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‘swell things’ Category

  1. Swell Things No. 34

    June 30, 2016 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Painting the same portrait over and over using slight variations in scale and palette, one can get a sense of how colors can play off of one another or evoke different moods. Hayley Mitchell has done just this with the face of a woman with round cheeks, a floral headdress and large dangly earrings.
    2. In artist Richard McVetis‘s portfolio is a collection of finely embroidered pieces which a sketch-like, abstract quality. In the series, In Pursuit of Time, Richard has embroidered a collection of embroidered wool cubes with the finest stitches of black thread.
    3. Designed by the South African lighting company Willowlamp, this amazing chandelier assembled by laser-cut steel is arranged to represent a mandala. The design reveals itself as you move underneath it.
    4. Metro Queen by Swedish-based artist Jeff Östberg is a digitally rendered illustration that has qualities similar to that of a woodblock print or lithograph. He illustrations are rich in color and style.
    5. Diagonal Press, run by artist Tauba Auerbach, has a unique and irresistible collection of enamel pins. Oh, and some interesting (and affordable) artist books.


    6. The work of Gunjan Aylawadi is mind-blowing. She meticulously crafts each piece by weaving together tightly curled paper ropes. Many times her work includes geometric designs layered and stacked into complex patterns. Her large installations are quite a sight.
    7. Transcriptions is a beautiful landscape series from photographer Kyra Schmidt.
    8. I really love Anna Hoyle’s gouache paintings of books. The titles are hilarious, but I’m particularly tickled by the little “bookmark” legs dangling from the pages of a stack of books.
    9. These are the most beautiful pencil shavings I’ve ever seen.
    10. Hyperallergic recently posted an article on the repairs done to five whaling logbooks from Martha’s Vineyard Museum. In addition to the normal wear and tear, whaling logbooks can also experience water damage. The repair work was done by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Check out the article for NEDCC’s treatment on the logbooks and more wonderful drawings of whales.

  2. Swell Things No. 33 // Emily Patchin

    May 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    Emily Patchin will be graduating from the North Bennet Street School within the next few days. And you may recognize her name from my post on the set book from the Student and Alumni Show. In the latest installment of Swell Things, Emily offers up an interesting collection of posts. Many of them will direct you to talented illustrators and other artists. My favorite is on Kameelah Janan Rasheed, whose artwork shown below, hangs in our bindery. Enjoy!


    1. Beth Cavener’s work has floored me since 2010. To see the raw edges of her work evolve into a style even more painterly than it began, while she maintains the searing emotion within each sculpture, is simply incredible.
    2. I love these highly stylized safety posters [from the Netherlands]. It’s interesting to be able to note the passage of time, from the 1940-1960s, through the art style alone.
    3. Whales! KNIVES! Does this really need an explanation for why they’re AWESOME!
    4. Glas is a fun, short Dutch film, documenting the nature of hand craftsmanship versus machine produced glass. I think it’s interesting to note the musical and color changes, from man to machine, that may influence the viewer’s feelings on the subject. I also can’t decide who I like more: the man blowing glass while smoking a cigarette, or the man blowing glass in a three-piece suit.
    5. Everything about Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo’s illustrations are unsettling: from his vivid color palettes, to his lidless, geometric portraits of cultural figures. I adore it.


    6. These landscape photos [from Reuben Wu] are so beautiful and otherworldly. I love the ones that are reminiscent of deep sea exploration in particular.
    7. Kelly Rose Dancer is one of the most talented and prolific artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet! She’s not only immeasurably talented, but her cheeky sense of humor carries through so much of her work. In her series, Crappy Cats, she draws the cat’s clothing with her dominant hand and the faces with her non-dominant hand. It’s a perfect example of how her superb draftsmanship and sense of humor mash-up to hilarious results.
    8. Kevin Wada first caught my eye with his collaborative “X-Fashions” series, which depicts characters from Marvel’s X-Men as haute couture fashionistas. I find his stylistic reinvention of popular comic characters refreshing. With the decade long onslaught of comic-book movie adaptations, I feel all of the female characters I grew up loving, like Storm, have been left in the dust. Wada puts them center-stage: kicking ass in Balenciaga.
    9. Tyler Thraser had me at, “I crystalize dead shit.
    10. Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s public print series How to Suffer Politely (And Other Etiquette) is top to bottom brilliant. She satirizes etiquette guides while pointing a hot light on the erasure of Black suffering, oppression, and death through White respectability politics.

