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!   

22 September 2014

New Projects

Grande French Curve Letter Sorter by Parvum Opus
The new Grande French Curve Letter Sorter, made to order 
in hundreds of paper patterns. This beautiful blue palmette pattern
is made by Rossi. 

Whew, it's been such a busy summer at the bindery! I hope this post finds all of my blogging friends well and enjoying the autumn. In my attempts to compose the best new post possible after such a long absence, I thought it best to simply share some of our favorite recent projects. I hope these colorful images speak for themselves, and that they might also hint at the great pleasure we take in crafting each one. 

Archival Storage Boxes by Parvum Opus
An Archival Storage Box made with one of our favorite papers, a
vintage Italian map design, made by Cavallini. 

Petite French Curve Letter Sorter by Parvum Opus
A new Petite French Curve Letter Sorter, made with a cheerful fleurs de lys
patterned paper by Rossi.

Hexagonal Pencil Cup and Note Tray by Parvum Opus
A bespoke Hexagonal Pencil Cup and Note Tray with matching
golf pencils made with our client's vintage hand-blocked paper.

Desk Organizers by Parvum Opus
A Stacking Desk Organizer and matching Pencil Holder, made using our client's
Italian wedding paper.

Desk Sets by Parvum Opus
A Desk Set including a desk pad, lidded pencil tray, a pen and pencil holder,
8 1/2" x 11" paper tray, and 2 note folios. In this case, our client selected a beautiful turquoise Florentine paper by Rossi and dark brown Italian book cloth.

Journals and Archival Boxes by Parvum Opus
A bespoke Journal and matching Archival Box, jacketed in a beautiful
Japanese Chiyogami paper in shades of gray and orange.

Paper Trays by Parvum Opus
Paper Trays by Parvum Opus
A couple of views of our new Paper Trays, made in four sizes and
an array of stunning patterned papers.

Refillable Notepad Folios by Parvum Opus
A refillable Notepad Folio in one of our new paper selections,
a pea-green hand-marbled paper from France. 

Clamshell Boxes by Parvum Opus
A bespoke modified Clamshell Box, made to our client's
specifications, and using another French hand-marbled paper, this time
in shades of violet.

Desk Set by Parvum Opus
A bespoke Desk Set in a paper chosen by our client, a green
and blue floral by Rossi.

Desk Pads and Letter Sorters by Parvum Opus
A Desk Pad and Petite Letter Sorter made in Cavallini's vintage
world map paper, paired with Italian book cloth in a deep wine color.

Folding Travel Picture Frames by Parvum Opus
A gaggle of Travel Picture Frames made for a wedding party, again
featuring the turquoise Florentine paper by Rossi. 

.....And so on, and so on... The cheerful work continues...!

06 July 2014

Sentimental Gifts for the Traveller

A bespoke gift box by Parvum Opus
A bespoke gift box by Parvum Opus, jacketed in an Italian
wood-block print style paper by Rossi

Today, I'm delighted to share two recent and memorable commissions, courtesy of our thoughtful and generous clientele. Perhaps these will serve to inspire as we merrily make our way the summer graduation and wedding season. 

The first, seen above and below, is a bespoke box commissioned as a gift for a friend embarking on a long-term travel adventure. Before presenting it, our client filled the box with one hundred stamped post cards. I was struck by the simplicity and warmth of this gesture-- a beautiful invitation to keep in touch as her friend's adventure unfolds. The diminutive box, having travelled along, will make a charming souvenir long after the post cards have been sent, a reminder of the bonds of friendship. I admit that this project will be on my mind as my own friends and family set off on their own exploits!

A bespoke gift box by Parvum Opus

The next project is similarly adventure-related: this one is a travel escritoire, or traveller's writing set. Contained in the small hinged box are compartments for stationery, a small German Kaweco Sport fountain pen and refill cartridges, postage stamps, address labels, and a travel journal. Besides the requisite blank pages, the hand-sewn journal includes pages for recording addresses, birthdays and anniversaries. It also includes a map of world time zones and stellar constellation charts for the northern and southern hemispheres-- a must for every adventurer, wouldn't you agree?! Of course, all of these functions are easily replaced by the apps on most smart phones, but for many of us, hand-written notes in a paper journal make a denser, more romantic and memorable souvenir of a long trip than typed notes in a phone or laptop.  

A bespoke travel writing set  by Parvum Opus
A small traveller's writing set, made with a butterfly
and flower print paper made in Italy, also by Rossi.

This project was created for a client whose friend was off for a year-long sabbatical. The box is small and sturdy enough for travel, and is intended by the gift giver to act as a stand-in for a special writing desk that will be sorely missed during the long journey. Given the clear and imaginative directives from our client, I think it turned out beautifully, and can only imagine how lovely it would be to come in from a day's work in a far-away land, and sit down to write with such thoughtfully given tools at hand. 

A bespoke travel writing set  by Parvum Opus
The writing set as it appears when closed:
a clear elastic band holds the lid in place during travel.

A bespoke travel writing set  by Parvum Opus

Along with these projects, we have made countless traveller's picture frames and hand-bound journals for clients wishing to send a bit of home along with their loved ones, and we always enjoy these heart-warming collaborations. This sort of work is a great pleasure for us, and I hope that you'll be as inspired by these gestures of friendship and camaraderie as we have been.  

28 April 2014

A Collection of Antique Islamic Pottery

Our May 2014 calendar illustration: an Iranian fritware beaker, 
from the 12th-13th centuries. Image copyright Parvum Opus

When I was searching for subjects to paint for our 2014 calendar, I came across the beautiful beaker you see above in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I was instantly drawn to the colors and imagery in this ancient piece, although I had no knowledge of this category of objects. It's one of the things I love most about creating our calendar: a piece will catch my eye, and then, wonderfully, lead me down a path of investigation and discovery that I may have missed otherwise! 

An Iranian fritware bowl with a horseman, female figures, 

and pseudo-kufic inscription, late 12th-early 13th centuries.

Image courtesy the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

This class of pottery is referred to as Islamic stonepaste or fritware, among other names. According to Wikipedia, "frit is a ceramic composition that has been fused in a special fusing oven, quenched to form a glass, and granulated." Islamic pottery of this period incorporated frit with the clay to produce a mixture that could be fired at a lower temperature than pure clay. Interestingly, a 'how-to' book on this specialized form of pottery survives. It was written in about the year 1300 by Abu'l Qasim bin Ali bin Muhammed bin Abu Tahir. Abu'l Qasim was member of an important family of potters as well as a historian to the Mongol court. His recipes for fritware and lusterware are part of a larger work entitled The Virtues of Jewels and the Delicacies of Perfume. 

An Iranian fritware ewer, ca. 11th-13th centuries.
Image courtesy The Louvre.

I came across a scholarly translation of this work by J. W. Allan, and found myself marveling at these words, written so long ago. Below is an intriguing excerpt, could it perhaps be the recipe used by the potters to create our beautiful beaker?? 

An Iranian bowl, similar to our inspirational beaker, with a horseman, 

female figures, and pseudo-kufic inscription. 

Image courtesy the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

"§25. The vessels are then coated with a glaze frit which has been ground up, finely sifted, and dissolved in water, and are stood on top of a broad-meshed sieve, which is the lid of a trough, so that excess of colour drips away. They are dried in the sun. If they want a green ground they coat on a mixture of ten parts powdered glaze to a quarter of a part of [a mithqal of] roasted copper. The craftsmen call this tini. It comes out of the firing transparent green, like green glass. If they use one part of [brayed] lajvard to forty parts of glaze frit it becomes transparent blue like a sapphire. If for every ten [or: two] parts of glaze frit they add 1 part of maghnisiya it comes out black as shabeh, and if they add less it comes out a red the colour of an eggplant. If they want an opaque colour such as turquoise they add for every man of ground tin ten dirhams of ground roasted cooper [sic: copper?], and coat this on. If they want lajvard colour they add [to the glaze frit] ten dirhams of Sulaimani lajvard and daub and coat the vessels with that. If they want a greyer tone they put in less lajvard and add a small amount of red sirinj. If they use an absolutely plain colour the vessels come out of the heat white."

A Persian pottery vase , ca. 17th-18th centuries.
Image courtesy Kaminski Auctioneers.

"§27. Those that come out of the firing white they paint with the enamel of two firings, or with lajvard, or with pure turquoise. [Or they are translucent and require no enamel painting.] The enamel is composed as follows: Take one and a half mans [or: parts] of red and yellow arsenic, one man [or: part] of gold and silver marcasite, one batman [or: half a part] of Tisi [or: Tabasi or Cypriot] yellow vitriol and a quarter [of a part] of roasted copper, and mix it to a paste and grind it. A quarter of this is mixed with six dirhams of pure silver which has been burned and ground [with sulphur] and is ground on a stone for twenty-four hours until it is extremely fine. Dissolve this in some grape juice or vinegar and paint it onto the vessels as desired, and place them in a second kiln specially made for this purpose, and give them light smoke for seventy-two hours until they acquire the colour of two firings [which is like gold]. When they are cold take them out and rub them with damp earth so that the colour of gold comes out. Other people add certain preparations like sirinj and zanjar to this enamel. In fact, shadanaj stone with roasted silver serves the same purpose. That which has been evenly fired reflects like red gold and shines like the light of the sun."

How wonderfully descriptive! One can find poetry and beauty in the most unexpected places, even an old 'recipe' book.