Vintage Crafts: Winter Edition

 Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p1
As you may remember, I have a stack of old craft magazines that date from the 19th century to the 1950s, thanks to a friend of mine saving them from a garbage pile. Last May this post featured the June 1949 issue of Mon Ouvrage. Now that there’s a chill in the air, I thought I’d share with you one of the winter editions. Today, excerpts from the January 1950 issue.

While some of the crafts and decorating projects are so dated they’re kitschy, I find that others are still useful and could be updated in today’s materials and colors. The caplet, especially, is tempting me at the moment.

Each issue of Mon Ouvrage usually has 24 pages, but unfortunately the middle section of this particular issue is missing. Judging by the page just before the missing ones, my guess is that it was about lingerie. Not the most charming of styles anyway, so no matter!

If you’d like me to send you the full-size scan of any of these pages, just let me know by e-mail or in the comments section.

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Going on a ski trip? Don’t forget to make your own sleeping bag first.

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Decorating project: a modern living room!

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p4
This is the caplet pattern I’m talking about. Without that ribbon and a little less baggy, and this could be the perfect cover-up for a holiday party. Here’s a close-up:

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p4 Detail

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p7

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p16
An embroidered collar.

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p18
Ski Sweaters (from the cover)

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p22
Knit dresses for girls

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Detail from the back cover: embroidered coasters

Photo Advent Calendar

Photo Advent Calendar

Last night I made a Photo Advent Calendar with files I downloaded from Kodak.

The directions on the link are very easy: just download the pdf files, add photos, and print them out. I took the more tech-intensive route by opening the files in Adobe Illustrator (you could use Photoshop or most any other design software), dragging and resizing the photos I wanted to use. That way, instead of gluing individual photos down, I just print out the entire page. My layout looks like this:

Making Advent Calendar2

I’m going to either print them out to send, or just e-mail the files to my family members, who can then print them out themselves, though to actually assemble the calendar requires some extra effort, slicing the doors and windows with an Exacto knife.

For a more timeless and uniform look, I might transform all of the photos into black and white images. Next time.

Peynet Illustrations Part II

It is always exciting to hear from readers that are interested in the random things I find to write about on my blog. The post I wrote about Peynet illustrations back in March drew some particularly enthusiastic responses, with two readers even sending me images of Peynet works that they own. I’m thrilled!

Last spring, Chris sent me a photo of a Peynet hankerkechief received as a gift around 1963. The drawing and caption are a play on the French version of “he loves me, he loves me not,” which is “je t’aime un peu… beaucoup… pasionnément… à la folie… pas du tout” (I love you a little, a lot, passionately, like crazy, not at all.)

Peynet Hankie
Your hour will be mine. Would you like to at “passionately a quarter to” or “half past crazy”?

Melissa purchased two Peynet drawings at a Parisian bouquiniste along the Seine. The first one is from the 1950’s and refers to the famous hat maker Elsa Schiaparelli.

Peynet Schiaparelli
Schiaparelli’s Crazy Success

The second illustration is dated 1960 and refers to the ubiquitous Nicolas wine boutiques with a sentiment surely still shared by many:

Peynet Train
Forget you? It would be impossible, dear… Like asking me to live without Nicolas wines…

Aren’t they just charming? Thanks for sharing, Chris and Melissa!

Traveling in the Provinces: Ambierle

Ambierle GatewayI’ve been away from Paris for a week, visiting some collections in Lyon for my dissertation and also squeezing in some time with old friends. I haven’t been able to be online very often, but just got the chance to share with you some photos from a little village called Ambierle, in the Loire region of France (about 1.5 hours from Lyon).

Ambierle’s church’s roof is made with traditional tiles from the Bourgogne region, a pattern very prevalent in the area around Dijon.

Ambierle is also the “village du livre” (book village), with several used book shops and a bi-monthly book market in the warmer months of the year. I found some wonderful old journals for a euro each ?? quite a steal, since they go for at least 15? in Paris! A little place definitely off the beaten path but worth a visit when in the region.

Ambierle Church

Ambierle Facade

Ambierle Apartments and Church

To the Barricades!

