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Gold lobster

Last year I visited a local seafood store and brought home this live lobster:

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

The Royal Canadian Mint had invited me to submit a coin design showing a Canadian lobster, and I needed a specimen to draw. Having never handled a live lobster before and unsure of what to expect, I first put her in my empty bathtub to take some photos.

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

I needn’t have been so cautious! Since air was not her natural environment she barely moved at all. After a number of photos from all angles I concluded that I needed to manipulate her appendages and body position to achieve a pose that would work on a 13.92 mm diameter coin.

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

So, I put her in the freezer. As far as I could determine, this was the most humane way to kill her. Once frozen and then slightly thawed, I could pose her in a variety of ways and view her from different angles in order to determine the best composition for a small circular canvas. To be sure I was positioning the lobster in a natural stance, I viewed photos of live lobsters underwater. My specimen curled up her abdomen while in the freezer, and I never managed to uncurl it; fortunately I had taken some good reference photos of her relaxed abdomen while she was alive.

Here she is, fresh out of the freezer after having been frozen, then thawed and manipulated and propped, then re-frozen:

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

As she thawed, she got a bit frosty:

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

Lobster photo © Emily S. Damstra

It’s always a pleasure to have a specimen to draw from. Very often, that’s not an option, such as when I draw polar bears or whales. Despite my distaste for seafood, I had intended to eat her so as to avoid wasting her life. However, after a number of freezing and thawing cycles I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to consume her. I hope that having her portrait engraved on 7,500 pure gold coins is a good enough legacy:

1/25 oz. Pure Gold Coin - Lobster; design by Emily S. Damstra

1/25 oz. Pure Gold Coin – Lobster; design by Emily S. Damstra

This is the third coin in the Mint’s Sea Creatures series; it is available now from the Royal Canadian Mint. To see the first and second, click here and here.

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