Accidentally on Purpose – The beauty of jazz-like improvisational quilting

There are a handful of other books about African-American quilts, particularly quilts from Gee’s Bend; each have beautiful quilts to show, but this obscure exhibition catalogue remains my favorite. Whereas other books tend to position the quilts in the context of modern art and abstract painting, scholar and collector Eli Leon focuses on the connection with West and Central African textile traditions.

Leon’s thesis is that African-American quiltmakers, much like jazz musicians, were drawing on the aesthetic traditions of Africa when they began to make quilts to keep their families warm. “[Afro-traditional quiltmakers] favor ‘flexible patterning,’ in which the design is conceived as an invitation to variation; rather than repeat, the pattern may materialize in a sequence of visual elaborations.”

This contrasts sharply with the standard American quilt-making tradition and its attention to precise measurement and exact pattern repetition. Instead, afro-traditional quilters “maintain a generous attitude towards the accidental.”

What makes the essays so great is that Leon is a passionate observer of process, using diagrams to describe variations on a single block pattern and exploring at length the design choices used in specific quilts.

With the help of extensive interviews with African-American quilt makers, Leon creates a language to describe these design techniques. Subtitles like “accumulative creation,” “bimodality,” and “integration of accidentals” hint at what this book has to offer to designers and improvisers of all stripes.

Also worth checking out is Talking Quilts, a series of conversations between Eli Leon and quilter Sherri Lynn Wood about his collection. – Reanna Alder

Accidentally on Purpose: The Aesthetic Management of Irregularities in African Textiles and African-American Quilts
by Eli Leon
2007, 176 pages, 9.4 x 9.5 x 0.5 inches (paperback)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Whiskey production is not keeping up with whiskey demand

Whiskey is a "slow food". Whiskey consumption is a fast trend. And, herein, lies a problem. (I will fight all y'all for the last bottle of Buffalo Trace.)

New book on HOWTO to make cute crochet people (including famous ones)

Boing Boing reader Allison Hoffman, whose crocheted Breaking Bad dolls I blogged about previously, tells us:

Thanks to your positive review and others like it, I was able to write a book and its release is set for October 1st! Its a how-to book on creating custom dolls to look like famous or not-so-famous people.

It looks great. Amazon Link: "AmiguruME: Make Cute Crochet People"

UglyCon at GR2 in LA this weekend: a gathering of Uglydoll fans

I had the great pleasure of visiting with Giant Robot's Eric Nakamura and collaborators last night at the GR2 space on Sawtelle in Los Angeles.

Way into the wee hours of the night, they were gathering one-of-a-kind Uglydoll art for the fourth annual Uglycon, which starts June 15 and continues through June 26. The show includes Uglydolls created by fans, and fellow artists.


Photo: Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing pal Tim Shey and I walked around the space and watched a mural and an exhibit take shape. Above, a time-lapse video of the mural creation shot by Eric Nakamura.

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Bitblox: wooden alphabet blocks inspired by our pixelated nostalgia

BB reader Readblood shares this photo in the Boing Boing Flickr pool and explains,

Bitblox are wooden alphabet blocks inspired by our pixelated nostalgia. While pixels continue shrinking out of sight on our digital screens, they live on in full chromatic and tactile splendor in these one-of-a-kind alphabet blocks.
$45 a set, available at glyfyx.com. Each limited-edition set includes 28 blocks, "featuring a total of 168 letters, numbers, symbols and quirky pictograms." They're "hand-manufactured in the United States from renewable, American grown, kiln-dried basswood," printed with non-toxic, child-safe inks, free of lead.

Insanely labor-intensive Gangnam Style flipbook animation video

An incredibly labor-intensive animated flipbook version of PSY's "Gangnam Style." Such a bummer that Etoilec1, the talented creator of this stunning video, was sound-blocked by YouTube's automated IP enforcement police. Etoilec1's original video is here (and below), in higher rez, but it's stripped of sound. Subscribe to his channel or follow him on Facebook, for more flipbook fun. Above, a lower-rez copycat upload on Vimeo. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)

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TMBG launches iOS app hand-stitched entirely from felt

Spotted in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool: Vancouver, Canada-based Artist Hiné Mizushima, right, stitched this lovely commissioned felt work for They Might Be Giants' new iOS song app.

