Friday, November 25, 2011

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers!

Look at the fun little things in the shop that would make great stocking stuffers for the vintage fan!
Really cute little minature anodized metal shot glasses/tumblers -- pair them with a few mini bottles of Stoli or Jagermeister for a very grown-up stocking stuffer.

A vintage French Bulldog figurine that would delight the owner of a silly little Frenchie!

This great little book is only 5.5 x 4.25 inches, and is something that the fan of vintage fairy books would swoon over! 

A bag of primo coffee beans and these little cuties would be be fun for your favorite java addict -- and remember, if they don't use cream, they could use them for Irish Whiskey or Kaluha!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Glee at Wonder Diva on Etsy!

Hate the malls?  Afraid of deranged shoppers driving like lunatics around the parking lot?  That is what cyber-shopping is for.

Why decorate with the same stuff that everyone is using?  Get some shiny vintage ornaments (like these from a fellow Etsy Vintage Team member!) and put them in these darlins.  You will be the envy of all of your friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gift guide: For the gardener, the books of Elizabeth Gordon

Gardeners are never finished with their work, not even in December --  they're already planning next year's garden.  A vintage book about flowers and gardens is a great holiday gift, especially when it is bright and fanciful and it is by Elizabeth Gordon.  Gordon was an early 20th century children's book author who took the fairy world and the nature world and put them into stories to delight and educate children.  She always got the very best illustrators for her books, and they are very valuable little commodities today. 

From Loraine and the Little People, by Elizabeth Gordon and illustrated by Penny Ross: 

From Loraine and the Little People of Spring -- illustrations by Ella Dolbear Lee:

And the absolute stunner of the group, The Turned-Intos, illustrated by the amazing Janet Laura Scott:

Let's not forget the vegetable gardeners -- Gordon wrote Mother Earth's Children  and once again Penny Ross illustrated:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gift Guide: Around the house vintage & upcycled

Do you know someone who loves to decorate with vintage, or just has a touch of it here and there?  A nice vintage item is a fun holiday gift.

For someone who collects old dolls, or maybe wants to keep a garden vibe going in the house over the winter, what would be cuter than this one-of-a-kind vintage child's or doll chair? 

Maybe they prefer a rustic, woodlands vibe?  How cute would an old Steiff stuffed bear look on this little vintage chair? 

I painted and distressed a newer Amish furniture style doll chair to make it look like the oldies above.  You get the look of old with the stability of new.  How cute would this be with a vintage Santa or a snowman on it? 

Do you know a romantic who wants something retro and dreamy for the walls?  How about a 1920's R. Atkinson Fox print in the original frame?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gift guide - Those special books

If you know a book lover or a collector who has everything, there's always a vintage book that they probably don't own.  Give them a gift that's rare and beautiful.

English Bulldog owners who think they have everything... they probably don't have one of the Blobbs books written by G. Vernon Stokes.

Kay Nielsen's work is always a special gift, because it is entrancing.  If you know someone who loves Norse mythology, this book is perfect. 

Fans of modern fantasy illustration probably know about the Brothers Hildebrandt.   But did they know they once illustrated a children's book?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not letting go of summer, not yet...

It's late summer and maybe you aren't ready to let go into autumn yet.  I'm not especially ready, myself.  Even when it's mid-January, you need reminders of summer in the house:

The bright green of the grass shows up in vintage enameled cups:

The garden produce looks out at you from vintage 1920's seed packets:

Sunflowers nod at you from a vintage souvenir cup and saucer set:

And the fairy of wheat harvest is baking bread!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christmas in July

What a lump of my life blogger I have been lately!  My excuse:  I repainted the kitchen.  Twice.  I detested the first color and did the entire pea-pickin' thing over and now I'm happy. 

I'm doing the Christmas in July thing over at the Etsy shop, with a whopping 35 items either marked down or with free shipping, many of them with BOTH.  What's not to love about that?  Go see for yourself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Declaration of Independence

Several books in my shop have declared independence from the tyranny of shipping costs if they are mailed to U.S. destinations.  Search for "free shipping" under my shop and you'll get a listing of all of the little freedom-fighters.

Sarah Palin, when asked about these brave little books, said:

"They who warned uh, wonderdiva that she wasn't gonna be takin' away their right to a new home, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as they are riding their horse through Etsy to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free from shipping fees, and we were going to be mailed."

