The distinct style of color plate botanical and ornithological illustrations harkens back to the mid-1800′s – an era marked by strong interest in naturalism and the grassroots of conservancy. Much literary and artistic expression from this time leaned heavily towards Transcendentalism, a movement which sought simplicity, emphasized the importance of self-reliance and finding holiness in nature. Not surprisingly, much of the illustration from this period features intricate, vivid portraits of plants and animals documented for scientific purposes and the curiosity of many who were themselves unable to visit the habitats of these species.
The Vilmorin-Andrieux Company of late 18th and early 19th century France began as a collaboration between Philippe Victoire de Vilmorin – a grain and plant merchant – and his father-in-law, Pierre Andrieux, Botanist to the King.
In their commercial catalogs, the Vilmorin company went above and beyond catalog artwork typical of the time. They followed this success (and built on their growing reputation) with a series of journal publications featuring botanical and horticultural information and illustrations.
At its peak, the Vilmorin company produced Album Vilmorin Les Plantes potageres (The Vegetable Garden) which required the assistance of 15 commissioned artists, including the well-known Elisa Champin.
Interestingly, many of the illustrations within exemplify “old breeds” of fruits and vegetables no longer grown today.
Edward Lear penned a collection of Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae (original title) or Parrots, one of the finest groups of natural drawings from the era. Parrots was penned entirely using live specimens (a rarity in the early days of ornithological illustration, when exotic birds, particularly live ones, were incredibly rare and highly prized.)
Hand-colored lithography had recently been developed and this medium served Lear to an advantage, adding a vivacity to his expressive, life-like parrot illustrations. Lear went on to work as drawing professor to the young Queen Victoria, but despite his artistic achievements, history remembers him better as an author of nonsense verse, an accomplishment made later in life.
(Even in his verse, however, Lear still found himself frequently preoccupied with birds. An example: “There was a Young Lady whose bonnet, / Came untied when the birds sate upon it; / But she said, ‘I don’t care! / All the birds in the air / Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!’”)
During the middle and late 19th Century, John Gould was one of Britain’s best known ornithological illustrators.
Through a career which spanned five decades, Gould produced many important collections of illustrations depicting species of birds from every corner of the globe.
The most spectacular of these is Gould’s Family of Toucans.
After viewing the toucan collection of an ornithologist friend, Gould became fascinated by the birds and embarked on a two year long study, the result of which is Monograph of the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans, a collection of 51 hand-colored lithographs, reproduced for a modern audience.
Eden and sister shop Flutter are happy to offer an array of prints from reproductions of these three Victorian-era collections: Album Vilmorin The Vegetable Garden, Edward Lear The Parrots, and John Gould The Family of Toucans. Each ready-to-frame print is available individually in stores for $12, or as part of a complete set for $110.
These make excellent gifts (a perfect companion would be our Birds Book and America’s Other Audubon) and brighten any space in which they are displayed. Perfect for an aficionado of antiquities, a collector of curiosities or anyone seeking to enhance their decor.
Photo by Anja Verdugo of Clever Nettle
Eden holds sacred all things opulent, and makes no exception when it comes to jewelry! We’re really excited to debut our latest Eden Interview, with jewelry designer Brehan Todd of Brehan Todd Design. Brehan’s jewelry has been available for many years at our sister store, Flutter. Last fall, she made her debut at Eden as well and the response to her whimsical, referential and feminine jewelry has been grand. Read on to learn more about Brehan’s design background, inspiration and more!
Photo by Anja Verdugo of Clever Nettle
Eden: At what age did you first start crafting jewelry / how long have you been making jewelry? Did anything or anyone encourage you to do so?
