Curator's Corner, 6/28/2015
Summer 2015 exhibition

Into the fold: Guerlain Poudre de Soie

Ah, e-bay, what would I do without you?  Guerlain's Poudre de Soir highlighting powder was not available in the U.S., so I was very happy to see it pop up on e-bay.  Initially I was not bowled over by the pinwheel design, but as I looked closer I realized this wasn't any old pinwheel but one that was rendered to resemble a delicate piece of origami.  And I knew I HAD to own it then.

Guerlain Poudre de Soir

I also liked the pattern of semi-circles in the background, which, as Lizzy at So Lonely in Gorgeous explained, is called Seigaiha, a traditional Japanese pattern of stylized waves.  If you look closely, it looks like there's also an asanoha pattern on two of the ends of the pinwheel - a star-shaped pattern named for the hemp plant (asa).

Guerlain Poudre de Soir

Unfortunately I couldn't dig up any cultural significance for the pinwheel in Japan so I was scratching my head as to why Guerlain chose this particular motif.  The item description claims that it's a "sculpted silk bow" that was "inspired by the most beautiful Asian fabrics and the ancestral art of origami."  I don't know about you, but I see a pinwheel, not a bow!

Anyway, in lieu of figuring out the exact inspiration for this piece, I thought I'd share some really cool origami that I came across recently.  Did you know there's a whole origami technique called wet folding?  It was pioneered by Akira Yoshizawa (1911-2005), one of the best-known origamists in the world (yes, "origamist" is a word, no matter what spell check says!)  It's basically what it sounds like, although a sturdier paper is used:  the artist applies varying amounts water to the paper during the folding process to yield a mix of soft, curving lines and the usual sharper, creased angles by keeping those parts dry.  About a month ago Colossal featured some new pieces by  Hoang Tien Quyet, who uses a wet folding technique to create all sorts of shapes.  As the article notes, wet folding "gives the paper works a more realistic appearance, adds a rounded quality to the origami, and allows it to appear malleable even though the pieces dry into hardened forms."  What Quyet was able to accomplish using this technique is remarkably inventive. 

Hoang Tien Quyet - foxes

Hoang Tien Quyet - rooster

Hoang Tien Quyet - unicorn

My favorites were the sea creatures - would love to see his take on an octopus or jellyfish!  Or a mermaid...he made a unicorn so it's not entirely inconceivable. 

Hoang Tien Quyet - whale

Hoang Tien Quyet - seahorse
(images from and

And that's your dose of art for the day.  :)

What do you think of the Guerlain highlighter?  And have you ever done origami?  I tried when I was little and I was awful at it, but I loved all the colorful paper.  And if anyone knows the meaning of pinwheels in Japanese culture or any other Asian cultures, I'm all ears.

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