Beautiful Lithography Stones

n 2011, while the REI store in the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo
district was undergoing renovation, workers made an unexpected
discovery. Hidden behind one of the walls of the cellar were more
than 100 lithography stones from the building’s days as a printer.
They are now on display on the store’s lower floor.

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The historic building got its name from the magazine Puck, the first
wide-reaching humor publication in the United States, which was
founded in 1871 and moved to lower Manhattan in 1887. It shared
the space, in a mutually beneficial relationship, with its printer,
J. Ottman Lithographic Company. Their shared headquarters was
he largest building in the printing district at the time.

J. Ottman Lithographic Company printed many things beyond the
Puck magazines, including theatrical posters and board games.
Among the works now hanging on the REI wall are a high school
diploma, a certificate of election, and a mortgage bond. Some of
the litho stones are in rougher shape than others.

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Most of the writing and images on the stones is “backwards,”
standard practice so that the final print is the reverse of
what is seen on the plate or stone. Some, though, were
prepared for offset printing, which involves an additional
step between the plate and the final product. The inked image,
prepared “forwards,” or as it would be seen in the final
product, is first transferred to a rubber blanket, reversing
the image once, and then to the final surface, setting it right.

Puck continued to operate out of the Puck Building until 1918,
when it ceased publication. It was known for beautiful, full-color
lithographs and sharp political satire. Statues of the magazine’s
mascot, Puck, decorate the outside of the building.
J. Ottman Lithographic Company shuttered around the same time.
Other printing companies, and even another satirical magazine,
have called the building home since the original tenants left.

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During REI’s renovation, a deliberate effort was made
to repurpose materials from the original building.
Fixtures from the steam engine that powered the
presses are on permanent display, including two
flywheels and the governor. Nineteenth century
I. P. Frink chandeliers, newly fitted with LED lights,
help light the main floor.

 

Source: Atlas Obscura

Beautiful History of Crayons

To celebrate National Crayon Month here is the interesting history of crayola crayons. From its earliest days, Crayola has been a color company.  During the last 100-plus years, Crayola has grown beyond our founders’ wildest dreams.  By applying technical innovation, unparalleled quality, consumer satisfaction and product value, Crayola has become the preeminent producer of hands-on products for creative personal development and fun.  Read more about the colorful history here. Oh RIP Dandelion, today it was discontinued.

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1 and 2: Original box of crayons
3. Original box of 48 colors
4. Original box of 52 colors
5. Original box of 64 colors
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Retired colors

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Original colors

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Original Ad – 1905

 

 

 

Beautiful Color Red

Being Valentine’s Day I have the color red on my mind. On Valentine’s Day, red is everywhere.

red-caveCave art paintings of Lascaux in France

If any color can stake a claim to be the oldest, it is red. We’ve been seeing red since our neolithic days. It is the most primary of primary colors – the very blood in our veins is red.

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So how did red become the color of love? 400 years ago in 17th-century France, red was a color of power. Red was always a color associated with palaces, with Versailles, in fact Louis XIV put a little red into every step he took. He was a man who was very proud of his legs. Known as having gorgeous legs and he wore all kinds of fashion that would show them off. Louis wore knee-length tight pants and beautiful silk stockings. His heels — which were quite high for a man — were not just red, but scarlet.

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Red was an expensive color in 17th-century France because at the time, the dye was made from a little bug found in Mexican cactus, the cochineal. Soon nobles all over Europe were painting their heels red. Red was chic, flashy… and expensive.

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Nilda and Acopia women dying yarn red

These white bugs produced a potent red dye so sought-after by artists and patrons that it quickly became the third greatest import out of the “New World” (after gold and silver), as explains Victoria Finlay in A Brilliant History of Color in ArtRaphaelRembrandt, and Rubens all used cochineal as a glaze, layering the pigment atop other reds to increase their intensity. A non-toxic source for red pigment, the cochineal bug is still used to color lipsticks and blush today.

The bottom fell out of the bug market in the middle of the 1800s, when synthetic dyes were invented. Previously, red was only for the rich who could afford the expensive insect dye. In some cultures, the privilege of wearing red was reserved exclusively for the powerful. When you saw someone wearing red in Japan or Italy, the person was of high status.

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Toulouse-Lautrec – The Box with the Golden Mask

Today Red has many faces and is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

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Felix Vallotton – La Chambre Rouge

Red can be a naughty color — red-light districts and bordellos. It is both the color of Satan and the color of the Roman Catholic Church. Red is often associated with divinity; medieval and renaissance paintings show Jesus and the Virgin Mary in red robes. Red is for happiness — Indian brides get married in red saris. Red for good luck — the one-month birthday of a Chinese baby is celebrated with red eggs.

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I’ll leave it with this though. In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote that he “sought to express with red and green the terrible human passions”. Ancient, complex and representing extremes – red is nothing if not passionate. Perhaps Van Gogh would have seen red, should he have lived long enough to see the reds in his paintings starting to fade away.

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Vincent Van Gogh – Field of Poppies

 

 

 

Beautiful Iconic Designs

Ah, the pause that refreshes. One of the most famous lines in advertising for Coca-Cola.

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I don’t drink it often but occasionally it really “hits the spot”.  And it always seems to taste better when it comes out of a glass bottle, yes/no? One of the most famous shapes in the world is the iconic contour fluted lines of the Coca-Cola bottle. Renowned as a design classic and described by noted industrial designer, Raymond Loewy as the “perfect liquid wrapper,” the bottle has been celebrated in art, music and advertising. When Andy Warhol wanted a shape to represent mass culture, he drew the bottle:

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”           Andy Warhol

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How did the bottle become so iconic?
It began with the desire to protect brand Coca-Cola and was a cooperative project between The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers. In 1899, two Chattanooga lawyers, Joseph Whitehead and Benjamin Thomas, traveled to Atlanta to negotiate the rights to bottle Coca-Cola. The product had been an increasingly popular soda fountain drink established a mere 13 years previously. In fountain form, Coca-Cola grew from an average of nine drinks per day sold in 1886 to being sold in every state of the US by 1900. Thomas and Whitehead wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the drink by bottling it to be consumed outside the four walls of a soda fountain.

And to indicate the power of brand, as of 2015 the Coca-Cola brand was valued at 83.84 billion U.S. dollars.

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Beautiful Green

As today is St. Patrick’s Day it has me thinking about the color green. It’s not my favorite color but I do love nature where it’s everywhere, some people wear it very well and when it comes to interiors it has a quiet, moody feel about it. So I guess it all depends on the context in which it’s used. As I researched the color I came upon some beautiful renditions. Happy St. Patrick’s day to all who celebrate. For those who don’t, enjoy some fun trivia about Green.

The Meanings of Green
Since the beginning of time, green has signified growth, rebirth, and fertility. In pagan times, there was the “Green Man” – a symbol of fertility.  In Muslim countries, it is a holy color and in Ireland, a lucky color. It was the color of the heavens in the Ming Dynasty.

Today’s greens can be found in a wide range of objects: pea soup, delicate celadon glazes, emeralds, wasabi, and sage. The English language reflects some strange attributes: Would you rather be green with envy, green behind the ears, or green around the gills?

Global Meaning of Green

  • Green is universally associated with nature.
  • Green symbolizes ecology and the environment.
  • Traffic lights are green all over the world.
  • In China, Green may symbolize infidelity. A green hat symbolizes that a man’s wife is cheating on him.
  • In Israel, green may symbolize bad news.
  • In Japan, the words for blue and green (ao) are the same.
  • In Spain, racy jokes are “green.”

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
by Jan Van Eyck , 1434
The bride in this Renaissance masterpiece wears green as a symbol of her fertility. She is slouching in imitation of pregnancy, thus indicating her willingness to bear children.

In Celtic myths the Green man was the God of fertility.
Later in the millennium, Early Christians banned green because it had been used in pagan ceremonies.
Nevertheless, as evidenced by Van Eyck’s 15th Century wedding portrait, the color green was the best choice for the bride’s gown because of its earliest symbolism.

Of note is the continued symbolism attached to the color in the latter part of this century. Anyone who chooses a green m & m (an American candy which contains an assortment of different colored chocolate sweets) is sending a somewhat similar message. Green has been reinterpreted by late 20th century American culture to signify a state of heightened sexuality in this specific situation.

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Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435
Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435

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Beautiful green velvet furniture
adds a quiet moodiness and softness
to a room.

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Some people wear green very well

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…even in nature

Beautiful Bauhaus Art

3,900 Pages of Paul Klee’s personal notebooks (1921-1931) are online. I love his art and thoughts on color and really enjoy his works. Klee taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1921 to 1926 and in Dessau from 1926 to 1931. During his tenure, he was in close contact with other Bauhaus masters such as Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger.

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