15 December 2010

Yule Be Fine

Photos by me.

Best Holiday Wishes to all and sundry ~ and may the New Year grace you with adventures, opportunity, and unsuspected fun.  See you again in 2011!

14 December 2010


I am a nut for all things round: planets, lightbulbs, pearls, globes, any sort of round sport ball; you name it.  No doubt there is something deeply mystical about the perfection of roundness.  But it's just fun to see a round thing.

(handmade mudballs)

Info on how to make these can be found at this link and at this one.

Phone Dials



Making of

10 December 2010

Beauty From Afar

Every now and then an image takes my breath away!

Glacier Park, MT: Apgar Mountain

06 December 2010

Funny, to me at least

I won't presume that the comics I like are liked by others.  Here are a few that I find regularly amusing. (p.s.  Please note: These are not necessarily "for kids." )

[from the Wondermark website] "Wondermark is created from 19th-Century woodcuts and engravings, scanned from my personal collection of old books and also from volumes in the Los Angeles Central Library. Most of the books are bound volumes of general-interest magazines such as Harper’s, Frank Leslie’s and Punch, but my collection also includes special-interest magazines such as Scientific American, Sears-Roebuck catalogs, storybooks, and primers."

30 November 2010

Hooray for Da November Writers!!

Congrats to all my NaNoWriMo Peeps who went 30 days for 50,000+ words.

            Public Domain Image 

27 November 2010

VIDEOS: Mechanical Life Forms

One of my favorite books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, 2007; ISBN: 978-0439813785) has as a central plot element the rediscovery of a mechanical man, an automaton.  In this era of CGI special effects and Pixar-style animation, the technology and sophistication of these creations is rare and astounding.

L'Androïde de Marie-Antoinette

[from the YouTube description: "Follow the exhibition's curators in search of the most important, mysterious and unexpected works presented in Versailles in the exhibition "Sciences and Curiosities at the Court of Versailles".
26 October 2010 -- 27 February 2011."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Henri Maillardet's Automaton at The Franklin Institute Science Museum  
[from the YouTube description: "Stored in the brass memory of The Franklin Institute's automaton built by Henri Maillardet in 1810 are four drawings and three poems. In this video, the automaton reproduces a poem."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Excerpt from Princely Toys, a classic automaton film from 1976.

23 November 2010

The Artist's Price and What She Pays

Image of the first sketch I did after many years not sketching.

I've known a few artists over the years - the kind for whom nothing else in the universe suffices.  They must make art because they know nothing else.  I know other kinds of artists too.  They are the artists who must balance; that is, artists who were born with the drive to make but with other competing drives as well.  Then there are the artists who yearn, people who feel the quiet inner call to create but either have little talent or great talent, but no opportunity or materials or time. And there are artists who do not know they are artists.  They make with abandon and a kind of clear freedom of heart because they were simply born that way. Often these artists are children; now and then there is a grown person who manages to hang on to their child's heart.

Image of/by me.

My friend Hoja and I have occasionally discussed the notion of the artist and "selling out" or an artist who sells.  It seems to me that issues arise as soon as another person enters the picture: a buyer, a gallery owner, a critic (professional, personal, or familial), a viewer, and/or a scholar.  Only then does the question of value come into play.

In the more professional realm of art making, I recently came across a trio of interlocked discussions from artists (and in one case a gallery owner), who saw their work reduced from creation to commodity.  Here is the record of that.

1)  Aritst Rima Staines had a work commissioned; the buyer was displeased.

2)  One of the people who commented in reply to Rima's story, posted a link to artist Jackie Morris' blog who described a similar tale and spoke of  what it is being an artist

Tell Me a Dragon
written and illustrated by Jackie Morris
published by Frances Lincoln, autumn 2009
(also published USA, Sweden, Spain, Denmark)

3)  Morris then linked to a blogged commentary by UK gallery owner John Foley.  He reports on the "daily life of running and art gallery.  In the entry linked to here he tells of buyers who regarded art buying as akin to grocery shopping.

19 November 2010

VIDEO: CREATING LOVE. A DaWanda Community Film


Two levels of fun here - the makers and their making and the gotta-dance tunes accompanying their work.

