This week in my bookish life, I watched The Booksellers documentary, described as a behind-the-scenes look at the New York rare book world and the fascinating people who inhabit it. It was, as expected, full of insights and character and highly entertaining. I recommend it if you also think bookshops are these magical places where everything is possible, because they are indeed, through the dedication of their booksellers!
I am perpetuating the daze I’ve been thrown in by now listening to Shaun Bythell’s Confessions of a Bookseller, the follow-up to his Diary of a Bookseller, which, I just learned, is soon to be a major TV series. Very exciting, as these are some of the funniest books I’ve read or listen to in the past year or so and the small world of Wigtown, as painted by Bythell, feels as familiar and cosy as Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow used to feel. Perfect comfort reads and ideal future holiday destination! For once, the universe a book has made me fall in love with is actually totally real. Surreal feeling to realize this after I’ve devoured the first book as a piece of fiction. You can even follow @WigtownBookshop on Twitter and Shaun Bythell on Youtube, for old but still hilarious videos!
Plus, a third book by Bythell has only just been announced last month, Seven Kinds of People you Find in Bookshops! Books about bookshops seem to be a genre in themselves, but more on that some other time!
Spotlight on Switch Covers
Switch covers are functional elements, meant to quite literally help shine a light on everything else in a safe manner. But artist Kelly Aaron is putting them in the spotlight with her unique odd mosaic designs featuring a quirky range of items and fragments from other objects. Here are some of my favorites, and I am still considering buying this Powder Room Plaque for the overall aesthetic and the comic on the plate, which cracked me up!
Her website says she also takes a limited amount of custom work throughout the year, and I think a piece by her would be such an exquisite gift for oneself or for someone you know well, to make sure it truly speakers to the lucky receiver. You can follow Kelly Aaron on Instagram for a glimpse into her world.
Drawing (on) clothes – Trompe l’oeil
It all started (for me, at least), with that Hermès collection from c. 1952. The basic black and white dresses with monochrome details and accessories painted on, the genius simplicity and unlimited possibilities provided by this technique, rightfully named trompe l’oeil (fr. deceives the eye), used in art to create the illusion that the depicted details or objects exist in real life or in three dimensions.
Many clothing designers have used it since, including the likes of Gucci, Fendi or Moschino, but it is also used in interior design, furniture and home accessories, sometimes even with the reverse effect in mind, of making something 3D look 2D, like a drawing or cartoon, like this entire cafe in Tokyo!
Once again, this technique seems to me like the perfect DIY project, and with that in mind, I bought this morning a simple oversized cotton black t-shirt, to try my hand at it. I just need some textile paint and brushes, inspiration is plentiful!
My Signature Something
I love the idea of someone’s signature… anything. Whenever I read about a person I admire or find interesting, I’m always looking for their distinctive taste for specific things, which could be well-known cult objects or trendy rituals, random and quirky things no one has ever heard of, extravagant and exclusivist indulgences… you name it. From a favorite perfume or sartorial style to a signature flower, drink, accessory, habit, or even a bad tic – these details make me listen and take notes.
Thus, I find myself thinking more and more about what others consider or will remember as my signature something. It makes me ponder more on the objects I surround myself with, as well as on the habits or rituals I adopt, it makes me (want to be) more intentional with my choices and it makes me aspire to inspire. Not a bad resolution at all, I’d say.
Considered by some an ancient Chinese invention, while by others a modern creation, flowering tea, blooming tea or performance tea is a spectacle in a (transparent) teapot or teacup. The carefully crafted balls of wrapped tea leaves hugging a decorative flower and left to dry, will quite literally bloom when placed in hot water. There are many time-lapse videos you can enjoy on Youtube, because truly a picture doesn’t do it justice, and even more options of flowering tea and tea sets you can purchase online. What an enchanted petit plaisir!
And since I’m on this topic, I will go right ahead and also share a revelation I had shamefully late in my life, on why tea candles are actually called tea candles and it is, bien sûr, because they were designed to be used with tea warmers to… drum rolls – keep your tea warm! What’s more, similar inventions exist for butter, and even honey and chocolate. If that doesn’t rock your world, I struggle to think what will, and I am only half-joking.
Tennis and its Elitist History
I’ve enjoyed tremendously reading this, it seems to me, very comprehensive article about the royal roots and elitist history of tennis, looking to answer, among others, the most random but equally key question about an unwritten rule: why does the tennis public need to keep quiet?
Although I am not uncommonly knowledgeable about tennis, I feel it’s safe to say I’ve had more to do with the white sport that the average person, and I found this article the perfect balance between historic references, fun facts and real-life insights.
What’s more, this article educated me on the etymology of the word amateur (from the Latin amator (‘lover’), via the Italian amatore and the French amateur), which, for example in the case of tennis didn’t mean the players weren’t good, but rather that those who played tennis didn’t need to and weren’t paid for it. Wealthy people would play tennis the way they wrote poetry or played the piano. A game of leisure, my favorite kind!
Trash Can Flower Arrangements
Floral Designer is Turning NYC Trash Cans into Giant Vases Overflowing with Flowers and honestly, I don’t need to add more about this exquisite find, because the pictures speak for themselves. I will mention though that this is an article from 2017, and artist Lewis Miller is making headlines again this year with new ‘Flower Flashing’ installations around New York City, equally delightful and unexpected in the (often harsh) urban landscape.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter at www.missonion.ro.