  3. Swell Things No. 32

    April 30, 2016 by Erin Fletcher


    1. I don’t know much about the origins of this website, only that it is incredibly addictive. Choose from seven 8-bit images (or play around with all of them) that are automatically resized by the movement of your mouse. As the picture is reduced in scale, it alters the original image. The one pictured above is The Sphinx resizeable.
    2. Ben Elbel recently wrote an article summarizing a recent experiment he conducted on English case bindings. Ben specifically wanted to reduced the pull on the endpaper and text block when opening the cover. It’s a really interesting read and he documented his efforts very well.
    3. Discovering a mold-ridden box of photographic glass plates could induce anxiety and dread to any conservator or archivist. Yet art historian Luce Lebart spun this potential nightmare into a published collection of mesmerizing imagery in the book Mold is Beautiful.
    4. The construction of garments from the Victorian era to contemporary Haute Couture can be complex and almost mystifying. Isabella de Borchgrave replicates these complicated pieces out of paper. Her ability to give paper the appearance and movement of fabric is incredible. Some garments are displayed on mannequins, while others are worn by models. The paper garments can not only function like proper textiles garments, but they can be folded up and stored in the same way as clothes.
    5. Stephanie Clark has a talent for manipulating paint on the canvas, creating such beautiful textures and composition. Another great artist who could inspire a future design on a binding.


    6. Richard Keeling‘s Shadow Shapes series is geometric paradise. I love the play of color and shapes, some are layered with a multitude of color while others employ a simpler palette. And as the title indicates, an angular shadow is cast, adding dimension to these seemingly flat prints.
    7. German sculptor, Angela Glajcar, has an amazing portfolio of large-scale paper installations. Angela masterfully twists, drapes and manipulates layers of paper to create flowing landscapes and captivating tunnels.
    8. It’s as if two worlds collided with one another in Furniturish, a series of sculpture pieces by Tom Shields. Crafted and modeled after traditional styles, Tom seemingly builds one piece inside of another and sometimes builds several pieces around each other. The work is mind-boggling and beautiful.
    9. I love these illustrations from French painter Léa Maupetit. So whimsical and amusing.
    10. Five heart-shaped boxes dating to the 16th and 17th centuries were discovered in France. These boxes were in fact shrines containing actual hearts representing the long memorial tradition of heart burial. This find was exciting for many different communities, such as researchers at the Molecular Anthropology and Synthesis Imaging and the Institute of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases. These hearts gave researchers a rare opportunity to examine organic matter from 400 years ago.

  4. Swell Things No. 31 // Henry Hebert

    March 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    Henry Hébert was a regular contributor to the Conservation Conversations column for the past two years. This year I invited Henry back to create a Swell Things post. Henry and I were fellow classmates at North Bennet Street School and we soon developed an appreciation for each other’s quirky interests. I was very excited to see the inclusion of Amy Borezo’s latest artist book and the Reply All episode on Zardulu. Enjoy!


    1. I came across this water bottle in a shop called Chet Miller here in Durham. They probably intend this to be about trees and wildlife, but I’m choosing to believe it’s really about book conservation. Izola makes one that just says “Preservation” too! It’s one of the best water bottles I’ve ever owned – very good construction and insulation.
    2. I had seen images of these paper masks from Wintercroft on social media around Halloween, but I finally saw one in real life the other day. Way more impressive in-person and apparently not that difficult to assemble.
    3. I really love the style and materials of traditional icon painting, and Andrey Remnev‘s images take that to a whole new level.
    4. It’s been a while since I have done any blacksmithing, but these decorated rounding hammers from Cergol Tool and Forgeworks make me want to pick it up again. Or just hang one on the wall as artwork.
    5. I’m a huge Lovecraft fan and Amy Borezo‘s images are a perfect take on the mysterious “colour” which spreads from a fallen meteor in Arkham, MA. This is supposedly Lovecraft’s favorite story and a wonderful introduction, if you haven’t read any of his work. [Side note from Erin: I recently purchased this binding from Amy and the imagery is breathtaking. The page layout of use of solid blocks of black are gorgeous. The Colour Out of Space is truly a worthy addition to any artist’s book collection.]


    6. Local NC artist Tedd Anderson‘s recent series of mixed media drawings about immortal beings who have cried themselves dry is simultaneously weird, beautiful, funny, and haunting.
    7. Melbourne artist Daniel Agdag makes some really inspiring miniature sculptures from cardboard, paper, wood, and glass.
    8. I’ve always really liked the intricate geometric patterns of Islamic art, like these ceilings of Iranian mosques. But this material which uses some of those patterns to expand and flex is mind-blowing. I’m really curious if this could be used in my own work for creating custom housing for unusually shaped objects.
    9. Philadelphia artist John Dyer Baizley has done artwork for an amazing number of album covers. Stylistically similar to Brian Schroeder, but with a nice mixture of surrealism and art nouveau. Baizley is also a member of the band Baroness and their newest album Purple is pretty great.
    10. Did you know that Pizza Rat could have been carefully anonymously orchestrated by a single myth-maker/mastermind in NYC named Zardulu? I learned about her through Reply All, a really fun and interesting podcast from Gimlet Media about the internet. I encourage you to read her twitter feed, listen to the backlog of Reply All episodes, and keep an eye out for trained rats.

