COLLECTIONS: INSECTS PART 1……IN FASHION

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I’ve been seriously thinking about bees and how their demise will effect our beloved Earth, we MUST protect them and see that they continue to exist!!!  It got me to thinking about how insects, in general, are always with us and how they turn up in fashion, beauty, interiors, art, books…etc., etc!  I have gathered so much “stuff” that this will be a two-part post this week and next week.

As I was preparing to do this post I was drawn again to A. S. Byatt’s book, Angels & Insects.  I actually saw the film before I read the book.  I found both beautifully detailed, the 1995 film, in particular, was visually stunning, (I love Kristen Scott Thomas in anything!) but also disturbing.  If you haven’t seen it here is the trailer https://youtu.be/bdqnz-FtIog to wet your appetite.

imageFrom the film Angels & Insects, one of the main characters in costume.  No, it isn’t for a costume party it is a day dress but why, one would ask, would you want to look like a bumble bee???!!!

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imageA Lasage gold embroidered bee that was created for an Haute Couture garment. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA truly magnificent gown and hat from the genius of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.  I am obsessed with the faux tortoise shell detail scattered with gold and tortoise bees. The gold honeycomb and bees are all embroidered by hand.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageThe Lesage embroidered, on net, sleeve of a Chanel Spring 2016 Haute Couture gown.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA jeweled honeycomb minaudière from Judith Leiber, I mean seriously…what a work of art!!! Pinterest photo credit unknown.  I’ll do a Fashion Flashback story on Judith Leiber in a future post.

imageA needlepoint chair seat on an antique chair at a private club in Chicago.

imageNapoleon adored bees and used them in many forms.  Here is a woven piece.  Perhaps I should adapt it for my logo!!!???  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageBee hives on the top of a downtown Chicago building.  All new commercial roof tops must have green space.  Many older buildings such as City Hall have gone green as well. Bravo Chicago.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

The following is taken from the absolutely fascinating website The Honeybee Conservancy http://www.thehoneybeeconversancy.org  You can sponsor bee hives and learn so much about bees and their place in history as well as today.

“Although he was never a beekeeper, Napoleon used the honey bee as one of the most important symbols of the power and prestige of his empire.

There seems to be two schools of thought of why Napoleon’s government chose the honey bee as part of its iconography.

One school of thought says the honey bee is representational of the Merovingian kings, the founders of France, with whom Napoleon sought to align himself.

Or...

“When Napoleon moved into the Royal Palace at Tuileries he refused to spend money on new decor. However, he could not allow the drapery – with its embroidered fleur-de-lis (the French Royal emblem) – to continue to hang in the windows of the palace. His solution was to have the rich and elegant drapes turned upside down. The inverted symbol of the overthrown monarchy looked like a bee.  From then on, the tenacious bee became the emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte.

imageI took this photo at last month’s Randolph Street Market at Carrie Homann’s booth, on the Second Floor in the Ballroom, from a collection of insect pins. Isn’t the golden bee especially fabulous!  Carrie always has some insect jewelry at the Shows, but she has so many other collections I would suggest you check her out each month (I’ll be posting more from her especially her Bakelite pieces) and remember if you see something you like, at any of the booths, buy it, it many not be there later that day nor the next month.  When you find something you like be sure to ask the dealer if they have any other treasures you might be collecting, they will be happy to let you know what else they might not have brought that month. http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com

imageA close up of a silver bee pin from Carrie Homann’s jewelry collection.

imageA magnificent necklace (I may need to make this my own, love it!) from the unbelievably talented Stephanie Lake (you remember the week of posts, the week of December 12, 2016, I did on Stephanie, her book on Bonnie Cashin and how she and her husband entertain) http://www.stephanielakedesign.com  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lake Design.

Let’s switch from bees to beetles….a fascinating story about beetle wing embroidery this amazing phenomenon was brought, along with the site infomation, to my attention by my friend and Columbia College Chicago Faculty member, Virginia Heaven (you have seen some pieces from her vast collections of objects in past posts).  I, of course, needed to do some research on this and found a couple of photos on Pinterest photo credits unknown, that I am sharing with you.,

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The following excerpt is from the scolarly journal,  Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org  It is an absolutely fascinating site.

