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Topic: Portrait of an Astronomer: Henrietta Swan Leavitt  (Read 947 times)
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minouette
« on: April 20, 2010 12:11:33 PM »



This is a portrait of Henrietta Swan Leavitt (July 4, 1868 December 12, 1921) who discovered that luminosity is proportional to period for Cepheid variable stars, allowing astronomers to determine the distance scale for celestial objects! This revolutionized modern astronomy, though she received little recognition at the time (more info on history of science stuff on my blog http://minouette.livejournal.com/393339.html).



To make this image, I carved the portrait and luminosity function (oscillating line with 'L' and solar symbol - circle with a dot, time t and arrows) in reverse, on one lino block. I mixed silver and violet water-based block printing ink to get the colour. The constellations (Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Draco, Ursa Minor and Andromeda) I carved  in reverse on a second lino block and mixed gold and white inks. I did some experimenting on the registration - how the two images would line up. I printed several proofs. When I was satisfied, I first printed the stars on 6 sheets of Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, and let that dry. Then I printed the portrait on top. I do this by hand with a baren - a flat disk printmaking tool (but you can use a wooden spoon to burnish the paper onto the inked lino block). The sheets are 10 inches by 12.5 inches (25.4 cm by 31.8 cm).

I hope you like it.  Grin
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pinokeeo
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Best of 2013 winner, but this is just as good.


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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010 01:05:27 PM »

Oh, this is sooooo awesome!  I was just reading about Henrietta a few days ago, and here she is.

Thanks for explaining your techniques.  This is truly wonderful.
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minouette
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2010 01:35:11 PM »

Thanks very much pinokeeo! What a great coincidence.
Explaining technique is what craftster is all about right?  Grin
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pinokeeo
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Best of 2013 winner, but this is just as good.


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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010 08:00:26 PM »

Right!!! Cheesy
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