Monday, July 23, 2007

A Pretty Dress

"Off" by E. B. Leighton, used by permission of Eras of Elegance.

I have always admired the dress in this painting, which I found at the Eras Of Elegance website ( I think a dress could be made in a similar style that could look very beautiful and updated for today.
It is pretty clear from the picture that the couple has broken up, but I believe she is already regretting it and they won't be mad at each other for keeps! The Eras of Elegance website has a lot of fine paintings in their gallery, along with a lot of other pretty things to look at in their shopping area.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Link for Austen Movie Fans



Art Print

Leighton, Edmund...
Buy at

For all the Jane Austen Movie fans, here is a link for information about the music used on the movies. Some of the English Dances are free to print (they are down toward the bottom of the page) that were used in a couple of the films.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Paper Dolls

There is a diverting little video on this website about the History of Paper Dolls, perhaps some of our readers would enjoy it:

I have spent many enjoyable hours making my own paper dolls, as well as collecting several old-fashioned looking dolls from Dover Publications in local bookstores. Dover reprints some early 20th century dolls such as Lettie Lane (originally published in the Ladies Home Journal), and has paper dolls to go with favorite books such as Little Women. I found them high quality and enjoyable to use. Though some could claim long ago fashions a bit silly looking, I appreciate a detail here or there, a sleeve or a color combination, or a fabric print.

There is a free doll from the 1918 Ladies Home Journal here: and links to her paper fashions too.

When I was little I had the Gingham Girls paper dolls who came with their own pop-out paper rooms, printed by Western Publishing. My mother also taught me how to make paper furniture and egg-carton furniture and use shoe boxes for houses for my dolls. She found a book with templates for paper doll furniture that we traced and used for years and years. We made match-box dressers and used wrapping paper for wallpaper. This was quite a lot of fun!

Paper dolls are not just fun for the young. When I was doing my paper issues of The Pleasant Times years ago, I had a subscriber in her 80's who was a fan of my own Felicia Fashion, and enjoyed cutting out her wardrobe. I can reprint Felicia here for you, but I'm afraid it has been quite a while since I drew her wardrobe and so she will need a fashion update. I don't have time to do it today, but perhaps some of you can provide her with a pretty dress in the meantime. Here is how it's done: after cutting the doll out, place it under white typing paper, and draw your design around it. That way, the design fits the doll's shape perfectly. Don't forget to include the tabs to connect it to the doll!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thatched Roofs the latest earth-friendly trend???

Item #: 2078446

With all of today's emphasis on being environmentally sensitive when building a house, I would like to explore the lovely thought of the English Cottage, particularly an element of it, the Thatched Roof. Did you know that a Reed thatched roof can last up to 70 years? Thatched roofs are also good insulators, and don't blow off in a storm. And think about how smart it would be to use a roofing material that you can grow every year, and after you are done with it and need to replace it (if you live long enough to outlast the roof) you can just compost it!

My budding reader was learning the spelling of the word "catch" and I put some more on the list. "hatch, patch, latch, thatch." Of course we had to go find out what thatch meant, and find some pictures of thatched roofs. That is what led me to this site:

I also thought the artistry on each roof was interesting.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Free is a good price!

When trying to find an inexpensive way to organize and store things, I found that the local Avon lady would give me her shipping boxes for free. I like these boxes because they have lids, and they are the same size so they stack nicely. I used them for storing clothing, Christmas decorations, sewing supplies, seasonal home decor, sheet music, office supplies, etc.
Though they were free, I did spend a little bit to cover the boxes so that they would look better in my house.

From left to right:
Blue box was painted with leftover wall paint. This was a bit messy. One of my friends told me that poster paint worked well for her when painting boxes.
The blue box is leaning on a fabric covered box. This was done by sewing up a sort of tube with squared ends, and was difficult. I think a spray adhesive might have made an easier job of covering the box.
Next we have contact papered boxes. This was more expensive, but durable and pretty.
Then there are the Dollar store wrapping paper boxes. Baby prints for baby items, assorted pastels to match rooms, etc. I used Christmas paper to cover boxes for ornament storage, and just set the empties under the Christmas tree to look nice until they were needed again.
At the very end are the un-adorned boxes. As I understand it, cardboard is not the best long-term storage for one's things, but until I could afford better, these are what I used and I was very pleased with them.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Trivia Question Answer

4th of July Trivia Question
Who signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July?

