TOOLBOX MAKE LOOKS AT BOOKS
176 Make: Volume 15
Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age
by James Essinger $19 Oxford University Press
As the age-old link between craft and technology takes on new life,
author James Essinger does a delightful job of unraveling innovations, through many twists and turns of fate, to their various origins.
A silkworm in a cup of tea spawns a textile empire in China, royal
hairdressers recently unemployed by the French Revolution labor in
one of the earliest examples of modern data entry, and, most significantly here, the age of computing is traced back to its beginning.
Essinger leads us back, through the early days at IBM, the
U.S. census of 1880, and Lady Ada Byron Lovelace, to an unlikely
source: a punch-card-operated weaving loom. Full of intrigue,
historical detail, and unusual perspective on the fates of technologies, Jacquard’s Web provides surprising insight into what actually
makes innovation stick. —Meara O’Reilly
100 Days of Monsters by Stefan G. Bucher
$20 HOW Books
The beautiful result of a compellingly obsessive project, 100 Days
of Monsters chronicles designer, illustrator, and author Stefan
Bucher’s creation of a monster every day for 100 straight days.
Each one born from a random inkblot on a page, Bucher drew the
elaborate creatures and filmed them in the process, posting the
movies to his website, dailymonster.com. The monsters quickly
took on lives of their own as an equally obsessive, worldwide community of visitors contributed imaginary stories about each one.
At the end of the project, Bucher was inspired to create this
multifaceted book and DVD, sharing his charming wit and passion
for whimsical illustration, including more than 250 user-generated
stories, 100 drawings, and a few funny info-graphics. It’s an entertaining and inspired read, and the movies and bonus “open source
ink blots” are a great time-sucker. —Daniel Carter
Woodworking by John Kelsey
$13 Fox Chapel Publishing
Long ago, my parents enrolled me in a kids’ woodworking class,
and it was transformative for this bookish little girl. Not everyone
has access to such a class anymore (or a parent who knows their
way around a shop), but this book just might fill the gap.
It starts out with a great primer on wood, tools, and materials.
The projects are basic but fun, perfect for a kid learning how to use
a saw and miter box. They start out easy but progress through a
toolbox, a block racer, a bookshelf, and a rubber-band paddle boat
(I still have the one I built years ago!). —Arwen O’Reilly Griffith