Monday, January 24, 2011

Alexis Berger Designs - Handblown Glass Tentacles



I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Alexis Berger and her work in person this weekend at the always-splendid Edwardian Ball and artisan showcase in San Francisco. Check out this handblown glass tentacle necklace!




See more beautifully crafted, nature inspired handmade lampwork glass jewelry and personal adornments, reminiscent of Art Nouveau and the Belle Epoch, at Alexis's website: www.alexisberger.com, and visit her workshop on Facebook here!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eyes of the Cephalopod

I was looking for reference photos for a stuffed octopus I was making, when I stumbled across some interesting information on cephalopod eyes.

I already knew a bit about how cephalopod eyes are different from vertebrate eyes--the eye of the octopus is often used as an example of convergent evolution (that is, where similar structures evolve from different beginnings due to similar uses)--and I knew that in some ways, the octopus eye works better than the human eye (it doesn't have the same blind spot from the optic nerve, for example), but there are some really cool things I didn't know about cephalopod eyes.


The most obvious difference between cephalopod eyes and human eyes is that cephalopods have horizontal pupils. Not only that, but because the eyes can rotate in a way that most vertebrate eyes cannot, and because cephalopods have a balance organ called a statocyst, they can always keep their pupils horizontal, no matter what position their body is in. This means their brains can always interpret visual information the same way, and not have to account for the position of the eye.

Cephalopod eyes can also see polarized light, allowing them to communicate by creating changing patterns on their skin that we humans can't see except with the help of special cameras.

The difference between cephalopod and vertebrate eyes partly stems from their very beginnings. While vertebrate eyes develop as an extension of the brain, cephalopod eyes started out as light-sensitive skin cells that folded inwards to form the structure they have now.

Both types of eyes developed retinas, corneas, irises and lenses, but the way those structures are arranged and used is different. The light-receptive cells in cephalopod eyes point directly outward into the light, while those of vertebrates point inward, instead catching light reflected off the back of the eye.

Vertebrate eye lenses are flexible and the can can be focused by special muscles that change the shape of the lens. Cephalopod eye lenses are inflexible and have their focus fixed on a relatively nearby point, but can be focused with muscles that move the entire lens closer to or father from the retina.

So there you have another reason why cephalopods are cool: they've got really interesting eyes that are both very similar to ours, and very different.

Image credit: "Difference between human and octopus eyes" by Jerry Crimson Mann, 2005, used under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License and found on Wikimedia Commons.

A little New Year give away

Thanks to CreativeEtching we've got a little gift to all our readers for the start of 2011! Two cephalopod pins to give away. Be sure to stop by his Facebook page for other giveaways and fun.
I considered what the theme of the contest should be for a good long while before finally coming up with it, and I hope everyone has great fun with it. So.

TO ENTER: You must write a cephalopod haiku, and post it in a comment here. If you don't know what a haiku is, wikipedia has a very thorough article, but the short version is, a poem with three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables (technically moras which are slightly different but...). They don't need to be great poems, or terribly clever, you just have to write one!

Don't forget that if you aren't a blogger user or your contact email isn't in your profile you'll need to post it here or email it to us so we can tell you if you win!

No multiple entries this time, dear readers, but multiple Haiku's are welcome. Maybe we'll put together some sort of fine and lovely illustrated haiku post from them later! Winners will be selected in a random drawing (via magical internet randomizers, although I might just write all your names down and have my roommate draw them out of a hat just for the sake of pomp and circumstance). Entry Deadline is Sunday Jan 23rd!

To get you started, here is a haiku that appeared on the twitter feed DailyHaiku-

The octopus' fleeting dream
in the trap
the summer moon
by Matsuo Bashô

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Maximo Riera Octopus Chair


A little pricey for most of our furniture budgets, sure, but this piece bears mention. I cannot get over this thing, no matter how many times I see it online.

From Maximo Riera comes The Octopus Chair, where art meets nature and man meets beast in this gorgeous, masterfully crafted piece. It is first of The Animals Collection, consisting of more than fifteen different pieces inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Painstakingly sketched, assembled, crafted and painted by hand, as Riera says, “The Octopus Chair therefore becomes a powerful intersection of complex human design integrated with nature’s splendor.”

Beautiful, majestic and every bit as otherworldly as the animal itself, I fear I would be too awe-struck to ever sit in it...

You can find more on Maximo Riera, The Animals Collection and The Octopus Chair at his website, MaximoRiera.com


Sunday, January 9, 2011

After the presents are unwrapped

Now that the Holidays are over and 2011 and has begun, its time to consider sending out thank you cards for gifts - especially if you didn't send out Christmas cards this year! Jackie Bublitz, of MetropolisDesigns has just the cards for all your thank you needs. After your birthday, for all your charming wedding guests, or just when someone special needs a thank you cuddle(fish) - nothing shows your appreciation like cephalopods!
I especially enjoy this set because it includes the oft ignored cuttlefish and nautilus.