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Explore a Beautiful Victorian Album of Seaweeds

The Victorians had a passion for admiring stylized versions of the natural world from within the comfort of their own homes. Alongside taxidermy, arrangements of shells and fossils, preserved birds and flowers beneath domes, and hair art, an upper-class Victorian home might have sported an album or two of pressed flowers and, perhaps, seaweeds.

While we may not think of seaweed as particularly lovely today, Victorians used their bright reds and greens and lacy shapes to create pretty designs or semi-realistic compositions. The Public Domain Review recently spotlighted one such album now held in the Brooklyn Museum’s Special Collections department, which has been digitized for online viewing.

The leatherbound album, which features algae and seaweeds pasted on construction paper and framed by doilies, was created by one Eliza A. Jordson of Brooklyn around 1848. It was presented as a token of esteem to Augustus Graham, a member of the board of directors of the Brooklyn Apprentice’s Library, which eventually evolved into the Brooklyn Museum. The images are a feat of delicacy, using seaweed to create tiny houses and to spell out Graham’s name as well as the title of the book.

As Allison Meier noted when writing about the album for Atlas Obscura in 2014, the album is “definitely not a scientific work, but instead a social one.” The specimens aren’t mounted with scientific precision and contain no labels, although the album does include a poem on the “flowers of the sea,” which seems to have been a feature of other seaweed albums, according to the Public Domain Review.

Other surviving examples of seaweed albums exist: As Meier notes, Harvard holds one created by a Mary Robinson, probably around Martha’s Vineyard, circa 1885. An online exhibit devoted to the prints from that book contains an explanation of the scrapbooking process, which involved submerging both the seaweed and mounting paper in saltwater at the same time, bringing them to the surface with the seaweed on top, and arranging the specimen with a needle to bring out its details.

All images via Brooklyn Museum Libraries, Special Collections.

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Art
Art Lovers in England, Rejoice: France's Famous Bayeux Tapestry is Coming to the UK
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of France’s most prized national treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry, is officially heading to England for exhibition. The loan will mark the first time the fragile 11th century work has left France in nearly 1000 years, according to The Washington Post.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced news of the loan in mid-January, viewed by some as a gesture to smooth post-Brexit relations with Britain, ABC reports. The tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, a historically important event replete with guts and glory.

Stretching for 210 feet, the Bayeux Tapestry’s nine embroidered panels tell the tale of Harold, Earl of Wessex, who swore an oath to support the right of William, Duke of Normandy, to the English throne once King Edward (a.k.a. Edward the Confessor) died without an heir. But after Edward's funeral at Westminster Abbey, Harold breaks his oath to William so he could be crowned king instead. Believing he was the rightful ruler, William—today remembered as William the Conqueror—decides to wage war and ultimately defeats Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

The historical narrative has endured for centuries, but the tapestry's provenance has been lost to time. Experts think that the artwork may have been created in England, shortly after the Battle of Hastings, although it’s unclear who designed and embroidered the scenes. Its original owner, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the half-brother of William the Conqueror, may have commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. He became Earl of Kent after the Battle of Hastings, and this new title would have afforded him access to skilled artisans, The Guardian explains.

The Bayeux Tapestry is currently on display in the town of Bayeux in Normandy. It likely won’t leave France until 2020, after conservators ensure that it’s safe to move the artwork. According to The Telegraph, the tapestry might be be displayed at the British Museum in 2022.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
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Design
This Snow Sculpture of a Car Was So Convincing Cops Tried to Write It a Ticket
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.

Winter is a frustrating time to be on the road, but one artist in Montreal has found a way to make the best of it. As CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports, his snow sculpture of a DeLorean DMC-12 was so convincing that even the police were fooled.

Simon Laprise of L.S.D Laprise Simon Designs assembled the prank car using snow outside his home in Montreal. He positioned it so it appeared to be parked along the side of the road, and with the weather Montreal has been having lately, a car buried under snow wasn’t an unusual sight.

A police officer spotted the car and was prepared to write it a ticket before noticing it wasn’t what it seemed. He called in backup to confirm that the car wasn’t a car at all.

Instead of getting mad, the officers shared a good laugh over it. “You made our night hahahahaha :)" they wrote on a fake ticket left on the snow sculpture.

The masterpiece was plowed over the next morning, but you can appreciate Laprise’s handiwork in the photos below.

Snow sculpture.

Snow sculpture of car.

Snow sculpture of car.

Note written in French.

[h/t WGCL-TV]

All images courtesy of Simon Laprise.

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