Antique pop-up anatomy and natural history books

One of the fun things I get to do as a part of the program I am studying is seeing the incredibly fascinating and varied collections of Michael Twyman. These books were just too amazing not to share!

Pop-up illustrations from different volumes of the Encyclopedia of Nature, circa 1907.

Butterflypopup butterfly

Frogpopup frog-1

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Snailpopup snail

Potatoespopup potatoes-1

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Anatomy and myology pop-up books, both human and animal, circa 1875-1900.
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So this isn’t really a pop-up, but still, very cool. A tiny little booklet titled “Music of the Sea”, with a poem by Wordsworth inside. Each recto had a different sailboat painting. Given as a gift in 1888.


Quotes in Chalk #1

Lately I’ve been inspired by all of the chalk art I’ve seen on the interwebs, enough to buy some chalkboard paint and chalk and make my own boards to experiment on. I’m not up to the level of Dangerdust yet, but you know what they say about practice… In any case, there is something very alluring about the ephemeral nature of chalk art, and I’ve been having fun chalking away. Now if I could just figure out what to do about the piles of dust left behind…




Le Petit Theatre de Rébecca

I was recently given this amazing French book by Rébecca Dautremer, and I just had to post some pictures of it. It has nearly 100 laser cut pages, and I cannot believe how intricate and how tiny some of the laser details are. The effect is much like the current experiments in ‘book excavation’ or the work of Brian Dettmer. I have to say, it’s inspiring me to think about what kind of effects I could achieve on the laser cutter that I have access to. I’ll have to check out what it does to paper!

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote book

This was a birthday gift for a huge fan of the radio show/book/movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There is one quote per each of the eight pages, arranged so that when the book is closed the words form a ‘word cloud’. The pages are laser-cut and etched acrylic plastic and are sewn with waxed linen thread using the same method as in my previously posted book. I wanted to create a gradient of sorts using paint in the etched letters, fading from white to black. It mostly worked the way I wanted it to.

Let me just say, photographing this thing was a nightmare. First, smudges! Ack! And then the waxed thread left marks all over the surfaces. Plus having to dodge the reflection made taking pictures super fun. Not. Anyway, I really like the possibilities of laser-etched acrylic…but if I ever do clear again, I will be using non-waxed thread for sure, and waiting to peel the backing off until the very last minute! (Scratches seemed to come out of nowhere.)

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obscure word book: volume 1, light edition


For a while now I’ve been wanting to create a project using obscure or old-fashioned English words. I just wasn’t sure how I would do it. Enter the fabrication lab and the laser cutter! I decided to create a ‘book’ of laser cut and etched acrylic plastic sheets, sewn together with one of Keith A Smith’s techniques. Though the bind looks ok, I think I might have to redo it with a modified version. There just aren’t enough pages for the design to look right.


First I sketched the designs on paper, then digitized them in Illustrator. The darker the color, the deeper the laser will etch the plastic. It was similar to the thought process behind intaglio printmaking – the darkest colors will be the lightest, and the lightest colors the darkest. It took a a couple of tries to find the right setting for the laser, but I was fairly happy with the second run.



I tried a couple of different colors of acrylic paint, but settled on white and a shimmery gold. I smeared the paint into the etched lines and gradients, then wiped (or scrubbed, if it had dried) off the excess paint.

obscure-light-5“lucubrate” – to work diligently by artificial light

obscure-light-6“ignivomous” – vomiting fire

obscure-light-7“fulgent” – shining brilliantly, radiant, gleaming

obscure-light-8“ascian” – a person or thing without shadow

obscure-light-9“clinquant” – glittering, showy, dressed in tinsel


Finished size: 6 in x 4 in (15.24 cm x 10.16 cm). I’m planning several more ‘volumes’ of obscure terms. If you’re curious about where I found these words, check out this book: Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words.