  5. Swell Things No. 30

    February 29, 2016 by Erin Fletcher


    1. After the Spanish civil war, the Church of Santa Barbera in the Spanish town of Llanera was neglected and fell into disrepair. That is until just recently, when Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel painted it’s walls and ceilings with rainbow patterns and surrealist figures. In addition to the new decor, the church was also transformed into an indoor skate park.
    2. Check out the beautifully detailed illustrations of Whooli Chen.
    3. As a student at SAIC, I created a volume of seven books (one for each day of the week). The text for each book was an alphabetized transcript of what I said on that given day. Since, then I’ve been fascinated by non-traditional alphabetizing. Like Of Oz the Wizard, the entire film of The Wizard of Oz has been re-edited with each word of dialogue now in alphabetical order. Now you can easily know how many times the word kansas was uttered.
    4. In 2013, the Tate exhibited the work of little-known artist Hilma af Klint, a Swedish woman who may be regarded as the pioneer of abstract art (a title often given to Wassily Kandinsky). You can read about Hilma’s journey to becoming an artist in Issue 27 of the Tate Etc.
    5. I’m in love with these warped quilt paintings from Anna Buckner.


    6. On the walls of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, hang 29 abstract paintings. Unless you are privy to walk through this building, you would have no idea what they look like and who painted them. Upon discovery of this secret collection, Portland-based artist Johanna Barron set out to recreate each of the 29 paintings by scouring for any information regarding the artworks. When her request through the Freedom of Information Act was denied (several times), she had to dig deeper. Read the article to find out more.
    7. A book. A book about dreaming. A book with embroidered elements. A book called Traumgedanken by Maria Fischer.
    8. The Captured Project was developed and is led by Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider. The idea behind their project is simple, but speaks to our government’s inability to take action against some of America’s most powerful businesspeople who commit crimes on a national and even global level. Each portrait of these offenders was commissioned and painted by people incarcerated in the United States. The project’s tagline sums is up quite nicely: People in Prison Drawing People Who Should Be.
    9. Korean artist Sungseok Ahn carefully lines up images of the past in front of their present landscape. The photographs of these scenes make up the series Historic Present. I really enjoy work like this. I think we expect change to happen over several decades, but it can be surprising when no real change occurs.
    10. Rogan Brown creates these amazingly intricate paper sculptures that are hand and laser-cut. The patterns are inspired by cell structures, tree moss, bacteria, coral, diatoms and radiolaria. His works are quite lovely.

  6. Swell Things No. 29 // Jason Fletcher

    January 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    This is the first Swell Things guest post of year and I’m excited to present these collected bookmarks from my husband Jason Fletcher. As a Science Visualizer for the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science, Jason has his radar set on stunning digital visuals and animated shorts. Check out his blog, The Fulldome Blog, to read more about interests surrounding the planetarium community. Enjoy!


    1. Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania is extremely high in soda and salt content. After animals die in the lake, their carcasses are preserved through calcification as they dry, resulting in petrified “mummies” of birds and bats. Photographer Nick Brandt visited the lake and captured a series of photos that features these petrified animals. The series is aptly titled Petrified.
    2. Check out this music video where you can look around in 360° while traveling through a fractal zoom.
    3. This is an incredibly ambitious 3D animation of a gigantic spacecraft inspired from the book Rendezvous with Rama from Arthur C. Clarke.
    4. Imagine sitting on a swing that made it feel like you are floating through the stars…
    5. Preliminary Study Toward 3D Printed Media Installations. “In this electronic age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.” -Marshall McLuhan


    6. This is one day’s observations from Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, animated in a loop. It shows the western Pacific, Australia, and parts of Asia, Antarctica, and Alaska as they looked on one day in mid-2015. It covers 24 hours in 12 seconds – a time lapse factor of 7,200×.
    7. Andy Cavatorta’s ‘The Dervishes’ is a robotic prototype that produces angelic-like sounds through spinning corrugated cylinders. Hear about his punk rock history and get inside his cyclone of sound.
    8. Photographer Aydin Büyüktas’ background in film and visual effects really shows in Flatland, a cinematic series of drone footage digitally manipulated to create shots of Istanbul which seem to fold over on themselves. He must have loved the movie Inception.
    9. Seed is a short project that the Aixsponza team created to try out fresh ideas and techniques. It is stunning!
    10. SIM/NEBULA is an international collaboration of expressively futuristic visual poems, shaping the emergence of cybernetic organism counting down its time code in live acoustic waves of classical music.

