Andy Paiko’s Crystalline Curiosities

We’re proud to post the first installment in a series of artist features by Coilhouse contributor and friend Jessica Joslin! Jessica and her husband, painter Jared Joslin, appeared in the first issue of the magazine. Jessica was also interviewed on the blog last year. In the post that follows, Jessica takes a look at glass virtuoso Andy Paiko.

Andy Paiko, Spine Jar

Lately, I’ve had glass on the brain. In part, it’s because I recently had the chance to indulge my (admittedly very nerdy) obsession with Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka. I saw some of their glass jellyfish, for the first time, at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna and the glass tentacles are still vividly trailing through my dreams. Andy Paiko seems to have more than a bit in common with the Blaschkas. There is a palpable sense of dedication to finely wrought craftsmanship and to the lusciousness inherent in the material itself. There is also a fascination with science, particularly with Natural History, and with preserving and celebrating relics from the natural world. Somehow, I suspect that all of the above were also ardent fans of Ole Worm‘s taste in collecting.

Like something from a Cabinet of Curiosities discovered in a dream, Andy Paiko’s mixed-media glass sculptures are mysterious, exquisite and very, very covet-worthy. Paiko’s sculptural vessels include a dizzying array of baroquely ornate glass bell jars, designed to house bones, shells, coral and other natural (and sometimes gold-plated) treasures. A related show-stopper is a glass chair, with compartments designed to accommodate objects, including a rhesus monkey skull and rodent skeleton.

Andy Paiko, Detail of Spinning Wheel

I must admit that I am intrigued, although also a bit mystified by, his pseudoelectrical devices. The first (certain to be a hit with all of you Tesla-philes!) incorporates Tesla coils and “is designed to make you ask questions.” The second mystery device includes an anometer (an instrument that indicates wind speed and strength) and “was designed to answer any questions you might have.”

As if that weren’t enough, there are also machines…antiquated mechanical devices, which have been lovingly re-created entirely in glass. His seismograph, balance scale and spinning wheel are, improbably, fully functioning replicas. There is a wonderful video online that shows some of Paiko’s devices in action. Check it out here. More images after the jump.

WEAM, Home of The Rocking Machine

The WEAM. Does the name ring a bell? No? No, probably not. But it’s one of the more captivating gems I found on a recent visit to Miami, Florida. Buried within that pastel deco tourist wasteland is an unassuming glass entryway with a small sign and a nude statue in the window, a table with some brochures, and an elevator. I happened to see the statue and sign as I was walking by on my way to somewhere else, and was just intrigued enough to drag my companions into that elevator for a peek.

What we found was an unattractively-lit foyer and a high entry fee. Too curious to back down now, I insisted on checking it out so pay we did and in we went. The place was enormous and filled with art and artifacts. “Curated” would not be the right word to describe this haphazard cacophony of objects, arranged on shelves, in glass cases, on pedestals and hanging on every inch of wall space. There were some two dozen rooms and nooks, sort of arranged by place and theme but not really. There are French caricatures, offensive “African primitive” cartoons, horrible paint-by-number nude portraits, serious carvings and phallic sculptures, paintings by many amateurs that seem to be included only because they feature boobies, fetish posters from the ’80s, glass dildos, naughty mechanical sex-themed snuff boxes, a giant four poster bed whose four posts are GIANT PHALLI OVER A FOOT IN DIAMETER… I could go on.

The real treasure, totally unexpected and unadvertised, is located toward the end of the museum. We’d plodded through each of the 20 or so rooms, examining the motley collection of objects erotic, repulsive, curious and hilarious… we were starting to feel fatigued and pressed for time… and then there it was.

The fibreglass rock-a-penis. The very same gleaming white sculpture,
called “The Rocking Machine” featured in A Clockwork Orange. I was
standing face to balls with it. Literally six inches away from it in
all its smooth, shiny glory.

Total. Wholesale. Nerdgasm. Meltdown.

…It’s not for sale. I asked.

(Dejected by this, I turned to the internet, which had happier news for me: Herman Makkink’s famous kinetic sculpture has been recast in a “limited edition” (of a reproduction?) and can be had via his website. I know you’ll sleep better knowing this.)

Giant Inflatable Flying Dog Turd Wreaks Havoc

(Yeah, we know. This is already yesterday’s poos. Don’t care. Must blog for sake of prost… er… posterity.)

Via the Nainamo Daily News (and ten gazillion other websites): “A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.”

OH SHIT! Photo via LiveNews, Australia.

A strong gust of wind carried the gargantuan pile of crap several hundred yards from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it touched down again on the grounds of a children’s home, where it broke a window. No word yet on whether or not the home’s inhabitants have been traumatized for life. Museum director Juri Steiner claims the piece of art has a safety system which normally makes the cacadoody deflate during stormy weather, but something went wrong.

