Monday, March 15, 2010

Bees and Candace Wheeler

It's been a very busy couple of weeks here! We've had some big events at work, and Jeph and I have undertaken the garden project of all garden projects. We have completely ripped up our entire front yard! It has been exciting, liberating, and scary all at the same time. What to do with a blank slate!? There are so many possibilities... (We are thinking "cottage garden").

Thanks to our garden project I have been happily spending a lot of time outside lately. A week or so ago I found this incredible section of a beehive in my backyard. I can't remember the last time I saw one close up... probably when I was in elementary school. My parents kept a stash of beautiful things they found in nature for my brother and me to take into school for show and tell. There were birds nests and cuttings from cotton plants (cotton was an unusual sight to kids in suburban Atlanta). My dad also had a collection of arrowheads he found as a child growing up in south Georgia. I remember the beehive we had being enormous - completely intact, unlike the one I recently found.

The beehive: It feels like paper, only much stronger. At the same time, it is so light and delicate! My favorite thing about it is it's surprising scent! It smells slightly sweet, like flowers.

Beehives remind me of one of my favorite pattern designers: Candace Wheeler. Mrs. Wheeler designed textiles and interiors around the turn of the century during the Arts and Crafts period. It is really a shame that she isn't very well known, because she was the first major female textile designer in the US. She worked at the same time as William Morris and actually was business partners with Louis Comfort Tiffany for several years. She was so ahead of her time - not only in her approach to design, but also being a woman in business around the turn of the century! I spent a lot of time studying about her during my senior year of college. She holds a special little place in my heart - I really admire her and her work. The bee motif below is the design that I immediately think of when I read about her or see her name. By today's standards it is not incredibly thrilling, but if you think of it in the context of how it broke away from traditional Victorian Decorative Arts it is really quite impressive!

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