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Having an interest in vintage papers and ephemera means that old photos that are part of your own personal history are all the more valuable to you. I have a handful of photos that I wanted to find out more.

My grandfather (b.1900 – d.1982) liked to take photos as a hobby. Growing up I saw albums at my grandparents’ house that my grandmother kept and allowed us grandchildren to look through. When, as an adult in my early 20s, I became interested in photography and in my grandfather’s photos, my grandmother let me borrow a shoe box full of negatives for me to print whatever I wanted. I made my selections and spent close to $200 getting many developed at a specialty photo store for old BW negatives.

Since my photos are reprints I have no information on them. My grandfather died when I was 7 so I couldn’t ask. Most of the photos are from the time my grandfather immigrated to the US from Nurnberg, Germany in the mid 1930s, where he settled in Los Angeles. When I came across buildings in some of the photos, I really didn’t have much hope in discovering where they were. When I came across the same building, taken in many photos, my curiosity was piqued. This one, for example:

And then this one:

And this one:

Hmmm. It looks like an office (with two telephones!). Online I looked for lists of historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles. It took me a couple of hours to compare buildings, but I found it. It’s called the Sun Drug Building on 700 Hill Street. It’s 12 stories, which was pretty impressive when it was built in 1921/22. It’s on the corner of Hill and 7th. Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps. Today it’s a jewelry exchange among other things.

I looked for information on the Sun Drug Building and found out it was once owned by George Cutts from the late 1920s to the early 40s. Now it made sense to me as I had heard that in his early years in California, my grandfather worked as a person who stood in the elevator and pressed the button of the floor you wanted to go to. Here he is in his uniform.

This looks like it was taken on the roof. I found other photos of what I think is the interior of the Cutts Building. I couldn’t find any pictures online of the interior of the Sun Drug Building to compare them.

And one of the street outside.

The door on the left has letters above that say CUTTS BLDG. When looking for old photos online of the Cutts Building, I found one on the street with those same letters so I’m fairly certain this photo was taken next door.

And then there is this one:

This was the Warner Bros. Theatre, exactly cater-cornered to the Cutts Building. One of the movies on the marquee is “Blackwell’s Island”, which was released March 2, 1939.

Here’s the image from Google Maps:

The side-by-side:

Pretty cool, I think. Now since I don’t live in LA, I need to find someone who goes to downtown often, and can step into the Sun Drug Building and have a look. What does the lobby look like now? Is there still marble on the walls by the elevators? Has everything been redone or are there any signs that show its 1920s character?

One more picture of my grandfather, William Hurn in 1939.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared much about the process of making journal covers. I do them all pretty much the same way, so I thought I should write a bit about it.

I start with cutting down some heavy weight card stock to the size I want. I don’t have specific measurements but it’s usually around 5 x 8″ with a spine of 1.5″.

After I cut the board, I cut a piece of tyvek paper that will cover the width of the spine and a half inch over to the front and back covers. Tyvek is a “paper” made with plastic fibers that help give the joints strength so the book covers don’t tear off over time. I use double sided tape to attach it.

Once the tyvek is in place I cut down the paper I want to decorate the cover with and glue it or attach it with double sided tape. I create 6 pieces: 3 for the front, spine, and back, and then 3 for the inside front, spine, and back. In this photo I’ve moved the pieces below the cardboard so you can see the layers. Normally the pieces of decorative paper would be flush, or very near the edge of the page.

The cover should be in one continuous piece by this point. Lay it flat on your work space with the side you want to be on the inside covers lying up and take 2 large pieces of white tissue paper, laying them on top of your cover. Cut the two pieces of tissue a quarter of an inch larger than your covers, on all sides.

With a paint brush and some matte medium or glue, attach the first piece of tissue paper over your cover. I usually start with the spine and move out to the covers. With the tissue paper glued on, there should be a bit of extra paper hanging off the edges.

Once it is dry (I usually use my hair dryer to quickly dry it), take your scissors and carefully trim off the extra tissue paper. Turn it over and lay your second piece of tissue paper down. Use your paint brush to glue down the second sheet. With the extra quarter inch, wrap it over the edge and use the medium to glue it down.

Dry everything again. Now the fun begins with paints, dyes, and whatever tools you’d like to use to decorate your covers. I like to use Distress Stain, acrylic paint, rubber stamps and permanent ink, and lately Gelato pigment crayons.

Here’s the cover I made with these:

This cover has a simple element from a rubber stamp and ink. Simple but effective, I think.

This one also has a rubber stamped impression.

After you have done enough to your covers, seal them with a varnish. I use Liquitex Satin Varnish but I think just about any varnish will do. If you have experience with Mod Podge that might work too. I ruined an important piece of art with Mod Podge (I couldn’t get rid of the tackiness, even after days of drying it, and it stuck to something else causing major damage to the cover and the other piece next to it) so I never touch the stuff anymore.

I sometimes attach metal pieces or other decorative elements. Some planning is needed for that, but they do get attached once the varnish is dry.

 

 

One of the neat things about sharing your art through the internet is that other artists reach out to you and connect with you over shared styles and interests. That’s how I came to be in contact with Trishia at the French Kissed Postcards shop online.

Trishia and I both love collage art from vintage paper sources. We initially connected through our interest in Mary Green‘s glue book art, and then I learned that Trishia herself is a wonderful source of some really gorgeous vintage postcards.

But first let me explain about my interest in postcards.

I use postcards a lot in my artwork. When considering a postcard I look for several things:

  • The image on the front: is it in color or black and white (I look for both kinds). Is it interesting?
  • The back for writing: is it blank or has someone written a note? What does the handwriting look like? Is it legible? What language is it in?
  • A stamp: does the postcard have any stamps? More than one? Are the stamps attractive and in one piece? Is there a postmark? Is it legible?
  • A date: is there a date either written by the author or on the postmark?

Sometimes I place the entire postcard in my journal, in a page pocket for example.

Other times I will glue a postcard down so that just a single side is showing. I do that if I am making a larger collage and need only one side as an element in the over all piece.

It’s handy when you have a bunch of old postcards and either the picture on the front is ugly or boring and therefore you don’t feel guilty about covering it up permanently, or if the note on the writing side is dull (or it’s blank), then I don’t feel guilty about gluing it down.

Trishia knows I use a lot of postcards and she sent me a packet of vintage postcards that are just beautiful. She sent me some that are a perfect example of classic penmanship and some that are written extra fancy.

Here’s one with a nice illustration and a stamp with postmark all on the front. I haven’t see many like this.

She also sent some with neat illustrations or photos. My absolute favorite are postcards with architecture. This one is of architecture with the bonus of writing on the same side. Wow!

Trishia specializes in French postcards. At her shop she sells vintage postcards as well as digital images of postcards for quick download. Those are useful too for printing at home and using for personal projects. Check out her shop if you are looking for some really unique pieces of postcard art.

She sent me more postcards but I didn’t photograph all of them. I did take a picture of the card she sent them in. It’s so pretty I’m tempted to use this in a collage too!

 

 

Lace journal

For 6 projects I will be making vintage junk journals using different collections from the designer Ephemera’s Vintage Garden, who makes digital paper kits for download.

The first two journals are done, and being that I am behind in posting, I’m going to post about both journals here. I can also note that I used the same paper kit for both journals; I’ll be switching to a new collection for the next two projects.

For these first two journals I used a collection called “Mabel’s Diary”, which consists of colors in red, black, cream, brown, and white. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts you’ll know that red is my favorite color, so it’s not surprising that I was drawn to this set. It’s very dramatic and elegant.

Mabel's Diary order page

Since I have such a nice collection of vintage illustrations and photos I’ve been collecting over these last few years, I wanted to use up a lot more of it, as well as use vintage lace.

desk organizer

For my first project, I’ve called it “Dear diary”, and made a cover with a lock that hooks over  knob. The cover is a book page layered with a single piece of tissue paper that was then inked in some brown stains until I had the right look. There’s also a bit of lace at the left side.

cover Dear diary

setting aside pieces and once I had my book assembled with my printed journal pages along with many tea-dyed pages, I went to work collaging and filling up the journal.

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Here’s the flip through:

For the second journal, I’ve called it “Vintage lace” because it is meant to be a journal created entirely to hold samples of lace that I’ve collected from the Sunnyvale Lace Museum.

vintage lace

I had a Tim Holtz blank journal cover that I decoupaged  with papers and tissue paper. I have to admit, it’s not a very exciting cover, but the inside makes up for that.

Every 6 months or so, the Lace Museum holds a vintage lace sale where they sell lace they’ve received as donations, or some of it is from their collection. I’ve also begun to volunteer at the museum, and so am learning more about the different types of lace that exist. I brought in my book and had some of the experts identify my pieces. Where I could find out more information about the pieces, I wrote a short description on some of the journal pages facing the lace.

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I still have a few unidentified pieces, but I will get them recognized sooner or later. This one is still a bit of a work in progress, but it will be easy to complete.

Here’s the video on this one:

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Most of you know I am not a fan of Mr. Trump. I do, however, accept the results of the election and I accept that he is president of the United States.

Still, I will be peaceably marching today, along with my husband. I am marching for me. I honestly don’t care what President Trump’s reactions might be. It’s all personal. Here are my reasons:

#WhyIMarch

I’m marching for girls everywhere, including my daughter, who will be impacted by the normalization of aggression towards women. Misogyny is becoming common place and only likely to grow while having a self-professed sexual assailant as a world leader and role-model to many. 

