The Popular Edge, Pop-Up and Book Arts News

October 28, 2011

Skin, Text and Texture

Filed under: artist's books, books — Tags: , , , — popularkinetics @ 8:47 pm

Brooklyn artist Ariana Page Russel has turned her medical condition into an art form. She has dermatographic urticaria that causes her skin to  become raised and inflamed when scratched, rubbed, or stroked. The inflammation is painless and lasts about 30 minutes. It’s just enough time to allow the artist to photograph herself after she’s finished her skin drawing. She exhibits the photographs, and also makes collage designs and wallpaper from the photos. Apparently she can control the pink or red hues in her designs by the pressure she exerts on her skin. For more on Ariana, visit her web site,

October 15, 2011

Jefferson and His Unusual Bible

Filed under: books — Tags: , , — popularkinetics @ 7:39 pm

After serving his two terms as U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson retired to Monticello, his home outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and began work on constructing his own “Bible,” a collage of clippings from other Bibles in English, Greek, Latin, and French. Jefferson was most interested in the moral teachings of Jesus, and assembled the clippings from the Four Gospels of the New Testament in chronological order, creating a sort of “scrapbook” of Jesus’s life and philosophy. He glued the cut pieces onto loose pages in four columns for easy comparison. The pages were later bound into a book that was titled The Life And Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, now known as the Jefferson Bible.

A few months ago we visited the conservation lab at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where the Bible was being restored by conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis. The book’s binding was cracked and damaged, and the pages fragile. It’s been a year of difficult work for Janice and her staff. Because the book is so stiff and delicate, it can only be partially opened, and many of the repairs were accomplished with tweezers.

It was a thrill to see Jefferson’s finished book, and we also enjoyed seeing one of the Bibles from which verses were extracted because it looked so much like an artist’s book with all the missing cutouts.

With the conservation mission accomplished, the Jefferson Bible will be on display at the NMAH’s Albert H. Small Documents Gallery, starting in November. For more information, visit the SI Newsdesk.

October 7, 2011

Engineering (Beyond Paper) at the Solar Decathlon

Filed under: paper engineering — Tags: , , — popularkinetics @ 8:43 pm

Team Florida House

Florida International House

Last week we at Popular Kinetics visited one of our favorite events in Washington, D.C., the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Featuring 19 solar-powered homes designed by teams of architecture, design, and engineering students at prominent universities from around the world, the houses were on display for 10 days at a site along the Potomac River between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The houses compete in 10 contests testing their energy efficiency and evaluating their affordability and design features. Visitors are invited to tour the houses, and students are available to answer questions.

Although Popular Kinetics is focused on paper engineering, we get many of our ideas by studying architectural and engineering strategies developed in cutting-edge projects such as these.

This year’s winner was our home-state University of Maryland entry, which focused on water management inspired by the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem. Congratulations, Team Maryland!

For more information on the Decathlon, visit 

New Zealand house

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