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1515 Netherlandish prayer bead via Art Gallery of Ontario

See 500-Year-Old Miniature Boxwood Carvings in Toronto

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1515 Netherlandish prayer bead via Art Gallery of Ontario

In the 16th century, the wealthy had more than just the average rosary at their disposal during their moments of worship. Coveted boxwood carvings depicting intricate religious scenes in miniature allowed the rich to fit religious art right in their hands. Until early 2017, the Art Gallery of Ontario is hosting an exhibition devoted entirely to these tiny hand-carved works of art, as CNN reports.

"Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures" features more than 60 boxwood miniatures, some of which have never been on display in North America before, like a rosary owned by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The wooden carvings have been part of a years-long, international study using scientific imaging to better understand how they were produced. The study uncovered some surprises, like a hidden portrait of a king and queen that went undiscovered for 500 years.

Prayer bead AGOID.29360. Image Credit: Courtesy AGO.

Art Gallery of Ontario

The collection includes prayer beads (one in the shape of a skull), a knife inscribed with biblical scenes, medallions, triptychs, rosaries, and even sarcophagi. Some date all the way back to the late 1400s.

The exhibition runs until January 22, but you can also see high-resolution images of the entire collection on the gallery’s website. For more information, watch a video with the curator below.

[h/t CNN]

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Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Design
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
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Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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