Vaguely related items of possible interest:

The Tarnished Beauties of Blackwell, Oklahoma

Criss-crossing America’s interstates on shoestring music tours, my bandmates and I see scores of battered roadside billboards. They advertise ramshackle sculpture gardens, art brut outposts, World’s Biggest Fill-in-the-Blanks, rustic museums, and obscure historic landmarks. Such attractions are usually located in quiet little towns only a short distance from the highway. More often than not, we make a point to stop, stretch our legs and explore. These spontaneous jaunts expose us to beauty and knowledge we would never have discovered otherwise.

Possibly the most delightful surprise on this last stint with Faun Fables was a visit to the Top of Oklahoma Museum, housed in the somewhat dilapidated (but still glorious) Electric Park Pavilion on Main Street in Blackwell, OK (population 7,700). A grand, white structure with a large central dome, the Pavilion was built in 1912 to celebrate the advent of electricity in Blackwell. Its design takes after styles exhibited at the famous “White City” of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. Its lights, which originally numbered over 500, could once be seen for miles across the windswept prairie.


These days, the Pavilion could use some serious TLC. Multiple leaks in the dome have endangered the museum’s contents. Plastic tarps enshroud several exhibits. Many items bear marks of water damage. One of the kindly septuagenarian docents who works there followed us from room to room, clucking over the holes in the roof, the rusty stains. These senior preservationists take a lot of pride in their charge, with good reason. The “TOOM” is a sprawling treasure trove of turn-of-the-century ephemera, railroad memorabilia, articles of Cherokee life, hand-carved walking sticks and pipes, dioramas, dollhouses, baby buggies, hobbyist’s taxidermy, antique musical and medical instruments, Victrolas, zinc smelting documentation, delicate handmade lace, linen and clothing, exceedingly creepy dolls, sewing machines, china, vintage propaganda, picture books, elaborate quilting, and countless other keepsakes left behind by the city’s first brave citizens.

Judging by these artifacts, early non-native residents of Oklahoma were hardy, determined folk who struggled to eke out a life on America’s frontier. How they maintained such an unshakable air of dignity and refinement is beyond me, but Blackwell is a true, sparkling diamond in the rough. For me, nothing symbolizes the spirit of its citizens better than the following portrait, unceremoniously presented on a torn, water-stained bit of pasteboard in the museum’s “School Room”: ”

Who were you, Lola? Whatever became of you?

The girl’s name was Lola Squires, and she was a student enrolled in Blackwell High, graduating class of 1916. That’s all I know. Her gaze knocked me back several feet. Once I finally stop staring at her, I realized that there were countless other flint-eyed and bow-bedecked young beauties on the walls nearby. I must have spent well over an hour in that one room, moving from portrait to portrait, documenting as much as I could, just stunned.

The Iron Hand of Gotz Von Berlichingen

Prosthetics are hot! That’s how I’ll console myself if I ever lose my hand in a terrible accident. I picture a long-fingered, razor-nailed chrome hand for everyday wear; a sleek jeweled hand with fingertips that project light (or film!) for the evenings; and for special occasions, I want a sock puppet that’s also a flamethrower. In my toolkit, I would also like to have something Ye Olde. Ideally I’d love to get my remaining hand on the following, eloquently written up for us by guest blogger David Forbes (aka Coilhouse commenter ampersandpilcrow). – Nadya


Götz Von Berlichingen had a problem. It was 1504 and, at the tender young age of 24, the plundering knight, mercenary and all around bastard had the upper part of his right arm torn off in a cannon blast. As someone who made his living off war and already had a sizable enemies’ list, Götz needed his killin’ hand.

So he got another one. Made of iron.


However, this was no crudely shaped hunk of metal — it was a mechanical masterpiece, centuries ahead of its time. The iron hand not only allowed Götz to return to battle, but later helped lay the foundation for modern prosthetics. Complete with articulated fingers, spring action and an array of levers and buttons, the hand allowed a degree of control that’s stunning even today. Fitted with it, Götz could do the following:

Jessica Joslin’s Delightful Wunderkammer Creatures

Enzo & Donato (detail), 6″ x 6x 6″ each (12″ x 18″ x 10″-Mounted), 2004
Brass, bone, fur, cast/painted plastic, glass eyes

You may have already heard tell of Jessica Joslin‘s enchanted bestiary via the esteemed Wurzeltod, Brass Goggles or Boing Boing. If not, it’s a joy and an honor to introduce you to her work. In Jessica’s loving hands, delicate one-of-a-kind creatures are born of brass and bone, buttons and leather, glass eyes, mother of pearl, filigree, taxidermy, antique mechanical flotsam, scientific process, nostalgia and GENIUS!

From the Lisa Sette Gallery Newsletter:

Jessica Joslins’s odd menagerie begins with her penchant for collecting: “I find things anywhere that I find myself…in obscure junk shops, flea markets, attics, taxidermy supply houses, specialty hardware distributors… or walking through the woods.” Joslin seeks out and puts to use those bright odds and ends that might catch one’s eye in a box full of orphaned fixtures, or glinting up from the sidewalk. While each piece she employs in her eerie animal reliquary is delicately beautiful, it is also the detritus of human engineering and design: old brass buttons and gold braid, glass beads, clockwork cogs and velvet ribbon. Such items are reminiscent of the whimsical technology of a century past, one’s grandparents’ house, the dark interiors of old fashioned movie theatres – and as such they have an intriguing, wistful quality. In other words, Joslin collects the things that all of us secretly want to, the shiny pieces that we might comb through, handle and admire, but ultimately force ourselves to put down; what would we do with such things?

