A Piece Of Kuba Cloth Is Moving In With Me

Happy new week friends. For those of you celebrating Halloween, I hope you were booed royally this weekend!

Last week I asked for some help regarding a very handsome piece of fabric that I have seen a little here and there in the design world without knowing what it was. Actually the first time I saw it was at Peet’s coffee house in Redmond, WA, close to where we live. I remember staring at a few of these framed beauties and really enjoying the pattern. Look closely at a very similar cloth panel in the frame above the white sofa. Pretty isn’t it?

Well, a few terrific readers came to my rescue. Arlene (Thank you so much!) wrote: “I framed a piece for my husband’s office, and they are not hard to come by.  A little less common are the full pieces of Kuba, which come in very long lengths and are worn as wrap skirts. I have a couple, and I adore them. I keep one draped on a bench, and I have a 10-footer, framed, which takes up a wall in my dining room. They will range in price from $200 to $20,000, depending on age, ornamentation, etc.”

Ahaa! Kuba Cloth. Now it had a name. (I feel I should have known it already). I did some more research. And I found out that the particular cloths I am looking at are also called Kuba skirt panels

Artists from Paul Klee to Henri Matisse have been inspired by the geometric motifs of the Kuba people from Congo, Africa. Textiles are considered the highest form of decorative art among the Kuba people. The Kuba cloth is believed to be ancient, the oldest surviving samples of the cloth date back to the seventeenth century. Men weave the fabric out of raffia fibers and women apply the designs.

The handmade fabric is woven into panels and then decorated with one or more of dozens of geometric patterns. Long pieces are termed skirts and usually decorated with applique and embroidery. These skirt panels (which I am looking at) are single panels of dress/skirt wraps used by the Kuba tribe women and men in dance ceremonies.

Shorter pieces are most often created with a combination of cut pile and embroidery (looks like tufts of velvet). The velvet panels are referred to as Kuba “Shoowa panels”. The Kuba Shoowa panels are used as a form of currency or display of wealth.

My blog friend Lana, (who’s taste and friendship I so respect) from Cape Town, also chimed in. She even sent me these pictures of Kuba cloths from her parents lovely home. She took the pictures this weekend at her Mom’s birthday party! How special & generous is that! Thank you so much Lana. It made my post so much more real!

Here are some images from the design world with objects of Kuba cloths or in Kuba-fabric style.

Over the weekend, I spent a chunk of time in front of my screen finding that special piece for my own home — and here is a great candidate! I am thinking this skirt panel (from Hamill Gallery of Tribal Art) might be moving in with us very soon! The panel measures approx. 21 x 26 inches. I have never been to Congo, the only place I have been to in Africa is Morocco. But I am all for bringing the world into my home and sharing beauty and history from all corners of the world.

I can’t wait to have it framed and find that special place in my home for this handmade piece of African art. I will show you once it is up.

Happy, happy to you all!

Images: No.1 scanned scanned from House & Home, No. 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11 via Hamill Gallery, No. 5+6 (set) & 6+7 (set) via Lanalou Style, No. 8 via Wisteria, No. 9 via Greige Design.

Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques | Tags: , ,


Flag Art

Happy Friday to you all!

I am sorry for all the technical problems with my blog yesterday. I later found out that the host server was down due to a major power outage. Oh well, I ended up with a much needed quiet day. I could not even write this post until late this morning.

For those of my who missed my guest post over at Alice’s adventures in wonderland yesterday, I am sharing this flag with you that that I want so badly. If you come across a vintage version anywhere let me know!  I will pay you a finder’s fee!

In the article featuing this lovely flag art display it reads that it is the maritime signal flag, N, and that it represents/communicates No! For those of you who know me well, you know that I am an optimist and say more yes than no. But saying no to stress would not be a bad thing…

Turns out, when I did some more research on the topic, that the N (November) signal maritime flag is supposed to be blue and white. (Maybe this is a rare version).

The more common black and white checkered flag is being used in car and boat races and communicates “completed race” or “cossing the finish line”. Even better! That will lift up my spirit. I know I can do it! (Below is one happy driver who just won the race. Kimberly, if you read this. Maybe something for your home!).

