Phebe's Miscellany

a motley collection

Italia: La Specola II

My favorite part of La Specola in Florence was the Giazotto Crystal Collection. It’s amazing. You walk in, and there’s a darkened room filled with dramatically lit, giant, sparkly crystals. A magpie’s (and my) dream come true.

Here’s an iPhone panorama of the room (featuring three of my sister… #funhouse).


Here are some good quality photos of the gems and displays.

Plus, here are some bonus photos of some bizarre paintings they had in a hallway of La Specola. I can’t remember the name of the artist, but…how weird.


Italia: La Specola

La Specola is the Museum of Natural History in Florence (Museo di Storia Naturale). Unlike many large Natural History museums in the US, it is not a museum of this age…at all. La Specola consists mostly of stuffed animals, preserved bugs and sea creatures, and outdated descriptive panels.

Here are some iPhone photos of the stuffed animals. My favorites are the stuffed fish. They all have such hilarious faces!

There are also rooms filled with models of the human body, including models of how babies grow in the womb, each major system in the body (arterial, nervous, digestive, etc.), and more. It looks a lot like the Bodies exhibit, but instead of models made of plastic that were cast from real bodies (or whatever that process is), they have wax models of everything, and all of them have faces and hair. Each model is displayed in a beautiful old wooden and glass display case, and there are corresponding, incredibly intricate illustrations all over the walls. Apparently being a wax model maker back in the day was a big deal – you were considered a true artisan. There is a whole panel about the guy who made most of the models on display there, and the process he went through when he was hired.

Here are some iPhone pictures of the wax models. Warning: these are creepy.

Italia: More Sculptures

Here are more photos of sculptures in Florence, including the David.

Publication Design

I am in a new design class at SVA called Publication Design / Visual Storytelling in Editorial Design with Dirk Barnett, the Artistic Director of The New Republic magazine. There was a class name change of some sort in there, not sure which is accurate anymore. Anyway, we are doing a semester-long project called “The Brand of You.” It is an exercise in branding ourselves. So far we have named our brand, created a logo, and chosen two fonts that we will use for everything. The assignment for this week is to create many versions of magazine covers.

My brand is based in the idea of a cabinet of curiosities.

Cabinet of curiosities from long long ago.

When I was younger I had a printer’s tray filled with tiny things that I loved. I liked that I could put whatever I wanted into the little slots, and I could look at my favorite things all the time. I inherited this tendency to collect and display stuff only I care about from my father. He once felt the need to say, when called a hoarder (jokes), “The difference between hoarders and collectors is that collectors curate” (Ugh #dad). So that’s where that all comes from. I do my best to not hoard (and not to be suuuuper pretentious…) but it is a struggle (the hoarding is a struggle, not so with the pretension).

Anyway, back to my branding plans. This concept of the cabinet of curiosities appealed to me because it suggests a certain antique-y aesthetic while leaving my options open to practically anything I want. I had trouble pinning down the style of my brand, so I felt serious relief when I thought of this idea.

I named my brand PILCROW. A pilcrow is the technical term for the paragraph symbol, ¶. I like this as a brand name because I have two P’s as my initials, but I didn’t want my brand name to be my name. (Also, that’s a fun little bookish reference to add to my brand identity.) A simple way to use both P’s was to use one as a P and one as a ¶. So here’s the logo:


Clever, right? The fonts I chose are Quicksand, which comes in a bunch varieties, and Maiers No. 21, both of which I got on Quicksand is what I used for the logo — it happens to have a pretty cool pilcrow! Here’s my brand name written in Maiers:


I like it because it’s a little handwritten-looking, a little deco, a bit weird, but still classy. Quicksand is a little simpler and sans serif:PILCROW QuicksandReminds me a bit of neon sign lettering, or…something throwback-y. Help. Thoughts.
Anyway, perhaps I’ll post some of my magazine covers next! I am enjoying this class much more than the last one, which is interesting because I didn’t realize I wasn’t really enjoying the last one.

Italia: The Vatican

This is a big one, guys: the Vatican. We took a tour of the museum and then went into the Sistine Chapel and the Church of St. Peter. I was characteristically a couple hundred feet behind everyone else taking pictures. Unfortunately, pictures aren’t allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but I got a ton of good ones inside St. Peter’s.

Italia: The Coliseum

Here are a few photos from the Coliseum and the surrounding ruins and buildings.

Italia: Pantheon Plus

Here are a few photos of the Pantheon in Rome, as well as a few of some churches and bridges. There are a lot of churches and bridges, and I didn’t write down which ones are from which. Ah, well, I have done my best to label them vaguely.