An off hand remark I imagine Charles and Henry Green might have jokingly said from the porch of their Bungalow home in Pasadena, California.
Greene and Greene architects
Charles and Henry Greene were brothers, born in Ohio, raised in West Virginia, who studied architecture in St. Louis and Boston, then in 1893 followed Horace Greeley’s advice and headed west to the small town of Pasadena, California.
The architecture firm of Greene & Greene was born. Between 1907 and 1909, their flair for American Arts & Crafts design would reach its zenith with the construction of the “ultimate bungalows” — one of which is the Gamble House in Pasadena.
“Not on one strand are all life’s jewels strung,” says William Morris.
Men and women have adorned themselves with jewelry throughout history, but why?
It serves no immediate purpose. No one is made stronger or more healthy by the use of jewelry. It does not serve to protect us from the weather. Its value lies not in practical things, but in the esoteric.
Stones that glitter are attractive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a beautiful necklace, bracelet, or set of earrings will attract our attention to the wearer. One sees something extraordinary. One becomes beautiful by association.
Jewelry also becomes a status symbol. Precious stones are rare. They are reserved for the rich and powerful who can afford the price of purchase.
Lastly, let us not forget that jewels are powerful symbols. Gems are both brilliant and long lasting. Diamonds are forever, and hopefully so is the love a diamond is given in token of. Consider the Crown Jewels which are synonymous with the power and dignity of the British Royal Family.
A gem is fine, but nothing compares to the value of the love and friendship that is behind the stone. William Morris is right, look not to the wealth of the jewel. Look instead to the love of two people for each other.
Let me give you a place to sit and something to think about. A Morris recliner by Stickley, a melon fabric.
Memory is a series of life’s moments recalled when needed.
Last year at Oxford, last summer at Water House, Walthamstow, northeast London, a square, heavy Georgian building of yellow brick, the Morris family home from 1848 to 1856. In 1856, William Morris, twenty two and a student at Oxford, writing as a character named John, in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine:
John took up a garden fork preparatory to running down to the melon ground where the worm-populated dung heaps were; for some strange reason that moment and the half hour were one of the unforgotten times of his life; and in after days he could never smell the mixed smell of the toolhouse, with its bast mats, earthy roots and herbs, in a hot summer evening, without that evening with every word and gesture coming clear to his memory.
Strange, is it not, that inspiration can come from a dung heap, a melon, and a summer long ago? This first day of May, I have just planted my cantaloupe seeds out behind the store in bed recovered from the compost of last year.
Let me give you as an added bonus, two poems by William Morris:
I am the ancient apple-queen, As once I was so am I now. For evermore a hope unseen, Betwixt the blossom and the bough.
Ah, where’s the river’s hidden Gold! And where the windy grave of Troy? Yet come I as I came of old, From out the heart of Summer’s joy.
I am the handmaid of the earth, I [em]broider fair her glorious gown, And deck her on her days of mirth With many a garland of renown.
And while Earth’s little ones are fain And play about the Mother’s hem, I scatter every gift I gain From sun and wind to gladden them.