Paris Brise Chaines 1944The rich and tumultuous history of Paris can be told in part by a vast series of photographs, lithographs, and other images now available to anyone with an internet connection. The Paris en Images collection is an excellent database with a search feature which allows the researcher to find images by keyword and date. What’s even better is that they are freely available for private and scholarly use.

The barricade has been almost as much a part of Parisian history as the Seine river. Since the 16th century Parisians have dug up paving stones and piled them into barricades during numerous revolutions, insurrections, and protests. Here, I’ve picked some of my favorite images of barricades, and in places very much recognizable in present-day Paris. We think of Parisian history (and by extension that of France) as being an ever-changing series of radically different regimes. It’s interesting to me, however, to see the continuity in the form of protest, both on the right and left.

1848 Barricade
Revolution of 1848, Remains of a Barricade on rue Royale

1870-71 Barricade
Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871, Barricade at l’?toile

1871 Barricade Hotel de Ville
Paris Commune, 1871, Barricade at Hôtel de Ville

1871 Barricade Vendome
Paris Commune, 1871, Vendôme Column Pulled to the Ground

Barricade 1914
Construction of a Barricade at a Gate of Paris, August 1914

1934 Ligue de droites
1934, Protest of the Ligues de droite (right-wing political organization)

Barricade 1944
Liberation of Paris, Barricade at the Pont Neuf and rue Dauphine, August 1944

1968 Barricade
May 1968, Barricade on the rue Racine

Further reading:

Mark Traugott, “Barricades as Repertoire: Continuities and Discontinuities in the History of French Contention.” Social Science History, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp.309-323.

Jeannene M. Przyblyski, “Revolution at a Standstill: Photography and the Paris Commune of 1871.” Yale French Studies, No. 101, Fragments of Revolution. (2001), pp. 54-78.

Jill Harsin, Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

Flea Market Finds

Painted drawer knobs at a big flea market in Montmartre

Parisian flea markets have become quite the attraction, which means that, for example, an old wooden cork screw worth 1? now usually goes for 10. While I love to go to the big market at St. Ouen, the prices are so inflated (I bought an old perfume label for 5? – it’s a piece of paper!) that now I seldom buy a thing.

Place Maubert Flea Market
Place Maubert Flea Market on September 9th

Not so at the brocante on Place Maubert last Sunday. The sellers there were really trying to get their stuff to move. There were books, bags, and housewares for 50 cents or 3 for 1?, glasses for 10 cents, and one seller offered an all-you-can-carry price of 5?.

Tin Boxes

Yellow BagAfter buying a bunch of tins and a useful yellow bag (the whole bunch for 2? ), I found an old photography print of a Parisian street (La rue Cler) in the early 1900s. The print seller also had tons of old books and said I could take all I want for 5?. I filled my bag with anything that looked interesting: an homage to Marie and Pierre Curie when they won the Nobel in 1935, a propaganda-filled Vichy-era agenda (which merits at the very least its own blog post), and a little beat-up book about making your own toys. I also grabbed some pretty hard-cover books, including Renée by Etienne Marcel (for my sister-in-law, Renée), one by Balzac (Les Chouans, the word Chouans meaning French royalists) and another by Zola (L’Argent or Money).

Old Books

It wasn’t until Monday morning that I thought to check the publication dates. The Zola book was a nice surprise: the publication date, 1891, as well as the publication house are the originals. There is a stamp from a library inside, which may mean that the binding is not original (though it looks very old), but it is pretty exciting to have a first edition, in any case! I usually attribute only personal value to the objects I pick up at these things, but for once, I may actually have something valuable to others as well.

Zola l??Argent
1891 edition of L’Argent

The hunt is half the fun, though, and I’m happy to dig through the dust and come away with nothing. There’s just something magical about the possibility of finding a hidden treasure, whether it be a book of historical significance or just a pretty tin box to store sugar cubes!

Eiffel Tower: the Official (1893) Guide

Tour Eiffel Lighthouse

What was it like to visit the Eiffel Tower in the 1890s? Today while following some leads for my dissertation at the Bibliothèque Nationale, I came across a fun little guide for the Eiffel Tower, published in Brussels in 1893. It’s always a pleasure to discover these sources that don’t necessarily have much to do with my project, but that show some aspect of fin-de-siècle French culture.

