Tuesday, September 9

Designing Wedding Heirlooms: Hope Springs Eternal

Thinking about our wedding, I knew if I were designing the event around heirlooms there was one thing I was must certainly going to need: something to put them in!

Growing up, my parents had a 'hope chest' and I loved the idea of maintaining this tradition and seeing it with fresh eyes. On our honeymoon trip to Santa Fe, we found just the thing: a 19th century Polish trunk hand-painted with folksy yellow tulips and two love birds peering over the keyhole at one another. Seriously, I don't imagine times were easy back then but there you go-- joyous embellishments it is! (I've yet to take a good picture of our first antique acquisition but I'm working on it. I imagine you'll be waiting with bated breath!)

Now that we're back, I'm seeing marvelous boxes everywhere. I think it's easy to forget that the range of cultures that practiced the dowry tradition is many. You can just imagine how many different stories there must be of women saving their most prized possessions in boxes just like these--and all of the stories being important ones.

Much like with quilts and paper cuttings, I can't get over how the painted and inlaid designs are still so lush, so vivid, even after centuries. The top left photograph of a simple Swedish 'bride's box' amazes me too. With the sweet blue color and those scrolling initials, I wonder what might this bride have kept in the keepsake space--colorful ribbons, letters, gold coins? Wouldn't something like that be a great gift for a best friend or partner before the big day?

In addition to antiques, I can't think of a better way to appreciate these designs than by supporting independent artisans still working in the age-old traditions--benches, pillows, linens. I can't help but think that preserving culture is a fashionable thing to do--on your wedding day or any day.

Image Sources: Polish chest at the JFK Library, Mongolian chest from Eron Johnson Antiques, Greek painted chest from Sally Turner Antiques, Swedish bride's box from Eron Johnson Antiques, Aboriginal pillow from Museum of New Mexico Foundation, Uzbek suzani bench from Viva Terra.

Update: A Polish folk art building?  Amazing.

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