Entries in ephemera (5)


Vintage Mementoes

Recently I bought some vintage items on Etsy, a pair of 1940s sunglasses, and a hat (actually one of a few!), but these two sellers used vintage photos for thank you cards. Aptly, the 1940s beach photo above came with the sunglasses.

Both the photos are very tiny, about 6cm wide, and there is only so much one can see with the naked eye. I didn’t notice at first, but the photo above is actually a square negative printed on rectangular paper. When I scanned it at 200% of actual size, I was able to pick out a bit more detail – I love seeing what’s going on in the background of vintage photos.

Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her.

Here, there is a man’s hat sitting on a rock just behind the two young women, children running about perhaps playing a ballgame, and numerous people doing the kind of things you do at the beach. You can see the girl closer to the camera is much prettier, and her dress has scalloped sleeves and neckline, and she is wearing a polka dot sash. Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her. The other woman is wearing a floral print, and both of them are holding sunglasses in their hands.

I always wonder about the people in such photos – what were they thinking at the moment the shutter snapped? Where are they now, or their descendents?

And who are the two Edwardian women wearing bowties? Mother and daughter perhaps? The woman in the polka dot tie has such weary, deep-sunken eyes and looks much older than the other. Look at the detailing on their dresses – so many pleats!

I love the old cardboard these photos are printed on. I’ve always been fond of those deckle-edged photos because I remember them from old family albums; I even own a pair of scissors that cut like that, but of course I never print photos anymore. The embossed Edwardian frame is perfectly lovely – I actually might get photos printed if you could order frames like that. It makes them seem far more special, real mementoes. I wonder if these women are remembered by someone.

Click images for larger versions.


Weigel’s 1501

Knowing how I love paper ephemera, a friend of mine bought me this quaint 1950s sewing pattern from an op shop (thrift store) a little while ago. I had never heard of Weigel’s Patterns, but their office and factory address – as printed on the reverse – would have been situated twenty-minute’s walk from my home.

Everything about this design is fantastic: the simplicity of the front; the mish-mash of fonts, the strange alignments of the typesetting, varying types of rules, and halftone illustration. Perhaps it is simply the fact it is a relic from a bygone era that makes it so appealing, because no one typesets like this anymore. Have you seen a modern-day pattern envelope? Practicality and clear reference photographs notwithstanding, they are very ugly!

Don’t you just love that the zip is called a ‘slide fastener’? The word ‘zipper’ or ‘zip’ as it is commonly used in Australia, was actually coined in 1923, by the B. F. Goodrich Company of America. They used the slide fastener on a new type of rubber boot, and referred to it as a ‘zipper’ – and thereafter the name stuck. The word itself is onomatopoeic, meaning it was named for the sound the fastener makes when it is used – a high-pitched zip! [Wikipedia]

This pattern is actually my size, so I think it would have been rather fun to have a blouse made for me – if only all the pieces were there. As it is, I may use the blank tissue inside in my mixed media artwork one day.


A Sweet Easter

Here is some Easter cuteness in a rare depiction of a boy in a Victorian scrapbooking card feeding his pet rabbits. I love his innocent expression and rosy cheeks, and his striped socks and gleaming boots. It’s such a sweet, gentle image. I hope you are having a very Good Friday and a happy Easter.  



Rage! Digital drawing on vintage paper, Helena Turinski, 2015 I was looking for something today in my archives and came across this amusing digital sketch that I had forgotten about. I created it about a year and a half ago as an experiment, using a page from a 1931 journal I had bought from an antiquarian shop.

The concept was related to a random poem I was working on at the time, but it didn’t work as part of a collage and I set it aside. Now, the visceral emotion quite amuses me. I certainly wasn’t angry, but rather gleefully exuberant!

The biggest compliment I received when a friend of mine, another artist, saw some of my digital ink drawings and assumed they were created traditionally. I think doing them this way frees me up much more than if I was using real ink – I know I’d be anxiously worrying about wrecking irreplaceable and unique vintage papers. The other concern is that this paper is very thin and delicate, and would not be able to handle much medium at all. In the end, if I can create a realistic effect digitally, I am happy.


Postcards from Portugal

Recently, I was rearranging my home-office, which forced me to do some sorting and tidying and chucking-out. During this tedious process I came across a bag (shoved under my desk) of ephemera collected on my overseas trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco years ago.

I kept the travel journal (naturally) and a few other design-related items like these reproductions of quaint vintage postcards, and threw out the remainder.

Unfortunately the reverse sides of the postcards are singularly uninformative, with only the words ‘Publicidade e ilustração, Portugal século XX’, along with an obscure edition number and web address that goes to a blog about unique engagement rings.

Fado is a traditional style of Portuguese music, which can be traced back to the 1820s, and is characterised by mournful tunes and music. I guess in this case these songs are about cigars?

I never sampled Ginja de Portugal while on holiday in Portugal, but it is a liqueur made from sour cherries with sugar and alcohol. Possibly it is similar to the Croatian Maraska cherry wine, which is neither a wine nor a liqueur, but is a perfect accompaniment to desserts.

The other two cards show a naïve folk style of illustration lauding the joyful, sun-filled lifestyle to be found in Portugal.

I found these postcards in an intriguing store in Lisbon, which was part-giftshop, part-design-emporium. I also purchased a book on vintage packaging, and a few pieces of vintage ephemera – random collections of actual items packaged in cellophane envelopes. It was a lovely little shop to spend an hour browsing in.