[from the YouTube description]: "Take a look at this one of a kind film, composed of 1,620 unique images designed by the creative members of the DaWanda community. 12 frames can be seen each second, together telling the story of 'Creating Love'. Music: 'Cinnamon Girl' (Radio Edit) from [dunkelbunt] feat. Boban i Marko Marković Orkestar.  Find out more about the project here. Check out unique frames and find out about the designers behind them.  Take a look behind the scenes in our Making Of.  We hope you enjoy it, and we'd be delighted to receive your comments and ratings. We hope you love it enough to share the link to the video with your friends, too!"

15 November 2010

Times After

I'm a nut for dinosaurs.  I am often asked why.  It's not the animals themselves, though they are awesomely awesome.  It's the idea that dinosaurs are our very own extraterrestrials: our own alien species.  Our planet was their homeworld, and now they are no more.

At some point, it's likely another species will replace us on the Terra Homeworld.  I don't find that depressing.  It fills my imagination of what things will be like then in the same way I imagine, regarding dinosurs, what it their then was like.

The History Channel has been airing a series titled Life After People that explores the great "what ifs" about our homeworld after we've moved on.

The Washington Monument 500 years later - from Life After People.

Photographer and blogger James D. Griffioen has posted several poignant and evocative images series on houses and buildings after they've been abandoned.  Trees, vines, and all manner of greenery slowly reclaim  the structures.  You can listen to an interview with Griffioen at American Public Media's the story, April 14, 2009.

Author Alan Weisman has published a book titled The World Without Us (NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007; ISBN: 978-0312427900).  His website for the book has this description:

"In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe."


VIDEO: Your House Without You

[from the YouTube description]: "In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us. In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe."

11 November 2010

COOL BOOK: Love in a Personals Way

Anyone who has responded to a personals ad knows the odd allure of mystery they allow. In this era of "TheFacingBook" and "MySpaceNotYours" and "TwitterMeThis," the notion of a small bit of text in an old fashioned paper newspaper is perhaps too retro-exotic.

David Rose's second go-round with editing a selection of personal ads from the London Review of Books displays love-lornity expressed with wit, panache, and seriously self-conscious delight. It is a highly amusing read. (Thanks to A in Portland for the gift!)

The book's title is an immediate clue to the off-kilter world awaiting you: Sexually, I'm More of a Switzerland (NY: Scribner, 2010; ISBN: 9781439125649).  Here are a few samples of ads: 

Although this is an advert that screams excitement, the man who placed it (historian, 54, enjoys model airplaines) is strangely subdued. Box no. 7735.

You like walking barefoot on cold beaches in the winter, movies that make you cry and baking cookies that you have no intention of eating.  I like defending my home against the government forces that are trying to destroy me and knitting carpet samples from fibre remnants found in the back of the dryers at my local lauderette.  Are we fools to think it could ever work?  Moron and amateur carpet sample enthusiast (M, 35).  Box no. 5331.

One day this advert will have its own entry on Wikipedia for gaining the most responses ever received.  Reply now to get me to the head of the queue.  Hay fever-suffering gymnast (M, 52). Box no. 3960.

The last time I wrote a lonely heart advert my dog ate it and subsequently choken to death.  I'm hoping for better results with this one. Woman, 38. Box no. 5435.

03 November 2010

Books on the Move

Many of us of a certain age, or in certain regions of our respective lands, recall the bookmobile, those grand (though sometimes grungy!) buses filled with books that came by regularly to our neighborhoods. Ours stopped right outside our house! 

I got my first library card (at age four) there.  We were allowed only a small number of books per week and my reading-voracious siblings didn't always have an extra 'space' on their checkout list.  So I went back inside our home and told my Dad that the librarian said "If you can sign your name, we'll give you a card."  My Dad taught me how to sign my name right then and there.  I proudly marched back to the bookmobile and claimed my right to read.  The librarian - who really didn't want to give a 4 year old her own card - was on the hook!  I got my card.

Travelling, portable libraries are another form of books on the move.  Here are some especially neat versions.

Two images of a lighthouse keeper's library box.  The Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy notes "Lighthouse traveling libraries were used to supply light stations with reading material. All boxes were numbered as this one was, #138."  Read more about it here.

