Loving Books: Jane Austen

Sometimes books call to me, and that’s what happened when I saw this copy of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen at a used book sale. Sitting among what I can only call more ordinary books, it contained her whole world, and I had only to open the covers to enter in. I wonder if she knew, so long ago, that future kindred spirits would hover over her pages attracted by the light of her intelligence, wit, and sanity. At any rate, I handed over a dollar and was soon home contemplating my treasure, because now it was calling to me to be cherished. I could immediately imagine her picture on the cover, and some sort of book mark, and perhaps a silhouette book plate.

I photocopied a picture of her from a book, and drew a grid over it. Then I drew an analogous grid on the book with chalk, and transferred the design.Using a grid may seem to be “cheating” but Renaissance artists used grids, and there is an enormous painting at the Art Institute of Chicago by the artist Vasari that was not quite finished, and you can see the grid marks. It’s a way of ensuring correct proportions.

So with the picture painted, I then found a silhouette of Jane online, printed it, and cut it out. Using some Yes! glue, I pasted it to the first page. I think you could highlight this image and print it, if you wanted a silhouette, as well.

Then I decided to make some papercut fans to use as bookmarks. I drew a fan pattern, and to make it a bit simpler and less time-consuming, decided to add a piece of pretty paper to create the body of the fan. The little holes on the lace edge were made with a paper punch. The blue toile was from a piece of wrapping paper. It would also be fun to use a piece of tea-dyed fabric. In the handle of one of the fans I punched a hole, and will be on the look out for a beautiful silk ribbon to thread through. (See patterns below.)

I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility, and am ready to dive in.

The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where for many generations they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintances . . . 

These can be printed out on copy paper. Fold the copy paper with the fan pattern on it, and cut out with scissors and/or craft knife. Cut the fan body out of decorative paper, and glue onto the copy paper fan. Allow to dry between the pages of a book, placing a sheet of waxed paper over it, to make sure no wet glue sticks to the book's pages.

2 thoughts on “Loving Books: Jane Austen

  1. Fran, I think you’ve captured Miss Austen’s spirit beautifully! It’s so funny you should post this because I just started reading Austen’s Northanger Abbey last week. I loved a line I just read where Catherine confesses that missing Mr. Tilney is made much easier because of a book she is engrossed in. Books really CAN lift you! What I think I love best about the Victorian era is the manner of speach: people of the time – even the peasants, ithink – spoke so beautifully and with such precision, it’s a joy to read. Enjoy your new treasures, Fran!

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