Brehan Todd: When I was little, my family went to Seattle for vacation and I collected all these shells and little bits of things from the beach that were beautiful to me. That inspired collecting little things and beads of all sorts for a few years. I had a box full eventually, and I loved to pour them out and sort them into categories and then mix them up again. I would go to my room anytime I wanted to be alone and play around with all my tiny things and float off in my imagination. It wasn’t until these flower bracelets made with colored seed beads became popular in middle school, that I started actually making jewelry. When I lived in New York I started collecting vintage pieces here and there to sell to help put myself through school. I also worked at a textile showroom in Soho, (NYC) across from Alexis Bittar’s first boutique. I used to visit during lunch and it inspired me a lot, but I never thought I would make jewelry seriously. I was studying clothing design and that was totally invested in that world. After I graduated, I found myself wanting to work with something different, smaller and more sculptural. I made a few kind of strange pieces for myself for fun and then my friends and family encouraged me to continue. A couple of boutiques picked up the first line and that gave me motivation to continue.
E: Are you self-taught? Did you learn jewelry design or fabrication techniques from a teacher, a class, books, or somewhere else?
BT: In 2005, I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology. I studied women’s clothing design and illustration. That gave me a really good sense of the design process and also of how to run a business. I had excellent teachers there that are like legends to me, it was amazing to learn from them. I soaked up everything they said and tried as hard as I could, always. Sass Brown, was my favorite professor. She has inspired me in so many ways, her book Eco Fashion and her blog Eco Fashion Talk, are so inspiring. Right now we are in one of the most exciting, innovative times in design, that is so inspiring. All of the amazingly talented artists out there expressing themselves and creating is beautiful and there is power in that.
Technically, I’m pretty much self taught. When I decided to make jewelry a few friends showed me the basics of wire and simple jewelry techniques. After that I got more into soldering, epoxy and mixing materials, using unconventional things like toys in my designs. Most of what I learned is just from practicing, using a wide range of mediums and learning from mistakes. I listen to what people tell me also, I take feedback into account always. I also try to wear everything as a sample and see how it feels.
E: Do you recall a moment when you first started to consider jewelry design a calling / career? Did you set out with your line with this in mind or did it build from a hobby / side-job into a full-time means of employ?
BT: Pretty much right after I had my first sale to a boutique in my hometown in Montana, I knew I wanted to get serious. I couldn’t believe I got paid to have so much fun and make things out of discarded stuff? Then I saw how happy it made people to see the jewelry and wear it. After that I was obsessed, I pretty quickly started dreaming of all the possibilities and just going for it. I worked side jobs until I could take it on full time.
E: What eras / styles / historical figures / trends / other elements influence your designs?
BT: Right now, I’m into right now. I think this is such an interesting time in to experience the world. Politically, artistically, socially, all of the change is so fast and unpredictable, it’s exciting. I’ll always be into certain past eras or people, places etc. I think it’s important to have that foundation of historical reference that inspires you. I will always love JFK, Vivienne Westwood, Marie Antionette, Alice In Wonderland, Coney Island, corsets and hip hop music, just to name a few. I just went to New York for the holidays with my family, so that’s at the forefront of my mind. I saw amazing art and design while I was there. Portland is full of so much inspiration all over as well. I’m most influenced by all of my creative friends and things I see and experience in my life. I’m lucky for that.
E: Your jewelry is very nostalgic and has a strong sense of bygone eras - not just because many of your pieces are made with vintage materials. Does a particular era resonate with you more strongly than other time
BT: Thank you, that’s a nice compliment. I try to appreciate things from each decade and interpret them at some point in my own way. Generally, I have a difficult time with things from the 1980′s still, too soon. Other than that, I like mixing old things from all era’s and making them new. I like the idea of melding two looks that compliment each other but are also very different. Eden has done that perfectly, so I’ve been hugely inspired by what Cindy has created. The glamour and sophistication are like no other boutique I’ve seen anywhere.
Photo by Annie Montgomery
E: When creating new designs, do you tend to look outside of yourself or does inspiration tend to come from within? Does “the found object” inform your designs?
BT: I try to keep my eyes open all the time. I like to see what people are wearing on the street. I find a lot of inspiration in the beauty of the landscape here. Sometimes my work reflects that way I’m feeling personally. I don’t really go shopping in stores, so I’m more influenced by life, nature and experiences. I try to expose myself to as much different art and life as possible. I do find things sometimes that become the focal point and then I design around that object.
