April 29, 2011

Listen Up: Al Green

I am not much of an Anglophile but in honor today's royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, here is a classic soul song from the Rev. Al Green. Since British protocol prevents me from sending this out to Prince William and Princess Catherine I am forced to use their other newly minted titles, so this one goes out to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Count and Countess of Strathern and the Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus.


Word of the Day: Caesura

Caesura \sih-ZHUR-uh; -ZUR-\ noun

1.  A break or pause in a line of verse, usually occurring in the middle of a line, and indicated in scanning by a double vertical line, ||

2.  Any break, pause, or interruption.

Origin: Caesura comes from Latin caesura, " a cutting off, a division, a stop," from the past participle of caedere, "to cut".

April 28, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Paddy Finds a Job

Recently a friend was moving and was confronted with too many boxes of books. This is something that I have come across many times as I shoehorn my modest collection of pop-ups into tiny New York apartments. In an attempt to lighten her load she offered some lovely movable titles that had belonged to her grandmother, a children’s literature professor. I was grateful for the kind gesture and excited to come across a pop-up book that was new to me. Paddy finds a job is a pop-up story created by the late John S. Goodall in 1981. The book has an Athenuem imprint logo and was printed by Intervisual with paper engineering credit going to the great Tor Lokvig.

This is a six spread wordless book that tells the tale of the disastrous employment Paddy Pork who was first introduced in 1968. The folks at Intervisual stay true to Mr. Goodall’s vision and even employ the artist’s knack for using half pages to progress the action in the story. It is a charming book with subtle and efficient pop-ups but I can’t help but get hung up on a few small details. When you anthropomorphize animals, it helps to be consistent. Why is Paddy Pork the only figure that is pantless? And why is there a pet cat alongside larger feline diners? Those weaned on Disney characters like Donald Duck and the Goofy/Pluto conundrum can readily dismiss these observations but viewers still have to wonder why Paddy continues to charge out of the restaurant after tripping over the boa of the prominent poodle. I guess we learn that nothing good comes when you put swine before pearls and vice versa.


Last Days to Vote!

If you haven't already voted, today and tomorrow are the last days to cast your vote for Matthew and Robert's 'Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes' in the Children's Choice Book Awards.  I've heard the voting is extremely close, so why not help us out and tell your friends to vote!

The voting is open until April 29th, 2011.  You can click the link here or below to cast your own vote:

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April 27, 2011

History Lesson: John James Audubon

On April 26, 1785 John James Audubon was born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).  Audubon paved the road for future ornithologists with his amazing art pieces of North American birds.  He would usually portray the birds in motion, as if he had caught them in a moment of feeding or hunting.

Word of the Day: Gastronome

Gastonome \GAS-truh-nohm\ noun

1. A connoisseur of good food and drink.

Origin: Gastronme is ultimately derived from Greek gaster, "stomach" and nomos "rule, law".

April 26, 2011

Artist Watch: Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers was brought up in Northern Ireland and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, where he recently co-founded the product design company You And Me.

Jeffers work takes many forms, from figurative painting and installation to illustration and picture-book making.
Go and check more about him on his website.


Weekly Beast: Yeti Crab

The Yeti crab or Kiwa hirsuta was found in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean a mile and a half below the water's surface.  The Yeti crabs have silky blonde setae (that looks like fur) covering it's legs and claws.  Scientists have found that the setae contain bacteria that help the crab live near toxic thermal vents.  The crabs are roughly 6 inches long and are though to be blind.  Scientists actually crated a new biological family because of the Yeti crab.

Word of the Day: Peccadillo

Peccadillo \peck-uh-DIL-oh\ noun

1. A slight offense; a petty fault.

Origin: Peccadillo comes from Spanish pecadillo, "little sin," diminutive of pecado, "sin," from Latin peccatum, from peccare, "to make a mistake, to err, to sin."  It is related to impeccable, "without flaw or fault".

