Brilliant day

Blue sky. So much promise. It's truly Baba Marta bating us with promises of Spring today. I may have to start wearing red and white bracelets to keep this amazing migration of seasons coming. When we were in Western Mass. we saw vees of geese seemingly coming back to the area. We saw hunters training their pointers in the fields with blinds and plastic geese. We saw baskets of Polish painted wooden eggs and smelled bunches of daffodils for sale. There are those spring temptations and promises at the store, strawberries, raspberries and asparagus. The snow slides off our roofs in great crashing sheets of ice and glitter. There is hope in the air....though I must admit, I like Winter and could easily handle another month of hunkering down.

Bruce is on his way to visit for a week--working at the museum on a project. I have a ton to do. Somehow the floodgates have loosed at the big client and we are kept jumping with bailing out the consultants who sell themselves as designers and then can't design. So there is a lot for me to focus on as a designer...the paid and the unpaid. Need to finish up the bread work particularly after visiting the Hungry Ghost in Northampton, MA and it's more commercial spin off, El Jardin nearby. Gave me a bit more perspective on the breadth of the bread, it's perception and marketing and helps me better know what my bread client is looking for. He has broken ground, so there will be some pressure to move on this soon. Also, more changes in the Hangar work...need to move on that as they need the stuff.

I am making a chicken pie (from King Arthur) today for this week, a ham (from the CSA that was awarded to us) and some baked goods (King Arthur's cinnamon bread and King Arthur's Blog Chocolate Sourdough Cake). So, there will be cooking for the week. I need to rescue the chicken from the snowdrift I set the pan in...and get to work on freeing it from it's bones (for stock)...and see what else I can do with the leftovers.

I am busy thinking about bees, Bee Shamans, Melissas (Mellssae), and the wonderful stuff I unearthed yesterday. Nothing is immediate except good thoughts, small plans and the happiness in my heart that such a discovery can yield. Maybe bees!

Ein grosser Wunderfisch : A meandering in Fraktur

I ran into a very rich cache of fraktur at the Free Library of Philadelphia site. What I learned was the types of fraktur went far beyond my original understanding with categories from Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates, to listing of one's children, to Letters from Heaven to letters to your beloved. There are New Years Cards, Bookmarks and bookplates (as school rewards), illuminated songbooks and hymnals, Baptismal Prayers, Death Memorials, to illuminated writing samples and books. There is even a type of illlustration referred to as a Spiritual Labyrinth (will show below) and the most curious(and remarkable, the big "Wonderfish"). Say no more. I am ssooooo on this train! Spiritual labyrinths, wonderful magical fish, Letters from heaven...Bring it on...This is a remarkable vein.

to learn more on this topic, please visit the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Free Library does one better in providing a lovely page of links (the better to study more!)>>

Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
A big Wonderfish (Ein grosser Wunderfisch)
Category: Wonderfish (Wunderfisch)
Decorator: Anonymous
Scrivener: Anonymous
State/Province: [Pennsylvania]
Note: Based on stylistic characteristics
Creation Date: ca. 1820 - ca. 1840

From the translation of the copy:
A big wonder fish which was caught with effort near Geneva, the beautiful city. The same had a man’s countenance and on his head a crown with crosses; on his body a sword, two war flags, a cannon, and three rifles as well as three skulls. As this drawing shows in detail the same was three ells high and also five ells long, as can be seen in the following hymn with more. Such a miraculous sign on the 12th of February A.D. 1740.
In this fish’s name I now begin; you people all together, who stand by me quietly, hear: this great miracle happened this year on water and on land. This is certainly true. First I will describe Geneva, the beautiful city, where on the 12th of February a fish was caught by man in the sea. It was felt it for five whole days; it was caught with great effort. Three ells high, it was, and also five ells long. Everyone wondered who looked at it. The fish had a true human head. Everyone was amazed who viewed the fish. He has feet like the swans, on the head a crown, a sword, two war flags, as can be seen. Three skulls with it, there are seen down there. What can be the meaning? Who knows the fish’s miracle? Many people came together to view the fish. On the sea there came a wonderful man, who was adorned on his body exactly like a fish with big and wide scales. He carried a simple sword. The man said to the people [continued on reverse]

courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Love Letter (Liebesbrief)
Decorator: Anonymous
Scrivener: Anonymous
Creation Place:
State/Province: [Pennsylvania]
Note: Based on design characteristics
Creation Date: ca. 1800
Hand-drawn; hand-colored; hand-lettered. This document is a square sheet of paper that is folded into a star. The text and drawings are on both sides of the sheet. The areas that are visible on the folded paper are decorated with text, hearts, flowers and a small cross. One of the hearts is pierced by an arrow. The measurements refer to the unfolded paper. For records of the unfolded front and reverse, see FLP 753 and FLP 753v.
1 \ My Dearest Dear and blest divine \ I’ve pictured here your heart and mine.
2 \ But Cupid with her Cruel dart \ Has deeply pierced my tender heart
3 \ And has between us set Across \ Which makes me to lament my loss
4 \ But I’m in hopes when that is gone \ That both our hearts will be in one

Say no more!

courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Which is written in Golden Letters (Welcher in güldnen Buchstaben geschrieben)
Letter from Heaven (Himmelsbrief)
Decorator: Anonymous
Printer/Publisher: [John S. Dreisbach (1825-1867)]
Town/Township: Kreidersville or Bath
County: Northampton
State/Province: Pennsylvania
Note: Based on location of printshop
Creation Date: ca. 1850

Oh Yes! There is more interesting stuff than what originally meets the eye. Himmelsbriefs , religious documents are believed to have been written by God or another divine being. It is often reported that these documents miraculously fell from the sky into a recipient’s hands. Letters from Heaven often claimed to give magical protection to their possessors and blessings to those who published them, while those who disbelieved their claims were promised divine punishment.

Bring it on!

courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Family Record of Daniel and Sarah Sexton
Family Record (Familienregister)
Decorator: Anonymous
Scrivener: Anonymous
County: [Monmouth]
State/Province: [New Jersey]
Note: Based on genealogical research
Creation Date: ca. 1765
"Be faithful unto Death & the Lord Will Give you a Crown of Life \ "

courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Death Memorial (Denkmal)
Scrivener: Anonymous ca 1818

courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Reward of Merit (Belohnung)
Decorator: Anonymous ca. 1820 - ca. 1840
Creation Place: State/Province: [Pennsylvania]
Note: Based on design characteristics

swirling in ideas

Flower paintings, Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573-1621) a Flemish-dutch painter. Note: a Pila sp. shell is situated at the right corner.
So the fiddling with the frame and a reverse flower thing has spurred me to look at Ambrosius Bosschaert's paintings of flowers and bugs and the promise of the season that these blown out florals make. I am liking making these borders and need something for them to border or better, once on track, have the borders match the subject and vice versa. But for now, I am amused, researching and not too serious about anything illustrative. Bosschaert's paintings are simple compositionally, simple forms and yet they speak to me of lush summers and springs, the wealth of nature and for the dutch, the wealth generated by their trade in tulip bulbs. So, that said, have that plate and interest spinning.

Additionally, I am reading up on Fraktur. Wikipedia says:

Fraktur is both a style of lettering and a highly artistic and elaborate illuminated folk art created by the Pennsylvania Dutch (also known as Pennsylvania Deitsch or Pennsylvanian German). Most Fraktur were created between 1740 and 1860.

Fraktur drawings were executed in ink and/or watercolors and are found in a wide variety of forms: the Vorschriften (writing samples), the Taufscheine (birth and baptismal certificates), marriage and house blessings, book plates, and floral and figurative scenes. The earlier Fraktur were executed entirely by hand, while printed text became increasingly common in later examples. Common artistic motifs in Fraktur include birds, hearts, and tulips, as well as blackletter and italic calligraphy.

Today, many major American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art have Fraktur in their collection. Important Fraktur have been sold by major American auction houses and antique dealers for prices in excess of $100,000. The definitive text on Fraktur is widely considered to be The Fraktur-Writings or Illuminated Manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans, written by Dr. Donald A. Shelley and published by the Pennsylvania German Society in 1961. In late 2004, part of Dr. Shelley's Fraktur collection was sold at public auction in Pennsylvania for $897,833.

Interesting time period, no? Sort of overlying the early American gravemarkers you all know I love--spanning through the writings of Jane Austen and like writers, through the civil war. So, its pre Victorian and then at the end promises that time. However, on the early side, this is similar imagery to that of the early funerary art. There is a great website Fraktur Web that explores the known Fraktur illustrators and shows how one informed or taught the other in this very limited geographical area. Additionally, this site details the types of Fraktur work that was created. Simply put, Fraktur had a use and a place to note and commemorate things in people's lives. Fraktur was used to embellish/design / detail hymnals, bookplates (for awards of merit); religious broadsides, house blessings (Haus-segen) and purely pictorial works all received the fraktur treatment. As early as 1772, the Ephrata Cloister brother and sister calligraphers were turning out the “Goldene ABC,” an inspirational work. Iluminated birth and baptismal certificates are the most numerous fraktur (Taufschein Fraktur). The other, Vorschrift fraktur were "best examples certainly are the most inspired marriage of writing and illumination within this art form. The fraktur Vorschrift is a model for writing exercises often drawn by schoolteachers and particularly popular among Mennonites and Schwenkfelders. Consisting of Biblical verses or hymns, they were used in the parochial schools that pre-dated the founding".

These symmetrical illustrations fascinate me as they are part of a culture of a small group of people, illustrated by known calligraphic illustrators or illustrative calligraphers..creating pieces that were noteworthy as images but that were significant in recognizing life's progression and the recognition of those key moments in a graphic way. When I was younger, my mother had found these printed marriage certificates that were rendered in a fraktur manner that she would have me ink in the names in blackletter to match the spirit of the certificate. I am thinking that there may be a place to develop some illustrative marriage and birth certificates in the same manner for sale of my own work (inspired by the Pennsylvania Germans or by any other whimsical birth or marriage images that strike me). These could be letterpressed into rich, all cotton paper and packaged in a beautiful way. This is a saleable idea...and will allow me to explore this form with a few goals in place.

Today--more pushing of the teenagers. More work and a guest arriving for a two night stay. Alex is love/hating the preseason crosscountry, but there is talk he may be a varsity runner. We got everyone's schedules worked out with Alex getting a roster of great teachers and his two top picks--guitar lessons and Music Theory. We swapped out 2 of the four AP classes for better/more engaged teachers for Kitty--with English being public speaking and Shakespeare...and the government class taught by a spitfire who has opinions and isnt afraid of dragging his class into conversations. It feels like this is all very positive.