I am marching in support of basic human rights because I think they are under threat more than ever — everyone regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I’m marching to protest the use of fear and hatred to intimidate and control, ultimately used to persuade people to exclude and distrust others who don’t think the same. 

I’m marching because I can while others cannot and would like to. 

I’m marching because if I don’t speak my mind, I never will. 

we_the_people

 

Sunnyvale laceOnce a year the Sunnyvale Lace Museum has a huge clearance sale. I was ready for this year and wasn’t disappointed. Most everything I bought was 50 cents or a dollar. Sometimes I spent $4 for a dozen pieces of something.

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The handkerchiefs and doilies are my favorite.

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Sunnyvale lace handkerchiefs

I also got a grab bag for $2 of all kinds of ribbon, pieces of lace trim, embroidery thread and random pieces of lace samples. I love it all. I’m thinking I’ll be using at least some of this for a journal or two.

lace grab bag

My favorite was this piece of material from a French court dress. Who wouldn’t pay $1 to own a piece of something from the 1760s?

1760 silk court dress

In case you are ever in the area, go to the museum. It’s run — all by volunteers — by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

The Lace Museum

552 S Murphy Avenue

Sunnyvale, CA 94086

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I’ve been wanting to compare my Brilliance metallic inks to see if they work to my satisfaction. I think they’ll do.

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I still favor the Color Box – copper, over the Brilliance colors.

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The photos are more for me to have a record of what the difference in shades look like.

ROTU tripod

Since I’ve started making videos I’ve been looking for ways to improve the quality of the image on the video. The last time I tried to make a video of my latest journal, I realized that the camera wasn’t focusing correctly and decided I would try to use a different kind of camera. So I switched to a USB-type camera that plugs directly into the computer.

Usually these kinds of Logitech camera’s are the kind you hang on a laptop or monitor and use for video conferencing. Once I figured out how to record on my computer I needed to mount it on something so I wouldn’t have to hold it.

I’ve had my grandfather’s tripod sitting in my garage for a few years now. Before that it was in my dad’s garage. My dad, and my brother who likes to take pictures, and my husband who also likes to take pictures all have tripods of their own and didn’t need this old one.

I’m not sure this is the tripod my grandfather had when he was taking pictures of his home in Los Angeles in 1937 (he’s visible in the mirror), but it certainly could be.

1937

The markings on the tripod say ROTÜ and then PHOTO KÖNIG and NÜRNBERG. Since Nurnberg is the city my grandfather is originally from, it’s likely he bought it there when he lived there and brought it when he moved to California. 

photo konig

Well anyway, I needed it now for taking videos, but I had a problem – how do I mount my USB camera on to the screw on the tripod? I could probably find something on Amazon to help me but I knew someone would have come up with a hack and and I was right. Basically, it comes down to using superglue to affix a nut onto the base of the camera (1/4 – 20 size). So that’s what I did.

USB camera with a nut

And it worked just fine.

camera desk setup

I wish my grandpa could see it.

vintage junk journal

I’m catching up posting the projects I’ve had complete for a little while already. This one is a pretty simple junk journal with not a lot of embellishments. I kept it simple because I want it to be actually used as some kind of notebook where you write things in it.

Last year when my family and I traveled to Slovakia to visit relatives, during our stay I was setting aside various papers I could use for decorating a junk journal. Things like sheets of a newspaper, TV programming schedule, maps, store flyers, crossword puzzles, receipts, etc. Then, I needed to find a perfect book for turning into a journal.

I visited with some former colleagues in Bratislava and ask them to recommend place where I could find old books. They directed me to the Antikvariat Grosslingova, an antique bookstore on Grosslingova Street.

grosslingova antikvariat

It looks like this inside.

grosslingova antikvariat

I did some hunting and managed to find a book that would work perfectly.

These are pictures of only the pages that I embellished. All the rest are essentially blank.

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I sewed the pages in with a cross stitch on the book spine and decorated the cover with a lace sticker. That’s all the dressing up it gets. I like it simple.

junk mail junk journal

Lately I’ve gotten into this hobby called junk journaling. A junk journal is a book that is made of scraps or other papers that would otherwise be trash but when assembled together makes art. A junk journal could also be a book where you collect the ‘junk’ one accumulates through life.

Now I’ve been working on a book made entirely of scrap book pages pages, left over scrap papers, junk mail, and food packaging boxes. I can’t say it was easy. It took me months to accumulate enough of the right kinds of material.

Here are some pictures; these aren’t all of them.

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Because I wanted the book to present a kind of organized chaos, I took extra time to make sure the layout was as I wanted.

For sure it’s a strange collection of things. I’m not sure if I will make another of these. I have a shoe box of papers I collected and so I still have plenty of paper to work with.

For now I’ll just flip through this one once in a while.

Here’s my youtube video of the flip through: