Monthly Archives: July 2011

Clément Joyard Spiderweb Comb

Morticia Addams could not have dreamed of a more appropriate comb. This mantilla spiderweb was designed by Clément Joyard, c. 1910. He, along with Bonaz, Léon Arbez-Carme, and Marius Camet, were among the famous designers who had their combs made in the celluloid factories of France’s Oyonnax Valley. Happy Early Halloween? :-)

For more scholarly research, please examine

The Comb, by Jen Cruse

Le Peigne dans le Monde, by Robert Bollé

Jade Comb – Diamond Tiara

We are a forest goddess with fairy handmaidens who present us with jewelry so we can choose which piece fits our mood. If these two pieces were presented, which would you choose?

First is a beautiful English diamond tiara made from ferns and circular-cut rose diamonds, c. 1890. It sold for $12,165 at Sotheby’s London on July 13.

Our second piece is a white translucent jade bracelet and comb in perfect condition from the Qing Dynasty (18th Century China). In the bracelet, two dragons confront each other grasping a “flaming pearl.” The S-curved dragon shape was popular in comb making at the time, but this one is made of exquisite jade and is in perfect condition. The pair sold for $7,258 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2009.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Tiara by Diana Scarisbrick

Spinach Green and Mutton-fat White: Chinese Jades of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by Charles Q. Mason

Manchu Hair Pin: Great E-bay Auction

A fabulous mouthwatering Manchu hair pin sold on E-Bay for $706 on July 26. Stunning detail in the kingfisher decorations, with not a feather missing. There was a butterfly in the center, surrounded by coral, jade, a beaded flower, and pearls. The back was correct. A drop-dead piece. I wonder who won it!


For more scholarly research, please examine:

Catalogue of Old Manchu Jewelry, Carved Stones, Jade, Snuff Bottles Enamels and Fine Furniture, Gathered in China By the Well-known Connoisseur Frederick Moore of New York and Peking

Charlemagne Crown, Carolus Magnus

I believe Diana Scarisbrick put Charlemagne’s original crown on the cover of her book, Royal Jewels: From Charlemagne to the Romanovs

A Carolus Magnus-style crown was also made in 1804 for Napoleon’s coronation.

What I like about Napoleon’s version is that the design resembles a Dogon crown in The Creative Museum. Its theme is the honor of ancestors, as the chief sits atop and remembers.

The Dogon people live in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger River in West Africa.

Heavily involved in the slave trade, the French had established strong presence on the West African coast as early as 1659. Their port was in St. Louis, or present-day Senegal. If you look on a map, Senegal is but a few miles away from Mopti, Mali, home of the Dogon.

Do the crowns allow us to connect the dots?

The Poetry of Emperor Yao

Ancient Chinese legends celebrate the wisdom, benevolence, and diligence of Emperor Yao (2356 – 2255 BC). In his poetry, he wrote, “The drum for raising alarms is now covered in deep moss, and the fowls are left undisturbed,” which referred to the drum he placed at his humble home’s gate. By speaking into it, his subjects could voice their concerns.

Japanese comb makers have portrayed Emperor Yao’s poem in both Edo and Meiji pieces, where a rooster guards the Emperor’s drum in a flower garden.

Here are two examples, both tortoiseshell painted with gold maki-e. The first is Edo from The Miriam Slater Collection, and the second is a Meiji comb for sale on Trocadero.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Chinese classical mythology comics 6: monarch of Yao and Shun (Shun Emperor Yao’s visit to Yin Yao Abdication)

And She Danced with Diamonds in Her Hair

Her mother died.

Her 9-year-old brother
was too young to lose a mother,
so she wrapped his sandwiches beautifully
and put toys in his lunch bags —
Every day.

She married Bernardo.
Had Natalia
Bernardo Jr.
Got up at 4 am to cook lunch plates.
A little extra money.
No time for sleep — Years.

Parties celebrate her children
Before they go out into the world.

Medical treatment is given when needed.

Prevention —
Esteem —
Selflessly transposed with detailed perfection.

What does she do for herself?

I can tell you from experience.
My friend Mother Earth,
Named after one who loved God — Looks,
But does not buy.

Last night —
The Sweet Sixteen.
She saw her beautiful daughter’s pax de deux with her father.

Then her moment came.

And she danced with diamonds in her hair.

American Eagle Combs

When I meditate at Las Aguilas Ranch, golden eagles glide silently across the Rio Grande. Human conflict remains a distant noise, irrelevant to their command of the air. Yet native and immigrant Americans have idolized our national bird forever. Combs are no exception. Here are a few examples from the Creative Museum’s North American collection.

c. 1890, tortoiseshell, hinged.

c. 1910, back- and side-comb set, rhinestones.

c. 1890, a claw holds a ball, tortoiseshell

c. 1920, celluloid comb with an eagle motif

c. 1940, Tlingit shaman comb of an eagle eating a jaguar. The Tlingit are an indigenous people from the Pacific Northwest coast of Alaska.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The American Eagle in Art and Design

Auguste Bonaz in the Machine

The Industrial Revolution was built on the invention of new materials and the machines that allowed them to be mass produced into cheap products, quickly. The exploitation of sweatshop laborers had a profound impact on society. Plastic comb making was no exception.

In America, the most famous factory was in Leominster, Massachusetts. In France, combs were made in Oyonnax, an administrative region of Ain, which is located in the Rhône-Alpes. The town even has a Museum of the Comb and of the Plastics Industry.

Some of Auguste Bonaz’s combs were made there.

Today, collectors think only about the artwork, the artist, design genius, and have an image of a master carving a masterpiece with his own hands.

After 1900, however, women sat for 16 hours a day in front of hydroelectrically powered turning machines. Then the French mechanic Humbert adapted the band saw, which allowed plastic combs to be cut in patterns. In 1871, Lyon Vuillermoz invented a machine that enabled a worker to punch the pattern into the plastic with a single stroke of the arm.

Here is what the women who made plastic combs in Oyonnax looked like.

Here are some of Auguste Bonaz’s glorious designs that they might have made.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The Comb: Its History and Development by Jen Cruse

Les matieres plastiques dans l’art contemporain: 23 mai-4 juillet 1992, exposition a Valexpo, Oyonnax (French Edition)

Comb Making in America

Plastic Jewelry of the Twentieth Century: Identification & Value Guide

Creative Museum: Haute Couture Combs

Par le Creative Museum:

Les défilés de Haute Couture sont toujours attendus avec intérêt car on aime à être ébloui par la féerie de couleurs et de formes qui s’y déploient. Les grands couturiers donnent tout pouvoir à leur imagination pour concevoir des parures vestimentaires qui frappent le regard et soient en même temps appréciées au même titre que des œuvres d’art.

De ce fait, une création prendra tout son sens si elle est accompagnée des accessoires assortis. Coiffure, peignes, chapeau, maquillage, ceinture ou chaussures doivent ajouter une note particulière : soit accompagner, soit contraster ou encore renforcer un effet.

Il est donc intéressant d’observer les ornements de coiffure créés par les grands couturiers pour certains défilés car ils évoquent à eux seuls le monde de la mode et l’univers particulier des créateurs.

Comb by Chanel

Two combs with enamelled design, by Alexandre

High comb by Christian Dior

Pour voir plus de peignes par des designers de mode, rechercher Lea Stein, Alexandre, Chanel, Adrien Mann dans le Creative Museum: