Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Burn Baby, Burn

No, this post isn't about any disco inferno in the news.  :D

Reason #486 I'm glad I'm high up on the food chain:  Design.

Seriously, what trait separates us from other mammals more?  From the Lascaux caves on up through now - our desire to make things pretty is inherent.

Take, for example, objects that we know are totally ephemeral - those that are meant to be burned.  What could be more ephemeral than that?  WHY would we bother with making something look great, only to have it be carried away into the ether with only our memory of it?

Isn't that kind of a cool idea?  :D

I found this old firecracker near our house - of course there are going to be some laying around still from various Independence Day celebrations (July 4 for us in the States).  Isn't it pretty?  Now the Chinese folks who assemble these firecrackers know the sole purpose of a firecracker is to be lit and exploded.  Why bother putting this nice green paper around it, when leaving it plain would do just fine?  Design!

Here's one of those items that I LOVE, just for the sheer fact that it exists at all.  It's incense!  The "papier d'armenie" brand is actually quite old; it dates back to 1885.  It has a lovely powdery-sandalwood scent.  I love that it's in a teensy book form, I love that there's writing on every tiny incense strip, I love the scent, I love that it's paper.  It's one of those "form AND function" items that just makes me happy.  And it ceases to exist in less than 5 minutes after lighting it!  Design at its finest.

I've talked before about heaven/hell money - here's another Chinese object that is decorated magnificently but was created to be destroyed.  This type of money (which is just another form of joss paper - a whole other upcoming blog post!) is used as an offering at funerals and there are several rituals applied to its use (FYI - it's considered to be in the poorest of taste to give living people Hell money as a gift).  Many Chinese believe that currency is essential in the afterlife as well as on Earth, so this money is burned to help the newly deceased on their way.  I used to use this money in my collages but haven't lately due to the notion that it may be offensive to use Hell money in this manner.  Ah, ignorance is bliss - but now that I know better I can't go back to creating with it.

I have used fireworks paper in my work, though!  And who knows - maybe someday I'll make the most perfumed collage ever created with the "papier d'armenie" incense!  :D


  1. You're such an astute detail person! I love how you see all the beautiful details of the mundane!

  2. Oh, thank you Eileen! :D It's the little things, you know? :D