butterfly wings and other things
April 29, 2003 6:31 AM   Subscribe

It took the Smithsonian author and naturalist Kjell B. Sandved 24 years to find all the letters that went into the butterfly alphabet. Along the way he found butterfly wings imprinted with salutations and smiling, happy faces, and threatening expressions on wings and flowers with menacing expressions that say "Do Not Eat Me". Explore the site yourself by going directly to the gallery without looking at all of the images I've linked to, or read the story of how Sandved discovered his magnificent obsession.
posted by iconomy (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
magnificent obsession indeed. Wow. Looks like he finished in 1975, wonder what his next project was?
posted by th3ph17 at 6:44 AM on April 29, 2003

I love this kind of stuff. My 9-year old daughter did a project for school that involved photographing tree branches that formed the letters of the alphabet. Thanks, iconomy.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:54 AM on April 29, 2003

I think he cheated on the letter J.
posted by crunchland at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2003

FYI: for me at least, Mozilla isn't displaying the images in the direct image links in the post. I had to open them in M$IE to get them to display. Worth the extra effort, though.
posted by tippiedog at 7:17 AM on April 29, 2003

This is good, iconomy - though I've seen some of it elsewhere, it's great to find the mother lode.

Still, I don't know if I'd call this a menacing expression so much as a "Duuuuude! I forgot to bring the reefer!!" expression.
posted by soyjoy at 7:36 AM on April 29, 2003

Intelligent Design theorists would say, 'AHA! The chances of the alphabet being spelled out on butterfly's wings are so impossible, that's evidence of a creator!'
posted by PigAlien at 7:42 AM on April 29, 2003

PigAlien, that would be a leap all right, but I gotta admit, this is just uncanny. Are we really to believe Sandved didn't do a little bit of the chewing himself???
posted by soyjoy at 7:48 AM on April 29, 2003

Always I ? Iquirkomy postage.

On a side note, I have always wondered about why orange and black are such common colors in nature for venomous or poisonous animals--Monarch butterflies, coral snakes, pitohui, reticulated dart poison frogs, gila monsters and so forth.
posted by y2karl at 8:07 AM on April 29, 2003

Hey! that was a heart in preview!
As in Always I love Iquirkomy postage.
posted by y2karl at 8:08 AM on April 29, 2003

He realized that he would have to photograph butterflies live in nature and do so without killing them.

The alphabet that must live and be free to be truly vibrant...a poem is in there somewhere...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:12 AM on April 29, 2003

holy crap, it's the predator!
posted by mcsweetie at 8:47 AM on April 29, 2003

posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:55 AM on April 29, 2003

This is indeed very cool stuff. Anyone who frequents iconomy's blog knows that cool is daily fare. Mermaids and mermen, frozen charlottes, wet towel folding, the politics of animal crackers, great stuff. Go there now!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2003

Let me join y2karl in saying [This is good] and I ♥ iconomy's posts!
posted by Lynsey at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2003

Let me join madamjujujive in directing folks to iconomy's blog. Lotsa good stuff there (thanks, mjj!). I found the Google menu an eye-opener!
posted by soyjoy at 10:26 AM on April 29, 2003

Aw shucks. Come on, let's talk about the cool butterfly wings and the scary flower faces! Thanks all ;)

Soyjoy, I was torn between calling that image menacing and captioning it with "Epidendrum Orchid and Sideshow Bob - Separated At Birth?"
posted by iconomy at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2003

iconomy - I think it's pretty obvious that it's actually Edward Scissor Hands and/or Robert Smith of The Cure.

This is a great find by the way.
posted by willnot at 11:03 AM on April 29, 2003

Geez this is a good post. It's no "history of oven glass", but it's a pretty damned good find, iconomy.
posted by Hildago at 3:18 PM on April 29, 2003

Thanks Hildago. I do aspire to finding some of the gems on that list, though! I've already covered worms (my post about the jeweled caddis worm larvae case) so I only have 32 to go.
posted by iconomy at 4:02 PM on April 29, 2003

Great find. Thanks iconomy.
posted by hama7 at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2003

Love this, Ico. The ever-wonderful Cultural Entomology Digest has a great article on Lepidopteral Symbology with 31 references describing "butterfly and moth symbolism relating to lepidoptera wings and bodies found by Ron Gagliardi in his thesis on butterfly and moths in western art and design."

Also, for more ABC fun, the very, very nice Alphabet Suite photo series from the Microsoft Art Collection's "Shadow Play" exhibit (keep clicking "next" to go through the series).
posted by taz at 11:43 PM on April 29, 2003

Thank you for those links, oh fellow lover of letters ;)
posted by iconomy at 9:32 AM on April 30, 2003

[this is great]

I honestly believe that Iconomy's blog is among the best on the web. Certainly it makes me smile every time I visit.
posted by plep at 10:16 AM on May 1, 2003

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