The Art of Book Design: Pussy-cat Town


Marion Ames Taggert. Pussy-cat Town. Illustrated by Rebecca Chase. Boston, L.C. Page & Company, 1906.

I was a cat person long before I became a dog person, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for felines, so when I saw this book I knew I had to feature it. The book is full of sweet drawings and there are many more than I’m sharing here. I’ve included all of the full-page illustrations, but there are multiple smaller black and white drawings on many of the pages. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. [Read more…]

Bobbin Lace Moth

Go big or go home. I have drawn and then made a bobbin lace moth of a little advanced design.

First I browsed the net for inspiration and I looked at especially the beautiful saturniid moths and then I made a sketch, with a biro on paper.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I scanned the sketch and in Photoshop I went through several modifications and experiments with color. In the end, I have drawn a template which I subsequently printed out. I forgot to draw in the positions for pins this time, so hopefully, I won’t forget next time, because it was a pain in the ass to get the pins symmetrically.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The next step was, of course, the work itself. I did not time it precisely, but I worked on it this whole week from Monday till today, so I estimate it at somewhere around 30 hours. The outer parts of the wings were very time consuming, each side took me about 8 hours. It is 20 bobbins lace after all. Here you can see the work in progress, as it was today a few hours before the finish line.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The last step was to frame it. We do not have too many fabrics that could be used for background, but from those that we do have a shiny grey worked best.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

You Need a Steady Hand To Do This

Kestrel has decided to enter a painting competition for a micro mini model horse and she’s bringing us along on the journey.

There is a novice model horse painter contest coming up and I want to enter. The contest is specifically for the category of “micro mini” resin model horses – this is 1/64 of live size, and these little horses are made by a sculptor who then either casts or 3D prints them, depending on who is producing them. I’ve painted only 4 of these micro minis and I’m going out on a limb here – this horse is not done, so I have no idea at this point how he will turn out. I need to hurry though – entries close the last day of March! 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

Here is my painting area cleaned up and ready. I have pastels, acrylic paints, the model I’ll paint, some water, my glass palette, various brushes, a tiny piece of flexible sanding paper, a blade to clean the palette and toothpicks, which I use the way some would use a palette knife. 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

Now for safety! People are supposed to breathe air, not pastel dust or paint fumes, so here is my respirator and a pair of gloves. I also wear a visor on my head that goes down over my eyes, and glasses under all that. Hopefully no one comes to the door while I’m so accoutered… The model has to be scrubbed down with something like Comet. Paint won’t stick to finger prints, grease, or dirt, so from now on I won’t touch this model with my bare hands, I’ll always be wearing gloves until I put the final finish on him. 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

My model is already “prepped and primed”. The little donkey resin is not; he has holes and flaws in the casting, seams and rough areas, and all of that has to be filled in, filed down and fixed so that he has a perfectly smooth surface for painting. After the prepping, I spray the model with primer, in this case I used white primer. 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

I’m using this horse as my reference for how the markings will look on the finished model, although I’ll paint the marking as she is in the summer, all shed out and slicked off, not all hairy and dirty like she is here in the spring. Fortunately she lives right here at my house, so if I get stuck on how exactly a marking goes, or the right color, I can just go outside and look. (Plus I have about a million pictures of this little horse on my computer!) It’s very important to use a reference photo or photos. People show these models, once they’re finished, and the judges know very well how a horse should look. If I just made something up, I might accidentally put markings on a horse that are genetically impossible, and that would get marked down in the show ring.

I can’t take photos while I’m painting, so just imagine me putting the first layer of pastel on the model.

©kestrel, all rights reserved

Now I go to my spray booth, to put a layer of fixative on that first layer of pastel paint. The spray booth has a super powerful motor that pulls air through the filter, up through the hose on top and out the window. That way I don’t have paint all over inside the house, there are no fumes inside the house, and I can paint even when it’s cold or snowing/raining outside. The reason the model is on a piece of tape is because these tiny little things don’t weigh much at all, and as gently as I puff the fixative on the model, it will blow right over, possibly messing up the paint I’ve so painstakingly applied. You can see the white primer I used on the filter of the spray booth. I truly am a novice painter; this will be the 5th model horse I’ve ever painted, and that spray booth is brand new.

©kestrel, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

That willow tree is getting fuzzy. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, we didn’t go for our pancake breakfast at the sugar shack over the weekend because it’s been cancelled for this year. Most things have been cancelled around here. Schools are on indefinite March Break, including colleges and universities, and almost all gathering places have shut down. Tai Chi classes have been cancelled, and so has pool therapy. The Senior’s centre, the library and the Cineplex theatre have closed their doors, and the live theatres in Stratford and Toronto have cancelled perform into May.

