PPL Renovation: It’s Here!

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter have already heard, but for blog-reading purists: PPL is beginning a major building renovation this week! We’re excited for all the changes this will bring, and the ways in which it will improve how we serve the public.

The 12-18 month renovation will affect our general circulation, as well as access to Special Collections. Notably: we are no longer holding weekly open hours, but Special Collections is still open to researchers by appointment. This Building Transformation page on the PPL website will have up-to-date information throughout the renovation. (It also has cool architect’s renderings of the new space.)

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Tattoo Ideas from the Updike Collection

Our Updike Collection on the History of Printing contains a tremendous number of type specimen books, many of which have sections of cuts–small, reusable illustrations that printers could purchase to illustrate books, newspapers, broadsides, and the like. (We often describe them as “historic clip art”.)

More often than not, first-time viewers of these cuts will point to one and exclaim, “Wow, that would make a great tattoo!” Which brings us to two points:

  1. If you own a tattoo shop and want to work out a deal, get in touch;
  2. We have a LOT of fun ideas for tattoos.

We’d like to present a few recent inspirations, all from a recently cataloged specimen book from the G. Schildknecht type foundry in Brussels.

Religious tattoos are always popular, but does anyone really need to see another bicep graced by a sacred heart? Why not get a unique religious tattoo, like this image of St. Nicholas with three babies in a wooden tub?

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(If you don’t know the story of St. Nicholas miraculously resurrecting three babies who were chopped up and salted by an evil butcher, well, now you do.)

If that’s too tame for you, you could also get this image of an apparition of Mary in a… tree? Is that a mushroom cloud? Why don’t Mary or baby Jesus have limbs? If you know more about what this image is depicting, please let us know.

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If a religious tattoo isn’t for you, may we suggest an animal? Such as…

…totally stoked cat, disheveled porcupine, maned sloth with a weird face, or side-eye sheep?

For the truly fun-loving tattoo-getter, there’s always Dionysus, which is my preliminary identification of the fun-loving and wavy-eyedbrowed gent shown here:

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And finally, for those looking for a unique twist on the traditional “Mom” tattoo, how about this stylized face situation, with “Mom” on the banner?

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Bad Children of History #35: Squalid Swedes

Today’s bad children of history aren’t naughty, per se; they’re just very, very, very unkempt. They wear floppy bucket hats, they don’t brush their hair, and they even [whispering] ride around on pigs.

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These children eat with their dirty hands, spilling food onto their smocks, and their table manners leave more than a little to be desired.

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(Isn’t that framed pig portrait on the wall a nice touch?)

Luckily for these grubby children, Pelle Snygg soon arrives in his sparkling white clown suit to shame them with threats of cleanliness and a promotional flag. Yikes!

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After laying eyes on these mucky moppets, Pelle Snygg realizes that the task is immense, and he needs to recruit help. He calls up his close friends, Intimidating Sponge Lady, Scary Anthropomorphized Pitcher Guy, Boar Who Makes Brushes From His Own Bristles, and someone who I think might be a bar of soap in a friar’s robe.

The yucky youth are NOT delighted to see their new extreme makeover team, although Pelle Snygg seems nothing short of jubilant (and immaculate).

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Pelle Snygg begins the beautification process with a healthy dose of shampoo and smart, new summer hairdos for all.

For the transformation to be complete, Pelle Snygg implements lifestyle changes for the yucky children, with a vigorous lake swim and some laundry-washing lessons:

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In a surprising turn of events, these children now seem to be fully under the sway of Intimidating Sponge Lady and her cohort. “I feel like a new person!,” they chime. “I thought it was impossible to love the skin I’m in. I can’t believe the difference! Thanks, Pelle Snygg!”

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Becci Davis Artist’s Talk at PPL 6/13

We’re very sad to say that our 2018 Creative Fellow’s time with us is coming to a close at the end of June. We’ve had a delightful time working with her, and it’s been energizing and exciting to see the new work that she’s created based on our collections.

First, we’d like to say that Becci Davis gave an astounding and well-received performance on the library’s Washington Street steps this past Saturday as part of PVDFest, complete with large-scale banners bearing images of items from our Special Collections. Below are a couple of photographs of her performance:

If you missed Saturday’s performance, or if you loved it so much that it left you wanting more, you’ll be happy to hear that tomorrow (Wednesday, June 13, 2018), you’ll have TWO opportunities to see Becci!

First, she’ll be bringing her Beacon Beauty Shop (as seen at our HairBrained opening) to Burnside Park in downtown Providence from 11:00 – 2:00. A description from the artist:

Beacon Beauty Shop is an interactive art performance. Becci Davis had her first appointment in a beauty shop when she was ten years old. Since then, she has been a patron in numerous beauty salons and found that elements of Black salon culture are widespread. That alone is something beautiful. These institutions are beacons of Black culture and the setting to countless intimate interactions between stylist and client. Join her as she examines beauty shop culture through performance. Share good, bad, and awkward moments in an intimate, 5 minute, one-on-one exchange.

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Then, later that same day, Becci is giving an artist’s talk at the library, where she’ll reflect on her research and creative process, show documentation of Saturday’s performance of Private Proclamations, and answer questions. (Thank you to Matthew Lawrence of Law and Order Party for a lovely shout-out regarding this talk!)

We hope to see you there!

Creative Fellow Becci Davis Performs “Private Proclamations” on June 9

After nearly 8 months of research, planning, story-collecting, writing, and interdisciplinary art-making, PPL’s 2018 Creative Fellow Becci Davis has created a multi-part performance entitled “Private Proclamations.”

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Please join us for Becci’s culminating performance next Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm as part of PVDFest. The performance will be outdoors, on the library’s Washington Street steps (near the historic entrance); it’s free of charge and open to the public, and no advance registration is required. In the words of the artist, “Private Proclamations is a performance about Black hair in three parts. Part One: Letters to my Locks establishes a level of intimacy between the performer and audience. In Part Two: Act It Loud, appropriate private behavior in public spaces is redefined through defiance. Part Three: Please Touch presents an invitation for change through collective action.”

Parking downtown will likely be tricky, as PVDFest brings numerous street closures and large crowds. Read more about parking and public transportation options on the PVDFest FAQ’s page.

Becci will also give an artist’s talk at the library about her process and her performance on the following Wednesday, June 13. We look forward to seeing you there!

Bad Children of History #34: French Rascals

Today’s gallic ungovernables come from a 1930 edition of the classic Les Malheurs de Sophie, with color illustrations by Jacques Touchet.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Sophie is an adventurous little girl who lives in a castle in the French countryside. She spends her days wandering through flowery glades, capturing squirrels, hosting tea parties, bickering with her beloved and well-behaved cousin, getting underfoot in the kitchen, and generally participating in wholesome mischief.

Here you can see one of Sophie’s great passions: scaling furniture in order to put her hands into unsanctioned containers.

When she isn’t stealing bon bons, Sophie likes to join cousin Paul in fun and completely normal children’s activities such as catching flies in a paper box. Of course, being bad children of history, Sophie and Paul get in a fight over the paper box, resulting in a series of unfortunate events culminating in the release of a great swarm of flies and a single interloping bee.

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“My eyes!!!!”

Apian mishaps aside, Sophie and Paul are great companions. They go for walks, they fall off a cart, they have arts and crafts time. Here’s an illustration of their creative endeavors, right after some watercolor painting and an argument wherein Sophie threw water in Paul’s face:

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Yes, hello, despite their teeny waistcoasts and extravagant domicile, Sophie and Paul are just like children everywhere: sometimes sweet, sometimes curious, often plain old naughty.

Real Pen Work and Exercises for Flourishing

We recently acquired a lovely volume entitled Real Pen Work: Self Instructor in Penmanship, published in 1884 by Knowles & Maxim.

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This book includes step-by-step instructions on everything from how to sit properly at your writing desk to the proper degree to which to slant letters. It features samples of script, promissory notes, verses for autograph albums, and these elegant business letters.

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There are handwriting exercises as well as exercises for flourishing, the latter of which sounds suspiciously like something one would find on a clean eating and wellness blog.

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The bulk of the book consists of illustrations made entirely through offhand flourishing, such as this graceful swan and this squiggly family (complete with curlicue guardian angel).

There’s even a small section of ornamental lettering, including some lovely color alphabets.

If you’d like to take a look at this or any of our other books on handwriting and hand-lettering, get in touch!