The earliest form of insect-adorned Western dress derived its inspiration from beetle-embridroidered fabric from India imported by England in the 1840’s and 1850’s.”

Next Thursday we will continue to explore the world of insects in fashion, beauty and home…don’t freak out, we will look at some more beetles and the sheer beauty of the webs spiders spin.  I think you will be interested, and perhaps educated, I know I have been, in how they are used in ways you wouldn’t consider, and no, I’m not doing any recipes using them!!!!!

I leave you with a man and his suit……image

 

 

COLLECTIONS: SHELL ART

By now you know I love all sorts of collectibles, some I have in my own collections others I enjoy looking at in friends homes and gardens and online on Instagram and Pinterest. In addition, I find it exciting to learn more about objects that peak my interest, in this instance, shell art.  When I found the group below I knew I wanted to do a post about the many ways shells can be incorporated into our decorations both in our homes and on our bodies.  Let’s explore some of these possibilities.

imageWhat got me thinking about shell art was this group of shell-encrusted boxes found outside at the May Randolph Street Market, http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com in Melissa Parks booth Megillicutti. megillicutti@gmail.com, follow on Instagram at Megillicutti. Melissa’s booth has all manner of extraordinary objects and she will be back at RSM for the June Show on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25. My photo on my iPhone.  Just a note…always buy what you like when you see it, most, if not all, the vendors are at RSM each month but they usually bring different and new pieces, that is what makes it exciting and why we keep coming back for more! In addition, ask the vendors if they have any other pieces of what you are admiring, they may have them with them or they can bring the next time they are at the Market.  Get to know them, ask questions and educate yourself with pieces you are unfamiliar with….they do like to talk about their treasures and want you to like them as much as they do!

imageThe top of a box from my friend,  Virginia Heaven’s, collection.  Virginia’s collections are very eclectic and inspired.  I have shared some in past posts and will share more as we continue my journey.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Heaven.

imageimageTwo boxes I found on Pinterest, photo credit unknown.  Aren’t they stunning!!!

imageA Sailors’ Valentine, exquisite, I particularly love the shading and the softness of the pastel shells.  Sailors’ Valentines could be an entire post, there are so many and so many different stories about their origins, I would suggest the two books below if you wish to investigate this subject.

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imageOne of my favorite images…it is truly a work of art.

One of my Saks Fifth Avenue Store Managers and dear friend, Bob Pike, collected carved cameo shells.  I found a couple for him at antique shows (long before Randolph Street Market was a glimmer in Sally Schwartz’ eye).  Here are a couple of exquisite examples of this art….

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And my favorite…

imageIsn’t she a beauty!!   Many, many more images on Pinterest.

imageAnd when you Google this is what you can find…just a taste of what goes into cameo shells and cameos.  Taken from a Google search.

imageA faux shell from the collection of Kevin G, whose booth The Red Leopard Crocodile, (found each month at RSM in the Ballroom) is always filled with magical objects concentrating on vintage handbags and jewelry. Photo taken by me with my iPhone.

I asked a couple of my friends if they collected anything with shells…Sally Schwartz, http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com, the guru behind the incredible Randolph Street Market (remember I did a profile on Sally and have featured some of her collections in previous posts) and Stephanie Lake, http://www.StephanieLakeDesign.com, the author of the magnificent, and only, book on Bonnie Cashin, Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It, and creator of fascinating jewelry.  I did an entire week on Stephanie, beginning with an in-depth profile, followed by a book review and then posts on some of her collections and how she and her husband entertain.  Neither have huge shell collections but each shared a nautilus shell piece for me to share with you.

imageSally shared a watercolor of a nautilus shell that hangs in her home, stunning! Photo courtesy of Sally Schwartz.

imageStephanie’s nautilus shells on brass branches, one of a pair.

imageThe piece surrounded by Stephanie’s unique necklaces in her showroom. Both photos courtesy of Stephanie Lake.

