From 1820, an engraving of a microscope built into a book binding at the Wellcome Library site.
With thanks to Margaret Fenney, who posted this on the Book Arts List.
This segmentfrom a show about collectors was originally broadcast in Australia back in March. Carol Barton also mentioned it on one of her blogs. Says the blurb:
Graphic designer Corrie Allegro has an immense collection of 3,500 pop-up books collected over 30 years and including four Australian-produced books. The collection dates from the 1830s to the present day, with over 90 pre-1940s books. The books were created by “Paper Engineers” and not made just for children, but rather for adults and students, to explain things – how architecture and famous buildings, the human anatomy and plants and animals work. The earliest pop-up books were made in the 1500s, but they weren’t produced in quantities till the 1860s. Early books illustrated astronomical and scientific works, and it wasn’t till the 18th century that pop-up books were produced for children. The collection includes books illustrated by well known Australian designers such as Graeme Base’s My Grandma lived in Gooliculch, and political cartoonist and satirist, Patrick Cook‘s The Pop-Up Waltzing Matilda. The oldest book in the collection is Metamorphosis which was produced in 1830.
Last March Julie Chen came up here to Humboldt to give one of her “Book Brain” workshops to the book arts group I belong to. It was a good experience, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about taking one of her classes.
Julie was featured several weeks ago on the PBS show Craft in America. It used to be available for viewing at the PBS site, but they’ve since removed it. You can still see a couple of segments from it here and here. I particularly liked one quote from her. Talking about how she uses skills from traditional bookmaking and printing to make beautiful objects, she stresses that creating an attractive item is not the end purpose. The polished look and the methods used in the construction of the books are there to help support the content. “Everything that goes into the piece should contribute to the meaning of the piece,” she says.
While poking around I found another interesting Julie Chen video from 2004 that originally aired on the San Francisco PBS station KQED. One of the scenes that awakened my fuzzy brain was of Julie showing some of her books to her students at Mills College. One is a carousel-style piece that is held in its open display position with magnets, rather than with ties or whatever. How clever. It made me want to pull out my own magnet collection, which I got a long time ago from K & J Magnetics on the advice of another book artist (who, in turn, had gotten the idea originally from Julie Chen). These particular magnets are tiny, yet very strong, making them ideal to embed in book board and such. Or at least that’s the idea. When I played around with mine I found that the magnetic pull wasn’t quite strong enough once the book cloth and such were added on top. Perhaps I hadn’t been using the best sized magnets, or enough of them. At any rate, I think I might have to give it another try. The video also shows Julie paper shopping at Flax in San Francisco. Just the sight of all those flat files bulging with paper makes my heart pound..
Beginning at age 72 and continuing for ten years until her eyesight began to fail, she created almost 1,000 botanical illustrations from cut paper. Her pictures were made with incredibly intricate detail. She would cut out with exact precision each tiny detail of a plant—individual stamens, bits of pollen, cactus spines… She called her works “Paper Mosaicks.”
One of the great joys of my life was getting to study a majority of these in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. They have now scanned the entire collection of nearly 1,000 of these works and made it available online.
And while I was browsing on the web, I discovered that the Yale Center for British Art is currently having a show about her. It even got a mention on a NY Times blog, and a nice review of it was in the Hartford Courant [update–since deleted]. It ends by saying “…Delany, in her quiet way, continues to influence artists hundreds of years later.” She certainly has influenced me.
The question of pseudo-colouring in biomedicine and its use for science communicative purposes, is a vast and complex subject. If some images are coloured for scientific purposes, and others altered simply for aesthetic reasons, how can a viewer tell the difference? How many people believe viruses are brightly coloured?”