Sunday, December 4, 2016

Color This Guardian Angel for Christmas

       I've restored this coloring page by Walter Crane for your Christmas coloring fun. You may download more restored pages by this famous illustrator at The Crayon Palace.
       I will be restoring and maintaining a collection by Crane on my children's coloring blog for the following year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Read About Christmas in Spain in 1916

" With antics and with fooleries, with shouting and with laughter,
They fill the streets of Burgos aud the Devil he comes after. "

      In Spain, the land of romance and song, of frost and flowers, where at Yule-tide the mountains wear a mantle of pure white snow while flowers bloom gaily in field and garden, the season's observance approaches more nearly than in any other country to the old Roman Saturnalia.
      The Celts who taught the Spaniards the love of ballads and song left some traces of the sun-worshipers' traditions, but they are few in comparison with those of other European countries. Spain is a land apparently out of the line of Wodin's travel and influence, where one looks in vain for the mysterious mistletoe, the pretty holly, and the joyful Christmas tree.
      The season is rigidly observed in churches, but otherwise it loses its spirit of devotion in that of wild revelry. Music, mirth, and hilarity are the leading features of the occasion, and home and family pleasures are secondary affairs.
      Of course the customs vary in different provinces, some of which still cling to primitive forms of observance while others are fast adopting those of foreign residents and becoming Continental in style. But everywhere throughout the land Christmas is the day of days, the great church festival observed by all.
      The Noche-buena or Good Night, preceding Christmas, finds the shops gay with sweets and fancy goods suitable for holiday wear, but not with the pretty gifts such as circulate from home to home in northern countries, for here gifts are not generally exchanged.
      Doctors, ministers, and landlords receive their yearly gifts of turkeys, cakes, and produce from their dependents, but the love of presenting dainty Christmas gifts has not reached! the land of the three C's the Cid, Cervantes, and Columbus.
      Do you know what you would probably do if you were a dark-cheeked Spanish lad named Miguel, or a bright-eyed, lighthearted Spanish maiden named Dolores?
      If you were Miguel you would don your black jacket and brown trousers, knot your brightest kerchief around your neck, and with your guitar in hand you would hasten forth to enjoy the fun that prevails in every street of every town in Spain on Christmas Eve, or, as it is known there, the Noche-buena.
      If you were pretty Dolores you would surely wear your red or yellow skirt, or else of striped red and yellow, your best embroidered velvet jacket, handed down from mother to daughter, and a wonderful sample of the handiwork that once made the country famous, your numerous necklaces and other ornaments. You would carefully braid your heavy dark tresses and bedeck your shapely head with bright flowers, then with your panderetta or tambourine in hand, you too would join the merry throng that fill the air with mirthful songs and music on Noche-buena; for remember,

" This is the eve of Christmas.
No sleep from now till morn."

      The air is full of the spirit of unrest, castanets click joyously, tambourines jingle their silvery strains, while guitars and other musical instruments help to swell the babel of sound preceding the hour of the midnight mass:

" At twelve will the child be born,"

and if you have not already done some especially good deed to some fellow mortal, you will hasten to clear your conscience by such an act before the bells announce the hour of its birth. As the stars appear in the heavens, tiny oil lamps are lighted in every house, and among all devout Roman Catholics the image of the Virgin is illuminated with a taper.

Christmas Festivity in Seville.
       The streets, which in many cities are brilliantly lighted with electricity, are crowded with turkeys awaiting purchasers. They are great fat birds that have been brought in from the country and together with quacking ducks and cooing pigeons help to swell the sounds that fill the clear, balmy air. Streets and market-places are crowded with live stock, while every other available spot is piled high with delicious fruit; golden oranges, sober-hued dates, and indispensable olives; and scattered among these are cheeses of all shapes and kinds, sweetmeats of all sorts, the choice candies that are brought from various provinces, and quaint pigskins of wine. No wonder every one who can do so hurries forth into the street on Noche-buena.
      If you are not tempted to stop and gaze at these appetizing exhibits, you will pass quickly on to the brightly lighted booths devoted to toys. Oh, what a feast for young eyes ! Here yours will surely light on some coveted treasure. It may be an ordinary toy, a drum, a horn, or it may be a Holy Manger, Shepherds, The Wise Men, or even a Star of the East.
      It is hard to keep one's purse closed among such a surfeit of tempting articles, and everywhere money flows freely from hand to hand, although the Spanish are usually very frugal.
      As the bells clang out the hour of midnight, you will hurry to join the throng wending its way to the nearest church, where priests in their gorgeous robes, some of them worn only on this occasion and precious with rare embroidery and valuable jewels, perform the midnight or cock-crow mass, and where the choir and the priests chant a sweet Christmas hymn together. What if it is late when the service ends? Christmas Eve without dancing is not to be thought of in Spain. So you go forth to find a group of Gipsy dancers who are always on hand to participate in this great festival; or you watch the graceful Spanish maiden in her fluffy skirts of lace, with her deep pointed bodice, a bright flower in her coal-black hair beside the tall comb, and her exquisitely shaped arms adorned with heavy bracelets. " Oh, what magnificent eyes! What exquisite long lashes! " you exclaim to yourself. See her poise an instant with the grace of a sylph, one slippered foot just touching the floor, then click, click, sound the castanets, as they have sounded for upwards of two thousand years and are likely to do for two thousand more, for their inspiriting click seems necessary to move Spanish feet and give grace to the uplifted arms. At first she may favor you with the energetic fandango, or the butterfly- like bolero, but on Christmas Eve the Jota is the universal favorite. It is danced and sung to music which has been brought down to the present time unwritten, and which was passed from mouth to mouth through many generations. Translated the words read:

"Of Jesus the Nativity is celebrated everywhere,
Everywhere reigns contentment, everywhere
reigns pleasure,"

the audience joining in the refrain:

"Long live merrymaking, for this is a day of rejoicing,
And may the perfume of pleasure sweeten our existence."

      It will probably be late into the morning before the singing, dancing, thoughtless crowd turns homeward to rest, and although it is certainly a crowd intoxicated with pleasure, it is never in that condition from liquor.
      There are three masses on Christmas Day, and all devout Catholics attend one of them at least, if not all. In some places Nativity plays are given on Christmas Eve or else on Christmas Day. They are long performances, but never tedious to the audiences, because the scenes appeal to them with the force of absolute realism. On Christmas morning the postmen, telegraph boys, and employees of various vocations, present to their employers and others little leaflets containing a verse appropriate to the day, or the single sentence " A Happy Christmas," expecting to receive in return a Christmas box filled with goodies of some kind.
      While Spanish children do not have the Christmas tree to gather around they do have the pretty Nacimiento, made of plaster and representing the place of Christ's nativity, with the manger, tiny men and women, trees, and animals, such as are supposed to have existed at the time and place of the Nativity. The Nacimiento (meaning being born) is lighted with candles, and little folks dance happily around it to the music of tambourines and their own sweet voices, joyously singing one of the pretty Nativity songs. Groups of children go about the streets singing these songs of which there are many.
      In this pleasing custom of the Nacimiento one sees a vestige of the Saturnalia, for during that festival small earthenware figures used to be for sale for the pleasure of children. Although the Spanish race is a mixed one and various peoples have been in power from time to time, at one period the country was, with the exception of Basque, entirely Romanized. It is interesting to note the lingering influence of this mighty Roman nation and find in this century that some of the main features of the great Roman feast are retained in the great Christian feast at Yuletide.
      Southern races were always firm believers in Fate. The Mohammedans reverenced the Tree of Fate, but the Romans held sacred the urn containing the messages of Fate. So the Spaniards cling to the urn, from which at Christmas gatherings of friends it is the custom to draw the names of the men and women whom Fate ordains shall be devoted friends during the year, the men performing all the duties of lovers. Tin's drawing of one's Fate for the coming year creates great merriment and often no little disappointment. But Fate is inexorable and what is to be must be, so the Spanish maiden accepts graciously the one Fate thus assigns her.
      After the midday breakfast on Christmas morning the people usually seek out- of-door pleasures. Among many of the old families only blood relations are expected to eat and drink together on this holy day.
Night of Marvels by
Violante Do Ceo
      Ordinarily the Spaniard " may find perfect entertainment in a crust of bread and a bit of garlic " as the proverb claims, but at Yule-tide his stomach demands many delicacies peculiar to the season. The Puchero Olla, the national dish for dinner, must have a few extra ingredients added on this occasion. The usual compound of chickens, capons, bacon, mutton, beef, pig's feet, lard, garlic, and everything else the larder affords, is quite insufficient to be boiled together on this occasion. However, if one has no relatives to invite him to a feast, it is an easy matter to secure a Christmas dinner on the streets, where men are ready to cook for him over their braseros of charcoal and venders are near at hand to offer preserved fruits, the famous almond rock, almond soup, truffled turkey, or the most desirable of the season's delicacies, sea-bream, which is brought from Cadiz especially for Christmas use, and which is eaten at Christmas in accordance with the old- time custom. Nuts of all kinds are abundant. By the side of the streets, venders of chestnuts the finest in the world lean against their clumsy two- wheeled carts, picturesque in costumes that are ragged and soiled from long service. Rich layer-cakes of preserves, having almond icing with fruits and liquor-filled ornaments of sugar on top, are frequently sent from friend to friend for dinner.
      In Seville, and possibly in other places, the people hurry to the cathedral early in the afternoon in order to secure good places before the high altar from which to view the Siexes, or dances. Yes, dances I This ceremony takes place about five o'clock just as the daylight fades and night draws near. Ten choristers and dancers, indiscriminately termed Siexes, appear before the altar clad in the costume of Seventeenth-Century pages, and reverently and with great earnestness sing and dance an old-time minuet, with castanet accompaniment, of course. The opening song is in honor of the Virgin, beginning:

" Hail, O Virgin, most pure arid beautiful."

      Among the ancients dancing was a part of religious services, but it is now seldom seen in churches. This Christmas dance, given in a beautiful cathedral just at the close of day, is a very impressive ceremony and forms a fitting close to the Spanish Christmas, which is so largely made up of customs peculiar to ancient and modern races.
      In every part of Spain song and dance form an important part of the festivities of Yule-tide, which lasts two weeks, although the laboring class observe but two days of pleasure. At the palace the King holds a reception on New Year's, not for the public generally, but for the diplomats and grandees.
      The higher circles of society observe New Year as a time of exchanging calls and visiting, feasting and merrymaking. At the banquets of the wealthy every possible delicacy in the way of food is temptingly displayed, and great elegance in dress indulged in by the ladies, who wear their finest gowns and adorn themselves in priceless jewels and rare laces. But there is so much etiquette to be observed among this class of Spaniards that one looks for the real enjoyment of the season among the common classes.
      In some parts of Spain bull-fights are given as late as December, but cold weather has a softening effect on the poor bulls and makes them less ferocious, so unless the season proves unusually warm that favorite entertainment has to be abandoned for a time. Meanwhile in the streets and homes one may often see a father on all fours enacting the infuriated bull for his little sons to attack; in this way he teaches them the envied art of bull-fighting. The Yule-tide festivities end at Twelfth Day, Epiphany, when crowds of young folks go from gate to gate in the cities to meet the Magi, and after much merriment they come to the conclusion that the Magi will not appear until the following year. by Mary P. Pringle and Clara A. Urann

 Watch the Three Kings Parade in Madrid Spain.

Monday, November 7, 2016

"Tiny Figure" Digital Print Paper for Christmas Crafts & Stationary


      This digital paper is free for visitors to use in their personal crafts only. I've created four different  colors versions from an antique end paper, "Tiny Figure Print." This digital paper comes in: olive/black, antique rose/black, pine green/black, and a royal red/black. Pin the sample banner only please.




Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Happy Christmas to You!

A Happy Christmas to you!
For the Prince of Peace is come,
And his reign is full of blessings,
Their very crown and sum.
No earthly calm can ever last,
'Tis but the lull before the blast;
But His great Peace
Shall still increase
In mighty, all-rejoicing sway:
His kingdom in thy heart can never pass away.

"Christmas Eve service video with music by Steven Curtis Chapman."

"I Bring You Glad Tidings" Christmas Silhouettes

       The following silhouettes from an antique design were restored by Kathy Grimm for the purpose of reprinting on Christmas Cards or including a little print with a handwritten letter for a loved one. Visitors should read The Terms of Use before downloading them from here. Use them in your own personal crafts and letters freely but do not redistribute them over the web or profit from them by selling the work in it's original state. (This means burning the jpgs. to CDs or using them to draw traffic to web pages.) Click directly on one of the four options to download the largest files. The design is available in four colors: blue, black, green and red.




Saturday, November 5, 2016

Read About Christmas In Germany in 1916

" Feed the wood and have a joyful minute, 
For the seeds of earthly suns are in it." Goethe.

      It was away back in the time of Alexander the Great that Germany was made known to the civilized world by an adventurous sailor named Pytheas, a man of more than ordinary talent, who was sailing northward and discovered a land inhabited by a then unknown people. He reported his discovery to the Romans, but the difficulty was that Pytheas had seen so much more than any of the Greeks or Romans of those days that they utterly refused to believe his statements. Time has proved that the sailor was nearer right in many of his apparently visionary statements than his countrymen dreamed, although it has taken centuries to prove the fact in some cases.
       The people whom Pytheas then introduced to the polite world were Teutons, a branch of the great Aryan race and closely related to the early English. The men were simple, truthful, and brave, but were sadly addicted to drink, it was said, and consequently were often quarrelsome. The women were much like those of to-day in their characteristics: virtuous, proud, and dignified; very beautiful, with golden-hued hair, blue eyes, and fresh, fair complexions. Like most of the early peoples, the Teutons worshiped gods and goddesses, and so have many customs and traditions in common with other branches of the Aryans,
      If England has enjoyed the merriest Yule-tides of the past, certainly Germany enjoys the merriest of the present, for in no other country is the day so fully and heartily observed. It is the great occasion of the year and means much to the people.
      For a week or more before the day, loads of evergreen trees of all sizes may be seen coming into the cities and towns to be piled up in squares and open places until the entire place looks like a forest of small firs. One wonders where they all come from and for how many years the supply will last, but it is not likely to fail at present.
Toy-making in Germany. How the rough figures are chipped from the wooden
ring coming from the cross-section of a tree.
      The Lutherans gave Martin Luther the credit of introducing the Christmas tree into Germany. He may have helped to make it popular, but certainly there is abundant evidence to prove that it was known long before the Reformer's time. It is generally supposed to have its origin in mythological times and to be a vestige of the marvelous tree, Yggdrasil.
      Possibly Martin Luther thought of the old story of the tree and imagined, as he traveled alone one cold night, how pretty the snow-laden fir-trees along his path would look could they be lighted by the twinkling stars overhead. But whether he had anything to do with it or not, the tree is now one of the most important features of Yule-tide among the Germans of all denominations.
      Nearly ten million households require one or two trees each Christmas, varying in height from two to twenty feet. Societies provide them for people who are too poor to buy them, and very few are over-looked at this happy holiday season.
      The grand Yule-tide festival is opened on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December sixth; in fact bazaars are held from the first of the month, which is really one prolonged season of merrymaking.
      In Germany, St. Nicholas has a day set apart in his honor. He was born in Palara, a city of Lycia, and but very little is known of his life except that he was made Bishop of Myra and died in the year 343. It was once the custom to send a man around to personate St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas Eve, and to inquire how the children had behaved through the year, who were deserving of gifts, and who needed a touch of the birch rods that he carried with him into every home. St. Nicholas still goes about in some parts of the country, and in the bazaars and shops are sold little bunches of rods, real or made of candy, such as St. Nicholas is supposed to deal in. In some places Knight Rupert takes the place of St. Nicholas in visiting the houses. But Kriss Kringle has nearly usurped the place St. Nicholas once held in awe and respect by German children.
      Because St. Nicholas Day came so near to Christmas, in some countries the Saint became associated with that celebration, although in Germany the eve of his birthday continues to be observed. Germans purchase liberally of the toys and confectionery offered at the bazaars, and nowhere are prettier toys and confectionery found than in Germany the country which furnishes the most beautiful toys in the world.
      From the palace to the hut, Yule-tide is a season of peace, rest, joy, and devotion. For three days, that is the day before Christmas, Christmas, and the day after known as Boxing-day all business not absolutely necessary to the welfare of the community is suspended. Stores, markets, and bazaars present a festive appearance ; the young girl attendants are smiling and happy, and every one seems in the best of humor.
      Many of the poorer class of Germans do not eat much meat, but at Christmas all indulge in that extravagance, so the markets are unusually crowded. They all like to purchase a plant or a flower for Christmas and the flower stores are marvels of beauty and sweetness.
      Every one is busy preparing for the great occasion. Grown folks become children again in the simplicity of their enjoyment and enter into the excitement with as much enthusiasm as do the children.
       Newspapers are not generally published during the three days of business suspension, for no one would have time or interest to read them at such a season.
      In many places churches are open during the week before Christmas, for with all the bustle and excitement incident to the preparations, the people, young and old, are filled with a deep spirit of devotion, and never for an instant forget the significance of the occasion they commemorate.
      Churches are not trimmed nor are they made attractive with flowers, songs, or in any special way, but the people go to listen with devotion to the telling of the old, old story of Christ's birthday and of the first Holy Night at Bethlehem.
      The day before Christmas all are busy trimming up their homes and preparing for the great day. Usually the mother of the household trims the tree, not admitting any other member of the curious and expectant family into the room. Tables are provided for holding the gifts, as every one in the family is expected to make a gift to every other member, and it is surprising to note the interest taken in these simple gifts often a soap-rose, an artificial flower, knitted lace, even sausages, cheese, or butter and with each and all the ever-present Christmas cake. It is spiced and hard, cut into every manner of device men, women, animals, stars, hearts, etc. The Pfeffer Kuchen (pepper cakes) or some similar cakes are to be seen everywhere at Christmas time.
      The gifts are often accompanied with short verses, good, bad, or indifferent, according to the talent of the giver, but all serve to make the occasion merry. In some families these simple inexpensive gifts are so carefully kept that collections may be seen of gifts received by different members of the family since their infancy.
      On Christmas Eve the guests assemble early, and by six o'clock a signal is given for the door of the mysterious room to be opened to admit the family to the tree:

"O Hemlock tree ! O Hemlock-tree ! how faith-
ful are thy branches !
Green not alone in summer time,
But in the winter's frost and rime!
O Hemlock-tree ! O Hemlock-tree! how faith-
ful are thy branches !"

It is ablaze with tiny lighted tapers and radiant with shiny tinsel cut in pretty devices or in thread-like strips. Bright balls, gay toys, and paper flowers help to enhance its beauty, and sometimes scenes from sacred history are arranged with toys at the base of the tree.
      With the distribution of the gifts the fun begins; each person is expected to kiss every other person present arid help make the occasion a merry one.
      Holy Night, or, as the Germans term it, Weihnachtthe Night of Dedication- is the time of family reunions, fun, and frolic. Not alone in homes, hospitals, prisons, barracks, and elsewhere is the pretty betinseled tree to be seen on Christmas, but in burying-grounds, on the resting-places of the dead, stand these fresh green trees in evidence of keeping the loved one's memory green.
      While the custom of having a tree is universal throughout Germany, and from thence has been introduced into other countries, there are many customs peculiar to certain sections. In some of the little out-of-the-way places in the Tyrolese Alps the old-time Miracle Plays are enacted in a most primitive manner. As the peasants rarely, if ever, attend the theatre or have any opportunity to see a modern play, this occasion attracts them from far and near. Where is the theatre, who are the actors, do you ask? The theatre is the largest place available, sometimes a large room, sometimes a barn, anything that will accommodate the crowd that is sure to come. In one description of a play given on Christmas Day it is stated that the people assembled in a barn belonging to the vicarage to witness the Paradise Play. The top of a huge pottery stove at least five feet high served for the throne of God the Father, the stove being hidden by screens painted to represent clouds. The play " began at the beginning," at Chaos. A large paper screen bedecked with a profusion of suns, moons, stars, and comets formed a background, while in front sprawled a number of boys in tights with board wings fastened to their shoulders to represent angels. The language was as simple and primitive as the scenery, yet for the credulous, devout peasants " no distance is too great, no passes too steep or rough, no march on dusty highroads too fatiguing, if a Miracle or Passion Play is their goal."
      Does it seem sacrilegious? Not to those who attend it in the spirit of humility and devotion, as do these Tyrolese peasants. In some places plays are given in churches on Christmas as they were formerly in England, but these are not common, and are only found in remote places. Throughout this country there is always a church service in the morning which is very generally attended, Protestants and Catholics alike making Christmas the day of all the year in which they attend church.
      The name Christmas probably originated from the order that was given for saying mass (called Christ-mass) for the sins of the people on the day that commemorates the Saviour's Birth.
      One beautiful feature of a German Christmas is the wide-spread thought for the poor and the interest taken in them. Many wealthy families have charge of a certain number of poor families, and on Christmas Day invite them to their own luxurious homes to receive gifts and enjoy the tree prepared for them. An address, prayer, and song as they stand around the tree precedes the distribution of gifts, usually of clothing and food, with which the guests fill the bags and baskets they bring with them. And for all there is an abundance of Pfeffer Kuchen, or some other Christmas cake.
      In the midst of all the excitement of lighted tree and pretty gifts, German children seldom forget to return thanks for what they receive. They are taught that all these gifts come through the Christ-child, and that the occasion is not for selfish enjoyment but to give pleasure to others, and that no one is too poor to give kindly thought and pleasant words to those around them.
      In some parts of Germany Lorraine is one the people burn the Yule-log; sometimes a huge log that will last through the three days' festivity, sometimes one so small that the family sit before it until it is all consumed. Sometimes a part of the log is suspended from the ceiling of the room and each person present blows at it hoping to make a spark fall on some watching face; then again some carry a piece of the log to bed with them to protect them from lightning. But the Yule-log is not very generally known in this land of great pottery stoves and closed fireplaces, and that may be one reason why post wagons go rumbling about at Christmas time, carrying parcels from place to place and from door to door, blowing their post-horns continuously, instead of the parcels being dropped down chimneys by Santa Glaus.
      It is customary, also, in some parts of the country, for the people and their animals to fast the day before Christmas. At midnight the people attend church and it is said that the cattle kneel; then both man and beast partake of a hearty meal. There are places in the German Alps where it is believed that the cattle are blessed with the gift of language for a while on Christmas Eve, but as it is a very great sin to listen, no one has yet reported any conversation among them. In another part of the country it is thought that the Virgin Mary with a company of angels passes over the land on Holy Night, and so tables are spread with the best the larders afford and candles are lighted and left burning that the angelic visitors may find abundant food should they chance to stop on their way.
      Boxing-day, when boxes prepared for the poor are distributed, follows the Holy Day and after that business is resumed, although festivities do not cease.
       Sylvester, or New Year's Eve, is the next occasion to be observed during Yule-tide. The former name was given in honor of the first pope of that name, and still retained by many. After the usual church service in the early evening, the intervening hours before midnight are spent in the most boisterous merriment. Fun of all sorts within the limit of law and decency prevails. Any one venturing forth wearing a silk hat is in danger of having his hat, if not his head, smashed. " Hat off," cries the one who spies one of these head-coverings, and if the order is not instantly obeyed, woe betide the luckless wearer. At midnight all Germany, or at least all in the cities and the larger towns, may be seen out-of-doors or leaning from windows, waiting for the bells to ring out the Old Year and welcome in the New. At first stroke of the bells there arises one universal salute of Prosit Neujahr (Happy New Year).
      It is all good-natured fun, a wild, exuberant farewell to the Old Year the closing scene of the joyous Yule-tide. by Mary P. Pringle and Clara A. Urann
Decorating the Christmas Tree.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE
The oak is a strong and stalwart tree,
And it lifts its branches up,
And catches the dew right gallantly
In many a dainty cup :
And the world is brighter and better made
Because of the woodman's stroke,
Descending in sun, or falling in shade,
On the sturdy form of the oak.
But stronger, I ween, in apparel green,
And trappings so fair to see,
With its precious freight for small and great,
Is the beautiful Christmas tree.

The elm is a kind and goodly tree,
With its branches bending low :
The heart is glad when its form we see,
And we list to the river's flow.
Ay, the heart is glad and the pulses bound,
And joy illumes the face,
Whenever a goodly elm is found
Because of its beauty and grace.
But kinder, I ween, more goodly in mien,
With branches more drooping and free,
The tint of whose leaves fidelity weaves,
Is the beautiful Christmas tree.
Hattie S. Russell

Links to More German Christmas Celebrations:
    See a contemporary Christmas in Germany with Olga and Ehsan.  "Olga from Belarus and Ehsan from Iran have a closer look at typical German Christmas customs. (by MaĆ«l Frize). More Information about studying and living in Germany on our Website www.study-in,de."

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Handcrafted, Cotton Batting Candlesticks

Here you can see there is a faux, cotton batting
candle for every branch. One hundred years
ago German's would have used real lighted
candles instead. I will include many more
cotton ornaments than this on the tree come
Christmas. Stay tuned for updates.
       I know that there are some of you who would prefer to use real candles on your feather tree and wouldn't mind dousing it with a bucket of water should it catch on fire! However, I think I'll just do things my own way and relax; knowing that I can be sure the tree won't need such attention should I decide to take a nap or exit for a quick trip to the kitchen for cookies.  Besides, my mother-in-law paid far too much money for this little feathered beauty for me to take chances with it!

Supply List:
  • old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms
  • cotton balls
  • masking tape
  • wooden tooth picks or wooden skewers
  • white school glue
  • Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type 
  • Krylon Glowz, glow-in-th-dark white spray paint or another brand if you find it lasts longer
  • Exacto knife or single edged razor blade (You may need one of these to cut the cardboard tube.)
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Gather the supplies. You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape. 
  2. Remove the tubes and cut them varying lengths to mimic real candles. I choose to make some of my candles shorter than others in order to give them the appearance of use.
  3. Cover the exterior of your cardboard candle with a layer of masking tape. Leave to top end of your tube uncovered so that you will be able to insert a fake wick later. 
  4. Now cover the masked cardboard candle with white glue and carefully wrap each candle with two lagers of cotton batting. Add extra glue in between the applied layers. 
  5. Roll out long "snake like" pieces of cotton batting to create the twist of the candle. Apply more glue to the candle in a serpentine twist pattern, like you would see on a candy cane. Spin the these snake like pieces up the sides following the spiral glue trail. Let the candle dry upright inside the clip candle holders. Apply a generous fourth coat of white glue to the faux candles and let them dry.
  6. Next you will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. 
  7. Spray paint your wicks separately from the candles. You will need to coat them with Glowz every year perhaps. Keeping the wicks separate from the actual candles will allow you to replace the wicks over time should you need to. 
  8. After following the specific guidelines given for the glow-in-the-dark paint, let these wicks dry and insert one into the top of each candlestick that is clamped onto your tree.
Left, old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms. Right, Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type.
"You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape."
 Left, You will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. Center, I poked holes into an old egg carton in order to keep my wicks upright while spraying these with glow-in-the-dark paint. I needed to use an entire can of this paint in order for the flames to be noticeably glowing. Come December I think I will try dipping them into a liquid form of the paint to see if this will help them glow even brighter. Right you can see the backside of the egg carton where the sticks are pocking through.
Left, here you can see I've put my pretend flaming wick into the hollow candle. Right, is a hollow, cotton batting candle without a wick.
more pictures of the completed cotton batting candles that I made for my feather tree this year.
I finally acquired a small, fence to set my feather tree inside. It was missing only one picket. I cut this out from an old piece of scrap wood and sanded it down to match the other pickets. Then I painted my fence a bright cherry red for Christmas. The project only cost me three dollars! I found the fence in a resale shop near my home.

       I know some of you think I have lost my mind with the scale of these candles, rest assured, I just took the pictures from downward angles in order to get closeups of the textures and shapes. The candles are not too large for the tree. These were measured against the real ones!
      Just right is a photo taken of the same set of candles without weird angles. Looks different doesn't it? You thought I'd lost it making all of these ornaments didn't you? Rest assured, I just thought this picture on the right was a bit boring. This little tree will be beautiful come Christmas, don't worry.

More Cotton Batting Christmas Displays and Ornaments For You to Explore:
       Some of you may prefer to age your own versions of these candles. Just fill a spray bottle with some very strong brewed coffee and spritz the lot until you achieve the color that you like. I prefer to let my versions age naturally.

Cut a "Jigging Puppet" from Wood

At a glance, the illusion of real legs is unusual and, with a
 little practice, you can give lifelike interpretations of many dances.

       Just a simple jigsawed cutout of 1/4 in. plywood, with hands and face outlined in pencil on the surface, this doll walks with the aid of legs formed by the first two fingers of your hand. Two shoes are carved from small blocks of wood and recessed to fit tightly on your finger tips. A short handle glued to the back of the doll, as shown in one of the photos, wedges between the fingers and supports the figure. Hands, arms, face, eyes and clothing are easily out lined with black paint.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Craft Your Own Kaleidoscope

Little girl playing with a home-made kaleidoscope.
By HARRY WALTON
Photographs by WILLIAM MORRIS and ROBERT SMITH

       Visitors to London about 1816 were amazed to see people in the streets gazing skyward through pasteboard tubes. But these watchers were peering at no eclipse or comet. They were fascinated by a scientific novelty that had taken London by storm the kaleidoscope, invented by Sir David Brewster. First regarded only as a toy, it was soon adopted by artists as an aid in originating new designs. Sir David named his invention by combining three Greek words: kalos, meaning beautiful; eidos, form; and skopeo, I see. Almost anyone who has looked through a kaleidoscope will agree that the name is appropriate.
       Two mirrors on facing walls create the familiar illusion of an endless succession of walls. Multiple reflection also produces the patterns in a kaleidoscope, but the mirrors are joined at one edge, so that the reflections form a circle. Their number depends upon the angle between the mirrors.
        Because of the angle at which reflection occurs in a kaleidoscope, ordinary mirrors will produce a blurred double image both the silver backing and the glass surface reflect light. The mirrors must be of the front-surface type. Unsilvered glass acts as such a mirror, particularly if its back surface is blackened with paint or enamel. Small kaleidoscopes can be bought at toy counters, but you can assemble one from common materials, and learn much about this fascinating device. Pictures on the following pages show step by step how to build a two-mirror kaleidoscope that will form twelve-unit patterns similar to those above. Three mirrors of the same size arranged triangle fashion will form six-unit designs and multiply each into an allover pattern.

Make your own kaleidoscope, detailed instructions are below.
1: The kaleidoscope on page 110 was made from these parts: a 2″ by 9″ mailing tube, two glass strips 1-7/8″ by 8″, a frosted and a clear glass disk, black paint, tape, cement, cardboard, plastic scraps, and covering paper
2: Sizes are not critical if correct proportions are maintained. Any tube can be used, provided the glass strips are cut to fit inside at an angle of 30 deg. They should be about four times as long as they are wide. Coat one side of each with black paint or enamel
3: While the painted glass is drying, cut a disk out of stiff cardboard, making it a close fit inside one end of the tube. At the center punch a 1/4″ peephole. If no punch is available, use a sharp knife to cut a triangular hole 3/8″ on a side, as shown above
4: When the paint is dry, join the mirrors at one edge with adhesive tape, the unpainted sides facing. Set them on a drawn angle of 30. deg. or on the diagram below. Cut a cardboard spacer to fit closely within the outer edges
5: Tape the spacing strip in place to hold the mirrors 30 deg. apart. Be sure the painted surfaces are outside; then slide the mirrors into the tube as in the photo below. If they fit loosely, wrap a sheet of paper about them
6: Push the mirrors 1/8″ inside the end of the tube. So placed, they should reach to within about 7/8″ of the other end. This will leave ample room for the load. Apply cement thinly inside the 1/8″ space and to the edge of the eyepiece, and press this into place
7: Turn the tube around and push the clear glass disk into it right against the ends of the mirrors. A little cement may be spread around the edge. Now cut a cardboard strip 5/8″ wide and long enough to overlap inside the tube. Cement it fast as in the photo
8: You are now ready to add the load. Bits of colored plastic, broken glass, beads, and scraps of celluloid are suitable. All should be translucent or transparent. Carved pieces, notched edges, and saw cuts yield odd effects
9: It is interesting to experiment by varying the amount of the load and using scraps of different colors. To view the patterns, press the frosted disk into place. When the load is satisfactory, secure the disk by cementing it
10: You can improve the outward appearance of your kaleidoscope by wrapping the tube in some gaily colored decorative paper. The kind used for Christmas packages is ideal. Clear model-airplane dope, lacquer, or varnish will prevent injury from frequent handling
       That beauty is in the eye of the beholder is literally true of these kaleidoscope patterns, for only one twelfth of each is real, a jumble of bits of plastic and glass. Eleven twelfths are reflections, blended by repetition into a symmetrical whole. These designs were photographed in a kaleidoscope built especially for P. S. M. To minimize the loss of light in successive reflections, special mirrors are used. They consist of plate glass on which vaporized aluminum has been deposited in a vacuum to form the reflecting surface. For these photos, the kaleidoscope was illuminated by two 2,000-watt spotlights shining through a sheet of opal glass. One-second exposures were made on Kodochrome film at lens openings of from f/8 to f/16. Oct, 1944
What's in a kaleidoscope?

Word Seach: Christmas Gifts From Mom, 1920

Print this Christmas Word Search for a party or fun activity during the month of December.
 It is full of common gifts from mothers, grandmothers and aunts in the year 1920.

Coloring Pictures of Vintage Baby Dolls

      Here are some adorable vintage baby dolls and their sweet little owners to color while you are dreaming of Christmas this holiday season.
A little girl holds her Christmas doll. She is from a restored 1908 newspaper ad.
This little kewpie doll is someone's Christmas angel.
A baby doll from 1900 something; she is very dumpy and cute.
Don't forget to drag these coloring pages into a Word Doc and enlarge them before printing them out. The larger the image, the easier it is for little ones to color.

A vintage film about the peeing Betsy Wetsy Doll.

Vintage Santa Wave Gift Tags

       These vintage Santa wave, greeting tags come in blue, green and red. I have cleaned, redrawn and restored these designs from a very old newspaper clipping. Use them in your personal crafts only please.
Santa wave, blue gift tag.
Santa wave, green gift tag.
Santa wave, red gift tag

The Gift I Didn't Get!

From 1904 newspaper
A Christmas Poem by Peter McArthur, 1904

I Have presents by the dozen,
Meant to make my Christmas glad.
From each uncle, aunt and cousin,
Best a fellow ever had.
There's a keepsake from my mother,
Father sent a check and yet,
I am thinking of another
Of the one I didn't get.

There are gifts from all the fellows,
Pipes and things a chum will send:
There's a tie, all reds and yellows,
From a girl who calls me friend.
You would think me far from sighted
If you saw them all and yet.
I confess, I'm most delighted
With the one I didn't get.

She told me it was ready,
She'd prepared it long before:
I'd been calling on her steady
For as least a year or more.
She told me all about it.
And her eyes with tears were wet.
And I'm happy, never doubt it,
For that gift I didn't get.

Her attitude was altered
When I called on her last night,
But my tale of love I faltered.
And I guess I did it right.
And this little rhyme is written
'Cause I'm full of joy--you bet!
For a frosty little mitten
Was the gift I didn't get.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Build a Barrel Stave for Winter Fun!

