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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 20 comments.

the whole is more than the sum of its parts-aristotle

allo dear friends, how are you? i hope you’re into the fall weather and are getting your autumn on! we’re still running around and no matter where we turn paris is still ful of surprises. the day started with a rainy marche but it warmed up when we got to le square trousseau to meet friends/fellow bloggers, vicki, author of  french essence and haleigh, blogger extraordinaire from making magique. both of these girls know how to live and they record it all with the most gorgeous photography! if you’re ever in need of eye candy or to drift off into neverland, just click your heels on over to their blogs. we shared ideas, tips and just had a great leisurely long lunch which i doubt any of us get to do very often! below is a glimpse into haleigh’s world in paris:

and vicki’s in provence

of course we couldn’t leave without lusting after the desserts…

we thought the day couldn’t get any better when on the way home claudia and i took a shortcut. we came across one of the last men working in his studio on the dying art of handmade engravings. when our friend ellen was here she was telling me all about the copperplates, hammering them backward with tiny pins to create the detail we see in so many familiar works of art.

olaf was diligently working but stopped to chat. he happened to have one of my favorite plates, le souper fin (below) which he purchased from a workshop that had recently closed. if you look you’ll see it was all done in reverse. the detail is incomprehensible and so is the idea that this is how so many important events were recorded! it takes black tar, ink, acid and god knows what else to produce a perfect engraving and it’s all done on handmade paper.

souper fin, Jean-Michel Moreau. he did admit he’s one of that last to do this painstaking craft…

not sure what this one was about but his work was stunning. i couldn’t resist getting a couple to bring back!

the day is now coming to a close and we’re nestled snug in our pied a terre, happily fed and another unforgettable day under our belts, but also aware it’s quickly coming to an end.  when i get home lots of goodies will be waiting there.  in the meantime, it was nice to know we got a little press in the states today! miles redd recommended one of tpa’s mirrored pieces in an article for the home section!

thanks, miles!

someone here asked me if mirrored furniture was ‘over ‘and i had to think for a minute. it will never be over, it’s a style that’s been around way too long to become passé now!i found this shot from the market last week and it re-confirmed my opinion that mirror is and always will be tres chic. it’s been worked on furniture since the 2os with details we can’t even produce now. how they manipulated mirror is yet another mystery the french started!

ok well this was a bunch of non sequiturs but isn’t that what a journal/diary/blog is for, to remember the details of life big and small? well, it’s time for bed, officially midnight yet again. have a great night!

September 13, 2012. Blogroll, Clignancourt Flea Market, Clignancourt Market Paris, Costes, Engraving, flea markets, Fleamarkets, Friends, Miles Redd, New York, NY Times. 11 comments.