Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More Antique Christmas Cards

These antique Christmas cards are made of celluloid, an early form of plastic. There is an inner lining of paper. They date to the turn of the last century.

The designs were used for various occasions. There would have been an appropriate sentiment printed on the inside to suit the particular occasion for which they meant. Some of these cards are very deeply embossed and are truly elegant.

Looking at these cards from a 21st century point of view it is a little difficult to see why these flowers and emblems were used. The Victorians loved to convey coded messages. Floriography, more commonly called the language of flowers, was used allowing individuals to express feelings that otherwise could not be spoken. Remember that Victorian England was very proper and the way in which you presented yourself was of utmost importance.

These are the symbols and flowers depicted on the cards. After reading the individual meanings that I have listed below see if you can find the sentiments that are hidden in these antique Christmas cards.

We associate the swastika with the Nazi regime, but this symbol has a long history in cultural design. It was adopted by them and now has a very unsavory image. The Nazi swastika also had the arms going in the other direction. Traditionally the reverse swastika has been used as a symbol of good luck, welfare, prosperity or victory.

The wishbone usually stands for a wish or desire.

The horseshoe stands for fortune or good luck.

The anchor was an early Christian symbol commonly found in the Roman catacombs. It was used on Christian tombs as a symbol of the hope we have in Christ beyond this life. Most likely the symbol comes from this verse:

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:19-20

Daisy – Innocence; loyal love; I’ll never tell; purity.

Ivy – Fidelity; friendship; wedded love; affection.

Aster – Love; daintiness.

Pansy – Thoughts; love.

Red roses – Love; I love you.

Bouquet of roses in full bloom – Gratitude.

Blue violet – Watchfulness; faithfulness; I'll always be true.

Don't forget to go to the NORAD Santa tracking site this evening.

Have a very Merry Christmas from me, Len Bentham at Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Antique Christmas Cards

Early Christmas cards did not have the iconic images on them that we now associate with Christmas. This antique Christmas card is one of my favourites.

The main body of the card is handmade paper. The top right corner is folded over and held in place by a diamond shaped piece of card, covered in blue velvet. It reveals the smaller card inside the large card. Mounted on top of the blue velvet is an embossed die cut celluloid fan surrounded by violets. The bottom right hand corner has an embossed, die cut metal word "remembrance". There is a blue silk ribbon on the left-hand side with bows at the top and bottom.

The smaller card inside has two undulating lines of glitter at the top and bottom of the picture of the cottage. On the right hand side behind the violets is a die cut fretwork design in white. This would have been an expensive card due to all of the handwork involved.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go to NORAD Santa Tracking Site This Christmas Eve

"For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born." - Copied from the NORAD website page "Why we track Santa."

There are some files that you need to download to your computer, so go to the NORAD Santa tracking link now and you will be able to track Santa on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world as the NORAD Santa tracking site tracks him through all 24 time zones. Check to see where he has been, when he will be arriving and where he will be going next.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It Snowed Last Night!

It snowed last night and everything looks like a Christmas card.  There is more snow on the ground than on the urn arrangement, it is tucked in an alcove by the front door.

People have the opinion that Canada is a land of ice and snow, it isn’t. On the lower end of Vancouver Island we don’t get that much snow. We have had a maximum of 2 weeks of snow in any given winter that I can remember. Some years there has been no snow fall what so ever. Locals refer to the West Coast as the Wet Coast, we get rain.

When I design and make items like "The view from the rim of the 20th century snowbowl was spectacular" it is not only fantasy in that snowmen are alive but that there is snow at all. When it snows here no on is prepared and no one can drive in it properly.

My brother lives in Dawson Creek up north and drives a truck for a living. He said that he wouldn’t drive in this snow. The snow tends to be wet and slippery like soapsuds, it is not fun to drive in. The snow outside right now is powdery so we will be going for a snow walk later. As you can see when the landscape looks like a Christmas card it is a novelty in some areas in Canada.

Have a Merry pre-Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Urn Arrangement

This is the arrangement in the cast iron urn that I mentioned in my last post. I will take you through the steps that went into creating it.

The first photo shows wire screen placed on the opening of the urn with the salal branches in place.

Don’t forget to strip all of your branches of the excess leaves on either side. Inside the urn is a plastic bucket that stays there the year round. In the summer we place a pot of annuals in the urn. It catches any excess dripping water. The bucket also gives a shallower bottom to the urn, so that the branches for the dry autumn arrangement don’t have to be as long.

The next photo shows the cedar in place. All of the branches so far are laid around the outside of the urn to create a base for the arrangement. Some of the branches are sticking up a little but with addition of more branches will make them lay flat.

Two small scrubby fir trees are added side by side to give the effect of one full looking tree. Pine boughs are added next.

I continued the triangular shape by placing the boughs on either side of the fir tree and a few pine boughs in the front of the urn. I want the central area in front of the fir tree to be flatter for a small display to be placed in this area.

Rose hips, hawthorn berries, and holly add colour and interest.

Two bird nests are tucked in the boughs, one in the top of the fir tree and one at the base of the tree. Added to the birds nests are two paper party hats, bird size of course, and a "tin can" telephone made from two thimbles and a length of thin string. Three strands of 50 mini lights are tucked in amongst the foliage. Three large pine cones and ribbon are wired in among the boughs.

It takes a while make a large arrangement but is definitely worth it. I started the arrangement with a concept not a finished idea and then proceeded from there. I hope this inspires you to try some freeform designing of your own.

Have fun getting ready for Christmas. Don't burn out, take time for others and above all have fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Decorating Our Front Door

Several years ago I picked up an old fishing creel for a dollar,and now we hang it on the door and decorate it for autumn and Christmas. I thought that I would photograph the arrangement as I put it together so that you can see how easy it is.

I have used fir boughs to bulk out the body of the arrangement. I took a long fir bough and cut it into 8" lengths for this basket. Cut them longer if your container is deeper.

Put your branches with the cut stem at the top in the back of the arrangement for bulk and place the tip ends of the branches in the front. By arranging the stems this way you get a full effect that looks like you are using all branch tips. I don’t use floral foam because most of the time I am doing this on the spur of the moment. I would probably use fewer branches and have more control if I used the floral foam but on the West Coast we have lots of fir trees so I fill the basket abundantly.

Next I put in salal branches. The large oval green leaf is a good contrast to the fir branches. Then I tucked in some cedar branches. When you use cedar you must check to see which way it curves as the foliage on either side of the branch curves to the right or to the left. I tucked in some holly and some branches of a shrub in our yard that I don’t know the name of, but it has oval leaves and red berries.

Finally I wired in some cones. I did tuck one cone in the basket so that the foliage would be held in place. Using floral foam would have made this step unnecessary. I always do the arrangement with the basket hanging on the door so that I can see how it is looking.

I have also done an arrangement in a large cast iron urn by the front door that I'll show in my next post.