Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Special Delivery: Chocolate and Flowers

My original postcard is an early 1900s advertisement for Bendsdorp Cocoa, a cocoa and chocolate factory established in Amsterdam in 1840. Since then, ownership has changed hands a few times and the company is now based in France.

I've removed most of company's text and now you have space to customize and add your own creative touch.  I say "most" of the company's text because if you look closely, you'll see that along with the bouquet, the little gentleman caller also has an item in his pocket labeled "Cacao Ben....." The original powder was likely in a can, but we're going to use our imaginations and think of this as a chocolate bar:)

The text on the scan is pretty self-explanatory. Yes, this is where I bribe you to help me advertise my business:) But hey, I'm making it pretty easy, n'est-ce pas?
It's also my way of saying "merci beaucoup" to my regular, loyal customers who keep coming back again and again.
I don't care for complicated sales or marketing gimmicks. I figure this is as about as simple as I can get it. Just check here or on my Facebook page for the monthly Boomerang Code.

CLARIFICATION: I use the word Boomerang "Code" and I realize now that perhaps I should be calling it "coupon." Look for the blue words "apply shop coupon" under the Paypal logo during checkout on Etsy. That's where you input the "cacao25" coupon/code.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September "Thank You" Freebie Download

I am running a bit late this month with this freebie but I'll blame the Labor Day holiday weekend for the holdup.
Also, I hesitated, vacillating between offering the image mostly "as is" or if I wanted to alter it substantially. I love the shabby chic look with the writing, the stamp and the franking combined with the French text. 

But the cool silver-ish Art Nouveau border and blue-green stamp are not my favorites to compliment all those warm shades of brown/ecru/tan/beige. Unfortunately, to alter those things quickly are not in my capabilities. But ... perhaps with the help of my magical Pixies at PIXC I can get things changed in the near future and turn her into a greeting card. Stay tuned to see what I come up with:)

In the meantime, I hope you'll be inspired and have your own creative fun.

Besides the thick pigtail and the wide belt around the thin waspy waist, what I really like about this postcard is the woman's pose, holding a small New Testament Bible in her hand. Note that she even has an ever so handy leather pouch danging from her waist to carry the Bible in when she's not using it.

Now, forgive me if what I'm about to say sounds like blasphemy, but I can't help let my imagination run wild, thinking of all the things one could substitute for the Bible. Thinking anachronistically, my first idea is to put a cell phone there! And yes, I'd have to add the words "Call me maybe." Remember that 2012 song by Carly Rae Jepsen that was CONSTANTLY playing on the radio?

And with that thought in mind, I'll be my own broken record and repeat from last month what I wrote then: 

I usually ask that you don't give 'share' FrenchKissed downloads but direct a person here to my blog. However, I decided that if I'm depending upon your help to do my advertising and spread the word about my digital scans in my Etsy shop, I should make it easy on you:) I've even added the September "boomerang" discount code to entice you to come back again and again.

Merci beaucoup!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August Freebie Download

There are certain things that one can never have enough of, such as Eiffel Tower postcards and samples of French script.

I put roses in that category, too.

These roses are extra special in my opinion because they are handpainted by "PB" (or is that BP?) I started to say this is a one-of-a-kind rose design, but ... it could be that our Edwardian artist copied these from another established artist like Catherina Klein. That's how many self-taught artists learned how to paint.

Original or a copy cat, it's irrelevant. These are lovely and have such a refreshing, cool look about them -- perfect to contemplate on a hot August day.

As for Maligny, where our talented artist lived -- well, I'll be honest. I started to clone that out. It reminds me of the word "malignant." Pronounced "ma leen ne," Wikipedia gives a whopping one line description:

Maligny is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France. It is the birthplace of mathematician Maurice René Fréchet.

The population of Maligny in 2006 was 754. Sounds like my kind of place! I wonder if any of PB's descendants still live there ... ? 

Notice the "bonne fete" greeting. That's a person's namesake day based on Catholic calendar of saints. In the traditional Catholic calendar, August 25 is dedicated to St. Louis, King of France.  However, this card was not mailed to a man, but to Mademoiselle Louise. Close enough, eh? (Why her namesake day isn't March 15 for Sainte Louise of Marillac I can't explain.:)

Louise lived in Chablis, 5 miles down the road.

Now, I usually ask that you don't give 'share' FrenchKissed downloads but direct a person here to my blog. However, I decided that if I'm depending upon your help to do my advertising and spread the word about my digital scans, I should make it easy on you:) I've even added the August "boomerang" discount code. Note that the first one is a Jpeg and the second one is a PNG. Grab one or both,whichever format you prefer to use.

OK. Whatcha waiting for. Get to work!:)
Merci beaucoup!

PS: What's your preference: original look or no French script/no yellowing album stains?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Nothing says Summer like BUGS!

Isn't it quirky how we humans consider some bugs 'cute' and others we just want to swat and kill  instantly? I particularly like beetles. This one is stephanorrhina guttata, commonly known as the Spotted Flower Beetle. Common, that is, if you live in Nigeria or Cameroon. It grows to be just under an inch long. My version is bigger: about 3 inches. The top picture is a JPEG and it will print with the white background. But if you hate cutting stuff out like I do, then I suggest you try the bottom digi which is a PNG. It will print out with a transparent background.*
By the way, I get all my PNG cutouts done by Holly and her magical Pixies at Pixc.

Now, if you love bugs and want more, do please check out my Etsy listing for a whole 8x10 inch page of lovely winged flying things and funky beetles created from little French 'chromos': full color prints given away as gifts inside chocolates at the turn of the century.

*Right click and the image will appear in a new window for you to copy and save to your computer.

If you want to share this FrenchKissed freebie with your friends, please don't pass on the digi itself but give them the link to my blog so they can download it directly from my site. (It's an ethical thing I have about crediting sources and educating folks that just because it's digital and on the web doesn't mean it's free to copy. Permission from the original poster is the higher road to take:)

Merci beaucoup!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Garden Party

We don't have fashion rules as strict as those in the 'old days' but I think you'll agree that nothing says 'summer' like ladies dressed in white.

Right click and the image will appear in a new window for you to copy and save to your computer.

If you want to share this FrenchKissed freebie with your friends, please don't pass on the digi itself but give them the link to my blog so they can download it directly from my site. (It's an ethical thing I have about crediting sources and educating folks that just because it's digital and on the web doesn't mean it's free to copy. Permission from the original poster is the higher road to take:)

Merci beaucoup!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Paris 1931 Water and Light Show

Careful! Don't get wet:)

 Feel free to help yourself and have a blast from the past using these water and light show pics from the 1931 Paris expo. Whatever you create with these, it would be much appreciated if you credited FrenchKissed as the source of your digi. Even better, I'd love to see what you make. Send me a scan or photo of your finished product/art piece and I'll post it here with a link.
And please: share this link, not the download:)

There's a lot more where these came from. Please visit my Etsy shop and peruse through more than 500 graphics, images, original greeting card designs and more -- all made from upcycled, restored antique and vintage French postcards and ephemera. Remember: a new 25% discount 'boomerange' code to keep you coming back again and again to my Etsy shop is always posted at the top left on the first of the month. Merci beaucoup!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Remember to Forget: A Souvenir ....

My imagination must be too active. My brain rushes ahead and creates entire scenarios with just a few pieces of information. Case in point is this antique photo postcard. When I first got it, I kept laughing. I thought it was hilarious because of the script at the bottom: Souvenir of one very bad night. E. Thomas." I'm thinking the woman must be throwing daggers with her eyes at the guy? There was some kind of fight or big blow up?? Perhaps Thomas and his friends drank a little too much and the hubby said something that really got himself in trouble? The whole affair seemed all the more humorous in my imagination cause Thomas had taken a photo of the incident! Nothing like a friend rubbing salt in a wound! Oh, to know the rest of the story....

Well, AFTER I got out my jeweler's loupe to really examine the pic, I realized what that 'thing' is sitting on the table: an artillery shell!
Note the date: Aug. 21, 1918. World War I was still going on. 
So that look on the man's face is not a down-in-the-mouth in-the-dog-house look. It's humble gratitude (and shock) at still being alive because there was NOT a big blow up. 

Obviously .... the joke is on me. I need better glasses and a less avid imagination that jumps to conclusions. What did I think the big thing in the CENTER of the picture was? A tree with no roots? A rustic porch column with no porch? I dunno. My brain didn't register anything except that cryptic one liner: a very bad night. 

Anyway, I've scanned this little piece of history and I wanted to share it with you. No cleaning up, just authentically vintage [translation: scratches and all:)] I don't imagine you make many ATCs or greeting cards about bombs. But maybe you can utilize pieces: the man's face; the woman in her dress with the fun print, the purple-blue ink French script.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Darling You!

It has now been 10 years and counting since I became 'obsessed' with postcards. The hobby cum business consumes most hours of my day and even after a decade, I'm not bored with the subject matter. Au contraire, I continue to be amazed with new discoveries. Many of my 'finds' are not earth-shattering, but simply paint a clearer picture of life during the Belle Epoque. Or, or in some cases, what I read leaves me even  more befuddled. Case in point: one of the latest in my personal collection that I just had to share!

Looking at this pretty young woman's photo .....

... can you imagine her saying this:

     Darling you, That is what I was waiting for to write you. What do you think of my photo? Better than the original, isn't it? What is really natural, it is my so small mouth!!! Never mind dear! Take me as I am, will you?
     I received your letter on Friday but on Thursday I went to your grandmother. Am I silly! I did not remember she was not at her home. So after, I went to your friend Jeanne. I thought she knew where you were but she did not know it & I stayed with her and her sister about one hour. I think she thought I came in purpose for her! If it is so, don't tell her otherwise please. For what you told my (me?) about our going to St. Germain I spoke already to father and the answer: it was possible. You see how I am glad & I thank you very much, darling you and your mother. I am going to mother's on Sunday next. I shall meet probably my cousin so I shall write you later on. Please do write all about your events. I really want to know them. Write soon darling please and receive with best kisses 
and best love from 
old but ever loving,
26th of August, 1901
My best respectful kisses to your dear mother.

OH...and then there's one more line floating out to the side below her picture: Jane is a charming girl!
(Does she mean Jeanne?)

Wouldn't you love to actually meet Camille? (Where's my time machine?!!) Her portrait and her writing do not go together in my mind. What's your opinion? I know we often tend to think that Victorians and Edwardians were very formal and, well, you know -- stuff shirts! But in her postcard, she doesn't sound anything like I'd imagined looking at her portrait. Oh to be able to actually hear her talk! So much is revealed in one's voice, inflections and such. Of course, too, the facial expressions.

Noting the punctuation (lots of exclamation points which yours truly is also guilty of:) and the lack of punctuation (I edited it as I typed it in for ease in reading) my first thoughts were that Camille is not educated. But then I began to wonder if she's French writing in English? That would definitely account for the disconnected sentence structures here and there. Or perhaps, she was simply writing in a hurry?
When I initially read this card and saw "Darling You," I immediately assumed she was writing to her boyfriend. When I read that she went looking for him .... well:)

However, the joke's on me.  Camille sent this postcard to a female friend!

So as I said, some discoveries enlighten me and some befuddle me even more. But all add another piece to the big picture of humanity. And I guess that's why postcards have such a hold on me. They aren't just ink and paper. Ruminate on them enough and you'll start sensing some flesh and bone, some heart and soul ....

PS  This postcard is not very 'art-y' but if you can use any part of it in your crafting or art work, you are welcome to copy and save these scans to your computer.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Coming Out of the Closet

I have been wanting to do something with this squirly-curly design for a long time. This is a painting on a wood panel dating from Louis the Sixteenth's time. I had played with it on a postcard of a woman and when I serendipitously passed the big rectangle over the woman's face, I instantly knew I needed a strong face with eyes that grabbed you.

