Saturday, September 20, 2008

Swans Island Blankets

On the way to Bar Harbor, I stopped by Swans Island Blankets for a curiosity relieving look-see. For the last year I'd been ogling some of their gorgeous blankets and voila, I found myself watching them being hand-loomed.

These lightweight and versitle blankets, throws and scarves feature wonderful natural colors and a soft hand. Their simplicity is elegant. Regardless, as much as they are fabulous the best part is...they operate a Blanket Hospital for seamless repairs! Now, how cool is that?

Here are some of the organic dyes used on the wool: Kamla, madder, brazilwood, cochineal, cutch, logwood, indigo, weld and osage orange.

Above - the dying area.

Some of the wool is local...the Winter Blanket series comes from Nash Island near the Penobscot Bay. These sheep are left untended and as they free graze their fleece is hay free, which means it doesn't need an acid bath and tweezer picking to rid it of impurities....thus the lanolin remains in the wool and you have a better feeling blanket.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fantastic Faux Flowers

I absolutely love artificial flowers, greens and berries for a variety of reasons. In the long-run they are cheaper than the real thing (of course they can't compete with mother nature), they don't drop pollen all over the place, always look fresh and when they are out of season - bag'em and throw them into the attic!

These gumball, twiggy branches, and small pine cone branches are fabulous.

Palmetto berries, figs and custard apples make a great combination.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Black Forest Carvings

AI've had a fascination with Black Forest animals for years. My favorites were the leash holders I found in English country hunting estates, followed by any carving that was not normal....for example, the bears. Which by the way, was produced in prodigious numbers and that keeps the value my opinion.

Most experts believe the Black Forest school of carving did not originate in the Bavarian Black Forest in Germany, but in the 1850's by the Trauffer's, a family of woodcarvers in Brienz Switzerland. Prior to WWI there were 1300 cottage industries producing these carvings.

Black Forest carvings were introduced at various world fairs, including the London Great Exhibition of 1851, the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and the Paris exhibition in 1900.

The Rooster, basket and barrel carving was found in England and is a Cigar and match holder. Other images can be found here.

Sweet walnut carving of a lead and bird ink and pen holder.

The pieces are typically carved from walnut and linden wood and they tend to centered on animals and plants, most notably bears, deer, rabbits, mountain goats, wolves and realistic tree branches, twigs and flowers and other natural motifs for the tourist industry.