The interest for Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), artist and founder of modern insect research, is still great. In the anniversary year 2017, the Forum International of the Nuremberg BUND Naturschutz (an institution for natural conservation), together with the Merianschule Nürnberg combined the memory of Merian with practical nature conservation. In May, they put together a small butterfly bed at the herb garden at the Nuremberg city wall. In addition to nectar plants for butterflies, they also thought of the right plants for caterpillars. For while butterflies are not picky when it comes to which plant they get their food from, their caterpillars are often highly specialized. For example, if we were to eliminate the stinging nettles that are commonly seen as weeds, such beautiful butterflies as the peacock butterfly or the small tortoiseshell would have a hard time.
The Merian-expert Mrs. Margot Lölhöffel from Nuremberg had the idea to extend this action, and so the project 'MERIANIN 2018+' was born. The concept: Maria Sibylla Merian is used as a symbolic patron for the conservation for insects and flowerbeds. Since I find this an excellent and very important topic, I asked Mrs. Lölhöffel if she was willing to answer a few questions about this project for my blog. And she was!
VN: The MERIANIN 2018+ initiative reacts to two recent events: In 2018, it was 350 years ago that Maria Sibylla Merian arrived in Nuremberg. In october 2017 we learned that the insect population in Germany had gone down by around 75%. How did you come up with the idea to combine both?
Nach wie vor ist die Begeisterung für Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Künstlerin und Begründerin der modernen Insektenforschung, groß. Im Jubiläumsjahr 2017 ergab sich für das Forum International des Nürnberger BUND Naturschutzes zusammen mit Kindern und Lehrerinnen der Merianschule Nürnberg eine schöne Gelegenheit, die Erinnerung an der „Merianin“ mit praktischem Naturschutz zu verbinden. Im Mai legten sie gemeinsam ein kleines Schmetterlingsbeet am BN-Heilkräutergarten am Hallertorzwinger an. Neben Nektarpflanzen für Schmetterlinge wurden auch Fresspflanzen für Raupen gepflanzt. Denn während Schmetterlinge nicht wählerisch bei der Nahrungssuche sind, haben sich ihre Raupen oft stark spezialisiert. Würde man zum Beispiel die meist als Unkraut bezeichnete Brennnesseln ausrotten, hätten es solch schöne Falter wie das Tagpfauenauge und der Kleine Fuchs sehr schwer.
Die Nürnberger Merian-Forscherin Frau Margot Lölhöffel hatte die Idee, diese Aktion zu erweitern, und so entstand „MERIANIN 2018+“. Das Konzept: Maria Sibylla Merian wird als symbolische Schirmherrin für den Lebensraum für Insekten und Blütenbeete eingesetzt. Da ich das eine ausgezeichnete und zudem sehr wichtige Idee finde, habe ich Frau Lölhöffel gefragt, ob Sie bereit ist, für meinen Blog ein paar Fragen zu diesem tollen Projekt zu beantworten. Und das war sie!
VN: Die Initiative MERIANIN 2018+ hakt gleich bei zwei aktuellen Ereignissen an: 2018 ist es 350 Jahre her, dass Maria Sibylla Merian in Nürnberg ankam. Außerdem wurde Ende 2017 bekannt, dass der Insektenbestand in Deutschland um ca. 75% zurückgegangen ist. Wie kamen Sie auf die Idee, beides zu kombinieren?
Intrigued as I am by botanical and zoological drawings (I am a true admirer of Ernst Haeckel, Maria Sybilla Merian and Robert John Thornton), I've been thinking about starting my own herbarium for a year or so. Chance has it that it's having a revival nowadays anyway, for it totally matches the principles of mindfulness to go out in nature and watch.
Yesterday, Marco and I walked down to the river and I noticed that, next to the planted tulips and daffodils, there are also gorgeous little wild flowers around. Since we were carrying a basket with drinks to enjoy with some friends at the beach, I told Marco I wanted to collect wildflowers on our way back.
