Mangle Boards

I love a beautiful coffee table book, don’t you? I love it even more when it’s something unexpected that you don’t usually see. I was recently sent this beautiful book by art historian and Barnes Foundation educator Jay Raymond called Mangle Boards of Northern Europe. I honestly can’t say I knew a whole about mangle boards or much about their craftsmanship and history until I opened the pages of this book. It is filled with striking photography and makes for a lovely conversation piece fit for any home as it beautifully depicts a domestic activity we can all relate to. Ironing.
mangle boards

Mangle Boards Coffee Table Book

If you’re new to the world of mangle boards – They’re basically a plank of wood used with a rolling pin to smooth out wrinkles from linen. Primarily used during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the boards range from nondescript and simple to ornate and flamboyant in nature. In the book, Mr. Raymond explores their key visual aspects and aesthetic accomplishments – large and small. The striking photos provides the viewer with close-ups of each board’s handles and knobs – some of which are shaped like animals, foliage, cherubs and biblical scenes. They’re also detailed with inscriptions of the original owners name, prayers and domestic celebratory phrases like “washed white and neatly folded”. Don’t you just love that? Coming from a family who made laundry and ironing a ritual, I became completely fascinated with the different stories told in each board and the history engrained in each detail.
mangleboardsMr. Raymond analyzed about 1,500 boards from the 16th century to present day Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Netherlands. How amazing would it to see these in person? If only we knew more about each owner and their lives. These are the stories that never make it to history books.
Mangle Boards of Northern Europe does exactly what it’s set out to do. Spark an interest. Create a dialogue. The book has certainly left me wanting to go deeper into the history of mangle boards. Furthermore, I think that surrounding your living space with books and art says a lot about your interests to your guests and immediately provides insight into who you are and what you like. My home is rather minimalist but I love to keep my collection of books visible on shelves and table tops. I don’t yet have the perfect coffee table. Because, teens. But I always loved the way a huge table looks with a stack of gorgeous books, some candles, a small bouquet, aaaah. Thank you Jay Raymond for generously gifting me this beautiful book.

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