Answer: It was John Hancock, and John Hancock alone. Mr. Hancock was serving as the president of the Continental Congress, and as such, he signed the document. It was not until August 2nd that others began signing the Declaration.

Today we have an expression, to "Put your John Hancock on it" means to put your signature on it. Now you see that the phrase refers to more than just Mr. Hancock's excellent penmanship!

There was an interesting article here, as well as an example of John Hancock's signature:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

"matchless" fireworks

No Fire Needed.

Every Fourth of July, since as a girl I read "The American Girls Handy Book" by the Beard sisters, I have been making these old-fashioned "fireworks." I have used some ideas from the Handy Book, and also some from other papercrafting sources, and made up a nice little bundle of pretty things for children to play with every year. With all the different modern papers and crafting materials available, they are even more exciting. The nice thing about them is that they are not dangerous, but still sparkly and exciting for little ones. These are Daytime fireworks, and can content the children's impatience for the big ones at night.

Note: these are for children who are old enough to know that they should not put things in their mouths.

First, I go to the Dollar store and buy metallic tissue paper from the gift bag section. Red, Silver and Blue are my favorite colors for the season. Sometimes you can find glittery metallic gift paper, but it must be mylar to work right, not wrapping paper. One year I found a nice mylar that had red on one side and silver on the other, and it made very nice fireworks. I also buy a package of drinking straws, making sure there are red, white and blue stripes or colors in the package.

Then you will need colored paper, such as the kind you would buy for your photocopier or printer, in red and white and blue. Cardstock, glitter and glue are handy too.

Some thread or string and some kind of harmless weight, such as some beans are also useful. I have had problems finding weights that would mimic a rock or pebble, but not hurt if they hit someone on the head!

First, we have the Sparklers. If you make nothing else, make these, the children really like them.
Take a straw, and the mettalic tissue.
Cut a rectangle of tissue, about 12-14" long and 8 or so inches wide.
On one end of the rectangle, start cutting a fringe, about 3/4 inches wide, cut about 8" deep into the rectangle.
Now twist the un-cut end real tight,

twist it right up towards the fringe, and stuff it into the straw. It should stay pretty well if no one tugs on it. If it is too loose, you might vary the width of your rectangle.

Several narrow widths of fringed paper can be gathered together to make a multi-colored sparkler.
This is what the finished product looks like:
Wave it around. It makes a nice "crackling" sound and catches the light like a real sparkler!

You can use this same method (minus the straw) to make Thunderbolts.
Use a longer rectangle (18-24") and fringe each side, leaving plenty of room in the middle. Place a weight, like 3 or 4 dried beans, in the center. The original pattern called for a pebbles, but I prefer something less harmful, and have used little bits of bark, small pasta shapes, etc. Now fold the fringed rectangle in half, twisting it around the weights, and tie with a string or use a twist tie.

Throw this one straight up in the air, and it will come sailing down with a hissing sound.

With the copy paper, trace and cut sillouhettes to make "winged fancies." This might even be better with a lighter weight of paper, such as writing paper or the thin typing paper.
You could do a bird, a dragonfly, a butterfly, etc. Shown is the bird shape. These have to remain somewhat lightweight, but the thinnest layer of glue and the lightest sprinkling of glitter won't hurt it. These can be of a medium or large size. After cutting, poke a broom straw ( cut or pulled from your broom, just sacrifice a few for the sake of the children) through 2 small holes in the shape, so it stays.

Let down from a height (such as above your head, or standing on the steps of the porch) these winged creatures flutter and float to the ground very nicely.

Everyone knows how to fold a paper airplane, but there are some extra things you can do that make the regular paper airplane festive for the 4th. After folding up some planes (use colored paper too!), use glue and glitter to decorate the wings. A glitter glue pen can be useful for writing words on the side (such as 'Liberty' and other patriotic terms), and that way each child can name their own plane. As a final embellishment, I glue a few strips of the mylar tissue to the back, so as the planes are flying, they sparkle even more.

Helicopters are fun and may be decorated in many places. For these you need cardstock and tape.

Make a rectangle, and make cuts at the places marked in red in the photo above.

Fold back each side of the "handle" and tape secure to the back.

Fold each helicopter "blade" opposite of each other. To fly, hold up in the air and give it a little twist as you let go. This one takes some practice, the helicopter should whirl to the ground in true helicopter fashion.

What fun to stand up on a porch or tree stump and let these firworks fly and flutter down!

The American Girls Handy Book is available at:

4th of July Trivia Question

Who signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July?