If I hadn’t chosen to pursue life as a designer, I might well have been a scientific illustrator. As a student, I loved biology. I would spend hours with my pencils and paints making drawings of dissections and microbes. I was (no surprise here) consumed by chart making. I remember in high-school biology how I dove headlong into the science and visual representation of genetic traits. Gregor Mendel wasn’t exactly my hero, but I noticed early on how much I was enamored by what I imagined to be a life devoted to pea plants and bees. My friend Kay sent me a link to this site. It has a wealth of unusual and wonderful images. Thanks Kay!
HELP! The NY Public Library has a visual archive that stretches from here to who knows where. I dipped my toe in yesterday and I immediately got pulled into the undertow. It took all my strength and willpower to get out. As an example, they have 2478 pages of cigarette cards. About 20 to a page. That’s 49,560 cards…give or take a few. Here is but one, front and back. Stay tuned for more.
In the early glory days of ebay, I came across some unusual and quite large botanical charts from 1850s England. There were four of them. They were listed in the furniture section of the site because they came housed in their original schoolhouse/mission style oak cabinet. Consequently, the charts went relatively unnoticed by the voracious collectors who, in a blink, buy up these types of illustrated images. Regardless, the bidding price started to rise…quickly…and well beyond what I was equipped to pay. So, a friend and I decided to go in on them together. Through sheer tenacity, adrenaline, the refresh button and a healthy dose of stupidity, we prevailed in the auction. She paid one quarter of the price and I forked over the rest. Two of them hang in our apartment in Brooklyn, one is in my studio and she has the fourth. I never ever tire of looking at them. Here are a few details from the one in our living room.
Around the same time that the various Chinese bus companies in lower Manhattan started serving interstate travelers, my husband and I started noticing these overstuffed, disc-shaped, sesame seed-crusted buns popping up at many of the food stands underneath the Manhattan bridge. I heard that the best ones were available in the basement of the Triple 8 Mall under the bridge, and that I should refer to them as Bing – which I believe is short for Shaobing. I ventured underground and bought a couple of them from a woman who was duly baffled by my presence. I was instantly hooked. They were tasty and satisfying and fit our limited budget. There were several varieties of Bing, but the trouble was, there was no menu and I couldn’t figure out what filling was inside any given pastry. Because of our mutual language barrier, the owner wasn’t able to shine any light on the puzzle. I knew there was a code to be revealed in the placement of the black sesame seeds, but I was firmly at a loss to break it. At around the same time, I heard that there was a place out in Queens that specialized in these little treats, both savory and sweet. I hopped on the subway, made my way to a shop called Unique Pastry and bought one of each kind. I subsequently made this crib sheet so that I could quickly and easily decipher the contents of whatever Bing I happened to find. Shortly thereafter, this piece appeared in the NY Times.
The Nature of America stamp series from the USPS comprises 12 distinct ecosystems. The scenes are illustrated by John D. Dawson. My all-time favorite is/was the Northeastern Deciduous Forest panel. No surprise there. Sadly, these are not really available any longer. I saw a few for sale on amazon and ebay, but that’s it. I was about to finally throw out these empty panes, until I realized how much I liked them, even without their stamps.
Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer chronicles the rich, visually-laden and wildly creative correspondence between these two men. I was delighted when I saw that my friend Jason tweeted this post. There is a broad and eclectic spectrum of people who take great joy in the late Edward Gorey’s work. I feel as though we all have something substantive in common, and that if ever thrown together at a dinner party, we would have endless matters of deep importance to discuss. This book is on its way to me now, and I can barely wait. Via Steve Silberman via Maria Popova.
Bibliodyssey is a favorite destination. I particularly like not going there for awhile and then spending time poring over the new posts filled with the weird and the wonderful. I’m pretty sure I have some latent biologist in me, so these illustrations sucked me right in. I like how when you get too close to anything it becomes abstract. The drawings were created in 1929 by Frederik Elfving who was a professor of botany at the University of Helsinki.