baskets

Great.ly…Connecting the Dots for Makers & Tastemakers

great.ly front page

So in addition to a brand new blog design, this week holds some other big news about an exciting new project I am involved in. Today is launch day for Great.ly, a brand new e-commerce site designed to put tastemakers together with makers and create a platform for them to market and sell work. As my long time readers know, one of my missions has always been to showcase and support artists and artisans and their creations so I am so excited to be one of the initial 50 tastemakers on the new Great.ly site. I have been busy curating my online boutiques which you can get to by clicking this link or using the Great.ly button on the side bar. You’ll find work from familiar faces as well as new ones.

No surprise at all to see George of papergluebamboo there. As I hinted in my last post, she has been busy creating new colorways and patterns for her modern ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets to sell on Great.ly. From bright yellow lucky gourds…

ikkanbari papergluebamboo yellow gourd tray

…to absolutely on trend African motifs

African pods papergluebamboo ikkanbari

…to ume (plum blossom) and ichimatsu (checks) in bright new colors on Tsukiji market shopping baskets, her unique line of homewares and carryalls is spectacular. To read more about her modern take on this ancient craft, take a look here and here. Remember, every piece is one of a kind, so shop the boutique here early!

papergluebamboo ume shopping baskets

Another long time Tokyo Jinja favorite is the gorgeous handmade textiles of LuRu Home based out of Shanghai, China. Liza and Claire are working with modern versions of nankeen, a dense hand-woven cotton fabric which has been stencilled and dyed in an indigo bath. With their beautiful products, all made from the custom hand dyed fabric in updated versions of traditional Chinese patterns, they are taking up the banner of preservation of this ancient form of craft, while innovating at the same time.

LuRU Home indigo pillows
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Their blue and white textiles bring a sense of cool to my very hot – both literally and colorfully – backyard here in Doha. They also play very well with pillows in other colors and textures. Be sure to click here to read their full story and see the pillows in action and here to shop the boutique.

Luru Home pillows

One of the most exciting aspects of Great.ly for me is getting to know new makers with interests and aesthetics that align with my own. Link Collective produces contemporary furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloths) through a network of artists and designers from around the world. They “aim to cross cultures and generations by creating beautiful and functional products, merging international design with traditional Japanese production methods.” Their modern furoshiki with whimsical names such as Mountain Blossom or The Hida Express can be used for their traditional wrapping purpose, be worn as a scarf…

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…or be converted to a cross body bag with their ingenious strap. Seems like a ‘must have’ item for a good textile junkie, creating the possibility of a purse from any piece of cloth.

DOTS FUROSHIKI BAG (BLACK) & BLACK LEATHER CARRY STRAP SET link

Their furoshiki are all made in Fujisawa, Japan, hand-printed and sewn by a family owned business with over 50 years experience in furoshiki production. Although Japan’s craftsmen often spend a lifetime perfecting their artistry, much of that skill and knowledge is being lost as today’s mass production, cost cutting and on-demand culture drives ever more business decisions. Invaluable knowhow is disappearing as tools are put down, and the last small factories and workshops die out. Like LuRu Home in China, they are playing a part in keeping these crafts alive by showing what can be achieved when creativity and craftsmanship come together.

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For toting your heavier items, I am loving the work of the Tacoma, Washington-based duo Jacqui and Scott of Year Round Co. They hand make every bag themselves, from cutting each piece of fabric, to designing and screen printing it, then sewing and applying all the leather and hardware in their home studio. For a glimpse into their workshop this great video really demonstrates the artisanal quality of their products. Their collection is inspired by stormy seas, mossy rocks, and earthy travels.

Year Round Co

And as you all know from my past ten years of deep involvement with hanga, modern Japanese prints, I have long been a champion of works on paperWorks on paper, about paper, using paper, are some of the most affordable and charming artwork to be had. I am just beginning to explore some of the talent on Great.ly, so be sure to keep watch on this boutique as I add items in the coming weeks.

art collage

In clockwise order: Gretchen Kelly Rosy Mist on the Hudson, watercolor, Shelley Kommers Blue Diamonds, Print, Candy Le Sueur Silver Flower, monotype, Shelly Kommers Sparrow, mixed media collage

To quote one of the new artists I am just getting to know, Shelley Kommers, “I am always on the lookout for beauty, and I find it everywhere: in the decayed, the imperfect, and the ironic; in the small, tucked away places no one else looks.” I’d like to adopt that as my personal mantra.

So come on over and check it out. Just click here and start exploring. There are many other makers and categories I don’t have room to mention here. I think you’ll like what you find. To be honest, there are still quite a few kinks to work out, so please be patient and let me know if you are having any trouble making a purchase. Be sure to keep coming back as I will be adding to my boutiques regularly.
And if you are a maker or know someone else who is, looking for an outlet to sell and show your work, please contact me, either by leaving a comment on the post or via email at jacquelinewein[at]yahoo.com. Maybe Great.ly and I are just what you are looking for!

