Because I'm Still Laughing at Myself on This One

Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England - Amanda Vickery

Have been looking at my shelf of Books I've Read But Need to Review, and this book is going to amuse me when I finally figure out how to review it. Because the problem will be not to natter on and on about the things I found delightful. I was expecting to enjoy the references to women and crafts of the Georgian period - seriously, if you've not seen some of the fascinating things that were done with shells and paper cutting - here, I must link:


Mary Delany - her wiki page, and I'm completely biased about her art, which there isn't enough of online. Besides intricate needlework and shellwork decoration, she was known for her paper "flower mosaics" (her words for them). (More bio here in this article at the Independent from 2010.) Oh and I forgot to mention, she began her career as a cut paper artist in her 70s.


Passifloria laurifolia, by Mary Delany - a page at the British Museum website, look at the enlarged version and realize that she cut that entirely out of paper. She was so good at making these paper artworks that botonists would send her samples of exotic flowers for her to copy. This was also an era where you couldn't just order up paper in specific colors.


Physalis, Winter Cherry, by Mary Delany - another paper cut flower, British Museum


Art + Botony: Mrs. Delany's Floral Collage - a couple of other photos of her flowers here at Garden Design


Shell Grottos of Mrs. Delany - because it's really hard to find photos of shellwork home decor from this period, here's a blog post at The Peak of Chic that sums up the style with nice visuals. Though the shell work is mainly that of Jane and Mary Parminter (I blogged about them last Nov. here).


Shellcraft - at the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, in case you still want more shell info. The reason you won't find too many remnants is the same reason with any cultural fad - once it fell out of favor most of it was removed so someone could redecorate. Which is only sad in that there's now not a lot of visual documentation of it all - you can probably imagine how this sort of thing could be overdone and  kitchy/tacky, depending on the shellcrafter. I'll cheat and quote only the bit about Delany:

"...A famous practioner of shell ornamentation was Mary Delany born in 1700, but it was not until about 1734, following her second marriage, that she developed a passion for collecting shells.  At Delville, her Dublin home, she made shell decorated frames, decorated a chandelier and the walls of a room which was used as a chapel.  She also made festoons of flowers to imitate stucco work to decorate the ceilings and arches of the chapel."


Book recommendations: Mrs. Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird, which introduced me to her, and has lots of lovely photos. (And somehow it's not in my shelves here, odd.) I only just bought The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock, so I can't recommend it yet. And there's another book by Ruth Hayden (Mrs Delany: her life and her flowers) that I need to dig up as well. So if you're interested, start with those and branch out!


...So er, once I was talking about that book review I'm going to write, remember? (Fear me, I am the queen of off-tangent asides! I promise I do not do this in normal human conversations.) Originally I was going to share specifically what I was worried about nattering on over. The subject: wallpaper. In Vickery's 300 page book that's packed with all sorts of historical stories and facts I can't get the chapter on wallpaper out of my head. I may end up writing a post just about that, to try and explain why it's still fascinating. Hint: it mostly has to do with Georgian customer service letters, and how much you can learn about people just from business records. See, that sounds dull! But it wasn't! ...Or that could just be me.


Anyway, I'll work on the more seasonal reviews before going into all that. So back to looking at the Halloweenish-type review fodder...