Ephemera

An Unexpected Find…Japanese Herbiers

spare pale botanicals

Finding fabulous non-Japanese items, particularly French ones, seems to be a recent theme with me.  So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across these amazing herbiers (pressed and labeled botanicals) recently at a tiny Japanese antique store miles and miles away from Tokyo. Used as scientific tools in many countries for hundreds of years, they are quintessentially French to my mind, although I have also seen many Scandinavian examples. So my surprise continued when I looked closely and discovered that these are actually Japanese, from 1939!

herbiers group

I only bought 12 of them, thinking it a good number that works either 3×4 or 4×3…

herbiers 3x4

…or even 2 rows of 6, either horizontal or vertical.

herbiers 2x6

I picked out some of my favorites from the three binders, but I am thinking that perhaps I need to go back and buy them all. They can look amazing in a huge massed display.

huge displey of herbiers against dark paint

Note how different they look with dark frames against colored walls.

herbiers with black frames against blue

Some, like the oxalis, I can identify by sight, while others will need translation. The paper is lightly foxed, but I think the patina only adds to their charm. I can’t resist showing them each in close-up – how many can you identify?

IMG_0486 IMG_0487 IMG_0489 IMG_0490 IMG_0491 IMG_0492 IMG_0493 IMG_0494 IMG_0495 IMG_0496 IMG_0497 IMG_0498

Many views of pressed botanicals can be found in the homes of great bloggers, from Brooke

Brooke Gianetti master bath herbiers

…to Joan.

herbiers joan

Hugely trendy in decor right now, I already had a Pinterest page devoted to them with some of my favorite images and different ways to frame them.

MSL banquette Kime herbiers

botanicals over desk

herbiers plus creamware

Take a look here for more images and the photo credits. I’ll let you know if I go back and get them all!

Related Posts:
Tussle at the Antique Jamboree…or the Never Wait Rule

Paper for a Thousand Years…Vintage Chiyogami

Jenny’s post the other day on the great Warhol print she got for her little girls’ room reminded me of something – another kind of print – a vintage Japanese woodblock one called chiyogami, that looks a lot like her Warhol on a much smaller scale.

Chiyogami (chiyo meaning “a thousand years” or “through eternity” and kami/gami “paper”) has been made since the Edo era and continues to be popular today. Early papers, like these examples from the Taisho period between the wars were block printed much in the same way as traditional ukiyo-eI think their bright colors and stylized prints, based originally on kimono fabric patterns, would look wonderful hung en masse in a child’s room. While based on traditional designs, these patterns skirt the edges of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Simple frames of the IKEA variety are one inexpensive and easy way to complete a wall display…

…while wrapping canvas stretchers is a bit more unusual. These are covered in modern chiyogami examples.

New chiyogami is available all over Japan and online at all the paper sites, but the new pieces are silkscreened or machine printed and don’t have quite the same feel. Maybe it’s because the patterns have become ubiquitous to me, but framed they look too much like scrapbook paper – one-dimensional with no heft to the paper. But actually, still pretty…

I love framing and hanging things that were never meant for that purpose.

Related Posts:
Hanga 101…a Quick Primer on Japanese Prints

Image credits: 1. via Little Green Notebook, 2-9. me, 10. via Style at Home, 11-12. via Apartment Therapy.

Summer Crafting…Paper Flowers and Paper Cuts

One of the best things about our charming beach town is the plethora of activities available all summer. From the Junior Lifeguard program, library book clubs, drop in tennis clinics, sand castle contests, movies on the beach, and regular fireworks to the crafting workshops sponsored by the local Historical Society, there is always something for the kids to do on any given day at any given time. On Monday, the girls and I participated in a wonderful paper flowers class, run by teacher and artist Laura McHugh on the lawn at Centennial Cottage in town. It was a glorious day – mid 80s and dry.

We learned how to make a number of kinds of paper flowers, including my favorites, made from vintage book pages, scrap booking paper and any other interesting ephemera – such as maps – that we had available. Both luck and my subconscious steered me towards making flowers in the soft colors of my downstairs rooms, and I am dying to figure out a way to use or display the big group above. Ideas anyone?

The basic technique was easy. A square paper was folded in a triangle, then folded again into a smaller triangle, and then the corners were folded back on each side to make yet a smaller triangle. A petal shape was cut into the top open edge of the triangles and voila, a flower upon opening. See the quick video tutorial below for details. We also used some flower punches and press rollers, all available at local craft stores, for some of our flower shapes, but I prefer being creative with the hand cut ones.

We also made classic Mexican tissue paper flowers, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid. Talk about easy and big bang satisfying! Hours of rainy day fun but we have even been continuing on sunny days! Check out the video tutorial below.

Hey, Felt So Cute, she’s hot on your trail to make the best headband ever!

Laura has written a great post on the class  - featuring lots of photos of my kids and their handiwork – which also gives a sense of the charm of the town. Take a look at her blog Vintage2Glam. We can’t wait for her July 25th class on macrame!

Last summer we did a paper cutting workshop with Mindy Shapiro that is being offered again this summer on July 27. Some friends were visiting and we all had a blast. I think she has a new project for her class this year, so we may just have to do it again.

The full calendar of events is attached here. It includes everything from this workshop to crazy quilting classes.

Shrine Sale Stories…Vintage Matchboxes, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and The 1948 London Olympics

Today was slim on the ground for shrine sales being the second Sunday of the month, but Tomioka Hachiman did not disappoint. It was a day full of friends from out-of-town and extraordinary porcelain, including a few cute and very atypical Japanese pieces bought for the beach house. The small green iris pickle dish will be perfect on the dresser or night table in the beach house guest room for holding jewelry and other trinkets.

It reminded me of the Korin Ogata screens and the garden at the Nezu Museum.

The small Imari-meets-lustreware dish has all the pretty colors in the downstairs rooms of the beach house. Don’t know how I’ll be using it – perhaps as part of a wall display, perhaps on a stack of books on the coffee table to hold olive and cherry pits.

But the person who had the most fun today was my elder daughter who happened upon a stall selling vintage matchbooks from the 1930s-1950s. We have often seen matchbox covers mounted on pages, but not often the entire matchboxes. The dealer had hundreds of them in three big boxes and she spent significant time sorting through them and putting together a charming collection which we plan to place in a shadow box frame. You’ll note her signature colors of lavender and blue.

The story comes as she was choosing her boxes. Much to her chagrin, another man came up behind and offered to buy zenbu – everything – from the dealer. It hadn’t occurred to us and we were immediately sad to see the entire collection go! Luckily, the dealer offered us a few as “service” gifts for making a purchase before he sold off the boxes. We managed to grab a few historical gems.

The first matchbox, dated 1939, features Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Imperial Hotel, with its stylized logo on one side and Mt. Fuji and an early version of the Shinkansen (bullet train) on the other.

Finished in 1923, the hotel was one of Wright’s masterpieces, famously surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake that year, and in use as the premier Tokyo hotel until 1968 when it was deemed outdated and tragically torn down.

The other matchbox could not have been more timely, featuring the 1948 London Olympics on one side and the 1952 Helsinki Olympics on the other.

Wondering what they might fetch among collectors. Ebay maybe?

Image Credits:  Iris photo by Joseph Keating, via Atsuko & Joe, Imperial Hotel postcard via Old Tokyo, all other photos by me.

Photographic and Literary Connections…”Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

All the pictures in this book are authentic, vintage found photographs…lent from the personal archives of ten collectors, people who have spent years and countless hours hunting through giant bins of unsorted snapshots at flea markets and antiques malls and yard sales to find a transcendent few, rescuing images of historical significance and arresting beauty from obscurity – and, most likely, the dump. Their work is an unglamorous labor of love, and I think they are the unsung heroes of the photography world.

 - Ransom Riggs

So besides the fact that my daughter read this cover to cover, handed it to me and said “I don’t think you are going to get much sleep tonight,” and I didn’t, I can’t resist posting about yet another book recently read and incredibly personal to me. Like my post on The Hare With Amber Eyes last week, once again we have a story that is fueled by a box of items from the past, in this case a group of photos of “peculiar” children that Jacob grows up hearing stories about from his grandfather. As a young child he worshipped his grandfather – an orphaned war hero, the only one of his family to escape Poland before WWII –  and believed his stories to be true. Shipped to a children’s home in Wales to escape the “monsters,” where the sun shone everyday, he and his new friends had all kinds of special talents and he “proves” them to Jacob by showing him their photographs. Riggs has gathered a compelling collection of unusual vintage snapshots demonstrating these special powers and puts them to good use in his storytelling in upping the creepy atmospheric setting. This is definitely one book you can judge by its cover! And as the photographs are the lynchpin of the novel, I really recommend the hardcover book over the Kindle version.

But as age brings maturity and skepticism, Jacob ceases to believe that his grandfather’s stories are literal truths, “But these weren’t the kind of monsters that had tentacles and rotting skin, the kind a seven-year-old might be able to wrap his mind around – they were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep…Like the monsters, the enchanted-island story was also a truth in disguise. Compared to the horrors of mainland Europe, then children’s home that had taken in my grandfather must’ve seemed like a paradise, and so in his stories had become one: a safe haven of endless summers and guardian angels and magical children…” Without spoiling any of the surprise I think it is safe to say that the stories actually turn out to be true, but it in no way lessens Jacob’s own analogy with the horrors of WWII, and that is what makes the book eminently readable on more than one level, suitable for older kids, teens and adults.

Obviously for me, in addition to the story, the collecting of vintage photographs and other ephemera is dear to my heart and I have written about it before, particularly here. My newest fantasy is that Ransom Riggs decides to layer in the war in the Pacific to his story – after all, the Japanese were major players in the war too – and needs someone to scour the shrine sales of Tokyo for appropriate photographic material. I figure I have passed up plenty of peculiar children in my time and I’d love to give them an eternal home…

And by the way, from what I hear, we will all have a chance to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children soon at a theater nearby. Tim Burton has signed on to direct – an absolutely perfect choice!

Related Posts:
Windows into an Earlier World…Photos from the Past and “A Town Like Alice”

Image credits: 1. Ransom Riggs, 2-3. via Amazon, 4. me.

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