  7. Swell Things No. 28

    November 30, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Covered is an exhibit by photographer Alan Powdrill who gives real insight to tattoo culture with this series of double portraits. The first photograph shows the subject fully clothed and the second completely nude (well except for the tattoos from head to toe and from front to back). You can’t judge a book by its cover.
    2. After the tragedies that struck Paris, it was heartwarming to see the rise of love and kindness that emerged. Inspired by the Blind Trust Project after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Muslim men took to the streets in Paris with blindfolds asking people to show their trust in them by hugging them. It was emotionally overwhelming to watch the responses. When people unite in kindness they overcome evil.
    3. More than two million of the Syria refugees are children in desperate need of a home and stability. Photographer Magnus Wennman has met countless people in refugee camps over the year and his main concern has been to capture the vulnerability of children displaced by war as a way to garner support.
    4. Cats in slow-motion.
    5. Have any old VHS tapes lying around? New York-based artist Zilvinas Kempinas created an 80 foot cylindrical walkway from stretched strips of VHS tape in his installation Tube.


    6. I’ve been enjoying the watercolor drawings of Dan Gluibizzi, whose most recent show titled You Don’t Have to be Alone Tonight is currently on display at CULT in San Francisco.
    7. The Newstead Oddities is a collection of marble ‘characters’. Artist Anna Collette Hunt has sculpted these amusing statues and wall plates as an homage to the characters she finds while touring various National Trust Houses and museum like the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
    8. Animation designer Henning M. Lederer has brought life a collection of vintage book covers from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. These covers were beautifully designed with abstract, minimalist and geometrics forms, which Lederer so elegantly animates.
    9. Alison Moritsugu has painted an entire series of traditional landscapes that are lovely and highly detailed. The difference being that her canvas are the cut-off ends of logs. The vibrant and crisp paintings pair so nicely with the rustic edge of raw wood.
    10. This is an older article from Smithsonian Magazine, but still interesting. Biologists have recently come to the conclusion that the paintings found in eight caves in France and Spain may have been created by women. They’ve deduced this from the length of the fingers of the handprints left on the walls. Quite fascinating and rock on cave dwelling ladies of the past (pun intended).

  8. Swell Things No. 27

    October 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Korwin Briggs is a comic book artist and created this delightful infographic, Mummy Brown and Other Historical Colors, detailing historical colors and where they came from, like Mummy Brown, yes it was derived from actual mummies.
    2. Mikael Takacs creates these wildly abstract and alien-like portraits using marbling techniques.
    3. France in the Year 2000 is a series of paintings from French artist, most notably Jean-Marc Côté. These paintings were created in the late 1890s and around the turn of the century. This series was printed on cigarette and cigar boxes for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris (later becoming postcards). The imagery shows lots of mechanized devices and flysuits and strange interactions with marine life.
    4. What happens when you string up 14,000 used eyeglass lenses, sea/see/saw, a kinetic sculpture that moves brilliantly with gusts of wind. The sculpture has been recently installed on the façade of the Pera Museum in Istanbul.
    5. the.jefferson.grid is a beautiful instagram collection of Google Earth images. The snapshots capture a square mile of landscape and the geometric designs within it.


    6. Ever wonder how the rims, doors and other parts of vehicle get their patterning. I guess it happens using traditional marbling techniques. Watch this captivating video as car parts are slowly dipped into deep marbling trays to get their decorative coating.
    7. The craft of bookbinding has a long history and has seen a decline over the centuries. So I’m always captivated by trades with a similar history. Check out this behind the scenes look at one of the last handmade globe makers, Bellerby & Co. Globemakers.
    8. The University of Washington recently added a collection of decorative papers to their digital library, which includes a large selection of marbled papers and paste papers that span over several centuries and countries.
    9. This 16th century pattern book is quite interesting and was most likely put together with the purpose of aiding a scribe to refine his skills. A description in the book gives ownership to Heinrich Lercher Wyss who was the official scribe of the duchy of Wüttermberg. The book was gifted to him by his cousin Gregorius Bock. The book includes alphabets in various scripts (includes Greek and Hebrew script) and some decorative initials.
    10. Sew Wanderlust is an ongoing series from artist Teresa Lim. As she travels the world, she captures her experiences not in a photograph but through an embroidered sketch of her surroundings. I love it!

