"The Orchestra" was challenging due to my shameful ignorance of classical music, instruments, and actual orchestras. The result is therefore a completely artistic and purely visual interpretation of such things, but hopefully the viewer can fill it with the appropriate sounds and knowledge.
This average-size linocut comes in various colors and hues, though due to its decorative character residing so much on the drawing, it only looks good monochrome - the only variables being the color of the paper and that of the typographic ink.

Other effects can be obtained by changing the pressure of the imprint or playing with the ink, such as wiping part of it before taking it to the press.


photo project at the History of Pharmacy Collection

The latest temporary exhibition at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj provides optimal conditions for special photo projects. As it is dedicated to the interference between the magical world of Harry Potter and the actual history of pharmacy, it provides visually appealing contrasts and insertions in the old apothecary that hosts the museum. It could be seen as an over-all art installation :)

The result is enhanced by the collaboration between the National History Museum, the University of Veterinary Medicine, and the Zoological Museum of the Babes-Bolyai University of the same city. Besides the old apothecary jars, laboratory, and decorations one can see actual bezoars, vipers, snow owls, and dissected frogs, not to mention props such as flying quills :)


Reenactment at Camp Virtus

I am involved in the creation of a reenactment park near Cluj-Napoca, in the village of Salicea, called Camp Virtus. It is the initiative of another NGO, the Virtus Antiqua and it aims at presenting various aspects of military and civilian life during Antiquity. The parts I like best are those I have already organized during summer camps over the past years: ancient clothing, perfume, and cosmetics; ancient games (especially board games such as Rota and Duodecim scripta); and interactive activities with drawing.

ROTA championship

The real TOGA party

Drawing a Dacian warrior in full attire

Drawing a Roman centurion
 In April we will have a full week of activities for pupils, during the national Scoala Altfel program. Feel free to join! The estimated visit is of 80 minutes and includes several workshops in open air: bow and arrow target practice, presentation of Roman and Dacian military and civilian costumes, ancient games, workout (gladiators, Roman auxiliary soldiers).


Encaustic works on Etsy

Here is an Etsy treasury that focuses on works I like on Etsy made in/with encaustic (painting with wax and pigment) - from the Greek word for “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). They are not only paintings, always on hard support, but also various assemblages, jewelry items, and mixed media works. The least creative are, in my opinion, the encaustic photo transfers.

See a bit more on by blog on the technique in general and its history HERE and on my first attempt at it and the difficulties encountered HERE.


Henbane as apothecary ingredient

Hyoscyamus niger, or Henbane, is a plant with all parts used medicinally for their multiple effects: sedative, psychoactive, antineuralgic, antispasmodic, anesthetic, and soporific. Though recommended against nervous agitation and various types of pain, the plant is toxic in high doses. Its pharmaceutical use was similar to that of opium, though it was weaker and did not cause constipation.

Henbane has a long history of use. The earliest was probably during the Neolithic, in magic fumigations and drinks that caused visual hallucinations and a sensation of flight. It is mentioned by Discorides, in his list of Dacian plants. Pliny the Elder talks of Herba Apollinaris, that some have equated with Henbane: the ancient Greeks believed that god Apollo himself discovered the plant and offered it to Aesculapius; it was also consumed by the priestesses of Apollo in his temple at Delphi in order to enter into a trance and prophesize.

In the old pharmacopoeias and natural medicine, the plant is recommended in various afflictions, among which tooth aches, when leaves or seeds of Henbane were fumigated into the patient’s mouth or turned into a concoction that he/she held in the oral cavity. It was also used in ophthalmology, since it dilates the pupils and contains atropine.

The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, includes eight jars, dated to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for the preservation of various products made of Henbane: extracts, seeds, oil. The jars (made of wood, glass, porcelain, glazed pottery) have been used in pharmacies from Cluj-Npoca, Turda, Baia Mare, and Iaşi.


Attempt at encaustic I

After finally getting everything needed, I woke up early Sunday morning for the experiment. I prepared all the materials, beeswax, carnauba wax, metal containers, pigments, heater, hair dryer, gold foil and the rest. Everything went well, with a bit of struggle in cutting the beeswax lump and determining 10% of carnauba wax.

Then things went south and I was unable to take photos in the heat (literally) of the action. The metal plate supporting the containers started to smoke and had to be removed, but placing the containers directly on the electric heater worked well. Molten was does tent to drip from the brush, so some ended directly on the electric heater, which again did not smell so great - from this point onward I worked with the window open - mind you, it is freezing cold in Romania this time of the year.
I somehow applied the wax to the wooden panels, but trying to fuse it with the hair dryer proved futile - I needed a heating gun. Off to the store, returned with a cheap heating gun, which indeed fuses everything waxy. Which then melts and drips off the wooden panel. Anyway, this is one of the end results, ignore the composition, I was trying everything all together - collage (linocut), color, sewing thread, gold foil.