       It is not necessary to have a steel runnered sled to attain great coasting speed on a snowy hill. A bobsled can be built of an ordinary 2×12 inch plank and barrel staves which will pass anything on any hill, especially in deep snow. Besides the material just mentioned all that will be needed are a few pieces of 2×4 and a couple of carriage bolts.
       Saw a piece of 2 x 12 plank into a length of about 6 feet. If you cannot secure 2 x 12, two 2 x 8’s laid side by side will do the trick nicely and make a good stout body for the runners.
       Under the backbone of planks, cross members of 2 x 4’s are placed and spiked thoroughly as shown in the accompanying illustration. Two tiers of the two by fours will be required to lift the bob far enough above the ground to give good snow clearance. On the front cross beam the lower 2 x 4 is separated from the upper by a few washers, and is pivoted on a good 1/2 in. carriage bolt so that the runners will be able to turn when they are put on.
       Under the 2×4 cross members, fasten with spikes a piece of 2 x 8 plank. This is the final thickness of the cross members and is wider than the rest so that the runners will have bearing forwards and backwards. Saw out between the runners, which are of ordinary barrel staves, and the sled will be ready for use. A good scheme for finishing the sled to make it weather and ice proof is to paint it with boiled linseed oil, wiping the surplus off. The sled is then ready for use.
       The boiled oil, if generously applied to the runners, will make them especially tough and will most certainly increase the speed of the sled, as snow is wont to gather on the runners in weather which is this sled’s special forte; namely, light snows freshly fallen—just when the coasting fun is keenest!

The bobsled shown above, built of ordinary lumber and barrel staves, can outspeed the fleetest of stell runnered bobsleds in freshly fallen snow. Note the arrangement for steering the sled by pivoting the forward runners on a large carriage bolt.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Color this Christmas Angel and Include It in A Journal

       This Christmas angel is framed by a boarder of holly berries and leaves. She has large wings and holds an ancient instrument in her hands. Click on the coloring page to download the largest version of this coloring page.  
       You can also print it as a cover of a book and include many of the Christmas hymns and poems posted on this blog. Give your book as a gift or keep it full of special Christmas memories. Take pictures of your family and friends to paste inside your book of holiday memories as well. This makes a special keepsake that you will enjoy sharing year after year.

A beautiful sample art journal about "Journal Your Christmas"

The Colonial Christmases of Early Americans

       Christmas celebrations in New England were illegal during part of the 17th century, and were culturally taboo or rare in Puritan colonies from foundation until the 1850s. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth Colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders. English laws suppressing the holiday were enacted in the Interregnum, but repealed late in the 17th century. However, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration had gained cultural ascendancy in New England, and Christmas celebrations continued to be discouraged despite being legal. When Christmas became a Federal holiday in 1870, the Puritan view was relaxed and late 19-century Americans fashioned the day into the Christmas of commercialism, spirituality, and nostalgia that most Americans recognize today. Read more...

Traditional, Colonial-style Christmas
 decorations at Williamsburg.
       "The first century of colonial life saw few set times and days for pleasure. The holy days of the English Church were as a stench to the Puritan nostrils, and their public celebration was at once rigidly forbidden by the laws of New England. New holidays were not quickly evolved, and the sober gatherings for matters of Church and State for a time took their place. The hatred of "wanton Bacchanallian Christmasses" spent throughout England, as Cotton said, "in revelling, dicing, carding, masking, mumming, consumed in compotations, in interludes, in excess of wine, in mad mirth," was the natural reaction of intelligent and thoughtful minds against the excesses of a festival which had ceased to be a Christian holiday, but was dominated by a lord of misrule who did not hesitate to invade the churches in time of service, in his noisy revels and sports. English Churchmen long ago revolted also against such Christmas observance. Of the first Pilgrim Christmas we know but little, save that it was spent, as was many a later one, in work. . . .
       By 1659 the Puritans had grown to hate Christmas more and more; it was, to use Shakespeare's words, "the bug that feared them all." The very name smacked to them of incense, stole, and monkish jargon; any person who observed it as a holiday by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way was to pay five shillings fine, so desirous were they to "beate down every sprout of Episcopacie."
       Judge Sewall watched jealously the feeling of the people with regard to Christmas, and noted with pleasure on each succeeding year the continuance of common traffic throughout the day. Such entries as this show his attitude: "Dec. 25, 1685. Carts come to town and shops open as usual. Some somehow observe the day, but are vexed I believe that the Body of people profane it, and blessed be God no authority yet to compel them to keep it." When the Church of England established Christmas services in Boston a few years later, we find the Judge waging hopeless war against Governor Belcher over it, and hear him praising his son for not going with other boy friends to hear the novel and attractive services. He says: "I exhort mine from Christmas keeping and charge them to forbear."
       Christmas could not be regarded till this century as a New England holiday, though in certain localities, such as old Narragansett, an opulent community which was settled by Episcopalians‚ two weeks of Christmas visiting and feasting were entered into with zest by both planters and slaves for many years previous to the revolution." Alice Morse Earle

       Many American Colonists did actually celebrate Christmas but this depended entirely upon their history, beliefs and location. There were many Christians who were not Puritans and there were also Puritans who were not so particularly restrictive about holidays. As with much history, the records often reflect only a few opinions; so it is wise to remember that one must study a larger spectrum of civilization in order to glean a more accurate record of events and culture.

 Part 1, of American Colonial Christmas.

Decorative Color Designs for Furniture

Many floral patterns and one white rabbit.

Bouquets and singular blooms.

Butterflies, owls, tulips, roses, and daisies.

Attractive, vintage coat hangers for a child's nursery

       Trace these early 1930s designs on transparent paper and fold paper over for the other side of each hanger. Use wood about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick and jig-saw out. Then sand off all sharp edges shaping them to graceful contours. Decorate designs in center with water colors, paint or lacquer.
Vintage Nursery Crafts: