Altered Books


Minneapolis-based artist Joseph Decamillis resuscitates discarded old books by reworking the covers with inserted miniature oil paintings on copper and steel plates. Decamillis’ work transforms the volumes into sculptural pieces while adding a new narrative dimension with his postage stamp size illuminated images.



As an antiquarian book collector and seller, I’m always a bit queasy when I see old books mutilated in the name of art. Hopefully, all of the books in the “Miniature Paintings in Altered Books” series really are damaged and discarded volumes.









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Amsterdam Alternatives

This guest post is from Rotterdam resident and blogger Michael Afanasyev. You can follow Michael at his own blog Small European Country


Amsterdam alternatives

Every major tourist destination has the “big ones”, the things everybody wants to see – like South Africa with the Big Five. Amsterdam has the Big Three. I mean, everybody goes to the Anne Frank House, visits the Rijksmuseum and takes the canal tour, right? Unfortunately, the popularity of these hot-spots tends to bring them down, too. To make the “experience” suitable for the masses, the attractions (yes, Anne Frank is also an “attraction”) make themselves suitable for mass consumption, in what I call the McDonaldsization of travel. I am not a huge fan of Amsterdam myself – to me it is a bitlike a sleazy Disneyland. But over the years I’ve learned toappreciate the Amsterdam behind the touristy facade and discoveredAmsterdam is more than red lights and canal tours. These are my suggestions for alternatives to the Big Three.

Hollandsche Schouwburg

During the German occupation this theater was first turned into “Jews only” venue. Soon after, it was transformed into a monstrous deportation center, right in the heart of Amsterdam. Rather than shuffle with the crowds through Anne Frank’s hideout for 15 minutes after a two-hour line, you can visit the Schouwburg. Try to imagine thousands of Jews packed into this theater, waiting for days and weeks for the journey to their final destination and their tragic destiny. Anne did not pass through here, in case you wondered.



Stedelijk Museum

An American visitor once said to me “I didn’t come to Europe to seemodern art”. Well, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “I think you mayhave made a big mistake”. I mean, the Stedelijk has paintings byMatisse, Chagall, Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Appel. It has Dutchdesign by Berlage and Rietveld. And that’s just on the ground floor!I’m not even talking about the exhibitions featuring the creme de la creme of contemporary art, just these modern classics are worthwhile.And the building itself – neat, calm, spacious – I’m sorry,Rijksmuseum, but you’ve really been outperformed here. Besides, the best of the Dutch Old Masters is in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.


Two hour line outside of the Anne Frank House

Rent your own boat

Yes, the best way to experience Amsterdam is from the water. No, itsnot on a canal cruise. A myriad boats of all types, shapes and sizesare up for rent in Amsterdam. Anything goes – from a one-man canoe toa party ship for 250 people. For any price range and taste, there willbe a water-going vessel you can hire, that will give you the opportunity to explore the canals at your own pace and style. Just don’t drink and drive, OK?

I admit, I’ve been to the Amsterdam Big Three myself. Sure, they’re on everyone’s “to do list” but I think these alternatives are really worth considering.


Amsterdam canals—go where the cruise boats don’t.

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How To Beat Jet Lag

Over the years, I’ve tried just about every reasonable suggestion (plus some farfetched ideas) on how to beat jet lag with little success. Maybe the tips on this infographic from the British travel experts Thomas Cook could help?


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One City in Five Hours


I was looking for city maps for an upcoming Canada trip when I stumbled across a witty and entertaining series of hand-drawn maps with mini-guides. Each of the two dozen or so “One City, Five Hours” guides was illustrated by artist Oliver Jeffers and is accompanied by suggestions for a whirlwind visit. The touring suggestions for each of the international cities were penned by local travel experts, like Lola Akimade in Stockholm. The entire series, which was commission by United for its inflight magazine Hemispheres , can be found here.


“1 Tighten your laces and speed-walk through the Museum of Anthropology (6393 NW Marine Dr.;, which showcases thousands of artworks, tools and other objects created by the indigenous First Nations peoples. On your way out, pause to admire the towering First Nations totem poles. Just remember, no climbing. ( 0:30 )

2 Hail a taxi and have the driver take you along the waterfront to Granville Island (, a former industrial wasteland that’s home to a busy market and pedestrian-only alleys full of artisan shops. Toss a loonie (that’s a Canadian one-dollar coin) to one of the island’s many buskers and get ready to shop. ( 1:15 )

3 Stop first at the popular Public Market ( and poke through its dizzying selection of tchotchkes and gourmet munchies. Then ditch the crowd for Railspur Alley and peruse the handcrafted wares at Funk Shui Atelier and Hartman Leather. Grab a souvenir for friends back home and a couple more for yourself. ( 2:00 )

4 There’s no better way to take in Vancouver’s incongruous skyline of glass towers and jagged mountains than from the water. And there’s no easier way to do it than by Aquabus ( Hop aboard one of the colorful vessels and cross the truly gorgeous False Creek. Keep your finger on the shutter; this is prime picture territory. ( 2:30 )

5 Once in Yaletown, scurry over to Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (1095 Hamilton St.; and nibble on expertly cut sashimi. The fish are farmed using sustainable practices, a point of pride in Vancouver, one of the world’s greenest cities. ( 3:45 )

6 Walk a few doors down to the Yaletown Brewing Company (1116 Hamilton St.;, knock back a pint of Mainland lager and find out why beer is Canada’s most popular boozy beverage. Or, if you prefer, run around the corner for an indulgence of a different sort at Chocoatl chocolatiers. ( 4:00 )

7 Catch another taxi to Peking Lounge (83 E Pender St.;, a little antiques shop in Chinatown stocked with traditional wooden Chinese baskets, lacquer trays, handcarved Buddha statues and curios such as a “silk wine jacket,” which is (yep) a silk jacket for wine bottles. ( 4:30 )

8 Finally, book on over to the nearby historic district Gastown (, where a steam clock—one of a handful in the world that still work—announces the quarter hour with a whistle and chime. Time to head home. ( 5:00 )”








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Chocolate Joy Generator


We’ve posted stories on pop-up vending machines that offered free coffee in airports, free beer, free sodas and even free chocolate. Now the Australian branch of the Cadbury candy company has rolled-out the “Joy Generator”, a vending installation that dispenses a variety of 12 different chocolate bars.


Users simply sign in with their Facebook account and they receive a free candy bar with a flavor based on their profile. For example, if the Joy Generator classifies a user as sociable they will get a Rocky Road bar and if they are deemed adventurous they get a Turkish Delight.




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A Very Big Art Show


More than 38,000 Britons voted on artwork which will form a vast nationwide exhibition scattered throughout the UK starting today and running until August 31st. Art Everywhere consists of thirty thousand billboards, posters and bus stop displays around the country celebrating 25 British artists. The works are widely diverse and represent work by artists as varied as William Blake, David Hockney and Henry Moore.









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It Only Hurts If You Laugh


Artists Mandy Smith and Hal Kirkland collaborated on a macabre interactive sculpture project called “Paper Cuts”. The touring installation, which has visited Amsterdam and London so far, replicates the infamous guillotine with a colorful version that leaves the “victim” with nothing worse than a paper cut.

Each time the blade falls on a volunteer a camera records the participants expression. The photos are then displayed on a big screen and on the “Paper Cuts” website.





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Now Bruges Has It All


Bruges, Belgium is, with good reason, one of Europe’s most popular cities with travelers. Stunning architecture, romantic canals, beautiful churches, terrific art, and mind-blowingly fabulous chocolate—Bruges has it all. It even has the world’s only frites museum. Now Bruges has launched its first beer museum.


On July 5th, entrepreneurs Thibault Bekaert and Emmanuel Maertens opened the Bruges Beer Museum in the old Postgebouw building on the historic Grote Markt in the heart of town. Of course the highlight of the attraction is a chance to sample some of Belgium’s hundreds of phenomenal brews.




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Literary Ireland

Ireland a Literary Atlas maps the rich literary heritage of Ireland. The infographic was produced by and designed by UK-based NeoMan Studios. Too bad they left out my favorite contemporary Irish writer Kevin Barry.


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Wetter Than Uber


A clever and timely new peer-to-peer app called We Are On A Boat connects people who would like a boat ride with folks who would like to “share” their boat. The app, which has been appropriately launched in Amsterdam, enables boat owners to post geotagged photos of their vessel with seating availability and requested form of payment for rides. The Uber-like app plans to expand to other waterfront cities such as Venice, Bruges, Hamburg and London.

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