E: What type of jewelry do you find yourself drawn to, both in terms of pieces you would like to wear or own and pieces which inspire your own jewelry design?
BT: I like bling. I love gold colored jewelry. I could care less if it’s real. Actually, I prefer costume jewelry and I love sparkle, shiny 70′s glam gold, elephants, I love to collect odd brooches and I love big statement jewelry! Lately, I like to feel like Mr. T when I get dressed up and just pile it on. It’s so much fun.
E: In designing and fabricating jewelry, do you ever find yourself ”departing” from the normal process and doing something that feels new or crazy?
BT: Yes! All the time. I try to keep my customer happy with simple pieces that I know they can wear but when I’m designing I go pretty out there sometimes. I’m always looking for things that are not jewelry related to use in my designs. Sometimes it makes me nervous and I’m not sure how things will be taken, so I reserve the more sculptural pieces for my luxury line and keep them as one of a kind, so they go to someone who really falls in love with them. Other times I put things out and I’m surprised by how they are well received and who likes them.
E: Is there a ritual (making tea, meditating, etc.) that helps to put you in a creative place to be able to design?
BT: Unfortunately no, I wish there was something like that. I’ve thought about this a lot and there seems to be no pattern to my creativity really. Except, I can’t work without music, but it has to be right for that moment and place I’m in. I’m all around better off if I do yoga every day and drink a lot of water, get outside enough, simple things. I get a lot off my ideas and more conceptual stuff done at night, in the evening after I’ve done all of the stuff I “have” to get finished. Sometimes late at night too, when I’m relaxing or about to fall asleep. I keep a sketch book by the bed in case I get ideas in the middle of the night so I won’t forget them.
E: Have you any goals in developing and growing your business / Do you see Brehan Todd Designs moving in a specific / certain direction in the next few years?
BT: Yeah, I have a lot of goals. Some might say too lofty but I feel like it’s better to go big and do the best you can. I’ve been putting myself out there for a few years now, in a lot of different venues. The goal has been to build a foundation, this year for growth and sustainability. I would like to place the product in more international stores for sure and have more of a presence on the East Coast. It’s great to see boutiques expanding with online stores, I think there is a lot of potential in that. I hope to keep making things that people like, bring beauty and eco fashion to the forefront of design. It could take any form at this point. I’m working on a few different projects that I’m very passionate about.
E: What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t making jewelry?
BT: When I’m not making jewelry, I love to daydream and draw. I sketch little things all day and make notes to myself. Lately, I’ve been painting and drawing on porcelain plates for fun. I spend a lot of time with my friends, mostly looking at cool old stuff. I listen to music a lot, sort of obsessively, studying it. I love to see bands that I like perform live, Portland is so awesome for that. I love books and nesting but i’m trying to be more social lately. I love taking photographs more than almost anything in the world.
Thanks so much, Brehan! To see more of Brehan’s jewelry designs at Eden, click here! Brehan keeps a blog of inspiration for her designs which you can check out here.
While having some much needed R&R with our family over the holidays, we engaged in a favorite pastime: watching old movies together. By old, we mean really old – before the advent of talkies. Seeing a few legendary silent film actors and actresses inspired a bit of research on some of the most notable names and we thought to share some interesting historical tidbits here!
While Valentino is still a household name (and perhaps the most famous of the silent-era film stars,) much of his filmography is lost to history.
Despite being typecast as “exotic” and “the Latin lover,” Valentino held progressive, humanist ideas about foreign cultures, and did his best to humanize the characters he was cast as. For example, when interviewed about his role as “The Sheik” and asked if his love interest would have fallen for a ‘savage’ in real life, Valentino stated that “People are not savages because they have dark skins. The Arabian civilization is one of the oldest in the world…the Arabs are dignified and keen brained.” This frustration plagued Valentino for most of his short career and it was only with the guarantee that he be allowed great latitudes in costuming and scripting that he agreed to reprise the sheik role in Son of The Sheik, his final film.
