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Biombo  

Sofía Sanabrais

Name used in Mexico and throughout Latin America for a folding screen. The word biombo is a transliteration of the Japanese word for folding screen—byōbu—an acknowledgement of its place of origin. The Japanese byōbu has long been a quintessential example of Japanese art and was a common diplomatic gift to foreign courts in the early modern period (see Screen, §1). Referred to as the ‘face of Japanese diplomacy’, byōbu were presented as ambassadors of Japanese culture to places as far off as London and Mexico City. Byōbu also found their way to New Spain as exports in the Manila Galleon trade. In 17th-century Mexico the Japanese screen was admired by artists and patrons, and was adapted and reinterpreted on a grand scale. The unique format of the biombo provided new ways for artists to depict subject-matter, and locally made biombos began appearing in the archival record in the first years of the 17th century. ...

Article

Oscar P. Fitzgerald

Technique for imitating Asian Lacquer. Once Dutch and Portuguese traders imported lacquer ware from the Far East after 1700, Europeans became fascinated by this technique. Originating in ancient China, it spread to Japan where it is still practiced in the 21st century. The process involved the application of up to a hundred coats of lacquer produced from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera tree, native to China, Malaya, and Japan. Despite attempts to discover the secret, Europeans could not duplicate the process. Since the sap quickly congeals it did not travel well and was toxic like poison ivy.

In 1688 A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker explained how to imitate the process by applying shellac dissolved in alcohol over a gessoed surface (see Stalker and Parker). Black was the most common color but red, white, blue, green, yellow, olive brown, and imitation tortoise shell (black streaked with vermillion) were also known. After designs were drawn on the surface, a mixture of red clay or sawdust, whiting, and gum arabic was daubed into the outlines and the raised images were sculpted with engraving tools and then colored with metal dust. A variation called ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Spokane, WA, 1905; d 1990).

American furniture designer and manufacturer. The son of Japanese parents, after an early career as an architect he turned in 1940 to furniture-making, initially in Seattle and then, after a period of internment, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where in 1946 he estabished an independent workshop. The workshop produces both series and individual designs, always in solid hardwood with no veneers; designs reflect both American and Japanese traditions, but are contemporary rather than revivalist. Although Nakashima is sometimes described as one of the founding figures of the American craft movement, his workshop used machine tools and, in the case of his series designs, production methods to create furniture that looks hand-crafted. The workshop is still a family business, and is now run by his daughter Mira (b 1942).

The Soul of a Tree: A Woodworker’s Reflections (Tokyo and New York, 1981) D. Ostergard: George Nakashima: Full Circle (New York, 1989)...

Article

Thuja  

Gordon Campbell