This 64-page guidebook seems to be mainly concerned with the statistics: how many kilos of steel, how many visitors, how much revenue? It’s fun to think back at what this tower meant in 1893: it was only four years old that year (it was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris) and was quite the marvel of modern science and engineering. More than just a “must-see” of rich Parisian history, the Eiffel Tower at that time represented modernity itself.

You can download this guide, and many, many other original documents at the Bibliothèque Nationale’s portal to digital documents, Gallica. Just do a title search for “Guide Offiicel de la Tour Eiffel.” Happy researching!

Tour Eiffel CoverTour Eiffel Elevators

Vintage Crafts: June 1949

Mon Ouvrage June 1949 Cover PostJune is just around the corner, so I bring to you the 58-year-old June edition of Mon Ouvrage. Isn’t the cover illustration delightful? There is something timeless about this colorful image: reminiscent of a Japanese print or an antique china pattern, but also similar to many of the cheerful upholstery fabrics of today.

The title of this edition is “La Peinture à l’aiguille,” or “Needle Painting.” If you’ve never attempted embroidery before and would like to try painting with needles, as it were, the CraftTown website has some simple and illustrated instructions to get you going.

In other news, I’ve added “sewing” to my blog categories, since most of the vintage magazines I hope to share include patterns for various garments, though the styles are obviously a bit dated. The shirts in this edition, for example, include some complicated linen and crochet embellishments that may not be worth the while.

With all the projects I have going, I may skip attempting any of these and just frame this magazine itself! The contents and various craft projects in this edition are below. As always, you can click the images for an enlarged size. If you have trouble reading them or would like the original scan to use yourself, just ask and I’d be happy to get it to you.

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Getting Married circa 1950

Modes Travaux Title PageA friend of mine, Mahmoud, who has a very good eye for recycling, spotted an 18-inch stack of old books and craft & fashion magazines that a used book shop was throwing away. Thanks to his muscle, I can now scan and share with you French fashion illustrations and craft patterns that date from the 1880s to 1960s. I hope you’ll find as much enjoyment in them as I have!

Today, I bring to you French wedding fashion from the January 1950 edition of the monthly Modes et Travaux. The drawings are charming, and the articles and projects are a fun entry into marriage customs of yesteryear. Seldom heard of today, the traditional trousseau was once a top priority for young women to prepare: who could think of getting married without a wooden chest full of embroidered linen sheets, napkins, and tablecloths? Today, these items fetch a pretty penny: at yesterday’s antique fair on the Place de la Bastille a single sheet was priced at over 100 euros. Since I have a “W” in my initials, chances are I’ll never find antique linens with my monogram (in France at least), but I wouldn’t have the money for it anyway. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at embroidery myself, using my vintage magazines as a guide.

Click images to enlarge. 

Modes Travaux La MarieeModes Travaux Wedding AttireModes Travaux Chiffrages

Nursery Rhymes en français

Humpty Dumpty DetailIn school we learned many French songs and rhymes, which don’t have English equivalents. The following one I learned from an elderly man from Louisiana (he sang it as a child):Grenouille

Il pleut, il mouille. C’est la fête à la grenouille.

Il’s raining, it’s getting wet. It’s the frog’s fête.

Because I have a love for old books and can’t bear to see a book thrown away, I recently saved three children’s books from the dumpster: Three French versions of those Little Golden Books so many of us grew up with. I never learned anything about a French “Little Miss Muffett” or “Humpty Dumpty” or “This Little Piggie…” and I don’t know if this is because I just didn’t spend my first years in France, or if it’s because they are English nursery rhymes that were translated just for this particular printing.

In any case, they are darling and I am in love with the vintage drawings and find the French version of “Ring Around the Rosie” (“…the roses are in bloom…”) is much more cheerful than “ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”

Here are some of the pages I’ve scanned (click them to enlarge). I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Humpty DumptyLittle Miss Muffett