The app is available now, as a free download.

Like TMBGs original Dial-A-Song, the app has a different song every day. The app holds five of the freshest posted tracks at all times, and all are directly linked to iTunes. It also connects you directly to TMBGs social media and free MP3 club. From Don't Let's Start to Nanobots the app even includes brand new tracks, GRAMMY-winning kids music and TMBGs beloved television themes.

The app was created by TMBG with Drew Westphal, graphic designer Paul Sahre, and Ms. Mizushima's lovely felt work.

The Tweets of Rupert Murdoch, as letterpress greeting cards

Artist Michelle Vaughan's “100 Tweets” is a hand typeset letterpress project printed at The Arm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Steampunk Dalek

About this spectacular wearable steampunk Dalek, BB reader Mark Dumont writes:
Electronics are contained in box at back waist containing arduino uno, 2 nine volt batteries, and small amp. Speakers are in ends of tube around neck and mic is on an earpiece. Arduino board powers eye stalk and dome lights as well as handles dalek voice modulation. I found the arduino sketch (source and circuit diagrams) can be found here, kudos to Andy Grove for the sketch. Originally created for my wife (the only dalek I will ever love) for the Time Traveler's Ball held at the Redmoor in Cincinnati 11/17/12
Photo Link. (Shared in the BB Flickr Pool)

Hand-crank mills with which to grind one's own flour ($675.95) are the new artisanal mayonnaise

At Acculturated blog, Abby W. Schachter writes about "bobos," short for bourgeois bohemians, and evidence that big consumer brands are now marketing to them with highly mockable DIY gear that re-creates artisanal (or, depending on your point of view, obsolete) food production methods.

Case in point: William Sonoma's new upscale DIY kitchenware collection, called the Agrarian Guide, where one can purchase "a reclaimed rustic chicken coop for $759.95... a Warre beehive made from “untreated Western Red Cedar” that retails for $399.95, a vinegar pot for $90, an $80 fermentation pot to make “your own sauerkraut,” and a hand crank Burr grinder grain mill retailing for $675.95. The accompanying grain mill clamp will set you back another $105.95."

Read the rest here.

I vacillate between coveting everything in the catalog, and wanting to mock everything in the catalog. Either way, I cannot wait for the Portlandia sketch.

(via Virginia Postrel)

BB readers' DIY Halloween costumes: Narwhal, by Sarah Jones

Brava, Sarah! "Sorry to be a party pooper but it should probably be attached closer to your mouth since it's actually a tooth," wrote one commenter. "Yes, but it would have interfered with my beer drinking," replied Sarah.

More: Share your DIY Halloween costume in our epic 2012 thread!

To do in DC: "40 under 40: Craft Futures" at the Smithsonian

Now through February at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, an exhibition of under-40 American craftspeople. Among them, Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Her work "La Llorona" is shown here, and is featured in the "40 under 40: Craft Futures" show.

Candy Corn on the cob

An Instructable exists for this. It must be made. Alaskantomboy writes, in the prelude:

I experimented with fondant first, that was completely unsuccessful. Then I though of gluing it together with caramel (since I had a fresh bag of that around too). Too messy and too hard. Then, another light bulb went off.....cookie dough! Sugar cookie dough works perfectly (don't attempt with chocolate chip dough, the chips just get in the way and jeopardize structural integrity). It only took about 4 minutes to assemble and looked authentic.

Vegans: it can be done vegan.

(Photo: alaskantomboy. Thanks, Tara McGinley!)

Low-poly mask, a papercraft mask for Halloween

"kongrorilla" created this nifty design for a Low-Poly Mask for Halloween 2012. Download it from Thingiverse and make your own.

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Homebrew Nintendo laser zapper is powerful, awesome

"The plan was simple. Take a nostalgic NES "duck hunt" Zapper, and retrofit it with a ridiculously powerful laser."

A project from North Street Labs. In case it's not obvious, this is dangerous, and could lead to death or blindness without safety precautions.

Components: "2.1A input buck driver, 2x 750mAh 35-70c Lipo batteries, M140 445nm diode, G2 lens. homemade custom heat-sink, turn key safety switch."

Learn how to build your own, here. But remember, kids, always wear protective safety goggles. And, wear the right kind for the laser you're working with. [Video Link].