Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Math

(Above) Primitive general store nut and bolt bin with 87 drawers; c. 1900.
(Above) Hand hooked and mounted rug (shirred), found in Pennsylvania; dated 1916.

(Above) Early 20th century folky 1915 banner weathervane.

(Above) Metal 7-Up advertising sign, 1950s.

(Above) Early 20th century circus banner, 7’ 11” tall x 9’ 2” wide.

(Above) Hand pieced and hand sewn early 20th century Amish mounted crazy quilt sham, 1914.

(Above) Primitive, over sized game board, c. 1940.

NUMBERS FASCINATE ME, ALTHOUGH I WAS ALWAYS TERRIBLE AT MATH. So, whenever I see numbers incorporated into a work of art, or on an object, I take an extra look. These numerical things were found on 1st Dibs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Chocolate Revolution in Brooklyn

(Above and below) The Mast brothers.

Using Florentine brand papers from the Italian paper-maker Rossi, the Mast Brothers have given a quality look to their packaging. For a new business just getting off the ground, it’s a good move.

MICHAEL AND RICHARD MAST MAKE CHOCOLATE THE OLD FASHIONED WAY. And this is no hollow advertising slogan. These guys make their chocolate like 19th century artisans, a small shop making small batches. According to their Website, Mast Brothers Chocolate is the ONLY “bean to bar” chocolate makers in NYC and one of only a handful of chocolate artisans who do this in the entire United States. I call that significant.

Why is this significant? Part of what this blog is all about is passion. Passion to do something that you believe in; moving ahead at the risk of failure—something done in spite of others who say you can’t. I have showcased artists and dreamers, products that inspire not only me but others, architecture that dares to be different and sustainable products that recognize our ever pressing need to save our planet. Forgive the play on words, but Mast Brothers Chocolate fits that mold for me. What they are doing is about passion and we need more of that. Here’s a company who’s original intent is about making the best chocolate a person might taste. The brothers may find success beyond their wildest dreams if they never compromise on the quality of their product. Of course, “success” to these young entrepreneurs will have its own definition—and it may not be about money.

Speaking of chocolate, what have we Americans grown up on? Hershey’s chocolate would be the most common answer, if you can call it chocolate.
Did you know that an actual Hershey’s “chocolate” bar contains only between 4% and 10% chocolate? Yep. The rest of it is various sugars, emulsifiers, milk solids, and other fillers.* (

The Mast Brothers chocolate is described as “handmade in delicate batches,” with 70% cacao! To accommodate this statement, their Brooklyn shop is only open on weekends and they ship (small batches, of course) to a handful of small shops around the country. In terms of packaging, they have simply wrapped their fine chocolates in pre-existing Florentine papers, by the Italian paper maker Rossi (who has been making fine papers since 1931)—not a bad choice for a new business like theirs. This is not to say that they will not need to create their own, uniquely branded packaging someday—but for now they have made a sound choice.

Bio: Rick Mast is a classically trained musician, playing piano and as an amateur—the banjo. He culled his culinary craft in heralded NYC kitchens such as Gramercy Tavern, Soho House, the Outermost Inn on Martha’s Vineyard and under Jacques Torres at his Manhattan chocolate factory.

Michael, prior to his career in chocolate, spent many years in finance for independent film and television in New York. Making chocolate was a studious hobby. Now, combining his love for cacao, travel and photography, he makes many trips to South America—selecting only the finest chocolate beans for his shop. Most of the cacao beans are sourced from small family farms in places such as Madagascar, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unknown Hinson

(Above) Unknown Hinson poster that was on the door. Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Unknown Hinson last night, photos by John Foster. Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

(Below) Unknown Hinson at Stubbs in Austin. Performing “Silver Platter.” This was a private NAMM show sponsored by Tascam and Coffin Cases.

UNKNOWN HINSON IS A FELLOW NORTH CAROLINIAN, THOUGH TO CLAIM A CONNECTION TO HIM IS WELL, SORT OF FUN... I GUESS. MAYBE? My buddy Bob and I went to hear him perform last Thursday night at Mad Art Gallery in St. Louis, and the KING was rocking down the house. Yes, I said THE KING, baby! With just his 3-piece group—Unknown is one weird, straight ahead, hard rocking, hellava Rickenbacker-playin’ SOB!

How would I describe this Carolina cat? Hmm-m-m. He’s a conglomeration of many things—rockabilly, tent evangelist, “ladies man” vampire maybe? I like to think of him as something one would hope to stumble onto while on a road trip.

Here’s the scenario: You and you best buddy are traveling through the South... how about North Carolina? You get off the highway to take a back road to save time. It’s late, almost midnight and you find you are low on gas. Hoping to find a station open— you now wish you hadn’t committed to this back road! Hoping against hope, and finally driving on fumes, the car dies. Dammit! You pull over. It’s dark as pitch and kind of creepy when... you hear… music!! There must be a club nearby, someone there can surely help. The sound of an electric guitar is rifting across your ears—and not from down the road, but from across the tobacco field to your right.
The music is intoxicating —what’s that? Was that a gunshot, or were you just hearing things??