I then asked Candace Jordon, http://www.candidcandace.com and http://www.chicagonow.com/Candid-Candace, about her thoughts on shells…she sent me three photos of her collection…again I did Candace’s profile weeks ago along with separate posts on her collections and have included her collections in other posts such as the one on paperweights. You can be sure I will include more in weeks to come.  She and Chuck are avid collectors of a wonderful Cabinet of Curiosities!!!  Her influence for her shell pieces, Tony Duquette, my design guru along with his successor and collaborator, Hutton Wilkenson…but that is another post, for sure.  The pieces were purchased in Paris several years ago and are by a French artist, Thomas Boog, http://www.thomasboog.com,  Candace said she thought they would all arrive in pieces but only the mirror had minor damage.  She shared “I’ve always been in love with shells and coral after discovering and falling in love with the style of the late designer, Tony Duquette.”

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imageOh my, one can, most certainly, see the Tony Duquette influence in these elegantly created pieces.  Photos courtesy of Candace Jordan.

imageOne of the most beautiful books you can own if you don’t be sure to add it to your collection.

imageFrom the Hutton Wilkenson Collection.  We haven’t even touched on Coral…that can be another time.

imageA chair from the genius of Tony Duquette.

imageAnd from the genius of Alexander McQueen, there are no words!!!!

imageUsing shells like fabric petals.

imageAnother Alexander McQueen creation.

imageAnd the back of the garment.

Perhaps the influence for the garments, a shell “painting” in the form of flower petals.

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imageI think from Tony Duquette but am not sure of the source, just know I love the look.

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And my shell piece, a mirror framed in shells that I painted in one of the shades of white I used in my all white bathroom.

Since Summer is here shall we all start our shell collections again and relive our childhoods and create our own masterworks, let’s!!!!

All photos unless otherwise credited are from Pinterest and photo credits are unknown.

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

INDIVIDUAL LOBSTER POT PIES
(Get the connection….shells and shellfish!!!!)

I use frozen puff pastry for the “crust”

Filling-

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

18-20 pearl onions (I use frozen no need to peel! Defrosted)

1 cup diced celery root

3/4 cup diced fennel (use the outer stalks)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder (I always use Spice Islands spices and dried herbs)

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

3/4 cup sherry (use either dry or sweet wherever your taste, I often use Bristol Cream Sherry, just be sure it is good and one you would drink)

2 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat (I always use the meat from broiled lobster tails, if your fishmonger has lobster meat use that, saves a step)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup crème fraîche

1 egg beaten

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat add onions, celery root, and fennel, cooking 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and brown until lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes more.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Add curry powder and mustard, lightly frying the spices for a minute.  Deglaze pan with sherry and reduce until almost dry, about 1 minute.  Fold in lobster, peas, and crème fraîche, heat until just warmed through.  Divide among six 12-ounce souffle cups or ramekins (filling should be about 3/4 full)  I usually do 4 ramekins.

Oven should be at 450º.

Cut puff pastry into rounds to cover and drape over sides of ramekins press to seal, make an X in the center of each piece of dough and brush with the beaten egg.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 17 to 19 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

I serve with a lightly dressed mixed green salad (I am loving the four lettuces in a container that you can find at Mariano’s) and either champagne, of course, or a dry fruity white wine.  Dessert should be light perhaps a poached fruit such as pears or peaches and more champagne followed by a glass of sherry and homemade madeleines (I have a great recipe for them that I will post at another time).

The pot pies are VERY rich and everyone I have served them to literally scrape the bottom of the ramekins! I have served this many times and everyone adores it.

Adapted from a Chicago Tribune recipe.

COLLECTIONS: FERNS

imagePteridomania: the Victorian fern craze probably from 1837 to early 1900’s.  A magnificent solarium in a Victorian home with ferns and palms.

I caught the fern “illness” years ago.  I have always loved the look of them and usually have one in my handpainted rattan fern “basket” which actually sits right behind me as I write my posts.

imageA closeup of the detail on my fern stand.

imageA fern fossil, they have been on Earth for over 300 million years, imagine!!!!!

