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Entries in heritage (13)

Monday
Nov262012

redefined: the wreath

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons Laurel wreaths date back to Greek mythology— when Daphne, the object of Apollo’s affections, was turned into a laurel tree, he wove its leaves into a headpiece to console himself.

Being a skilled gamesman, tournament winners were awarded crowns of laurel to show their worthiness by bequeathing Apollo’s adornment upon them.

Soon, wreaths of laurel or olive branches became a symbol of honor—awarded to Olympic athletes, battle warriors, eventually as
a standard, stately emblem—and in Roman times, noblemen wore them in a similar vein, or vanity.

Eventually the wreath was closed to form a complete circle—symbolizing eternity—and was used on a greater variety of occasions. Today, not only are wreaths used as year-round decorations, each has a personality all its own—below are just four examples which started with a basic wire wreath form.

Note: due to stronger than anticipated sales, unfortunately the wire wreath from is sold out. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope these projects inspire alternative decorating ideas for the Holidays.

Friday
Nov092012

redefined: origami

The art of folding paper—ori, folding and gami, paper—dates to the 1600s and the most widely known or replicated subject is the crane.

Traditional origami starts with a square piece of paper—usually handmade or hand-printed—and does not allow for cutting or gluing. Intricate designs can be made by using many basic, small folds—or more simple designs are created in high volume for a more intense display.

The legend is that if you create 1000 origami cranes, a wish will be granted by them. Some believe that the crane—like the dragon and tortoise—is a holy creature that lives for a thousand years, hence the quantity, their popularity and mysticism as each folded paper crane represents one year of its life.

Much like paper cranes given as wedding or baby gifts, origami ornaments are full of good wishes, prosperity, health and happiness—powerfully meaningful and charming all year long.

photo courtesy of: Dominic’s pics

Note: scale of ornaments to each other is not actual.

Thursday
Oct182012

redefined: the rocking chair

photo by: Mark Wootenphoto by: Kai Hendry Dated to the early 1700s, but without any direct connection to its creator, rocking chairs range from simple to ornate in design—but they’re consistently built for comfort. By simply adding curved rails to the legs of a chair, a rocking chair creates movement and comfort beyond its original design.

Rockers comfort psychologically with their rocking motion reminiscent of cradles—quite possibly thoroughly inspired by them—and physically by centering one’s gravity and creating a natural, comfortable position in the seat. During the 1800s, doctors even prescribed rocking for its therapeutic benefits: to ease stress, focus the mind, work muscles and potentially reduce back pain.

The earliest examples were all wood—which made them affordable—and as leisure time increased, the chairs became more popular and more ornate. Wood spindles were turned on a lathe for greater details, painting details were added, and seats and backs were later—or consequentially—woven of wicker, rush, or cane.

For American settlers, they seemed a staple even with many chores and long days. Not surprisingly— and without entertainment in the evenings—many did handiwork such as whittling, knitting, or stitching.

As wealth, material availability, technology and worker’s skills increased, upholstered versions naturally came to the market. The curtis rocker, designed by furniture-maker Jason Lewis, takes cues from many elements of the evolution of rocking chairs—but starts where it all began with a sleek, solid wood frame.

Monday
Oct082012

redefined: white porcelain dinnerware

a Vincennes porcelain cup, circa 1750
photo: wikipedia commons
Ceramics are created by heating and cooling various types of clay—originally, ‘fired’ in wood-burning ovens, later they’re glazed and re-fired in kilns for a more durable piece.

As delicate as it appears in translucency, whiteness and fineness, porcelain is a relatively strong material made durable by heating clay with kaolinite to temperatures over 2000°F.

In general, porcelain has a high resistance to strong chemicals—such as mustard—and temperature changes—which is why it can often go from a refrigerator to an oven.

‘Porcelain’ is derived from old Italian ‘porcellana’ because of its resemblance to the translucent cowrie shell. ‘Porcelain’ has long been referred to as ‘china’ interchangeably since it originated in China—around 200AD.

Centuries after the Han Dynasty, the manufacture of porcelain increased dramatically and kilns could fire hundreds of pieces at a time. Sometime in the 9th Century, cobalt was traded between the Middle East and China allowing for the creation of now familiar blue-and-white wares.

Chinese export porcelain with Dutch ship, 1756
photo: Wikipedia Commons
By 1368–1644, the time of the Ming Dynasty, China largely controlled the trade of porcelain and it was during this Dynasty that blue-and- white wares were exported heavily to Europe. Since cobalt had a value greater than gold, the elaborately decorated pieces became the coveted standard for years.

Trade between the Far East and Portugal began in the early 16th century, followed by the Dutch later in that century—and even though the imported pieces were held in high esteem, it wasn’t long before local manufacturers worked to replicate or replace them.

It was the Portuguese who discovered that the kaolin clay was a key ingredient—but the Chinese had hundreds of years of experience so it wasn’t until the early 1700s that Europeans discovered other manufacturing, ‘trade’ secrets.

Once the Methuen Treaty established trading relations between England and Portugal, manufacture of porcelain soon followed and flourished. But at the same time, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and France all established strong porcelain manufacturing capabilities. For a time, plain white pieces were imported from China and decorated in Europe—however many established manufacturing areas and companies are still revered today such as Wedgwood, Arzberg and Limoges.

Bone china refers to porcelain that is made with bone ash in the clay mixture which creates a very translucent porcelain—most apparent when it’s held up to a light source—while breakthroughs in new chemicals and processes create a finish that is comparably luxurious.

New approaches to shapes also breathe life into white porcelain—such as the pieced parts of
mend dinnerware. And while formal dinnerware was traditionally ordered in placesettings for 12, today pieces of antique/vintage patterns are eclectically mixed with modern to create unique looks.

Monday
Feb202012

redefined: the trunk

photo by: patriotworld As nomads became settlers and built structures to live in for extended periods of time, they were basic—a floor, a roof, and four walls—and local woods, stones or earth were the only construction materials available.

Over time, these simple structures got more complicated as separate rooms were devised for various uses—a common room for living, a kitchen with a chimney for cooking, and smaller rooms fit a bed for sleeping. Much later and smaller still, water closets for toilets and baths.

More stationary and less migratory, storage solutions were needed for possessions acquired. Yet instead of closets—the tiniest of rooms within rooms—small furniture pieces were adapted from cases that were lugged around…luggage, baggage, suitcases.

Today’s luggage is ultra lightweight, durable, with wheels as opposed to classic steamer trunks which held a wardrobe of dress clothes, hats, shoes, etc. And today’s storage pieces come in many shapes and sizes to fill every need imaginable. The beauty of the versus galvanized trunk is in its versatility and its industrial details—so it looks right at home, anywhere.