Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Italic Handwriting

The back to school season is as good a time of the year as any to re-evaluate your handwriting. A recent op-ed in the New York Times challenged writers to stop mumbling on the page and drop the loopy cursive letters of the Palmer method or Zaner-Bloser style we were taught at small school desks with chunky pencils.

The new preferred style is Italic, in which letters do not always have to be joined. It's a matter of comfort and personal choice. The success of handwriting is its legibility. Oh, and closing the gaps on the tops of your letters, that's the part we read.

Click here for the NYT piece and a chance to try Italic.

For extra credit, take a free Italic handwriting lesson online here from

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Make Your Own Silhouettes

The art of cutting paper into outlines of shapes and figures is a traditional practice in portraiture. In the 18th century, it was a proper amusement for both men and women to recreate a person's likeness by tracing or freehand, then cutting it out from a thin black paper. Sometimes an entire scene of figures would be trimmed out and mounted on paper with a background drawn to create an interior or landscape around them.

Today you can use your likeness as more than a traditional decoration and as something practical, too. Here are some suggestions from a few of my favorite blogs to fit a silhouette into your home collection.

A personalized bulletin board in the shape of a silhouette would be a striking addition to a front entrance hall or a spot above your desk. Click here for the instructions from Country Living.

Homemade cards are a greatly appreciated gesture and such fun to receive. Embellish them with a silhouette cut from a charming patterned paper for a handsome looking card. Click here for instructions from a new book via Design Sponge.

Portraits of family or friends look terrific in profile and resting on the sofa. This is a clever idea for a decorative pillow that's easy to make. Click here for the instructions from Mrs. Blandings, a blog I recommend visiting, anyway.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Domestic Design: Significant Parts

Victor Hugo's Banister from Maison de Victor Hugo6, Place des Vosges, 4th Arrondissement, Paris

Sir John Soane's House, Pitshanger Manor, Walpole Park, Mattlock Lane, London

A shrine is a place preserved for history. A shrine may be where someone important and worth remembering once lived. A shrine is usually preserved to remember a place in time - a long time ago.

I recently came across a book of beautiful photography of everyday objects. The handsome and utilitarian objects are things like architectural details, teapots, clocks, and writing sets. The objects were selected because they were touched by great men.

These objects were touched by great women, too.

Photos from Dr. Johnson's Doorknob and Other Significant Parts of Great Men's Houses by Liz Workman, published by Rizzoli, 2007.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Initially Marked

Initially, I was crazy for monograms on objects like pillowcases, men's shirt cuffs and canvas tote bags. Now the sky is the limit as we can have our personal marking on almost anything imaginable. But, how fun and simple to have your initial on your coffee mug. The mugs would also make nice gifts for family and friends.

Lettered mugs: top, from Fishs Eddie, center, from Rosanna, bottom, from Heal's.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mid-Century Kitchens

Vintage advertisements featuring interiors are so delightful. This stylish, fantasy kitchen featured bright white cabinetry trimmed in saucy red, boldly trellised wallpaper and open cabinetry. You can imagine what the dreamy adjacent rooms could have looked like.

An advertisement from a gas company. Don't miss the backyard view through the low windows.

An advertisement for appliances. The second and third images appear courtesy of See Saw. There are more vintage kitchens ads over there.