I hardly have anything checkered at my house – except for an old chess table. I will start browsing E-bay today.

Wishing you all a happy weekend!

Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques |


Wood Spheres

Hello friends! Happy new week to you! Let it be a good one.

People who visit to my house see a lot of objects of round shapes. I apparently like things round! (Would almost like to have that analyzed!) When I recently glanced through the May/June Veranda magazine – I stared extra long at an image with round wood sculptures (above).

Remember this beautiful NY home which I wrote a post about a few weeks ago? On the floor an uneven ball (I also spy a few up on the shelf). But even more lovely that way!

So, it was no surprise to me when I realized I had unknowingly been collecting several  images of round wooden balls or spheres! And almost all of them come from my dear friend Greet’s (yes, the lovely Belgian Pearls of course!) blog. Now, could these wood spheres be a Belgian trademark that is now adopted around the globe? I have never seen them in Swedish interiors.

This is what Greet told me when I asked: “A few years ago some great Belgian designers like Axel Vervoordt and Walda Pairon started to use them in their interiors. To me this is the reason why these wood spheres became so hugely popular”.

(Some images via Belgian Pearls).

Greet tells me that she has one in her own greenhouse which she purchased from an art dealer on Brussels. She was told hers was from the Philippines.

Greet also sent me her favorite image, which I had not seen before. This one is taken from the home of Walda Pairon.

When I did my own research I also found this beauty at Gallery of Wood Art. The artist is Marc Ricourt and the sphere is made of Bleached Maple. It is hand carved wood people! Isn’t it stunning!

When I browsed Veranda (on-line), I also came across this stunning image. Simple is beautiful. And, well of course – see what also captured my attention!

I also found the source for the wooden spheres in the very first image (entry) from Veranda magazine. Bobo Intriguing Objects sell them here in the US. These are made of huge poplar trunks and are reclaimed from construction sites. They are available in two sizes –  23”-27” and 27”-31

I am going to see what the prices for these are. I sure am tempted to bring one home. I will convince my husband that it is functional art. A sculpture and something to climb on for the kids! Anybody else out there a lucky owner or have a great source?

Sweet Greet also gave me a Happy Award a while back – here. Thank you so much, girlfriend! You bring sunshine to the whole blog world, dear! (I will link to a previously written post, here, about what makes me happy).

Happy, happy to you all!

Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques |


My Apple Crown, 10th Picture & Blog Love


When my lovely blog sister in Australia Charlotte over at Space for Inspiration tagged me about the 10th picture stored in my computer I was happy to discover that it was not a picture when I was a pregnant hippo Mama but instead it was a blurry shot of a Swedish 18th c. sideboard from the days when I was importing Swedish antiques. (Kiki, if you read this – wasn’t it a fun time!). The photo also showed a slightly cut off apple crown of my own design which I was going to tell you the story of.

Well, this weekend – as many of you know –  my computer crashed and I lost hundreds of images – including that very image. But I managed to restore a photo of the same sideboard – but here looking a little bit sad and lonely. Thankfully I had some old paper images of my crown that I could scan.

So, this is the story about my Apple Crown.

I  have always admired my Mom’s Swedish iron apple crown that she brings out every Christmas. When I was a little girl she would place the candles and I got to attach the apples – and I knew that Christmas finally was here. The tradition goes back to before we had Christmas trees in Sweden and when a male in the family would carve a tree in wood as a center piece for the holidays. For ambiance and decorations, candles and apples were used. (Remember this was winter time and apples were one of the few things with color that could be stored in the earth cellars). Many versions of these trees and crowns have been made over the years.

About 5 1/2 years ago, I decided to design my very own version (and the first of its kind). All I knew was that wanted it to be beautiful and handmade in Sweden. I teamed up with a fantastic antique restorer who specializes in precious metal work and he put it all together technically according to my specifications. I had contact with people all over Sweden to find all the pieces like the rings and ornaments, the candle holders and all the details that made this crown look like it could have been handmade in Sweden in the 1700-hundreds.

So here it is, in its glory. My own Apple Crown prototype – all handmade in bronze and 24K gold.

