Friday, October 15, 2010

iBride - Le Boudoir

We've always been fans of animalia, whether that be old school minotaurs and harpies, or more (semi-) current incarnations like Perlman's tragic Beast fighting for ill-fated love (Ron Perlman, not Rhea!). These decorative serving trays from iBride are no exception, rather they're glowing examples of the hybridization that we love so well.

The designers at iBride call this collection Le Boudoir, and while these five feather-headed friends are not bowerbirds, they're the perfect birds for decorating your bower. Each image is a lovingly captured and intimate portrait in the boudoir-style that will prove, without a doubt, that birds can indeed, have bedroom eyes. Guaranteed to satisfy whether you're an ornithologist, period-drama lover, or just love people with animal heads. Check them out in our webshop or come by our Leliegracht shop to see in person

Friday, October 8, 2010

Beetle & Flor, Porcelain Skulls

One of the highlights of being a shopkeeper has got to be receiving a shipment of new products. No matter how many times we do it, pulling open the lid of each box brings back much of the excitement of that first present on Christmas morning. While we may not be in our pajamas and there is rarely hot cocoa in attendance, the feeling is much the same as we brush away the packing peanuts to discover anew what goodies have arrived. I know, I know - yes, we ordered it and already have a good idea of what we'll be getting, but the excitement of Christmas morning was never subdued just because we had peeked in our parent's closets a few weeks before the happy day... and we're operating on the same principle here.

As far as these packages go, we have to say that one of the recent highlights has been receiving a new line of products from Beetle & Flor. You're probably already aware of our predilection for porcelain objet, so when pulling these carefully wrapped porcelain items out of their protection we were in absolute heaven. Cast from life by Christine Facella (a freelance illustrator for the American Museum of Natural History), the porcelain skulls are lovingly handmade and exquisitely finished, each with its own character and attributes.

We haven't coveted anything this intensely since that tantalizingly tentacled pewter octopus from Swallow! While there's no question that one will be taking up permanent residence in our home, there is the question of choice: do we choose the deer skull with antlers that can just as easily grace our wall as our table, or the beaver that rocks gold teeth harder and better than any wannabe "grill" wearer? See our current collection in our webshop or at our shop on the Leliegracht. Female deer and gold-toothed male deer coming soon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pearl & Marmalade Letterpress, Antique Wooden Letters

When picking a card to give someone, regardless of the occasion, we try to be extremely careful not to go too far down the cutesy route. The sheer amount of saccharin-sweet pussycats sleeping on dogs, or hiding in a toilet paper roll, or telling you to 'hang in there' is mind-numbing -- one begins to build up a tolerance for higher and higher amounts of this sweet stuff that normally would make your teeth hurt. Before you know it, you begin thinking that ducklings playing with kittens is 'edgy', that Garfield saying 'LASAGNA' is funny, and that cartoons of unhappy women with breasts sagging down to their knees is a perfectly acceptable - even funny - birthday card.

So we felt a bit like the legendary (albeit fictional) explorer Alan Quatermain unearthing some fabulous treasure when we discovered Pearl & Marmalade's distinctive line of letterpress cards and prints. Combining old-world style illustrations with a modern-day aesthetic, these cards turn baby announcements and birthday wishes into miniature pieces of hand-printed art, imbued with a sophistication born from the time-honored process used to create them.

As a matter of fact, the more study we did of what goes into making letterpress cards, the more enthralled we were with the process. So much so that when we found a few batches of 19th century letterpress letters available, we pounced on them like a polar bear on a seal pup. Containing a variety of fonts, letters, numbers and punctuation marks, digging through these antique wooden letters has become the thing to do when visiting the shop. Whether poring through them searching for a name, address, a good size "X" to rest one's coffee cup on, or just to hear the satisfying 'clickety-clack' as they rub together, we have to wonder just how long we'll be able to keep these pups in stock. We've made a portion of our Pearl & Marmalade collection available in our webshop, as for the letters, you'll have to come by the shop to see for yourself.

**Disclaimer: the Otherist takes no responsibilty for 19th century printing ink rubbing off on curious fingers. ☺

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Insect Lab, the return...

It's no secret that if there was a fire in the shop, and I was forced to save only a small number of items, first on my list would be these incredible pieces from artist Mike Libby. After what felt like eons of fantasizing on my part, last year we started stocking them in the shop, and happily our appreciation for these stunning, intricately modified specimens was shared by our customers. So much so that we are happy to announce a batch of new arrivals!

Along with replacements for the popular bumblebee and dragonfly, we also have three new beetles that have to be seen to be believed. As ever, the skill, creativity, and careful workmanship of Mr. Libby leaves me awestruck and salivating for more, like some character from one of J. R. R. Tolkien's tomes -- Smaug or Gollum, I'm unsure which. Am I the dragon, jealously guarding my horde of treasures while wearing too much in the way of jewelry? or a sad, obsessed, bug-eyed mutant who can't bear to let go of my 'Precious'? ... Or perhaps I'm just over-sharing? (...yes, I'm a nerd)

See our collection in the webshop - but to truly appreciate them, come check them out in person at our shop on the Leliegracht.

Friday, April 9, 2010

billykirk - Wallets, Card Holders, Wrist Straps

I'm afraid that I'm a child of my times in that, when thinking of the Amish, the first thing that springs to mind is Harrison Ford in the movie 'Witness'. Followed closely by thoughts of furniture, of course. So once one is able to banish all thoughts of Harrison Ford (just thinking about the last Indiana Jones movie does the trick), generally all thoughts of the Amish turn to their extraordinary craftsmanship, a craftsmanship that is all the more admirable in light of their unwillingness to rely on modern shortcuts or machines, and also their belief in the beauty of simple yet well made goods.

The brothers of Billykirk share this passion for well-made goods and a timeless aesthetic, and have been designing and working leather in time-honored traditions since 1999. With the assistance of a small group of Amish leather workers they create beautiful leather goods whose quality is apparent in every hand finished stitch and (often vintage sourced) piece of hardware. Billykirk uses only the highest quality domestic or Italian leathers that have been vegetable dyed in the tradition of the Old West, a process that is not only better for the environment but lends itself so well to their designs because of its durability and how it changes and ages over time. The brothers even invite customers to share images of their Billykirk items after they've been 'personalized', and quite frankly from some of the images I've seen, it makes me all the more eager to get that wallet in my back pocket and start doing some 'personalizing'. See our assortment of wallets, card cases, and wristbands in the webshop or stop by our shop on the Leliegracht to see/feel them in person.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gelukspopjes - Annemoon van Steen

When considering a good luck charm, one might possibly go the obvious route: the left-hind leg of a rabbit, shot with a silver bullet by a cross-eyed man in a graveyard on a Friday (as any student of North-American lore can tell you, any other rabbit's foot is just a useless part from a most likely dead animal, having no supernatural powers whatsoever!). You could search a field for a lucky clover or even hang a horseshoe in your doorway - like a "U" of course, because upside down all the luck runs out.

 But here's the thing: all these charms are just so.... typical. So mundane, so run-of-the-mill, so ordinaire.

So when we saw Annemoon van Steen's Gelukspopjes ('Good Luck Dolls' in Dutch) we knew we'd found just the thing. Each doll is one of a kind, handmade by Annemoon herself, with arms and legs sculpted from clay then painted. Each doll has a model number, 'date of birth', and luck category. The perfect companion for hard times and dull rooms. A few are available in the webshop or stop by the Leliegracht to peruse our full collection.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scott Musgrove - The Late Fauna of Early North America

My 6-year old self always took pride in his vocabulary, and positively glowed when an adult recognized my precocious parlance. I loved being able to use my most treasured word when said adult invariably asked me what I would like to be when I grew up; "paleontologist". Sure, there might have been a slight lisp, and every once in a while I might have reversed a vowel or two, but regardless it was sure to get a reaction. The best reactions always came on my birthday when the telltale weight of heavy, rectangular presents revealed themselves to be books replete with full color illustrations of Dinosaurs and other Megafauna of our world's earlier days.

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon said "Whatever was possible for Nature to produce, has actually been produced", and in those early, heady days of new discovery it certainly seemed that way to me. But time has a way of stealing the luster from discoveries of our youth, and it's not for nothing that 'familiarity breeds contempt' maintains its freshness as an idiom long after other idioms have become just as extinct as the dinosaurs from my old books. So imagine my joy upon discovering Scott Musgrove's pseudo-scientific (tongue held firmly in cheek) tome The Late Fauna of Early North America, 'Featuring many Depictions of Hitherto Undiscovered and Now Extinct Animals, Creatures, and Other Beasts." Filled with drawings, paintings, and images of sculptures all rendered in loving detail by Musgrove in his hauntingly humorous signature style, this satisfying hardcover brings back the magic of discovery and the thrill of possibility that even when we've plumbed the depths of the earth around us completely, there are still the endless and oft unexplored strata of our imaginations. Available in our web shop or stop by the Leliegracht and peruse in person.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Tree Show & Fushigi Circus

"The tree that moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way... some scarce see nature at all, but to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." - William Blake

Of course I borrowed that directly from The Tree Show book itself - I mean, I love to do research as much as the next guy, but c'mon, to get a quote this apropos? I can't help but think it's more than just a happy coincidence that it could just as easily be regarding art as nature; the whole 'beauty in the eye of the beholder' vibe is just too clear to be ignored. And in a lot of ways I feel that this literal-ambiguity-yet-clear-sentiment mirrors the work of Ryden himself. The visual vocabulary used by Mark Ryden is filled with plush pets, virginal vixens, religious iconography, alchemical symbols and slabs of meat painstakingly rendered against a backdrop of primordial, Arcadian splendor. In the Tree Show he skillfully weaves together images of the cute and cuddly, the stately and striking, to create bittersweet canvases that manage to celebrate nature at the same time they mourn its loss.

And since more of a good thing is always better, for those of you not satisfied with just one Mark Ryden monograph we also have the deliciously disturbing Fushigi Circus, a survey of 55 of of Ryden's most impressive works from past shows to the present. This gorgeous hardcover is clothbound and sure to be a treasured gem in any art lover's collection. Both available in our webshop or come by the Leliegracht to peruse them in person.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Deux Filles en Fil - leather goodness

Direct from Maine-et-Loire in Western France come the beautiful bags of Deux Filles en Fil, or 'Two Girls and Thread'.

Using surplus leather from the fashion industry to reduce waste and local know-how from an area known for its textile and leather industries, the women from Deux Filles en Fil have created a line of bags that is ethical, practical, and beautiful.

Each bag is hand crafted from a single, flat piece of leather that folds and snaps to create sturdy and classic bag designs that are stylish, versatile and durable. Come by the Leliegracht to check out our assortment or see our webshop.