Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspiration: German Storybook

Hello world!

My name is Ashley, and I'm an art student at a community college. This will be the first post on my new blog! I have never had a blog before, so this is definitely uncharted terrirtory for me. I started taking Dutch tole painting lessons when I was ten years old. I draw a lot of inspiration from Gothic architecture (particularly the cathedrals of France and Germany), vintage fabric and clothing, carvings on antique furniture, nature and the decorative flourishes you find in old books. This would probably explain why I spend hours in the antique shops studying the smallest details of almost every item I walk past. I combine the strokes and techniques I learned in my folk art days with patterns I discover in my "research" or with my own patterns inspired by my discoveries. I love to use these things as inspiration because it's a way to add a real historical element to my designs. In my opinion, this gives a piece a special sort of depth and significance.

One day, several years ago, I was browsing through an antique store in the small town where I had watched my adolesence come and go, and I happened up on this German storybook. As I walked along the aisle between two rows of booths, I noticed it sitting on a shelf atop of a pile of shabby vintage books. It is in pretty rough condition, with packing tape for a binding and several loose pages, but the unusual design on the cover was so colorful and imaginative that I had to pick it up.

I know practically nothing about this book, save that it bears the name "Andersen's" on the cover and was published and printed in Leipzig, Germany. There is no copyright information, no publication dates of any kind, but when you glance at the yellowed pages or feel the scars in the worn fabric cover it is clear that it is both very old and has been very loved.

This battered old book was the beginning of something important for me. Although I had studied tole painting for several years, it was not an activity I often undertook outside the context of a small weekly class. Most of the work I had done was on projects shared with the other students in a back room of our teacher's house. This antique book, the stories it contained and gothic calligraphy in which they were recorded inspired me to use the techniques I'd learned and the knowledge that Betty Hobson had passed on to me to create something of my own.

This box was one of my first projects. After I decided to start creating my own projects, I began to look around and gather up other objects or books that I could use as sources of inspiration. Another, used here, was a book of 19th-century silhouette designs. In the future, I think I will continue to post pictures of the things that inspire me, my interpretation of them and the result in my designs.

For this box I used the first line of a story in the book. I have no idea what the words mean, but when I think back on it now it seems appropriate to start a new part of my life with the beginning of a fairytale.

This bracelet is another of my projects which was inspired by the gothic calligraphy font used in my German storybook. For this bracelet I used the last line in a story I believe, judging by the pictures, to be the German version of the fairytale "Thumbelina."

You can get a closer look at both of these projects when you visit my Etsy Shop at

Anyway, that's all I have to say for my first blog! Thank you for spending some of your time on me!


MessyMissy said...

You have a lovely sense of style. I love the colors you've incorporated.

Bettsi said...

Hi Ashley! Welcome to blogging. I love your little box and your ring. What a great project.

High Heeled Life said...

Ashley, welcome to blogging, Your mother and I often exchange comments; so I feel like I know you a little. I keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Blogging has provided me with much encouragement; wonderful new friends and a way to get my thoughts out and work on my writing. Very theraputic like.

I just know that you are going to inspire so many people and make a difference in the lives of many! I adore your creativity and your writing is magical!!

I'm proud to be one of your first followers and look forward to seeing your corner of BlogLand grow with many more followers!

XO ..Blessings...HHL

Hope Filled Living said...

Ashley, I am so excited for you on your new journey. Great post!

Brambleberry Cottage said...

Love the story book. It's beautiful and has given you great inspiration for your own creations.

I would love to have you join me for one, or all three, of my parties each week.

By the way, I just joined you as a follower.

Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage