I was asked to create a work of art to grace the book cover of the final collection of poems written by Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003). The poet was
born in India, and lived in the United States of America from the age of six. Her poems spoke with a duality of meaning---perceptions woven by her sharp, myth-made use of dreams overlayed with memories about ancient times.
Radha Says was published
from Vazirani's raw, unedited manuscript pieces
by Drunken Boat Media, LLC, in 2009.
I read some of the unpublished poems in addition to both of Vazirani's earlier poetry collections: World Hotel, published by Copper Canyon, 2002; and, White Elephant, published by Penguin Random House, 1996. Other books I read were on the Hindu religion during four millennia of practice on the Indian subcontinent. A few times I met with Heea Vazirani-Fales, Reetika's mother, who talked about her daughter's childhood and her creativity as an artist.
More of my studying took place within specialized orientalist art museums, where I was able to look closely at original works of painting, illuminated manuscript pages, drawings, tapestries, sculptures, and objets d'art, and formulate a concept of pictorial portrayal to celebrate the artistry of the poems in the forthcoming publication.
Painting title: Radha Says
Watercolor painting, 12 x 18 inches, unframed
I received a commission to design the front cover for a publication about perfume bottle productions in cameo glass. The productions are historic, mostly rare, precious objets d'art made in England during the Victorian era.
The book was written by three contemporary collectors
who are presenting a close look into the creative
methods of beautiful manufactures of minutely-carved,
multi-colored, handblown glass vessels. Vessels which
came to life through their function as the bearers of
sumptous and exotic perfumes.
To create a unique graphic design that would be a tribute
to the subject matter, I chose to write, by pointed pen calligraphy, the book's title as well as the authors' names.
For the page's entire spatial background I composed shadows in "stepped coloring" of deep black-brown,
offset by golden tone auras.
While following through on my design plan, and laying out the elements of content that comprise the book's front cover, I kept an orienting focus on that orb: a light-bearing, ethereal delicacy in turquoise blue glass. To me, this
perfume bottle is like the sea---appearing not as "vessel", but, as the sea itself....as though I, and perhaps, you, are peering through budding branches of a tree in springtime, and gazing into waters of a turquoise sea.
Moreover, curiosity took hold, and I went back to study history in order to find out why, and where, and how such
a specialized realm of cameo glass came into existence.
Cameo carving, perfumery, and glass-making practices originated with the ancient peoples of Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Perfume recipes exist to this
day in the Akkadian language, dating from 1256-1209 B.C.
---written in cuneiform script on clay tablets. Earlier,
still, from 3,000 B.C. are the Egyptian hieroglyph documents that list every ingredient, but with minimal instruction, for concocting a variety of perfume and incense fragrances. Recipes were discovered on the
inside of temples and burial sites, on the walls or
carved on rock stele, as well as within painted
hieroglyphic writings found in papyrii scrolls.
So many carved objects of great beauty, i.e. "sculptures",
have been created since time immemorial. Individuals
with imagination and skill were impelled to take the raw stuffs of the earth and intentionally cut and shape them
into new forms---with pictures, writings, and abstract designs---that conveyed significant meaning for
themselves and others in their communities. At sizes
both great and small, the substantive imagery was driven into the mountain sides or engraved into slabs of rock, stones, bones, blocks of clay, mineral pieces, or glass. During the second millenium B.C., the Mycenaeans
affixed carved signature seals into gold rings to be
worn by the owners of the objects, or, by whomever
each owner designated to be his "keeper of the seal".
Greek artisans of the sixth century B.C. recovered the
ancient skills for carving gemstones and semi-precious stones by applying the mechanics of cutting wheels and
drills. Jade, clear quartz, jasper, serpentine, and carnelian were ever-popular natural materials; but, onyxes and
multi-layered agates were especially desirable due to
inherent banded color strains, and planar surfaces.
Cameo carving is another sphere of within the reach
of sculptural art. Works of jewelry, plaques, bowls, ceremonial cups, and vases created by Greek lapidaries from the late fourth century B.C. onward. Beautiful creations from this era survive---each cameo among
them exemplifying the creative possibilities available to
the artist's imagination, in the act of detailing, high relief and low relief "layered imagery".
At the same time, Roman glass artisans were replicating
the cameo technique on "glass blanks" to mimic stones carved in cameo. A "blank" was the first phase of cameo glass preparations; it was done by, either
1) Blowing the glass (of one color---usually deep
violet-blue, or black) into a desired formation;
then, dipping the form into moulten glass of
another color (usually white)
2) Fusing together two different, colored pieces
of cast sheet glass.
My calligraphy inscriptions of the title and three authors' names were written by hand, using paper, pen and ink;
the script is my personal expression of Ed Benguiat's ITC Edwardian. The final art for the Front cover measures
8 x 10 inches. The final art for the book's spine
measures .78 x 10 inches
English Cameo Glass Perfume Bottles was published in April 2020. It is available at book stores and online retailers. To learn more about the book, or, to make purchases directly, contact the authors:
Barbara W. Miller: BarW@msn.com
Victor J. Weinstein, M.D.
The International Perfume Bottle Association is an organization founded to inform collectors and enthusiasts about the origins, earthen materials, processes of manufacture,
social allure, monetary value, aesthetic quality, and owner provenance of scent bottles through the ages. Design and manufacturing of such petite fragrance containers took place on many
continents and were sought after by men and women in lands far distant from the vessels' origins.
A History of the IPBA: 1988-2013
was written by Barbara W. Miller, who is the chairman of the Florida Chapter and a former member of the organization's board. The book is about a niche specialization of objects d' art within the art world's over-arching classifications of antiquities and decorative arts. The author recounts serendipitous explorations in treasure-hunting by individual IPBA members, among whom include auction house representatives and independent dealers in the trade.
I created the Front Cover design and art work for the book. The title and sub-title inscriptions were written by hand, using paper, pen and ink; my calligraphy is a personal expression of the cursive round hand script. As for the six photographs of perfume bottles---together, they form the actual Logo Art of the IPBA.
The Front Cover Final Art measures 8.50 x 11 inches
In addition, I wrote by hand the inscriptions for
A History of the IPBA: 1988-2013 Chapter and Section heading divisions of textual content, using the formal calligraphy script, Chancery Cursive.
My Page of calligraphy
headings which appear in the book.
Size, 8.50 x 11 inches
I created the Front Cover design art of a second publication on the topic of perfume and scent bottle objets d' art. The final art measures 11 x 8.50 inches. My calligraphy for the book's title and name of author was written by hand. On paper I composeded using a flexible pointed pen, and black sumi ink. The English Round Hand was the dominant commercial script of handwriting used by businessmen and women from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century.
Here is a showcase of drawings, paintings, and photographs that are "Representations" of 318 ornamental designs made between 1845 and 1902. They were recorded in the United Kingdom's Board
of Trade Designs' Registry for copyright protection.
The book is a collectors' guide. The author has also produced a web site about one luxury house of perfume in London, founded in 1872: The Crown Perfumery Company
Fragrance containers became artifacts of creative imagination! So many of them are quite humorous! e.g., a sterling silver bulb of garlic;
a silver horse hoof and fetlock.
Men and women who designed fragrance bottles
in all of their multi-faceted parts (container bowl, container body shape, caps, handles, appendages, bottle stoppers, interior capsules, fitted box packaging) worked closely with metalsmiths, industrial manufacturers, and retailers to produce the finest works of craftsmanship.
Together, they structured the entire design reproduction process so that the completion of the machine-formed early phases of a product would seemlessly enjoin the finalizing touches of skilled artisans. Their work, wrought by hand, completed the production process beautifully, for art's sake.
Since 1800, Washington, DC has been the permanent residence of the government of the United States of America. The Constitution provided for land, 10 miles square, to be set aside fo a federal city. The nation's Founding Fathers chose to create a new city, free from the jurisdiction of any state, for a capital belonging to all the people. They established the District of Columbia on a site strategically located on the banks of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, an entrance to the continent's western lands and midway between the nation's original northern and southern states Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed the new capital city to express the ideals of the young nation and the integrity of leadership by its citizens. Nearly two centuries later the buildings and monuments of Washington, DC have become universal symbols for freedom and self-rule.
I composed the painting using gouache. The work measures 18 x 24 inches
The 1) Jefferson Memorial 4) Lincoln Memorial
structures 2) United States Capitol 5) White House
3) Washington Monument
Two different poster publications were produced from my original painting. I designed the first poster as a promotion for the upcoming international Tenth World Congress of Cardiology meeting, in 1985. Later, I published Federal City as a tourism souvenir poster and
note card editions.
Family Life I was given the theme of "home" to manifest in a work of painting. We are a nation of communities. Neighborhoods and residential settings all across our country's landscape provide nurturing environments
and contribute to our health and well-being. The aspects
of affirming life are, for me, actualized by the phrase,
home is where the heart is; they are the qualities comprising the visual expression of the invented scenes. Amidst the blue sky, green trees, and green grasses, children and grown-ups are engaged in conversations, and laughing
with one another.
My client's clients are indirectly presented in pictorial industry types, shown in the symbolic cornerstone foundation at the base of the painting.
Portrait of Family Life
was created as a commissioned work for Meridian, Inc.
My original art is a watercolor painting of the size, 43.50
x 34.25 inches. I had the painting framed for a ceremonial unveiling at the company's gala, in 1993. In addition, I had produced a limited edition of prints from this painting,
plus, a non-limited edition of note cards, with envelopes and custom self-mailer package.
The American Historical Association and the American Political Science Association formed Project '87, a joint venture dedicated to commemmorating the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, 1787-1789 to 1987-1989.
Project '87 produced and published This Constitution:
A Bicentennial Chronicle, which is a series of 13 Journals, plus a large number of historical materials, and classroom-use Guides for Teachers. The collected works provide scholars' articles, resources, classroom materials, ideas, and practical information for those who plan programs for the public and for the schools at various educational levels.
The story of the United States Constitution is told in 12 posters. I created a unique logo-as-title work of art for use on poster no. 1 and the Teacher's Guide book. My composition is hand-lettered, using a pointed pen and india ink on paper. Each poster measures 21.50 x 35 inches, unframed
"The Blessings of Liberty"
"The Articles of Confederation"
"A 'Less Perfect' Union, 1781-1788"
"The Founders' Achievement"
"The Anti-Federalist Argument"
"The Bill of Rights"
"A City Plan for the Constitution"
"The Principle of Federalism"
"The Supreme Law of the Land"
"To Ourselves and Our Posterity"
The Hope Diamond is one among 15,000 gems, 350,000 mineral specimens, 300,000 rock and ore specimens, and 35,000 meteorites that are housed at the
National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
What is known as our country's National Gem Collection
was begun James Smithson, who bequeathed his own mineral collection, along with 1,316 gems and minerals assembled by the naturalist Dr. Isaac Lea, and donated by Mrs. Frances Lea Chamberlain, his daughter, in 1894. Gifts from other individuals, and new purchases, as well as transfers of specimens from the United States Geological Survey, greatly expanded the categorical range of precious items into varieties of specimen microcosms. The collections of gems and minerals are presented to the public in continually changing exhibitions; in addition, they are made available for scientific research.
The title inscription of National Gem Collectionis my own composition of calligraphy art, made on paper with india ink and pointed pen. The printed poster measures 23 x 33 inches.
T'ae Kwon Do
This is a martial art of self-defense practiced around the world. T'ae Kwon Do is the national sport of both South and North Korea, having evolved out of the culture's ancient heritage "arts of the warrior" plus, a blending-in of twentieth century Karate styles from Japan. T'ae Kwon Do was honored as a demonstration sport for the XXIV Olympiad, in the Summer of 1988; twelve years later, this Korean martial art obtained official status as an Olympic sport.
I had been training in T'ae Kwon Do for four years when the Summer Olympics in Seoul took place; and
I longed to see T'ae Kwon Do performed at the highest levels of competition, by the best athletes of the martial arts profession, inside the country that claimed it as its own. There I went, to live for a couple of weeks with a Korean family, in Seoul. Each day was an adventure as I traveled around the capital city, or into the countryside, attending T'ae Kwon Do competitions, plus, other Olympic sports that I revere.
T'ae Kwon Do is made of Sumi ink and Black Watercolor, of the size 23 x 36.50 inches, framed
I produced a poster edition of the painting and sold it through martial arts supply companies. The poster measures 20.25 x 35 inches, unframed
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
In 1979, ground was broken on the National Mall, and construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial moved forward. On the completed architectural work of art as of today, the names of 58,318 American men and women have been chiseled into the mirror-polished granite arms of the structure, for they have given their lives in service to the United States of America, their country, while fighting in Vietnam during its long war, from 1957 - 1975.
of the size 27.50 x 26.50 inches framed
I published an edition of posters as well as note cards of my painting, which were sold in bookstores and gift shops, and teacher supply catalogues.