3 Free eBooks - December 2012

The Internet has a growing number of online books….and many of them are free. This is the third monthly post highlighting 3 that I have found within the past month.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery have a number of online exhibitions available. The first one I looked at was Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass - but I am now working my way through others that look interesting.

Miltoun, Francis. Italian highways and byways from a motor car. Boston: L.C. Page; 1909. Available at http://archive.org/details/italianhighwaysb00milt this book includes color and black/white illustrations that capture the essence of a road trip through Italy in the early 1900s.

 Paul May at the Bristol Chemistry Department Home Page has been posting a Molecule of the Month since 1996. Reading the postings for 2012 (or an earlier year) is a short book. Learn about the molecule that gives raspberries their smell and botulinum toxin (anti-wrinkle/neurotoxin).

The previous eBook posts can be found here.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 14, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week:

The Amazing Trajectories of Life-Bearing Meteorites from Earth - What happens to the ejection of rocks/water from big impacts?

Ocean surface currents animation from NASA - using data from June 2005 to December 2007

A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway - online version from the popular Victorian illustrator

What is a Vegan Diet? - Pointers to good references. “Even if you have no intention of going vegan yourself, anyone can benefit from enjoying a completely plant-based meal from time to time.”

Baking with Whole Grain Flours - A goof reference for if you’re in the mood to experiment with some of those exotic flours that are finding their way into your grocery store - amaranth…buckwheat…quinoa

Smart grids (info graphic) - lots of technology being integrated…coming soon (click on the graphic to enlarge it)

Top 25 US Cities for Energy Star Buildings - Los Angeles and Washington DC are the top 2; Dallas-Fort Worth is 8th

Obesity Accounts for 21% of US Health Care Costs - One more reason to achieve/sustain a normal weight

Birding in the National Parks - Spring time and bird migration

Paleo-Birding: What Birds Looked Like 125 Million Years Ago - Photos of bird fossils with commentary

Know where your food comes from - An interactive map…type the name of a food and see where it comes from in the US

History of Botanical Print Making - Online Examples

Botanical prints have been popular since the beginning of books. They were intended to be educational and often show dissections of flowers or seed pods. They are often beautiful works of art as well.

Many of these old books have been scanned and are accessible via the Internet. I’ve created a time ordered sequence below and pointed to where you can find the whole book of similar prints.


Published in 1484, Peter Schoeffer’s Herbarius latinus contains simple drawings like on the right. The drawings clearly could not be used by themselves to identify a plant. This book was created not that long after the printing press became more widely used (i.e. the Gutenberg Bible was made in the 1450s).






In 1487, Hamsen Schonsperger published Gart der Gesundheit. An example showing an Iris is on the left; the color is rather primitive.  The images are embedded with the text rather than being on separate pages.




Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Das Distilierbuoch came in 1521. It has some plain drawings and some colored. The plain drawings show more detail than earlier drawings although some parts seem stylized rather than reflecting of reality as shown in the grape vine representation on the right. This book also include manufacturing type diagrams...it is a 'how to' book.











In 1546, Kreüter Buch, darin Underscheid, Würckung und Namen der Kreüter so in Deutschen Landen wachsen by Hieronymus Bock was published. The strawberries are easily recognizable. The color is a little better than in the 1400s example.






Skipping ahead to 1788 when Joseph Gaertner published De frvctibvs et seminibvs plantarvm the attention to detail had increased even more. 







In 1805, William Hooker published 2 volumes of The paradisus londinensis:or coloured figures of plants cultivated in the vicinity of the metropolis with color representations. While these volumes were focused on plants near London - the 1800s were a time of plant exploration around the globe and the botanical prints of the era made those discoveries more widely known with their realistic portrayals.





In 1818, William Jackson Hooker published 2 volumes of Musci exotici - with renditions of mosses. 









The 2 volume Florae Columbiae by Hermann Karsten was published in 1869. 





Medizinal Pflanzen was published in 4 volumes in 1887. I picked the dandelion print for the example from this book (on the right). Note the way the illustrator sought to fit as much as possible about the plant onto a single page.













