Whilst rummaging through some old books and magazines today, I found an annual I bought a few months ago from a secondhand book market (and promptly forgot about). It has the rather unpromising title, Commonwealth and Empire Annual 1955, and is one of those educational children's books that isn't very exciting, apart from these staggeringly beautiful colour plates below, that are the sole reason I bought the book. The illustrator is Neave Parker, who I'd never heard of, but it looks like he specialised in dinosaurs, and sadly died of a heart attack at the cinema. What a talented artist! I love these depictions of the four seasons. Bonus image down the bottom from another book, the School Friend Annual 1962, that I love to bits too.
I used to make my own clothes waaay back in the eighties and nineties, but for some reason I stopped. I think I was just much more focused on the result rather than the process and eventually grew tired of it. I've recently revisited my sewing machine and I'm loving it! This time, I'm much more engaged in the whole process and and I'm finding it really rewarding; not to mention all of my past sewing projects were pre-internet so I'm now discovering for the first time all the fabulous resources that are out there - so many great blogs, fabric shops and downloadable patterns - yaaay!
All of this sewing buzz prompted me to pull out my stash of vintage Australian Home Journal magazines. Some of them still have the dress patterns inside, but I'm more interested in looking at the beautiful covers for now. My collection spans thirty years from the early-30s to the early-60s, so I thought I'd dedicate a few posts to sharing this beautiful cover art with you. Here are the first seven that I've selected, spanning 1932-38; just look at all of those gorgeous dresses! As a bonus, here's a sassy lassy in a sporty tennis pullover from 1932...
It's so interesting to compare the different ways these vintage cats have been depicted - each one quite easy to attribute to the decade it was made. They come in all shapes, sizes & styles, but these 20th century cats are all unmistakeably kitty-esque & adorable! Which one is your favourite?
1. Bookends, LudiesBugaboo on Etsy
2. Vintage Packaging, TinkersEphemera on Etsy
3. Chalkware Statue, Pohlmans on Etsy
4. Letter Rack, RaggleTaggleHawker on Etsy
5. Ceramic Figurine, libush on Etsy
6. Cast Iron Money Box, MaisonMaudie on Etsy
7. Embroidered Pot Holder, Scarlettess on Etsy
8. Metal Charm, YummyTreasures on Etsy
9. Ceramic Figurine, SecretAgentGirl on Etsy
10. Salt & Pepper Shakers, The Spectrum
11. Halloween Decoration, MoesArt on Etsy
12. Vintage Greeting Card, GrandMothersAttic on Etsy
13. Vintage Playing Cards, WashiWishes on Etsy
14. Vintage Playing Cards, OldAndWise on Etsy
15. Wooden Clock, Serine23 on Etsy
16. Squeaky Toy, GC5Vintage on Etsy
17. Fortune Telling Cards, RetroHeart on Etsy
18. Ceramic Planter, MarcelAndMargolis on Etsy
19. Squeaky Toy, Hubbubbery on Etsy
Is it too early to make Christmas Balls? That's the question on everyone's lips, isn't it? Look at this glorious creation - a Giant Christmas Ball from a book I picked up at a secondhand book fair a few months ago, Fun With Wool by Michael Joseph, published in 1975. Being a 70s kid myself, this is just the kind of book I love, full of fun pics & projects.
I think I might make one of these big, joyous pom-pom clusters. Don't you just love the colour combo they've chosen? Just in case you want to make one too (& why wouldn't you?!), here's the accompanying instructions. There's plenty of info about how to make pom-poms available (if you didn't happen to spend your childhood rhythmically threading wool through cardboard rings), so I won't worry with that - here's the bit about the Giant Christmas Ball itself:
Materials: Orange, pink & violet wool; a ball of polystyrene 12cm (4.75") in diameter; pins 4cm (1.5") long.
Take two discs 3.6cm (1.4") in diameter, with a central hole 1cm (.4") in diameter & make 22 orange pom-poms, 27 pink pom-poms, 27 violet pom-poms, taking care to fill the central hole completely.
Pin the pom-poms to the polystyrene ball, arranging the colours as shown in the picture.
Crochet a chain of 120 stitches. Knot the two ends together & pin one end of the loop to the polystyrene ball.
I'm thinking an even bigger polystyrene ball would be great. I might use ribbon for the loop instead (I can't crochet), & make it more secure by gluing it around the circumference of the ball before attaching the pom-poms. And maybe using fine wire bent into a u-shape to attach the pom-poms might be a bit better than using pins.
Let's deck the halls with pom-pom balls this Christmas!
I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the other great images from Fun With Wool...
Thank you to the people who've entered my Haiku contest so far - so many beautiful poems! There's still time to enter if you're interested. I thought you might like to see this fabulous example of mirror writing on a postcard I have from 1908. People used to find ingenious ways to make their correspondence difficult for the postman to take a peek at, including writing backwards, upside down, & even leaving secret messages beneath the stamp. Bottom left is the right way around version, & the mirror image on the right. How amazingly clever Minnie was to master the art of writing backwards in cursive!
Here's an interesting little footnote... the farmhouse where Kathleen, the recipient of Minnie's postcard, lived!
I have a big collection of Victorian & Edwardian postcards, mainly collected in the '80s when they were cheap & plentiful. They're so pretty! I keep them in vintage postcard albums & nice boxes & take them out of the cupboard every so often to play with. Many of them are from this fabulous secondhand book shop called Edmonds (now sadly closed) where we'd spend wintery Sunday afternoons rummaging & foraging & coaxing out treasures. It was dark & cluttered & smelled like dust & musty old paper & gas from the fire & tobacco. I loved that place...
Well, I set my alarm for an indecently early hour on Saturday morning (& promptly snoozed through it) because it was the opening day of an annual secondhand book sale, held every June long weekend, that I never miss. Arriving an hour later than desired with two friends, we set about struggling through the dense throng of rummagers in the hopes of getting our grubby hands on some coveted treasures. Side note: Coincidentally, the three of us were wearing fair isle jumpers (or sweaters, if you like to call them that) & so inadvertently set a new book sale trend. We're thinking next year everyone will be resplendent in fair isle, but by then we'll have moved onto houndstooth or paisley or something.
These book sales are brutal. Secondhand book collectors are a particularly aggressive breed. After jostling through the masses, feverishly (& rather possessively) stooped over trestles piled with dusty books, I finally unearthed a few bargains that made the struggle worthwhile. Actually, it was my friend Mark who found this little beauty for me.
Yep, one more week & we're into autumn...it feels like only yesterday that I was "celebrating" the New Year with a poorly-timed bout of the flu (is there a good time to get the flu?)
Anyway, I thought I'd better dust off my blog & post something. Do you like my cigar boxes? I picked them up at a local market. Graphically & typographically you just can't beat old cigar boxes for pure excitement! I have plans for them...
As usual, I've been really busy & my poor old blog has been bumped to the back of the queue, but I've just been working on my gallery - not quite finished yet, but nearly! I also haven't forgotten that my monthly giveaways haven't quite been monthly (sorry!), so early this week I'm launching a Super Duper Mega Giveaway with four different prizes including Li'l Mary coasters and a couple of one of a kind creations that I've made especially for the giveaway.
Doesn't that sound grand? You do need to join my Mailing List to be eligible for the draw though, so go sign up!
It's 3.00am & I've eaten too much raspberry licorice - time to go! Enjoy your weekend!
PS. Hello to the people who found me via the Sunday Age! Just going out to buy my copy now - so exciting! :)
I really really wanted to make an extra special Christmas post on my blog, but alas, last minute wholesale orders & Etsy craziness meant I didn't have a minute to spare. Sadly, I missed out on doing a December giveaway!
Never fear, I have a special New Year's giveaway planned with two prizes to make up for the non-existent Christmas one.
Stay tuned for the giveaway announcement in the first week of 2008!
Do you like my little wooden cowboy puppet? One of my grandmas died when I was three, & years later, my mum gave me a Christmas stocking my gran had bought for me, & this little guy was one of the toys in it. He's one of my favourite possessions & hangs near my desk so I see him everyday!
Not specifically Christmassy is this fabulous Little Audrey cartoon...but it reminds me of Christmas.
Just show me the hard-hearted curmudgeon who can resist dancing cupcakes!
PS. To be eligible for my monthly giveaways, you need to subscribe to my Mailing List!
We don't really do Halloween here in Australia, although I wish we did. I love ghost stories, folklore, costume parties & lollies (that's candy to you Americans) so it sounds like the perfect holiday to me!
Here's wishing you all an extra spooky Halloween! WoooOOOooo!
Hands up who's a lifetime member of the Mary Blair Appreciation Society (if there is such a thing)? Meeeeee!!! I've loved Mary Blair since I was little & first read I Can Fly. Isn't it funny how kids study things so intently? Well I know every brush stroke of every illustration from that book, & when I recently got hold of a first edition copy & flicked through its pages for the first time in over 30 years, it was like being dumped over the head with an ice-cold bucket of 'OMG, I remember that!' My favourite picture was the one I've featured here, of the little girl as a make-believe worm in her fuzzy green beret & matching cardie. I wanted an outfit just like it when I was 5 - so stylish!
The beauty of Mary Blair's work is that it's just as fresh as it was 50 years ago, & her influence extends into the 21st century with so many artists (either consciously or otherwise) borrowing a little something (or a lot) from her style.
There's so much I could say about her work - about her amazing instinct for colour, how much I love her textures, the way she uses paint, etc, etc - but what I love most is her energy & spontaneity, the boundless sense of joy, & most of all, the memories her art evokes.
The illustrations I've posted are scanned from my own collection as follows...
Top Left: from the front flyleaf of The Golden Book of Little Verses by Miriam Clark Potter, first published 1946.
Top Centre: also from The Golden Book of Little Verses.
Top Right: from the endpapers of The New Golden Song Book.
Above Centre: from I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, first published 1950.
Below: Two spot illustrations from The New Golden Song Book, first published 1945.