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These little fellas help us get our act together all day, until we undo them in the dark. While we dream, they wait, wide eyed, for the start of a new day. For most of us, it’s a kind of unacknowledged mutual dependence, like those birds that live on the backs of rhinos. We know they’re there, but we act as if we don’t.
Of course, some people are different, and some of those people are not at all indifferent to their buttons.
These are the pint sized offspring of London’s Pearly Kings and Queens, who gussy up their plain clothes with as many pearl buttons as they can. The results are fabulous, fun, and a little tragic, like much of life for those on the lower rungs of London living. More recent pics in this article.
Truth be known, while we often admire displays of a great big bunch of stuff, we are generally more partial to those who celebrate the individual unique thing, be it a bungalow, a backless dress, or a button.
Aaaww, look at that, cute as what it is.
And this one, well now we are way beyond cute into the country of art and design. This has an idea, and this was executed with skill and craft. It’s from the collection of the National Button Society! Along with more, below:
This black glass button is as stormy as a Canadian winter sky or a late-night argument that just won’t end.
The above nifty trio, each a fine bright thing, live in the Pennsylvania House Museum, which is not in Pennsylvania, apparently.
But buttons aren’t just a North American pleasure. Look at the above fistful from Birmingham, the one in England.
These gems up there, from here, tell us that button making and button wearing was once something special. Today, we think we are the most interesting people who ever walked the face of the earth, but how many of us pay any attention to our buttons? Maybe that will change. There is lots of encouragement…
This great little book is a catalogue for an exhibition/celebration of buttons in Paris at the Mona Bismark gallery Many were from the collection of Loic Allio, who has his own book (hard to find and pricey). First seen here.
Some have been woven from cloth, many more punched from mother of pearl shell
A few made it to the vest of the little emperor himself and left their mark.
Coco Chanel knew her buttons and put her mark right there, out front, in classic fashion below seen here
Of course, it’s really a question of style and personal taste, whether you go plain above or bravura below.
The thing is you have a choice, it’s up to you. Don’t leave it to chance.
This is one of the oldest buttons ever found. Simple, yes, but made with care, not like any other. See its story here.
If you want a bit more history to go with the eye candy, Slate has this. And if you want to shake up your daily life just a little, go to your closet and check your buttons. Are they YOU? Well, you can change that.
We are big fans of small at the republic of less. We just are. So we keep our eye peeled for little joys in every season and every where.
Above little guys are were found in a local store specializing in things Scandinavian. From Kosta Boda, maker of eye-catching things in glass since 1742. More here.
Big time artists have been known to work at times on a small scale, particularly in three dimensions. Above is a little dancer sculpted by Edgar Degas, found here.
Aristide Maillol is the man behind those large bronzes lying around in unexpected poses in the gardens adjacent to the Louvre. Not far away is the Musée Maillol, a great little museum with lots to like, including the small figure above we saw there.
This we found closer to home base. It is a lovely small figure by Antoniucci Volti (1915 1989) that lives at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones.
In our view, no artist of the 20th century was bigger than Alexander Calder in either imagination or output or playfulness. He too could work small, producing amazing portraits in wire and, as a present for his wife Louisa, a swell set of miniature mobiles in a cigar box, seen here .
Making art large or small is not a modern invention. Humans have been at it for ages.
This pre Columbian terracotta cutie was found in Columbia and is said to date from ca. 600-1200 AD. She’s about 5 inches tall in her bare feet. See more here.
Strike up the band: these little fellas are from Cyprus and they are even older–600 BC. They are now performing at the MET in NYC. We first featured them in a post called Small is.
What’s cuter than a doll? Well, a doll created by the guys and gal at Winnipeg’s own Royal Art Lodge, gone but never forgotten around here. Top group done by Michael Dumontier and Drue Langlois (see here) and lower group by Mr Langlois single handed. Small wonders.
Another doll, no less sweet for being made of clay, we found at the 2011 Venice Biennale. It was part of an exhibit by sculptor Dominik Lang which he called The Sleeping City, a tribute in part to his father Jiri.
Sometimes you spend time looking at children’s books because there is a child in your life that you want to please, and sometimes you just want to please yourself. Above is from an edition of the Wizard of Oz illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerther seen here.
Happily, books are alive and well in stores for kids, and if you go looking, you will find in these little books the work of some of the most gifted and imaginative artists/illustrators/cartoonists from around the world. Above is from a recent book called ICE written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert who is very fond of little pigs, as are we. Read more here.
Above three books are just a sliver of Mr Geisert’s shelf of wonderful work, which has plenty of pig tales, but plenty of pigless wonders too. See more here.
Once you start down this path you will find yourself with a lot more than you bargained for. If you could only have one, how would you choose between a pig tale by Arthur G or a rabbit tale by Komako Sakai?
Ms Sakai is certainly something special. Her simple stories and beautiful way with line and colour will fill your eyes and pinch your heart. She has worked in the textile industry in Japan, they say. More about her books here.
Bears of course have a solid place in children’s stories too. Thanks to Jon Klassen, there’s a new bear on the block and he wants something.
Nice review of Mr Klassen’s book in the NYT here
Along with creatures of the farm and the woods, book artists have found plenty of inspiration among the critters that become part of the household.
