International Cephalopod Awareness Days – Digital Cuttlefish And Noadi’s Art #cephalopod

UPDATE – sobering news from ‘Cuttlefish Country’ in the comments – appears the desalination plant has been approved in SA. Keep in touch with their site for updates.

It’s International Cephalopod Awareness Days! I encourage you to do something to celebrate these days, which happen to be:

The World Octopus Necklace - 2011

  • October 8 – Octopus Day, for all the eight-armed species
  • October 9 – Nautilus Night, a time for all the lesser-known extant cephalopods
  • October 10 – Squid Day/Cuttlefish Day, or Squittleday, covering the tentacular species
  • October 11 – Kraken Day, for all the fantastical cephalopods of myth, movies, literature and legend. Cthulhu fthagn!
  • October 12 – Fossil Day (to coincide with National Fossil Day), for all the incredible suckers that have gone extinct but left an impression with us.

You might be checking out Digital Cuttlefish’s poem or joining the official Facebook page for Cephalopod Awareness Days, or even taking advantage of the bargains over on Noadi’s site! From Oct. 8-10 there is 15% off all Squid, Nautilus, Octopus, and Cuttlefish Jewelry (one of which I happen to proudly own and feature in this blogpost – it’s a steampunk cuttlefish!)

Also a great idea – sign the petition to help save Cuttlefish Country in Australia:

The Point Lowly Peninsula is the only known place in the world where hundreds of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather to breed. We need your help to urge the State Government of South Australia to protect this wildlife phenomenon from proposed industrial impacts.

Tomorrow I’m helping out with a squid dissection at the SciTech science museum, but I also thought of doing a joint interview with two great people – FreeThought Blog’s Digital Cuttlefish and Sheryl Westleigh of Noadi’s Art:

Cuttlefish are shy and elusive creatures; when necessary, they hide in their own ink. This particular cuttlefish has chosen as its habitat the comment threads of science, religion, and news sites, where it feeds on the opinions of those who are emboldened by the cloak of internet anonymity. Digital Cuttlefish is an atheist and a skeptic, and is madly, passionately in love with science. 

Inspired by a love of marine animals, science, and all things weird and wonderful. Noadi’s Art is the creation of Maine artist Sheryl Westleigh. Polymer clay jewelry creations and mixed media sculptures of steampunk cuttlefish, deep space squid, tentacles, HP Lovecraft horrors, and much more that lurks in the depths of the ocean and the imagination. 

What first inspired you to become an artist? 

Digital Cuttlefish: I did not become an artist. I am what I have always been, an amateur (in the full sense of the word). If there is a first cause to what I do, I suppose it would be Dr. Seuss, and very likely before I was old enough to even remember. I don’t remember a time when I did not appreciate verse.

Sheryl: I’ve always been creative and I’ve been making things most of my life. My grandfather was a leatherworker, he made saddles and other horse gear after he retired, I used to help him in his shop starting around eight years old. Actually being an artist as a living was something that I didn’t really plan on doing, I was only working part-time and everyone I new kept saying I should sell my jewelry and sculpture. So I did a couple local craft shows and started an Etsy shop, now it’s my full time job.

Why do you choose to use cephalopods in your work? 

Digital Cuttlefish: Sheer luck. In my case, my pseudonym came first; a friend called me cuttlefish because, as a writer, I hide myself in my ink (there is an insulting version of the metaphor, I recently found—a cuttlefish is one who uses ink to obscure a point rather than clarify it). Anyway, the name came first. The cephalopods, you were there for. Four years ago, for cephalopod appreciation days, PZ had a small contest for cephalopod poetry. You, my friend, probably remember; you twisted my tentacle and forced me to enter. The rest is history.

Sheryl: I’ve always liked cephalopods and other sea animals, especially the Giant Squid. As a kid I was really into cryptozoology, as I got older I got more skeptical but the Giant Squid was actually a real cryptid. It’s an animal that definitely exists, bodies had been found, but at the time no one had ever seen one alive. Around 2005 or so I was starting to get more serious about sculpting, mostly fantasy themes. Around that time the first photos of a Giant Squid were taken and shortly after that I saw a documentary on cuttlefish, I was hooked. I started learning more about them and of course they look so cool I had to sculpt them. Once I did the first cuttlefish necklace and then the first octopus Perma-Pet it totally clicked that these were really a perfect subject for me.

What’s your favorite medium to work with (would/have you used another medium?) 

 

Digital Cuttlefish: Heh. If by “favorite”, I could substitute “most frequent”, then the answer is “scrap pieces of paper and stubs of exam pencils”. I have a small collection of my original drafts, but most of them get binned. And recently, now that my computer is a bit more reliable, I probably do most on my laptop. Another medium? I have always been fond of clay. Took a couple courses in ceramics as an undergrad, a lifetime ago. Designed a number of chess sets, which I suppose is similar to verse (as opposed to poetry) in that the form is largely constrained, and creativity takes place within those constraints.

Sheryl: I really love three dimensional media, I work in polymer clay mostly and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve worked with traditional earth clays too and really wish I could do more with it but I don’t have enough space or access to a kiln for that. I also draw and paint but I’m not that good at two dimensional work.

What would you like people to remember your work for? 

Digital Cuttlefish: Ideally? For having put my kids through college. But that won’t happen. Seriously, I have no idea. The notion of my work being remembered is foreign to me. I am flattered that my verses have been used at a couple of weddings and a couple of funerals, but in the long run the whole planet will be engulfed by the sun, so for right now I’ll settle for writing because I like to. If others like it too, so much the better.

Sheryl: Hopefully that my work makes more people aware of cephalopods in general and start to associate them more with something cool or beautiful and less scary or gross. With a few exceptions pop culture has mostly portrayed cephalopods as dangerous sea monsters (the kraken for example) or creepy and slimy.

 Thanks so much to both Cuttle and Sheryl!

Digital Cuttlefish’s book can be found on Lulu.com and followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cuttlefishpoet

Sheryl’s work can be found at Noadi’s Art Original Jewelry and Sculpture and she can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Noadi.  Subscribe to her newsletter for the latest news and new items from Noadi’s Art here

 

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  • http://cuttlefishcountry.com Cuttlefish Country

    Nice roundup of cephalopod days’ activities and information… and a nice interview with a creative cephalopod lover! Deep gratitude also for promoting our petition to protect the Giant Australian cuttlefish’s breeding grounds in SA. Ironic that today, the Cephalopod Day dedicated to celebrating cuttlefish, was also the day SA and Australian Governments announced the approval of the Point Lowly desalination plant. Apparently they have improved the dilution ratio for brine output, so it may be a partial victory at least… but it still sends shivers up our spines and those of many others.