Valentino also was keen to be involved in other elements of the film business besides just acting. While earning today’s equivalent of $130,000 per week, Valentino created an award for acting that preceded the existence of the Academy Awards. The Rudolph Valentino Medal was given for artistic accomplishment in film and determined by Valentino, two judges and a vote of 75 critics.
Valentino died in 1926 at the age of 31 from complications related to appendicitis, gastric ulcers and an abdominal infection. His death caused pandemonium as much of America fell into chaotic, despondent mourning for the star.
Canadian-born Mary Pickford is perhaps the most famous silent-era film actress. Known as “the girl with the golden curls” and “Blondilocks,” she enjoyed unprecedented popularity with American audiences. Despite her waning popularity as an actress following the advent of “talkies,” Pickford continued to be instrumental in the film industry, helping found United Artist pictures as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Pickford’s marriage to actor Douglas Fairbanks cemented their position as the first “Hollywood Royalty” – she was once described as “the best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman that has been in all history” and when she and Fairbanks returned from their honeymoon abroad, people clamored in the streets to see them. Pickford used her fame to garner support for the military during World War I by selling liberty bonds, raising an estimated five million dollars and being named by the Army as an honorary colonel.
After her divorce from Fairbanks (who went on to wed Sylvia, Lady Ashley,) Pickford became a bit of a recluse, seldom leaving her estate (nicknamed Pickfair during the time of her marriage.) When she was given an honorary Oscar in 1976, a film crew set up inside Pickfair to record her statement of thanks and provided American audiences with a glimpse of the legendary abode.
One of the most prominent silent film actresses, Gloria Swanson enjoyed a career which spanned beyond silent film and is best known for her role as fallen silent film star, Norma Desmond in David O. Selznick’s Sunset Boulevard.
Though she began work as an extra, Swanson rocketed to movie star status within a few years of working at Paramount. Working under directors such as Cecil B. DeMille, Swanson gained an incredible amount of artistic authority and leverage with the studio, though films she had a hand in making had varying rates of success. Following Sunset Boulevard (which was made when Swanson was only 51,) she toured through talk and variety shows discussing her silent and sound film career.
Married six times, Swanson notably had a famous affair with business partner Joseph P. Kennedy, father of future president John F. Kennedy. Throughout her life, Swanson advocated for a healthy diet, including encouraging others to try macrobiotic diets and vegetarianism (Swanson became a vegetarian in her late twenties.)
Clara Bow garnered the title of the original “It” girl after appearing as a spunky shopgirl in silent film It. Cartoon character Betty Boop was also modeled after Bow, who embodied the sex appeal of the 1920s with her bob haircut and flapper style. This style helped the young star rise to tremendous fame, becoming one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars and receiving 45,000 fan letters in January of 1929.
Bow became known for her frank behavior and bohemian lifestyle. It was said of her, “Clara is the total nonconformist. What she wants she gets, if she can. What she desires to do she does. She has a big heart, a remarkable brain, and the most utter contempt for the world in general. Time doesn’t exist for her, except that she thinks it will stop tomorrow. She has real courage, because she lives boldly.” She said of herself, “They yell at me to be dignified. But what are the dignified people like? The people who are held up as examples of me? They are snobs. Frightful snobs … I’m a curiosity in Hollywood. I’m a big freak, because I’m myself!”
At the age of 28, Bow retired and became a rancher with husband Rex Bell, a cowboy actor. They had two sons. Bow later suffered chronic insomnia and abdominal pains. Upon examination, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her poor health and heart conditions could have been genetic – it is suspected that Bow’s mother was also a schizophrenic, who unfortunately never received treatment. Bow died at age 60 of a heart attack.
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Love the silent film style? Eden can help you incorporate a glamorous Art Deco influence into your home and wardrobe.
Found image post cards, $2 each (call 503 222 2285 for details) • Ostrich feathers, $12 each (call 503 222 2285 for details) • Vintage silk scarves, $24 each • Serge Lutens Arabie perfume, $120.Art Deco Textiles book, $29.95 • Jan Michaels cuff, $92 • Vintage shawl, $210 • Lily Lambert No. 33 perfume oil, $42.