Finding vintage images

Finding vintage images: a guide to 5 handy sources | Wolves in London

If you’ve visited me here at Wolves in London before (hello! if you haven’t, nice to meet you!) you’ll know I am a huge fan of beautiful old illustrations.

There is something so wonderfully evocative about a good vintage image. Perhaps it’s the delicate detail of some drawings that transports you back to a world of explorers and inventors and the collector’s drawer. Perhaps it’s the romance of a perfectly depicted rose. Or perhaps I’m just a sucker for good old fashioned nostalgia, which pictures like these have in abundance.

At any rate, I use vintage images all the time. From everything such as making my own wrapping paper or soap packaging, to weird lobster jewellery and even our wedding invitations and wedding favours.

(I have plans in the pipeline to open an Etsy shop soon, selling babygrows and T-shirts with some of my favourite images on the front. Watch this space to see if I can get off my arse and do it…)

In the meantime, it occurred to me that it might be useful to share some of the websites I use to find all those wonderful vintage pictures in the first place.

Here, then, are my five favourite blogs and websites that catalogue hundreds of copyright free vintage images:

1. The Graphics Fairy

Vintage pears
Vintage pears found on the Graphics Fairy site

If I’m looking for a new image, the Graphics Fairy blog is inevitably the first place I visit.

Completely eclectic, the website is packed with a phenomenal range of images in loads of different styles of loads of different subjects. You can run a search to find images of specific things, but it’s much more fun to just lose yourself for hours browsing the different categories.

All images are copyright free and fine to use both for your own use or to sell commercially…

Especially good for:

Everything! This really is my number one site. Great for black and white images as well as colour. There’s also a host of reader’s projects (my lobster necklace was once featured here) as well as hints, tips and DIYs if you’re looking for inspiration with what to do with all this fabulous imagery.

 Projects I’ve made:

DIY advent calendar
Vintage images advent calendar

Most of my projects use Graphics Fairy images somewhere or other. My vintage advent calendar was made entirely with images I’d found here.

2. Vintage Printable

Ladybirds from Vintage Printable
Ladybirds from Vintage Printable

I’ve got to say, I always find Vintage Printable a little frustrating to navigate, but persevere for it is definitely worth it for some of the wonderfully weird things you can find. I especially love the illustrations of collections, like the ladybirds above. This is definitely a site for browsing and wondering what amazing thing you’ll stumble across, rather than one for carrying out specific searches.

Especially good for:

Plates from books, colour images and unusual things you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Projects I’ve made:

Homemade hat wrapping paper
Not a great photo, but I still think this wrapping paper is better than loads you can buy…

The hat print is one of my favourite images I’ve ever come across, which I used as an envelope liner for my homeprinted book plates and again for my home printed wrapping paper.

3. Clip Art Etc

Boarfish illustration
The boarfish! From Clip Art Etc

Looking for some weird and wonderful old-fashioned black and white images of animals or fish? Look no further! I scour this site — set up as an educational resource for the university of South Florida — on a regular basis. The images are available copyright free and you can use them for any personal projects without charge. If you want to use them for anything commercial, you can pay a one off fee that allows you to reproduce the image as many times as you like and in any way you like…

They also run the equally wonderful Maps Etc, which has hundreds of historic maps.

Especially good for:

Clip Art, obviously. All line-drawn black and white illustrations. The animals and plants sections are my favourite, but there are some great quirky scientific images as well.

Projects I’ve made:

Homeprinted babygrow
Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

I love the carrot illustration that I used in the babygrow I made the sproglet.

4. Botanicus

Orange botanical vintage image
Oranges from Botanicus

Botanicus is a new one for me, and I am yet to fully explore everything inside the site. Another one that is pretty difficult to navigate, but the website contains complete editions of lots of antique botanical books, including the plates — which is where you find the wonderful images.

To find your way around, you need to select the book you want (choosing by title or author) and then take a look on the left hand side in the box called “pages” — click on ones that say “plate” or “illustration.”  A good starting place is Koehler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, the book that contains this orange illustration above.

It’s also slightly complicated to figure out how to download the images. On the right hand side of the image is a box full of arrows, to help you scroll around and zoom the image. Click on the one that looks like this: ↓ and then right click on the image to save.