And so I did - and all of a sudden I had developed a sensitive eye for beautiful grasses, leaves and flowers. It's amazing how much beauty there is actually out there that you never really perceive - you just see greens until you start to look.
Once at home I collected my largest, heaviest books and a pile of scrap paper and started to organize my flowers to dry them in the books. I hope it'll work - if it does, I'll show the result in about 3 weeks!
I love bookstores and since a couple of years I always try to find out about special ones to visit when I'm travelling. There's countless lists on the internet, and one shop that's often in it is The Last Bookstore at 453 South Spring Street, Los Angeles.
So when planning our short Easter trip to California and Nevada, I made sure a visit was a vast point on our itinerary. And it was so worth it: the two-story shops has a gorgeous collection of new books (my highlights: a gorgeous, completely illustrated edition of Pride & Prejudice and The Curious Map Book by Ashley Baynton-Williams), a large portion of used books, both in all kinds of genres, LP's, there are art galleries of contemporary artists, and the shop itself is designed with so much love for books - as you can see in my pics.
A couple of months ago, Marco and I went to see a number of paper theatre performances. I knew miniature theatres from museums and old illustrations, and was quite surprised finding out people are actually still using them! We saw two operas (‘The Flying Dutchman’ by Papiertheater Papirnik Essen, ‘Tsar and Carpenter’ by Papiertheater am Ring-Wilhermsdorf), a radio play (‘SOS Italia by Papiertheater Heringsdorf) and a normal play (Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ by Papiertheater Joli Vilsbiburg).
Already during the day, I felt inspired to create my own miniature theatre. And there was actually only one option for which story to adapt - my favorite fairytale, ‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen.
The framework was finished quite quickly. I was very proud of Marco and me for calculating all the sizes correctly, and of me for constructing something with wood and screws…! I ordered prints of backgrounds and side panels, cut, pasted, sew, pasted again, cut out characters, wrote a script, searched for the right background music, recorded the voice-over texts… And that is the currect state the theatre is in. In the next step, Marco and I will record the dialogues. As soon as my figure sliders will arrive (which are currently being custom-made in Denmark), we are ready to perform!
After a year's pause, I gathered enough new treasures to create my third literary Christmas calendar! The texts to the pictures, in which I tell a little about why the book is special to me, can be found on my Facebook page.
I do love reading books, but I love using them for decoration, too!
As reported in a former post, I’ve got a beautiful book with all kinds of ideas what to make using pages of books you once bought but don’t read anymore. And let’s be honest: we all have some of those on our shelves! If you aren’t a crafter already, you would need to buy some materials like a (sharp) paper knife and a cutting mat - but then you can start off and make you own art!
If you like book art, be sure to check out artists like Betty Pepper, who makes true gems out of old books.
A good friend of mine sent me this link for a DIY knife holder a couple of weeks ago. When my father-in-law told me I could take all the books that meet my liking from their book case, I was delighted! Not only I found some gems (a field artillery handbook from 1914, children’s books from the 1940s…), I could also lay my hands on some beautifully bound hardcovers that were perfect for making this knife holder.
Yesterday evening I choose books that matched together and arranged them to a nice-looking colour palette. All I had to do was to glue the covers together with superglue. If you’re planning to do this, make sure the spines and bottoms of the books are aligned. I liked the rope in the inspiration link, so I just added that for decoration.
It’s supereasy to stick the knives in, the book knife holder takes twice the amount of knives in half the amount of space I used with my old two knife holders, and best of all: it looks lovely!
I was in the bookstore the other day to pick up the Annie Proulx books I had ordered - and while chatting with the owner, I picked up some travel guides for our next trip, and left the store with 5 books - happy about that, even though I am desperately looking for space to store all my wonderful ownings!