Monday, June 27, 2011


In the late 1910's and early 1920's, Donohue Press put out a series of  children's books that they called the Peter Rabbit series.  These books were notable for their very true-to-original versions of classic tales and were not sanitized for the sake of the tykes.  There was a lot of murder and mayhem that would rival a more gruesome episode of "CSI" or "Law and Order:  SVU."   The art work in the books was not attributed to an artist or artists, but the work was fairly typical of the era and was colorful, cute and anthropomorphic.  It's a perversely amusing contrast to all the death threats and killing going on in the stories. 

One particular book has cover art that does not match the interior artwork and was most probably done by another artist, without attribution.  But I am convinced that the person who illustrated the cover for The Little Small Red Hen was really loaded when they did this cover:

That's a pretty realistic depiction of a chicken, save for the apron and those shoes.  Look at those tiny little shoes, how did she shove her big old hen feet in them?   Was she into foot binding?  Those legs make me think of women in sensible shoes who haven't shaved their legs.  I can't take my eyes off of them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Treasury love

A beautiful, enigmatic treasury that includes an item from my shop. 

And a lovely green and blue treasury that include a vintage child's chair that is in my shop.

Friso Henstra is beyond cool

Earlier this year I found a group of 1960's to 1970's books being sold in a lot; most of them were publications of Parent's Magazine Press, most of them being extremely well-kept.  In it was a copy of The Silver Whistle by Jay Williams and illustrated by Friso Henstra.  Oh. My. God.  I didn't think I'd ever find an illustrator from that era who drew me in the way the Golden Age illustrators do.  

Henstra began his career as a cartoonist, but when he illustrated a book for Jay Williams, his career took off.  The style he was using in the 1960's and early 1970's  is much like the animations that Terry Gilliam of Monty Python did in the same time frame:

Friso Henstra, from The Silver Whistle
Terry Gilliam's creations for the opening credits of Monty Python's Flying Circus:

Let me diverge from Henstra love for a moment to marvel at Gilliam's work and how he is the godfather of steampunk.  

I could spend more time talking about the Williams/Henstra collaboration and other authors who used Henstra as their illustrator, but another blogger has done a much nicer job of putting that information together, so do check out Authors and Illustrators and the entries on Henstra.  

Read it and get hooked!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Of Birds and Blue and Vintage Green

A lovely treasury featuring a book from my shop

It reminds me of a baby bluejay that fell out of the nest that was in a tree in my front yard during a storm last year.  We pulled down a deserted robin's nest that was in a spot in the back yard and put it in a cedar tree in the front yard, and put baby bird in it.  His parents cared for him until he was able to take wing and leave the nest.  I got a photo of him the last morning that he was in the nest:

Monday, June 6, 2011


Maginel Wright Enright Barney was born Margaret Ellen Wright, but her mother created "Maginel" as a conjunction of Maggie Nell.  And maybe "Maggie-Nell" is how they pronounced Maginel, although I prefer to pronounce it more like the word magic, as in "MAJ-inel." 

What a gene pool.  Her older brother was Frank Lloyd Wright, and we all know what he did for a good share of his life.  (Built lots of buildings, chased lots of women.)  Frank was 14 years older than Maginel, and a lifelong collector of Japanese prints.  It would seem that looking at her older brother's collection certainly had an influence on her work. 

From "Flower Fairies, c. 1915

 Maginel's rendering of plants and flowers has always been, to me, more interesting, nuanced and technically superb than her illustration of human beings.  However, since she was often illustrating fairies and children for children's books, the work was going to be simpler and stylized. 

I've also been intrigued by her use of large color fields in illustrations:

From When Little Thoughts Go Rhyming, c. 1916

There's a lot of mathematical precision in the way she divided and composed each illustration -- and I think it created an order and serenity in her work.  I've never read any scholarship regarding how much other artists working at the same time influenced her work, nor do I know anyone has taken the time to look into it.  However, it would make sense that she was looking at a lot of contemporary, cutting-edge artwork --  it wasn't like the Wright family were cultural slouches.  And my primary reason for speculating about her influences are the incredibly intense illustrations for Honey Bear, c. 1923.

The author Tom Wolfe, who says that Honey Bear made him want to be a writer before he could read, called Maginel an artist is the "japanais vienna secessionist" style, which in Tom Wolfe-ese, means Japanese influenced art nouveau.  And most of the time, that was true.  But to my eyes, her work in Honey Bear looks like Matisse in his Fauvism period:

And since Fauvism came from the term les Fauves, which means "the wild beasts" and Honey Bear was about a wild beast in a forest, I think doing Fauvist illustrations was absolutely perfect.  Maybe that wasn't what Maginel was up to, but it's my theory and I'm sticking with it.