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The Mohr & McPherson blog.

Featured Artist: Nicole Buttery Handmade Jewelry

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Our jewelry  boxes  are overflowing with dazzling masterpieces from local artist and jeweler, Nicole Buttery. Nicole’s pieces incorporate nature’s bounty of  sparkling, multicolored gems and stones, as well as driftwood, clay and bone.  While being crafty in nature, these one of a kind creations are expertly constructed and contain high quality chains and metals. Silver, gold, and some vintage materials are also used.  Nicole’s jewelry is chic and elegant, and each piece is unique. Read about what inspires Nicole, below.

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 I am naturally a collector. I am always searching for tiny treasures wherever I go. Maybe a piece of sea-glass, or a tiny flower, there’s always an object calling for me to pick it up. By chance two strange objects meet, fall in love, and a new project is conceived. Almost everything I collect I use in my art pieces, therefore collecting fuels my art, inspiration and creative process. I want the viewer to instantly be attracted to my work. Whether it’s my use of bright colors, textures, or compulsive use of gems and odd bits. I want my work to be quirky, playful and a sort of “eye candy”.

 

Stone setting is a huge part of my work. Sometimes I like to take mundane objects and set them in a way that almost puts them on a pedestal. I like to push limits in terms of size and wearability. Big and dramatic while also being comfortable and easy to wear everyday. My works aesthetic pulls from cabinets of curiosity, the displays in the Natural History museums, Polly Pocket, miniatures, doll houses, antiques, fashion, fantasy, fairy-tales, dreams, Wicca, the occult, and nature. My work is well made, interesting, and literally “one of a kind”. They are all hand crafted with unique materials, and fun fascinating shapes. My art has an other worldly feel, and transports the viewer to another more magical realm. There’s a mag-pie in all of us that my work inevitably appeals to. One can’t help but feel under an enchanted spell.
-Nicole Buttery

jewel collagegreen sideView and purchase wide selection of Nicole Buttery jewelry in our Boston Showroom, including the pieces below. Visit us at 460 Harrison Ave in the Sowa Arts district.

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Kevin’s Travel Log: Luang Prabang Thailand

On a peninsula in Northern Laos sits the city of Luang Prabang. Formed by the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, the city is surrounded by  green Mountain ranges, such as the PhouThao and PhouNang Mountains.  Continue reading to learn more, and see Kevin’s photographs of Laos’s top tourist attraction. 

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“Spicy fish soup with Mekong cat-fish next to the river. Lime leaves, galangal, tamarind, lemon grass and or course chilies and fish sauce… Yum!  Luang Prabang celebrating 20 years as a world heritage site as I write this.  Beautiful town with fantastic French architecture. All the Charm of Havana or Yangon but with the buildings well-preserved.”
-Kevin Mcpherson

 

 

 

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The fusion of traditional Lao architecture with that of European Colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries is exemplified quite famously in Luang Prabang structures.   

Typical Lao buildings are made from wood, excluding temples, which are built from stone.  The  pagodas or “Vats” in Luang Prabang are some of the most sophisticated Buddhist temples in South East Asia. They are decorated with engravings, paintings, sculptures, and assorted furniture.  The colonial houses were usually built with brick, and often featured balconies and decorative wooden elements. These buildings still line the main streets and the Mekong river.

 

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Although the Lao people continued building  with wood during the colonial period, they were also influenced by materials brought by the Europeans. New tools and techniques were developed due to this merging such as plaited bamboo panels coated with wattle and daub.

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In addition to being the country’s capital city, the old town centre of Luang Prubang is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s no wonder this beautiful city is the top tourist attraction of Laos. 

 

 

 

Travel Tuesday: The Blue City of Morocco

 

a woman with her washing in the blue walled town of Chefchaouen, Morocco

The  city of Chefchaouen is tucked away in the Riff mountains of northern Morocco.It is located about four hours from the city of Fez, and is remote and well hidden.It was founded in 1471, when Jewish and Moorish refugees fled the Spanish Reconquista, and was used as a sort of base while hiding from the invading Portuguese. Chefchaouen once again became a safe haven in the 1930’s when Jews were fleeing Europe. It was during this time that the city was painted entirely in  Blue.  

The color blue, in addition to being beautiful, represents the sky and the Heavens in Judaism. Painting homes blue for spiritual inspiration had been a practice of the first refugees in the 1400’s, but became widespread in the 1930’s. The  families of Muslims,Berbers, and Jews lived here in peace for hundreds of years.  However in 1948, most of the Jewish families left for Israel. The people Chefchaouen today still keep the Jewish tradition alive, and continue to paint their building blue, applying fresh paint seasonally. The local government supplies paint and brushes to the people as well. 