I presume the beaswax had impurities, thus the white residue on the surface. Or the 10% mix with the carnauba wax was far from accurate. Still, encaustic seems messy and appropriate for large, well ventilated working areas. Also, I envisaged a more translucent quality of the finished work, less irregularities in volume, and easier work with pigment. Gold foil was also very unstable, i.e. it disintegrated when pressed onto the still warm wax and would not stick. I refused the entire layer, so the flaked just drifted around.
So, the next attempt, probably during spring time, on the balcony, will include using pure wax and no pigment, paper, hot stylus for finishes and more tips and tricks to be learned from Nancy Crawford.



I am doing research for a new project, thus rediscovering encaustic (painting with wax and pigment). The term comes from the Greek word for “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. The best known historical examples of such a technique are the more than 600 mummy portraits found in Fayoum, Egypt - 2nd-century A.D. Coptic panel paintings included in mummy wraps. They are striking for their freshness of expression and color, due to the technique in question that is very resistant.

Encaustic is gaining in popularity among contemporary artists as well since it allows for multiple uses and interacts nicely with different materials. It is used with collage, watercolors, shellac, paper (making it transparent), small assemblages, metal foil or powder etc. 
The works and YouTube tutorials of Nancy Crawford are among my favorites, but there are many wonders to be found online.

Elizabeth Guipe Hall



Everyone needs lamps, but not all are equally beautiful or inventive. This is my most recent Etsy treasury, dedicated to lamps that I like so much that I would like to see every night :) I tried to have a bit of all kinds, from ancient oil lamps to contemporary, concrete ones. For an interesting side topic, here is an academic article on ancient lamps with erotic depictions.




Romanian residents may support the artistic and social NGO apARTe until the end of May 2016
More on the form available for redirecting part of your taxes for 2015 in Romanian here.


Redware and terracotta

The pottery-related Etsy treasuries I've been compiling continues with one dedicated to redware and terracotta. Though online definitions render more restricted definitions in terms of chronology (focusing on American redware), in practice the terms have wider applications. Thus, in my understanding redware is a hard, red stoneware. The term is also used to describe any common clay pottery that is reddish in color. Redware is also known as terra-cotta (different spellings encountered).


Saccharum - sugar as an apothecary ingredient

FOCUS group at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca: Saccharum

Pharmacists were also the first confectioners. In order to preserve the properties of fruits, plants, and organic medicines they used honey and, from the Middle Ages, also cane sugar. The sugar cane plant (Saccharum officinarum) is native from Asia and the curative use of its juice, as such or crystallized, spread from India to the Middle East and then to Europe and America. The product was called “Indian salt”, “honey not made by bees”, or “cane honey” and was used as a luxury tonic, antiseptic, medicine for the purification of blood, powder against cataract, and as a conservative. It was part of several types of medicines for internal use: syrups, electuaries, aromatic powders, conserves. The latter term, conserva, indicates precisely candied ingredients, i.e. preserved by boiling in sugar. From the 11th until the 16th century, sugar was considered first of all a drug, then a spice, but also had curious uses such as depilatory substance.
Brown sugar-loaves and pincers
 The collection of the History of Pharmacy Museum in Cluj-Napoca includes a number of jars especially made for sugars, dated to the 18th and 19th centuries, besides the numerous jars for conserves or products which included sugar among the ingredients. One 18th-century wooden jar has the signature SACH. THOM. – Saccharum Thomaeum or Thomasinum – red sugar from the isle of São Tomé. Jars inscribed SACHAR SATURN – Saccharum Saturnii contained in fact sweet lead acetate (which is toxic and was probably used only externally), not sugar. SPIRIT SACHAR is distilled sugar, PULV. SACHAR. ALB. is white sugar powder (a rarity, as sugar was foremost sold in cones), while CONS. FUMAR., Conserva Fumaria, is a type of vegetal preserve (to illustrate but one of the candied products). SACHAR. LACTIS is lactose, sugar obtained from milk.
For more images see also the related Pinterest board.


linocut Nurnberg

I found linocut printmaking to be a great technique for rendering the traditional architecture of Nurnberg. I chose a large-size block, that would allow sufficient area for the intricate decorative effect of the timber and daub architectural style of medieval Nurnberg. In order to add to that effect and create a focus point in the print I have cut out one fragment, having it printed in a different color-ink. And for the mixing of the two areas I have added small areas of color applied by hand.
For more of my linocut project see my website.