Sunday I put together an IKEA recliner chair for a client and commented on how old fashioned it was that they include arm covers and a little doily to rest your head on in the packaging.
Of course, my clients are all very wise… (I mean, they hired me after all:) and she knowingly responded with the proper name for this little piece of cloth and filled me in on the origin of these protective patches.
You can see from the definition above that they originated in Victorian and Edwardian England when it was fashionable for men to use Macassar oil as a hair conditioner or to groom and style the hair. You can still find them in high end hotels and passenger trains..and I can confirm IKEA still uses them too:)
Man, that doily is really hanging on for the ride! I’m going on the record now as being anti antimacassar.
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My love for Canadian First Nations and Inuit art goes on … and on Monday night an auction of the most significant Inuit graphics prints ever, The Cape Dorset Collection, goes on the block. The whole set is close to 80 prints and it is estimated at around 400 000k or more. Let me tell you why…
Inuit history and culture has always been preserved and transmitted through an oral tradition and songs. In the summer of 1956, the Department Indian Affairs sent art supplies and building materials for a craft centre to Cape Dorset. Before long, a small group of Inuit artists began to experiment with print techniques, learning from one another by trial and error. Three years of experimentation in linocut, stonecut and stencil culminated in the inaugural 1959 collection. Remarkable in their elegance and outstanding quality, the prints are a testimony to the artists’ individual styles and technical skill already apparent at this early stage. Their immediate success led to the formation of the community-owned West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, incorporated in 1959. source
They are stunning in their simplicity and are famous the world over. In the 1950′s when the first prints were made, they sold for around $30 each and today…well we will see. Did you know that in Canada artists do not receive re-sale royalties for their art which is re-sold? Private sellers and galleries profit in sales such as this.
You can learn more about the Cape Dorset art co-operative here. Do you collect any First Nations art?
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I picked one up last summer…a cloche, that is.
I Didn’t know what to really do with the thing and since I’m not exactly the gardening type it sat pretty on a shelf until this past Christmas when I filled it with lights like this.
Not too terribly creative…but hey I was busy. So now the lights are packed away until next year and I am left asking..what do I do with this thing? As with all conundrums I asked the internet and here’s what it told me…
cloche /klōSH/ Noun 1. A small translucent cover for protecting or forcing outdoor plants. Or 2. A woman’s close-fitting, bell-shaped hat.
As I suspected, it has its origins in science, botany to be exact, and I admit that there were a couple heated discussions around our holiday table this year as to whether it was a terrarium, or not, and what the hell its purpose was…mystery solved.
…The internet also showed me that you can put one thing in, or allot…(note how I am totally ignoring plant material as an option.)
They are well suited to seasonal applications…
And, incidentally I just saw a medium and large cloche at the vintage store on Goldstream near the cinema. I think they were $6 and $8 bucks if you’re in the market. My pal Sheila wrote a great post on Cloche’s too. Check her out.
I loved the way the cloche looked illuminated at Christmas so I think that is the direction for me. I should note though that without some venting you should not use regular light bulbs as it heats up quickly and would likely explode…so be smart if you’re DIY’ing it peeps. I’m totally smitten with some amazing examples of vintage cloche lamps and design darling cb2 has a lamp out now too!
When I mentioned to my husband tonight that I was thinking about transforming it into a lamp he said two things….”so you’re basically thinking about building a bomb” and second….”in this instance, I think you should go buy one”
He’s on the record!
Do you have one? What’s in it? I’d love to know!:)
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Like most design enthusiasts I have a mad crush on Moroccan everything and in particular a style of rug that originates from the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco; the Beni Ouarain. These wool carpets are named after the Beni Ouarain Berber tribe who make this distinctive diamond and geometric pattern on natural ivory sheep’s wool. There are many Berber tribes who pass down traditional carpet weaving traditions, but this particular style has gained super star status in western design owing to its simplicity and endorsement from some of the biggest names in design. I love it too.
Take a look at the rug I just finished for my guest room, and how I made it.