 

Design Vision…Knowing Your Own Mind

As a follow-up to my Provenance column on kasuri over at Cloth & Kind, I want to show more photos of one of the featured spaces, the apartment of a friend here in Tokyo who has an incredibly clear personal decorating vision. Eclecticism and constant change are the reigning monarchs of the design world, so every now and then it is nice to have a very different vision – in this case a specific and coherent viewpoint, a vintage Japanese lens so to speak – to compare with. Many people don’t have the rigor to be this consistent – I know I certainly don’t – but there is a peacefulness that comes with it.

I’ve shopped with and for this friend and I always know what will appeal to her. Authenticity and patina, along with a certain roughness of finish and a palette of browns, ochres, and greys, with variety picked out in texture. The photo below was meant to feature the homespun kasuri futon cover (purchased at Kawagoe), but it also highlights a very few pieces of an enormous collection of modern Japanese pottery, much of it bought up in Mashiko, the famous pottery village. Much to my chagrin, I didn’t think to photograph the insides of her cupboards – that may have to wait for some other post. Most everything else was accumulated at shrine sales around Tokyo and she is unabashed when I pick something up and say “this has your name on it!” She knows her own mind.

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Heading back out to the entry way to start the tour properly, the tone is set for the entire space as you walk in. Everything shows its age, from the vintage silkworm basket hanging on the wall, to the abacus and sake jug on the rustic cabinet.  And here we see the beginning of one of the motifs in this space – the juxtaposition of squares and rectangles with circles, which the owner uses over and over again to great effect.

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As I was there to photograph the kasuri futon cover, the rest of the photo shoot was a bit ad hoc, so excuse wires and everyday items that would normally be put away or out of sight.  The truth is, seeing spaces as they are really used is more authentic anyway.

The television wall has a great collection of Japanese baskets including a big old rectangular silkworm tray.  I continue to think big baskets are a great trick for TV walls – they balance the large dark expanse of the equipment while posing no heavy threat to it. The owner is an insatiable collector of baskets, second only perhaps to pottery – she cannot resist them – adoring their texture and lightness. The use of baskets throughout the apartment is another constant motif.

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A corner of the living room gives pride of place to a beat up old tansu and a beautiful still life of finely woven basket mounted with a single branch. The limited color palette, augmented only by bits of natural green and a little blue, with texture for interest, is yet a third motif in the space.

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Another vignette repeats the patterns, small cabinet, fine baskets and branches and a sweet bird print tucked into a silver leafed cherry wood frame.

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This arrangement on the kitchen counter has lots of my favorites, including a glass senbei canister, a vintage sieve, some old signage and more pottery.

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It’s not only in Japan that the owner is so consistent. Not at all surprising to discover that she has a historically accurate and incredibly well-preserved 1830s home in Connecticut. From the outside you would never guess that parts of the house are an addition as they worked to keep a natural roofline, the kind that develops with additions over the years. The interiors blend the old and the new by using antique flooring and antique beams salvaged from an old barn found elsewhere in Connecticut. The old part of the house has all the original wide board flooring, beams, and horse hair plaster walls. The house itself is filled with Americana of the period, antique cupboards, dry sinks, blanket chests, quilts, crocks, and yes – pottery – lots and lots of pottery, but in this case classic American redware and yellowware.

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Adore this winter photo but I am looking forward to seeing it this summer! And whenever it is that she moves back, I’m even more interested in seeing the dialogue between the old Japanese and American pieces. I think it will be a lively conversation.

Woven Wall Art…Japanese Silk Worm Trays, Winnowers and American Tobacco Baskets

Using baskets as wall art is certainly not a new idea and I imagine it came about fairly organically as a form of storage in which baskets were hung for easy access, ready to be grabbed off the wall for use.

More common modern styling tends to position a group of like baskets in a pattern, much like this set of African winnowing baskets, which are used to separate the grain from the chaff.

West Elm in particular has helped to make this look popular.

Part of the charm of baskets as wall art is that they are lightweight and often inexpensive, while covering large areas. Faced with a massive expanse of white in her new apartment and a desire to mitigate the dominance of the television, L asked me to help her solve her dilemma quickly and easily, as she is only in Tokyo on a two-year contract. Using vintage baskets was the perfect solution as they are readily available here, have loads of charm and will not damage the TV or more importantly, the people, in the event of an earthquake.

We had been collecting Japanese baskets for a few months, including this beautiful old winnowing basket dated either 1933, or much more likely Showa 33 (1958) on the back, which we were planning to highlight.

We had also collected some assorted round baskets including a typical silk worm tray…

…and a large rectangular one too, all dark and aged bamboo.