Flora, 4″ x 2″ x 3″, 2006
Brass, bone, sterling, painted wood, grommets, cast pewter, glass eyes

Jessica, who lives in Chicago with her commensurately brilliant husband, painter Jared Joslin, recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer several questions for the upcoming Coilhouse print magazine. You can read excerpts from this interview and meet a few more of her creatures under the cut. Also, anyone who happens to be in LA through the 23rd can take a closer look some of her work at the Los Angeles Art Show in Santa Monica.

Wonders of the Tyrolean Folk Museum

Good morning, viagra world.

Start the day off right by simultaneously drying your face and contemplating mortality with a little help from the Tyrolean Towel Rack of IMMINENT DOOM. DOOOOM:

This fetching piece of Germanic history can be found in the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum in Innsbruck, Austria. The sprawling complex is chock full of similarly bizarre pieces of functional art, like intricately painted antique cabinets, traditional ceremonial costumes, jaunty beast-headed sleighs, embellished tools, and lavishly personalized weaponry. Several historic walk-through “rooms” dating back to the Gothic and Rococo eras have been reassembled, replete with original hand-carved wood paneled walls, stoves, kitchenware and benches on which one can sit for a moment to rest.

My traveling companions and I spent several blissful hours ooohing and aaahing over everything. At one point, Dawn, an accomplished yodeler, was actually moved to song, her joyous yips reverberating up and down the long stone hallways.

Click below to see more wonders from the Alps.

Jusaburo Puppet Museum — Tokyo

*media, originally uploaded by Coilhouse.

By far the most charming place I visited during my recent Japan-o-dventure was the Jusaburo puppet museum.

Nestled between bigger buildings in Ningyocho [literally translated to City of Dolls], a less busy district in Tokyo, this place is something of a landmark – signs and maps point to its location starting at the train station. Jusaburo Tsujimura’s early life story reads like a novel – he was born to a geisha mother from an unknown father and spent his childhood in a geisha house surrounded by the colorful rustling silk which inspires him to this day. Today, after a lifetime of achievement he is one of many puppeteers living in Ningyocho, his atelier-museum and impressive gamut of work attracting recognition since its opening in 1996.

Entering the place I was instantly entranced. We seemed to be the only visitors at first. A helpful employee led us past cabinets filled with tiny figurines, past a small work area with dolls and puppets in varying levels of completion to the back room where an assortment of cabaret music played and an elaborate set took up the entirety of the back wall. An homage to Moulin Rouge, a miniature multi-tiered stage illuminated by a twinkling color light show and adorned by several rows of chorus girls, with their gorgeous blue-feathered Prima Donna at the forefront. By the time i took it all in my jaw had begun its decent.

The Meticulous Dreamworld of Joseph Cornell

Soap Bubble Box, originally uploaded by Coilhouse.

The magical curio cabinets and collages of Joseph Cornell make me pine for a Manhattan I never knew, for all things mildewed, dusty and indigo-hued, for faded starlets and forgotten prima ballerinas, and for constellations I have never seen.

Born towards the end of the Victorian era in upstate NY, reclusive Cornell never ventured any further than New England, but his body of work reveals an inner world of incalcuable depth. Inspired in equal parts by the penny arcades of his youth and the grandiose vision of the Dada/Surrealists, Cornell spent a lonely lifetime trawling L.E.S. flea markets and secondhand bookstores for nostalgic scraps of yesteryear. Whatever the medium (diorama, film collage, decoupage), each piece reflects the inexorable drive of a compulsive scavenger/architect to coax meaning and narrative –however mysterious– from discarded scraps of the past.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum, originally uploaded by Coilhouse.

? Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, and take the time to learn about their wonderful world of the Parasites.? so states the official website of the world’s only parasite museum in Meguro – a relatively quiet neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan. Most of the Coil-staff was on a Tokyo adventure in September and paid individual visits to this wonderful place between fits of devouring strange candy and exhausting their funds in fancy boutiques.

Boasting 45,000 parasite specimens immersed in formaline, the museum is a privately-founded and now government-aided establishment. With its parasite-positive atmosphere the museum lives up to its slogan and is a popular date spot. It’s easy to see why! Milky white samples float peacefully on night sky-blue backdrops in neat, glass jar rows. Friendly interactive displays show diagrams of various relationships between animals and parasites which inhabit them. A long ribbon hangs near a case displaying an impressive tapeworm, nearby sign encouraging the visitor to play with the ribbon to understand the tapeworm’s length. Don’t fear – this is an educational adventure, friends!

The museum isn’t particularly large, and won’t take more than an hour to conquer. Admission is free and photography is allowed. I highly recommend you pay our little friends a visit, even if you’re only in Tokyo for a few days. You’ll be glad you tore yourself away from the hostess bars, gluttony and experimental toilets in favor of learning!