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Friday, September 29, 2006

Good Day Sunshine

It started out as a sunny day here in Ithaca, but it ended as a rainy one. My Desert Designs tie, though, was sunny all day, thanks to Jimmy Pike.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The problem with using one's own written signature as the sole brand identifier is that the signature may be illegible, with the result that anyone wishing to pass on the brand information of a particular tie is likely to do so inaccurately. This subject comes up not out of the blue, but was prompted by the label of today's necktie, which reads, possibly, "Gio Busceri" (I know the B is right, as there is an additional logo which is just a B), and definitely, "Made in Italy." And just because a Google search for "Gio Busceri" comes up empty doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't exist (I have heard there are some scraps of information that just aren't anywhere on the internet, yet). Whoever made it, the pattern is quite singular, with its modified stripes embellished by shapes that could be flowers after the style of Yves Tanguy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gold Lion

Tuesday's tie is a "Gold Lion High Fashion" tie from Korea. The design consists of some swing-era "wavy diamonds" with "echo lines" for an overall effect of, say, a topo map of a mountainous region, or an aerial photo of rice paddies, or coral atolls. As accents there are one green and two mauve "kites." It's a wonderfully fluid pattern, marred by an unfortunate choice of background: stripes that fade into one another. At least there are no intra-stripe fade effects, usually used on polyester ties to simulate the reflective qualities of silk; that style of tie, worn with a short-sleeve shirt and a pocket protector, has become cultural shorthand for nerdiness. (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Once upon a time, before the advent of rap, there was only one M.C.: M.C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis Escher, 1889-1972). In addition to his pictorial tricks of gravity and perspective, Escher raised creative tessellation (symmetries) to an art form, devising patterns of identical and perfectly interlocking birds, fish, crabs, and the lizards that are the basis of this tie, among many others. His symmetries are eminently suitable for college dorm wall posters and have probably sold millions of copies in that form; Boxelder of Milwaukee has printed them on neckties for those of us in the older set.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I've always thought of Ralph Lauren's Chaps line as the rustic, western-flavored, lower-priced alternative to his flagship Polo line of rustic, New England-flavored clothing. This Chaps tie, however, has more in common with Liberty of London's 1960s-era ties. Go figure.


Thursday's tie design is taken from Picasso's 1924 cubist painting Mandolin and Guitar and was made in Korea in 1989 for "Picaso" neckties. The single-s spelling of Picasso is presumably to avoid any trademark infringement charges, though that's a pretty iffy tactic if you ask me. On the other hand, this tie is much more vibrant than any I've seen under the official Picasso label.

Ted Baker

Oops, what with catching up the kids with homework for their new schools and going to back-to-school night, I have fallen a few days behind on the blog. Here, then, is Wednesday's tie, from UK clothier Ted Baker. Baker hit the scene with a line of heavy, shiny, woven-patterned silk ties about three or four years ago (about the same time as the City of London ties popped up, which I believe are made by the same company), and within months everybody else was on the bandwagon. I chose this Ted Baker tie for its suggestiveness of one of my favorite childhood toys, Pressman Crystal Climbers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The City of Townsville

After the great animated television shows of the early 90s (The Simpsons, Ren and Stimpy, The Tick), I lost track of cartoons for a few years. Then when my son went to kindergarten, he started talking about The Powerpuff Girls. So I watched it with him, and fell in love with that show too. It's set in "The City of Townsville," a retro-futuristic burg drawn by people who obviously know their Mid-Century Modern; this Screenplay by Martin Wong tie (from a Robert Taliver design) would like right at home there. The Girls' creator and ersatz father, Professor Utonium, is always seen wearing a plain black tie under his lab coat; but I think he wears a tie like this offscreen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quilt Central

I have landed in a quilting hotbed: quilts adorn nearly every suite in my new workplace, made by staff members past and present. So I was not surprised when this Brite tie was immediately identified as being made of quilting fabric. Cotton batik like this is usually cut up into fat quarters and sold for quilting, i.e. to be cut into even smaller pieces and sewn together with other fabrics. (As in the quilt my mother-in-law made for us as a housewarming gift, made of six different batiks in luscious dark blues and purples.) But so many fabrics can also stand on their own, as I believe this tie ably demonstrates. It won't keep you warm, though.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

And the answer is...

As I pulled today's tie out of an underbed storage container, I realized that I can finally answer the perennial question: how many ties do I have? And the answer is: 181 quarts. That's two 70-quart containers and one 41-quart. The caveat is that that represents how many ties I had at the time of packing for my move; additional ties have arrived since then. I'm still trying to work out an acceptable storage plan for my ties. In the meantime, the 41-quart container, which contains my permanent collection of ties, is on the top of the stack, so that's where this Jhane Barnes tie came from. Not only does the pattern evoke cut geodes, it is also similar to the recent work of stained glass artist Dick Weiss, which I encountered while clicking through yesterday's blog links. Serendipity!

And while looking for geode images for today's blog, I discovered the website of fiber artist Linnie Craigie: great stuff! Ah, the joys of websurfing...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another first day

Not only did my daughter take my tie picture today, she also had her first day at her new school, which went marvelously. (Good thing, too, as schools were a primary consideration for our move.) This Pierre Cardin tie has a geometric pattern that reminds me of stained glass, a craft I've been toying with taking up since getting the book New Glass by Otto Rigan (1976) a couple years ago. The artists featured in the book completely surpass conventional notions of stained glass art, and the glass pieces transform interior spaces in a way that no other medium can. Tom Krepcio has written a useful "where are they now?" entry on the New Glass artists on his Vitreosity blog, which, now that I've found it, is set to consume a great deal of my net-surfing time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Speaking of Modern Art

(Which I was yesterday, in the context of sculpture...) How about a little Kandinsky? Wassily Kandinsky has been on my mind since I read a review of Peter Carey's new novel, Theft, in the Washington Post. The novel deals with fraud in the world of art. Here's the quote from the novel that has stuck in my mind:
"Real artists don't have strategy.... C├ęzanne could not explain himself, nor could Picasso. Kandinsky could explain everything. Q.E.D."

I don't buy that. Just because he could explain everything doesn't mean you have to believe him. You don't even have to read his explanations. I haven't, but I doubt that they would reduce my appreciation for his explorations of form and color. They are most definitely real art, because they make me think and feel, and I like them. Q.E.D.

The tie, by the way, is by Daniel Craig (not the actor).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mexican batik

Batik is usually associated with Indonesia, but this extra-wide cotton batik tie comes from Mexico. The color scheme is unlike any batik I've seen before, and the green foreground figures echo the abstract forms of Modern Sculpture in its 1960-ish heyday (such as those in the Sculpture Garden Loop of Cornell's F.R. Newman Arboretum, which I referred to obliquely in this post as my "personal happy place"). My new house is also of that era, so my affinity for so-called Mid-Century Modern has come to glorious fruition.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Greetings from Ithaca!

We made it! We got the entire contents of our house onto a moving van on Wednesday, loaded the whole family into the minivan and drove to Ithaca on Thursday, bought our new house on Friday, spent the weekend on sleeping bags and air mattresses, and the moving van arrived today with all our stuff. Yippee! That just leaves the small matter of selling our old house...

Today's tie is a hand-marbled tie whose label has fallen off, but it came in a lot of several Cosette ties, so that's probably who made it. The final pattern of a hand-marbled tie is determined partially by chance: the marbler knows how to do it, and has a rough idea of how it will turn out, but there's no predicting exactly how the dyes will lay down on the substrate, or exactly how they will swirl and mingle when the comb is run through. I felt that was an apt metaphor for the first day at a new job, which is what today was for me. Hence the marbled tie. Today went well enough that I will definitely be going back tomorrow.