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