Friday, August 20, 2010
If you're like I am, you love Greek keys so much that you keep a file on them. Mine is labeled "Greek Keys and Seals." The graceful key above appeared in a 1926 Westvaco Inspirations for Printers (I'm a little behind in my reading.). I'm sure it predates that time because the little fence-like decoration on top is typical of many 19th century typographic borders.
This beauty is a Pompeian tile design. It's from the 1856 The Grammar of Ornament, by Owen Jones. The Grammar of Ornament was a major reference for graphic designers and lithographers of the 19th century. Jones was an architect, designer and teacher, and was appointed Superintendent of Works for the Great Exhibition of 1851 (the first world's fair). One person who immersed himself in The Grammar of Ornament was none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.
For my own house, I copied a Greek key from an Irish castle. The key measures 4" deep, is entirely hand-painted, and extends around the living room, dining room and a hallway.
When newcomers to the house realize that the Greek key isn't stenciled, they always say, "That's insane!" (Actually they say, "You're insane!") But the truth of the matter is that I divided the project into two-hour segments per evening, and it was very easy and meditative. I skipped watching TV, relaxed on the floor and solved all the world's problems.