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Picturing a World


Blog post alert: The Origins of L'Art Nouveau: The Bing Empire is firing off all sorts of little explosions in my mind as Japonisme becomes my entry into a What-Came-Next for Jeanette. Take ornamental combs: Was there a connection between Japanese combs and pompadour hairstyles? No answer to that one yet, but a quick Google search led me to Historic Hair Accessories We Can't Stop Thinking About. It's worth a look just for the breadth and excellence of its images. For this particular comb, see also the object page at the V&A.

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Marie Danforth Page's Bookbinder

Following up on Christine Guth's book on The Great Wave, I'm looking into Western female artists, who depicted women wearing kimonos or other Japonisme-influenced garments. For instance, Marie Danforth Page! This picture of a craftswoman at the turn of the 20th C in a  gorgeous house-robe fits right into interweaving strands of inspiration for my fiction.  She even painted herself in a blue-and-white kimono.

Image via Wikipedia Commons.

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Blue Book of Nebo

Advertising poster (2021)

I have just completed a set of discussion questions for my public library's April book club selection, The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros (see below). I read it in a library copy, then bought my own to reread—along with The Seasoning, which I'm reading now with great satisfaction. To catch how you should hear her stories, listen to her reading aloud the opening of Nebo.

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Great Wave

How I wish I had known Camille Claudel's Bathers when I sent Jeanette, Amy, and Emily skinny-dipping in Where the Light Falls! It's only one of a hundred images and ideas to spark imagination in the wide-ranging Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon by Christine Guth. I began reading the book in conjunction with, Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence, an exhibition open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through July 16, 2023. I'm finding that it sends me back to Jeanette and Paris.

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Hats off!

Unique, or one of the Seven Basic Plots? An author I know who writes fantasy fiction worries perpetually about whether her plots and characters are original or clichéd. Well, it's hard to come up with a wholly new device or deep structure, but a delight to think how material can be worked and reworked and still exhilarate. In this case, one shape is used repeatedly in a tile design that never quite repeats itself. Explore the hat and think about just what satisfies the most—fundamental repetition or endless surface variation.

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New York women's art class

Exhibition alert: What a rich image this banner for New York Art Worlds, 1870–1890 is in and of itself! The student with the calipers at the bottom or the open book of bird illustrations at the right—they alone are enough to inspire stories. And you've got time to visit the show at the MetMuseum; it runs through July 24, 2024.

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Warhol textiles

An article on The Lost Textiles of Andy Warhol reminded me of the design work of Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, artists who were also commercial designers.
Illustration, ceramics, and stained glass were crafts practiced by women artists at the turn of the century for remuneration. Don't women textile designers of the twentieth century seem a good point of departure for investigating possibilities for a fictional circle?
Image via Yale University Press.

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