What’s with the French and 1 April, the day when school children go around pasting paper fish on the backs of the unsuspecting and yell “Poisson d’avril !”. No one knows for sure but there are plenty of adorable, probably not-entirely true theories behind the tradition.
One comes from the fact that back in the day the new year began around the first of April. That changed in 1564 when King Charles IX took France into the modern world by adopting the Gregorian calendar and a new year beginning with January. This caused understandable confusion and frustration. (Think about it. As it is, Daylight Savings Time throws me off for weeks. Imagine shifting a whole season.) The response was to jokingly continue to celebrate the beginning of the new year on 1 April with gag gifts of fake fish.
Okay, but why fish? It may have been connected to Lent which often fell about this time of year. Meat was forbidden and fish was a big treat, ergo giving someone a fake fish was hilarious. (Don’t ask me, I don’t understand pranks at the best of times.) It is more likely to be linked to the fact that fishing [read more]
These altered postcards are one of a kind miniatures. Each postcard dates from the early 1900s (circa 1902) and has that beautiful, old-world handwritten script. The birds are from an old Swiss field guide to birds, 1912. Each one has been hand-cut and added to the post card, then altered with charcoal and graphite for maximum pop. Each card measures 13cm x 7.5cm (5″ x 3″), and will come on a card that is from a 1920s French post card scrapbook. It is not fixed and can be removed and framed, if wished. Cost is £27 GBP with free worldwide shipping. To buy use the Buy It Now button UNDERNEATH the image that you want to purchase. If there any problems, please contact me by email.
Click on any image for a larger view:
One of the questions I am asked the most often is where do I get my bird images. Well, I do actively search them out and then some just find me but yes, I have a lot of birds. So here are a few to share and add to your collage, art journals, altered books, or other mixed media work. To use these, click on an image for a larger resolution, then right click and copy. You can then add it to an editing program such as Paint. (I use Word. Even though it is not a visual platform per se, I am used to it.) You may want to resize these, make them larger or smaller. Happy Making!
The Girl’s Own Paper was a periodical published in Britain from 1880 until 1956. I really enjoy the older versions for their plates and engravings that I use a lot in my altered books and art journals. They also have some writing that is as ridiculous as it is humourless: sanctimonious advice to young women about the quality of the verses, suggestions for becoming lace menders or lady’s maids, and serialised stories that were meant to be uplifting but today seem terrifying in their narrow expectation for the female half of the species.
Here are a few plates for you. Click on any image for a larger version then right click, copy, and put into an editing program. Paint is a good one although I also use Word (because I am used to it). Below is a video flipthrough of some of the prettier (and cheesier) selections from the book. Let me know if you have any questions and please get back to me and let me know what you [read more]
I recently acquired a batch of French holy cards (images pieuses) from the 1870s. They are utterly charming engravings on paper surrounded by a lace border, which is why they are also called “dentelles,” which is the French word for lace. Cards like this were often given as gifts for a first communion, baptism, or other important events in one’s church life and were cherished.
I have made this into high-resolution (300 dpi) scans that you can download and print or use digitally in your own collage, journal, or other mixed media work. TO USE: click on an image below for a larger resolution. You either print from there or right click and copy into an editing programme such as Paint and then size and print from there.
Please check back soon as I will be adding some images pieuses in colour!
I sell quite a bit of vintage paper from my studio, from letterpress text to handwritten letters to just plain old antique book pages. Sometimes the happy new owner of these pages is off and running with using it her work but other times I get emails saying that it is beautiful but what do I do next? Can I really use it in my pages?
The answer is, you bet. Let me show you some of the ways you can incorporate old papers into your work. As usual, I am going to show most of these methods using my altered book but remember, you can do the same in your art journals, junk journals, collage, or any other mixed media project.
- Full page coverage. Using handwritten documents or letters is one of my favourite go-to ways to start a layout. It is fun and atmospheric and allows your focal points to shine, all at the same time.
- A variation on the full page cover is to mix and match it with the original underpage. I like to rough tear a letter in an irregular way and then glue it to the base so that you can see some layer. [read more]
At last! The return of the French Book Arts Ephemera Boxes. Each parcel is filled with vintage French treasure to inspire your art journals, junk journals, collage, altered books, or other mixed-media work. Each box is curated by hand and is filled with hard-to-find handwritten paper, post cards, cabinet photos, and French brocante, all authentic and little pieces of mysteries and unfinished stories that have been waiting to be found. Here is a video of an unboxing or if you prefer there are photos at the end of this post.
While every box is different, each contains:
- Five yards French linen thread (unwaxed);
- Vintage tin (distressed);
- Three handwritten cartes postales;
- Edition of La Mode Illlustrée, a womans fashion magazine dating from the 1870s to the 1880s. Four pages;
- handwritten legal documents (actes notaires);
- French dictionary pages, 1842, four pages;
- Signatures from various French texts, 1611-1878;
- Three cartes de visites (photographs), circa 1880s;
- Four playing cards (jeu de tarot), 1870;
- Five vintage prayer/holy cards;
- Edition of Bulletin Des Lois (1835 to 1854). Printing is letterpress and they open to 16” x 20”.
- Three large pages of ads from L’Universe (1861) or Femina (1911);
- Five hand-lacquered mother-of-pearl shells;
- 10ml sample of handmade walnut ink;
- Length of vintage lace;
- 18 inches of sari silk;
- Length of tea-dyed gauze;
- UHU, archival [read more]
Last year I got lucky and found a book called Paxton’s Magazine of Botany from 1838. (Or maybe it found me.) Inside were 48 insanely beautiful, hand-coloured botanical plates of flowers. Repeat – each one of these prints was painted by hand. I am still working out how (or if) I will sell the originals but in the meantime, I am offering them as digital downloads that you can print and use in your own artwork. Each plate is high resolution, 300 dpi.
Note that the originals of these plates are over 180 years old some of these copies will have foxing and other smudging from over the years but if you love old paper as I do, you will consider this part of their patina and part of the story that they are telling. They are also in the public domain so you can use them in your creations safely.
Please go to the bottom of this post to see a video of ways that I use these images in my mixed-media and art journal [read more]
As in other parts of the world, on April 1 French children love to play pranks. Instead of April’s Fools Day it is called Poisson d’Avril. The origins are murky but for whatever reason, there is a tradition of sticking a paper fish to someone’s back and when they finally find out, you shout “C’est le poisson d’Avril !” This post is not to dissect those wacky French fish jokesters but to offer you these vintage postcards from back in the day for you to download. To use, right click and copy then add to your favourite program such as Paint or Word. Print at will and use in your collage, art journal, or mixed media projects. Happy April and Joyeux Avril !
This is a set of vintage, pocket-sized holy books from Britain, The Book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern. Printed by Eyre and Spottiswood. Although there is no date of publication, there is a handwritten inscription on the inside cover dated 1903. The covers are leather. These books come in a leather carrying case that has a rope handle with beads. The case has wear and could use some TLC. One of the books has a loose binding at the front (see photos). This could be mended. Even with the age-related damage, these would make a special gift.
Cost is $20 with $5 shipping in the U.S. If you are buying from other countries, please contact me for exact shipping, or I can ship it for free at the end of February when I [read more]