Like the wonderful Max brought to life by the wonderful Maira Kalman. Go here
People who love picture books love them as much as other people love chocolate or ABBA–i.e. totally. There are many wonderful websites with tons of these books to show you, including Children’s Illustration, which you’ll find and feast on here.
To send you off, we selected Paul Thurlby an artist from England who, among lots of other things, has made an amazing alphabet, which you’ll find on his site here. Books and pictures, sentences and pictures, letters and pictures, they all go together like summer and running through the sprinkler.
Those of us who like to cook up a storm will lavish no end of attention on a meal. So it’s not surprising that the visual chefs of the world, the artists and designers, have turned their talents to the platforms we provide to serve up the goodies. Picasso took to creating dishy plates fairly late in his career, and as usual he did it entirely his own way. Above from him found here.
Mr P turned his hand to plate making over and over and generated a pile of amazing work, including this great one with a couple of dozen petit visages that was up for auction, reported by the London Telegraph.
The creation and construction of wonderful plates for our food or just feasting our eyes has a long tradition and master practitioners in every era. The above was made about 1460 somewhere in Spain and is now residing (see here) in the wonderful Musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris.
This swell bird (“Coq”) plate also lives in the Musee des arts Decoratifs (well worth a visit, we think). It is the work of Jacques Besnard in 1930. Find it here and be sure to look around the site for much more.
You say plates, we say Fornasetti, namely Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988) the incomparable Italian designer who put his signature style–and often this particular woman’s face–on all sorts of household goods, including plates. They are still available and still much loved. The three above can be had at Barney’s, go here.
Well, you take a current design star like David Chipperfield and ask him to create a line of dishes and cups for Alessi and here’s what you get: a lovely tribute to one of our favourite artists, Giorgio Morandi, seen here. More on Mr Morandi in this NYT article. More on Mr Chipperfield in the RofL library here.
The Dutch de stijl movement from the first half of the 20th century continues to inspire designers. The above set of plates borrows–or steals, say the designers, London retailer Darkroom–the strong colour and shape from the movement, which was also applied to textiles and paper goods. Found here.
This nifty plate is from a design by Nikolai Suetin done in the so-called Suprematist style in 1905, auctioned recently, and reported here.
When the world was black and white and the smart set chowed down in the living room wearing the same clothes they wore to the office, plates came in lots of shapes and sizes and colours to handle the new trends, like fondue, crab dip, and miniature marshmallow/pineapple cube salad. Go back here.
Jetting back to our own time, we seem quite comfortable dishing food out on both the exquisite and the goofball, sometimes in the same meal. This swedish bear plate found here. What do you think you’d serve on that? Gumballs and goat cheese croquettes?
And this from our youth is a fine depiction of the magnificent Hopalong Cassidy on a plate by Kimmerle Milnazik discovered at the unforgettable Plate Lady website. No question what you’d serve up here: fresh carrots and sugar cubes, we reckon.
And we complete the meal with another American artist Molly Hatch who, among other things designs plates in groups so you only see the whole picture when they are all together–say on your large dining table or here.
If you care about food, we think you should care about what you put the food on, whether it is a blank white canvas or a handsome cowboy. If we are what we eat, maybe we are also, a little bit, what we eat OFF.
When we get dressed for the day, they are probably the last thing (well 2 things) we think about, even when we want to make a big impression. But socks, it turns out, can say quite a lot about us.
The lower-limb fashion-forward group above is way ahead in the sock-as-statement game–they even give the left foot something different to say than the right. These sockstars spotted here.
But don’t go thinking that sock fanciers are something faddishly new. Check out fashionable people in photos from the near past and paintings from farther back, and you’ll see plenty of foot candy on guys and gals of virtually any era. The silk slip-ons above date from 1750 and are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
But most of us don’t live in museums do we. If you need that bit of extra confidence for the Monday morning meeting, how about a pair of genuine super hero socks under the flannel trousers. Found here
But don’t stop there–you can have happy feet all week long. See here
Now, if you encounter extreme conditions in your work week, you may need some technology in your socks like these electric heated dandies, available here.
Look, someone has paid tribute to various countries of the world with socks–these represent the colours and patterns of soccer teams playing in the World Cup. Does your country have a national sock?
Socks and the City. Not sure if these long socks on these long fashion models represent the official sock of the respective cities, but until we’re told “no, they aren’t”, let’s just say they are. See here
In any city just about anywhere, you can find a sock-o-rama going on somewhere. Including here.
Irish Dancing socks so you can do your full Riverdance routine and not disturb the neighbours below. Get yours here
The latest news from Tokyo right there on your feet, spotted here.
But we all know that socks, like these all good things, do not last forever. Fortunately, some go on to enjoy a second life as sock monkeys. This one, from sock monkey dreams, is particularly happy and gainfully employed.
Remember, even in sockmonkeyland, the forces of darkness are lurking. Beware blood-sucking sock monkeys.
But please don’t turn all your socks into monkeys. Socks have a serious job to do serving and protecting your heels and toes as you go about your work and life. Wherever your tootsies take you.
Whether thundering down the field in front of a crowd of delirious thousands.
Sliding under the family car in your best skirt to fetch that sandwich you tucked away for emergencies as seen here.
Or heading out on the town with $27 cash and some bold ideas. Step into here first.