There are a few popular legends of how the robin became associated with Christmas. One of which is associated with postmen. Robins on Christmas cards first appeared in 19th Century England with the image being inspired by the uniform of the Victorian postman being a red jacket – these postmen became known as ‘robins’ and families across the country would wait with excited anticipation at Christmas time about what the ‘robin’ would bring them in the post. Fast forward to the 21st Century and the robin is one of the nation’s favourite bird and is also knows as the gardeners friend. The Robin symbolises cheer, joviality and light-heartedness show by its fearlessness of humans and the companionship they offer to the gardener who is turning over the flowerbeds in Autumn.
Lavender is not only physically beautiful, but its light, herbaceous fragrance omits a soothing aroma which contains healing qualities. Lavender’s spiritual qualities are known for tranquility, easing tension and promoting calmness as well as denoting serenity, grace and silence. The yin-yang balance of lavender points to the feminine side, supporting our ability to heal and increase our awareness.
Lavender is used to encourage a peaceful sleep and the feeling of happiness. Lavender was also seen for centuries as a love potion. Lovers would use the scent to heighten feelings by adding the scent to a letter or use as a perfume.
Furthermore, the cool purple tone promotes peacefulness and can sometimes be used for meditation rooms to help relax the atmosphere.
The daisy symbolizes love, beauty and patience. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘day’s eye’ referring to the way the flower opens and closes with the sun. This connects the daisy with solar attributes both symbolically and physically, with the bright yellow center and radiating white petals resembling the rays of sunshine. Yellow is symbolic of vitality, beauty and radiance, and white represents the notion of cleansing and purification. The flower is also linked to love, as the petals would tell the fate of heart-broken women in the Victorian times by plucking each petal and singing ‘He loves me, he loves me not’
Hares are shy, elusive animals. It is rare to catch a glimpse of a hare bounding quickly through a field. Young hares are born so well developed that they can fend for themselves within a few hours of their birth. These intuitive, independent animals possess strong back legs, allowing them to leap forward in hopping motions, able to understand the tides of movement. The hare is associated with many myths, such as playing a role in the creation of earth by representing femininity, procreation and immortality. However, the hare is also associated with impatience and haste, which can relate to the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ fable.
Hares are strongly associated with fertility. The ancient Greeks connected hares with powers of self-impregnation and superfoetation, where the female constantly produces young.
Ancient people found hares mysterious and perplexing animals, they believed that hares could come back to life again It was good luck to witness a hare jumping in a clockwise circle, however bad luck anticlockwise, the circle being a significant symbol of eternity and life.
Deer symbolise gentleness, unconditional love and kindness, what a glorious combination these beautiful and mystical creatures are! Deer are highly in tune with nature and their surroundings due to their excellent hearing and strong sense of sight even in low light. Their gentle and caring nature is shown by the loving and protective way they look after their young. In the first few days the fawns barely move and their mothers remain steadily by their sides. Once strong enough to walk their mothers guide them carefully through the forests to grassy areas. Once in the open, the Mothers are constantly watchful and attentive of their fawns whilst they graze on happily on fresh spring grass.
In the Celtic tradition, the female and male aspects of the deer represent different areas of life. The Hind (the red female deer) is known as Eilid in Gaelic and represents femininity, subtlety and gracefulness. It is believed that the Hind calls us from the material trappings of life to explore our own spiritual nature. The Gaelic word for stag is Damh and they are seen as a symbol of independence, purification and pride. The Damh is also linked with the sacredness of the forest.
Hummingbirds symbolise the enjoyment of life and an optimistic playful outlook. This beautiful and diminutive bird is capable of outstanding feats such as flying backwards or travelling considerable distances. It encourages us to be adaptable and resistant in life but also to enjoy the journey. Hummingbirds are uplifting creatures who bring joyful reminder to see the lighter side of life and enjoy life's simple pleasures. Now that sounds good!
In Japan cherry trees and their blossoms in Japan, known as sakura are considered to have great cultural meaning and significance. Throughout history, the cherry blossom has represented the fragility and beauty of life. It reminds us that life is incredibility beautiful but undeniably short. For a short time cherry blossom trees bloom with their remarkable vigour, followed by the inevitable fall to the ground. For the Japanese this natural cycle shows how precious and precarious human life is.
Every year the Japanese people eagerly anticipate the blossoming of the thousands of cherry trees in the country. In the spring season when the trees start to bloom they celebrate with festivals. Traditionally these festivals involved outlandish entertainment with folk music being prominent. However in modern times the festivals comprise of concerts and musical activity in general takes place all over the country. Children enjoy streets lined with rides and games and Kimono shows and flower displays are also part of the festivals.
Part of the cherry blossom festival is flower watching know as Hana-mi which stems from Chinese culture. It is thought to be spiritually revitalising activity where you will find large groups of friends and families gathered around cherry blossom trees enjoying picnics and the beauty of the blossoms.
Koi Carp are seen as good fortune or luck in Japan and they are also associated with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose. They are symbolic in Buddhism where they courage. Japanese legend tells us that if a Koi succeeds in swimming upstream until it reaches the final waterfall, it vaults into the mists and becomes a water dragon. Thus the Koi is a symbol of world aspiration and advancement, worth remembering when you’re in need of a lucky charm or motivation!
The Koi often represents the family, particularly in Japan with a black Koi for father, red Koi for mother, blue and white for a boy and pink and red for a girl. Koi are known in Japan as ‘warrior’s fish’ due to their symbolism of strength and masculinity.
Due to their connection with the sky, birds have been thought of since ancient times as the supernatural link between heavens and earth. Middle Eastern and Asian cultures see birds as symbols of immortality. East Indian myth believes that every bird in the world represents a departed soul.
