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.

 

Nowaki: Wind Blown Grass Motif

Adding my nature experience to a Sashiko Pattern 

 

Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era. Sashiko works with modern and traditional patterns. ‘Wind Blown Grass Motif, or Nowaki’, is one of my favourite patterns. Nowaki stands for a late autumn (fall) wind-storm in the countryside, or a typhoon, especially one that blows from the 210th to the 220th day of the year.  Sashiko’s Wind in Grass is a static and repetitive pattern, yet it charms. 

 

‘Nowaki’ or ‘Wind Blown Grass’ Sashiko Pattern

The last time that I enjoyed looking at the wind playing with grass was during my summer holiday. I was standing in front of a window of a holiday cottage and noticed how the wind was playing with an ochre coloured field. The light was so special because it cause waves of wind to colour the cereal field deep ochre with silvery patches. Swirling patterns kept me wondering whether the wind was sending me a message, an unidentified written message in the most elegant but quicksilver characters that were erased as soon as they were written in the tall grasses.   

 

I liked making a ‘Wind Playing with Grass’ display that is closer to my experience in which the wind was writing a message, playing with the grass. I remembered that I tried to ‘get’ the message that the wind was writing in the grass, but of course I couldn’t. Or maybe I could. I concluded that the wind wrote, with in silvery waves, ‘Happiness’ in all possible languages in that mesmerizing field of cereals.

 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author  

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

 

P.S.My booklet is at the moment less than 10 US Dollar. Be lucky and grab this low price! If you do, inform me, I will send you a lovely Mandarin Duck card.