Thursday, October 27, 2011

Burlap is Taking the Home Décor World by Storm

Burlap is showing up all over the place . . . in design magazines, in high end furniture stores and mainly at the Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors.

Have you ever wondered about burlap? Where it comes from? What was it originally used for? How many uses can it have? Well, strap on your burlap seatbelt and let's take a history tour of BURLAP.

Burlap is made from the fibers of a jute plant. It is an important export from India and Pakistan. Originally is was used in small quantities as rope and paper in India. The English traders saw its potential and began to export large quantities. While the majority of the jute is produced in India, Bangladesh (eastern Pakistan), China, Myanmar, Brazil and Thailand also export jute. The people of India discovered that burlap on the backs of rugs and carpets help protect the more delicate and valuable wool yarns.

There are many reasons that burlap has been so popular over the years. Burlap is extremely durable, hard to tear and is weather resistant. It can be dried many times once wet and still maintain its integrity. It is available in many weights, widths and forms. It can be dyed, sewn and even laminated. Hands down it is a very versatile fabric.

Burlap is considered a “breathable” fabric. When used outside as erosion control, it will over time deteriorate. Although it helps to protect young trees and plants from wind, prevents erosion, and is used as a casing for shipping wool, it also has a great presence in the furniture and carpet industry. It has been used for years as strapping for sofas and chairs and as backing for carpets.

This jute product is resistant to condensation. There are endless products that are shipped in burlap bags – coffee, grains, beans, and potatoes.
Burlap is considered a “green” product and has become very popular in the design world. Handbags and shoes, casual hats, and home furnishings are some of the areas that are sporting jute.

Please note the many repurposed uses for burlap. It has a big presence in the home accessory and design arena. These photos are from merchandise located at the Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors – Alpharetta, Buford and Marietta.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

History of Blue Willow China

This particular china pattern has a mystery concerning its origin. Some say this wonderfully beautiful transfer ware china stems from a legend told in China more than a thousand years ago. It is believed that all the original Willow Pattern plates were destroyed by the Manchu rulers in China after they discovered that members of the illegal Hung Society defied them. The blue and white design is said to have been smuggled into England in the 19th Century and reintroduced back into China in the 19th Century.

No matter where or when this pattern appeared, no one can deny that this is one of the most recognizable china patterns in the world. The romantic fable is one that involves a wealthy Mandarin with a beautiful daughter. She fell in love with her father's humble accounting assistant which did not make her father happy. (It was inappropriate for them to marry due to their difference in social classes). The father built a high fence around his house to keep them apart. The father planned the marriage of his daughter to a Duke. The Duke arrived by a boat to wed his bride and brought with him a gift box full of jewels. The day of the wedding was set when the blossom fell from the willow tree.

The night before the planned wedding, the accounting assistant dressed as a servant and entered the palace unnoticed. As the “bride” and the servant/accounting assistant escaped with Duke's jewels, the father chased them over a bridge with a whip in hand. The lovers used the Duke's ship and sailed to a secluded island where they lived happily for many years. The Duke eventually figured out where his bride was and sent soldiers that captured the lovers and put them to death. The Gods were moved by this, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves. (Early willow pattern plates do not have the doves and therefore this is believed to have been added to the tale at a later date).

There is a poem called “Old Poem” that narrates the markings on the blue willow china:

Two birds flying high,
A chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o'er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.