31 January 2016

A Valentine from Parvum Opus

Parvum Opus Bespoke Desk Furnishings
 Parvum Opus is pleased to provide desk furnishings
made to order in your choice of colors and patterns.
Visit our shop for details.

Warm Valentine's wishes from Parvum Opus!

We're getting ready for a new batch of stunning papers to arrive in the bindery from around the world. Even while winter lingers, it looks like spring in the workroom with these new colorful additions. We look forward to sharing the resulting new works!

11 December 2015

A New Partners' Desk organizer

A new project: a double-sided partners' desk organizer made to our client's specifications and jacketed in a stunning hand-marbled paper by Il Papiro. 

At Parvum Opus, we have the pleasure of collaborating with our clientele on beautiful bespoke projects every day, and often, our tight schedule prevents us from taking the time to photograph and share them. So today it's my pleasure to share a recently completed project: a double-sided desk organizer designed specifically for our client's Edwardian partners' desk. It features slots for stationery, pens and pencils on both sides, and measures just over 15" long. For this piece, we selected one of the world's finest handmade papers from Il Papiro, the venerable Italian papermaker. 

This paper, called a 'peacock marble' is made one sheet at a time using a centuries-old process, with every inch beautifully varied. To give you some idea of how this paper is created, here's a short video snip from Il Papiro in Firenze (via YouTube): 

We hold craftsmanship and design in the highest regard here at the bindery, and it's a distinct pleasure to work with materials made in the same spirit. As with all of our bespoke projects, we were delighted to design and fabricate this piece and hope that our clients find it beautiful and useful for many years to come.


07 December 2015

The True Secret of Happiness

Image via gladgirl.com.

From the venerable William Morris, a beautiful thought to keep in mind in the midst of the busy holiday season and as we move forward into a bright, new year... 

Happy Holidays from Parvum Opus!

02 November 2015

Desk Calendars, Looking Back...

The 2016 desk calendar from Parvum Opus... How the time has flown!

As our new calendar for the coming year is flying out the door (I'm impressed at how organized our clientele is, as always-- I won't start my own holiday shopping for quite some time!), I'm feeling nostalgic for all of the beautiful objets d'art that I've had the privilege to study and paint over the last five years. Here, starting with the new batch, is a little trip down memory lane...

The paintings for 2016 include beautiful objects from all over the world, and spanning thousands of years in age. Click here to learn more.

The paintings for 2015-- that tea caddy in the top row is one of my personal favorites:


And here are the motifs from 2014:

 And 2013:

And lastly, 2012:

We actually began producing calendars on a very small scale for friends and family in 2010, but sadly, those images have been lost. Even still, it's lovely to look back through five years' worth of these small jewels and think of all the hours happily spent minutely observing these beautiful treasures of the decorative arts. We certainly hope that all of you who have purchased calendars for yourselves and as gifts will find them beautiful and useful throughout the coming year!

Parvum Opus desk calendars are available for purchase as a boxed set, refill folio, or simply the cards and easels 'a la carte'. We invite you to visit The Parvum Opus Shop to learn more.

10 March 2015

New for Spring: Moleskine® Cover Jackets

New refillable Moleskine® cover jackets by Parvum Opus.

Well, perhaps it's not quite spring yet, but here in Michigan, a 40+ degree sunny day like today can certainly bring on a case of spring fever! And just in time, we've introduced a new series of colorful jackets for everyone's favorite notebooks from Moleskine®. Even though I make books here in the bindery, I adore filling my Moleskine cahier journals with notes, sketches, doodles.. They've been my favored sketchbooks for many years. The Moleskine covers         
An interior view of the jacket, lined in 
Italian book cloth. The pockets along 
the edges accept the front and back 
covers of the Moleskine® cahier.
we've designed are flexible, and meticulously tailored using the same Italian book cloth and fine art papers from France, Japan and Italy used in our hand-bound books. They feature rounded corners and allow access to the journal's back pocket. We've also designed a series of fun adhesive labels to personalize the covers-- such a small thing, but our clients are having great fun with them. Best of all, our cover jackets are refillable, so once a journal has been filled with genius ideas, it can be removed and a fresh one slipped in. Soon we'll be introducing slipcases sized to fit the Moleskine® cahier journals, beautifully archiving up to twelve volumes of art- and poetry-filled journals. Stay tuned...

It takes many tiny cuts to form the beautifully
rounded corners on our 
Moleskine® jackets.

It's such fun to design a new range for the bindery, especially as we find we've tapped into the shared obsession surrounding the Moleskine® cahiers. Keeping journals or commonplace books is nothing new, of course, and stunning historical examples exist. If Pinterest search results are any indication, note-taking, sketching and pleine air painting are alive and well, despite the ease of 'electronic options'. 

