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The Grammar of Ornament

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So far on the blog, we’ve featured a variety of colorful prints, but they’ve all been hand colored, meaning that after the black and white image was printed, someone manually added color. What we haven’t looked at are chromolithographs. “Well, what’s a chromolithograph? I know that chromo means color, but what’s a lithograph??” you might be thinking. That’s where we’ll start!


What is Lithography?

Lithography (litho-, from the Greek word lithos, meaning stone) is the process of printing an image using a stone and the hydrophobic effect. When the process was first invented, it required a smooth piece of limestone, with the image drawn on the surface using a fat, wax, or oil. The stone was then treated with an acidic mixture to etch the stone’s surface, while preserving the drawn on image. When the printing process starts, the stone is wet, and retains moisture in the etched surface, but not where the image is drawn. This is the same effect that you see when your homemade vinaigrette separates: the oil and water are repelling each other.


Chinese No. 1, $45


Why is The Grammar of Ornament special?

We love the The Grammar of Ornament on its face for the intricate patterns depicted by Owen Jones. Born in 1809, Jones was a preeminent architect, and was considered to be a pioneer in his time. Seeing the need for improvement in Western architecture, Jones was working to synthesize the amalgamation of influences presented by Victorian designers. 

Jones spent numerous hours studying at museums in his native London, as well as traveling across Europe and the Middle East:

"Jones's resulting study is a comprehensive analysis of styles of ornamental design, presenting key examples ranging from Maori tattoos, Egyptian columns, and Greek borders to Byzantine mosaic, Indian embroidery, and Elizabethan carvings," - Princeton University Press

Each piece has an extensive range of colors, combined with exceptional details. They're a series that we've incredibly proud to carry in the shop, and they're sure to be a stellar addition to your home. View our collection of Owen Jones originals here.

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