geology

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Design History Science

An Interactive Display Color-Codes Hundreds of Historical Mineral Illustrations

August 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Nicholas Rougeux

Throughout the early 19th century, naturalist, illustrator, and mineralogist James Sowerby published 718 color renderings of minerals, which he accompanied with their characteristics, classifications, and other names. A Chicago-based designer recently reproduced those centuries-old illustrations in an expansive interactive arrangement. Nicholas Rougeux (previously) color-coded Sowerby’s depictions—a tedious process that required the designer to restore each mineral to its original hue and took four months to complete—from two compendia, British Mineralogy and Exotic Mineralogy, which were published between 1802 and 1817. The result is a magnifiable exhibit that captures the incredible diversity and detail of Sowerby’s geological studies.

Check out the eye-catching display on Rougeux’s site, and for those who want a physical copy categorizing the diverse materials, the designer is selling posters, too. Keep up with his contemporary approaches to historical scholarship on Twitter, Behance, and Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Craft

Countless Hand-Scored Notches Comprise Aquatic Sculptures by Lisa Stevens

January 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Lisa Stevens, shared with permission

From her home studio near Bristol, Lisa Stevens designs heavily detailed sculptures that mimic sea life and natural elements. Her small bowls are complete with ridges and plant-like protrusions, while her organ-shaped sculptures are teeming with seemingly endless dots and scores that imitate coral reefs, flowers, minerals, moss, and lichen. Formerly a sculptor for Aardman Animations, Stevens forgoes stamps, texture sheets, or molds to craft each mark with a small set of tools, ensuring no pieces are identical. Most of her works are made of high-fired porcelain clay that becomes translucent when light shines through it. The sculptor often uses stoneware glazes, underglaze, or melted glass to finish her pieces with vibrant pigments.

Stevens said in an artist’s statement that she intends “to highlight the issues that human activity has on the environment. Small differences in each of our behaviours can add up to make a big difference.” More of Steven’s geologically inspired sculptures can be found on Instagram, and some are even available for purchase on Etsy.

 

 



Design History Illustration

Cross-Sections of Geological Formations and Views of the Cosmos Bring the World to Life in 19th Century Educational Charts

May 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In 1887 Levi Walter Yaggy published the Geographical Portfolio – Comprising Physical, Political, Geological, and Astronomical Geography with his publishing company, Western Publishing House of Chicago. The popular set of maps and charts (an expanded second edition was released six years later) was intended for teachers to use in classroom settings. The two by three-foot sheets used clever composite images to convey the range of topography and animals around the world, resulting in dense caves and steep mountain peaks that could be straight out of a fantasy novel.

In addition to their imaginative designs and eye-catching color palettes, Yaggy made strides in the teaching aid field by incorporating interactive elements. Each set included a 3-dimensional relief map of the United States and latches revealed hidden diagrams on individual charts. Unfortunately, despite his forward-thinking designs, Yaggy did include the era’s all-too-common racist depictions of non-white populations on some of his cultural maps.

You can explore the full range of Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio via digital scans on David Rumsey’s map website (where they are available as on-demand prints and as high-resolution downloads), and learn more about the charts on National Geographic. (via this isn’t happiness)

 

 

 

 



Design

Computer-Generated Jigsaw Puzzles Based on Geological Forms

October 30, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Massachusetts-based design studio Nervous System writes unique computer programs that aim to imitate processes found in nature. These systems produce housewares and jewelry based on organic forms, creating pieces such as algae-inspired necklaces and 3D printed leaf-shaped lamps.  The company recently designed a geode jigsaw puzzle modeled after slices of agate, a type of rock characterized by its repeated colorful bands.

Every geode puzzle designed by Nervous System is completely different. The studio’s computer simulation ensures that natural variations influence the puzzle’s shape, color, and pattern, essentially “growing” the artificial geode in a similar way to how it would be formed in nature. Puzzles are each cut from birch plywood and sold at 180 or 370 pieces. You can view and purchase dozens of other original agate designs in the studio’s online shop. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Food

Giant Chocolate-Covered Rock Candy Geodes Months in the Making

March 30, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Six months in the making, these enormous chocolate-covered rock candy geodes are the creation of culinary students Alex Yeatts and Abby Lee Wilcox, the results of a final project for the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Details are scarce on how the duo went about creating the giant sugar rocks, some of which have the distinct hue of purple amethyst. The calorie count is also elusive, but we can only imagine it equates to the years these things take to form in real life. (via Sploid)

A post shared by Alex Yeatts (@alex.yeatts) on

A post shared by Abby Lee Wilcox (@abbyleewilcox) on

A post shared by Alex Yeatts (@alex.yeatts) on

 

 



Art Design Science

A Kinetic Artwork that Sorts Thousands of Random River Stones by Age

May 19, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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Performing the role of a scientist, Benjamin Maus and Prokop Bartonicek’s kinetic machine Jller selects and sorts pebbles found on a 6 1/2 x 13 foot platform into a grid organized by geologic age. Without assistance, Jller analyzes the stones’ appearance to understand their correct placement, then transports them to the correct location.

All of the rocks for the project were extracted from a German river of the machine’s own name, pebbles that are either the result of erosion in the Alps or have been transported by glaciers. Because the history of this sample location within the river is known, it is a relatively straightforward process to assign each stone its geological age. To do this, Jller first analyzes an image of the stone it selects, extracting information like dominant color, color composition, lines, layers, patterns, grain, and surface texture. The machine then places the stones in alignment of age and type by sucking them into an industrial vacuum gripper and dropping them in the correct location within the grid.

The project is part of ongoing research in the field of industrial automation and historical geology, and was presented last December as a part of the exhibition “Ignorance” at Ex Post in Prague. The full video of the project can be seen below.

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