Upon leaving the shop, however, this book caught my eye:
... and I told my husband he might give me that as a present whenever he feels like giving me a present. But in the following week, I kept thinking about the book and eventually I just bought it. The pictures of the author's amazing creations are already a joy for the eye, but I was very eager to start working with it. I do have quite a number of books that I won't read anymore and used them for scrapbooking or photoshootings before. After getting a couple of materials (scalpel, decent lineal and glue), I tried to make one of the flowers. Working with book pages really demands precision and concentration, but I am quite content with the result:
I was really impressed by the 3D collage, and even though it said 3/3 stars of difficulty, I wouldn't be me if I wouldn't take a challenge, so I started off. It took me a few tries and new starts, but then in the end I got the flow - and spent a nice couple of hours crafting on the balcony. What do you think? I love it!
Yesterday, my husband and I took a walk and ended up in a little cafe downtown where we grabbed a soup and a coffee (don’t mind the combination). At one side of the room, there was a wonderful huge apothecary cabinet, with many small drawers with rusty signs , showing what could be in there: cinnamon, coffee beans, peppermint…
It was then that I had an idea, or a vision: I saw myself in a room full of… well, stuff. Objects I love to be surrounded by. I thought: what if I had my own shop in the city center, with a corner where I can write and where I sell the stuff I love.
The shop would exist around several bookcases made of dark wood, all different looking. They would be stuffed with used books, some of them yellowed, some with crooked edges, some of them with notes in them from their past owners. (I always love to find things that people use as book marks in books I borrow from the library and learn something about that person. We are connected, in a way – he or she apparently likes the same book as I do, and his or her left paper, or whatever it is, is like a treasure. If I would sell used books, I thus would never “clear” them before placing them in my shop).
People wouldn’t necessarily buy the books they find and are interested in. The would be a corner with an antique, velvet covered chair or chaise longue, where people can sit down, have a drink and read in a cozy atmosphere.
They would be surrounded by paintings of landscapes from the romantic era. I would sell typewriters, analogue cameras, rusty binoculars, heavy chandeliers, cash registers, historical globes and maps, decades-old school posters, leather suitcases, ornate mirrors. There would be an apothecary cabinet with smaller items such as jewelry – brooches, pendants, rings - and ancient writing material such as ink, fountain pens, seals and writing paper. There would be ring binders with antique post cards and black & white photos.
In the back, I would work at a massy desk of dark wood, with a counter that would hide my modern pc (I may be a romantic history lover, but when I write I like to use the modern way). I would face the room when I sit behind it. My side of the counter would be filled with sticky notes and photos that inspire me for the story that I’m writing at that moment.
There would be a bell that rings when the door would open for an entering or leaving customer. The giant window would show my shop’s name in a vintage font. I would call it my cabinet of curiosities, or, in German, "Vera's Raritätenkabinett".
Who knows, one day...
Currently I am in a phase of struggling between what I should do and what I want to do. I want to gain more attention for my website, and to get that, I need to promote myself via social media. I do have an account on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and in order to get more engaged followers, I need to post regurlarly, and engage myself - that's what you can read in every social media marketing guidebook. In practice, that would mean I could spend all of my spare time with creating social media content, post, comment, like, retweet, thank people, get involved in conversation. But when I want to do that, I don't have time left to work on larger projects anymore. I have plans for a non-fiction book, and I gathered a lot of research material already, but so far I haven't dared to take the time to dive into studies. Because I would need to work concentrated on that, not being distracted by Twitter, or with the constant fear of losing followers when I don't engage enough. At last, I need those followers for getting attention for my book, right? Though continuing with social media, this book will never come into being! I feel like stuck in a vicious circle and haven't decided yet how to get out.
But what I DID do was sitting down for some hours and started scrapbooking. I always like to collect beautiful paper from magazines, postcards or in handicraft stores, never really knowing what to do with it, but I've made a couple of bookmarks, little frames with collages for friends, and now I've started to fill a journal with scrapbooked pages. I love to fill pages with things I adore: book pages, flowers, vintage looking stuff, a touch of creepiness, handwriting, romantic art... Here's the first eight pages for you!