Jess Haigh is the creative brain behind the Travelling Suitcase Library.

She says "For the past six months, I have been trailing a small blue two-wheeled suitcase. The Suitcase is the home of a new project, designed with readers in mind, called the Travelling Suitcase Library; and it is exactly what it says on the tin. I aim to provide a library service that brings the books to the people, and means that I get to spend a great deal of time talking about, ranting about and generally pawing over books." 

You can find more info here and at her blog.

Steampunker ersatz_read noted: "I've been wanting to make a portable library: some sort of cage or box that I could carry hands-free, and that would safely contain a few small books."  His/Her solution was brilliant and lovely.  Read more here.

01 November 2010

And They're Off!

Best wishes to Hoja, Mike Clemens, and Deek and all the other NaNoWriMo authors and they leap into their November Adventure!!

Cool Spaces for Kids Big and Small

This past summer my brother, Architect, gave me a tour of his most recent project: The Madison Children's Museum.  Among other things, I got to see
  • people gluing to a wall the decorative pieces of art made local school children;
  • an old car being installed into a play area;
  • costumes being fitted out for play dressing;
  • old electronics being retooled for 21st-century play;
  • a phone booth with an interior painted like a galaxy of stars;
  • an indoor tree house;
  • homing pigeons in cages on the grass-covered roof!
I especially liked the Skeleton Bridge, which reminded me of the playful and imaginative world of artist and author James Gurney in his Dinotopia books.

The finished walkway.

The walkway during design.

And here's an amusing 20 second video of one of the makers testing out the walkway.

More info on the making of the Madison Children's Museum can be found here at the Design Coalition website.  The museum's own website is here.

27 October 2010

The Spaces of Others

Where we live, how we make our spaces our own is as much a creative "statement" as it is a personal one.  We can all easily recall scoping out the bookshelves of friends, or those of the hosts for a party, or of a professor as we wait for her office hours to commence.  Others' space is The Other made concrete.

One can visit Other Spaces via certain blogs, Internet-reported projects, or just taking a long walk in a new neighborhood.  Here are a few I've come across lately:

David Carr Smith

David Carr Smith has created a web book titled: Improvised Architecture in Amsterdam: Industrial Squats and Collectives.   He describes the work as a "visual-conceptual-experiential documentation of four occupied industrial sites in central Amsterdam, researched and recorded between 1990 and 1997 and between 2006 and 2008."

Images are copyrighted by David Carr Smith

What is impressive is his respect for the Other Space.  In taking his photos he says "Photo subjects are never interfered with: care is taken not to disturb the arrangements/patterns of objects from large to minute; lighting is as found. . . ."

Sweet Juniper!

Sweet Juniper! is a blog written by Jim Griffioen, one-time lawyer now living and, along with his wife -- a practicing lawyer -- raising their two kids in Detroit; or as he puts it "the most dangerous city in America."  Griffioen is a wonderful writer with a keen eye and wit.  Now and then on his blog he writes about and shows well-composed pics of abandoned buildings in his city.  He calls them feral houses.  The stories these achingly alone places speak . . .

Images are copyrighted by James Griffioen

Obelia Medusa

Obelia medusa's dollhouse re-creation of Bag End, J.R.R. Tolkien's home for Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of The Hobbit.  Besides the remarkable craftsmanship, what's so neat about her work is trying to imagine how she got those perfect camera angles; some at hobbit level.

See the many-rest of her images here.

The Steampunk Home

Sara Brumfield keeps a blog named The Steampunk Home.  In it she presents the images, places, and objects that rock her creative boat.  Every now and then she'll post a studio tour of an artist or designer or friend.  Here are a few pics from two of the tours.

Wood is a wildly inventive and uber-craftman, a maker of inventive clocks.
See other studio images at his website here.

The Hermitage

Artist Rima Staines' work is focused, makerly, and deeply intuitive. She doesn't simply have a blog, rather, she creates a window into her universe and her imagination.  Her latest entry takes us on a walk in the early morning; the spider webs are gorgeous!

See more at Staines' blog, The Hermitage.

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