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Thursday, December 31, 2009

May the Font Be With You




A week or so ago I wrote about Wm. Morris and the Private Press Movement.  When Morris founded Kelmscott Press he also designed two new fonts in which to publish his books, Troy (1892, first line above) and Golden (1890, second line above).  Golden has a rough-edged feel designed to mimic the look of printing on handmade paper.  Troy was designed later, shortly followed by a smaller version he called Chaucer (1893).  I signed my name in the Morris Ornament font which can also be seen in original use here.

You can play with these fonts, purchase them, and also find a little more history here and here (among other places on the web).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Climate Change and Stained Glass Windows

Le Mans Cathedral, full-colored windows

Tours Cathedral, full-colored windows

Cologne Cathedral, grisaille windows

Last week I was in San Francisco attending the annual convention of the American Geophysical Union.  Every day was filled with cutting-edge climate science presentations, none of which had anything to do with Arts and Crafts or William Morris---until I came across the work of graduate student Christopher Simmons!  Simmons has visited many of the great cathedrals of Europe measuring light transmission through stained glass windows.  He has documented how a shift in the color choices used in stained glass windows, the "Grisaille Revolution", paralleled a shift to wetter and cloudier climates in Europe at the end of the 13th century.  He hypothesizes that "climate changes operating in tandem with trends in aesthetic tastes likely motivated a permanent shift in architectural daylighting strategy" and with transmissivity data collected using a Extech 407026 illuminance meter and a Canon Digital Rebel XTi SLR camera, Simmons demonstrated how "grisaille" windows let in much more light, especially on cloudy days (see pics above).

As Simmons concludes, with a minimum of scientific jargon, "this has important implications for understanding thresholds between climate and architectural design, an increasingly important concern as we undergo a period of rapid climate change."

 LeMans, detail

Tours, detail

Cologne detail

Some more examples of grisailles......


Grisailles: A term that applies generally to stained glass windows that are kept predominately white.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dan Phillips - Lord of the Trash

Recycled frame samples ceiling (photo from Michael Stravato, New York Times)

Recycled cork floor (photo from Michael Stravato, New York Times)

Recycled shingle roof  (photo from Michael Stravato, New York Times)

Mosaic (photo from Phoenix Commotion)

Balusters (photo from Phoenix Commotion)

Tray windows (photo from Phoenix Commotion)

Tree house kitchen counter (photo from Phoenix Commotion)

Mr. Phillips has built 14 houses that he estimates are composed of ~80% salvaged material.  The goal of his Texas company, Phoenix Commotion, is to provide affordable low-income housing while reducing the huge flux of wasted material to landfills.   The New York Times wrote a wonderful profile of him last September that is inspiring to read.  Also, check out the slide show and his web site for more photographs of his work.

Monday, December 21, 2009

William Morris and the Private Press Movement

 William Morris, The well at the world’s end (Printed by Kelmscott Press, 1896)

  A Book of Verse, 1870

A Book of Verse, 1870


The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Printed by Kelmscott Press, 1896

Odes of Horace, 1874



"The Nature of Gothic" By John Ruskin Printed by Kelmscott Press, 1892

 A Book of Verse, 1870

Morris must have had some extra time on his hands in 1890 so he decided to found yet another movement -- the Private Press Movement.  Private Press refers to books manufactured with traditional methods of printing and binding with the goal of producing a book that not only conveys information but is also a work of art.  Art and craft as one.  Morris founded Kelmscott Press to realize his vision of books as works of art, producing more than 18,000 copies of 53 different works between 1891 and 1898.

Here is a link to a wonderful on-line archive of Morris book pages/illustrations curated by Dr. Florence Boos of the University of Iowa.  She is currently President of the William Morris Society in the U.S. which definitely qualifies her as a fan!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

William Morris Wallpaper - less well-known patterns

Wreath, 1876

Scroll, 1872

Rose, 1877

Hammersmith, 1890

Autumn Leaves, 1888

Branch, 1872

 Diaper, 1870

Friday, December 18, 2009

Michael Peterson: Evolution | Revolution

Coastal Stack IV, 2008


 Coastal Stack V, 2008

 Teardrop, 1987

From the San Francisco Museum of Craft+Design: "Michael Peterson's poetic wood sculptures are deeply inspired by his environment in the Pacific Northwest.  This exhibit follows the artist's unique trajectory from his early works to his most current organic abstract forms realized through the mastery of the chainsaw."

I like the idea of someone whose artistic vision was enhanced through mastery of a chainsaw.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amish Quilts at the de Young Museum


After all the glitz of King Tut it was great to go upstairs for a little "comfort" art -- almost fifty Amish quilts from the late 19th and early 20th century.  Like in the Tut exhibit, I was again struck by how modern these pieces looked even though some were over a hundred years old.  This special exhibition is titled "Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown" and it will be on display until June 6, 2010.  Great gift shop stuff!