  As fate would have it.....

I have had this postcard of the woman for a long time. It's in pretty sad condition, but I love this woman's face, those EYES. No way I could throw this card away.
Initially, I thought she must be German. 
But the back of the card  tells me it was actually printed in Italy ....

... because the first word in the list is Italian ("stampato") and then the German word and finally French for "Printed Matter." (Different postage rate than if labeled a postcard.) So I don't know if she's German or Italian or what. I just know her face is one that draws you in and you can't help but stare back.

The card was mailed in 1904 to Alphonse, who worked (or owned?) the Turbine, a sawmill in Allarmont, France, in the eastern Vosges. On the front, the sender wrote:
I can't understand all of it, but I believe the sender is an old war buddy of Alphonse. "Viva the class and the good tobacco and the conscripts who have 1 ??, 77  [until they can] see this young girl. Salutations." 
So not a very romantic message to go with the face, but I recall Mary Green's words about using script strictly as a graphic element, not as part of the story and .... I pair them up anyway:

While my main emphasis is to frame the woman's eyes, I love the 'coincidence' of how the head/hair of woman in the wood panel painting falls right on the woman's lips. It looks like lipstick, that funky lipstick style of a 1920s pierrot or harlequin figure. It also looks like the little lady is kissing the big lady.

Note: During the 48 hours before I started working on this project, I finished reading a novel, The Bones of Paris. It is set in Paris in 1929 and features liberated women flocking there to spread their wings and their legs. I had also seen Saving Mr. Banks at the movies. This movie is a Disney-fied version of how Walt got P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, to hand over the rights to her story so they could make a movie.
 (You will feel sorry for the author in this Disney film but in real life, she was not a nice woman. She did something which I think must surely rank up there with the Seven Deadly Sins: she adopted a twin. Yes, you read that right. She didn't adopt both of the boys. She took just one.) Anyway, in real life and in the movie, Travers did not approve of one of the Disney changes: the housewife Mrs. Banks in the story became a suffragist in the movie.

So I guess I can claim that subconsciously I was under strong feminist influences while I played in Photoshop with the two postcards you see above, but the truth of the matter is that I am quite conscience and fully aware of my feminist stance:) So my little 16th century lady becomes Lady Liberty and in bold Weltschmerz font, I add my feminist statement. By the time I finish the collage, it is 2 in the morning and time to sleep on it.

Four and a half hours later, my internal body clock wakes me up right on schedule despite protests that my wrinkles need more down time. 

Back at the computer, looking at my collage again, I feel I need to give folks a Weltschmerz font-feminist-free option. I also change the eye area to black and white for even starker contrast. 

So what is she now? How will I describe her? What will be my listing title? 
I still have a little lady kissing a big lady.
Marketing to the lesbian-gay audience seems like the natural thing to do.

But as anyone here in the United States who has an ounce of awareness knows, some things that seem so simple and natural and obvious are also the source of much polarization and division and hate speech. 
Would it be worth it to me as a business owner to sell 1 digital greeting card scan to a lesbian if I risked alienating scores of my religious customers?
No, one $5.99 sale would obviously not be worth it.
But as a human, what will my silence cost me? 
I believe in equal rights and freedom for all. I am a feminist. I am a humanist.

So why do I hesitate? 
Because I have had it instilled in me for decades that I should not unnecessarily offend people.

I do a "lesbian" word search on Etsy. Seven thousand, four hundred and 87 items instantly come up. I check out a few listings. A couple make me blush:)

Words from a a news article I read last night are still fresh in my ears.
Frank McCain, one of the "Greensboro Four" who helped put this nation on the right path toward freedom and equality for all during the Civil Rights movement, died Thursday, at the age of 72.
One of McCain's compatriots, a fellow "Greensboro Four" member who was known as Ezell Blair, Jr., back then and is now a Muslim who goes by the name Jibreel Khazan, said this:
"Frank would say we didn't want to set the world on fire, we just wanted to sit down and eat like everybody else. We wanted to be included in the round table of humanity."

