Thursday, August 25, 2011


(Prairie Life, Antoine Lavoisier, Atmospheric Formation, The Desert at Night)

Everyone knows that Portland wants to put a bird on it, and it seems like Charley Harper bird prints are more all over the place than ever. Remember though, birds are just a tiny part of biology, and it's been reminding me of his gorgeous Giant Golden Book of Biology illustrations, published in 1961 as a gift to children and parents everywhere (allowing "Go read your biology book-now!" demands to be met by nodding heads, and turning slanted teenage eyes back into magical child eyes). I never had a copy of this book myself and biology is the only class I ever failed.

I am now waiting for one of my friends to have children and raise them until they're at least 12, so this can be included in their highly anticipated coming of age present.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"To Waste Time"

Mie's amazing gift of We, The Drowned threw me back into the sea faring world I had forced myself to take a break from. It felt like getting handed the keys to a car, or better yet, a boat. The stories of the sailors spending months and years at sea reminded me of the striking scrimshaw they produced. Even though we usually associate this nautical art form with images scratched into ivory (typically whale's teeth), scrimshaw included many other bone and ivory creations. The engravings sailors made are endlessly beautiful, but the practical objects they created linked their idle hands with a far away home. Fun/Fact: Somebody who produces scrimshaw is referred to as a scrimshander. Although the unending loneliness a wife experienced while her husband was at sea was her curse, at least a scrimshander husband would have a pie crimper (first picture), or a swift, used to wind yarn into a ball (second), to hand her when he showed up at the doorstep. This swift can be found in Mystic Connecticut, where my parents were married.