Difference species of birds are attributed with different properties. The Crane is seen as a symbol of long life and immortalit, the eagle typifies power, resurrection and generosity and the Nightingale suggests love and longing. The Owl is synonymous with wisdom, insight and virtue but also has a surprising meaning of death and darkness, the wise owl is the most appealing thought! The Peacock represents spring, birth, new growth, longevity and love. The Hummingbird is known as a messenger and stopper of time as well as a symbol of joy, playfulness and beauty.
Butterflies have evoked wonder and fascination over time for man. Various meanings have been woven into our cultures and beliefs. Butterflies are thought to represent rebirth and renewal due to the start of their journey of life taking place in a cocoon. In Japan a butterfly was seen as the personification of a person’s soul, should they be living or dead which is similar to the ancient Greek word for butterfly that primarily means soul or mind. In Chinese culture two butterflies flying together symbolise love, echoed in the famous Chinese folktale, ‘Butterfly Lovers.’ At nerve-wracking time we all know what it feels like to have butterflies in our stomachs!
The Yuzen patterns were originally used by the textile industry in Kyoto for the production of cloth for Kimonos. The designs were highly elaborate with the inclusion of a significant amount of gold.
Chiyogami describes paper created in the Edo period. After the second world war, Kimonos were not worn by women and therefore the cloth printing studios started to apply their patterns to paper. Originally these patterns were created using woodblock but they are now silkscreened by hand using a mixture of kozo and sulphite. Nowadays Yuzen textile patterns are commonly described as Chiyogami but both terms may be used. ‘Gami’ means paper and therefore adds significance to the term Chiyogami.
Some of the designs within the Chiyogami papers have special meanings. Those with cranes as part of the design indicate wishes for a long life. Papers that feature pine boughs and plum blossoms show intent for beauty and longevity whereas bamboo symbolizes flexibility.
September often feels like the perfect time for a new start. After a wonderful two weeks holiday in Ibiza enjoying a fantastic escape on this beautiful island, the return home made me look at my studio with fresh eyes. Once again it prompted me to get painting! Here's my new tranquil white look.
I painted the table and chair and cleared away much of my millinery equipment from a previous enterprise. There is new order with my white filing boxes and hopefully I will be able to find everything!
Its such a great space now and really inspiring. I'm sure this has helped with the designs for my new card range which is about to launch in a couple of weeks time. It certainly feels much more peaceful....that it until my two small children come to check on my work!
Next week I will be leading a couple of courses at Clifton Nurseries in London on Tuesday 21st May and also at the The Parsonage Country House Hotel, in Escrick near York on Thursday 23rd May. I have all the materials waiting in my studio, lots of chiyogami paper, pens and paper ready to go. I think we're going to have a great couple of days with these workshops and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone!
Its not just Eloise Hall who is influenced by Asia! In Spring 2013 Asia's influence has hit the fashion runways. Prada's collection (see above) had a strong Geisha influence combined with a sixties feel and the oriental trend carried through with floral blossom prints featuring in the Mulberry Collection (below) and also Etro and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Etro Spring 2013
For a more affordable take on this trend, why not try the
Orchid Print Shift Dress from Whistles?
So I cracked! We were given our kitchen table and chairs by a friend who was clearing out his garage and somehow seven years later we were still living with furniture that we would not have owned by choice. Though the shapes of the table and chairs were good, the dark colouring of the wood made our kitchen feel rather gloomy so I found my sander and set about the table and chairs. It turns out that sanding furniture is very hard work and also time consuming! After the second chair I was beginning to doubt my plan. However a few weeks later I can see the fruits of my labour, and I am completely thrilled with the result. It has made the room seem so much brighter and more welcoming. When all the chairs and table were finally sanded down I lime waxed the chairs and both lime-washed and varnished the table top to withstand the daily arsenal of family life.
Here's an image of the table before:
As luck would have it, I also found two more chairs to match the six we owned and so we now have a complete set. With this new chic look, I feel like we are eating in the calm of
Daylesford Organic which is a real treat.
I have been collecting ceramics over the years, and have recently discovered a maker called Charlotte Jones. Charlotte is based in Cornwall and is inspired by the dramatic land and seascapes of the area. These are the three pieces that I recently bought from a gallery in Penzance. I fell in love with the entire collection displayed in the gallery and finally narrowed it down to these ones! Do take a look at Charlotte Jones Ceramics
One of my favourite makers is Clare Conrad and the influence of weathered architecture and landscapes is very apparent in her work. She often works with blue colours, however I love the earth tones of the piece that I own. For more example of her work, see Clare Conrad
Recently I bought this boucherouite rug to add some colour to my house. The colour and texture of this rug is amazing and it looks a piece of contemporary art. I thought I would share some of the background information about this type of rug.
Moroccan tribes create boucherouite rugs from are created from pieces of material, the name come from the Moroccan Arabic 'bu sherwit' meaning a piece torn from pre-used clothing or a scrap. Materials for these rugs may include wool, cotton, synthetic fibre, lurex, nylon and plastic. Development caused change in the economic, social and cultural patterns of rural Morocco, people no longer followed a nomadic style of living but instead used settled farming and became involved in other rural forms of employment. As a result wool became less available as a primary material for weaving and people looked to other sources. Boucherouite rugs were first created in the 1960's and 1970's and are woven by the Berbere women. Unlike European weaving techniques where designs are based on a specific pattern, the Berbere women weave without a drawing or preconceived design, it is simply coming straight from the mind of creator much like an artist with his brush. Traditional knotted-pile carpets can be attributed with a regional style unique to the area, however these 'rag rugs' have no such definition and are now made all over Morocco. Boucherouite rugs are free from any rules and must be enjoyed!