linen tea towel

Teetering tea-chests

I’ve posted a few pics of this ever-changing window display, with its curious mix of new and old objects. I took this one for the overall effect - the near-abstract arrangement of forms divorced from use or context, the play of interior and reflected light - as usual.

But those little tea-chests, stencilled with the name of a local tea importer, also packed a nostalgia punch. My mum, like my grandmother, had leaf tea delivered to the door in five-pound chests like these. Each one came with a free linen tea-towel, usually the kind with bright woven-in chequered borders accentuating their whiteness.

From my mother, my aunt and my grandma, I have inherited a dozen of these tea-towels, some of them unused until now, some with fading borders and the odd obstinate stain. They still dry way better than any other kind, and every time I use one I recall the Wilcocks Tea van beetling down our driveway, and the delivery chap bounding up the back stairs with the familiar box. None of the chests themselves survived, though I can recall Dad keeping tools and the like in a couple of them. Can’t help imagining the cool shelving I could have improvised if I had the chests corresponding to those dozen tea-towels.

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FRIDAY FRENZY | etsyfindoftheday 1 | 10.23.15

cactus tea towel in black by ameliemancini

ameliemancini’s minimal illustrations are ideal for tea towel — and linen napkin, and infinity scarf, and placemat — screen printing. choose from several earthy and botanical designs in many different hues!

Vincent van Gogh
Daubigny’s Garden
Auvers-sur-Oise, June 1890 
oil on canvas, 51 cm x 51.2 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh was a life-long admirer of Charles-François Daubigny’s work. The celebrated landscape painter had lived in Auvers, and so when Vincent arrived in the village, he went to see Daubigny’s home and large garden at the first opportunity. This work shows part of the garden: Van Gogh later made two more, larger paintings of the overall site.

He did not have any canvas to hand, so he painted this work on a red and white striped linen tea towel, which he prepared with a bright pink ground layer of lead-white pigment mixed with red. The pink base was intended to create a vivid contrast with the green foliage laid on top of it. The ground layer is visible between the strokes of paint. The red pigment has faded over time, so that the pink base now looks light grey.

Vincent wrote to Theo after Daubigny’s death in 1878: ‘A work that is good – it can hardly last for eternity but the idea expressed in it can, and the work itself almost certainly continues to exist for a long time and, if others appear later, they can do no better than to follow in the footsteps of such predecessors and to do it the same way.’