The Curious Chiton

Integrating Science, Design, Art and Curiosity

The Story

The idea for the Curious Chiton shop started a couple years ago.  I had recently moved to a small rural town in central NY from Berkeley, CA, where in my former life, I was a middle school science teacher for many years.  I found myself completely out of my element- adjusting to a new life, new climate, and a new community.  However, it forced me to examine what I enjoy doing on the most basic level.  I love making, designing, and sharing, whether I'm creating lesson plans, homebrewing, designing T-shirts, making mixtapes, or cooking an elaborate meal.  Hence, the Curious Chiton was born!  It was the place where I could intersect and overlap my passion for science, design, education, and art.



The Process

My process begins with my running list of bizarre, awesome, sometimes obscure, and under-appreciated animals.  After some research about the animal and examining images from different perspectives, I draw them with pencil and ink with micron pens. The illustrations are scanned and further modified in Illustrator to get clean high-contrast images which are then printed onto transparencies.  The screenprinting process is completed in my basement where I’ve converted an old workshop space into a printing shop.  It’s uninsulated so winter printing can be chilly!  I like to think that I have a science experiment going on every day I’m working down there.  

All T-shirts are made with plastisol ink and printed on American Apparel T-shirts or Bella Canvas T-shirts.  Please feel free to contact me with any CUSTOM orders!  I'm happy to work with you!

Holiday cards are printed by PS Prints.  

Make Something. Anything.
— Adam Savage

What is a CHITON?  And why choose it as my shop mascot?

I love tide pool organisms.  I could spend hours wading through tide pools examining the organisms that through evolution have figured out to live an environment that changes according the position of the Earth and the moon.  It's not an easy life.  There is huge competition for space, wide ranging daily temperatures, the fear of drying out, the constant battering of waves, predators all around, and yet, the intertidal zone has great biodiversity.  Chitons (pronounced KITE-ons) are marine molluscs with a snail-like foot and eight hard plates on its back that provide protection.  They have been around for approximately 400 millions years- that’s 200 times older than the earliest human ancestors!  Chitons are often overlooked as they can blend in well with their surroundings, and they are in no hurry to move and graze all day.  They use a ridged tongue-like structure called a radula to scrape algae and bacteria from rocks.  Chitons have a three-chamber heart- two to collect oxygenated blood from the gills and one to pump the blood to the rest of the body.  Species can range from 2cm to 30cm in length.  


The Lined Chiton (Tonicella lineata) is the official mascot of the Curious Chiton.  It’s brightly colored with black straight or zig-zag lines across its plates.  The top of the animal can range from brown to red and pink.  Lined chitons can be found from Alaska to California in the intertidal waters.  Look for them hanging around pink coralline algae.  I always consider it a lucky day to find one of these while tide pooling!  Keep an eye out for them!