It’s a bit of a faff, yes, but it is worth it for some of the illustrations, which are truly stunning.

Especially good for:

Er, botanicals!

Projects I’ve made:

None, so far, but once I’ve explored the site a bit more, I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more vintage botanical prints from here in future projects.

I also think these would all look wonderful printed and framed for the wall, so once we’ve finally decorated the house I plan on festooning the walls with some of these images.

5. Old Book Illustrations

Vintage bird image
Image from Old Book Illustrations

Oh I truly love this site! Old Book Illustrations is nowhere near as extensive as the others, containing only a few categories with a few choice images in each one. But the images themselves are, without fail, stunning and stunningly quirky. And, as you might have noticed, I love me a bit of quirk.

The site says that all images are copyright free and can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Especially good for:

Black and white images. Once again, the animals and plants categories are my favourites. The French subtitles to the images make them especially appealing to me…

Projects I’ve made:

Screen print acetate
F is for fish

The smelt (a fish, doncha know) that I used in my F is for Fish screen printing attempts last year was from Old Book Illustrations. I loved it so much, I used it again on some of my Spoonflower fabric.

And that’s it! My five favourite sites. I hope it helps if you’re on the search for an old graphic anytime soon.

And if you think there are some amazing ones that I’ve missed off, please do drop me a note in the comments. I always love to add to the list…

Related articles:

  • I pin all my favourite images over on my Free Graphics board on Pinterest, so if you can’t be bothered to trawl all these sites yourself, just follow me over there for my pick of the bunch!

Vintage botanical deliciousness

Regular readers (hello you lovely people) will know I have a penchant for vintage prints and a love of gardening.

So, it’s perhaps a little surprising that I have only recently discovered the plethora of stunning vintage botanical illustrations that are available out there for free on the internet. (And by free, I mean both free to download and copyright free for use as well. Which is juuuust what I like…)

While I was busy learning about all sorts of plants for my recent horticulture exams, I put together a huge board on Pinterest (Plants, plants, plants) with hundreds of pictures of trees, flowers, shrubs and so on. And while I was busy searching for photos, I kept stumbling across stunning illustrations.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Vintage poppy image

This glorious red corn poppy is from website which has a huge range of gorgeous images and information on herbal plants.

Foxglove vintage image
From wikipedia

Wikipedia has loads of amazing scientific images for all sorts of plants, like this foxglove. The illustrations are all taken from a book called Koehler’s Medizinal Pflanzen (that even my shonky German can translate to Koehler’s medicinal plants) and there are some real beauties in there. You can find the whole book online at (along with hundreds of others too…) To look at the illustrations, scroll through the box on the left marked “Pages” and click on anything called a Plate. It’s not the easiest site to use, but it’s worth the time for the wonderful images…

Fern vintage image
From the Graphics Fairy

To steal a line from Zoolander, I’ve noticed that vintage fern images are so hot right now… I’ve seen photos popping up all over Pinterest (like this, for example) of gorgeous sitting rooms decorated with old fern prints. I love the look a lot so perhaps I’ll get in on the action myself when our house is finally ready for decorating…

This image is from the Graphics Fairy website, always my first port of call when I’m after a vintage pic.

Dandelion vintage engraving
From Vintage Printable

I’ll grant you, a dandelion’s not your typical appealing flower, but there is something really delightful about this engraving. It’s from Vintage Printable, another great place for a browse if you’re after copyright free images. If I had an orangery, I think I would decorate it with lots of old drawings of weeds, just like this. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Mayflower vintage illustration
From Vintage ephemera

Finally, I couldn’t resist the glorious reds in this old illustration of a Mayflower (not a plant I’ve ever heard of, though a quick Google of its Latin name tells me it is a hawthorn that is prevalent in the Midlands…) The blossoms look utterly beautiful too, don’t they?

This one is from Vintage Ephemera, which is a blog that’s new to me, but one I shall certainly peruse further.

Now, I’m just wondering what to do with them. Any suggestions?

Related articles:

  • I pin most of my favourite vintage graphic finds to my Pinterest board Free graphics
  • And for a taste of some of the things I’ve made with vintage images in the past take a look at my vintage image category

Print your own wrapping paper

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most satisfying.

print your own wrapping paper
Why not?

I always find it really hard to find nice wrapping paper – and when I do, I’m then completely shocked at the cost of it. You frequently pay a fiver just to buy some paper to put a present in that will immediately get thrown into the bin once it’s unwrapped. (Don’t even get me started on the cost of cards…)

I used to get round the problem by saving wrapping paper on presents given to me and then reusing it. Now, I still think this is a good idea in principle (just think of the trees, man) but I fear not many others agree with me, and I end up looking like a bit of a cheapskate when friends unwrap presents and find old bits of sellotape still stuck to the inside of the twice used wrapping paper.

But while I was printing out nice images on paper to make my homemade gift box, it suddenly occurred to me that it would also be eminently possible to simply use the paper to wrap presents in the normal way as well.

So ever since then, if I have a small present to give someone, I just find a nice image and print it off to use as wrapping paper.

Print your own wrapping paper
Who wouldn’t want a present wrapped in camels? Or hats? Or leaves?

You couldn’t get a simpler how to than this…

1. Find an image you like. There is a wealth of images that are copyright free and available to use on sites like the Graphics Fairy, Vintage Printable and Clip Art etc.

If you like the ones I’ve used; my camel is from Clip Art etc, my leaves are from the Graphics Fairy and my hats are from Vintage Printable.

2. If the image you like is just a small one (like my camel) you can copy and paste a few onto one page. I use Powerpoint to do this (a deeply embarrassing confession, I know…) If the image is already as you want it, you can skip straight ahead to:

3. Print the image!

4. Wrap up present.

Homemade leaf wrapping paper
This leaf wrapping paper is my favourite of them all

I couldn’t resist adding my little teapot gift tag again, which you might recognise from my experiments with shrink plastic. (Well, I say I “couldn’t resist” adding it, it would be slightly more accurate to say that it was still sewn onto the ribbon which I decided to use and it seemed a lot easier to re-use it than cut it off…)

Homemade leaf wrapping paper
The image is particularly beautiful: a depiction of various different identified leaves

I should say, unless you’ve got an industrial size printer (or utilise one in your office, a trick I used to do a lot until I found myself on maternity leave) you’re obviously only going to get an A4 sheet out of this, which is only big enough for quite small presents.

As the printer paper is a lot thicker than usual wrapping paper, this also works a lot better on square shaped presents, where you can fold in straight lines.

The environmentalist in me wants to print the wrapping paper onto the reverse side of all the various junk mail we get, with endless offers of estate agents wanting to sell our house. However, I suspect that adds a cheapskate element to any present that would be even greater than re-using some other wrapping paper.

Homemade hat wrapping paper
I’ve only just realised I clearly have a thing for different artefacts all labelled. Instead of leaves, this time hats

{Regular readers will notice absolutely nothing new in this photo above. I’ve used the hat image before as an envelope liner when I was making my own bookplates. And there’s also a how to for stamping your own gift tags.}

So, there you have it. Simple, cheap and an infinite number of options to create absolutely any wrapping paper that you can think of… This really was one of those “why didn’t I think of that before?” moments.

Related articles:

  • If you want to hand create all of your wrapping needs, check out my tutorials on stamping your own gift labels, making your own gift box and making shrink plastic gift tags. Now, if I could just figure out how to weave my own ribbons from spider’s thread I’d never need to go to the shops again…
  • That’s the wrapping paper sorted, but what about the presents? I’ve got various articles and ideas for homemade presents in my category called, wait for it, homemade presents.
  • For more wrapping ideas, take a look at my Pinterest board Wrap it up

Linking this up at  Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, Beyond the Picket Fence, the Shabby Creek Cottage, Skip to my Lou, Sew Can Do and the Graphics Fairy.

Beetles and fish and lobsters, oh my!

In which I feel some disappointment that my design skills aren’t quite as faultless as I thought…

You know the saying: the work of a budding fabric designer is never done.

Buoyed by the success of my teapot fabric, I went straight back to Spoonflower to experiment with some different designs.