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Another fun fact about the blue paint is that it is rumored to keep away mosquitos. Mosquitos dislike flowing water, and from a distance that is what the city appears to be. Many visitors say that while walking through the narrow, cavelike streets, it can start to feel like you are swimming

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Like many other parts of Morocco, This city is colorful! Not only are there countless variations of blue to gaze at, other colors are celebrated too. Bags of pigment fill the markets, and vibrant, handwoven rugs are a big part of cultural tradition here.

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While most of us won’t be visiting this heavenly city any time soon, we can dream about it, and better yet we can shop about it.  Here are some of the most Chefchaouen and  inspired pieces at Mohr and McPherson.

43738__66334.1436726173.500.65943736__90490.1436726173.1280.1280Iron Stools

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rugs

 

blue shelves

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California Boho in 5 Steps

California Boho is a fairly new phrase, applied to some very classic aesthetics.You might ask, what does this word pairing really mean? How does one california-ize their boho?   Of course the concept of bohemia has never been far in people’s minds from California. The ideologies of both words conjure other words- surf, sand, salt-soft. Waves in the ocean, waves in your hair. Waves in the patterns of your textiles. Still, this is not your standard Haight/Ashbury fan fare. We’re talking sleek lines. Were talking sophisticated neutrals dusted with specific, sparkling odes to boho; ethic patterns, layered textures, organic materials, nature inspired pieces. Regular old hippie dippie  style can exist anywhere. The key to California Boho is modernization. Heres how to get to the land of chic: Steer with great restraint away from over doing it with the boho part, take a slight left at minimalism, and straight on till morning through mid century modern.

 

1.A Vibrant, Tribal inspired Rug
A rug is a great first step. You can choose one to compliment the furniture you already have, or if you’re starting from scratch, you can choose whatever you want and design the rest of the room around the rug. Flat weaves are great for  this look, and the Kilim is at the top of the list.

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Red Kilim RugBlack and White Rug, Multi Colored Diamond Rug

 

2.Mid Century Modern
Look for low profile neutrals to offset the bright colors and busy patterns of your boho pieces.

 

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Taylor Chair with Rush Seat, Avery Mini Buffet, Louis Sofa

 

3.Poufs, Pillows, and Boho Accents
Here’s the place to go crazy! Since you have kept it neutral with the larger items, the interchangeable accents can be some what of a free-for-all without compromising  sophistication. You are encouraged to layer patterns and textures, which will give dimension and  warmth.

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Poufs

4.Live Edge
Live edge furniture is a great way to introduce nature inspired themes into your decor, without turning your living room into a summer camp log cabin.  you can keep it simple with a small stump used as a stool or side table, or make a statement with a larger piece.

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Live Edge Bench
, Acacia Console, Live Edge Coffee Table

5.Unique, Antique or One of a Kind Pieces
This step is important for adding  character and authenticity to your space.


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Tile Inlay Cabinet, Blue Trunk, Drum Coffee Table-Out of stock

Other Ideas

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Silver Lantern,Ganesh,   Brass Singing Bowls, Marble Bowls

Wiki Wednesday: Abrash


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Abrash

The natural and variable change in color that occurs in an Oriental rug. 

Abrash typically occurs for two main reasons

*Variations in different batches of Dye.

*Different batches of wool.

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When a rug requires an additional lot of dye to be produced, the dye is not usually a perfect match. Often times the dye is all from the same batch, but the rug requires more wool, which means more sheep. Fascinatingly, Dye takes differently to wool, depending on the particular sheep. Also, when the wool is hand-spun, certain areas are spun more tightly than others, making that section less able to absorb dye. The result is a less intense color.

Although this makes the rug imperfect, it is the unavoidable variations due to human error that make the rug beautiful.  In fact, Abrash is so well admired that it is not uncommon  for a rug maker to purposefully create imperfections. It is also a cultural practice and sign of respect to God, believed to imply that “no one is perfect except for God.

 

 

 

 

Stone Age People: The Tribe of North Sentinel Island

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The Andaman Islands lie in the Bay of Bengal, between India and Thailand. One of these islands is known as North Sentinel, and is inhabited by a tribe made up of an estimated 50-400 people. Very little is known about the Sentinelese people because they have a reputation for killing, attacking, and chasing off any outsider to step foot on their shore. Because of this, the Sentinel are one of the last  groups of people who remain untouched by, and basically unaware of the outside world.

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What is known

The Sentinelese people have been living on their island for an estimated 60,000 years and are thought to be descendants of the first people to migrate from Africa.

The language of the Sentinelese is so different,  even from the language of other Andaman people, that it is likely they have had no outside contact for thousands of years.

They do not know how to make fire. They have been observed to wait for lightening to set fire to a branch or tree, and then keep the embers burning for as long as possible.

There is no proof of any farming or agriculture and the Sentinelese are thought to survive mainly on fishing, hunting and gathering.

They make weapons and tools using metal, which they recover from shipwrecks around the coral reefs. This means they are not entirely “Stone age” in their lifestyle.

They have managed to protect their lifestyle from war, disease, famine,  colonization, and all threats that come with modern civilization. They have also survived countless Tsunamis, including the massive one in 2004.

 

History of attempted contact

1880-An armed British expedition sails to Sentenel Island to conduct Surveys. Their goal was also to take a prisoner, who would be treated well, and given gifts, and then released back to the tribe. This was a practice believed to prove friendliness and willingness to trade. The expedition had a hard time finding any one to take prisoner however, because the people vanished into the jungle at the first sight of the British. Eventually, the men came across an elderly couple and four children. They captured all 6 of these Sentinelese people and took them to Port Blair, on one of the other Andaman Islands. The elderly couple became sick and died quickly, and the British returned the four children to their home with many gifts. The children quickly ran into the jungle. The British focused on other islands after this incident and did not return to Sentinel.

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1967-Indian Government began a series of contact expeditions. These were led by an anthropologist T.N. Pandit who brought police and naval officers. The Sentinelese fled for the jungle many times and the expeditions failed to make any contact.Eventually the anthropologists were able to make brief contact with the tribe, bringing them gifts of coconuts and bananas, which do not grow on the Island. Most photos and knowledge of the Sentinelese were accumulated during this time.

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1975– A National Geographic film crew went to  Sentinel Island and the director was shot in the thigh with an arrow. The Sentinel warrior who shot him was seen laughing.

Early 1990’s-Sentinese started to once again allow boats to come closer to shore and sometimes greeted the boats unarmed. Every time however, the people would eventually begin making violent and rude gestures, and shooting arrows with no arrow heads, seemingly warning the boats away.

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1996– Indian government ended the contact expeditions. This was due to several deaths and hostile encounters with the Jarawa people on some of the other Andaman Islands. The Indian government also feared spreading disease to the Island people. They instituted a 3 mile mandatory distance of the Island. This is one reason that all photos after the 1970’s are from a distance, or from helicopter.

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2006– Two men were fishing and their boat accidentally drifted close to Sentinel Island and the men were killed. A helicopter was sent to retrieve the bodies but was chased away by the Sentinelese, who shot it with arrows.

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Below is  a photo of the Jawar people from another nearby island, accepting gifts of coconuts.
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Style Saturday

A dreary Saturday is the perfect time to do some shopping. Luckily we have all sorts of new accessories to brighten your day, including heaps of handmade jewelry, kimonos and shawls. For some style inspiration, check out our own Mary Cashman modeling the loot.stitch 1 final

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Afgani necklace Lapis or dyed coral-43329
Vintage teardrop earrings– smooth glass set in brass, with gold plated hooks-43239
Patchwork Floppy Hate-43423
Stylish jacket made of cotton voile-43433
Assorted Rings and Bracelets

All available now in our showroom! Product number included for reference.

Wiki Wednesdays

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In this business, we  tend to use a lot of words that many people have never heard of.  Why would you know the vocabulary of Japanese antiques, or pertaining to Carpets hand tied by tribes in the mountains of Morocco? We thought there should be a place for people to learn about some of these things. Therefore, we are pleased to introduce  Wiki Wednesdays.

Wiki Wednesdays will be like our version of Wikipedia. We will use it to define terms that are used commonly in our industry, many of them with foreign decent. Lets start with our title itself.

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Most of us think “Wikipedia” or “Wikileaks” when we hear this word, and this is correct. Wiki was introduced to the masses in 1995 by computer programmer Ward Cunningham. Ward first used the word in naming”WikiWikiWeb”, a collaborative computer software he created.

However, many people are unaware that Wiki, or Wikiwiki  is actually a  Hawaiian word meaning “Quick” or “Fast”.

Cool huh?

Here are some examples of Wiki being used in modern day Hawaiian culture

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Travel Tuesday: Temples of Chiang Mai

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You may have heard that our founder Kevin has relocated to Thailand. Since then, all of us at Mohr & McPherson have been continuously learning about the colorful and ancient culture of this fabulous country. An important aspect of Thai culture is Buddhism. Building “everlasting” temples or “Wats”, was a way for Thai Kings to leave their mark. The long-standing sustainability of these temples is proof of the advanced skills of the builders. There are over 200 temples in Chiang Mai alone,  many of them dating back to the city’s  founding date of 1296 AD. Read on to learn about some of Chiang Mai’s most famous Temples

Wat Chiang Man

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Wat Chiang Man was the first temple ever built in Chiang Mai. It was built in the North East Corner by King Mengrai in 1296. This temple was part of the original construction of the city, and holds two rare Buddha statues. One statue is Marble, and the other is Crystal.

Wat Phra Singh

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This is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. It was built in 1345, and is a classic example of Northern Thai architecture. Amongst many revered Buddha statues, Wat Phra Singh houses a learning center for young men and boys who are studying to become monks.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most well known temple in the area. It sits to the north-west of the Chiang Mai, near the very top of Mt. Suthep. This temple was established in 1383 under King Keu Naone, and pone of Chiang Mai’s most sacred temples. The place was “chosen” by a white elephant, who was sent by a monk to wander the mountains with a Buddha relic mounted on its back. When the elephant died, The Wat Suthep temple was built in the place of its death.

To get to the temple, you have to walk up a 306 step staircase, which was built to be meditative to the climber. Or, there is a tram visitors can also take if they do not wish to climb the stairs.

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There is a shrine on the first floor terrace of the temple, honoring Sudeva, the hermit who lived on the mountain, and a statue of the white elephant who carried the Buddha relic.

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Wat Suan Dok

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This temple was built in 1371, and was originally a royal  flower garden owned by King Keuna. The King gave the flower gardens to a very revered monk from Sukkhothai.  There was a Buddhist Relic transported to this temple, and it split into two pieces. One piece was kept here, and the other was the relic strapped onto the white elephant we learned about earlier, leading to the birth of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Also at Wat Suan Dok is a 500 year old bronze Buddha statue, one of the largest in Thailand.

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There are also many white “Chedis”, and many of them hold the ashes of the former Chiang Mai royal family. This temple is also home to a Buddhist University, and is located 1km West of the city.

 

Wat Umong Tunnels

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Wat Umong is built in the foot hills of Suthep Mountain, which are still heavily forested. This temple was built in the late 14th Century, and is named for its many tunnels. “Umong” is the Thai word for tunnel.

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A large mound was built on a flat space, and then criss-crossed with tunnels.  The legendary reason for the maze-like tunnels was to keep the highly regarded but “mad” monk who ruled here, from wandering off.  At some point the temple was abandoned, and not occupied again until 1940. The overgrown, moss laden environment of this temple can partially be attributed to its many years of being uninhabited.

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Rain Drums of Ancient Southeast Asia

Our South End showroom  has just received a brand  new container from Thailand. Exciting new furniture and accessories abound, including these magnificent Rain Drums.

Dong Son Drums, also known as Rain Drums, are often casted from Bronze, and are usually decorated with tribal designs and images with themes of fertility, animals, war, deities, and nature.It is argued that the Dong Son culture of Vietnam entered the Bronze Age before any other part of South East Asia. Cast Bronze drums have been found at the most ancient Dong Son burial grounds, which date back to 1000 BC. This is how these drums were given the name “ Dong Son”. Throughout history, these drums spread throughout South East Asia, and took on different meanings based on various cultures.

Along with the Dong Son, the Karen people of Burma and Thailand used these drums to summon the rain, because of the unique, rain-like sound they make. This is how the common name of “Rain Drum” came to be. The Karen people also believe that the sounds of the drum are pleasing to the spirits or “nats”, who live in the trees and water.

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Karen man casting a Rain Drum, 1923

The drums are used for various ceremonies to summon ancestors, and for calling soldiers. A certain beat on the drum replicates the sound of marching soldiers, and is widely used as a trick to give the impression of a large army.

In Indonesia, the Rain Drums have been present for 2500 years. In Bali, which is primarily Hindu, there is a famous drum called the “Moon Drum”, that is known for its very large size. In the small Indonesian Island of Alor, “Moko Drums” play an important cultural role. A man who wishes to marry must present a Moko Drum to the woman’s family. Because these drums are hard to come by, many men or couples must leave the island in order to marry, because they cannot find or afford a Moko Drum.  Moko Drums are also heavily decorated with Hindu symbolism.

Across most primitive communities within South East Asia, possession of a Rain Drum signifies not only status and material wealth, but also the ability to communicate with and influence spirits and the powers that be. In fact, one village in Vietnam considered the ownership of a Rain Drum to be more impressive than owning seven elephants.  Although here in Boston, owning  just one elephant would probably win.

Today’s versions are modeled after drums from thousands of years ago, but in modern design they are commonly used as tables. Rain drums are great for side tables, coffee tables, and are especially common for the yard or garden. Adding a glass top is an option for making the drum seem more like a conventional table. A Rain Drum is a simple way to add a touch of exotic intrigue and rustic charm to any space.