Neat visualization of something most folks don’t know exist, though I admit I had wondered.
Irena and Andrey carve lovely things in their studio in Ukraine. Here are a few of my favorites from their Etsy shop:
In the early 19th century, England imported calling cards from France. It was yet another thing to have fussy manners about, and soon there were complex rules and ways of showing how classy you were with a small rectangle of paper.
Calling was a complicated business. Early afternoon for sort-of-friends, a bit later for friends. Cards were given to a servant. If no one was home, they were left in a tray in the foyer to be perused later. Otherwise, they were presented to the lady of the house, who could then decide if she were home or not. “Not at home,” was a polite fiction translating to: “Not right now, I’d rather milk weasels.”
If you wanted to make someone’s acquaintance, you paid a call and left your card. Maybe you’d be seen…but probably not. If you got a card back, well, that was a good sign. It meant: “Sure, maybe we can do coffee.” If you didn’t get a card back, it was more like: “Sure, maybe we can do coffee…IN HELL.” At any time after you left your card, you might receive back a card in an envelope. This was more like: “You can have your coffee alone in Hell, and if you call again, I’ll send you there personally.” That little envelope was the coffin to your social hopes.
Was there more? Of course there was. This was 19th century England. Initials standing in for French (because French = classy) words could be noted on the card:
Now, I don’t know if this was concurrent with the initials, because the meanings overlap, but for a time there was also the custom of folding the corners of the card.
Early in the century, cards were spare. Use nice paper and a skilled calligrapher, and leave the rest alone. Frou-frou was considered gauche. Later on, it was probably still considered gauche, but people got up to all sorts of paper shenanigans anyway. New printing processes meant color! Flowers, critters, castles, etc., were printed on “scraps” and attached to the card. You lifted a side of the scrap to see the name of the caller, Sometimes more than one thing was hidden beneath various folds, like greetings or poetry and such. These later cards are gorgeous, and because of the sealing process, they are still bright. I don’t know if I can get down with the fringe, though. Even I have my limits.
Ashes2Beauty is a bronze charm shop, and they carry some of the more unusual pieces I’ve seen, including doll parts.
They have an especially large selection of eyes.
Other neat doo-dads abound. Most of it has a nice, primitive feel. I’m dying to grab some of this stuff for my art.
I learned a new phrase yesterday: Society Silk. Popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, this was a realistic style of embroidering botanicals, using single-strand silk thread. It reminds me very much of Chinese silk painting, which was popular at the time.
I’ve been looking more into needle arts–not because I want to quilt–but because I want to use quilting skills in some of my artwork. One of the blogs I’ve started following linked the astonishing work of Kelly Cline, who takes Society Silk pieces and quilts them into masterworks.
Most often done on doilies and hankies, Society Silk pieces are small and lovely. I think I’ll be keeping an eye out for them from now on.