23 December 2010

Object #16 Hat Sizer

Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.
-Pablo Picasso

An intriguing hat measurer. A milliner could place this apparatus inside a client's hat and by operating the scissor-like grip determine the size of the hat.

02 July 2010

Object #15 Head Sizer for Hat Maker #2

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

"That is a hat."

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

From Le Petit Prince by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

OK. So yes the Allie Maillard Conformateur is very cool (see my previous entry: Object #14) but this is one step further!  This wonderful all metal conformateur seems to be America's answer to the earlier Allie Maillard wood example. Over the years I have seen quite a few Allie Maillard head sizers but only two of this type. Perhaps the reason being that its all metal construction makes it very durable but incredibly heavy and truely uncomfortable to put on your head. Still as an object one satisfying little cup of tea!

Object #14 Head Sizer for Hat Maker #1

Building art is a synthesis of life in materialised form. We should try to bring in under the same hat not a splintered way of thinking, but all in harmony together.

Alvar Aalto

A French adjustable hat sizer (conformateur) made by Allie Maillard. An object epitomizing the 19th century’s love of well crafted inventiveness and of mechanical complications. Hand made of wood, brass and mother of pearl. The device uses piano key-like levers and pushpins to copy both the head size as well as shape for a milliner or hat maker. The contraption is placed on the head as a hat would be, expanding the ebony keys. The spring around the circumference of the "brim" keeping the parts tight to the head. The underside of the trap door top is lined with cork and can receive a blank piece of paper. When the conformateur is on the client's head the lid is closed and interior pins mark the shape and size of the wearer's head on the piece of paper. Giving the hat maker permanent record of the client's head size and shape for a perfectly fitting hat, that can also be easily filed and saved for future commissions. While invented by Parisian Allie Maillard in the 1840’s these antique contraptions are still sought after and used by high end hat makers to this day.

27 February 2010

San Francisco Trip

A few iphone images from my recent trip to San Francisco for the Arts of Pacific Asia Show as well as the Tribal and Textile Show.

The recently completed Contemporary Jewish Museum near the MOMA downtown.

A walk across the Golden Gate Bridge where I spoke to the painters. Notice the small painters box suspended from the right hand cables. Two painters go up the cables in this box painting as they go.

A detail of a cross section of one of the 36-1/2" diameter main cable from the bridge. Each made up of 27,572 wires and adding up to a cumlalative 80,000 miles of wire. 

Sunrise near the end of the Alameda swap meet.

A friend hauling away the treasure.

Wanted, but fortunately had no space for...

Some of the Ruth Asawa pieces on permanent display in the tower at the de Young Museum. 

26 February 2010

Object #13 Sweet Mold

I found this sweet mold (okashikata) many years ago in northern Japan in an "old school" junk shop. I've only seen one other with bats which hang inside a noted sweet shop on Shijo Street in Kyoto.  Bats, in a tradition adopted from China, are a symbol of good fortune. In Chinese the word for bat is a homonym with the word for good fortune, and their love of rebus has resulted in bats being put on almost everything from imperial textiles to the cheap plastic dishes at that "Chinese-American" restaurant you stopped at in Casper, Wyoming.

22 January 2010

Object #12 Bobby Pins

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring...
-Henri Frederic Amiel

Invented on August 6th 1882 by a shoemaker to hold string in his factory, it took his smart wife to recognize its real destiny. But not until the “bobbed” haircut became all the rage in the ‘20s did the “bobby” pin really take off.

I begged this away from a friend and dealer in Tokyo who had thought wrapped in a small box in a tansu in a dark corner of his shop was a sufficient hiding place. Thank you god of rust and Good-Things-In-Small-Packages, and of course Mrs. Robert Pinney.

Object #11 Fire Starter

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
-Plutarch (46-120)

A Japanese bundle of thin sheets of clear-grained wood. The bundle untied, each sheet was used as kindling.

Object #10 Wooden Chain

COVET: wish, inordinate desire, or enviously crave with eagerness for something. Especially the property of another person.

An amazing wooden chain of large 4" links that casually sits on the bedroom floor of a friend. A large pile of desire; calling me, taunting me.