Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Playing with fire is bad

for those who burn themselves. For the rest of us, it is a very great pleasure. "
           ~Author Unknown

And, I daresay that applies to this week's show and tell..."Flemish Art". 
Perhaps in your travels you have seen the wood boxes with the designs burned into the thin veneers.
Well, in the early 1900s, they were produced in Brooklyn, NY,  and in Hoboken, NJ (USA! USA! USA!).  My research uncovered the following history:  "From early correspondence found with stationery of the company, the address of the Flemish Art Co. of Brooklyn was 12 & 14 West 21st Street. Indicated there was that this was Factory #1 with offices and sample rooms. There was also on the stationery a second factory listed in Hoboken, New Jersey. At the top were the names M. B. Baer, Ernest Baer, and G. U. Tompers. Another letter found (dated April 10, 1905) showed an address of 45–47 West 21st Street in New York. On that stationery were the names M. B. Baer and M. Metzler.  From the picture (of the factory above), the extensive building complex appears to occupy at least one city block, perhaps two."

The creations are marked, and, if pieces are not marked, they could be from Victorian crafters.   Pyrography was a popular craft at that time.
The process is an ancient art.  Charred remains of fires were probably used in early Egypt and in Africa.  The Chinese called it  "Fire Needle Embroidery".   During the Victorian era, the invention of pyrography machines sparked a widespread interest in the craft, and it was at this time that the term "pyrography" was coined (previously the name "pokerwork" had been most widely used)  Colors could be applied hot to wood by pumping benzoline fumes through a heated hollow platinum pencil. This improved the pokerwork process by allowing the addition of tinting and shading that were previously impossible.
In the early 20th century, the development of the electric pyrographic hot wire wood etching machine further automated the pokerwork process. Pyrography is still a traditional folk art in many European countries, including Romania, Hungary, and Argentina.
Some dealers are not aware that Flemish does not mean Belgium even though Flemish might imply that, but many sellers do not take the time to do their research. I think many of the factory pieces must have been created for Christmas gifts since the poinsettia design is common.
 Then there are designs that show a little more artistry.

So, perhaps you can, as Mari Messer says,  "Rekindle your creative fire by making time to play."

Go seek the burned pieces!

1 comment:

cookie said...

thank you for this great the black and white photo of the young artist in the Brooklyn studio.