Enamel lapel pins are so hot right now. Am I using that right? Do people actually say that? I’ve added some great pieces to my own mostly vintage pin collection (which I should definitely write an updated post about), but there are so many awesome pins available right now. Here are twenty of my personal favorites, with links. I’ve tried to limit pop culture (movie/tv/video game) derivative works, but there are some I couldn’t resist. #pingame
It’s a little Monday afternoon snow storm window shopping. Enjoy.
- Urn from Inner Decay
- Decline & Fall from Inner Decay
- Slower Black Wheat from Explorer’s Press
- Poppy from Explorer’s Press
- Witch Hat from Sara Lyons
- Sad Ghost from Sara Lyons
- Hung to Dry from Rambling Hands
- Momento Mori set from Cat Coven
- I Believe from Last Craft
- All Hope is Not Lost from Frolik Studio
- Black Lodge Coop from Bunny Miele
- Coffin from Yesterdays
- Sailor Moon Crisis Heart from Creepy Gals
- Cry Baby from Penelope Gazin
- Dovahkiin from Jess Hrycyk
- Ugh from Night Cheese Lifestyle
- D20 from These are Things
- Trust No One from Cry Wolf
- Retro Record Player by Abby Galloway from Valley Cruise Press
- Ouija Board from Punky Pins
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a parent (and likely will never become one). I’m not an expert in childhood development or early education. What I am is an art historian who believes that it’s really important for kids to learn about art. Art reflects its time of production, and yet is somehow able to transcend time completely. Art History isn’t actually separate from History (with a capital H) Maybe it seems kind of obvious, but when that notion hit me, it hit hard. Art is history, plain and simple. It’s places and people, stories and politics. It doesn’t have to be boring. Get kids passionate about art, and they will become passionate about history.
I am sure education has changed since I was a kid, but I remember being both somehow bored and bewildered by “Social Studies,” even though it was actually my favorite subject. There were massive, massive gaps in my early education. Learning about art and material culture can help fill those gaps, and a little extracurricular Art History education can provide visual substance for kids who need it.
File this under: Museum Stuff and Art School Dropout.
Bear with me a bit, because even though this is a small list, these are all over the place as far as content goes. But, so is art. If you do have children, take cues from them about what their interests are. You probably do a lot of that already. These books are good places to start, but there are hundreds more. I’ve included some general art books as well as a few artist and period specific books that shine a little more brightly in my eyes. I think these are books that a child can enjoy either on her own or with parent involvement. Nota bene: The titles below will take you to Amazon, and are affiliate links. I will receive a commission for any sales made through the use of those links.
13 Art Movements Children Should Know I’ve actually heard great things about this entire series, but I like Movements in particular because it lays out, very simply, that historical context I was babbling about at the start of this post. This one is useful for Art History undergrads, too. Trust me. Take a break from your flash cards.
Can You Find It? and Can You Find It, Too? I Spy meets art. These interactive search-and-find books from the Metropolitan Museum of Art focus on tiny details in famous works. There are a number of titles in this series, but these two are the originals. Ages 5-9.
illus. Deborah Kogan Ray / Mary Azarian
Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain I’m not sure if you knew (you probably do), but Hokusai is one of my favorite of favorites. Lots and lots of Art History education tends to focus on European art, and I get it, but amazing things were happening in Asia, too, long before they “opened” to the West. We’re talking printmaking and mass production, which are definitely of historical importance. Hokusai was doing his thing from about 1786, so the same general era as Neoclassical and Romanticism in Europe. This book not only includes a glimpse into Hokusai’s sketchbook, but is thoughtfully illustrated by the author. Ages 7-12. I want this for me. Deborah Kogan Ray has also written a book about one of my childhood favorites: Wanda Gág, author of (the sweet, but somewhat dark tale) Millions of Cats.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden I read this book in the second grade, and I was obsessed. I checked it out from the library as often as I could. This was my first ever Art History book, published in 1987! It’s a dreamy, sweet little story about a girl discovering Claude Monet. It does a beautiful job of weaving narrative with bits and pieces of Monet’s life. The illustrations reflect Monet’s work in perfectly soft way. Ages 4-8.
Snowflake Bentley This is both a photography and science book! Wilson Bentley spent fifty years of his life perfecting the process of photographing snowflakes with the use of a microscope, and he discovered that no two snowflakes are ever alike. Every elementary school student in Vermont is familiar with his story. His starkly beautiful silver gelatin prints can be seen at the Smithsonian and other museums. This book, illustrated with woodcuts by Vermonter Mary Azarian is another that is near and dear to my heart. Ages 4-7.