The only problem is that they shed and the clean up is a full-time job!  Since I’m not a Botanist I won’t try to go into the details of ferns I will leave that to you, my readers, to explore for yourselves if you want more information.  I would, however, recommend the following book for your enjoyment, it is quite wonderful.  I am going to fill this post with wonderful images most of which I got from Pinterest without photo credit others I will credit.  Enjoy….

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imageCovers of two vintage books on ferns. The covers alone are display worthy.  Look for special vintage books at Randolph Street Market this Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.  In addition, the Printer’s Row Lit Fair is Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11.

imageFiddlehead ferns, see the bottom of the post for a fiddlehead fern recipe, no longer in season, but have at the ready for next year or you can substitute asparagus!

imageThe beauty of nature in a fern frond!

imageFerns in the garden photo taken by Tom Mantel this week, glorious.

imageA beautiful closeup from the same garden also a photograph by Tom Mantel.image

imageTwo photos of another variety from the same garden and same photographer.imageThe Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory Fern Room.

imageFrom Carolyne Roehm’s garden, she is a genius with decor and gardens and thankfully shares her expertise with us in her many books…love everything she does!

imageImage from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnother photo from Pinterest…love this variety.

imageWallpaper image also from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnd a fern botanical fabric also Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageI am mad for this image…so much so I am using it as my screen saver on my iPhone!

imageAnother solarium, let’s move in!!!

imageA silver wine caddy, yes, please!

imageOr pearl handle fern engraved flatware.

imageOr perhaps a handpainted piece of Limoges…

imageOr a beautiful Majolica pitcher.

imageA wonderful Philip Tracey hat, yes, I know a bit of a stretch….

imageA Vogue photo of John Galliano Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (I saw that Collection in Paris, it was magnificent) next to another fern variety, isn’t it a beauty!

imageNot necessary fern botanicals but a look you can emulate when you collect your prints.

imageFrom my collection of Botanical prints (along with other “paper”) that I collect from the Randolph Street Market vendor, Paper Patty, located on the Third Floor, don’t miss the vendors up there, it is the first place I stop each month!  My photo.

imageMy favorite of all, it looks like lace!  Again from Pinterest credit unknown.

Recipe from The New York Times Cooking App (if you don’t have it get it you can save all your on-line recipes on it as well as see all their recipes, I love it, one of my favorite apps!)

Cassolette Of Morels, Fiddleheads and Asparagus
by Jennifer Lang

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: Six first-course servings
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/8364-cassolette-of-morels-fiddleheads-and-asparagus

http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com

http://www.printersrowlitfest.org

http://www.amerfernsoc.org

http://www.ebps.org.uk

COLLECTIONS: RANDOLPH STREET MARKET — BICYCLES AND PICNICS

imageA vintage card (you can find lots at Randolph Street Market) with old fashion bicycles.

I am so excited to share the information on this season’s first outside/inside Randolph Street Market http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com that will occur on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28 from 10 to 5 and I thought it was the perfect time to think about all the wonderful picnics we can have this summer and what better way to get to them or travel around when we find the perfect location than on a restored Schwinn bicycle!  Well, lucky us we have just the thing at RSM (of course, we do!!!!) Mike’s Bikes returns for the 11th season.

imageLooks like a perfect day for a picnic.  Not only can you find the right bicycle but you can find all the “fixings” for your picnic as well at RSM.  All you need is a beautiful setting, some yummy food (yes, you can also get some goodies at the Market!) and good friends.  Chicago and all the suburbs have wonderful spots to picnic, or go to Ravinia for one of the fabulous concerts, Harbor Country or neighboring Wisconsin for all their summer events…you can picnic every weekend through October.

