Monday, 7 November 2011

Paper Moon and my five things

'Happy Life'

I was lately browsing through the archives over at Heartfire at Home when I found a post that got me thinking (that happens to me more often with Linda's posts): if you could take only 5 things from your home, what would they be?

Oh dear. Tricky one that.

When I bought my new apartment this spring, I knew I had to start ruthlessly decluttering. Ruthlessly. Not only because I'd have less space to hide my stuff in (note the keyword HIDE), but also - and mainly - because it was time to let go of the old. It was quite a task. A Herculean labour even - but without the smell of cow shit. I managed in the end though. Which means that the vast majority of the stuff I've got left - still quite a few bits and bobs - are things I really love. And would therefore much prefer to keep.

Hm. But what if I really HAD TO choose?

This is really hard. Well, there are my two loved-to-death old teddy bears (I don't still sleep with them, no). So I'd probably grab hold of those instinctively in case of a calamity. And then there's all my paperback or leather-bound friends. How would I ever be able to choose from those beloved treasures? But I suppose, if I really had to... I'd probably go for some of my hard-to-replace old loves. I'm obviously counting 'a couple of books' as one item here. Just as my teddies are one item. Alright? And some special mementos like cards and photos and other small pieces I could put into one big envelope or a small box so that'd be just the one thing too (she says in a tone that makes it clear she won't not suffer any objections).

But then it gets really tricky. So many of my other treasures are hard to carry. I can't see myself run outside with hands full of asian ceramics or my collection of tea pots (yes, I have a 'thing' for tea pots - and tea as a beverage obviously). I suppose I could wrap myself artistically in one of my much loved Designers Guild throws that are the epitome of cosy gorgeousness to me (maybe it's a good thing they cost an arm and a leg or I'd get me a new one every week rather than once in a blue moon - when I think I REALLY deserve to splurge). As for my long-coveted fire place: I wouldn't be able to move it one inch let alone get it out of the house. And no matter how happy I am to have it - it's still 'just an object'.

So I walked around my apartment and wondered what really lifts my spirit when I look at it. And won't give me a hernia as I try to haul it out of the house.

After a quick browse I had my answer. I'd go for the paper-cut art that I found in a tiny shop at Greenwich Market in London, called Paper Moon. It's run by a lovely Chinese couple of which Wei, the female half, is the artist. She makes the most gorgeous Chinese folk art: paper-cuts, using just scissors and sculptural knives. The level of detail is astounding. I'd have been ready for a mental institution after just trying to do one tiny perfect leaf or little person. With a notice on my door that says 'keep scissors away from patient at all times'. Every piece is priced in accordance with the number of hours it took to create it (most of my pieces took between 10 to 12 hours). And they're still very affordable.

I just adore those fairy-tale like images, they're like little stories that you can see something new in every time. Most of them look more Scandinavian to me than Chinese somehow. Oh, and I really love their meaning. Each piece represents a special kind of traditional 'blessing': good fortune, long life, love. What's not to love? They obviously make great presents too, as you're not only giving someone a pretty work of art, but in a way a symbolic blessing as well.

The photos don't really do them justice, but I thought I'd share them with you anyway.

Detail of 'Happy Life'

'Garden of Eden'


So yes, I'd go for these lovelies. They're super lightweight too, as I still haven't framed them. Hum. And of course they'd count as just the ONE item. I'm pretty sure my house will be home to several more of them before long though. Would have already had me some more if I hadn't been sure Ryanair would give me grief over several of the bigger items - that I therefore reluctantly left behind. My wallet gave a tiny squeak of relief. If you ever wonder what kind of present would say you really love me - get me their large white butterfly paper-cut. You don't even need to gift-wrap it. Be prepared to have to wake me from my swoon though. NOT with a bucket of cold water.

Huge sigh.

So that leaves me just one last thing to choose. Which is obviously going to be the large wheelbarrow I'll put in the storage room. That I can stuff with some cushions, books, tea pots, throws and some really special memento knick-knacks. Of course still only counting as ONE item.

Don't give me that look. What do you mean I don't quite get the meaning of the exercise?


  1. I think a lot about this. Last year there was a flooding close to where I live, I had water very close to my garden, and it didn't stop raining. Every night I went to bed not knowing if the morning after my ground floor would have still be there, and every night I went to bed thinking what to save first, in case the water got inside the house. Well, the cats, naturally. Then all my pictures and my teddy bear. My friend Melissa's Dad lost his house during that flooding.
    I love that paper art! I have one very similar but it's made with black metal (and has one piece broken and badly glued...)

  2. Oh yes, that goes without saying - cats first, obviously! If you could take nothing else! Sabino would cling on to you like the koala cat he is ;-)

    Your story about the flood reminds me of something that happened in the mid 90s: an area very near where I live was at risk of heavy floods and houses needed to be evacuated at short notice. But one of my then colleagues refused to leave her home because her cats weren't back yet - they always used to play in the fields and would stay away for hours. A lot of people were angry with her afterwards but she said she couldn't leave her babies - she didn't want them to run to the house when they realised there was trouble and not be able to get in and be safe. In the end her cats and her house were fine, thank God.

    And then my parents had a house fire in the late 90s - they were out to dinner with friends and came back to find the ground floor all black and covered with soot - fortunately the fire, caused by a short-circuit, had died out by itself. Their friends wanted them to stay outside to call the fire brigade in first as it would maybe not be safe but my father just ran in to look for the most precious thing that had been in the house - their little cat. Who he found terrified but safe, hiding in the attic. At times of emergencies you realise what is truly important - and material possessions come last!

    Too bad about the broken piece of art! Can't you try to dissolve the glue and have another go at piecing it together? Or is it not so bad?

  3. Sabino clings on me whenever he hears a noise or when Sofia is being a bully with him. He is scared of her, he's the boss with everyone else but not Sofia, she has a strong personality.
    Bol is good for italian books, veeery good, quite fast and cheap! I have a coupon every couple of months for a free book. I really believe I was one their first customers in Italy, when everyone was still very suspicious about buying on line I was already ordering a lot of things. And never a bad thing happened to me (what happened to your order at etsy?), I was lucky.

  4. Why am I not surprised to hear that Sofia has a strong personality? ;-D She has that look about her! And it's funny that even the most bossy personalities always meet their match one day... but I do adore Sabino, bully or not! It's so sweet that all your cats have their own individual traits. The cats I had were all unique characters too - I could write a book on each one of them! ;-)

    Yes, I was there from the start with Bol too - and never a problem. Or with any other online purchase come to think of it - except this Etsy one, which has now also been solved! I received a full refund from Paypal, it took them only hours to look into my claim and say it was justified. Never a word from the seller though - but at least she has changed her shop status to 'on vacation' so other buyers won't end up buying products in good faith and not receiving them. Her behaviour seemed out of character though. I closed the case against her with Etsy after I got my refund. It's a shame though...

    Hope there won't be any flood scares for you this year by the way! That's really sad about your friend's father losing his house that way...

  5. Lol! So so difficult to choose!
    Those paper cuts are amazing! I agree with you,they look more scandinavian than chinese, but whatever they are a real work of art and so beautiful.
    For me I would want to take all my boxes of photos and my pc with all my digital prints on - a visiual diary of my life, events and my duaghter growing up - maybe this is a warning to me to put them all on a memory stick!

  6. Oh yes, personal memories are the most important thing - not the items that have the most monetary value. It's really all about the things you can never replace! Those are the ones that matter - the other stuff can be bought again. Even though I really hope I would never have too obviously! ;-)

    Go put those pics on a memory stick though!! ;-)


Thanks for stopping by! I do love comments, so please don't be shy and share your thoughts.