Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I just put these letter writing kits up for sale in the Etsy shop. I would love to see more people embrace the lost art of letter writing. Wouldn't it be nice if these encouraged the practice? Each kit has everything you need to write one artful letter: a page or two of interesting paper, a cool envelope and two or three postage stamps or labels for embellishment. These would be perfect for those of you who are into mail arts.

Blue and cream letter kit.72
Blue and cream letter kit detail 2.72 Write Me a Letter single letter writing kit - Indigo. Click to see detail.

Brown letter kit.72Brown letter kit detail.72 Write Me a Letter single letter writing kit - Espresso. Click to see detail.

Pink letter kit.72
Pink letter kit stamps detail.72
Write Me a Letter single letter writing kit - Strawberry. Click to see detail.

I have five more letter kits that I will be putting in the Etsy shop soon. Just need to get them packaged and photographed.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Needles, pins and thread

For those of you just joining me, I am attempting to blog every day this month as part of NaBloPoMo. The theme for the month is ties, in both the literal and metaphorical meaning of the word.

Earlier, as I searched around the web for the term ties, I stumbled across a hussif. I had no idea what a hussif was, but found myself fascinated by these homey little objects.

Here is some history: a hussif or "housewife" is simply a sewing kit. They were popular during the Victorian era, and were (and perhaps still are?) carried into battle by soldiers. Although I haven't been able to find a more detailed history anywhere, I have found some lovely examples of them. Here are just a few:

Kakavik sewing bag
This beautiful sewing bag, dating to 1878, was made by a member of the Yu' pik tribe, who live in the tundra region of Alaska. It held a woman's needles, thimble, sinew thread, small knife and whetstone. Some Yu' pik men also carried them. If their skin boots ripped or they tore their clothing, they could make repairs on the spot.
Image courtesy National Army Museum Te Mata Toa via New Zealand History Online.

This South African ('Boer') War leather 'housewife' is attributed to New Zealand Quartermaster-Sergeant Seymour Spencer, who arrived in South Africa with the Fifth Contingent in April 1900. He was later promoted to Lieutenant and saw further service with the Seventh and Ninth Contingents.

1800s beaded red hussif
A beautiful beaded Victorian hussif listed on eBay. Visit the listing for some fascinating history on this piece. 

I have already posted one hussif by Hen's Teeth. I love these--they incorporate many elements that are dear to me: paper ephemera, postage stamps, vintage buttons, vintage ribbon...what's not to love?

hen's teeth needlecases 2

I'm not much of a seamstress, but I am tempted to try my hand at making one of these. They intrigue me.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aesthetic ties

Some images with ties in them from Daily Poetics, whose photostream is my favorite on Flickr. She also has a wonderful blog.

wax seal.jpg

I believe this is a collage by Kariann Burleson (Daily Poetics)

Worn hang tag.jpg
The font on the bottom hang tag is called Great Circus and was designed by Eduardo Recife, a Brazilian graphic designer, artist and type designer whose work I love.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ties to St. Louis. Who knew?

Last night I went to a symphony concert with my good friends, Cindy, Ann and Teresa.  It was a performance by the world-class Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra of music from Warner Bros.’ Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons. Needless to say, watching Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote while listening to fabulous music was a good time. The show’s creator and conductor, George Daugherty, was a charming fellow and an excellent MC for the evening. From him we learned of some really interesting ties between St. Louis and the Warner Bros. cartoons. For example, we learned that Carl Stalling, the composer of most of the crazy musical pieces that accompanied the cartoons, was once the organist at the St. Louis Theatre—now Powell Symphony Hall, where the concert was taking place.

Powell Symphony Hall dome.jpg
Powel Symphony Hall photo from here

Stalling also happens to have been born in Missouri. The first piece of music he composed was for an unknown animator named Walt Disney. Do you know where it was screened? In St. Louis. At the Fox Theatre. Across the street from Powell. And Warner Bros Symphony Orchestra conductor Felix Slatkin was born—can you guess where? St. Louis. And he is the father of famed former Saint Louis Symphony conductor, Leonard Slatkin! Who knew??!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Is your dance card full?

On Monday my friend Cindy and I took the day off. We went out for lunch and visited some of our favorite antique haunts around St. Louis. Once of those was a little shop in University City called Meli Melo. We were surprised and saddened to see that the shop was empty--closed for good.

The space was diminutive, but the owner kept it stocked with the most wonderful, carefully curated items. I liked it because she always had unusual pieces of ephemera: rolls of London newspapers from the 1850s, in such good condition that at first I thought they were reproductions; a set of small, narrow leather covered journals filled with the tiniest spidery script; and paper fans, beautiful, fragile paper fans.

And these: a collection of dance cards. I had to have them.

Vintage dance card cover

This one is from an Annual Military Ball given by the University of Illinois Regiment, April 10, 1903.

Vintaage dance card spreads

Dance cards w group photo

Dance card spread

The ties originally had tiny pencils attached to them. These were used by a gentlemen to sign a lady's dance card, reserving a dance with her.

Dance cards, or Ballspenden as they are known in German, appear to have originated in the 18th century, but their use became widespread in 19th century Vienna. These are slightly later, dating from the early 1900s.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ties of love and kindness

Just a quick post today. Yesterday afternoon I went to see the movie, A Single Man.  It was directed by Tom Ford, the fashion designer. Even though it dissolves at times into scenes that look like a Calvin Klein ad, it still has a moving story and a very human performance by Colin Firth. It really got to me.

