If anyone is in any doubt how talented, how big-hearted Little Augury is, here is proof. The lovely Gaye Tapp and I are pleased to call ourselves blog sisters since we started out within a couple of months of each other and enjoy a friendship that is only separated by the small matter of the Atlantic Ocean. On my first blog birthday she sent me a selection of her hand-made cards which everyone should see.
'Modesty is the citadel of beauty'. This is the legend inside the image at the top but what you can't see here is that it is printed on an insert of tracing paper. The devil or rather, the angel, is in the detail - always inventive and witty like the relief 'Map of Matrimony' below (bearing the words Bon Voyage inside). The slippage, which occurred during scanning, shows how certain parts of the map have been reproduced, cut out and stuck on with the tiny pieces of bended card. This girl's got nifty fingers and endless patience.
Below is a surreal work of art in card form. It says 'On the road to the asylum' (this might come in useful one day) and the inside bears an envelope, stuck down, full of facsimile fragments and a real feather or two. This is Little Augury curating the museum and art gallery of her own mind. We know how fertile is her imagination, how well-read she is, from visiting her blog.
And she sent me two little treasures like this; an oversized matchbook in appearance it opens to reveal a small sheaf of brown paper on which to send a series of billets doux or little drawings to the one or ones I love.
Exquisite n'est ce pas. And finally the card in which she wrote was designed for a baby shower for one of her friends. What could be more charming for that occasion?
The bee apparently was the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France and symbolized immortality and resurrection. But Napoleon Bonaparte with his glorious talent for self-invention and legendary personal style appropriated the bee for use on his own insignia, reinscribing it with the notion of the hive, of The Republic with himself at the head. (I hadn’t really thought of Napoleon as Queen Bee before and nor I imagine had he.)
Today, the motif is a gift to interior designers to represent the Empire style. I stayed in a nouveau-Empire themed hotel the other day and couldn’t help noticing the scatter cushions made of black silk woven with these pretty golden insects. Made me feel tres Josephine pour un moment.
The top image comes from an absolutely lush blog called Trouvais (taken from the book 'Fabrics: The Decorative Art of Textiles' by Caroline Lebeau); read more about Napoleon's imperial mantle here; last image from Trouvais. I do recommend it.
To figure out the difference between terms like neo-classical, regency, empire and directoire visit design historian Emily Evans Eerdmans blog here.
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And now, since Spring has finally arrived, with its heavy-scented blossoms I can present Emma Kirkby singing Where The Bee Sucks There Suck I. (For some unaccountable reason this clip starts with some hugely inappropriate remarks but please ignore them because Kirkby's is my favourite version and it is utterly delightful.)
Where the bee sucks, there suck I; In a cowslip's bell I lie; There I couch when owls do cry. On the bat's back I do fly. After summer merrily, merrily shall I live now. Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
(From 'The Tempest', words spoken by Ariel after he is set free by Prospero.)