April 25, 2011

Whats Popped Up: Dragons & Monsters

The final book in the Encyclopedia Mythologica series has arrived in bookstores! Building upon the investigation of Fairies and Magical Creatures and delving deep into the tales of Gods & Heroes, we finally come face to face with some of the most memorable Dragons & Monsters from around the world.

To celebrate the release of the book, the studio created a 12ft long Chinese dragon that is on display in the front window of one of our favorite local bookstores, Books of Wonder. The vibrant red Chinese Lung twists and turns in the air above pop-ups of Medusa, a Medieval Wyvern, the Yeti and a curling Eastern dragon that was the inspiration for the window installation

Stop by Books of Wonder to see the display, day or night until Saturday, May 7th when Matthew will be sharing the new work and autographing in-store copies, so mark your calendars now if you are in the Manhattan area.


Word of the Day: Canorous

Canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\ adjective

1. Richly melodious; pleasant sounding; musica.

Canorous comes from the Latin canor, "melody", from canere, "to sing".  It is related to chant, from French chanter "to sing", ultimately from the Latin word canere.


April 21, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Transient Rainbow Card

One of my all-time favorite artists is Cai Gou-Qiang. Maybe it’s his inventive use of explosives as an artform or the massive installations that I was confronted with at his Guggenheim show a few years back. Had I not been so overwhelmed by the artwork I would have noticed this pop-up card in the gift shop where it was distributed by Gallery 91.

This movable card showcases a 15-second fleeting moment that occurred over the East River in New York on June 29, 2002. Transient Rainbow employed 1,000 multicolored peony fireworks to suspend a vivid rainbow against the dark New York skyline. With the reflection from the water, you get the impression of the always inspiring, double rainbow or circular rainbow. You can see more images and even a video from the event on his website by scolling down through his 2002 projects.

The pop-up card itself is a four panel hinged reflective foil base that flattened out to represent the shimmering water under the rainbow that swings on a v-fold to complete the familiar arch. It was conceived by Cai Gou-Qiang and created by Japansese paper engineer Takaaki Kihara, a disciple of Masahiro Chatani and a well-known figure in field of origamic architecture. The design aesthetics are similar to his other works where the pop-up elements are cut and constructed from a single sheet of paper leaving a symmetrical pattern in the base page.

This interesting artifact does not qualify as a vintage movable, but it is a rarity and I felt it needed a closer review, much like the rest of Cai Gou-Qiang’s work.


Artist Watch: Jérôme Corgier

I came across Atelier Pariri from two sources within a few days of one another.  One was through the Daily Heller, which is a blog and daily email from Steven Heller (a very experienced Art Direct, and very respected in the field).  The second was from a friend of mine who discovered Atelier Pariri from the New York Times.

Jérôme Corgier, who is a part of Atelier Pariri, creates paper type illustrations.  And they are really beautiful.  I love the photography of the final product and the fact that the piece actually exists in reality.  Check out his work below and more here!

Word of the Day: Paladin

Paladin \PAL-uh-din\ noun

1. A knight-errant; a distinguished champion of a medieval king or prince; as, the paladins of Charlemagne.

2. A champion of a cause.

Origin: Paladin derives from Late Latin palatinus, "and officer or the palace," from Latin  palatium, "royal residence, palace," from Palatium, one of the seven hills of Rome on which Augustus had his residence.

April 20, 2011

History Lesson: The Red Baron

On April 21st, 1908 the German war pilot known as the Red Baron was shot down and fatally wounded near the French city of Amiens.  Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richtofen earned the nickname "Red Baron" because he shot down over 80 opponents over the course of his career and usually flew in a plane that was painted red.  The German propaganda machine capitalized on Richtofen's victories to energize the war effort and spread (sometimes) exaggerated stories of his exploits.  He is considered the ace of all aces of World War I and is perhaps the best known pilot of all time.