With the teapots, I loved the simplicity of the repeat combined with the more ornate vintage illustration. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I thought to myself. So, I dug out some more of my favourite vintage images and tried them out with a similar layout.

Satisfied with my efforts, I ordered swatches of the 15 new designs I’d tried, all printed out on one giant piece of fabric.

The Spoonflower parcel arrived through through the post last week. I could hardly contain my excitement as I ripped into the (ever beautiful) packaging. And this is how it looks:

Fabric swatch designs
I think this would actually make a really fun play mat…

Firstly, please excuse the lack of ironing before photographing it.

But, I was a bit disappointed with this batch. I’d been really pleased with them looking at them on the computer screen, but once I saw them printed out onto the actual fabric, so many of them didn’t seem to work.

The scales are off in quite a few designs: the images too large or not enough white space between them.

Some of the colours didn’t work as well as I hoped.

Some of the images didn’t look great in fabric form.

And some of them I just couldn’t imagine ever having anything to sew with a fabric with those designs.

Overall, I was just not feeling enough love for this batch to bother heading for the iron…

Now, don’t examine that photo too closely, please, as I will show you some close-ups of the ones that worked a bit better, or which only need minor alterations to look more appealing.

My favourite, over all, is this octopus fabric:

Octopus fabric by Wolves in London

I did it in two different options, blue on white and reversed with white on blue:

Octopus fabric
Like an octopus X-ray

I think these would be amazingly cute as a little pair of baby boy trousers. Or perhaps a sun hat. Or, gender stereotyping aside, a nice summer skirt for a girl…

The octopus image was from the NYPL digital archive from a plate in an 1809 French book about zoology: octopus image.

Next up, these glorious bright red fish managed to cheer me up from my slight doldrums:

Red fish fabric
Is it giving you a headache?

They’re seriously jolly, aren’t they? The fish is a smelt, apparently, and I got the image from the brilliant website Old Book Illustrations: smelt.

Continuing the nautical theme, you might recognise the lobster in this fabric:

Lobster fabric
This lobster always makes me think of Dali

He’s the same one I used to make my lobster necklace. I adore him (he’s from the Graphics Fairy: lobster image here). But, I don’t think this layout has done him many favours. I think I’ll try again, with alternate rows facing in different directions. And maybe a little more white space around him.

Like this little crab (also from Old Book Illustrations):

Crab fabric
Every time I look at this, I just think “crabs” – that’s not ideal, is it?

He looked awful in yellow, as you can see on the left of the picture, but the simple black image is quite appealing to me. But what could anyone possibly make with a fabric covered in crabs? Any ideas?

Finally, a non-nautical fabric, but in a similar theme to the crabs, these little beetles:

Squash bug fabric
Squash bug fabric. Good for Halloween. Good for anything else though?

This is, apparently, a squash bug, which I also found from Old Book Illustrations. I tried him in turquoise as well, but I’m not sure how well that worked.

So a definite mixed bag. If I was marking myself, I think it’d be a C+. Plenty of room for improvement. Back to the drawing board with these.

Counting sheep: the art of sleep

Sleep’s been on my mind a lot recently. I haven’t been getting any. I miss it.

Vintage image child sleeping
This looks like a very nice night to me indeed… I think this image would be lovely printed onto a baby’s sleepsuit as well. Watch this space, I might well get round to it one day…

It’s down to the baby.

I try not to witter on too much about baby things on this blog.

I know how tedious it is to listen to parents of babies tell you every last detail about their sleeping / eating / pooing routine as if this were a topic of conversation that you, too, would find just as enthralling. And you feign interest with an “oh really” and tilt of the head as they tell you how their baby’s pooing face differs from its thinking face, but secretly your brain has switched off long ago and is thinking of all that lovely vodka you can drink as a non-parent, and all those late nights you can enjoy, followed by long, luxurious lie-ins the next day.

So, I won’t bore you with all the baby sleeping details, except to say: he’s not.

But my lack of sleep has led me to think longingly about it and search out these rather gorgeous sleep related prints and products, which I’ll share with you instead of details as to how many times I’ve been up in the night.

Sleep. It’s beautiful, I tell you.