In 1904, Kunstformen der Natur was published by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel. This book has a wide range of prints, not just botanical. The one of pitcher plant is shown at the left. 









In 1907, Alfred  Cogniaux published the many volumes of Dictionnaire iconographique des orchidees. The prints are lovely and grouped by the classification of orchids at the time. My favorite orchids are the slipper-like ones.


This is just a small sample of what is available. The two main repositories that I’ve used are Botanicus and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Both have many more volumes of botanical prints than I've shown here and I encourage you to browse through them. Both repositories have a similar online viewing design. The frame along the left side of the book browsing window generally shows which pages have an illustration (marked 'illustration' or 'plate' or 'tab', for example) so it is possible to skip to the pages that include prints.


Gleanings of the Week Ending February 11, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week:

Song of a Jurassic cricket - Scientists at the University of Bristol made a recording of how these extinct crickets probably sounded based on fossil evidence and what is known about crickets that survive today

All the food you eat is why you’re fat - very graphical presentation from Fast Company. The big 5 reasons: diet soda, driving, your mom, your job, your fork!

Hans Christian Andersen collection - The Zvi Har’El site that provides background material and the H.P. Paull 1872 translation of Andersen’s fairy tales.

Timeline of Ancient Origins of Plastic Surgery

In Depth: Weather on Steroids - Article on the UCAR site discussing “when greenhouse gases enter the climate system, what kind of weather comes out?”

The Open University - a site with free online courses in many topic areas

Pearl Guide - A large site containing information about pearls

Jack Horner: Shape-shifting dinosaurs (TED talk video) - Where are the baby dinosaurs?

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation books on Internet Archive - Lots of recent postings - many with color images of 20th Century art that can be easily viewed online.

Quote of the Day - 1/28/2012

Art is a method of laying claim to the physical world. - Joan Aiken in Morningquest


Maybe this is why I enjoy photography so much. It has become a favorite method for me to ‘claim the physical world.’ I know that with camera in hand, my attention is more focused on details of light and intensity (or not) of color. And then when I look at it later on a large screen, there is often more in the image than I realized.

Fortunately for me, digital cameras are a technology that has advanced rapidly; it no longer takes a lot of fiddling with technology to capture the images I want. Being in the right place and composition are the challenge. The camera I’ve enjoyed for the past year of so is a Canon PowerShot SD4500IS 10 MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD, Brown . All the problems I’ve had with it have been self-inflicted (leaving the SD card in the laptop or the battery in the charger). It’s small enough that I carry it in a padded area of my purse or a pocket of my travel vest; it’s always near at hand to capture an image I want to keep in more than my memory. The only extra purchase I’ve made is a second battery for a long day/lots of images captured.

What is your favorite ‘method of laying claim to the physical world?’

Art in the Tucson Airport

Airports are usually hectic, stressful places. There is a lot of 'hurry up and wait' going on prior to finally getting on a plane. Our mental checklists for boarding pass, drivers license, easy off/on shoes, to check or not check luggage, food, etc. often consume our attention.  

There comes a point that the checklists are satisfied as well as they can be; rather than diving immediately into escapist reading - take a deep relaxing breath and a look around. I'm highlighting what I saw in the Tucson airport recently in the pictures below...but just about every airport has art. Does it ameliorate the stress and chaos of the airport? Maybe not completely but is certainly is a step in the right direction and I appreciate the airport authorities that have made it available.


The picture above is the front and back of a shirt in a zippered suitcase sculpture -  tucked under an escalator near the baggage claim area. I almost walked past it because the lighting is so subtle and its shape fit into the slope of the escalator. After a few steps past, it registered that it was something a bit different and I went back to look at both sides of it.

The group of pictures below shows glass, stone, and wood grain close ups.The top two are simply panels on walls. They are practical art. I've always liked looking at wood grain because of the suggestions the grain makes for other images. Iridescent glass tiles appeal to me too. Their color changes with different lighting. Photographing them from different angles provided some artsy moments for me! The pictures at the bottom were from a mual made of polish shells, stones and glass. The overall mural depicted elements of Arizona (birds, fossils, cactus, etc.); I enjoyed the whole but chose my favorite parts to photograph.