I was so busy when I launched the new Dark Gardens collection that I didn’t really have time to write about it the way I wanted to. To make up for that, I’m planning to do a series of short posts on the origins of specific pieces so that some of my favorites can have a little space to shine.
The Dark Gardens collection is inspired by poisonous and medicinal plants, with a healthy dose of fairy tale and child heroine thrown in for good measure. Most of my designs in this project feature unusual vintage beads in a dark palette – cobalt, plum, chartreuse, emerald and black. The dark tones are offset with bright metals – sterling silver, goldfilled chain and bright brasses – that give the designs some sparkle and represent the seductive allure of my deadly and entrancing inspirations. I’m very proud of this line (although I’m still arguing with myself about the new photographs – I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% comfortable with my product photographs), and I hope my customers find it as appealing as I do.
My short glossary series begins with an elegant little pair of earrings called Blue Pimpernel, pictured above. The pimpernel was once used medicinally for several purposes. Botanical.com offers a little background on the medicinal lore of the pimpernel:
“This blue variety (Anagallis cerulea) is described as growing in beautiful little tufts about the hills of Madeira.
The plant appears in the Herbals and Vocabularies of the sixteenth century as ‘Bipinella,’ a name originally applied to the Great and Salad Burnet. It was much used as a cosmetic herb. Howard, in The Old Commodore, 1837, says: ‘If she’d only used my pimpernel water, for she has one monstrous freckle in her forehead.‘ The plant was also said to be a remedy for the bites of mad dogs and to dispel sadness.
This plant once had a great reputation in medicine, and was used as a universal panacea.
- ‘No heart can think, no tongue can tell
- The virtues of the Pimpernel.’
Pliny speaks of its value in liver complaints, and its generic name Anagallis (given it by Dioscorides) is derived from the Greek Anagelao, signifying ‘to laugh,’ because it removes the depression that follows liver troubles.
The Greeks used it for diseases of the eye, and Gerard and Culpepper affirm that ‘it helpeth them that are dim-sighted,’ the juice being mixed with honey and dropped into the eyes.
It is ‘a gallant, Solar herb, of a cleansing attractive quality, whereby it draweth forth thorns and splinters gotten into the flesh.’
‘Used inwardly and applied outwardly,’ Culpepper tells us, ‘it helpeth also all stinging and biting of venomous beasts or mad dogs.’
And again, ‘the distilled water or juice is much celebrated by French dames to cleanse the skin from any roughness, deformity or discolourings thereof.’
Another old writer says ‘the Herb Pimpernel is good to prevent witchcraft, as Mother Bumby doth affirm.'”
My version of the blue pimpernel doesn’t boast of any medicinal properties, although I do hope it possesses the power to please and cheer. These earrings are made with vintage black plastic teardrops, a vintage cobalt glass flower, and a length of beautiful geometric vintage brass chain, and hang 2 1/4″ long from oxidized sterling silver French hooks.