25 Years and Counting

18.02.2015 § 1 Comment

During my adolescent years, there was a popular song with lyrics that went something like this:

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, “What will I be?
Will I be pretty, will I be rich?”
Here’s what she said to me

“Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera”

In those years, I vaguely dreamed of becoming a writer (in Chinese, of course). I still dream of it, vaguely! I also loved to draw when I was young, but I never trained until college. I started ballet at age five, stopped for a while, and then spent almost all of my spare time outside of art class practicing modern dance during my college years. « Read the rest of this entry »

Phoenix Origin

10.10.2014 § Leave a comment

I wonder if the Chinese saw birds like these and were so fascinated that they created the legendary phoenix? In Western legend, the phoenix looked more like an eagle—or a swan? The Chinese phoenix sometimes also had an eagle-like head, but the wings and tails were more like a peacock or pheasant. Maybe there really was a bird like that, but it went extinct like the dinosaurs? Otherwise, how did both the East and West develop a similar legend?

bird in flight « Read the rest of this entry »

Anomite

02.10.2014 § Leave a comment

I was searching for a color name and ran into the word “anomite,” got intrigued and looked into it further. I started amassing photos of these amazing fossils and also discovered an amazing museum, the Museum of the Earth. Although it’s out of the way, I will definitely try to visit the museum the next time I find myself in the area. If I had known about it when my children were young, I would have gone during our trip to Niagara Falls. What a great children’s camp opportunity! « Read the rest of this entry »

Story of Mauve

11.09.2014 § Leave a comment

I have always been fascinated with dyestuffs—what all the natural dyes can do, how the synthetic dye industry got started and how it replaced natural dyes. I found this wonderful story and extracted excerpts below:

Sir William Henry Perkin

Sir William Henry Perkin and
his wife Jemima, c 1860.
Credit:
Science & Society Picture Library

During the Easter break in 1856, William Henry Perkin—an 18-year-old chemistry student in his second year at the Royal College of Chemistry in London—was doing experiments at his family home in Shadwell in the East End of London. His professor was Wilhelm Hofmann, a German chemist who was very interested in the chemicals that could be made from coal tar.

His efforts to make quinine, however, only produced a black tar. He then decided to try the same reaction with aniline, another « Read the rest of this entry »

Kingfisher

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 »

Discovery Collection Inspiration ~ 2

10.02.2014 § Leave a comment

Below are some more of the stories from my travels that sparked design ideas and eventually led to the patterns in our spring 2014 Discovery collection.

Lumen

The National History Museum in Taipei is located in a botanical garden with a huge lotus pond, not too far from my undergraduate college, the National Normal University. My friend and I would go there very often, and after viewing the exhibition we would always buy a cup of tea and some sweets in the luminous cafeteria and look out on the ocean of blooming lotuses fluttering in the breeze. I can never forget that scene and the satisfaction that the tranquil environment gave me.

I saw many exhibitions there. The pottery in this picture is very similar to the ones in the National History Museum. It belongs to the so-called Cai Tao Culture from our history books. Cai Tao potteries are from 7800 years ago (Neolithic Period); this one and many of the others were excavated from the Silk Road areas in China. The primitive motifs, burned into my mind since my college years, have manifested many times through my work. Lumen is one such manifestation.

Cai Tao potteryBrentano pattern Lumen

« Read the rest of this entry »

Isamu Noguchi and Yoshiko Yamaguchi

09.04.2013 § 3 Comments

Yoshiko YamaguchiOnly recently did I learn that at one time Isamu Noguchi was married to Li Xianglan, a woman with a fascinating life. This knowledge came as a shock to me, or almost like regret, because Li Xianglan was such a legend and such a prominent figure during my childhood. She was a very famous singer and movie star during my mother’s youth. My mother was her diehard fan and would sing her songs and talk about her all the time. There were no pictures of her in those years because of her mysterious status and I always wondered, how beautiful could she be? What happened to her after she left China? I did not know that she had a long career after she left China using two different names, Yoshiko Yamaguchi and Yoshiko Ōtaka.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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