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]
This is a mother-of-pearl rosary from France. It has silver bead caps on the Pater beads. The Christ figure on the crucifix is also silver. This is an old piece, from the 1890s. White rosaries like this were often given as gifts for a first communion or on a wedding day. While this, of course, makes a unique and lovely devotional object, it is also makes a lovely piece for someone who just loves old French antiques, and it can also be worn as a necklace. Please note, there is tiny nick (chip) in the MOP in the crucifix. It is not noticeable and in fact I bought it without noticing it but it is there.
It measures 18″ (45cm) and the crucifix alone measures 1.5″ (4cm). To see larger images just click on any photo below.
Comes with a vintage French postcard of an old-timey nun circa 1910s and a vintage French tin as a presentation box. Please note that tin is distressed but that is meant to be part of its charm. If you prefer something a little less eccentric, I can switch it out for one of my hand, faux-rusted tins that you can see in my other listings [read more]
This is an outstanding piece. A vintage French rosary (1910s). The beads are multi-faceted crystal in a pale blue. The fittings are silver and include a lovely art nouveau link piece (see photos). The crucifix has two hallmarks on the bale. An unusual feature of this rosary is that it has 12 miniature silver medals (one for each station of the cross); on one side is the face of Mary and on the other is the face of Jesus. The six linking beads have silver, filigree caps.
While these are gorgeous devotional objects, they can also be enjoyed as a piece of vintage French ephemera and worn as a necklace.
It measures 21″ (53cm). To see a larger image, click on any photo below.
Cost is £135 with free worldwide shipping. Click on button below to buy instantly. Go here for a currency converter that will show the price in your currency. Please let me know if you have any [read more]
Here are some high-res scans of vintage French postcards with gorgeous handwriting in old ink. To use them in your work, click on an image for a bigger view then click, copy, and save into an editing program such as Paint. You can then add a light card for some backing and hey presto, you can play around with them to your creative heart’s content.
And here is a video tutorial showing how to use vintage postcards to make pockets in an altered book. This technique would also be good in junk journals or art journals or other mixed media work. Please let me know if you have any [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!
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]
I never go anywhere without a sketchbook journal; it’s the best way to make sure you are working in it, no excuses, and using small bits of time here and there. While I usually use a most substantial journal there are times when it is too heavy to be practical, and then I want a smaller, lightweight book. But – I want it to be noteworthy, so I decorate them before taking them out. (We want compliments, don’t we?) Here is a video showing how I altered the softcover sketchbook above. Below this are some written instructions AND some high-res downloads that you can use to reproduce this book yourself.
You can usually find these soft cover journals in craft, stationery, or book stores. First I put down a messy layer of gauze. If you don’t have gauze you can use cheesecloth or other light fabric, or tissue paper, or skip this step. Over that I added a page from an old French army record book onto which I had stamped a bird’s nest. Now, you can use any page of your own that you fancy but here are some high-res scans that you can download or cut-and-paste [read more]
SOLD: This is a pocket or travel shrine made from an altered Altoid tin. Inside is a vintage saint on one side and an unusual relic of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes on the other. (Please click on any photo to see larger view.)
Bernadette Soubirous died in 1879 and was made a saint in 1933. The relic consists of sawdust from the wood of Bernadette’s coffin, inside of a small, blue envelope marked: “Maison Mere des Souers de la Charite de Nevers” on one side and “”Sciure de Bois/Extraite du cercueil de la Vénerable Souer Marie-Bernard Soubirous le 22 Septembre 1909.”
The date on the envelope is 1909 which makes it from an interesting chapter in the making of a saint; it was the year her body was exhumed by the church for examination in search of proof of the incorruption of her body as proof of her sanctity. (This is why it is labelled “venerable” rather than “saint.”) Her body was then reburied in a new coffin (to be exhumed twice more in coming years – yikes). This sawdust is from the original coffin.
This altered tin shrine is trimmed with two vintage French holy cards (one from 1884, the other early [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 !
I decided to create these vintage packages with a religious theme to showcase some of the French sacred ephemera I have found (or that has found me. I never know which it is). While this lotwould, of course, be perfect for someone who cherishes them as devotional items, they are also charming, vintage collectibles for anyone who likes French brocante. (Click on individual photo below to see a larger view.) This lot contains:
Vintage rosary from Lourdes, 1930s, of 59 sapphire blue, crystal beads. The centre is a fitting of brass in a filigree pattern (very art nouveau with a tiny fleur de lis) and the crucifix is either brass or a gold plated metal. On the reverse side it says, “Souvenir de Lourdes.” It measures 19.5″ (49 cm).
The book is Histoire Sainte Ancien et Nouveau Testament and is a schoolbook from 1898. It is full of stories and black and white illustrations. The binding is a little loose on the frontispiece. Also included is a photograph on a postcard of a first communion, 1903. (Stamp and handwriting on the back.) There are also three, vintage holy cards.
Cost is £75 GBP with free worldwide shipping. You can use [read more]