06.05.2014 § 3 Comments
My Chinese name includes a word that means the color of jade. The same word also means the color of the kingfisher, so I have always been curious about the color of the kingfisher’s feathers. I have seen them on ponds in action, where they suddenly touch down on the water and fly directly upwards with fish in her beaks. It usually happens in a split second, so I hardly ever get a good, close look at the color of their feathers.
In the old days in China, the feathers of the kingfisher were used as inlays for women’s hair accessories. For those intricate hairpins with dangling beads that were pinned onto highly raised, decorative buns, the main component was often kingfisher feathers inlaid among gem stones and precious metals. It makes the birds romantic and mysterious to me. « Read the rest of this entry »
18.09.2012 § Leave a comment
Many people get Chinese folk beliefs and Buddhism mixed up, so I am sure many people would think that a shrine like this is a Chinese Buddhist temple. It surely looks splendid in the photo, but it is gaudy in person. This photo was taken in the middle of Taiwan where I took an excursion during my Japan trip.
Buddhist temples are usually a lot plainer. « Read the rest of this entry »
21.06.2012 § Leave a comment
About 25 years ago, before I started Brentano, I was studying the vegetable dye color names of ancient China. This interest was first initiated by the incredible color descriptions in a classical Chinese novel depicting the lives of the aristocracy. I wrote a lyrical prose piece about “color names in literature” that was published in a Chinese publication and have been hooked on the subject ever since.
I wrote to a textile historian once who was a professor at the then Hwa Tung Textile Academy in Shanghai. To my surprise, he wrote me back and awarded me with many texts with old Chinese weaving references and some of their vegetable-dyed scarf samples to identify the names of the dyes that I had questioned him about in my letter—such as Su Fong, Madder and Gardenia, etc. Some of those color names were among the early product color names I used when the color inspiration derived from this lineage.
These two scarves are dyed with Shiso Leaf (lavender), Gardenia (yellow), and Su Fang Wood (red). My notes about the dyes are in pencil.
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20.01.2012 § 1 Comment
It is hard to love art but only one kind of art. So it is hard for me to just put efforts into one type or form or media. My major was oil painting and print making but I spent a lot of time on other types of visual arts such as calligraphy. I like the everyday objects that we use, see, handle to be beautiful, love to read beautiful handwriting, and therefore love practicing to make my own handwriting beautiful. (Consider as an example the handwriting of a scientist in the 16th century, the respected Galileo Galilei. Click for image.) « Read the rest of this entry »