During the design process I learned that it would be rather expensive to have it handmade in Sweden. (Which I had anticipated but was still hoping it wouldn’t be the case). I still hold a patent and will most likely go back to the drawingboard with a different plan. I am still very attached to the idea. And it is so meaningful to me personally and to my Swedish roots.

Now when Charlotta tagged me, the idea was:

1) For me to find the 10th picture stored in my computer

2) Tell the story about the picture

3) And tag 5 other bloggers

If you want to play along (not mandatory, friends) I would like to tag the following blogs (I increased the no. just because I felt like it):

In no particular order:

1. Blue Bird Notes, 2. Being Ruby, 3. Helt Enkelt, 4. Haute Design, 5. Purple Area, 6. Belgian Pearls, 7.  Head over Heals,  8. Mochatini, 9. Lime In The Coconut, 10. Trouvais,

I have saved this particularly for you guys. Why? Because you are either so brilliant with your cameras or showcasing images (or both!). And you are so good with your writing. And I love that you are all so different. (I am anything but a clicky girl). Your blogs are all wonderful!

(Helt Enkelt, Bluebird Notes and Being Ruby – the 3 of you need to talk because you are also my wisdom girls!).

Going back to dear Charlotta, in Australia who also is Swedish and like myself a happy Mama! She posts absolutely wonderful images on her blog and I so treasure our friendship across the Pacific. But as the big sister I also feel that it is my responsibility to push her a little in another area! This girl is very creative and talented with childrens’ artwork. (I can’t draw to save my life, so I find it so inspiring). She has a work blog but doesn’t talk about it very much. I most definitely think that she should do something more with her talent!

Now how cute is this?

And this? Hello?!

I think that Etsy would welcome Charlotta with open arms! Don’t you agree?!! (Etsy is the largest market place in the world for handmade objects). But of course Charlotta, only do it if it feels right in your heart. But if and when you start selling big my friend, remember who pushed you!

This was a strange mix of content. Everything from the 10th picture to blog love, Etsy and my own Apple Crown. But it has one common thread – it is all written from my heart.

Happy rest of the week, friends!

Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques,My Home |


Vintage Star Constellation Charts On My Mind

Images from Thomas O’Brien’s wonderful NY apartment has been circulating in magazines and on blogs for quite some time. (Some claim his apartment is over-exposed, but I love it!). The single object that has caught my attention since I first saw it in 2007,  is his large hemisphere chart (navy blue). It has been in the back of my head, without even knowing what it was. And for the last past six months or so we have started to see planets and stars as themes in just about every design magazine and furniture catalog.

I do not want to adopt a whole room theme but I still find those vintage star constellation charts so attractive and so perfect for classy boys – young and old!  I think they would make for the perfect wall art for my little William (2.5) who is now ready to leave his baby room (or his Mom is!) and move into a cozy room suited for a big boy.

I have been lurking on Ebay for a while and missed winning a chart similar to this (don’t even get me started on that story, it just makes my want to cry!)

But then a few weeks ago I found these lovely vintage Astronomy Celestial maps (ca 1894) on E-bay. Not identical, but similar in style and quite handsome. And these I won for a mere $27! They will work just fine until the perfect piece comes along. (Or I might never want to depart from them!)

I had them framed at Aaron Brothers (leading framing store chain). We all know that framing can be hugely expensive. So to save a little, I actually bought two of their square (16×16 inches or 41×41 cm) pre-made white frames on the the big frame sale day (40% off) instead of having them make something for me. I only had them cut the matting and saved even more money by putting it all together myself.

I picked them up yesterday on our way home from Canada. Pretty nice for a 2.5 year old’s room, don’t you think? (Sorry for my mediocre images. They look better in real!)

These will work as inspiration for the rest of Prince William’s room. I have no idea where I am going with this. But when designing a room I like to start with one thing that I really like and have the rest follow. More on this room to come. Hope you don’t mind!

Happy Easter to you all – if we don’t talk before! You are the best!


Image 1+ 2 via House&Home, Image 3. via Habitually Chic, Image 4. via the lovely Space for Inspiration, Egg image via We Heart It. All others via Splendid Willow.

Written by Splendid Willow in: Art & Antiques,My Home |

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