty smelling disaster in three shades of muggy brown. I will know tomorrow. It is very exciting and fun still, this soapmaking thing.

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