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Friday’s Library Snapshot

August 29, 2014

I came across a little pamphlet this week; which made my day.  When I began blogging I never thought that I would continue. Although I have a plan; each post is carefully worked to a schedule they are often fairly random.  I am a library assistant I am not always in a position to wander off and ‘do’ research. I can honestly say my daily posts are written on the run. So there is not always a thread.  

So this week I decided to go back to the beginning of printing and discover the way that women made an entrance into a man’s world in the middle of the 19th century, with a post on Wednesday about Mrs Fanny McIan.

So this pamphlet called A brief account of the Cuala Press formerly the Dun Emer Press founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats in MCMIII (1903) will help me put some meat on the bones.  As this is supposed to be a snapshot I will not bore you with the details.

The Dun Emer Industries were established in Dublin in 1902 by Evelyn Gleeson ‘to find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things.’ All the workers were Irish girls and they produced:- embroidery on Irish linen, woven tapestry and carpets and they printed and bound of books.

Elizabeth Corbet Yeats and her sister Lily returned to Ireland from London to assist Miss Gleeson in the establishment of the Industries. Lily Yeats organised the embroidery workshop and Elizabeth founded the Dun Emer Press.  

W.B. Yeats acted as an editorial adviser to the Press and Emery Walker, who had worked as advisor to the Kelmscott Press, the Dove Press and other private presses in England advised on typography and book production.

It is a lovely story that I will reflect upon at some later date.

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Alphabe Thursday O is for oranges and lemons

August 28, 2014


Oranges and lemons,

Say the bells of St Clement’s.


You owe me five farthings,

Say the bells of St Martin’s.


When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey


When I grow rich,

Say the bells of Shoreditch.


When will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney.


I’m sure I don’t know,

Say the great bell at Bow.


Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

Here come a chopper to chop off your head.


This old song is known to young children even when they never played the game that accompanies it.  

The game is played in the manner of ‘London Bridge’ two bigger players determine in secret which one will be an ‘orange’ and the other a ‘lemon’  ; they form an arch by joining hands, and sing the song as the other players troop underneath in a single file.  When the two players who form the arch approach, with quickening tempo, the climax of their recitation,


Here comes the candle to light you to bed,

Here comes the chopper to chop of your head,


They repeat ominously ‘chop, chop, chop, chop, chop!’ and with the last ‘chop’ they bring down their arms down around whichever child is at that moment passing under the arch.  The captured player is asked privately whether he will be an ‘orange’ or ‘lemon’ he goes behind his chosen fruit.  The games and the singing continues until all the players are behind one or other of the arch; whereupon there is a tug-of-war to test which is the stronger the ‘oranges’ or ‘lemons.’   

The execution formula has been seen by some folklorists as a relic of the gory past, the days of public executions have been cited, when the condemned were led along the street to the sound of tolling bells.  

What ever its background it was a favourite in the playground when I was at school.  

Wednesday’s woman

August 27, 2014



Wood engraving was never seen as an opportunity for women to be artists.  For instance Thomas Bewick in the early 19th century had three daughters and a son; and it was the boy who became his father’s apprentice. The girls busied themselves in the home, although the elder daughter was his confidant and it was to her he wrote the account of his life.  

Later, when Ward and Lock published their Elegant arts for ladies the arts were described such as feather flowers and painting on velvet, while it was illustrated with wood engravings the technique was not deemed proper for ladies.The engravings in the book were undertaken by the Brothers Dalziel and it suggested that that firms such as this, guarded their professionalism and deliberately withheld tools, materials and opportunities from amateurs.   

It would seem in the printing trade also young women were taken on until they married.  A few returned if they were widowed but rarely did a girl progress beyond making envelopes.  

It was not until a day-school system was established in 1830s where women were able to learn skills under the apprenticeship system. It began first for men only but a Female only school opened under its Superintendent Mrs Fanny McIan.

Fanny McIan (1814-1897) was an English artist who specialized in Scottish historical scenes. As the first superintendent of London’s Female School of Design, she promoted British women’s art education in the mid-nineteenth century.

Born Frances Matilda in Bath her father was a cabinet maker and mother worked as a upholsterer after she was widowed.

When Fanny was 16 she eloped with and actor and painter Robert Ranald McIan.

Fanny known for her epic historical scenes and intimate domestic images.  She had her first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1836.

Fanny McIan was the first superintendent of London’s Female School of Design,known later as the Royal Female School of Art, which merged with the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1908.

Here respectable young women in need of employment trained to become porcelain painters and the opportunity to enter industrial careers.However McIan’s included more fine art subjects such as oil painting and wood engraving.  She was criticised for allowing women students to learn figure drawing fro nude models. Charles Dickens who was personal friiend supported her complaints that the original building and its location was not ideal for art education.

Her husband died in 1856 when she was widowed a second time she inherited a property in Argyll and did not exhibit her work public again She died in 1897.


Weekly photo challenge …. Frayed!

August 26, 2014

I come from a generation who did not live beyond their means. My mother {and father] would make do and mend.  Frayed collars and cuffs were turned to give shirts a new lease of life.  Bed sheets were turned sides to middle; although with a rather uncomfortable seam down the middle, a would be frayed sheet would last a bit longer.  The frayed edge of dress was trimmed with rick-rack braid or bias binding when a party dress had seen better days.

Long before shabby became chic, our mothers were using ingenious methods to make ends meet or thwart the fraying process.

But it is strange that the frayed look has become fashionable my denim jeans look best when a little frayed ; strategically!

While in Brazil we visited a street market where local craftsmen and women and artists sold their works.

One I particularly enjoy, is a lady who has maintained the skills of her forbears in making use of sacks used in the coffee and sugar trade. They are ‘works of art’ the frayed edges are combed and twisted to wonderful fringes …





While in Brazil

August 25, 2014

While in Brazil, having not yet traveled beyond Rio I was still  amazed by the size of the trees. I come from UK where the trees are beautiful, they are tiny relative to those in the Americas.  

Even the palm trees I saw along the road sides, boulevards and parks, with trunks solid as rock, stood tall. The mighty leaves high above were out of my notion or comparison, until I saw one fallen dead after a storm.  Its stem was thicker than my arm, the leaf not as a paddle as I thought more like a giant feather;  sections interwoven; dense and robust … I gasped at its beauty and stateliness.

Each day I would attempt to draw the leaves and now I try to do a lino-cut but somehow it doesn’t ‘cut the mustard.’

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Patience brings its own reward !

August 25, 2014


I too have a passion for the old stories … even understand them … but a little like our/my own good advice we/I don’t always listen or remember them … note to my self … ‘be patient’

Originally posted on Just Bliss:


My mother used to enlighten me with   ethical stories at bed time. Those character building stories have left great impact on me.

Let me share one of those stories with you today :) 

Long time back, famine broke out in a country.  A rich charitable man distributed loaves of bread to children every day in his region. Every day the children gathered at the rich man’s house to get loaves of bread.

As soon as the servants brought out loaves, they fought among themselves and struggled hard to get them.

But one little orphan girl waited pa­tiently for her turn. But every time she got the smallest loaf last of all.

One day as usual, she got the smallest piece.

She went home and sat in a corner to eat it. As she cut it, her eyes gleamed with joy. She saw a gold coin in it. She went back…

View original 75 more words

Silent Sunday

August 24, 2014

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