Go to Sleep!

Go to sleep poster
Yes indeed, go to sleep!

I love this Go to Sleep! poster. It’s a Letterpress print, from the Etsy shop Type A Press. I’m all over anything Letterpressed or screen printed at the moment, especially if it uses nice typography. So, really, this couldn’t be more appealing.

(I don’t actually know the song it’s referencing, though. Instead, going round my head is “Go to sleep little baby” as sung in O Brother Where Art Thou? Love that song.)

You can buy it here: Go to Sleep poster.

Japanese Baby Song

Japanese baby song
You didn’t think I’d have a post like this without some vintage images, did you? Of course not, you know me too well for that.

This slightly angry Japanese Baby Song print is from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, one of my favourite places online to lose a couple of hours…

The baby and the mother both look a bit cross to me, but the surrounding illustration is just beautiful.

Sleeping fox cushion

Sleeping fox cushion
I feel sleepy just looking at this pair

Far more relaxing is this sleeping fox cushion from Etsy shop Erinnies. Another delicious shop with loads of lovely screen printed products. If you like this sort of thing as much as I do, I recommend a browse.

You can buy the cushion here: sleeping fox pillow.

Good night, sleep tight poster

Good night, sleep tight poster
Beautiful, isn’t it?

Another hand printed poster from Etsy, this is from the shop Roll & Tumble Press.

I’m not sure which I like more, the poster itself (that is the moon illustration from all my childhood books, I’m sure) or the vintage ephemera styling the front of the photo. Oh, to own that clock!

You can buy the poster, though sadly not the other bits and bobs, from Etsy here: Good night, sleep tight poster.

Rock me to sleep print

Rock me to sleep poster
Play your gentle soothing lullaby again, Mama

I just had to include this vintage poster because I thought it was so hilarious. “Rock me to sleep, Mother.” No wonder the children aren’t sleeping when the mother sits around at the piano like this. I’m sure they’re all up until midnight eating sugar straight from the bag. What a brilliantly chaotic mother this woman appears to be.

Image found again through NYPL digital gallery.

Sleeping dachshund necklace

Sleeping dog necklace
If you feel like something was missing in your life, it was most probably this: a sleeping dachshund necklace

Finally, as someone who thought it was a good idea to make a lobster necklace, this item pleases me deeply. A necklace, with a sleeping dachshund on it, made in bronze. What more is there to say?!

This is by Anna Siivonen, also available from Etsy: sleeping dachshund necklace.

Related articles:

  • I was moaning about my lack of sleep a few weeks ago as well, but using it as an excuse to share some vintage book covers.
  • I’ve got a whole category for vintage images if you’d like to see some more of them.
  • And over on my tutorials page you can see a few projects I’ve made using vintage images.

Gone gardening

I’m off out today, for the whole day on my own. The very first time since I had the little sproglet back in July last year.

Vintage watering can image
Image from the Graphics Fairy

And I’m not just on any day out, but starting the first day of a new course: the RHS horticulture certificate (level 2).  Which is a slightly confusing title since, as far as I can find, there is no level 1. At least, I hope not, otherwise I’m going to be a total dunce when I arrive.

For the rest of the year, once a week I’ll have a break from nappies and get to spend a day learning about plants and seeds, soil and weeds, garden design, mulch and a host of other things.

So, in honour of this momentous occasion, I thought I’d leave you with a few vintage gardening pictures… (Vintage pictures being, as I’m sure you agree, one of the best ways of celebrating just about anything.)

English garden
From the New York Public Library digital gallery

Hopefully by the time I’ve finished the course in a year, I’ll have my very own floral fantasy in an old English garden. And maybe I’ll float around it in a kaftan, gazing into what may well be a crystal ball or perhaps a gigantic drop of dew…

Mary Mary
From the New York Public library digital gallery

Contrary Mary’s garden is looking rather lovely with lots of nice tulips. Ample watering seems to be the key.

From the New York public library digital gallery

Ahem. “How does my lady’s garden grow?” I shan’t say anything more about that.

Wish me luck remembering the Latin names of all the plants today!

Bibliophiles present: bookplates

I think it’ll give you an idea of the sort of child I was if I tell you I used to think bookplates were glamorous. The height of desirability.

Homemade bookplates
Of course, I didn’t have this sort of bookplate when I was little. Instead, I distinctly remember a purple bookplate with a little bespectacled mole on it. This one’s more my cup of tea now

Not for me a sandpit or a doll, no, I could think of nothing better than a quiet corner and a new book, with the pleasure of sticking a bookplate to the front and filling in my name under “this book belongs to” in my neatest possible handwriting.

To be honest, not so much has changed in the 30 odd years since then. That still sounds a pretty auspicious start to any Saturday.  (Not least because, with a six-month-old, there isn’t a hope in hell that I’d get to start a Saturday in that way…)

But having rather forgotten about the existence of bookplates in the intervening years, I’ve been pleased to notice them popping up all over the shop recently…

You can buy them from a few different places, but of course they’re really simple to make too.

I whipped up a few sets for my Mum and my sister-in-law (both voracious bibliophiles as well) as mini presents back at Christmas.

There are quite a few different templates available out there on the internet (oh, internet, how I love you), but I settled on favourites from three places:

Print your own bookplates
All my lovely bookplate designs, printed out and just waiting to be chopped up

From Design Sponge, these lovely snake, head and hand designs.

From Besotted Brands, these old-school profiles.

And from the Graphics Fairy, these children reading.

To see some more designs, as well as lots of other great vintage images, check out my Pinterest board Free Graphics.

Once you’ve selected your pictures, just print them out and cut them to size (I did this with a craft knife and ruler, which shows the level of care I give to my books, where I would normally just stick to good ol’ scissors).

As these were a present, I decided to make some cute little envelopes to house each of the sets. I made a basic template and then cut each envelope from cardstock and glued together.

As a final touch, I traced round the envelope tip and cut a liner out of some printed out hat images. (Which you can find here on Vintage Printable, if you’re inclined to do the same…)

Lined envelope
Little old hats to welcome you to the inside of your bookplate envelope

I then stuck a bookplate to the front, so you know exactly what’s inside in each envelope.

Print your own bookplates
Lovely big open mouth on the outside of the envelope, lovely big open mouth inside the envelope…

And held each set of four envelopes together with ribbon.

Print your own bookplates
Stick a ribbon round anything and it suddenly looks a hundred times better

I’d love to say this was really quick to make, but actually the envelopes and all the finishing touches took a little while. But hey, the devil’s in the detail, right?

Of course, you’ll also need some glue (or double-sided sellotape) to put the bookplates inside the books once you want to use them.

Simple, inexpensive and sure to put a smile on the face of any booklover (especially my eight-year-old self)…

Related articles:

Yes, if you’ve checked in to these parts before, you’ll know I have a great love of projects that use vintage images. Here are a few more:

Weighty issues: Valentine’s gifts

No jibber jabber from me today, just a few pictures.

I revisited the paperweights I made for Christmas and used Valentine’s Day images to create some nice, weighty, non-cheesy Valentine’s Day presents.

For a detailed step-by-step for making these (and a lot more jibber jabber), see my post on how to make your own paperweights. Today, I’m just sharing a few more options for images to put inside…

Heart paperweights

Give your loved one your heart this year. Captured and encased in a glass dome paperweight, ha ha…

Two different options here. I can’t quite decide which one I prefer at the moment.

Both images were from the Graphics Fairy blog: black and white heart and colourful heart.

heart paperweight DIY
From aorta to vena cava, I love you with all my heart.
valentines heart paperweight DIY
Another heart, this one with colours. Which is nicer d’you reckon?

A relief from business

This image really made me smile: a little Bob Cratchit type man, sitting and reading a Valentine’s letter instead of a financial report (or, at least, that’s what I imagine he normally reads).  Image found from Clip Art Etc: Valentine’s day.

Make your own Valentine's paperweights
“Quite a relief from business” indeed

Map paperweight

Finally, I think this is my favourite (and most romantic) idea: a paperweight with a significant location displayed. You could use the place you first met, went on your first date, got married etc.

I used a vintage London map here, but you could always just use an ordnance survey map, or whatever’s easier to lay your hands on.

map paperweight DIY
Wouldn’t it be romantic if your first date was a long walk along the South Bank and you gave this paperweight of that location? (Sadly, not where my first date was, so for me it’s just a nice image…)

And just because I particularly like this idea, here’s the side view as well. Graphic for this found on the Graphics Fairy blog: vintage London map.

Map paperweight from Wolves in London blog
Yup, I really am showing you a second photo just so you can see this from the side. Lucky you, eh?

So, tell me, what would you put inside a paperweight for your Valentine?

Related articles:


This post is linked at the following link parties. Do go and visit and see what others have been up to this week…

Katie’s Nesting Spot, Creative Juice at Momnivore’s Dilemma, Transformation Thursday at the Shabby Creek Cottage, Glued to my Crafts, Serenity Now.

Snow! Snow!

In honour of the snow scene outside my window (snow in London is a pretty exciting, once a year occasion), I thought I’d share this excellent vintage image I found on the New York Public Library digital gallery:

Snowstorm vintage photo from NYPL digital gallery

Perhaps there are slightly grumpy-looking men crouched above my house, right now, shaking great gold pans of snow. Perhaps.

A wolf at the door…

Poor old wolves, I’ve only just noticed what a terribly bad press they get. Vilified in literature, always the bad guy (especially in 17th Century children’s books), it seems all they’re good for is blowing down adorable pigs’ houses or dressing up as old women in order to trick innocent young girls into being eaten.

Huntsman kills wolf
This picture is called “The Huntsman kills the Wolf”

What’s brought about this sudden realisation, you ask. (Or, I think you asked, I couldn’t quite hear over the sound of a howling wolf outside the window of my cottage…)

Well, I’ve been trying to update my blog banner and, given my well-documented love of vintage images*, I thought it’d be easy enough to find a cool retro picture of a wolf (for my blog name, y’see) and stick it up there, maybe with a cool retro image of London too.

Ha! How wrong I was. I spent a good few hours trawling all my favourite free vintage picture sites and, sure enough as I’d hoped, I came up with hundreds of images of wolves.  But the wolves weren’t being very nice. They were growling fiercely at woodmen, galloping maniacally across moonlight-illuminated fields while foaming at the mouth, or, worst of all, grabbing tiny babies in their jaws and carting them off to their lair, as the baby’s mother looks on in terror and fear…

Nope, the past few centuries haven’t recorded wolves in a fair and unbiased fashion pictorially.

Wolf as piper
Those dratted wolves, constantly luring innocent little lambs to their deaths by dressing up as pipers… Side note: I wonder why Gallaher’s cigarettes thought this picture would help them sell cigs?

Then to top it all, as if the poor wolf’s name wasn’t blackened enough, they became the symbol for new age hippies everywhere who suddenly wanted to run with them, dance with them, sing with them, howl with them, god knows what else with them.

What has the poor wolf done to deserve this? It’s just a shaggy dog, really and everyone loves dogs. Heck, we even love foxes. You couldn’t throw a stick in a design shop at the moment without it hitting into some fox-emblazoned piece of homeware or clothing.

So, come on people, let’s bring the wolf back in the from the cold. And so I give you, the cute lovable wolf. (Well, maybe not quite, but at least a few cool old pictures of some non-completely terrifying wolves, anyway):

Yet another wolf advertising cigarettes, but this one looks (sort of) friendly
Marionette Peter and wolf
Okay, we know this wolf is up to no good, but he looks appealing in his marionette form
Scared wolf
This is my favourite of all the wolf images. Rather than scaring anyone else, this one looks rather scared himself. Poor little thing…
Wolf and horse, children's book illustration
I suppose the best you can say for this wolf is he hasn’t eaten the horse *yet* – but it’s a lovely line drawing, I thought, and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and decide he’s just passing through this field on his way to deliver chocolates to old people

All photos found on the New York Public Library Digital Archive: click on the photos to go directly to the right page. For more cool copyright free images, check out my Pinterest board Free graphics.

*For some craft projects using vintage images, see my tutorial for transferring printed images to fabric and the prints section of my top 20 tutorials for homemade presents…