A Gorgeous Orrery

January 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm (amazing things, art) ()

I’m really fond of a certain sort of word. My fondness is severe and borderline obsessive. Some words in this category are balcony, briery, rosary, orrery, atomy, nursery, Albany, Germany, jewelry (depending on your accent), beulahry, comely, etc.

So that’s part of why I got so excited when I saw this post on Boing Boing about this gorgeous, handmade orrery. What’s better than a beautiful thing with a beautiful name?

An orrery, in case you don’t know, is a rotating model of the solar system. The orrery in question was hand-crafted by one Eugene Sargent. He made it with its guts exposed, so you can see the gears working as it spins. It’s incredibly lovely, including the sun, six of the officially recognized planets, and our own moon.

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7 Comments

  1. Infra said,

    Oh, looking at that was a bad, bad thing for me. Now I’ll have to start reading Di Filippo’s Steampunk Trilogy again. Or the Dune series. Bah. I have so many books to read as it is.

    And it makes me miss my old watch. (Weep, grumble, weep some more.)

    @Daisy:

    I know this is off-topic, but I didn’t know how else to contact you about it. You had mentioned, at the place you thought you’d never visit, that you might be interested in exploring alternate views on theory. I think. I’ve been tossing around and mulling over some ideas related to that, and a potential project for them; if you follow the link to my place and check the sis:stems and mascs & theo(r)i cats, that should give you an idea of where it’s headed (esp. the “prospective forum” post). In my head, anyway.

    Just thought I’d make the note. It’s an open and nascent thing.

  2. Daisy said,

    Hi Infra! Commenting here is an excellent way to contact me. Thank you for the links, I’ll head right over to your place and peruse them.

  3. Daisy said,

    And what sort of watch did you have, by the way? Any watch that could be suggested by something like this is a watch I want to know about.

    : )

  4. Infra said,

    It was an old Russian self-winder with a transparent view of the mechanism — moving around was enough to keep it going. Just beautiful… I’ve been searching for another one for years, dropping in on the antique shops and such, but no luck so far.

    To give you a better idea of the feel: it was the kind of thing that could have been a prop in The City of Lost Children.

    That kind of craftsmanship touches something deep in me. I suppose that it’s the closest one can come to putting a soul into a machine.

  5. Daisy said,

    Oh my lord, that sounds amazing. Where did you find originally? I can imagine committing crimes over something like that.

    I just saw The City of Lost Children last week, and I know Emily (my co-blogger and accomplice) is aching to see it.

    That kind of craftsmanship touches something deep in me. I suppose that it’s the closest one can come to putting a soul into a machine.

    Oh, Infra. I think we may be kindred spirits.

  6. Emily said,

    Oh wow! “A transparent view of the mechanism–moving around was enough to keep it going.”

    Daisy and I spent a great deal of the holiday season actually salivating at the idea of seeing/touching/having one of those. No exaggeration.

  7. Infra said,

    Emily:

    Daisy and I spent a great deal of the holiday season actually salivating at the idea of seeing/touching/having one of those. No exaggeration.

    I know the feeling. There are some things that I’ve seen or touched that brought up the thought, “Do I really need to eat this month? I can go without it, right?” Currently, that’s being triggered by a Folio Society edition of Les Liaisons dangereuses. Crushed silk on the binding, with an inlaid gilt quill — and FS editions in general are a beauty to behold, and just to hold while reading. That’s the main reason that I’ll always have print, even if/when things go completely digital.

    Daisy:

    I found it in some obscure catalog that’s no longer in print, one that dealt with estate sales, that kind of thing; I couldn’t tell you what the name was. For some reason I have a knack for getting on strange mailing lists. Mostly, when it comes to things like that, I simply stumble across them: an acquaintance introduces me to someone else, who recommends a book, which comes from a distributor that carries small press items, which mentions a specific press, which carries a limited edition book that’s only available from them. Or something along those lines. (That’s how I found out about The Mirror of the Free, which examines Sufi and Near Eastern cylinder seal influences on the Tarot. Worth the read, if you come across it and that subject interests you.)

    Oh, Infra. I think we may be kindred spirits.

    And that’s not to mention our similar affections for language. ;)

    Have you read Danielewski’s House of Leaves? I have to admit that Lovecraft’s use of tone, pace and texture has always impressed me, but MZD did an amazing job with that work. (Another thing that I managed to stumble across — a shop happened to have a signed hardcover at just the right time, when I had just enough to spend. I consider it one of my few treasures.) I’d highly recommend it, if you haven’t had the chance to immerse yourself in it yet.

    The last book that affected me that strongly was Les Miserables.

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