  9. Swell Things No. 26

    August 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Recently installed at the Shatin Park in Hong Kong is Kaleidome, a structure for children to play on. But the real beauty lies in its design. The brightly colored, stainless-steel dome is angled in a way that alters your perception of the surrounding city; just like viewing the world through a kaleidoscope.
    2. Chris Wood labels himself as a ‘glass and light artist’. Using dichroic glass (two color optical coating that selectively reflects certain wavelengths of light) Chris creates these glowing wall pieces that reflect light in the most intriguing way.
    3. The candy colored palette of Barbara Dziadosz‘s illustrations are deliciously eye catching. Barbara is a Polish freelance artist specializing in character design through illustration and printmaking.
    4. Enjoy these dreamy paintings from artist Jenny Prinn.
    5. The scope of Henry Darger’s work is wildly impressive and incredibly strange. A new exhibition of his work is on view at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. You can read more about Darger here or treat yourself to the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal.


    6. The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) recently completed a repair job on an original binding of William Morris’ The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer published in 1896. You can read about their treatment here and why it was so important to preserve this historical binding.
    7. Tomás Saraceno has constructed a massive hot air balloon in response to our environmental impact. Tomás interprets the hot air balloon as a symbol of escapism from earthly troubles; Becoming Aerosolar is a body of work that speaks about the magnitude of human consumption and waste.
    8. Emergent Behavior is a whimsical photographic series from Thomas Jackson. Ordinary objects erupt in chaotic storms amongst beautiful landscapes. Thomas experiments with tutus, cups, streamers, marshmallows and more.
    9. I love the illustrations from artist Jen Collins, but her ceramic works just delight me. You can see all of her available pieces here at Bolden Ceramics.
    10. Check out this comprehensive article regarding the history of vellum and parchment, which highlights historical production and uses.

  10. Swell Things No. 25

    July 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    1. The city of Melbourne has assigned email addresses to trees, which allow citizens to report any issues. Instead, the city has been receiving letters addressed directly to the trees from passing admirers. Check them out here.
    2. The British Library recently published Medieval Monsters, a delightful picture book from medieval historian Damien Kempf and art historian Maria L. Gilbert. The book explores the fantastic, grotesque and exuberant world of monsters found in illuminated manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages. Check out a this delightful post from the two authors on the Ten Things to Know About Medieval Monsters.
    3. If you can, make your way to the National Building Museum in Washington DC sometime before September 7th to visit The Beach. Design duo Snarkitecture recently installed a massive wading pool out of 1 million translucent polystyrene balls, basically the largest ball pit ever. At the edge of the wading pool is a carpeted space with deck chairs and beach umbrellas. What a unique and relaxing way to enjoy the summer.
    4. The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee has a great tumblr showcasing treasures from their Special Collections. My favorite column is Book/Not Book which includes animated gifs of artist books from their collection, giving a real sense of the content and how the book functions.
    5. The work of French artist, Amandine Urruty, is truly strange. Her eerie drawings are highly detailed scenes and portraits of nostalgic icons, like Jabba the Hut, Cookie Monster, Cabbage Patch dolls and many more. Each piece will keep your focus as your pane through the scene looking for the recognizable characters.


    6. As part of the Sculpture By the Sea Festival in Denmark, Gjøde & Povlsgaard Arkitekter installed a breathtaking circular bridge off the Danish Coast.
    7. Gretchen Röehrs has been playing with her food in the most haute couture way. Her Instagram is full of creative fashion drawings where the garments are constructed with actual food. Oysters and leafy greens make for gorgeous silhouettes and offering intriguing textures.
    8. Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad created a dual installation of mirrors placed outside in Italy and Iran. Seen above is Heaven on Earth, in which mirrors were installed on the steps at Fabrica, a communication research center in Treviso, Italy. The installation offers a striking juxtaposition between the hard concrete and brilliant blue sky. The second installation, Evocation, includes round mirrors placed on the desert dunes of Iran.
    9. The Thomas J. Watson Library at the Met in New York recently acquired a group of Czech Publishers’ bindings which demonstrate the rise of importance of the Czech language and the skill of artists and designers working at the time. The designs range from the early 1900s to about 1930. Quite a striking and little seen collection of Publishers’ bindings, read more about it here.
    10. Singapore-based photographer Gabriel Kang has a beautiful Instagram of found triangles. Gabriel crops his images in order to create a triangle with a right angle at the bottom of the frame. Truly beautiful pieces.

  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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