Sunday 29 June 2014

Neil Optical Illusions

Neil Illusions were discovered by Allan Neil, of the Institute of Behavioral Research at Texas Christian University, in the early 1970's. They are notable for the subtlety of the illusion effect - very many people with minor degrees of nonsanopia cannot see the illusion at all. The following article from the New Scientist of 1971 describes a number of the more obvious Neil Illusions. 

Monday 23 June 2014

A postcard from Twin Peaks

Paul Willoughby is a London based illustrater and graphic designer who has worked on Huck magazine and Little White Lies magazine. He recently created some altered postcards for the Twin Peaks 20th Anniversary Art Exhibition in the Menier gallery, London.


Image Copyright Paul Willoughby.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Bloomsday 2014

Bloomsday is celebrated on the 16th June by fans of the James Joyce book Ulysses.

Below are some of the elements of Ernest Reichl's design of the 1934 Random House edition of Ulysses.

Friday 13 June 2014

Gassendi & Mellan

In 1637 the French engraver Mellan published three engravings of the Moon's surface captured by him from Gassendi's telescope HERE.

Image Copyright - The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1960

Monday 9 June 2014

British Standard Whitworth

The British industrialist and entrepreneur Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803- 1887) was born in Stockport near Manchester. He was fascinated from an early age by mechanical engineering and was a great inventor and innovator.

Whitworth worked in London on screw cutting lathes, including  work at Joseph Clements workshop on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine. He returned to Manchester in 1833 to begin his own business making high quality lathes and other machine tools. 

Some of the innovations he came up with included the use of engineers blue and scraping techniques to make very flat metal surfaces. He devised a measurement technique capable of a precision of one millionth of an inch.

The innovation for which he is still remembered was the creation in 1841 of a  standardised screw thread which had an angle of 55 degrees. This became the basis of the first standard system of threads - British Standard Whitworth (BSW or "Whit").  

Image Copyright M.G.Reed 2014.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Birds of Asia - John Gould 1850

New York (1915) & New York Revisited (2002)

The Grolier club of New York was founded in 1884 to celebrate the graphic arts involved in making high quality books; page design, typography, illustration and book binding. The club is named after the renowned book collector Jean Grolier (1490-1565) the Treasurer General of France. Grolier was a patron of the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius and he had ornate bindings made for the volumes he bought. Both the British Library and the National Library in Paris have volumes from his collection.

The current home of the Grolier club is in an affluent part of Manhattan. They have a museum and large research library and host talks and seminars. They also occasionally publish limited editions of exquisitely designed, illustrated and printed books.
New York by Rudolph Ruzicka and Walter Eaton was published by the Grolier club in 1915. It captured a city in transition. Skyscrapers were transforming the city's skyline as it became one of the most populous and economically powerful city's in history. The book was beautifully designed and illustrated by the type designer and wood engraver Rudolph Ruzicka (1883-1978).  The colour wood engravings by Ruzicka were printed in Paris by Emile Fequet. 

Rudolph Ruzicka was born in Kourim, Bohemia in 1883. He moved with his parents to Chicago in 1894 and by 1897 he had became an unpaid apprentice in a wood engraving workshop. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute and New York School of Art. Ruzicka became well known as a type designer and worked for the Mergenthaler Linotype company. He designed the typeface Fairfield in 1940 and re-designed the Harvard Business Review in the early 1950's.

In 2002 Grolier published New York Revisited - a follow-on volume to the 1915 volume (in the world of fine art printing things can sometimes take time). The text in the book was written by a Grolier club member Kenneth Auchincloss and the book was designed, typeset, illustrated with colour wood engravings and hand printed by the fine-art printer Gaylord Schanilec.

In the Foreword to New York Revisited, the author refers back to the 1915 New York volume;
The highlight of the book is the wood engravings by Rudoph Ruzicka. Their muted colors and delicate line partially disguise the artist's reaction to the city, which one suspects was primarily alarm... His images are deceptively light, but what they convey is the enormous vertical weight of the city.  
A total of 250 copies of New York Revisited were printed. The first 50 were specially bound and each contained a portfolio of Ruzicka engravings that had been newly printed by Schanilec from the blocks that Ruzicka had cut in 1915 (the original blocks had been found in an old box by the Grolier club librarian).

Typical two-page spreads from (top) New York (1915) and (bottom) New York Revisited (2002) both published by the Grolier Club of New York.  





Friday 6 June 2014

Long Grain White Oak - Schanilec print

Here is a piece on the work of fine book maker and wood engraver Gaylord Schanilec - in particular his book Sylvæ

Below a two-page spread from the book showing a piece of Long-grain white Oak on the foldout.

 Image copyright Gaylord Schanilec