sometimes good is good enough


hi everyone! how was your manic monday? it’s that time of year when everyone’s running around with an endless ‘to do’ list. so many of us strive for a perfection that’s completely self-imposed. it got me thinking whether sometimes Good can be good enough? does it always have to be full throttle?


i ran around today, but didn’t take that romantic, picturesque stroll i’d envisioned since it was way too chilly. but in my travels i did pass a favorite store that’s still going strong, pageant, purveyors of maps, prints, and ephemera. i couldn’t resist this little plate i found outside in a bin titled, costumes parisiens. this particular style is from the genre ‘les incroyables et merveilleuses’. photo 5

the desire to learn more about the image led me down a path of discovery and i had a lovely realization. that it was ok not to wait for more stuff to gather before posting a blog, or do anything at all. that it’s not about amassing more information or matter. just this piece of paper was enough to send me off on a tangent, allowing me to get lost in something completely off the radar. so instead of all the things i did and places i went, i’d like to take time to focus on little things behind the things and delve into them more deeply.

photo 2

for instance, have you ever wonderered how to tell an etching from an engraving? well, this couple parisien got me exploring just that tonight. it all starts with a metal plate. you’ll see its impression around the image.


according to wikipedia: engraving is done with a pen on metal and etching is done with acid on metal. a wax covers the acid and [then gets written or drawn into]. etching eventually came to challenge engraving as the most popular medium for artists in printmaking. Its great advantage was that, unlike engraving which requires special skill in metalworking, etching is relatively easy to learn for an artist trained in drawing. everything from great works of art to images on money began with these techniques. these were the artist tools for creating such exquisite masterpieces for centuries, since the middle ages:


depicting women has always been in style. in fact this is where the term ‘fashion plate’ comes from! the one we still use today when describing a fashionista. these were also known as ‘costume plates’ and were all the rage from london to paris to new york until the early part of the 1900s.

Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 11.24.56 PM and

you can see the lines and dots that create the design in the metal. i’m still unsure how to tell completely the difference but i’m assuming the older ones are going to be engravings.


something newer like this above would be an etching. by 1906 they were getting a little looser with the design technique and engraving had probably faded out.


soon it could almost look like painting. above are new york fashions in autumn of 1872.  (just had to thow that in since i’m in the city but geeze i despise the victorian era)! a great collection of plates can be found in the claremont library via the links below each image. if you love the history of fashion, spend a few minutes and check out your favorite styles.

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by 1913 fashion was at a whole new level and about to change again to the modern way we’re living now…in pants! the above is one of the costume parisien plates from 120 years ago!

Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 10.21.07 PM

last but not least, the book above is one i came across and thought interesting. besides being about a great topic, it’s been completly scanned, and it’s public domain. it made me realize how precious books like this are and how we all come across wonderful out of print books. wouldn’t it be nice to scan them like this to share?

so that’s it for my little diversion. this is of course an endless rabbit hole and just searching the term fashion plate opened up a brand new world with so much history and beauty! but it is getting late so i’m off to bed, sweet dreams!

November 26, 2013. Engraving, New York.


  1. MJH Design Arts replied:

    I love your stepping off the beaten path. Hope that New York is lovely (my second favorite city–after Paris).
    Happy Thanksgiving and hurry home with more super posts.

  2. Meghan replied:

    I love everything about this post!


  3. Joan replied:

    That curiosity is what makes the world go ’round

  4. Rebecca Grace replied:

    This is one of my favorites of your posts! I learned something today, and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet! :-)

    About your dislike for the Victorian era — I read a post on Pigtown Design a few days ago where Meg was talking about the librarian who founded the famous medical library in Baltimore in the late 19th century and who worked there until she died in the 1940s. She showed pictures of this woman, one circa 1896 in full-on Victorian, but then a later portrait from 1933 where her attire looks almost Bohemian, kind of Auntie Mame without the cigarette holder, and then in the candid photos from the 1940s she is dressed like any elderly woman might be today. It really got me to thinking about the enormous social and cultural change that were witnessed by that generation of women, like the little girl in your Victorian drawing. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy Meg’s post:

    Have a happy Thanksgiving, Claudia!

  5. Mom replied:

    We learn something new every day, don’t we! Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!

  6. Karena Albert replied:

    Claudia, I love this informative post and the art is all wonderful!
    The Arts by Karena

  7. Peggy Braswell replied:

    love to learn something new each day + happy thanksgiving + loved this post.

  8. kwillow replied:

    I want to rush to the airport and grab the next flight to NYC, and visit this shop.

  9. Marcos replied:

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the net for additional information about the
    issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

  10. Anne Pontabry replied:

    Pageant looks like a wonderful little store I could spend hours upon hours in. I’ll have to put that on my do see list next time I visit New York City.

  11. Gigi replied:

    I absolutely loved the vintage Mickey Mouse float. I also really enjoyed reading about engraving and sketching.

  12. Clare replied:

    How very interesting! Love learning so many new things from your beautiful blog xx

  13. Nikon replied:

    A beautiful shot of the front of the shop.
    Thanks for the lesson on engraving!

  14. kwillow replied:

    I’ve collected “historical” fashion prints for years, but I never once thought of investigating engraving methods. I do know they were often painted in water color by young women, and the Ackermann’s (English fashion) prints often painted around their models a gold halo, which 200 years later looks like a water stain.

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