Friday, November 4, 2016

Vanity Boxes and Hair Keeps

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Vanity Boxes and Hair Keeps

Have you ever been to an antique shop and seen beautiful silver and gold topped bottles of all shapes and sizes and wondered what they were used for?
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Towards the end of the 18th century, dressing cases were manufactured for gentleman to accompany them on their travels. They would contain bottles and jars for colognes, aftershaves and creams as well as essential shaving and manicure tools.
By the early Victorian era, ladies also began to travel and the dressing case started to become known by the more feminine term ‘vanity box’.
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The contained a wide range of bottles and jars as well as a tools. Some would have held a cake of soap, long ones held  ladies hair pins, small ones would hold beauty spots and patches and the larger ones held the creams and potions that a lady would use and need when she travelled. Some would contain her favourite perfume and smelling salts. One of the most interesting containers for needleworkers are those with a hole in the top of them, they are called “Hair Keeps”. Although rare today, the hair keep or receiver was also a common fixture on the dressing tables of women from Victorian times to the early decades of the 20th century.
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Its purpose was to save hair culled from the hairbrush and comb, which were used vigorously on a daily basis. The hair could then be stuffed into pincushions or pillows. Since hair was not washed as often as it is today, oils were frequently used to add scent and shine to hair. The residual oil made the hair an ideal stuffing for pincushions because it lubricated the pins, making it easier for them to pierce material. Small pillows could be stuffed with hair, which was less prickly than pinfeathers.
But possibly most important, hair receivers made the creation of ratts possible. A ratt (sometimes spelled rat) is a small ball of hair that was inserted into a hairstyle to add volume and fullness.
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The ratt was made by stuffing a sheer hairnet until it was about the size of a potato and then sewing it shut.
A hair receiver can be identified by a finger-wide hole in the lid, through which hair is poked. They can be round or square in shape, and some are footed. Made of a variety of materials, including glass and in later times celluloid, some of the prettiest examples for the dressing table are made of porcelain.
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We would like to thank Sandra’s sister Marylyn for sharing part of her collection of silver top bottles. Marylyn started her collection in the early 1980’s. Everytime she went to London she would take one back to Australia. She loves going to the Antique Markets in Portobello Road and Camden Passage.
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Marjorie Bligh

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Marjorie Bligh

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Coming up for AUCTION in Sydney, Australia on Monday 31st October is a hand knitted quilt that was made in 1966. It has an Estimate of $1,000-2,000 Aud. The quilt was knitted by a lady called Marjorie Bligh (1917-2013) in Tasmania.
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Marjorie was always known for her knitting. As a young woman she handknitted eighteen jumpers for the local football club. She took less than three months to complete this ambitious “story quilt” bedspread. It has 78 eleven inch squares and 720 tassels around the edges
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Marjorie Bligh was a very well known lady especially in Tasmania. She was known as “Australia’s Mrs Beeton” or “Tasmania’s Mrs Beeton”. She was born Marjorie Pearsall, in 1917 in the Tasmanian midlands township of Ross. In her self-styled career as a housewife superstar, she married three times and produced six books on cooking, home economics, craft, history and gardening. Marjorie was the go-to-girl for all manner of problem-solving knowing what to do when a goldfish had constipation (feed it Epsom salts), and what to do when you ran out of rouge (cut a beetroot in half and slap it on your cheeks).
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She published her signature household manual under all three of her married names: Marjorie Blackwell, Marjorie Cooper and Marjorie Bligh. She was a pioneer recycler and for several decades was a renowned spirited campaigner against useful resources being poured into landfill. She was famous for never wasting a thing. She converted thousands of used pantyhose and plastic shopping bags into reusable items.
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It has long been rumoured that Marjorie was the inspiration for Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna Everage, Australian Housewife/Superstar.
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She sadly passed away in 2013 aged 92 years of age.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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“In my text drawings I examine and dissect the word of God. I deconstruct a sacred text by cutting its individual letters, and reassemble them to form a passage from another holy book. The Koran is transformed into the Bible, the Bible into the Bhagavad Gita, and so on. I discourage a literal reading of the text by eliminating punctuation and spacing; a sentence from one text merges with a passage from another. By bringing together the sacred writings of diverse religions, I undermine their authority and speak to the common thread that weaves through all scripture.” – Meg Hitchcock
Image copyright and for more information Meg Hitchock