An incredible example from the past: A page from Carl Linnaeus' commonplace
book, 1726-1727. You can see and read the entire
archive thanks to The Linnean Society of London.

And a beautiful example from the present: Architectural
sketches by 
Chema Pastrana, via Pinterest.

Are you familiar with commonplace books? According to Wikipedia:
"Commonplace books (or commonplaces) were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books were essentiallyscrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.
"Commonplace" is a translation of the Latin term locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means "a theme or argument of general application", such as a statement of proverbial wisdom. In this original sense, commonplace books were collections of such sayings, such as John Milton's commonplace book. Scholars have expanded this usage to include any manuscript that collects material along a common theme by an individual.
Commonplace books are not diaries nor travelogues, with which they can be contrasted: English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote the 1706 book A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books, "in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective." [1] By the early eighteenth century they had become an information management device in which a note-taker stored quotations, observations and definitions. They were even used by influential scientists. Carl Linnaeus, for instance, used commonplacing techniques to invent and arrange the nomenclature of his Systema Naturae (which is the basis for the system used by scientists today)."

Whether you keep commonplace books, journals, diaries, vade mecums or doodle pads, we're delighted to share in the long-running and very human enthusiasm for putting pen to paper. Enjoy!

18 November 2014

Letter Sorters of All Sorts

A desk organizer/letter sorter from the new range at Parvum Opus.
This one features a beautiful French hand-marbled paper.

Recently, we introduced our new letter sorter designs at the bindery, and their popularity leads me to believe that there must have been a bit of pent up demand for an object that was a staple of the well dressed desk in years past. I thought it would be fun to do a Pinterest search for unusual antique and vintage letter sorters, and I came across hundreds of variations... The images on Pinterest don't always come with complete descriptions attached, but these ten are all aesthetically interesting enough that I thought you'd enjoy seeing them. Let the sorting begin!

An antique English Victorian Era papier-mâché letter holder. I love the cut-out shape of this piece-- lovely!
Image via rubylane.com.
An elaborately moulded faience letter holder, France 1880.
Image via onlinegalleries.com.

A Tiffany Studios bronze and glass letter sorter.
Image via liveauctioneers.com.

This is something I'd never seen-- a vertical stack of papier-mâché wall-mounted letter sorters, English, 19th C.  
Image via rubylane.com.

A fantastically crafted silver-gilt and champlevé enamel
letter holder by Antip Kuzmichev, Moscow, circa 1890.
Image via sothebys.com.

And now for something completely different:
a pair c1870s Victorian Gothic Bronze Desk Top Letter Holders
Image via rubylane.com.

A sterling silver overlay leather desk top letter holder box, ca 1860.
I love the curved lid on this design--most elegant.
Image via rubylane.com.

If I had to choose amongst the letter sorters in this post,
it might have to be this one... Such and unusual and beautiful design!
An antique French Bronze Enamel Letter Holder.
Image via 1stdibs.com.

This one is plainer, but such a classic beauty:
a 19th c English mahogany letter sorter cabinet.
Image via etsy.com

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless variations in design, manufacture and materials--especially from the 19th century-- thank you Victorians! They all have style and personality, don't you think? 

05 November 2014

Fresh New Finds for a Cheerful Desk

The most intriguing Pelikan fountain pen highlighter. I'm not doing 
much highlighting in my books these days, but I can imagine neon 
yellow doodles and flourishes for correspondence-- what fun!
Image via likecool.com

If you've browsed my past posts here, you might have gathered that I have a passion for antique desk things. This is still true of course (!), but I've recently come across some interesting new things to add to my desk. 

Art on a roll: fabulous printed tape by Angie Lewin for St. Jude's.
Image via stjudesprints.co.uk

The porcelain shade on this functional and cheerful lamp by
Original BTC gives a warm and wonderful light.
Image via originalbtc.com

A bit of art for the desk: an art print by Warpaint Studio.
Image via Signal Return Detroit.

There is a sense of permanence and continuity in contemporary design that's rooted in function and tradition. Perhaps it's because of the way they're made that these pieces mix seamlessly with antique prints and porcelains.

These are of course perfect for a cuppa, but wouldn't they be perfect for
pens and  pencils? Beautiful mugs from my favorite shop, Pentreath & Hall.
Image via pentreath-hall.com.

I always like to have a cushion on my desk chair, and this one is fantastic!

Emily Sutton's charming print for St. Jude's. 

It's wonderful to know that there are products out there that are designed and crafted with the same attention to quality as the antiques that I so adore. I feel a special affinity with these artists because in my work at the bindery, I aim to find that perfect balance between traditional craft and fresh new design as well. Adding these pieces to the mix on my desk has been such a treat, and has made everything seem new again. I hope you'll be inspired to do the same!