He was so respected, even by his enemies, that when he was shot down the allied forces organized a full military funeral for him and buried his body in a cemetery at the village of Bertangles.  In 1925 his brother Bolko came and took his remains back to Germany.  Through numerous books, movies, and pop-culture references he remains a well-known historical figure to this day.

Word of the Day: Pin Money

Pin money \pin money\ noun

1.  An allowance of money given by a husband to his wife for private and personal expenditures.
2.  Money for incidental expenses.
3.  A trivial sum.

Origin: Pin money originally referred to money given by husbands to their wives for the specific purpose of buying pins.

April 19, 2011

Artist Watch: Elsa Mora

I discovered Elsa Mora already almost a year ago and i got enchanted by the variety of the art she creates: jewelry, drawings, paper cuts, flowers compositions, porcelain, dolls, paintings, miniature books. And what's even more interesting is her life but I want you to go and take a look to her website and check it out personally.


Weekly Beast: Chan's Megastick

Phobaeticus chani or Chan's megastick is a species of of stick insect.  These are some of the largest in the world!  They hail from the State of Sabah in Borneo and only six specimens have been found.  Scientists have found one specimen that measured 22 inches (with the front legs fully extended)!  They assume that Chan's megasticks live in the canopy of the rainforest making it very hard to find and study.

Word of the Day: Lugubrious

Lugubrious \lu-GOO-bree-us; -GYOO-\ adjective

1. Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, esp. in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.

Origin: Lugubrious comes from Latin lugubris, from lugere 'to mourn'.

April 18, 2011

Whats Popped Up: Isabel Uria

I love getting mail, especially if it pops up. A few days ago I received an impressive invitation from paper engineer, Isabel Uria. We meet in 2008 at the Movable Book Society conference, where she showed some of her paper engineering creations from her undergraduate portfolio. Since then she has been busy working with the inventive novelty company Up with Paper while attending graduate school at MICA. And now all her hard work is going to pay off as she displays her MFA thesis on April 22 – May 1 at the Decker Gallery in Baltimore, MD. Besides the reception on Friday, April 22nd from 5-7pm, Isabel will also be conducting a workshop to introduce basic pop-up concepts on April 29th from 3-4pm.

The thesis announcement arrived in a packet that contained an intricate pop-up card featuring laser cut type. And hiding behind a photo and diagram on heavy card was a cute little custom made cutting mat. What a wonderful idea! If Isabel’s thesis show is as memorable as her promotional mailer, then she has a bright future in paper engineering.

You can learn more about her thesis work through her blog. Or better yet, stop by and see it for yourself.


Word of the Day: Autochthonous

autochthonous \aw-TOK-thuh-nuhs\ adjective

1. Aboriginal; indigenous; native.
2. Formed or originating in the place where found.

Autochthounous derives from Greek autochthon "of or from the earth or land itself".  From auto "self" + chthon "earth".

April 15, 2011

Word of the Day: Aura

Aura \AWR-uh\ noun

1. A distinctive air or quality considered to be characteristic of a person or thing.

2. An invisible breath, emanation that surround people, animals, and things.

From Greek aura "breath, breeze"

Listen Up: Mumford & Sons 'The Cave'

I was introduced to Mumford & Sons literally an hour ago.  So I'm not an expert, but what I did find out about them is that they're from West London and they make really great music.  I just found their video 'The Cave'.  And even though it seems like a very simple video, it's really beautiful to watch and listen too.  See (or rather hear) for yourself here:

To find out more about Mumford & Sons click here!


April 14, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Koehler cards

Here is a set of mechanical trade cards that use a single pivot to create some rather stylized “Before & After” views of Victorian era characters. First off we see a bride transform into a widow, followed by a Civil War solider ravaged by battle and cap it off with a quick passage of time from sweet sixteen to sixty with the turn of a hat. The cards are all chromolithographs on a gold background with no printing on the reverse. A small note mentions that a patent was applied for and registered by Jos. Koehler, NY in 1882. I could not locate the specific patent on-line but found many others and came across this information from the Chicago Postcard Museum and the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City.

