Object of the Day

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Image features fragment of a quilt top in "Tumbling Blocks" pattern, made from small diamond shapes stitched together to create the illusion of cubes. The woven pieces are in silk stripes, plaids and a few small floral patterns. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Tumbling Blocks
“Tumbling Blocks” is one of the most recognizable quilt patterns. As popular today as it was from the mid to late 1800s, it is a requisite pattern for any quilt collection. The roots of the pattern date back far longer than its use for American quilts. Tumbling Blocks has a long history in the grammar...
Image features book cover showing a colorful flying bug on a fuchsia background. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Colorful Pop-Ups!
Design comes in many forms and the elaborate paper constructions developed in the world of pop-up books still amaze and surprise children and adults alike. Combining both color and senses, the Cooper Hewitt Library houses several of these gems–most notably works by David A. Carter. A master paper engineer, he has created over 90 books,...
Image features circular gilt bronze clock mounted on head of seated figure of Pu Tai Ho-Shang (Chinese god of contentment) in white porcelain, the whole on a scrolling Rococo style footed base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Search for Contentment in France
This clock does not merely depict a portly man enjoying a good laugh. The soft-paste porcelain figure portrays Pu-Tai Ho Shang, a Chinese folklore deity. “Pu-Tai” means cloth sack, and the figure is usually shown with one; here, the sack supports the seated figure’s left arm. The jolly but poor deity uses the small sack...
Pen and brown ink drawing of a woman seated on an octagonal platform, painting at an easel. She is encircled by eight columns supporting a cupola above.
Elisabetta Sirani, “Gem of Italy”
On November 14, 1665, the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna was crowded with mourners. They were gathered to remember a young female artist, Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665), who had died suddenly the previous August.[1] Although only 27 at the time of her death, Elisabetta was already an acclaimed painter, draftsman, and printmaker—a contemporary...
Image features a floral stripe wallpaper brightly colored in pinks and greens. Please scroll down to read the blog about this wallpaper.
A Perky Floral Stripe
Here is a perky design that seemed appropriate for a summer post. Printed in shades of pink and green this floral stripe pattern is quite striking in its intensity. While this all but screams late 1960s it is a fun design that could work beautifully in a maximalist interior today. Different shades and hues of...
Image features: Off-white blanket with five rectangles of geometric pattern: Four corners are gray diamonds on an off-white ground surrounded by concentric squares of brown, gray and peach. Center is brown, peach and tan zigzags bands with border of gray and peach concentric squares. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Return to Classic Designs
This single saddle blanket features five rectangles, each filled with the zigzag and diamond patterns the Navajo adapted so successfully from the Mexican serape. While in the 1870s and 80s these motifs were paired with exuberant use of color, by the 1880s some traders, such as J.L. Hubbell and C.N. Cotton, began to push for...
Image features suit of necklace, brooch, earrings, bracelets and bodice ornament with sead pearl decoration in floral forms. Please scroll down to read th blog post about this object.
Pearls for the Bride, a Lasting Tradition
This set of seed pearl jewelry from the 1830s is referred to as a parure, essentially a matching suite of jewelry comprising interchangle pieces that expand the wearability of the set. A parure has three or more pieces: typically, a necklace, at least one pair of earrings, a brooch, bracelet, and in larger sets, a...
Image features an aerial perspective of a of the Palace of Versailles and a rectangular housing at the upper left, adjacent to the Palace Grounds. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Monumentality in Social Housing
Ricardo Bofill’s architectural design, Aerial Perspective of the Lake, the Arcades, the Viaduct, and the Temple Housing Complex for St. Quentin-en-Yvelines (1981) displays the architect’s concept sketch for a monumental housing project to be constructed in the outskirts of Paris.[1] While the idea of constructing mass social housing in suburban Paris dates back to the...
Image features a pastel-colored wallpaper with a tile or block pattern. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this wallpaper.
Softly Tiled Walls
I thought this was a charming pattern, with its pastel-colored geometric background pattern reminiscent of tilework. The scrolling white lines covering the surface give the design a textural look, softening the appearance of all the hard lines. They also remind me of the Sno Ball pastries with the coconut-covered exterior. This was a very inexpensive...