The Art of Book Design: Tanglewood Tales

Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrations by Virginia Frances Sterrett; 1921; Philadelphia, Penn Publishing Company

As promised, today we’re looking at the second book illustrated by Virginia Sterrett, Tanglewood Tales by Hawthorne, and the artwork is just as beautiful as that in Sterrett ‘s first book, Old French Fairy Tales.  The soft flowing lines and attention to small details are still present, but there’s more boldness in the colour palette and, perhaps because of this, a different quality of light. Sterrett was only 20 when she completed this work and was already sick with the tuberculosis that would eventually take her life.

Enjoy! [Read more…]

Plant Portraits

Opus has a new philosophy for photographing flowers and the result is stunning. I couldn’t be more delighted to share them with all of you.

…the spring and early summer has been very good for macro plant photography.  I have started thinking of these as plant portraits, rather than just macro photography. …Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed capturing them.  

Clover, ©Opus, all rights reserved

Wild Carrot, ©Opus, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: My Lady Nicotine

Barrie, James Matthew, My Lady Nicotine A Study in Smoke, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1890

A book written by the author of Peter Pan about his love affair with smoking. He had quit smoking when he wrote the book and had become contemptuous of it, but the series of 33 essays speak wistfully of his fond remembrances of the days when he enjoyed his pipe. The essay titles include, “His Wife’s Cigar,” “How Heroes Smoke.” and “The Perils of Not Smoking.”


via: Classic Literature Library

Jack’s Walk

The Lily Pond, ©voyager, all rights reserved

This is going to be a strange year for Jack and I. Usually, at about this time of year we pack up the car and head down the highway to the east coast where we spend our summers by the sea, but this year we’ve decided to stay home. My mother’s health has been deteriorating and even though she lives in a nursing home I still worry. I’m an only child so I don’t have a sibling to call on for help. I begged for a brother or sister when I was young, but to no avail. Too bad, an extra pair of eyes and hands would be nice at this stage of life.

When we’re down east in Perce we stay with Mr. V’s mum who is 93 and has been living alone. This mum is still a going concern. Well into her 90’s now she still manages everything well and on her own. She shops and cooks and still bakes cookies because who wants store-bought. She also still drives, irons, gardens and has just found herself a rather nice, very old-fashioned and sweet boyfriend who will be spending the summer with her. He’s just a kid at 78. That means just a bit less worry for us. Our east coast mum will have a wonderful summer even if we can’t be there to share it with her.

Jack hasn’t ever spent a whole summer in Ontario so I’m going to see if I can find a few new trails to keep him engaged. Me too. I like to be outside and I don’t what I’m going to do with myself without my annual hunt for seaglass.

Badger Magic

(I am currently again in Macedonia, having not even posted all the photos from my last trip, and it is extremely hot and stressful, so here is something short and full of personal pride.)

It’s been a while since the last time I shared some of my art, and this time around, I must say I am disgustingly proud of myself. Because when Inspiration came, it was inspiration for an image quite outside my comfort zone (not the usual cats and horses, is what I mean) and it really felt like a challenge to complete the project as I imagined it.

The initial sketch happened at work, and came quite easily:

© rq, all rights reserved.

And as big a fan as I am of black-and-white ink sketches, I knew this one needed more. It took another two months (I think?) to turn that drawing into the final painting (not that it took two months of painting, but it took two months to finally have enough guts and enough time to do it; some procrastination may have been involved):

© rq, all rights reserved. Acrylic, size A5.

Like I said, I am disgustingly proud of this painting, and yes, I keep using that word, because it almost feels undeserved that it should feel so properly done. I think it’s a bit of imposter syndrome at work, but I also have it on good authority that the painting has been well-received and shall be accordingly framed.

I sent it off with a small story about the official title of the painting, but I will admit that I am still extremely shy about sharing my (fiction) writing. Caine did once share a poem of mine here, and for some reason, that felt very nerve-wracking.

Most of you can probably guess the owner, incidentally – he runs a blog on this network that goes by the title of St Derr (I know, I know, don’t shoot me!), which also happens to be the name of that badger. In a striking case of coincidence, there actually exists a Temple of Derr, most possibly dedicated to the god Ptah, who also happens to be the patron deity of metalworkers.

And I do owe mail to my co-bloggers as well, just don’t expect it within the next 6 months. You all deserve something at least as nice as this.

The Art of Book Design: The Book of Romance

Lang, Andrew. The Book of Romance. New York, Longmans, Green & co, 1902

This is one of the best-loved book of stories about the Legend of King Arthur. The cover is gorgeous, but there are some pretty sweet interior plates as well. The whole book is available at the link below if you’re interested.


via: The Internet Archive

The Art of Book Design: Easy Guide to the Constellations

Today’s book comes from Anne, Cranky Cat Lady and it’s absolutely charming. I’m pretty sure it’s a rare first edition and it looks to be in good shape for a book that’s 119 years old.

James Gall. An Easy Guide to The Constellations With A Miniature Atlas of The Stars. Gall and Inglis, London, 1900.