Basically, the first thing you see when you arrive at the Randolph Street entrance to RSM is Mike’s Bikes.  Mike is an encyclopedia on the history of Schwinn bicycles, by the way, the company was founded in Chicago in 1895.  He only restores vintage Schwinn and each is totally unique and Mike wants to pair his bikes with the perfect person and lovingly takes the time to talk to each client and explains every detail of each bicycle. I have seen many a happy smile on the new owner’s faces when they leave with a treasure, either to relive their youth and/or form new memories for themselves or their families, it is wonderful to experience their pure joy!

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Michael Mitchell has shared his passion with me and I now share it with you in his words.

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“I have been selling vintage Chicago manufactured Schwinn bicycles at Randolph (May-Sept.) for ten years and I have enjoyed every moment. Along the way, I have met so many interesting people who share the love for these bikes. The bikes make their eyes light up and they begin by reminiscing and sharing childhood experiences of riding bikes with family and friends.
The complete process of reconditioning the average vintage lightweight Schwinn takes approximately ten hours. The process of reconditioning a bike begins with:
1. All bearings cleaned and greased.
2. Worn parts are replaced ( brake pads, brake and gear cables, and ball bearings.
3. Replacement of tires and inner tubes ( if needed)
4. Paint cleaned, polished and waxed.
5. All chrome polished.
At the end of the reconditioning process, the bike is like brand new. If needed, the spokes are replaced and the wheels are trued. And to top it off, all replacement of parts are made with original Schwinn parts.
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I recondition 1960’s – 70’s Schwinns as well as vintage Raleighs (manufactured in Nottingham, England).
As a result of the reconditioning process, each bike is priced individually because many of them require more parts and labor.
I retired from teaching school ten years ago, but prior to that, I was reconditioning the bikes for fifteen years. I was always fascinated with the Schwinn brand since childhood. Schwinns by far were at the top of the list when it came to quality and price. As a child, my family could not afford to purchase Schwinn bicycles, but whenever I saw one, I could see the quality of the bike in its paint, chrome, constructed welds, and overall styling. At the age of fourteen, I had saved up enough money to purchase a 10-speed Schwinn Varsity; I’ve been loyal to the brand since.
The 1960’s-70’s vintage Schwinn bikes that I sell are steel framed bikes that were manufactured in Chicago. These are comfort styled vintage bicycles that were designed to provide the rider with comfort seats and upright handlebars. The popular Schwinn models being sold are the Breeze, Racer, Speedster, Collegiate and Suburban bikes. Each bike is reasonably priced and ready to ride without any expensive repairs.”

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Looks like heaven to me…you can find similar goodies like everything in these photos, maybe not the flowers, at RSM!  The settings are up to you.
How about a couple of recipes for your picnic….one from me and the other from Tom Mantel’s recipe box….
FROM TOM MANTEL’S RECIPE BOX
SPINACH/MUSHROOM QUICHE
Ingredients:
8 oz mushrooms sliced
10 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 cup fontina cheese
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pastry crust
Method:
Sauté onions and mushrooms until tender.
Add spinach and a couple tsp of water and cover.
Cook stirring frequently until spinach is wilted, let cool a little.
Place pastry crust (can be homemade or store bought) in Quiche plate or a deep dish pie plate.
Distribute cheese over pastry.
Distribute mushroom onion mix over cheese.
Beat eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until blended but not frothy.
Pour egg mixture over the spinach cheese mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
Let cooL before cutting
Can be served warm or room temperature.
Nena’s note, I have had this and it is amazingly delicious!
FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX
DEVILED EGGS
This is just a what I put in my deviled eggs and it’s really not a recipe…you have to do it to taste…sorry!
Remove the yolks from the hard boiled eggs mash with Durkee’s Dressing (a little goes a long way, you can find it with mustards in your grocery store), Miracle Whip (my mayo), salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of sugar until smooth (no lumps allowed!) either spoon into whites or if you want to be fancy, use a pastry bag with a fine tip and pipe into whites.  You can add a herb sprig to the top or if it is a very special picnic a dollop of red caviar, why not!  Obviously, the amounts depend upon how many eggs you are doing.  They go like hot cakes so be sure to make enough.
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All images from Pinterest photo credits not available.
Mike’s contact information: