The Art of Book Design: The Book of Saints & Friendly Beasts

Abbie Farwell Brown. The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts. Illustrated by Fanny Cory. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1900.

A children’s book full of stories about Christian saints and their friendships with animals. The stories are very loosely based on legends, but the author has spun them into fantastic folk tales of adventure. Abbie Farwell Brown was a prolific writer and published many children’s books, including a book about the Norse Gods. I rather like the idea of making fictional stories of the saints. I think it strips them of power and makes them easier to dismiss as merely characters in a children’s book, like Cinderella or Red Riding hood.

Unlike the graphic artwork in most books about Christian saints, the illustrations in this book are charming and sweet and very typical of their time at the height of the Art Nouveu period. My favourite drawing is St. Bridget & the King’s Wolf, followed closely by the energetic Saint Keneth and the Gulls.

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YouTube Video: The stropping myth and how to sharpen tools with leather

Today a little video about the maintenance of sharp tools. Unfortunately I am not giving my tools the attention they would deserve, because I am not using them enough, but that should hopefully change soon. I have also bought a thick leather strip to make myself a good strop last year, but then I misplaced it and I found it again only last week.

In a pinch, I have also used following things for stropping a knife blade:

Folded newspaper, paper, cardboard, towel, dog’s collar, wooden board, and even the trouser leg of my worn jeans (whilst wearing them).

And when I had not commercial compound available, for stronger abrasion I have used:

A toothpaste, a bit of fine clay/mud, and fine wood ash (grass ash would probably work even better, it contains silica, but I did not try that one yet).

But the best results are in my opinion obtained with a strip of thick leather and jeweler’s rouge (the real stuff – finely ground haematite made from annealed rust). It is definitively worth stropping kitchen knives, especially if you have knives with an apple-seed edge.

C is for Crimson

From Nightjar

C is for Crimson ©Nightjar, all rights reserved


A strong red with a slight bluish tint. Historically, it’s the color of the kermes dye, a red dye derived from the dried bodies of insects belonging to the genus Kermes. Kermesic acid is the pigment that gives the dye its color. I found a similar hue on a sunburnt rose.


Link to previous alphabet post

The Art of Book Design: Dainty Bits

Dainty Bits. Water Lily Series. Edited by Miss L. Penney. New York, The National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1891.

A children’s book full of stories and rhymes about the evils of alcohol. Some of the chapter titles include “Old Pussy’s Advice”  and “Thoughtless Dick.”


Source – University of Florida, George Smithers Libraries, where you can read the entire book

Tree Tuesday

Embers and the Giants by Canadian artist Kelly Richardson – source CBC Arts

Canadian artist Kelly Richardson loves trees, especially the trees in the old growth rain forests on Vancouver Island where her latest work Embers and the Giants was filmed. Richardson fears for the future of these ancient trees and with good reason – deforestation is happening at an alarming rate and it’s recently been announced that another 109 hectares of pristine forest will be auctioned off.

Richardson’s work may prompt you to consider how we relate to nature as a species and to consider what the future may look like if we don’t choose a different path. In this video made by filmmaker Lisa Wu, you’ll travel to the forest with Richardson and get to see her at work making the landscape come alive in Embers and the Giants. The film was commissioned to participate in the XL Outer Worlds project celebrating the 50th anniversary of IMAX.

Canadian artist Kelly Richardson – source CBC Arts

Embers and the Giants will be at the Toronto Biennial of Art in Fall 2019, and then it’s travelling both across Canada and internationally. You can find out more about Kelly Richardson and her work here.

I’d like to thank rq for pointing this story my way.

via: CBC Arts