Archive for the ‘craft’ Category
The Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains 3,000 items, many from the Renaissance. After its acquisition in 1969 and display in the Robert Lehman Wing in 1975, the museum began cataloging the collection, publishing what is now a 15 volume set of books that categorize and describe the objects. The final volume is titled “Decorative Arts” and amongst the snuffboxes, ceramics, furniture, and porcelain are 49 Renaissance and Mannerist jewels. However Charles Truman, author of the chapter covering those jewels and jeweled objects, decided 34 did not live up to their supposed provenance. This discovery, says the Wall Street Journal, will “cause consternation and controversy” as it reinforces that there are more fakes sitting around ready to be revealed. Truman recounts the history of the peak of Renaissance forgeries, which of course matched a peak in demand in the era in which the Lehman family amassed their collection. Perhaps the most egregious forgery tale from Truman is of antiques dealer Salomon Weininger who in 1860 was hired to restore objects from Vienna’s Holy Treasury. He replaced the items with copies and kept the real ones. I suppose that’s one way to perfectly restore something from the 1400s.
The bouquets presented at the Olympic medal ceremonies are distinctive and suitably British. Designed by Susan Lapworth, the vibrant mix of roses and herbs comes from Jane Packer Flowers of London. Packer was a fashion leader in the world of florists and provided the flowers for the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding. She died in November of 2011, midway through the design process for the fashions and flowers of the 2012 Olympics. It was critical that the flowers in the bouquet not only reflected the host country but could also be grown there. Flowers had to be specially sourced from UK growers as there is no longer a commercial rose industry in the UK. The pink, yellow, orange, and green roses are separated by classic British food ingredients: lavender, rosemary, apple mint, and wheat. The quadrant layout of the roses is meant to reflect the (often derided) 2012 Olympic logo. Consideration was given to the sustainability and re-use of the packaging materials and plants. The 4,400 bouquets needed for medal-winning athletes are being prepared with the help of floristry students. The Olympic medals will last longer, but the accompanying flowers will add a lovely smell of victory.
Each year I read about the Edible Book Festival and it’s around April 1st so I think “does that really happen?” It does really happen (Wikipedia says so). It’s a contest to create edible art inspired by books. The timing, besides being the perfect date to fool around with words, coincides with Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s birthday on April 1st. Since 2000, various literary-minded organizations in multiple countries hold local competitions, award prizes, and then let the entries succumb to their edible fate. Seattle’s Edible Book Festival was held on Saturday with more than 100 entries. Many creations are puns on titles: “A Separate Piece”, “Tequila Mockingbird”, “Anne of Green Bagels”. Some are simply illustrative of the book. Then there are the creative stretches such as “The Invisible Manwich.”
Davidson Galleries in Seattle is running an exhibition of bookplates both contemporary and antique. Over 200 of these labels of book ownership are on display including those of well-known bookplate artists (yes, they exist!) who were, not surprisingly, usually printmakers. Bookplate subjects are as varied as their owners, though of course reading-related illustrations are common. My bookplates aren’t custom but they’re Laura Ashley (how luxe!) and I’ve only used them on a few very special books. Etsy is a good place to find bookplates to match your personality. I’ve written about bookplates twice before so here are some links I’ve gathered: Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie (still going strong after 5 years), The American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers, The Bookplate Society, University of Notre Dame’s Bookplate Registry project, and Stanford’s online Bookplates Exhibit. There are many more bookplate resources out there and collections at many universities.
It’s old news that American shoe manufacturing has moved overseas, mostly to China. One of the few companies still making shoes in the USA wants to tip the balance the other way by marketing its shoes to the Chinese. Allen Edmonds, a privately held manufacturer of men’s shoes in Wisconsin, is opening a store in Shanghai this year. They’re hoping that “Made in the USA” will be as distinctive in China as it has become back home. If the approach succeeds, they have plans to expand into Hong Kong and Macau, but they won’t move production to Asia like so many others have. Allen Edmonds shoes were worn by Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes for their inaugurations.
Corning Inc. has ably survived into the computer age with its glass a necessity for electronic displays both small and large. In 2008 it shed its money-losing luxury glass division, selling Steuben to Schottenstein Stores, a holding company of various retailers. Steuben is the last manufacturer of luxury lead crystal in the United States. It continued to lose money and in August of this year Schottenstein announced that the 108 year old company will close in November. The flagship Steuben store on Fifth Avenue in New York will close after 77 years of business. Buyers of wedding gifts, commemorative glass pieces, and mementos for heads of state and royalty will have to find something else. The Corning Glass Museum has replaced its Steuben store with works of local glass artists. Steuben’s online store has marked down the merchandise so for some time you can still get an animal hand cooler without having to turn to eBay. Corning has bought back the brand name so perhaps one day when we tire of buying each other gift cards and electronic devices Steuben can shine again.
Bride and groom Sara Faith Alterman and Sam Hawes’ wedding rings may look traditional but they took a very personal route for their jewelry. With the help of Adam Clark at Scintillant Studio the couple started with a metal ingot and made wedding bands for each other. Alterman is a writer (among other things) and she’s written about shopping for her wedding dress for the Boston Globe and “localizing” her wedding in San Francisco.
Andrew Kolb decided to illustrate David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and put it into children’s book format. The PDF is freely downloadable from his site (unless some lawyers get to it). The people he put in the control room are nicely diverse in sex and race. But with the bleak ending of the song you might not want to show this to any young kids. (Thanks Robert!)
The September issue of Dwell takes you behind the scenes at textile company Marimekko. Founded in 1951, the Finnish company’s bold prints received a boost in the U.S. from Jacqueline Kennedy who wore several of their dresses in the 1960 presidential campaign. More recent publicity came from clothing and tablecloth appearances in the TV series “Sex and the City.” Crate & Barrel’s partnership with Marimekko started in the 1960s and their designs are available on pillows, sheets, and other housewares. Their colorful patterns are silkscreened in up to 12 colors. Dwell’s slideshow runs through 13 patterns and the designers and inspiration behind them. The article describes the design and printing process.
The fading craft of shoes handmade in the United States, captured in this 4 minute video of a Quoddy craftsman who learned how to sew shoes from his father. “He knew back then it wasn’t a really a good trade to get into because it’d been petering out…but it’s still a good living.”