I am often asked exactly how these baskets were used. This photo dates to 1904 and in it you can see women in traditional dress feeding mulberry leaves to the silkworms growing on the trays. Stacks and stacks of them!

We also had some small scoopers sourced at the Kawagoe shrine sale

and a wooden and metal fish sign…

…as well as a beautifully carved and painted bamboo pole.

This is as far as we got before summer intervened. We saved a column of space to the left of the bamboo pole for a vertical row of framed prints.

Wouldn’t it be funny to be thematic and hang an ukiyo-e series like this, Kuniyoshi’s Weavers’ Children in the Silkworm House, which depicts the entire process of making silk from start to finish?

More likely to be this series of 19th century Japanese design plates we just had framed, although perhaps a little color might be nice, so on the other hand we might just save this group for the dining room.

The large rectangular tray got its own wall on the side.

Japanese silkworm trays aren’t commonly featured in Western interiors, in fact the only time I have seen one is in this photo below from an older Metropolitan Home that I featured in a previous post.

But the rectangular ones do remind me of another basket that has become very trendy to hang, in addition to the round African style winnowers above – the American tobacco basket. I feel like I had started seeing them in interiors regularly in the last two years, and now I feel I can’t turn around without noticing one hanging in living rooms with modern counterpoints like this one…

…and this one.

With neutrals…

… and pretty brights in a sunroom – you can see it peeking out of the left corner.

Even a recent post on Cote de Texas, on a completely different topic, managed to have a photo of an unexpected one in a rustic-luxe Mississippi kitchen.

The large size is quite commanding in an entryway.

Single large baskets also look great over beds in bedrooms and have the same advantage there as they do in Tokyo – lightweight if they fall down (although I have read that tobacco baskets are quite heavy).

I love this vignette with the vintage dress form, another favorite that I find in the markets here.  Hmm, might need to do a post on those soon.

And I stumbled across these two photos on Houzz from Katarina Tana Design featuring baskets by artist Jonathan Kline.

They make me wonder what my friend, artist Lisa George of Paper Glue Bamboo might do with some of the silk worm baskets we have been collecting for her.

And speaking of that, take a look at the ingenious way she does use one of her silkworm trays! Funkiest inspiration board ever!

And also sent in by friends, this photo of a round silkworm basket in the window of a shop out in the Hamptons selling for something like $250. Crazy!! If you are looking for any, just let me know by email. I have them all the time for a tiny fraction of the cost!

Related Posts:
Kawagoe Shrine Sale Never Disappoints
Artist Spotlight…Lisa George and the Modern Art of Ikkanbari at PaperGlueBamboo

Sayonara Series…Styling Rules and Japanese Accessories

This is one of those posts in which I could have based entirely on photographs of local collections but unfortunately, everyone’s movers worked way faster than expected and most of my anticipated photos got packed up! But everything in this post, while geared towards styling Japanese vintage and antique accessories holds true for just about anything from anywhere. But don’t expect this post to be exhaustive in topic or example. Obviously I could write ten posts about groupings of blue and white porcelain (just look at this month’s House Beautiful) or Japanese glass fishing floats (and I have in the past here, herehere and here for example) as well as some of the more unusual decorative objects we find regularly in Japan (kashigata, katagami, hagoita, come to mind). The focus of this post is really not what you are displaying, but how. I have a few simple “rules” to go by, nothing particularly original, but if you use these, your displays will be better.

One of my most basic rules is the rule of multiples. You can display a single item of a kind, like this Japanese basket perched above the drinks cabinet…

…but beyond that, with the exception of matched pairs, you need a group a similar objects placed together, like these amazing ikebana (flower arranging) baskets on the side board of an apartment designed by Emily Henderson for Michael Reisz on an episode of HGTV’s Secrets of a Stylist. Like objects should always be grouped tightly together, not placed around a space separate and unlinked from each other. I call this the “anti-pimple” rule of display.

Also demonstrated by these baskets is the rule of odd numbers, with the exception of matched pairs again (more on that later). If at a glance you can instantly count the number of objects in a grouping an odd number will always look better. I am sure there is some organic mathematical or mystical reason for this, depending on your personal perspective, but in this case just take my word for it.

The next rule is is that of varied elevation. If the baskets were just lined up on the sideboard, they would look nowhere near as good as they do with some placed higher on wooden boxes. Even their own variety of height would not achieve the same effect.

The rule of containment is to use a single decorative object such as a tray or bowl to corral another collection. We find these roughly hewn soba bowls at shrine sales all over Japan and they are great for holding collections of glass fishing floats…

…floats plus shells and souvenir rocks (love this idea!)…

…or how about hard to store baseball paraphernalia?

Another rule demonstrated by these bowl displays is to use no more than 3 types of objects and ideally either 1 or 3 (odd numbers again). The grouping of all floats is cohesive, the combo of floats, shells and rocks is cohesive, and the mitts and balls work even though there are only two types of items because one of the mitts is very dark in color and reads as a third type of item. If you put too many kinds of items in the bowl, then it will just look like a bunch of junk.

Here Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home uses her bowl to hold magazines. Isn’t it amazing how attractive even the most mundane items can be when displayed correctly?

Another favorite local collectible I have not yet written about is kokeshi dolls, the simple armless painted wooden dolls which originated in northern Japan, but are now made and sold all over the country. Vintage examples from the last 100 years or so of different varieties are a shrine sale staple. They are charming, and easy to collect.

While cute, it is important to give enough gravitas to their display to keep them from looking insignificant. This grouping is crowded by the other unrelated objects on display…

…in comparison to this grouping, where the dolls have space to breathe and coordinate with the other objects nearby. This collector has also chosen to use the rule of strict palette/shape/style to limit which colors and types she buys to create cohesion through the simple black and red paint, while using a variety of heights to create dynamism in the vignette.

This shelf effectively boxes the collection much in the way the soba bowls did above. The enclosure helps to unify the variety of dolls collected.

And here the kokeshi have been literally “boxed” to create cohesion from their variety. Note this display follows the rule of odd numbers and the rule of varied elevation in a vertical format. I do love these cute washi (Japanese paper) lined boxes – they remind me of this and this. And if you are interested in making these there is a DIY tutorial on Poppy Talk too!

Here we have a beautiful grouping of antique iron teapots, but the collection is not yet complete. Imagine this grouping if you either added one or took one away. Imagine if all the teapots sat at the same height instead of having one raised. The plan for the fifth teapot to complete this vignette is for it to be a larger fairly horizontally volumed one. Perhaps another small kettle stand with shorter legs than the one pictured will also be added.

Summer calls, but I owe you some follow up posts on rule-breaking display, because if there are rules, they must be broken, as well one on matched pairs, which have their own display rules. Watch for upcoming related posts on a basket wall installation I did in Tokyo right before leaving for the summer and in contrast, some tiny decorative items that ingenious friends are putting to good use.

Related Posts:
Vignette Arranging With Shrine Sale Goodies at the Beach House
Ways to Display…Porcelain on Brackets
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Vintage Etched and Engraved Plateaus
En Masse…Iron Teapots, Vincente Wolf and the Art of Grouped Displays

Image credits: 1. Cottage Living via Bryn Alexandra, 2-3. via Emily Henderson, photo credit: Mark Champion, 4, 9 & 12. me, 5-6. M. Small, 7. via Pure Style Home, 8. Wendy Withers via Apartment Therapy, photo credit: Bethany Nauert, 10. via Decor Allure, 11. Janis Nicoay via Poppy Talk.

Beach Baskets…PaperGlueBamboo Sale and an Idea for the Ceiling Fan

Do you like your karakusa hot?

Or cool blue and white?

Your darumas bright?

Or modeled by the chef dressed in white?

Artist Lisa George of PaperGlueBamboo is having a sale this week of her new Spring 2012 line. For an extensive post about her modern take on the ancient craft of ikkanbari, take a look at Artist Spotlight…Lisa George and the Modern Art of Ikkanbari at PaperGlueBamboo. Her Tsukiji market shopping baskets would be great for toting stuff to the beach or having a summer picnic. Drop me a note at jacquelinewein[at]yahoo.com if you are interested in an invitation.

All this talk of baskets and ikkanbari has caused me to have an epiphany about a possible solution to the ceiling fan light at the beach house that I mentioned just the other day. Ceiling fans can be a necessary eyesore and I had been scouting ideas on improving them, finding posts over at Young House Love and Thrifty Decor Chick where they added a lampshade to give a fan light more style.

Those photos clicked in my memory with this photo from Kawagoe shrine sale last year in which a dealer had hung a basket upside down for eye level display. Even at the time it reminded me of a lampshade, but I didn’t put it all together.

Here’s another similar Japanese open-work basket, narrower and deeper than the one above, shown upside down to mimic a lampshade. It might just make a perfect lampshade for the ceiling fan, adding a bit of softening to the bright light and accessorizing the room. The basket has a great beachy feel too!

And if the open-work of the basket doesn’t camouflage the light bulbs well enough, we could always wrap it with a bit of washi paper ikkanbari style like this one…

George, are you listening?

Related Posts:
Artist Spotlight…Lisa George and the Modern Art of Ikkanbari at PaperGlueBamboo
Sweating the Details…A Round-Up of Brass Library Wall Sconces

Image credits: 1-4. Lisa George, 5. via Young House Love, 6-7. me, 8. via Lamps Plus

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