You start walking through a red clay tobacco field and after about 15 minutes—finally—you see lights—looks like a little clapboard house or club of some kind. About a dozen cars are there—all of them beaten down redneck crappy cars and trucks, most with gun racks. There is a man with no shirt passed out in the bed of the first truck you pass as you step up to the screen door of the club. Yikes! You exchange glances with your friend and both of you know—this is gonna be interesting.

The sound inside is hard rock and deafening, and there are whoops and hollars and catcalls coming from the inside.

Anyone want to finish this story line for me? Just go to comments!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jack Radcliffe: An Extraordinary Photographer

(Above) Rebecca, ’90 Baltimore, MD

(Above) Rebecca: ’90 Baltimore, MD

(Above) Lily White Troupe Series: 97 Cocktails, Harrisburg, PA

(Above) Mason-Dixon Series: ’79 Susan Avery/Susan’s Playgirl Club, Aberdeen, MD

(Above) Mason-Dixon Series: ’78 Penny, Bel Air, MD

(Above) Carole Jean

(Above) Alison ’89 AR and Medallion, Baltimore, MD

(Above) Alison, ’92 Stephen and Tuna Salad, Baltimore, MD

(Above) Alison: ’82 AR Ballerina, Bel Air, MD

THE FIRST TIME I LAID MY EYES ON THE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACK RADCLIFFE, I WAS HOOKED. I can tell you this, I have looked at a lot of photography in my life, and I am hard to please. Radcliffe is one of those photographers who has a unique ability to get inside his subjects life. What he does is difficult—gaining the trust of his subjects in order to find what is real and what is not. As well, Jack has that special set of eyes—where he can see (and capture) the extraordinary moment within an everyday, mundane, constantly changing experience.

If you like what you see, you can learn more by checking out his Website here. He is also represented on the Behance Network.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Día de los Muertos

These very graphic ‘Día de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) papercut images were produced in the 1980s in San Salvador Huixcolotla in Puebla State, Mexico. These samples are from the British Museum Print Archive database. I love the exquisite detail and delicate nature of these pieces.

Via Bibliodyssey.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Toy That Sucks, But In A Good Way!

(Above) Suction Cup Man (with shadows); Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Suction Cup Man (detail); Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Suction Cup Man (detail); Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Suction Cup Man; Click on image for larger view.

I BOUGHT THIS ODD LITTLE FELLER THIS PAST SUMMER AT A FLEA MARKET IN ILLINOIS. He stands 11 inches tall, and is covered on the front with 14 suction cups, and on the back with 10. I cannot find any manufacturers mark on him anywhere. I am guessing he was made in the 1960s, but I am not sure. Made of rubber, Suction Cup Man (as I call him) is a strange little alien of some sort, and kind of funny with all the suction cups from head to toe. And, he doesn’t work worth a damn. Maybe the suction cups have worn out, but it won’t stick to glass or any surface. Still, I like him enough to hang on the wall of my office. Suction Cup Man, the rubber toy that sucks—but in a really good way.

If anyone know anything about this toy, I’d like to know about it so I can share it with the readers.

This just in from a reader, Motortree, who I.D.’ed the toy and directed me to a Website with the information below. What I find really strange is I called this toy “odd little feller” in the first line of my post and in the Website Motortree directed me to, he is referred to as “odd little fellow.” How weird is that?


“Mattel released this odd little fellow known as Suckerman in the late ’70s. He was basically an 11-inch piece of rubber with the face of a devil and long arms covered in suction cups.

You played with Suckerman by throwing him against smooth surfaces and watching him stick. That was it, nothing else. You can see how this thing got old real fast. Suckerman (and his buddies the Krusher, and Greg gory the big bad vampire bat) just couldn’t compete in a time when the first wave of Star Wars figures ruled the toy shelves.

Suckerman was available in 3 colors (red, black and green) as well as a glow in the dark version. He was packaged in boxes and on cards.

He enjoyed a brief amount of popularity and then disappeared and was forgotten. Since there isn’t much demand for this oddity, Suckerman won’t cost a lot to collect. The last time I saw Suckerman on an online auction site, it only cost a few dollars in mint condition. Boxed or carded examples only bring $10-$20.

While he has been stuck to the back of the toy box in today’s secondary market, there are a few of us around who will fondly remember the little suction cupped friend we knew briefly in the late 70’s as Suckerman.”

Friday, September 18, 2009


(Above) DT CATATTACK by Richard Bloom. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) CONCEPT 02 by Brisseaux. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) ARE YOU HAPPY by Headup. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) EBB AND FLOW by Norik. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) PERINNIAL DISGUST by Norik. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) STRAND by Norik. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) SURLY BENDER by Norik. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) OR ELSE by Chaz. (click on image for larger view)

(Above) WHERE THERE’S SMOKE by FSTEKOLS. (click on image for larger view)

LAST NIGHT I SPOTTED THIS WEBSITE CALLED ‘TYPECUT,’ AND WAS IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO THE GREAT POSTERS (OR DESIGNS) that I saw. I really can’t give you anymore information about the site except the name: Typecut. Cut type? There’s no other information about the site that I can find... just more great art to ponder from the world wide web.

To see more of the site, click here. All images © Typecut.

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