Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From my reference library - "Holidays on Display"

I mentioned to my wife earlier this year that I wanted to get this book; she gave it to me for my birthday this last June. I had thought that it was primarily about store holiday displays but it is about so much more.

The front cover of the book shows the main aisle of the Marshall Field Co. around 1956.

Unfortunately displays on this scale are a thing of the past. I remember seeing The Hudson's Bay Company Christmas displays in the 1960s and saying to myself that I want to do that. I did!

I did not know that the display men would also design and build parade floats and decorate halls for dances in the slow season.

Along with the demise of store display is the disappearance of beautiful parade floats, at least in Victoria. The Victoria Day Parade is generally an endless march of bands.

This pull toy that I created was based on Parade float designs of the past. Go here to purchase it in my Etsy shop. 

I would love to own some of these old catalogues, the ideas would be endless.

An example of artists watercolour sketches for possible parade floats.

This catalogue for the Chicago Artificial Flower Company would be fascinating to browse through.

Forget about the idea that this Christmas village, that eventually would lead to Santa Claus, is for the children; I would love to explore this magical little world that the carpenters and display people created for the public.

A behind the scenes look at the carpenters creating the coming seasons Christmas village.

A display company with an example of props that were for sale to be used in store window displays or in store displays.

The back cover of "Holidays on Display" showing a window display at Marshall Field and Co., ca 1972.

"Holidays on Display", by William L. Bird, Jr., is published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Little Tour of my Brain, Part 26 - Popcorn Bags

It has been quite a while since I have done any of the "A Little Tour of my Brain" posts. When I was sorting out previous blog posts I decided I needed to revive it.

While cleaning my studio I rediscovered these three paper popcorn bags. What can I say, I am a collector of stuff that fascinates me!

All of these bags were picked up in big box stores.

This design brings back the feeling and images of walking on the boardwalk on warm summer days with the smell of the salt sea air and salty popcorn. Most people seeing this image now don't even know what that would have been like, but it does evoke a yearning nostalgic feeling for "the good old days".

This is a more contemporary image but still has a vintage quality to it probably due to the printing process and limited colour range. It is not a sophisticated image and that is why I like it.

This bag is printed on all sides whereas the two previous bags are only printed on the front. I love the lettering for the word popcorn, the balloons, and the "Pop Corn" character underneath all of this festivity. This is a whole lot of design overkill for a bag of salty, buttery popcorn but oh so worth it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It has been a while...

It has been a while, quite a while in fact, since I have made a blog post. I will remedy that.

One of the reasons for not doing many posts was doing a MAJOR tidying, sorting, and purging in my studio. My studio kind of reminded me of this early piece of advertising art; me trying to close the door of the studio and the contents of my studio trying to get out!

I still need to get rid of items that I will not be using or at least foresee that I will not be using. That will happen a little later but I must say that I am very pleased with the progress that has happened so far.

All of those voices concerning things that I should do; clean the studio, get this done, get that done have been harping at me. One of those voices was telling me to get my Pinterest page reactivated. Another voice was telling me to get my pictures on my blog sorted out. That last voice was daunting. When I first started my blog I was using a smaller image, then I went to a different size, and now I am using a larger size. Fortunately the original images used to create my blog posts were large but had only been displayed in a small format.

I redid all of my blog posts from the beginning. It will only take me a week or so I said. Maybe it will take me a bit longer I realized as I was working on the posts. Almost one month went by doing this project!

One very good thing that happened from all of the reworking of my blog posts was to see how much joy I had creating the posts. I had lost that joy. Now I can honestly say I am looking forward to doing more blog posts.

While I was rescaling the images I would post some of them onto my Pinterest page. Go to my Pinterest page here. I hope you enjoy looking around.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

The following 12 1950's/60's social studies readers book covers are from a set 16 titles. It is the people that make up a country.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hand Painted Japanese Rice Paper for the Fireworks Shadow Box

I suppose you could call this post a bit of a tutorial, that is without giving a complete step by step process!

I use acrylic paint to paint the paper. I brought down a selection of paints that had been premixed for other projects, this is a great way of using up old paint.

The shadow box is in the background. I decided to attach wire mesh to the outside of the shadow box and then wire the fireworks to the mesh. The back and sides have been painted with the same paint that will used as an undercoat on the paper.

Our trusty garden work table, the remains of a picnic table that I disliked very much has been turned into a work station. I grabbed a piece of coreplast plastic to lay the paper on while I painted it. Once it is painted it has to be carefully lifted so that it won't stick to the plastic; then set on the table to dry. When the paint is dry then the other side is painted.

This long sheet of paper was the remains of a roll of heavier weight rice paper. This paper is so much easier to handle when wet than the lighter weight rice paper.

These small sections of ricepaper were from a pad of paper for brush painting. The paper was a little thin and would easily tear when it was wet.

The finished long sheet of rice paper. Both sides were painted with the undercoat of olive/khaki green. Once the paper was dry I dripped and daubed autumn leaf colours onto the paper, then blending them with a large brush and a sea sponge.

I didn't mention but that green paint was created quite a while ago for this sculpture. I wanted a generic packing crate paper green. I used some of my jars of paint from previous sculptures to create the colour. I ended up with quite a lot more than needed but most of it was used for this project.

This shows the base colour and the finished strip of paper with the variegated autumn leaf colours; both sides were painted. When the individual leaf is cut from the paper it will have the colours of an autumn leaf.  I will cut the paper into long strips of small leaf shapes that will then be crushed, opened up, and then wound around the wire stems holding the fireworks in position around the frame. I want to hide the wires but also add background interest and suggest the time of year that the fireworks will be used.

I much prefer using hand-painted papers because they are sturdier so they will not crush or tear as easily as crepe-papier. The paper colour is permanent and will not fade; something that I have noticed to my horror with very early items I had made many years ago when I used crepe-papier.

The party horn that the snowman is holding has a yellow painted paper frill and circles punched from painted paper to create the design on the body of the horn. The rose, green tutfs and yellow coils at the base of the rose are all painted paper as well.

This pickle's Hallowe'en party hat was created from hand painted papers and a large antique paper fastener. Buy him here in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I have been away from my blog but look at what I am working on!

I have some very large vintage Italian metal frames. The only rectangular frame was used to create "The Magic Shop". The other three oval frames have been sitting in my studio with the sides and back attached, each ready to house the next creation.

This antique engraving as well as some other examples posted here have been the inspiration for the shadow boxes. I like the idea of a 3D portrait that spills out of the frame.

Last October I did a blog post about fireworks and Hallowe'en. Growing up in Victoria, B.C. on the West Coast of Canada, fireworks were Hallowe'en, as well as trick or treating.


I then followed it with a review about Mark Flemings wonderful book "Firework Art", and saw the above advertisement for Well's fireworks. A wreath of fireworks around the outside of the frame would be wonderful. The interior would house the founder of the fireworks company, to be called the "Oh My Stars Fireworks Manufacturing Company".

Many years ago I created some fireworks for a Hallowe'en window. I was so pleased with the end product that I kept them. They have been used in displays in the last few years; I have also used them at home mixed in with my vintage Hallowe'en items. These fireworks were the inspiration for the smaller versions. Mark Fleming's book "Firework Art" was also invaluable.

My wife, Trish, went to Toronto for 5 weeks to help our daughter before and after she had their second child, a baby boy. I moved all of the materials to make the fireworks down to the dining room table. I had figured that this would be a relatively quick project, it wasn't, but it was certainly a lot of fun, sometimes a little tedious but fun none the less.

Three different sizes of tubes were made from paper, some would be used for a Roman candle style of firework and some would be cut to smaller lengths to create other styles of firework such as pinwheels.

My stash of cardboard tubes and the smaller cylinders that I had made were turned into fancy fireworks. Cones of various sizes became fountains. Card was used to make box shaped fireworks.

Hand marbled papers, vintage wallpapers, vintage wrapping papers, antique paper tapes, hand-painted papers, as well as contemporary Japanese papers were used to cover the outsides of the fireworks. I did not want to create labels for them with names but suggest an idea as to the effects that each firework would produce.

A small sample of some finished fireworks; pinwheels, sky rockets, Roman candles and fountains.

These firecrackers took quite a while to build.  Once I started to build them I decided to make two other sizes, each size was a different colour of patterned paper. In the picture below you can see the finished hank. Creating the hank of firecrackers was a feat in itself. As I wrapped the firecracker wicks together to create the hank they would start to unravel as it got longer. The same thing happened with the second different wrapping attempt. The third time was much better but I did decide to use glue to make certain that the little darling would not try and spite me again!

Here are the finished fireworks. I have made, I hope, more than I will need as this will allow me to pick and choose shapes and colours. I want a very full wreath of fireworks around the frame, after all this is advertising the "Oh My Stars Fireworks Manufacturing Company" located on the outskirts of Jollity Village.

A collector friend saw the fireworks and wants buy some for her Hallowe'en collection, so any unused fireworks may find a home with her.

And just in case you weren't aware that I LOVE fireworks and the old graphics here is one last blog post to have a look at.
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