I used black thread for this project although it takes on a navy blue look which is just fine by me Here’s an example of a beautiful hand made Beni Ouarain rug form Morocco. Props to the amazing women who still craft these rugs by hand, but this was a quick budget friendly fix that’ll hold me over until the rug budget gets an infusion of cash.
What d’ya say? Think you might try it?
I’m going to make a couple more for some nursery projects I’m working on.
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My two worlds collided recently when one of my clients inquired about historical photos and whether we could find some for her place. (you may or may not know that I am both a professional historical researcher AND interior decorator extraordinaire)
I said “Uhhh YEAH!” So, I have been spending a little more time in the 19th C than usual lately trying to find just the right shots…more on that in the new year when the client’s installation happens. In the meantime I’m considering several great shots of the legislature and the Empress and some street shots too, I can’t reproduce them here on the blog due to copyright restrictions… but If you want some too…and let’s face it I’m sure you do! You can start here, or contact me. Of course I’ll help you…I’m nice like that:)
In the spirit of the holidays I loved this one of Spencer’s Department Store ca 1929 on Government St. It closed in the 1980′s. Photo Courtesy of VPL special collections Accession 17174 Date 1929; Photographer: Unknown.
I also loved this old shot from ca 1922 of the Hudson’s Bay Building on Douglas St. Which is now home to the stylish Hudson Lofts. Photo courtesy of VPL Special Collections Accession 11257 Date 1922; Photographer Frank Leonard.
Now, of course Victoria has a LONG history and is one of the oldest cities in Canada, but truth is the pics of Vic in the 1860′s just aren’t that pretty and I’m looking for candid and lively photos of the city…so if any of my history nerd friends are reading this and scrunched up their noses at the thought of 1929 being “historical” I’ve explained myself.
Have a Great Week!
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The iconic HBC blanket is popping up for me lately. It must be the cooler weather. I saw one at local decor store Trade Roots recently and thought about some cool ways you could use a piece like this…but not as a blanket…No toooo itchy for me! I wondered if it might be breaking some rule among historians to even consider re-purposing a vintage bay blanket like this; But the truth is that the blanket’s original purpose was to be re-imagined into something else. So I think I’m good.
The blankets were sold in exchange for furs and their primary use was in the creation of outerwear (coats). The blankets were a popular alternative to garments made from bulky Buffalo skins or those of smaller animals and were sold according to their size which was measured in points. So, if you’re shopping for one today and it is referred to as having points that means it should have a corresponding number of lines or ‘points’ woven into the side of the blanket. The Points ranged form 1 to 6 and represented the finished size of the blanket without having to unfold the whole thing and measure or weigh it. I guess fur traders had no time for additional folding. Smart though!
There are plenty of new blankets in the marketplace and many oldies but goodies to be found in vintage stores, on Etsy and Ebay. Of course the Bay still sells their original blankets and accessories too…and while none of these are from the Fur Trade they are still cool and Canuck nonetheless.
Think about using your Bay blanket for something other than a blanket…you might get more use out of it!
I Loved this Headboard upholstered in a wool blanket from Apartment Therapy.
Notice the lines on the side. This one is a six point (the largest size). Nice touch!
This is a cool room and HBC inspired chair, from Design Sponge
Who doesn’t love a pillow from Etsy?
And for those brave enough, make blanket pillows. very cool! From Etsy
or, how about an ottoman?
Contact me if you need help re-purposing a wool blanket. I’d love to help!
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This Miss – Oni Need One of these to be over the moon happy!! Check them out from Provide in Vancouver
Did you know that Missoni’s first fashion collection appeared in Milan in 1958?
In 1981 Missoni collaborated on their first textile and home collection which was the beginnings of the Missoni Homewear Collection.
Missoni is a family run company and while the products, colours and patterns have been celebrated the world over they have always considered it art.
A collection of glass wear (vases etc) was also developed in 2006.
I don’t know about you, but I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Target in Victoria (Tillicum in 2013, Hillside in 2014) because they have a line of Missoni products that caused quite a shopping frenzy down south last season. Everybody loves a good old shopping throwdown at Target right?!
I really want to renovate my bathroom in white and use these Missoni Towels! Love!
