Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ink - A Tiny Word, but Huge Impact

I got this piece of inked leather last year at a nice antique shop down on the circle in Orange, CA.  I was initially fascinated by it because I had not seen anything like it before. Despite its overall beauty and being an unique piece, I paid only $10 for it, so it is practically as inexpensive as some of my thrift store finds. Something about it makes me sense that it was done during the craftsman movement, the decorative art and lifestyle philosophy that began in the last years of the 19th century. As a comprehensive design and art movement it remained popular into the 1930s. The decorative arts and architectural design aspect of the wider movement has continued with numerous revivals and restoration projects through present times.
As I often do when I have something new I have found, I try to do some research as to its history and nature so that I have something interesting to write about it. In this instance, the exact history of the use of leather on ink is still unknown to me; the earliest example of such work that I was able to find was 1800 in China.  But according to Stinky Ink Shop, which provides a very interesting short and fascinating history of ink, it was used to create the cave paintings that were made around 2500 B.C. It's most important contribution to history however is the spread of knowledge it enabled through the printed word, which of course used the ink medium. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger for reading. This is such an interesting piece. It doesn't appear to be a very large skin, so I am wondering if it was calfskin or the skin of some other small creature - perhaps a sheep. There is a lot of excellent detail and thought that went into the creation of this piece, so the person who created it was perhaps an artist or illustrator. The lettering too is just perfect, showing that the person was well educated since this type of writing would not have been practiced by the man on the street. Also, this took a good bit of time to create, so again, the man on the street would not likely have had the time to create such a piece unless he was at sea. I am using the male gender here in a rather general way. It could just as easily have been created by a woman. Definitely quite a find.

No comments: