Thomas Poulsom’s LEGO Birds Now Available as an Official LEGO Set 

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A few years ago we mentioned LEGO and bird enthusiast Thomas Poulsom who designed a beautiful series of LEGO bird specimens. Poulsom submitted his concept to LEGO Ideas, and enough people voted to turn the birds into an official kit that includes his blue jay, robin, and humming bird models. The bird sets went on sale a few hours ago. (via Laughing Squid)

Update: Whoa, it looks like the kits sold out in the process of me writing this, but you can still order for delivery within 30 days.

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Precarious Bridges and Towers of Balanced Rocks by Michael Grab 

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Working only with rocks, gravity, and patience, artist Michael Grab (previously) builds precarious towers and bridges that seem to defy gravity. Grab first tried stone balancing during the summer of 2008 while exploring Boulder Creek in Boulder, Colorado, and quickly discovered an innate ability to build increasingly complicated, free standing stacks of rocks. While his stone sculptures rely heavily on intuition and experience, there’s actually a method he uses in most of his work involving hidden “tripods” found on the surface of any rock. He shares in detail:

Balance requires a minimum of three contact points. Luckily, every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a natural tripo for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the vibrations of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest “clicks” as the notches of the rocks are moving over one another. In the finest “point-balances,” these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters, and in rare cases can even go undetected, in which case intuition and experience become quite useful.

You can watch the video above to see Grab at work over the last year, and also see more photography of his stone balancing in his online portfolio or on Facebook. Grab survives mostly off print sales, so if you’re in need of a fancy new calendar for 2015, he’s got you covered.

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New Vintage Textile Flora and Fauna Sculptures by Mister Finch 

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Leeds-based textile artist Mister Finch (previously) is a master of artistic recycling as he breathes life into vintage fabrics by transforming them into sculptures of moths, rabbits, mushrooms, and strange hybrid lifeforms. Finch says he often draws inspiration from British folklore for his fairytale creations born from discarded velvet curtains or cloth snipped from old aprons and wedding dresses. From his artist statement:

Making things has always been incredibly important to me and is often an amazing release to get it out of my system. It’s a joy to hunt for things for my work… the lost, found and forgotten all have places in what I make. Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm. A story sewn in, woven in.

What you see here is a collection of work from the past year, much more of which he shares on his blog. He also just published his first book, Mister Finch: Living in a Fairy Tale World, and has an upcoming exhibition this spring at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.

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Bone Music: How Banned Western Music in the Soviet Union Was Printed on Repurposed X-Ray Records 

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Photos via Jozsef Hajdu and Ksenia Vytuleva

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Photos via Jozsef Hajdu

If you asked me when the history of bootleg music began, I would have assumed it arrived with the invention of the cassette tape, something small, inexpensive and portable that was easily duplicated in any garage from deck A to deck B. In reality, widespread bootlegging dates back even further, to the 1950s in the Soviet Union where music lovers, desperate for banned Western tunes, devised an ingenious way to print their own records. The only problem was the scarcity of vinyl.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. With the aid of a special device, people started pressing banned jazz and rock n’ roll music on thick radiographs scavenged from the dumpsters of hospitals. X-rays were plentiful (not to mention cheap), and while the records could only be pressed on a single side, the music they produced using a standard turntable was passable. The recordings even had a catchy name: bone music. From an interview with author Anya von Bremzen via NPR:

“They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole. You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan—forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”

By 1958 the authorities caught on and the act of making x-ray records was made illegal. It wasn’t long before the largest distribution networks of illicit bone music were discovered and shut down. You can see more scans of bone music over on this page created by Jozsef Hajdu, and FastCo has a great article about the entire phenomenon. (via Junk Culture, NPR, FastCo)

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Flowing City Maps Imagine the Influence of Cities on the Environment 

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As part of a new exhibition in Venice that explores the relationship between cities and inhabitants, digital artist and illustrator Istvan (previously) created a series of city maps that seem to bleed into their surroundings. The works aren’t scientific by any means, but are meant as a representation of how cities might affect the local environment. The maps were created digitally and printed on large slabs of acrylic glass for display as part of Contemporary Venice through January 2015. You can see much more over on Behance.

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Ancient Trees: Beth Moon’s 14-Year Quest to Photograph the World’s Most Majestic Trees 

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Criss-crossing the world with stops on almost every continent, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon spent the last 14 years seeking out some of the largest, rarest, and oldest trees on Earth to capture with her camera. Moon develops her exhibition prints with a platinum/palladium process, an extremely labor-intensive and rare practice resulting in prints with tremendous tonal range that are durable enough to rival the longitivity of her subjects, potentially lasting thousands of years. Moon’s collected work of 60 duotone prints were recently published in a new book titled Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time. From Abbeville Press:

This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.

Moon is currently working on a new series of trees photographed by starlight called Diamond Nights. (via Huffington Post)

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Desert Rose (Wadi Fa Lang) copy

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Sentinels Neg 2014

Wakehurst Yews

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