Goings Ons :: 3

This week has been unexpected in the best possible way. On Wednesday, I accepted a new full time job!

A few weeks ago, I started looking for a part-time job to have some steady cash as I work to build my freelance business. I was checking out barista jobs at the Colectivo Coffee website when I saw they had a posting for a full-time graphic designer. The opportunity seemed too good to pass up and so I applied thinking I had no chance.

Fast forward past a couple interviews, some coffee chats, and some heavy emotions/decision-making, and I was offered and accepted the position. Colectivo has been a brand I've admired since I moved to Milwaukee and I can't wait to be a part of it!

If you had told me two months ago that I would have a new full-time design job, I would have told you to shut up with that noise. But life is unexpected and things almost never work out the way we plan. My dream to become a freelance illustrator is still very real and I intend to continue working toward it. But I why should I pass up free coffee in the meantime? :)

Girl Gang Astrology :: I've been slowly working my way through some spot illustrations of the zodiac reimagined as a girl gang that rules the stars! So far they've been really fun and have left me with cravings for pizza. Thinking I'll compile them into a poster when I'm all done.

Vintage Sewing Nerds Guide to Netflix :: I realize that I am WAY late to the party on this, but I recently started watching Downton Abbey and I'm totally hooked! After finishing all three seasons of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (thanks for the suggestion, Marisa!) I was really wanting another period show with great costuming. This list of streamable period dramas broken down by era will keep my costume hunger satisfied for a while. 

Song stuck in my head :: TV Party, Black Flag

What's that Sound? :: Armonica

Today in What's that Sound? we're discussing a Benjamin Franklin original production; the armonica. The armonica, also known as the glass harmonica, was Franklin's reimagining of the singing water glasses.

Ben had seen a performance with musical water glasses while living in England and really enjoyed the sound, but thought the set up and tuning of the glasses seemed like a lot of work. Being a man who always liked making life a little easier, he moved some parts around and made a new instrument that improved upon the original concept. With the armonica, the glasses were always in place and perfectly tuned; and now you could even play up to ten glasses at a time. Booyah!

An armonica consists of 37 glass bowls that are aligned horizontally on a spindle and gradually decrease in size. The spindle is turned using a foot pedal. The musician wets his or her fingers in a bowl of water and touches the rims of the spinning glasses to play the notes.

The quality of the sound is thought to be slightly disorienting because of the way humans perceive and locate sound. There are certain sound ranges that make it difficult for our brains to figure out what is causing a noise or locate where the noise is coming from. An armonica's sound range (1-4 kHz) just happens to fall in this "Huh? What? I don't get it?!" range.

But is it really that bad? Franklin didn't think so. He described the armonica's sound as "incomparably sweet beyond those of any other..." See if you agree with his sentiment by watching this vid of a Benjamin Franklin imposter playing Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on his armonica:

The armonica's popularity began waning by the end of the 18th century. Perhaps it was the rumors surrounding the instrument that brought about its demise. Some claimed that armonica musicians were driven mad by the sound and "excessive nerve stimulation" from playing. More modern interpretations of the rumor believe it was lead poisoning from the lead glass used to make the spinning bowls. But that's all conjecture and there's no real evidence that any of it is true. It's possible that, as with any musical fad, tastes simply changed.

Nowadays, the armonica, sans lead, makes rare appearances in concert music. Only a handful of master players continue to perform the instrument, including fake Ben Franklin seen above, aka William Zeitler.

So what's that sound? Now you know!

What's that Sound? :: Theremin

I'm starting a new series called What's that Sound? about obscure and lesser-known musical instruments. Sure, there's your average piano or trumpet, but what other musical voices are out there? 

First up, we have the otherworldly electric theremin.

The theremin was developed in the 20's by Leon Theremin, a Russian inventor. Theremin was actually trying to build a proximity sensor for the Russian government but ended up creating what is considered one of the first electronic musical instruments.

To play, the performer moves their hands in proximity to the two metal antennas, never touching. The horizontal antenna controls volume, while the vertical controls pitch. The hands are interacting and disrupting electromagnetic fields produced by a radio frequency oscillator for each antenna. (You can read more specifics about that here.)

It's a tricky instrument to play with few who are considered "masters." One of the most renowned theremin players is Clara Rockmore, who can be heard here playing La Vie en Rose like a boss.

Because of its ghostly warble, the theremin is usually associated with horror films, but it finds its way into popular music pretty often. You've definitely heard it before. Perhaps you'll recognize this song:

So what's that sound? Now you know!

Goings ons :: 1

North Carolina Museum of Art :: While home for the New Year I took a trip to the NC Museum of Art to see their two visiting exhibitions; the Worlds of M.C. Escher: Nature, Science, and Imagination and Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind.

the Worlds of M.C. Escher: Nature, Science, and Imagination

Metamorphosis II, photo credit.

Metamorphosis II, photo credit.

The Escher show was mesmerizing to say the least. My favorite part of the exhibition was the inclusion of the wood blocks and litho stones for some of the works. Seeing the level of precision needed to create these lithographs and wood carvings was mind boggling. I also loved seeing some of Escher's process work and sketches, a lot of which were done with no specific intent and then used later once he had an idea in mind. It reminded me that doodling and noodling are important and not everything I create needs a "purpose."

Bond of Union. This was my favorite piece from the exhibit. Photo credit.

Bond of Union. This was my favorite piece from the exhibit. Photo credit.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind

Codex Leicester, Hammer 2A - Fol.35v (left) and Fol.2r (right). Photo credit.

Codex Leicester, Hammer 2A - Fol.35v (left) and Fol.2r (right). Photo credit.

The Codex Leicester exhibit featured pages from di Vinci's notebooks. Since di Vinci wrote in Italian and backwards so you read it in a mirror, each spread came with a description of what was written on each page and explanations of drawings and diagrams in the margins.

The overwhelming take away from this show was di Vinci's unyielding sense of curiosity about the world around him. He was a constant observer, thinker, and problem solver. The whole thing inspired me to start spending less time staring at a screen and more time looking at the world around me (she says as she types on her laptop...)

the Great British Baking Show :: Can we please talk about how great this show is? I've just finished season 1 and I can't get enough! Everything is beautiful and sweet and delicious and I don't just mean the food. I want to draw pastries forever.

Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. (those names! so perfect!) Photo credit.

Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. (those names! so perfect!) Photo credit.

Serial - season 2 :: Currently listening to the second season of Serial which dives into the story of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl; his disappearance, kidnapping, rescue, and the consequences that followed.

2016

The recent snow dump we had is making me crave warmth and flowers. Here's looking forward to 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Lately

Lately I've been starting fresh; as a freelance designer, as a work-from-home hermit, as an all day bunny rabbit wrangler. So far I've forgone the stretchy pants and vegging out and continue to keep myself busy.

With the Printsource show coming up in January, I've been working on prints for Cherry Design Partners. Once the show opens I'll share some of my favorite prints that I developed.

My work space is slowly coming together and I've got ideas brewing of projects and things I want to begin after the New Year. I think this fresh start is coming along nicely.