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Micro chairs by OneFortyThree
I have recently become captivated by miniature designer chairs. They are so cute and cool that I can hardly imagine who wouldn’t want one! The popularity of miniature chairs among collectors has not gone unnoticed and in 1992 the Vitra Museum of Design in Germany started a collection of designer chairs covering a period from the mid 1800s to the present. To date, they have taken 80 significant designs (with license agreements) and scaled them down using all the same materials and methods to 1:6 the original size.
Not to be mistaken for dolls house furniture, which is often 1:12 or 1:24 of regular furniture, these miniature chairs offer a quality representation of iconic designer pieces that is anything but kid stuff.
The prices for these tiny thrones are out of reach for most chochky collectors (ranging $100 – $750)….but the buyers are out there. I easily found Vitra miniatures for sale on eBay and at Gabriel Ross here in Victoria with no effort at all.
One of the main uses for these puny perches, apart from collecting dust on a select few bookshelves, is as teaching aids or models for design schools and those studying furniture design. Since Vitra has gone to great lengths to remain true to the historical construction, materials and colours of the miniatures they are indeed useful in this respect.
Check out the tiny museum exhibits at the Vitra Gallery:
But what of other miniature furniture? Of course there are more affordable options available to scratch the itch of wanting one (or ten). Magic Pony in Toronto carries some super cute 1:12 replicas for less than $20 each (below):
I also found these little cuties by Bento Zakka for less than $10 each on Etsy.
So, what’s the verdict on the small seats?…They certainly make a great gift for anyone who is obsessed with design. But in my opinion I can honestly think of many many more worthwhile things to spend several hundred dollars on than a replica chair…no matter how cool. If anything, I would probably try my hand at an eBay auction for one of the Vitra chairs on the premise that I would get a good deal and know that it will appreciate. But maybe I’m OK with just admiring pretty pictures of these mini marvels for the time being.
I reserve the right revisit my verdict and this post closer to the arrival of Santa Clause….if I’ve been good that is!
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If you follow me, you probably know that I’m a fan of the reproduction Sputnik inspired light fixtures and mid century design in general. You may also know that I’m a historian and so I’m naturally interested in the provenance of things and decided to investigate the story behind Sputnik a little.
I’m not a U.S. historian, or a space historian, so I didn’t know much about it until now… but I learned that the U.SS.R. launched Sputnik in 1957 and that it was the first artificial space satellite ever. Sputnik orbited the earth and wasn’t equipped with much technology other than a beeping radio signal that other instruments could track. Sputnik’s success started the space race which became an extension of the cold war.
The United States response to the Sputnik was their own satellite and the creation of NASA in 1958 to fund similar projects. So, you could say Sputnik is responsible for NASA.
Sputnik didn’t really look like these pointy projection fixtures, but these forms are part of the popular futuristic imagery around satellites that existed in the 1950s and 60s.
Pop-Culture’s fascination with space and the communist threat resulted in pop art, fashion and decor featuring funky space satellites. Check out these ads!
Images of Sputnik appeared everywhere “Bartenders invented the sputnik cocktail and children bought Sputnik toys. Space fashions also came into style depicting satellites on everything..” source And of course the Sputnik inspired light fixtures were also popularized at this time. Here is a vintage example from the 50′s.
Obviously there is much more to the story behind Sputnik than this. But understanding a little about why it became such an iconic image in western popular culture gives me a little something extra to talk with clients about as I try to convince them to use one in their homes:)
(All the pics are links as usual)
See more of my Design and History Posts on my sidebar
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Ever admire an old barn or building painted in glorious shades of red? I love the juxtaposition of red buildings set in a golden prairie and I was happy to find a document, while
procrastinating working at the archives the other day, that conjured these visions for me.
Check out this recipe for paint ca 1909…
Recipe for Making Paint
Made as follows, and no more should be mixed than is to be used that day; Stir into one gallon of milk about three pounds of Portland Cement and add sufficient Venetian red paint powder to impart a good color. Any other coloured paint powder may be as well used. The milk will hold the paint in suspension, but the cement being very heavy; will sink to the bottom, so that it becomes necessary to keep the mixture well stirred with a paddle.
Apply with an ordinary whitewash brush.
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