If you see the movie, you will understand the title of this post.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The ties that bind...books Part Two

Yesterday I posted some sewn bindings on books that I have made. Today I am going to show examples of sewn bindings by others.
As I mentioned yesterday, the long-stitch binding offers endless variations. Here are a few from San Diego Book Arts:

I love the raw aspect of this one from Garlic Harvest Studio and the way the stitches occupy such a small area on the spine:


Interior view of a pamphlet stitch book from Vamp and Tramp:

vampandtramp pamphlet stitch
Click for a larger view--this is a pretty book

Well, I was really hoping to show you some criss-cross ribbon bound albums, but oddly, now that I am looking I can't find any. I am going to give up and go do some binding myself.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The ties that bind...books

I love binding books by hand. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find time to do it as much as I would like. There are some really simple sewn bindings that are beautiful and easy to master: the long stitch (of which there are absolutely endless variations), the pamphlet stitch (very easy), and a criss-cross binding that I don't know the name for but that I love because it is gorgeous and easy--like tying your shoes.

Here are a few books I've made using these types of bindings. I think I will follow up tomorrow with a post showing some more complicated versions of these bindings by other people.

  Long-stitch journals
Simple, two-signature long-stitch books. Click to view larger.

long-stitch butterfly books Three-signature long-stitch binding with vintage button closure. The brown ribbon is the closure on the bottom book. Click to view larger.

Long-stitch.Japanese stab binding
A leather, long-stitch book I made in a class and underneath, a simple Japanese stab-binding. Click to view larger.

Simple pamphlet stitch Pamphlet stitch. Click to view larger. These are available as a set in the Etsy store.

Paris photo album
Criss-cross binding. Very easy and so pretty. This was a custom photo album for my mother-in-law, Linda, housing photos she took on one of her many trips to Paris. Click to view larger.

Birds Watching Us
The same stitch on some address books that Ann and I made. Click to view larger.

These are all simple versions of these stitches. Tomorrow I will post some elaborate versions from other book artists.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hussif - a Victorian sewing kit

For those of you who are coming in at the middle (of the month), I have taken the NaBloPoMo challenge to blog every day in February. The theme for the month is ties.

In looking for something interesting to post about today, I Googled the term "ribbon ties" and stumbled across this:

Hussif front view
Husif inside view
Husif inside view 2

I'm finding myself inexplicably drawn to these little sewing kits even though before this month, I didn't know they existed. I posted about one just a few days ago here.

Aren't they beautiful little objects? The one featured above is from here.
I think I might research and post some more of them...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The ties that connect us to others

Last evening I had, I mean a meeting with the Willows. Ann (my former business partner) and I have written about the Willows here before. The Willows is a group of five women who meet on a regular basis to talk about work, family, love, life. It started out as a business group to offer ideas, inspiration and encouragement to women who owned emerging businesses. It still offers ideas, inspiration and encouragement--sometimes it's still even about business--but the meetings have become mostly social. That's OK. We still help each other with our businesses outside of the meetings and, more importantly, I think we have all gained friends for life. Here are profiles of the other Willows.

AnnAnn Hirschfeld of String BuzzMy former business partner and longtime friend, Ann. What? You thought we would kick her out of the Willows just because she doesn't have a business anymore? That's not how we roll. Ann has gone back to school to study graphic design (straight As last semester) and plays music in String Buzz. She also plays music with my husband on Friday nights.

Tyler is a mom of two, graphic designer, adjunct professor at a local college and purveyor of organic cotton toddlers' clothing at periwinklebloom. Brilliant, funny and famously self-deprecating, she is also one of my closest friends and favorite people.

periwinklebloom mangle bloomers
perinwinklebloom mangle bloomers

Jen's family
Jen is the talented fashion designer behind Angelina Accoutrements. That's Jen on the left, with her mother, grandmother and daughter, Gulina. Family is very important to Jen: Guilina is named for her grandmother, who is also Jen's inspiration for Angelina  Accoutrements. Her clothing pieces, fashioned out of vintage cashmere, are stunning.

St. Louis Fashion Week
Jen's designs, on the runway at St. Louis Fashion week

Ria sheared
And finally, here is the lovely Ria, newly shorn and donating her beautiful hair to Locks of Love. Ria is mom to two, a social media genius and one of the women behind My Mommy Manual.  Loving, giving and a straight shooter, you can always count on Ria to, well, shoot straight. : )

Click here to see Ria in one of her recent appearances on Great Day St. Louis:

Love my Willows. I'll see you all next week at the movies.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mini Journal set new in the Etsy shop

I just listed these sets of mini journals in the Etsy shop. Three pamphlet-stitched cahiers nestle in a muslin gift bag with an attached tag and vintage postage stamp. This would make a great hostess gift, party favor or wedding favor.

Mini journals

mini journals with vintage postage stamps

Mini journal with Italian postage stamp
Set of mini journals in red colorway.

Mini journals in muslin gift bag

Cahier with Brussels postage stamp

Silver leaf cahier 1000
Set of mini notebooks in blue colorway. The bottom one has crushed silver leaf embedded in the cover stock. Click to see detail.

Cahiers purple colorway 1000

Purple cahier Heller 1000

Purple cahier Nederland 1000

Purple cahier Sen 1000

For all images, click for larger view. Available for sale here.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fine-spun threads

'Tis sweet to feel by what fine-spun threads our affections are drawn together. ~Lawrence Sterne

hen's teeth needlecase Needlecase by Hen's Teeth available here.