Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From my reference library - "Fire - Fascination, Firework, and Festival"

Last October I did a post about Mark Fleming's book, "Firework Art". Don't go there yet! That book was a celebration of the artwork that decorated the old British firework casings.

Mark Fleming published "Fire - Fascination, Firework, and Festival" last October 2013; a companion book to "Firework Art". Unfortunately it is only available in the UK. I do know people in the UK and managed to obtain a copy. It is available as a free PDF eBook. I will give the link at the end of this post.

Guy Fawkes Day, also called Guy Fawkes Night, and Bonfire Night is also referred to as Fireworks Night.

This is definitely a British holiday but I love the graphics and imaginative lettering used to convey the fun and excitement of the night.

Mark Fleming goes into the history of the large and small fireworks manufacturers, almost all of them now no longer in business. Fireworks are now imported from China.

The graphics for Well's Crown Brand Fireworks are an absolute delight, show and tell at its best.

Original Well's artwork by Fred Holman, 1930.

The old 4 colour printing process lends a charm to this image of the Chrysanthemum Fountain.

A family box of Brock's fireworks.

Dancing around the Guy as he perishes in the bonfire, the fireworks pocketed in his clothing igniting sporadicly. It is a rather gruesome celebration when you think about it.

A window display of this sort would never happen nowadays due to fire regulations, and for good reason, but I am glad that this photograph was kept showing more innocent and care free times.

My Hallowe'ens in Victoria were ones of trick or treating and fireworks afterwards. Here is a link to another post I did about fireworks and Hallowe'en. We would buy the fireworks and firecrackers several days before Hallowe'en and store them carefully in our bedroom. I would take them out and admire the Japanese labels on the firecrackers and the designs on the firework casings.

At the end of the book Mark wonders what the future of Guy Fawkes Night will be with the emergence of the North American Hallowe'en  gaining popularity. I can tell him from my stand point that our Hallowe'en in Victoria, B.C., Canada was one that was definitely influenced by Guy Fawkes Night. This blog post is about Hallowe'en in Victoria as a child.

A large portion of Mark's book is available to download. Click here to go to Rumble Books to download the PDF version of most of the book.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Little Tour of my Brain, Part 27 - vintage canning labels.

It is that time of year again, time for canning, pickling and preserving all of that produce from your garden, the fields, and forest. Many people still practice home canning but a generation ago it supplemented home cooked meals and earlier it was the main way of providing enough food to feed the family in the winter.

These two books of gummed paper labels were produced by Eureka Specialties of Scranton Pennsylvania. 

The lettering on each label in this book above is the same; clean, clear, and legible, with a space below the name of the contents to date it. It is the designs around the outside of the labels that are so interesting lifting the canning labels and ultimately the canned food to another level of utilitarian decor.

I will show the rest of the labels from this book of household labels in a later post but for now here are the remaining canning labels that have not been removed from this much used little book.

The labels in this book are much bolder in design than the previous book with no area to write the date on. The date would have been neatly written across the bottom, top or possibly hurriedly scrawled across the entire label, depending on how busy/tidy the cook was.

The scanned labels from each book are about the actual size of the original labels; copy them and use them if you like. Let me know if you use them, not because you have to but because I would love to see them used again. Send me pictures if you like and I'll do a post about the labels on the finished canning.

The canning labels may not seem relevant to the work that I create but they are; I love detail, the little extra details that are added into the sculptures give them depth, a sense of time, and intimacy. It will be interesting to see where these may be used in upcoming sculptures.

This is a close-up of "The Man-in-the-Moon will be having a party" showing the some of the shelving filled with items for everyday living. Go to my Etsy shop to see other photographs of this sculpture.

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.