The Art Book for Children This is another general knowledge book that has received high praise. The Art Book covers thirty well known artists, both classic and contemporary, and their works. Ages 7+. First in a series.
illus. Hadley Hooper / Anja Klauss
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse This is a beautifully illustrated book about Matisse as a boy. Ages 4-8.
The Little Hippo: A Children’s Book Inspired by Egyptian Art I think every kid goes probably goes through an Egyptology phase. And I think it’s okay to support that interest without stressing out too much about repatriation. That’s an issue that can certainly be addressed later, maybe by chatting with a museum docent. This is a book for younger children, probably ages 4-8. Note that it does deal a little bit with death, as most books on Egyptian art are likely to.
I’d recommend, if you are able, that you check out a museum or its website on your own before bringing your kids. Choose a handful of works (or even just one or two pieces) to visit and talk about with them, anything you think they’ll love. Don’t worry about seeing the whole museum, and don’t necessarily worry about seeing what’s famous, though obviously famous works have their merit. Take your time. Let your kids obsess over something seemingly insignificant. Let them stare at it for ages. Because here’s the thing: there are some works at the MFA Boston that I will visit over and over again, run to every time. There is a bronze drum in the Asian art galleries adorned with tiny frogs. There is Isabella and the Pot of Basil. There is The Fog Warning. There is no rhyme or reason to what I love, and it doesn’t really matter. Nothing is insignificant, so indulge in their obsessions. You let them obsess over cartoon character franchises, so let them obsess over works of art.
If you have any favorite art books of your own, please share them in the comments! It’s good to hear from actual parents.
Making headstone rubbings is a great way to preserve a bit of history. Wax rubbings can reveal design elements and text not quite discernible through our vision alone. It’s also appropriate, on occasion, to maybe reflect quietly a bit on our own mortality, feel the earth beneath our feet, and say hello to those that have passed before us.
Personally, I do feel like this is a solo project, but I remember doing this a few times as a guided activity in elementary school (there was a cemetery immediately next door to our playing field). I actually recall quite a number of cemetery field trips. In retrospect, I suppose that’s just a little bit strange. I wonder if they do things like that anymore. Perhaps not. There was also a dilapidated wooden stage on our playground that we were allowed to play on and crawl under. I digress. My childhood was idyllic, really.
First things first, be respectful.
- Check to see if it’s okay for you to take a gravestone rubbing in your local cemetery, especially if the site is a historical one. Some older stones may be too fragile to stand up to the process. If you are uncertain about a particular stone, ask first.
- In “active” cemeteries, be considerate of any funerals taking place. It may be more appropriate to return to the site on another day.
- Pay attention to all posted signs and follow them. Do not trespass after hours. Don’t be a creep.
- large sheet(s) of paper
- masking tape or poster tack
- soft brush and/or rag
- wax discs or sturdy crayons (check out Oldstone wax)
- rubber bands or a poster tube to transport completed rubbings
You want paper that is flexible, but sturdy enough not to tear. Printmaking paper works well. Other guides (like this one from Ancestry Graphics and Printing) suggest using medium-weight interfacing, which I imagine works really well, too! Try whatever you like!
When choosing a stone, look for well defined patterns and text. Carefully clean the surface of your chosen stone. While removing surface dirt, twigs, etc. with a rag or brush is probably safe to do, removing moss and lichen from older stones could potentially damage the stone’s integrity. If you notice any decay, erosion, or breakage, do not attempt to clean the stone. Some people carry spray bottles of water. Use your best judgement, and always err on the side of caution. Don’t use any chemicals or soaps to clean the stone.
Lay your paper across the surface of the stone and gently secure it in place with masking tape or poster tack. Your paper should be large enough to tuck around the back of the stone, and secure it from there. You may want to cut the paper to size. Make sure that your adhesive will not damage the stone on removal. Avoid taping on crumbling spots and cracks.
Once your paper is secure, start your rubbing from the outside edges of the stone to the center. Use even pressure.
Carefully remove your rubbing from the stone and secure it for transport. Make sure you don’t leave any scraps of paper or bits of tape behind.
I know I’ve linked to it previously, but I absolutely love this great graphic guide to cemetery symbolism from Atlas Obscura!
Fellow Maine residents should check out the Maine Old Cemetery Association.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.