Sunday, December 15, 2013

You never know what will turn up in the mail

So, on Friday, I received a package from my friend Jo Diamantes, a wonderful Cincinnati book artist. It was taped within an inch of its life. At first, I thought it was something related to the Cincinnati Book Arts Society, which we both belong to. But what could warrant such intense packaging?

I soon found out. Inside was a worn, crumbling scrapbook, circa 1890, and a note from Jo explaining that it had belonged to someone on her mother's side of the family, but she wasn't sure who. She said she had no use for it, but suspected I might. How thoughtful!

It's a small - 6" x 8.5" - album with pressed cardboard covers that mimic leather. The front cover - above - has hand painted roses, and the fading inscription: "A Present from London."

The first "scrap," is a large chromolithograph glued to the inside of the cover. The rest of the book is filled with an eclectic mix of paper: scraps, trade cards, personal calling cards, etc. Here's a quartet of the most arresting images … those with a keen eye will note that the final scrap is similar to one written about last August in a post about Victorian oddities.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Tonight's the night ...

Final Open Studios of the year 6-9 pm tonight at Brazee Street Studios. I will swing my doors open at 5 pm. Have rehung art, restocked cards, and added some holiday goodies. Hope to see you there (1st floor, right across from the gallery, which, by the way, has three pieces by me in the "Multiplicity" exhibit)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The elf - that would be me - is hard at work

Scenes from the studio in recent weeks, as holiday production geared up ...

It might look like a mess to you, but I call it production!
Various greeting cards fresh off the printer, waiting to be
gathered up, cut, folded, packaged and labeled. Newest
Christmas one - Season's Greetings from Cincinnati - at bottom. 

My first attempt at glass ornaments. My studio home
- Brazee Street Studios - houses a glass school.
On Monday, all Brazee artists were invited to try their hand
at making a trio of ornaments. Different shapes were available
but I stuck with circles. These are pretty rudimentary, but I
enjoyed making them under the guidance of Leah Busch,
who has to be the MOST patient woman in the universe.

My studio tree. It's a work in progress,
and is hung with collages - tags,
ornaments, etc. - that are for sale.
I stuck my glass ornaments on it, too,

Collage tags featuring vintage Santa images
from my Santa card collection (yes, I have one).
Most have been sold, or are for sale at
Nvision in Northside. Hope to whip up more
when I hit the studio today. 

The holiday Tinys - my new line of
petite gift enclosure cards. This side
of the rack is all Santa, but there
are plenty of other designs,
including non-holiday
(see earlier post). 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Santa's on his way ...

It's no secret that I'm smitten with Santa. He's appearing on all manner of paper goods from stamped gift tags - using my favorite image - and collaged tags to collages and prints.

I'm just finishing new Santa collages for this weekend's Showcase of Arts at the Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati (10-4 Saturday Dec. 7, noon-4 Sunday Dec. 8 rain, sleet, ice or snow … so they say).

Here's a peek at them … the first three are on 6"x 6" hardwood panels, and are ready to hang with a hanger on the back. They're sealed, and the sides are varnished. The second three are on covered book board - 4" x 7.75" - and hang from vintage seam binding threaded through the grommets at the top of each.

Hope to see you this weekend, but, please, be careful out there ...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The art of thanksgiving

Front and back of a Prang Thanksgiving card.
Over the years, hundreds of antique Thanksgiving postcards and greeting cards have been added to my collection. They tend to fall along the line of turkeys, pilgrims, children and turkeys, the fall harvest, and fields of plenty. Some are humorous, some are serious, and some are just downright weird.

Among them, are five that are my absolute favorites. They were published by Louis Prang & Co., of Boston. Prang is a name familiar to artists, and especially art teachers, to this day via the company's art supplies. But in the 19th century. Prang - a German immigrant whose father was a printer - made his name as a publisher of stunningly beautiful color lithographs.

He started out printing small replicas of well-known paintings, then, launched an art magazine. After a trip to Germany to catch up on the latest printing techniques, he began printing cards specifically for scrapbookers.

In 1874, he started selling Christmas cards in America, a year after launching them in England. Prang died in 1909, about a decade after his company merged with Taber. That company went belly up in the 1930s. But his legacy lives on in his beautiful cards, for which he is given credit as being "the father of the American Christmas card." I feel lucky - and, yes, thankful - to own ANY of his cards.

Here are the other four … note that the grape card is printed with a different greeting. It was common for publishers to recycle images.  These are blank on the back, which means that each was probably glued to a second card - similar to the back one above - with an edging of silk fringe sandwiched between them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Introducing Tinys: big isn't always better

For the past two months, I've been designing a new line of gift enclosure cards - those petite cards that get tucked into all manner of gifts. I've named them Tinys, and they made a successful debut yesterday at the 19th annual Studio Collection Holiday Sale.

At the moment, there are four styles:
- Christmas Tinys - which introduce beloved images from my collection of antique postcards and greeting cards, as well as a few reproductions of my holiday collages.
- Body Language Tinys - how many people have ever given you a gift enclosure card with an image of a brain on it?
- Childhood Tinys - reproductions of images from antique story books, children's magazines, cards, etc.
- Deja View Tinys - random images that I hoped to use at some time or another, including antique fashion plates.

As with the regular greeting cards, they are blank inside, but there is detailed info on the back about the image source, maybe a little too detailed. Let's just say I got carried away despite the limited space! Here's a look at a few of the cards. The entire line is available at my studio, and a selection will be at Over-the-Rhine's MiCA 12/V later this week.

Adapted from a black-and-white engraving in
the December 1886 issue of Peterson's magazine. ©

Available in the three colors shown above.
The pattern was adapted from a black-and-white engraving
in the February 1899 issue of the Young Ladies' Journal. ©

Reproduction of a collage made with antique an postcard,
engraving, recipe and needlework illustration. ©

Adapted from an illustration in
Les Elegances Parisiennes, circa 1918. ©

Phrenology head adapted from an illustration in
The Werner Universal Educator (1901).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My hearts will go on ...

Newest card in the "I heart" series is for Cincinnati's Mt. Lookout neighborhood. One of its landmarks is the Cincinnati Observatory, and that's why the heart is blue and starry.

The back of the card has something new: an excerpt from "Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and It's Neighbors" (The Wiesen-Hart Press, Cincinnati). The guide - sponsored by the city and state - was published in 1943 as part of the American Guide Series, a Work Projects Administration project to employ writers as the country moved out of the Great Depression.

I plan to add excerpts from the book about each of the other neighborhoods, too, as I reprint those cards.

Next in the series: downtown. Oh, and like the other "heart" greeting cards, this one will become a bumper sticker at some point.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Friday night Open Studios … plus two new shows at Brazee

Gulp. It's time for another Open Studio. As always, I will be in and open at 5 p.m. earlier than the regular hours. Two annual holiday exhibits open in the gallery - just across the hall from my studio, Multiplicity features multiples/series by artists, and Hang It Up is a fun show of handmade ornaments.

I have three pieces in Multiplicity, my trio of cakes … part of what I am sure will be an ongoing series. They were cooked up for the anniversary celebration of a local bakery, and were just shown in "Food for Thought" at the University of Cincinnati's new Blue Ash gallery.

Now, they're back home! I think "Love's Offering" - made with antique needlework patterns from Godey's Lady's Book and Victorian flower scraps - would be a perfect wedding, anniversary or engagement present …

© Love's Offering (2013)
mixed-media collage: antique, vintage, recycled papers
12"x12" on hardwood panel

© Classic 14-Layer Marble Cake (2013)
mixed-media collage: antique, vintage, recycled papers
12"x12" on hardwood panel

© The Beginning of the End: Eve Offers Adam
 a Piece of Fruitcake
mixed-media collage: antique, vintage, recycled papers
12"x12" on hardwood panel

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It's close to the witching hour ... so a gallery of Halloween postcards from the vintage vault seemed appropro. Halloween's become the Holy Grail of collectibles during the past decade. I don't have many Halloween postcards - they're generally beyond my pocketbook - but over time, I've nabbed a few. At reasonable prices, too (that is, less than $25 each). Here's a selection of antique ones, meaning they are more than 100 years old.

A classic by artist Ellen Clapsaddle.
 Published by International Art Publ Co.,
printed in Germany, and postmarked

1910 from Kansas City, MO.

A striking graphic published by Cincinnati's
Gibson Art Co. Not mailed, so no postmark.

Postcard by artist H.B. Griggs, whose initials are at bottom left.
I found a number by him a few years ago in an antique shop
in Louisville, Ky., and snapped them all up. It was not mailed,
but is circa 1910 and was published by L & E (series2262).

The two postcards above were published by England's
Raphael Tuck & Sons in its "Hallowe'en" series No. 188.
The top one wasn't mailed, but the bottom card

sports an Oct. 31, 1912 postmark. 

One of the beautiful women that publisher John Winsch
was noted for. Generally, the cards were illustrated by
artist Samuel L. Schmucker. This looks like his work, but
isn't signed, so I'm not sure. It wasn't mailed, 
but is dated 1912 on the front.

Not a clue on this one. Not mailed,
and the message on back is simply
 the name Eland and "from father."
But love the owl! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Available for the first time ...

"Seed Bombs," above, is one of the reproductions of original collages that will be sold for the first time at the annual Tiger Lily Press sale. It's printed with archival-quality inks on 100% cotton rag paper. It will be available in two sizes: 7"x9" (matted in an acid-free mat to fit 11"x14" frame) and 8"x11" (matted to fit a 12"x16" frame). All the prints are of collages that are no longer available.

There will be other first-time prints at the sale, too, including the debut of Sweet Petite Prints. These are repros of Sweet Petite collages no longer available, such as "Day Dreaming" (below). Like the originals, they are matted to fit a 5"x7" frame.  

And look for the first cards in my new "Lux" line of holiday greeting cards ... also printed on 100% cotton rag paper ... here's a preview (the image is adapted from a 1920 postcard, I know, kind of sentimental for me) ... if I say so myself, they are gorgeous!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Paper With a Past will be showing at the annual Tiger Lily Press sale

I'll be selling work as a member of TLP and the Cincinnati Book Arts Society, the latter is part of the sale, too. Look for my new 2014 calendars, prints, greeting cards, bumper stickers and more. After visiting us on the second floor of the Clifton Cultural Art Center, check out its annual Autumn Air Art Fair on the first floor.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

So, did it work?

Thought I'd show you what happened after the scrapbook pages mentioned in the last post were soaked ... as I said then, it works. In the top photo, the scraps are drying facedown on the studio floor after being removed from the pages - luckily, it's a concrete floor. The other photos show the end result. Most of the scraps are fairly flat and those that are not, can be flattened in my nipping press.

The final photo shows another project going on in the studio at the same time - airing out pages from 1930s era Esquire magazines that had been wrapped in plastic sleeves for decades. When the wrapping was taken off ... stinky. So, time for some fresh air.