Friday, 13 November 2015


I've escaped from the norm with my latest public domain DVD - rather than book illustrations I've been immersed in photos, postcards, cigarette cards and a great deal of history to put together this Titanic collection.

This is a Titanic cigarette card (reduced size to that on the DVD).  I had to buy the whole set of 48 from Ebay to get this card! Both the front and back of the card are included on the DVD and there is also another Titanic card as well as one of its sister ship Olympic and of the Lusitania.

The Titanic story has been very much romanticised today, perhaps a great deal due to the most recent Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet film, but also because the grandeur and opulence of the First Class areas of the steamer sit in stark contrast to the horror of the events of that night.

That hasn't been lost on me when putting together this collection, indeed my thoughts have been very sombre when the terrifying events have unfolded through the sorting of photos and when I have inevitably got lost in reading exactly what happened on the night of 14/15th April 1912.

I won't recount it all here as you can easily Google that one, but I have read some interesting things in my research that you may not know.

Titanic - sounds pretty big doesn't it? Not so, it was ridiculously small compared with modern cruise ships.  I just found this photo on the internet to demonstrate this (it's not included on the DVD).

The Costa Concordia, which sank in 2012 (100 years after the Titanic!), was more than twice the gross tonnage of the Titanic.

It is also clear from what I have read that not all images that claim to be the Titanic actually are!  Its sister ship the RMS Olympic was practically identical so pictures were taken of it after the the disaster which were purported to be the Titanic.

The Olympic had its maiden voyage before the Titanic in 1911 and then went on to have a relatively long and illustrious career, finally being taken out of service in 1935.  It was therefore easy to take pictures of the Olympic and 'pretend' that they're of the Titanic, no doubt for financial gain.

This picture has been used on the front of at least two Titanic books I've seen......

I've read a very interesting discussion online that claims this is actually the Olympic and not the Titanic at all.  This one is on our DVD - I don't know which ship it is, I'm no expert!

I've also read quite a lot about the 'unsinkable' Margaret Molly Brown who featured in the 1997 film, played by Kathy Bates.  

A very interesting character and someone who was perhaps looked down on by other First Class passengers as she represented 'new' money.... or was that just in the film?!  She was certainly a people's person, did a lot of charitable work and was not an upper class snob!

Anyway, I should probably stop rambling and talk about the DVD.... There are loads of black and white photos on it including Captain Smith of the Titanic (victim), Bruce Ismay who was managing director of the White Star Line (survived), Mr and Mrs Isador Straus (who owned Macy's Dept store in New York (victims), Frederick Fleet (ship's lookout and survivor) and loads more.

There are Titanic postcards in colour, more cigarette cards, ephemera & posters, a couple of poems, sheet music in colour written about the disaster, newspaper reports from the time, cartoons of the time and other little bits and pieces that are interesting, including this picture by Howard Chandler Christy from 1910.

Funny, I used this one in a cardmaking set on the website a while back, giving the picture the title 'Almost Titanic'.  It's nearly there (if you use your imagination!) isn't it!

You can look at the DVD on our website at

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Birds of Archibald Thorburn with FREE pictures

I'm not particularly a bird-lover (although I rather like owls) but I am a picture-lover and really love good artwork.  Talking of owls I always think Will-i-am looks like a cute owl when he's on The Voice - it's the way he turns his head one way, then the other and those big eyes... 

But anyway.... Archibald Thorburn was a prolific Scottish bird artist and animal painter who lived from 1860 until his death in 1935.  Archibald was born in Midlothian, the fifth son of Robert Thorburn (1818-1885) who was portrait miniaturist to Queen Victoria. His first education was at Dalkeith and in Edinburgh, after which he was sent to the newly founded St John's Wood School of Art in London. His stay there was only brief, since on the death of his father he sought the guidance of Joseph Wolf. It was his commission in 1887 to illustrate Lord Lilford's Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles, for which he painted some 268 watercolours, that established his reputation. He illustrated numerous sporting and natural history books, including his own. He taught Otto Murray Dixon and Philip Rickman (both in Nature in Art's collection), and he encouraged the young Donald Watson when he came to visit him in Dumfries and Galloway. Thorburn was friends of other eminent bird illustrators including George Edward Lodge and John Guille Millais with whom he collaborated on a number of works including: Natural History of British Feeding Ducks; British Diving Ducks and British Game Birds.

His paintings were regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and he designed their first Christmas card for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1899, a practice that he continued until his death. He was Vice-President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 

In the 1930s he refused to make use of electric lighting, preferring natural light for his painting, and making use of lamps and candles. 

His grave is at St John the Baptist church in Busbridge, Godalming.

These pictures are just 4 of 522 images that are included on our British Birds public domain DVD

All of the illustrations on our DVD are by four renowned bird artists - Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), John Keulemans (1842-1912), Henrik Grönvold (1858-1940) and Joseph Smit (1836-1929).  

All of the 522 great quality images are out of copyright which means that you can do what you like with them!  Make prints, card-making embellishments, calenders, mousemats, fridge magnets, book covers, mugs and so much more!  Make items to sell for yourself, for charity fund-raising, school or church fund-raising with no restrictions.  Here's that link again... 522 Public Domain British Birds Images

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Art Nouveau Stained Glass Windows with Mackintosh-style designs and FREE pictures

Craft supplies and parcels have filled my time lately and I've been sadly parted with the beautiful images of the past that I so love - until now anyway!

In the last few weeks I've managed again to go digging in old books where I'm always delighted to find gorgeous, usable images that take me back in time whilst I work on bringing them back into the present day where they can be used and enjoyed once more.

These images definitely won't disappoint - sumptuous watercolour images of stained glass windows from the Art Nouveau period.  Many of them are in Mackintosh style which is so 'in' at the moment.  Take a look.....

These are just 3 of 460 gorgeous stained glass elements that appear on our Art Nouveau Stained Glass Designs public domain DVD.  You'll be able to take any of the images on our DVD and make them into any product you like, either for personal use or for sale.  Yes, for sale - COMMERCIAL USE IS FINE!

Just click on the link and you will see loads more examples of all the images on this disc - just think of what you could make with these fantastic images!

If you missed it here's the link again - Out of Copyright Art Nouveau Stained Glass Designs