Gibbons' Tidings

Upon finishing my Business Management degree from the University of the Philippines,  the  expectation was to join the family company the day after graduation. At that time,  the woodworking division just expanded. Stationed at the new facility,  I recall feeling  a mix of excitement and trepidation despite growing up in the business. None of the case studies in school and part time jobs in different departments at the plant prepared me for the random challenges that come up in manufacturing. The panacea for those stressful moments was to zone out in my zen office and look through books. One notable tome was about the brilliant artistry of master carver, Grinling Gibbons. He was astoundingly adept at molding and shaping wood, especially limewood. His trademark was the cascade of fruit, leaves, flowers, foliage, fish, and birds which he applied to paneling, furniture, walls, or even chimneys.
photo credit

Grinling Gibbons was born in the Netherlands in 1648. He apprenticed with a family of master carvers called Quellin where he learned to carve in marble and lime. The Baroque style was in full flower in the Netherlands. Gibbons incorporated this style into his work, being deeply influenced by the lush fullness of realistic fruit and flower paintings  of Flemish Masters like Jan Phillips van Thielen, Daniel Seghers, and Peter Paul Rubens. Charles II was one of Gibbons’ patrons. He would also be employed in varying degrees by Sir Christopher Wren, James II, William and Mary, Queen Anne and George I. William III gave him the title of Master Carver.

One of the many bookcase carvings Gibbons 

Such paneling wouldn't require any holiday decor.

The cravat in limewood is a lifelike imitation of Venetian needlepoint. Horace Walpole, who wore the cravat in 1763 said, "There is no instance of man before Gibbons who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers". It is now on display in the Chapel at Chatsworth, Derbyshire.

You can view his work in the following venues:


  • St James’ Church, Piccadilly - there are shell-festoons decorating a reredos (an ornamental wall or screen), as well as an organ case festooned with angels and putti.
  • Petworth House in Sussex - in the Carved Room, visitors can see faultless representations of musical instruments, doves, baskets of flowers, whorled scrolls and cornucopia.
  • St Paul's Cathedral - the choir stalls are his work as well as the Bishop's two thrones, and the seat of the Lord Mayor.
  • Hampton Court - commissions include frames, door cases, cornices and the frieze in the King’s Bedchamber.
  • Cambridge University - Trinity College Library has bookcases decorated by Gibbons’ with ciphers and coats of arms.
  • Chapel of Trinity College Oxford - there is a reredos executed in lime and pearwood. 

Now that we've had our little history lesson, we can get on to the fun and frivolous! I have been massively crushing on Alexander McQueen's Grinling Gibbon inspired booties for a looong time. These solemates appeal to my  carpentry roots and are quite special being part of Alexander McQueen's last collection before his death. I had to still my furiously beating heart when I got the pre-sale notice last week but at 40% off, it is still pricey. Let's just hope Santa is listening to me and with my birthday coming up, it would make the ultimate double entendre present! See the Fall 2010 16-piece collection here.
In the midst of composing this post, I got into word-photo association and thought of another  solemate that appeals to my carpentry roots, Miu Miu Baroque Wedges from Fall 2006 
 I wore them with a laser cut dress when I participated as a prop 
for the first SNUG photo shoot, Fall 2009.
The first time I wore this dress was at the Tatler Party in Cebu.
Photo with Bernie Aboitiz, a good friend who is an inspiring 
breast cancer survivor, June 2005.
It was custom made by Cary Santiago
a supremely talented Philippine couturier.
The doily edges are in the manner of Gibbons' cravat.
Another reason why I love the dress so much is it's reminiscent of 
one of my all time favorite lighting pieces.
At $115, it would make an affordably stunning holiday present.
Since this has become a lyrical post of sales and shoes, I might as well do a little shameless plug here. SNUG's Cleo Lounge Chaise is included in our Crazy Cyber Week Sale on Bulx.com (it's the last day!)
Cleo Lounge Chaise by Debbie Palao
 sculptural and sultry, it is will enhance the boudoir or any other room

"To break the rules you must first know how they were made."
-Alexander McQueen

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