Valentine’s Day Gifts: Love Is in the Air

Last year, I bought a wooden card with a colourful seahorse on it and sent it to my husband’s work address. It collected some curious staff members eager to learn who would sent so bluntly a Valentine’s card to a married man. His wife (of course!) although that turned out to be an anti-climax for some but warmed my husband’s heart. He returned home that day with red roses. The card said: ‘You are MY seahorse’ and because that cute sea creature has zero resemblance with my husband, it made me laugh. However, thinking a bit deeper, male seahorses are terrific fathers. Male seahorses are equipped with pouches; when mating, female seahorses deposit up to 1,500 eggs in male’s pouches. A male seahorse carries her eggs for 9 to 45 days until the baby seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. Learning about this devoted fatherly fact, it reminded me how, when I was a new mom, my back was often burning with pains by carrying my toddler daughter and how my husband carried her on his shoulders, back, and front in a baby carrier. So, after all, he is my seahorse.

I like to point out Mandarin Ducks art cards or a Mandarin embroidery hoop (there is only one available) as perfect Valentine’s gifts. In Asia mandarin ducks are associated with love. Having a mandarin print in your home supposes to attract love. This is handy information for some of us looking forward to Valentine’s Day. Maybe it isn’t a myth at all.

In traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence, they are regarded as a symbol of love, affection and fidelity. Receiving a Mandarin Duck card is a gift experience. Its inlay is full colour. There is a full colour name card of me with two couples of Mandarin Ducks. Plus a seal sticker and a vintage post stamp. The cards arrives in a plastic cellophane or fully addressed if commissioned. Mandarin duck cards help gift-givers to express themselves through a lovely and colourful designs of two ducks that are cosily resting together.

Paula

My booklet has one chapter with illustrations on a Mandarin duck couple too. It is here.

Cards at Etsy.

Embroidery Mandarin Duck at Etsy.

 

Tufted Duck Couples in Different Colours

My Tufted Duck series is growing steadily. One more to go for having six.

imagesEvery duck shows different stitches.

A few months ago, I bought The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. Leafing through it propelled me back to Junior School, art-class. I could see myself, as a young girl, working on a Needle Sampler. I still remember it! It was a pretty one with many different stitches, numbers, puppets, and floral designs.

 

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It is fun to get acquainted with different stitches again. I also feel that textile crafting is good for the brain and a fun thing to do. It keeps my hands busy and my mind creative. It does demand concentration but in a pleasant way.

 

Textile crafting certainly has the same effect as meditation.

After finishing an embroidery hoop, there is some tidying up and reorganizing to do. And after that, I like to study which different embroidery arts exits. I am very smitten with Japanese and Chinese ‘silk’ embroidery but also I am impressed by Crewel designs. Most likely, I will end up creating eclectic pieces, being so widely inspired.

Be creative & be happy,

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer's Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany

Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)

A flower bouquet by Rachel Ruysch. I have seen Ruysch’ paintings in different museums and studied how she, and other Golden Age flower painters, made these paintings.

Ruysch’ flower bouquets’ do not exist in real. Ruysch’ flower paintings show all flowers in bloom at the same time. We know that flowers bloom in different seasons. What you see in Ruysch’ paintings is that spring, summer, late summer, probably even beginning of the fall merged in one bouquet.

Golden Age floral painters made several sketches and paintings of flowers during the seasons. Sometimes artists waited whole seasons for a particular plant to flower so it could be drawn and later painted. They used their sketches often for more than one painting.

Rachel Ruysch had 10 children and kept painting till she was 84.

Rachel Ruysch Portrait by Godfried Schalcken.  Here is her extended biography.