30/10/2015

Fetish Etsy Treasury

The origin of the term fetish is ethnographic and many of its meanings have nothing to do with BDSM and have no sexual overtone whatsoever. Here is a brief recovery of those older meanings...
Still, making Etsy Treasuries can become a Fetish itself, so beware!

 

29/10/2015

Introducing Lucian



Lucian is a detail maker, applying his love of graphic and decorative embellishment to various surfaces, from classical paintings, drawings, and prints, to shoes, ceramic objects, bookmarks, boxes, earrings and, basically, everything he can get his talented hands on! Here is his Facebook page: Atelier  c o n c e p t.
Feel free to visit his studio in Cluj-Napoca, as he is ready to receive guests and organizes several types of events, like studio exhibitions and fairs. 
 

ANISE AS APOTHECARY INGREDIENT




Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a native plant of Egypt, Greece, Crete, and the Asia Minor, known by the ancient Greeks and cultivated by the Romans in Italy. Star anise (Illicium verum) is very similar in flavor, but the plant is different, native of China and Vietnam.

Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder mention, besides the old cook books, the use of anise during the Roman period as a spice, mostly for the preparation of a digestive cake served at the end of dinner. During the Middle Ages, the plant started to be cultivated in Central Europe as well. Anise seeds are among the ingredients of absinthe, a highly alcoholic spirit created in Switzerland in the end of the eighteenth century, very popular and the artists and writers of Paris during the nineteenth and the twentieth century. Considered toxic, absinthe was forbidden in several states in 1915, but recent studies have shown that the absinthe's psychoactive properties have been exaggerated and a revival of absinthe began in the 1990s.

Due to its properties and strong flavor, anise was also used in pharmaceutical and para-pharmaceutical products; it was recommended in cold, cases of difficult digestion, but also to refresh one’s breath, as ingredient of dentifrices. Anise seed oil had external use, against parasites. In homeopathy, anise was prescribed as expectorant, anti-spasmodic, carminative, and anti-microbial.

 The History of Pharmacy Collection of Cluj includes five vessels (of which four are exhibited here), dated to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for anise seed powder and anise oil. The jars were used in pharmacies from Cluj, Baia Mare, Bra┼čov, and Sibiu.

26/10/2015

The beautifully macabre

Continuing the Halloween spirit started with the exhibition of real human bodies, here is another of my Etsy treasuries, this time dedicated to beautifully macabre objects of contemporary art and vintage. Nature may be great, but art is still more soothing, even when macabre or strange.

 

23/10/2015

Our body - their body


I finally got to see the much-debated exhibition of actual human bodies in Cluj-Napoca. I am not prudish and I was looking forward to it, but the actual display did induce disappointment and nausea. For one, there are just a few rooms and the price is indeed high in comparison to usual museum entrance tickets in Romania. Then, the bodies and body parts look like they've been handled roughly, with chopped off bits and pieces, broken off veins and arteries, and generally in a delicate state of preservation. So, everyone is entitled to an opinion and I am glad of having gone through the trouble of forming my own, but... though the exhibition is interesting, it is not so interesting and offers nothing more than one of anatomical models or even of detailed anatomical plates.

I rather enjoyed the blood circulation room thought, as the exhibits are more abstract and can be easily perceived through the lenses of modern art.

17/10/2015

On buckets and lists


My latest Etsy Treasury is dedicated to buckets, both literally and symbolically. They are fascinating artifacts, and their morbid association is even more fascinating (see the homonym movie title) - just like the entire array of death euphemism: smelling the daisies from underneath, giving the priest his obol, etc.

Second Ceramics Biennale in Cluj


This major event has reached its second edition and has shown great works and an impressive selection of international participants, but also frustrating drawbacks such as the lack of explanations (no work titles even!) and poor technical organization. The winners have been announced and there was no lack of controversy on that issue either.
Official site of the even is here
For an expert analysis (in Romanian), see Ioana's article here.

08/10/2015

Medusa

Monster Medusa, a Gorgon, is a mythological figure that goes back for centuries. It was also one of the most inspiring topics for later artistic adaptations and variations, as it still is today. There is even a good Greek art gallery borrowing the name. I've sampled a few instances of the iconographic motif used today, in another Etsy treasury.


 

A bit of yellow

By autumn, the yellow-saffron glow of summer days has a hint of nostalgia. I tried to get that feeling back through a series of small paintings. The style is, as usual, a mix: acrylic layers after layers, patina, and drawing pencil. Dried colors are duller than wet ones, so the finish consists of a thick layer of acrylic varnish. The subject is a pretext for color and amusing details: laundry left to dry in front of a wall, including towels, shirts, and underwear.




 

05/10/2015

Ancient Dacian interest

There is a raise in interest towards the mysterious ancient civilization of the Dacians and there is are a number of items on Etsy inspired by such an interest. Romanians living abroad in particular are striving to rediscover one of their less-known ancestors.

 Such artifacts are made in a various of techniques and mediums: small cast figurines, silver jewelry, wood carving, leather dying and tooling, and linocut prints.

02/10/2015

Bookmark jewelry design

 "My precious bookmark" is Elena Crisan's latest exhibition in her hometown. In fact, she has moved to Germany a couple of years back, and this is the first official return to Cluj. I find the idea rather original: a collection of jewelry bookmarks (original design, handmade silver and sometimes precious stones) presented during a book fest. All book lovers and thus invited to expand and nurture their passion with such exquisite accessories.
In order to see more of her work, there is a good website for that: http://www.elenacrisan.ro 

 

VISCERAL ELIXIR




In the field of apothecary, elixirs are sweetened aromatic substances, based on alcohol or water, containing medicinal substances. The word was adopted in Medieval Latin from the Arabic al iksir, used mainly for alchemical procedures. The best known kind is the Elixir of Life that the alchemist attempted to produce in order to gain immortality. In the 16th century elixirs were strong tonics or even universal drugs and in the 17th century the name was given to many fake miraculous medicines, due to its historical associations.
 The Visceral Elixir is a bitter, digestive tonic, first prepared by Friedrich Hoffmann (1660-1742), a German doctor known for his medicine and chemistry courses at the newly founded University of Halle. Also known as Hoffmann’s Elixir, the product contains extract of Cnicus Benedictus, orange peel, chamomile, cinnamon, wormwood, and potassium carbonate, left to macerate in wine for 36 hours (Malaga, Jerez, and Tokai wines were recommended). As the name of the elixir indicates, it was meant to ease one’s digestion.

The glass jar in the History of Pharmacy Collection of Cluj is dated to the end of the 18th century and was preserved in the old St. George’s pharmacy in Cluj (in this very location). It is part of a series of jars for liquids with similar Baroque decoration (crown, volutes, and circular cartouche). The restored signature contains the inscription in black and red letters against a white background. The item was produced in Transylvania.