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kimonos Part 1

Kimonos – Part 1

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Originally “kimono” was the Japanese word for clothing. But in recent years, the word has been used to refer to traditional Japanese clothing. Kimonos as we know them today came into being during the Heian period (794-1192). Before that the Nara period (710-794), Japanese people wore either clothing consisting of separate upper and lower garments (trousers or skirts), or one piece garments. But in the Heian period, a new kimono-making technique was developed. It involved cutting pieces of fabric in straight lines and sewing them together. Kimono makers did not have to worry themselves with the shape of a person’s body.
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This new way of making kimonos offered many advantages. They were easy to fold and were suitable for all weathers. They could be worn in layers to provide warmth in winter and were made of breathable fabric such as linen which was comfortable in summer. All these advantages helped kimonos become part of the Japanese people’s everyday lives.
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Over time the wearing of kimonos in layers became fashionable. Japanese people began paying attention to how kimonos of different colours looked together and they developed a heighten sense of colour.
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During the Kamakura period (1192-1338) and the Muromachi period (1338-1578), both men and women wore brightly coloured kimonos. Warriors dressed in colours representing their leaders. The battlefield could become very colourful.
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During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Tokugawa warrior clan ruled over Japan. The country was divided up into feudal domains ruled by lords. Samurais of each domain could be identified by the colours and patterns of their clothing. They consisted of three parts: a kimono; and a hakama, a trouser like split skirt. The kamishimo was made of linen, and was starched to make the shoulders stand out. Demand was high for samurai clothing and Kimono makers got better and better at making them. It grew into an art form and they became more valuable. Parent’s handed them down to their children as family heirlooms.
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During the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japan became very heavily influenced by foreign cultures. The government encouraged people to adopt Western clothing and habits. Nowadays, Japanese people rarely wear kimonos in everyday life. They are usually only worn on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, tea ceremonies and other special events.
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Our look at the kimono with continue of Thursday.

NEWS

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Hands Across the Sea Samplers are very honoured to announce that Sigrid Eckel will be joining our team of designers. Many of you will already know Sigrid and have admired her skill with a needle but for those of you who do not Sigrid lives in a small village in Hessen, Germany. She enjoys working on samplers with speciality stitches and free hand embroidery, and has a particular interest in band samplers and the traditional Schwalm whitework of her homeland.
Sigrid’s stitching is both meticulous and exquisite and she is looking forward to teaching us her methods through her designs and tutorials.
We cannot wait to see her first reproduction and the accompanying chart.
“It´s something unique to consider a sampler. I see the history, the life and I ask me who was this person? It´s magic. I wish fine needlework embroidery doesn´t die out.” – Sigrid
If there are any “want to be” designers out there looking for assistance in making their dreams come true Hands Across the Sea Samplers will help you wherever we can.
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Monday, October 24, 2016

Thanka

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Thanka

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A Thagka of Thanka is a painting on silk, satin or cloth with embroidery , usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene or mandala of some sort.
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The literal translation of the Tibetan word THAN KA means ‘recorded message’. 
Thankas communicate a message to the practitioner, serving as an aid to teaching and as an aid
 to meditation through the visualization of the deity.
 It is a medium through which the Buddhist philosophy can be explained.
 Lamas and monks used scroll paintings to instruct the Buddhist Dharma (teachings). 
These paintings were easily transported and unrolled to suit the needs of the mainly nomadic population.
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The lama would go to a village, unroll a Thanka and use it to illustrate their tales on Buddhist philosophy 
when narrating before an audience.
 Thankas also have public ceremonial uses. Up until today many monasteries possess huge
(usually appliqué) Thankas that are unrolled on certain holidays for viewing and worship.
On a deeper level, Thanka paintings are the visual expression of the fully awakened state of enlightenment, this being the ultimate goal of the Buddhist spiritual path. That’s why a Thanka is sometimes called
 the roadmap to enlightenment. To sketch the figures in a Thanka, the painter needs an exact knowledge of
 the measurements and proportions of each deity as established by Buddhist iconography and artistic practice.
 A grid containing these proportions is essential to establish the continuity and correct transmission of the figures.
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Temari Balls

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Temari Balls

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Temari balls are an ancient Japanese folk art that originated in China and came to Japan around the 7th century A.D. “Temari” means “hand ball” in Japanese and these balls were originally made for handball games.
They were originally constructed from deer hide, and women in the Royal Court would make brightly coloured balls for the little girls to play with. The ladies also used Temari making as an opportunity to perfect and show their stitches to gain the attention and favour of their favourite princes. They were originally made by the upper classes using silk, but the common people started making them using cotton, linen and wool thread. This allowed them to be made by many women in all areas of Japan and they became a favourite toy of children.
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They were also made from remnants of old kimonos and discarded clothing which were taken apart and as much as possible of the fabric pieces and threads were used. The original deer hide ones were stuffed with pine needles and then sewn together. Alternately some balls would contain grains of rice, pebbles or bells in the centre so that they would rattle and some would been wrapped so tightly that they would bounce.
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Traditionally to become a Temari craftsman was a long and tedious process beginning very early in life. You would be handed off to a master and do nothing but watch your master while performing servant duties in the workshop for the first forty years, learing everything you could by observing but being taught nothing. If the master felt that you were sincere after forty years, you would would be accepted to be an apprentice for the next thirty years (!!), repeating over and over the patterns and designs the master had made. You would never be allowed to create your own designs. It would only be after the master died that you could be acknowledged as a master.
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To become a Temari artist today in Japan requires specific training and examination, spanning upwards of ten years to complete all certification levels.
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Temari are still a highly valued and cherished gift, symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. The bright colours and threads used are symbolic of wishing the recipient a brilliant and happy life. They are often given to children by their parents on New Year’s Day. Mother’s would place a small piece of paper inside with a special wish for her child. The child would never know what wish their mother had made when making the ball.
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Nowadays with the introduction of rubber, temari balls stopped from being children’s toys to objects of art although Mothers still make them for their children.
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Friday, October 21, 2016

Paper Art

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Paper Art

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Using only old newspapers cut into strips and rolled Chie Hitotsuyama creates three-dimensional works depicting wild animals, such as a walrus and a gorilla holding her child in her arms fondly. They are so real you almost expect them to breathe.
“I may use wood for the trunk portion of the skeleton when I create a big animal that measures more than two meters,” explains Ms. Hitotsuyama. “But I create my works using only newspapers when they are small animals.” She forms an outline that corresponds to an animal skeleton by pasting twisted newspapers over and over again. Ms. Hitotsuyama says she expresses body hair and wrinkles by gluing little parts made from twisted newspapers onto the outline, as if inserting them. “I make small, twisted paper strips by moistening newspapers cut into thin rectangles and twisting them by hand,” explains Ms. Hitotsuyama. “I change the thickness of those paper strips according to the body parts. Their tone is an important factor, too. Creating a red monkey face starts with looking for paper with red print in a huge volume of newspapers. Red can be in many shades. On top of that, letters are printed in black or gray in the great majority of newspaper pages. Twisting such pages, I’m aiming to achieve expressions of color, including gradations.” A sharp, observant eye for matters down to the smallest details, including accurate shapes of each body part, coats of hair and the density of the hair, and an obsession with painstaking efforts to manufacture delicate parts finely, one by one, breathe life into old newspapers that had once been read.
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Reference – Kokusai Pulp & Paper Company
Images copyright and for more information Hitotsuyama Studio
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