I've made my decision.
The table is set.
 My art, for better or worse, is available to all.

5x7 Greeting Card Instant Download Lesbian Love Gay Feminist in PINK Original Digital Collage created from Antique French Postcards

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You can lead a horse to water ...

But what COLOR do you paint him when he gets there?!

Such is the quandary my new year has begun with:)

Well, I guess it's not really a quandary because truth is I already painted not one but two horses. Let me explain. Perhaps I've gotten my cart ahead of my horse(s:)

New Year's Eve I was greeted with a message from Jim of barnwood4u, a fellow Etsy seller who makes frames from recycled barnwood. He was inquiring about printing some of my images and reselling them, ready to hang in his wooden frames.

When I went to his online shop and saw the rustic barn wood frames he crafts, I immediately thought of an old postcard image that's been hanging around my stash for ages. It was listed in my store when I opened way back in 2008 (!) and I sold a couple copies of it but soon let it expire. It's not my typical FrenchKissed offering. It's a cowboy!

Now my husband says he's not a cowboy; he's a farmer cause "see the harness on the horse -- that's to attach a plow with."
I don't care. He's wearing tall boots and a big hat and he's standing next to a horse. In my book, that makes him a "cowboy."

So anyway, imagining my "cowboy" hanging up in a rich barnwood frame, I felt that he needed some sprucing up. You know, brush off that layer of dust from all that plowing, add some paint and color. SO..... I went to the all-knowing Google to find out what I could about "L'Abreuvoir." I found one reference from a museum in Chambery, France. I knew that l'abreuvoir was French for the trough. According to the museum, the full title of the painting is "Chevaux à L'abreuvoir" (Horses at the Trough). I did another Google search using the full name and again, this was the only full color image of my postcard that I found.

Well.... for my taste, it was a little dark! But I figured that was just the style, you know, Old World Masters, light and dark. So I went to work on my sepia postcard. It didn't take long to realize that I am  no Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret! (By the way, Monsieur Dagnan-Bouveret was born in Paris in 1859 and died in Quincey in 1929. He painted "Horses at the Trough" in 1884 and this work earned him the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor. Thanks to the Chambery Musee des Beaux Arts for that info!)

Now, back to my life as a forger of paintings.....Aside from wondering why a man working out in the fields would be wearing light colored, gold-striped (?) pants, I was doing much hair pulling over the dark horse in particular. Every Photoshop trick I tried resulted in a black blob. I finally acquiesced and decided that Black Beauty was going to be Chestnut Champ. Following in Mr. Dagnan-Bouveret's hoofsteps was a humbling experience indeed. But in the end, I was satisfied with my rip-off, uh, I mean my forgery, uh....my tribute to the Parisian artist.

Until this morning, that is.
A light bulb went off and it finally occurred to me to search Google for the image in ENGLISH. Duh!
This time, I got several results. And while my vexation continues, at least I now know that I am in good company for it seems that others had trouble with that dark horse, too. And in fact, I'm not even positive exactly what colors "L'abreuvoir" really is! Online samples went from ...

to totally golden!

After seeing that last one from the 19th Century Art Worldwide site, I was really discouraged and debated on starting over. I kinda felt like the tile-making company who just eschewed the color dilemma by sticking with a sepia monochrome:

But for now, I'm going to go with my version available here in my Etsy shop.

I say 'for now' because it's quite obvious that I really have only ONE option for this mystery to be solved.
I must GO to Chambery, France, and see the painting hanging in the museum. I must see it in person with my own eyes! (Nothing like starting the new year with dreams and goals:)
Bonne Annee, mes amies!

UPDATE: The French cowboy is now available as a framed print in Jim's shop here.

Very handsome, don't you agree?!