Thursday, 27 August 2009

Calcified Grapes and Oranges

Throwing fruit into the waters of Carlsbad, 200 years ago...

Yesterday, my colleague found a rather interesting mineral in our stores. It was next to a St. Aubyn mineral, and looked like a bunch of grapes. After some research, I realised that it was indeed a bunch of grapes! If you look closely at the picture you can see the grape stalk. I needed to check the catalogues to make sure it wasn't a St. Aubyn mineral, as he tends to have strange things like this in his collection. Unfortunately, these grapes are not part of the St. Aubyn collection, however, I managed to discover the truth behind another very peculiar specimen (below).

I have found out that this object is a branch of two oranges, with their leaves, covered in a calcium crust. This mineral would have been made by placing the oranges in the waters of Carlsbad in the Czech Republic over 200 years ago. Count de Bournon wrote about this item in his c1799 catalogue:

"Incrustation de Spath calcaire, faite sur un bouquet de feuilles d'oranger aux quelles étoient adhérentes deux oranges, placé dans les eaux incrustantes de Carlsbad en Bohême une cassure faite, sur le milieu de la réunion des tiges, laisse appercevoir que cette incrustation Spathique, qui est d'un rouge brun foncé à texterieure, est d'un jaune ocreux dans l'intérieur".

Which translated reads:

"Incrustation of calcareous spar, made on a bunch of orange-tree leaves to which two oranges were attached, placed in the encrusting waters of Carlsbad in Bohemia. A break, made on the middle of the junction of the twigs, allows one to see that this sparry incrustation, which is a dark brown red on the outside is yellow ochre inside."

Apparently, it was a common for people to put things in petrifying springs like this to see how long they took to become 'petrified '. It would take approximately two years for such objects, which were then available for sale to visitors there...
All images are © Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Best ten days of my life...

Last week I wasn't in my museum, nor was I in my hometown, I was in Seaford, being born again. Sounds strange I know, but it wasn't your usual week of events... I was on the Hoffman Process. It was indeed a marvellous week. It's given me a boost and helped me to find myself. I received my photograph of all my course mates that where there with me in the post yesterday. It is an amazing photograph, we are all glowing with happiness, and we all look so young.

I am not at liberty to say what happened on the course, its one of those things that's best kept a secret. However, I can say that I had been suffering from depression for ten years, and this seems to have done the trick in lifting it.

Spring sunlight shining through the Mulberry Tree in the Elizabethan Garden, Plymouth
If you want to read more about the Hoffman Process, then I suggest the best place to go is onto their website. There was a recent article in July's Tatler Magazine as well titled 'All the Rage'.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Organising my Illustrations

Its been a while since I payed any attention to my website, I guess it is the trouble with these things. You put websites online and then you accidentally forget about them. I have noticed that inkyleaves is in need of a major update! Not only has Richard Dawkins found his way off my list of top scientists over the past few years, but I have also painted lots of illustrations that aren't in my gallery. So, I have asked my wonderful stepfather Andrew, if he could help me out in updating inkyleaves. Luckily for me he said he would help - phew! And in case you were wondering, Andrew is the talent behind inkyleaves - he did all of the designs ( So watch this space.

So for the past few days I have been busy photographing and scanning. I have also decided to go on a course so that I can brush up on my skills. I really hope that I get offered a place, it is with the Society of Botanical Artists and all you need to get offered a place is a darn good illustration!

Seaweed from the Muirhead Herbarium, Plymouth
Wish me luck...