“Joseph Koehler, New York, NY; Founded as a printing firm 1892-1911, they later began publishing view-cards in both continuous tone and halftone lithography as well as real photo cards. They have been well known for their early hold to light postcards, mechanicals, and exposition cards, since publishing an unofficial postcard set of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. While most companies stopped using the expensive chromolithographic printing method in favor of the cheaper halftone printing process, Koehler (a pioneer in halftone technology) had returned to producing chromolithographs. Koehler postcards have a very distinct style to them and is the reason why Koehler postcards are so sought after by serious collectors. All of their postcards were printed in Berlin Germany.”


Artist Watch: Art + Architecture 2011

Art + Architecture 2011, a diverse and multidisciplinary exhibition of emerging artists, is comprised of works that examine, question, or outright challenge everyday interpersonal and contextual relationships.

Through the integration of a variety of media including painting, sculpture, video, performance and works on paper, the installation weaves a wide ranging fabric of form and style, which envelops the immense Gowanus Ballroom and transforms the space into a thoroughly interactive experience. This affords both artist and audience a chance to dismantle and construct anew one’s perceived environment. By alternately reinforcing and undermining the suppositions defining social and physical arrangements, the exhibition implores participants to reexamine the boundaries delineating self.

You can see the show this Friday evening, April 15th.
55 9th street #61, Brooklyn, NY 11215
(My own submission!)

Word of the Day: Roseate

Roseate \ROH-zee-it; -ayt\ adjective

1. Overly optimistic; bright or cheerful.
2. Resembling a rose especially in color.

Origin: Roseate comes from Latin roseus, "rosy," from rosa, "rose".

April 13, 2011

History Lesson: First Man in Space

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyvich Gagarin became the first human being to travel into space.  Aboard spacecraft Vostok 1, Gagarin orbited the Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles.  His space flight lasted roughly under 2 hours.  Back on Earth, he became an instant hero and celebrity.  Gagarin traveled the world to spread the word of Russia's successful space trip.  Gagarin died on March 27th, 1968 in a routine training flight that ended in a fatal crash.  There are many speculations and conspiracy theories about the reason why his aircraft failed.

Word of the Day: Desideratum

Desideratum \dih-sid-uh-REY-tuhm\ noun

1.  Something considered necessary or desirable.

For Latin desideratum 'something desired' from desiderare 'to desire'

April 12, 2011

Children's Choice Book Awards

This year Matthew and Robert's book, 'Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes' has been nominated for a Children's Choice Book award in the 3rd-4th grade category.  15,000 children and teens helped pick and evaluate all the books that made it to the finalist round.

The voting is open until April 29th, 2011.  You click the link here or below to cast your own vote:

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Weekly Beast: Psychedelica

A funky, psychedelic fish that bounces on the ocean floor like a rubber ball has been classified as a new species, a scientific journal reported.  The fish — which the University of Washington professor has named "psychedelica" — is a member of the antennariid genus, Histiophryne, and like other frogfish, has fins on both sides of its body that have evolved to be leg-like.
But it has several behavioral traits not previously known to the others.  Each time the fish strike the seabed, for instance, they push off with their fins and expel water from tiny gill openings to jet themselves forward. That, and an off-centered tail, causes them to bounce around in a bizarre, chaotic manner.


Word of the Day: Charivari

Charivari \shiv-uh-REE, shuh-riv-uh-REE\ noun

1. A noisy, mock serenade to a newly married couple, involving the banging of kettles, pots, and pans.
2. A confused, noisy spectacle.

From French charivari 'hullabaloo', perhaps from Latin caribaria 'headache', from Greek karebaria which stems from kare/kara (head) + barys (heavy).

Artist Watch: Julene Harrison

I have found another fantastic artist that works in paper, British designer Julene Harrison.  I am really in awe of the fact that her pieces are cut out by hand.  So much detail (and time!) goes into her pieces.  Personally I really love the pieces where she incorporates words and phrases into the designs.

Check out her work here: