If you know me, at all, you know I love old paper. Handwritten words beat printed ones, but where there is a story I fall in love. I think it’s likely married to my love of history. Holding something ancient and readable in my hands is thrilling.
Today my mother presented me with a used book. An English Cottage Year by Sally Holmes and Tracey Williamson from 1993. The book itself is the first little treasure. It’s a first edition compilation of poetry, quotes and musings interspersed with recipes and watercolors.
Inside the pages was another treasure – an envelope. Old and stained it has a tiny bit of writing on the front
and another treasure inside: a bookplate.
SUPER Mystery Surprise Ephemera Collage Creative Spark Vintage Paper Pack – more than 50 pieces of old paper items – stamps, postcards etc.
17.00 USD, by HuntingDragons
I am loving being encouraged to create art for the Arthouse Coop projects. The end of April was the deadline for the Limited Edition Sketchbook. I think it’s my best submission so far. We’ll see you what you think. My theme was Time and the way we travel. I interpreted it in a collage of travel memorabilia and ephemera. The way we used to travel, collecting brochures, sending postcards; by train, by car, by steamship, by bicycle, by airplane… The ephemera pool I drew from ranged from the early 1900s to the 70s. I featured states, cities, countries and regions. New York, California, New England, Williamsburg, Boston, Salt Lake City, Denmark, Norway, Austria, England, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Stockholm, Visby, the Mediterranean, Venice, Florence, were all represented. I rebound this sketchbook using linen thread and print making paper and then re-covered it in a purple and gold brocade handmade paper.
Hope you get to see it when it travels around the country this year.
I’ve been really enjoying the Arthouse Coop’s 10×10 projects this year. I just sent in my submission to The Note Swap and thought I’d share it here. The background was done with washi tape and gel medium mixed with a green powdered pigment from Pearl Ex.
You might recall that I posted a few months back, a love letter from a box which I found in grandmother’s attic. Here is another gem from that box. A different beau… George – a student at Washington & Lee University in Virginia. Oh Helen, you must have been quite a lady…
Mailed Sept. 7 1928 to
Wheeland Haven, Riverton, Illnois via Air Mail
My Own Sweet Love,
I don’t know whether you will think the post-mark rather queer but there it is anyway. The reason for it is that Pete and I took a big trip in his Sea Sled. We were going to Phila but as we have to be back Sunday I’m afraid we can’t make it.
We landed at Cape May this afternoon in a driving rainstorm, soaking wet and very much discouraged. We came up to this girls house and there appeared to be nobody home so we just walked in and took off our wet clothes in the kitchen. Pete had told me that her mother did a little light and fancy drinking once in a while and when we got here we heard these queer voices upstairs and it seems the old lade was cock eyed up in her room. Just about then the girls older sister walks in and says that Pete’s girl has gone down to Virginia, so she gets us supper and then she digs up some old hen and we play bridge while her mother sings and whistles upstairs.
She then goes to sleep and we decide to go out and get a few beers. Having gotten 12 up time to go come and see if the Ma has come too yet. Pete is now on the floor writing a drunken scrawl to Mimie (which I hope this is not) while yours truly is lying on a nice soft bed writing to the darlingiest girl in all this wide world. When I get home on Sunday there had better be a letter from you or George will be the most disappointed boy in this section of the United States. I hope you got out to Riverton all right and also got my last epistle, if I remembered the address right.
Now Helen darling, I’ve come to the conclusion that I miss you more than I thought I possibly could which must be beacuse I love you terribly, awfully and I’m very much afraid infinitely which is I think, as it should be.
I love you so,
It’s been a wild transition from 2011 to 2012, and with so much going on, it’s been impossible to blog about it. In between days, both T & I have been completing our sketchbooks which are due next week for the ArthouseCoop Sketchbook Tour 2012. Hopefully our creations will find lots of eyes and hands along the tour this year.
I used a combination of ephemera collage, art and scrapbooking techniques in mine, lightening the weight by utilizing laser printing. Almost every page has a lift-the-flap element. I used embroidery cotton to create the flaps on copies of vintage postcards. The base for most pages is a romance novel from the 1930s which I rescued and repurposed. I especially love the little print on the cover. I created it from an 1890s vintage woodblock that was made for a card game called Lost Heir.
My theme was time traveler. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
I’m also participating in the Limited Edition Sketchbook Project and have till April to complete that book. My scissors are at the ready!
If you are interested in seeing our 2011 submissions the link is here: Last year T & I participated in the Sketchbook Tour and Photomobile. I also completed a book for the Fiction Project.
HuntingDragons at the Arthouse Coopo
A few days ago, I was rearranging the closet and came across 4 photo boxes. I knew what was in them; letters. More than 10 years ago, I had meticulously sorted them and labeled them; packing them carefully away until I had time to read them all or have need of them. I had rescued them from the attic of grandmother’s house where they had been marked for trash, and no part of me could let those boxes fall into the clutches of a garbage man. Then, I didn’t know what they contained, I was merely protecting ephemera and family relics. The handwritten envelope sitting on top, complete with vintage stamps, sold me on the lot. I would have paid to take home the boxes; but being family treasure, all I had to do was ask for them.
I realize that I’m teasing you, by not revealing the contents. The letters did not disappoint. Among them were some postcards, greeting cards, and a bunch of western union telegrams. But the bulk of the two boxes were handwritten letters tucked back into their original envelopes from the 1920s and 1930s. Some of them are from grandmother’s mother, but most of them are letters from former beaus. Interestingly enough there is little correspondence from grandfather. but perhaps those were in another box, lost in time. Certainly they are lost to us.
There is more to the story than just the rescue. The contents of the letters are intriguing. Perhaps the basis of a novel to come, or for some large relationship project. Certainly a glimpse into the past, and into the hearts of real people; that alone is treasure in itself.
I’ve decided to share one with you – this gem from Archer to Helen:
March 31 1930
(the last of the windy and uneasy month? -”it is a consummation devoutly to be wished”)
I should have at least five hours in which to think out while writing what I have to say – but I have only 1 hour now.
To begin with I have lost my only real happiness. I have thought many hours consciously and unconsciously of all that has been going on while I basking here experiencing that most rare feeling of perfect faith – all during exams – while such was not the case. All that I’m going to say is not sham or pretense or hurt vanity or pure misery but facts coming straight from me to you.
The last time I left you home when we were together – so perfectly in harmony – so absolutely synchronized in mind and body – our hearts – we were at last together earnestly – truly a single unit. I felt that at last I had wholly conquered what ever doubts, questions, etc. that were left in your heart and above all I thought that I had made you feel that we were living – never to be apart. In other words I had built up in your heart an exalted and perfected ideal of perfect faith in me – i had established the same in my own . Evidently I had not because I have lost – completely that faith as it is as though after progressing through years of continual building toward a goal with all our hearts and thoughts – then suddenly the foundation is torn and all is gone – we are back years – almost like those people who must make conversations during silences for fear that the other will read their inmost thoughts.
Possibly that marvelous contentment that we had only made you feel dissatisfied in other words you were too sure – i don’t think that such is the case – because I don’t believe that you knowing how much you do about me could ever let your mind work that way. But if we had built up such a feeling and then a few words of entreaty can so sway you toward the unattained that the former seems non-exciting – then – then – what? I don’t know. My dear – there is a woman here who is older than I, physically attractive – her views the same as mine and she has often offered herself to me – no doubt in weak moments – but the glamor of such an affair is as a faint flicker in comparison to a beautiful day such as this but – I’m not tying to be small and very clever and indefinite but perhaps my idea is all wrong – but I don’t think it is and I don’t believe that you think so. The latter to me seems so childish and immature in comparison to what a great love can mean.
You know only too well my big weakness of imagining things until they are tremendously real and human. In other words just like a woman I must be reassured that my loved one is still in need of me every minute. I have tried to always make you know that I am yours – but you were not so sure when you talked to me. Being of an affectionate nature as you are and if you only listened to him as you said and were swayed then, if he should ardently take you in his arms and make love to you cleverly as you say he is and kiss you you a million times – it seems from all this that you would be completely captivated. You see when you first were with me you were doubtful but after being close to me and being loved then all your doubts vanished. If you are to see him every day and there is always a suspended air between you – that horrible uneasy feeling of the unattainable will – it can’t help it finally come to a head and break. Just as long as he believes himself to be in love with you and can’t have you, the situation will only strengthen his love and will fascinate you – it can’t help it. Such is human nature.
You know best but to face it frankly if you stay either the whole affair will become unbearable for you or else he’ll win you – in other words you either stay there and wait and hope that nothing will happen and it will or else you’ll leave and then the whole thing will die away and disappear. Suspense is a weapon that is deadly and he can use it to his advantage indefinitely until you are nearly crazy – because it is inpossible for you to be open to such a a thing without finding it at the least extremely exciting and hypnotic.
Everything I have said has not in the slightest way meant to offend you or your sense of the delicate, but a lot of my almost lecture is full of truths that every one of us try to ignore, including myself.
Naturally your mind will turn to that horrible thing that happened to you and me last Xmas – you know only too well how terribly I hurt you and it was just as bad when you said you wanted to kiss him – I ached hideously inside just as you must have. Ever since Xmas I’ve tried so hard to make you forget and grant me the forgiveness I’ve so terribly sincerely asked for so many times. My dear – you never even hinted that you were sorry to hurt me – what does that mean?
You’ll get this Tuesday night and I want you to sit down with this and answer everything in my letter – never mind phrasing or correct this and than just think & write it down.
You know most precious that you are my one goal & flame to live by – you know that I love you – such words are as nothing for I adore you, worship you as a thing afar to be reached only through constant thoughts of your dear self. Don’t tell me I have failed.
We are not the two children we were in may two years ago, for you are a woman and but then I am a man and without that perfect unshaken, never failing faith I can not exist. I must either go and forget what is nearly impossible or else I cannot help but rise to greater heights because of your great soul. And now I’m waiting.
I love old things and I have a special fondness for paper. Books, letters, cards, written things, call to me, especially when they are old. Paper not designed to be retained is called Ephemera, and if it’s old and discarded and has a story, for me, it’s love. But I’ve been out of touch for quite a while. I collected postcards and stamps as a child. I still have my collection, and boxes of stamps and postcards preserved someday to be added when I have the time. Last year when I worked on the Sketchbook Project I found that passion once again.
One of my fondest paper memories is scavenging two boxes of letters in my husband’s grandmother’s attic which were tagged for trash. I sorted through them, organized them, read them, treasured them. I learned all about this lovely lady’s early life and her travels, boyfriends and beaus. There were even a few photos. I saved them from loss. It made me very happy.
I have another recent happy Ephemera story to share. This last weekend, my mother (who is awesome by the way), visited a local estate sale and on the want of a Christmas quest (which I won’t disclose right now), she acquired all the old paper and photos at the sale. She got one big box lot at a fixed price.
I cannot tell you the pleasure I got from sorting through the boxes. If you understand the love of paper, you will know. In that box was a marriage certificate, some school records all in German, 2 family trees, a bunch of letters (including one dated 1907 which outlined a family history back to Russia through China), and a few photos. I was stunned and saddened that these precious bits of family history, this ephemera, would be lost to the family.
You might not know that I’m also the keeper of the family tree, and I really enjoy a good information hunt. For me, it’s like treasure hunting. So finding a crumb of lost family history I find exhilarating. With this particular family, who were very well traveled, spoke more than one language, and were living near me I couldn’t bear to just drop the papers in a pile, or cut them up and use them for collage.
As a whim I googled a couple of names. I found an obituary and a bunch of kid’s names. Now I had a context for this family. I knew I had to go deeper on the search. More googling and I hit a dead end. I went back a generation and I googled the marriage certificate. Nothing. Off to Ancestry.com. BINGO. There was a family tree which included the names on the certificate. I sent an email. I got an answer. I was fortunate enough to have stumbled upon the family historian. Yippee! I will be filling an envelope this weekend and sending it off. Happy Ending for this family.
I hope it gets paid forward. I hope you who are reading this will consider it twice before ditching, trashing or selling that box of old paper, the photo album, the family bible, without carefully sorting through it. It only takes one tiny crumb for the Family Historian to open up a whole wing of research. The photo with the name on the back, the old letter with a return address, or a mention of a family member, could be vital links to the seemingly never ending family quest.
Our uncle who is the other historian of our family, has his grandfather’s trip diaries which he kept when going to Alaska for the Klondike Rush. He’s transcribing them, and I hope that somewhere within is a mention of his mother or father, as for now it’s a family mystery who they were.
So the rest of the ephemera in that box lot? Not of use to the family, but wonderful for my collage art and my postcard/stamp collection. Many happy days of cutting and pasting ahead…
I’ve just realized that our journey through homeschooling is like a marriage of the analog & digital worlds. While I have a long standing love of all things paper, my son is living in a digital age and for him the paper world is not often his first choice.
I’ve noticed that while he’ll happily turn to the ipad or itouch to play games, he’s also entranced by a deck of cards. Instead of seeking out the ipad to play Mastermind he reaches to the analog version. Playing Minecraft seems to revitalize Lego creativity. Sometimes the watching of a movie inspires reading of a book. He likes to be read to from a real book rather than from a digital one. A surprising thing in this age.
The digital keyboard hooked up to Garageband seems to only render the piano in the other room more respect. The curiosity which is piqued spills over into anything related. Why didn’t I see it? It makes sense that it is really not important how the sparks are created as long as they fly and ignite other quests and explorations. The trip we take is a mental resource book, filed on the shelf. The TV show I detest spawns a new understanding of how to deliver a one-liner.
In this digital web-driven world we are living in, I wonder how to keep the analog fresh, inspiring and alive? But perhaps I shouldn’t be that concerned. My love of analog things seems to have been adopted by osmosis, rather than abandoned as I feared.
Likewise I am important. My quest for testing something new, or revisiting something old does not go unnoticed. The art class I take, the book I pick up, the recipe I try, are all appreciated by a quiet observer. He’s even looking over my shoulder as I type this, wondering why I’m typing and re-typing. “What’s editing, he asks?”
He might not be interested in the subject matter right now, but all that happens, which goes by, in his world, is noticed. If I share a new passion, it might not currently be of interest, but it’s as if it’s filed for future reference. The potential energy, the empowerment is created too. The old adage that knowledge is power, doesn’t mean you have to be an active participant through the acquisition process. To plant a seed and pluck a pea or tomato, to smell the roasting coffee in the oven, or see the rising loaf on the counter. Taken for granted, but not ignored. The analog is noticed even if it’s just around. The power of knowing.
Every once in a while, I panic. I evaluate what we do, or don’t do, or could be doing, and I find holes. What is important in the reality of it all, is the learning, experience, wisdom and knowledge itself. The achievement through analog or digital or some of each is party of the journey in which we are always learning. The key to the partnership of Analog & Digital, is making sure they are both around and accessible.