Here’s a felicitous combination of art and science that looks really cool. Kelly Houle, a calligrapher and natural-history artist in Arizona, has embarked on a daunting project: producing a complete hand-lettered and illuminated manuscript of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. She briefly describes the project here, with a nice video, and the project’s full website is here. I find it pleasingly ironic that the technique used for so long to produce artistic Bibles is now being applied to a book that’s actually true.
You can see specimens of Kelly’s work on her website. Here’s a maribou stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus; oil on board, reproduced, as are all illustrations in this post, with permission of Ms. Houle, and all are copyrighted):
Here is Chrysina gloriosa, also called the “glorious scarab”:
And a sample page of the manuscript with a cotton plant. Kelly tells me that this (and the drawing) is just a preliminary sketch to get a sense of the layout:
And the book will be big! Here’s an idea of how large each page will be:
This manuscript will be a one-of-a-kind production that will deserve a place in a library or other institution. What better book to turn into art than the best science book of all time? (I’ve signed on as a gratis scientific advisor.)
Given the length of The Origin (Kelly’s using the first edition), she estimates it will take her five to ten years to do the whole thing. She’s trying to raise $9000 by November 17 to create the first ten pages, and has nearly reached this goal.
If you like this project, please make a donation to get it started. You can make your pledges here, and you get a nice gift even with pledges as low as $10. For only $30, for instance, you get eight embossed gold greeting cards like this one (you’ll recognize Darwin’s sketch of the first “tree of life” in history):
And for just $250 you get an original 8″ X 10″ illuminated, hand-painted picture of your favorite beetle. Where else can you find a bargain like that? The artwork alone is worth far more. And check out what you get if you can spare $600!
Here’s Kelly at work; if you have any questions for her about the project, put them in the comments, for she’s promised to answer.