There have been no Covid 19 cases in our city so far, but there have been confirmed cases in 2 places only 30 minutes away. Mr. V is over 65 and has a wonky heart, so he’s at risk, and I’ll be 60 this year, and my chronic shingles and fibromyalgia increase my risk, so we are self-isolating as much as possible. I did make a trip to get a few supplies early Saturday morning, and that was a bit of a shock. I started at Wal-Mart early Saturday morning and found they were completely out of bread, meat, onions, potatoes, beer, yogurt, pasta sauce, canned and frozen vegetables, dried beans, rice, coffee, juice, butter, ice cream and toilet paper. Entire rows of shelves were laid bare, and people with lists were wandering around with empty carts, looking lost. There was a weird atmosphere about the place and I felt as if I’d stepped into a Stephen King novel. I walked out with supplies for Jack (which were also getting low) and nothing else. Next, I went to No Frills and had a bit better luck. I found a package of ground beef, some sausages and a pork roast, but supplies were limited, and there was no chicken at all. They did have most other items on my list, with the proviso that you could only take 1 or 2 of most things. Thankfully, toilet paper was not on my list (we stock up when it’s on sale) because they also had none left.

I have a friend who says that the reason toilet paper is going so quickly is that every time someone coughs or sneezes, a dozen people shit their pants!

Jack is blissfully unconcerned about Covid 19 and asked to go to the park this morning. I was ready for a bit of fresh air, too, so we piled into the car and went to see the ducks, who mostly look to be paired up for nesting season. The pond was completely free of ice, thanks to a few days of above zero weather. We walked down to see the geese, which were plentiful and aggressive. They charged Jack and me a few times, but Jack planted himself into a stationary lunge and growled a deep, soft, low growl that quickly turned them around. He seemed disappointed that they didn’t come closer.

After the pond, we walked around the gazebo, and it was quite exciting to see that the tulips are up a few cms. Every year the city changes the colours of their bulbs, and I’m always anxious to see what the plan is for the year. The city buys thousands of bulbs directly from Holland every year, and at the end of the season, they sell them off cheaply to homeowners. It’s part of the city’s overall beautification plan, and it does spruce up neighbourhoods, We also found a few “fuzzy” willows, some big buds on the trees by the stream and a colourful Choral Bell with a feather flag. There were a few people out and about, and we all smiled and gave a wave, but everyone kept their distance. Thank Cthulhu, that it’s still safe to go outdoors, otherwise Jack and I would go stir crazy.

It’s tulip time. ©voyager, all rights reserved

The mini daffodils have arrived. ©voyager, all rights reserved

It might be love. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Look at the size of those buds. Leaf day is coming early this year. ©voyager, all rights reserved

A Feather Flag. ©voyager, all rights reserved



Corona Crisis Crafting II: There be Dragons

Another cheat post, because I started those last week as well.

I want to redecorate the front yard and therefore ordered some very cool latex moulds. I still have plenty of pouring concrete left from the renovations, so I can probably breed a lot of them.

Here’s the first, not so good attempts:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

My attempts in supporting the moulds weren’t as successful as I thought they would be. The wings on this were supposed to be upright, which isn’t a big issue, but I also made my concrete too wet*, so when I tried to demould it after the recommended 5 days, it was still too wet and the tips of the wings broke off.

Next one:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I left that one for a few more days to dry, which worked out well, but… the weight of the concrete pushed the head down.

For my next attempts I buried the moulds in damp earth. I’ll have to get myself some regular sand for the next ones, but I hope that this time they wont be flat.

Last one is a cute little croc, only that I broke off its tail, but that was easily fixed with some glue.

©Giliell, all rights reserved


*As my dad said: It’s too dry, too dry, too dry right until it’s too wet.

Wild Hyacinths

From Nightjar,

After last week’s wild daffodils I bring you more spring bulbs… wild hyacinths! Well, kind of, I think these are actually squills (Scilla sp.) but they belong to the same family and I’ve always called them that. They’re everywhere right now. Two of these photos have a bonus little spider.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

The rest of the pictures are below the fold in case any of you don’t want to see the spider. I happen to think the spider is adorable, and the rest of the photos are gorgeous. The light in the second to last photo is breathtaking.

[Read more…]

Corona Crisis Crafting I

Ok, this is cheating a bit, because I made the pieces over the last two weeks or so, but it’s still something pretty that you can make indoors.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The necklace turned out very elegant and beautiful and I’m wondering what to wear it to, once we can go out again and support our local restaurants. It’s ten individual resin pieces with Bohemian glass beads to separate them. here are some of my favourite ones:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved


The Art of Book Design: The Rabbit Witch

Katherine Pyle. The Rabbit Witch and Other Stories. Illustrated by the author. New York, E.P. Dutton and Company, 1895.

I found this book while I was looking for something else, and it charmed me, so I decided to feature it on a Fairy Tale Saturday. It’s a small book of children’s rhymes, each with its own title page plus a separate page with a simple drawing related to the story. The verses are told in panels, two to a page, and I think the layout almost has a comic book feel to it. The drawings are in simple black and red, and they include a kitten, a dog, a stork and a rabbit in a polka-dotted kerchief. I’ve included my favourite illustrations below the fold, but if you’d like to see more, the entire book is available at The Library of Congress. [Read more…]