Thursday, April 22, 2010

Save the Words

I was immediately attracted by Save the Words website—lots of color and typographic variety and a humorous audio track. If you are a lover of words, you will be too. Each year hundreds of words are dropped from the English language, I learned, leaving us with only 7,000 words for 90% of everything we write. The mission of the website creators is to save those words that have fallen by the wayside.

Clicking on a word brings up a definition of the word and an adopt this word option. Alas, my one criticism of the site is that there is no pronunciation guide. I hope one will be added in the future, audible preferred. By adopting a word and promoting it in one of the myriad, often humorous ways suggested, such as in a meeting (instead of encouraging attendees to think laterally, how about think outside the nidifice), as a pet name (Ictuate, go fetch!), as a tattoo or graffiti (!), or in your next game of Scrabble (creating endless arguments and debates using words such as pudify or stagma), you can keep these words alive and in the English language. If you are a real logophile, you can sign up and have a new word emailed to you every day.

There are other sites with collections of obscure words. One I found interesting but have not explored in depth is International House of Logorrhea, an online dictionary of weird and unusual words. Check out their Compendium of Lost Words.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Exhibit: A Castle On the Ocean

It took Wataru Itou, a young art major at a Tokyo university, four years to construct this amazing castle, complete with electrical lights and a moving train, made completely of paper!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beautiful Old Libraries

The libraries of my childhood were two. One, a modern affair, was a 10-minute walk from my home, situated on a corner of the neighborhood public park. I was 12-years old when ground was broken for this library. I remember watching it being built and the thrill, when it opened, of getting my first library card, and subsequent visits where I would pull a little stool, on which to sit, up to a bookshelf to browse and select the books I would carry home. Later, in high school, I discovered the main library, downtown, with its rooms of dark wood shelving, sturdy tables and chairs, and its distinctive books scent. I spent many a date with my high school beaux doing homework in this library.

I still use the library, a lot. At least once a week, I drive to my local branch to check out movies and pick up the books I have reserved and directed to this branch through my library's online site. I rarely buy novels or audio books because I rarely reread or relisten to them so I am grateful to have a source of "free" books, but I do buy lots of reference books on topics such as gardening, cooking, beading, bookbinding, and dog training, to name a few. I use the library to make decisions about these types of book purchases. So, you can imagine my dismay when I learned a week ago that on Friday, June 19, the Governor of the state of Ohio, in an effort to balance the state budget, had proposed a cut of 50% for Public Library Funding and that voting on this proposal would be June 30!

The effects of this cut will be devastating. We all know that libraries educate and promote literacy, something that is good for our society. Libraries also contribute to the safety of our communities. A child who likes and uses the library is unlikely to become a delinquent or grow up to become an adult criminal, and is far more likely to graduate from high school and continue his or her education. And in these hard economic times, we need our libraries more than ever. In my city, library use is up as the unemployed use computers to search for jobs and borrow books and movies they cannot afford to buy. If this budget cut is passed, half of my city's branches, 20 of 40, will be closed permanently, and 250 library personnel will lose their jobs.

Fortunately, library patrons across the state sprang into action, sending emails to and calling the governor's office and their state legislators. In my city alone, library supporters sent 35,000 emails to legislators and the governor and deluged them with phone calls. Almost all members of the Ohio General Assembly issued statements in support of libraries. Now we await the vote.

All of this is preamble to linking you to a blog entry of beautiful libraries at Curious Expeditions. What memories do you have of the libraries of your youth?

Photos (in order):
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Boston Copley Public Library, Boston, MA
Widener Library, Harvard, Cambridge, MA
Cornell Law School Library, Ithaca, NY

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mass Production Bookbinding

An industrial film, ca. 1961, showing the work of bookbinders and the final steps in the process of manufacturing printed books. From the "Americans at Work" series. Courtesy of The Prelinger Archives.

After experiencing the slow process of making a hardbound book (codex) by hand, I was fascinated by this film and how the various processes were mechanized. The collating of book signatures was my favorite. I could not help thinking what a mess it would be if one of those ladies lost her rhythm, and was reminded of the Lucille Ball candy factory episode.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Exhibit: Once Upon A Book

Wish I lived close by and could see this exhibit. The San Francisco Center for the Book exhibit, Once Upon a Book, May 4 - Aug 07, 2009, is their second in a series of children's book exhibitions. This show explores the creative process in the work of six critically acclaimed illustrators: Elisa Kleven, Remy Charlip, Maira Kalman, David Macaulay, Chris Raschka and Brian Selznick.

I love these videos in which the illustrators talk about their creative processes. But, be careful, they might lead you to other
YouTube videos on the bookarts.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Origami Documentary: Between The Folds

A high-resolution version of this trailer can be seen here.

While looking for information about folded book forms I came across this trailer for Green Fuse Films' current documentary project, Between the Folds (working title, Exploring Origami). They have wrapped primary shooting and are in post-production. A special sneak preview will be showing May 31, 2008, at the Parrish Art Museum:
This feature-length documentary illuminates the beauty, complexity and powerful duality of origami in the 21st century, and the unexpected lives it shapes. Viewers will travel far beyond conventional child's craft to discover unforeseen directions in origami that decidedly blur the line between dizzying science and dazzling art. With world-renowned master-artists as guides – many with extensive backgrounds in the advanced sciences – the film sheds light on how origami uniquely fuses form and function, science and sculpture, ancient and new. Produced and directed by Vanessa Gould. Running time approximately 60 minutes.
In the meantime, here is another little film, 6 Artists: On Origami, 13-minutes long, specifically created by Green Fuse Films for the Mingei International Museum in connection with their origami exhibit in 2007.

Sites of some of the featured artists in the film:
Michael LaFosse
Eric Joisel
Paul Jackson
Robert J. Lang
Tom Hull

Monday, March 03, 2008

Book Arts & Copyright

Good grief! Where does the time go? I am referring not only to my absence but to the time I have spent today reading about a subject with which I have a basic knowledge but about which I never had the desire to deeply research, and to be honest, I still do not, due to all the legalese. However, a posting on the Handmade Book Community Forum on the issue of copyright led me to a three-part posting on Lee Kottner’s blog, Spawn of Blogorrhea. The posts are rather long, so you will need to set aside a bit of time, but it will be time well spent.

After reading the posts, I just happened to look over at the sidebar and low and behold, there was a listing for this blog. How embarrassing. Five months have passed with no posting here. That lit my fire.

So, if you have ever wondered if you are stepping on any legal toes when you use work other than your own in your book creations, this is a good place to start:

Book Arts & Copyright, Part I: Reuse, Repurposing, or Just Plain Stealing?
Book Arts & Copyright, Part II: Finding Legit Sources
Book Arts & Copyright, Part III: Don't Be Evil