Giving old books a second life

I love baby girl names that start with the letter “A” – they are soft, feminine, and pretty.  So I was extra delighted when asked by a friend to make two collages for her daughters’ nurseries.  Analise & Adelyn are her sweet little girls, and their names perfectly suit them!

Each mixed-media collage is mounted on a 20×20 canvas.  I used acrylic paint over vintage ledger paper in the center, and illustrations from vintage children’s books around the border.  Each piece tells a story.  Completely unique and original, this is something they can treasure forever.

*As a side note:  when looking through old children’s books, I found a page that someone marked in pencil “Jan 2, 1935″ – I love how this book has survived for 80 years!  (you can see this marking in the first image below, along the bottom border with the fox and White Hen title).  Sometimes, I have a hard time cutting these pictures out – you might even say I’m destroying these books.  But I feel like I’m giving them a second life.  Instead of being hidden away on a shelf or in an attic, their beautiful illustrations are put on display for everyone to enjoy.

Adelyn Analise

“A” is for Averie

So many babies recently! But this one is particularly special to me – my first niece, Averie, was born just a couple weeks ago, and I fell in love with her the moment I laid eyes on her.  She is perfect, and I’d like to think that she looks a bit like me:)  I cannot wait to make finger-paint messes with her.  I made this piece of art for her nursery and it hangs right above her crib.  It’s a 20×20 mixed media on canvas featuring various illustrations from vintage children’s books that border her initial (in purple, to match the nursery).



me and averie

I love this little girl so much! <3

“E” is for Emerson



Another baby shower gift, this time for a little girl.  This is a 9×12 Acrylic on canvas with vintage illustrations.  I used a pale umber and mint green in the background, and a rich magenta for the initial.  Very simple, but elegant and girly – perfect to hang in a nursery.

“M” is for Maxwell

I made this 20×20 mixed media on canvas as a baby shower gift. My two friends recently had baby #2, and I wanted to make something special and meaningful that they could hang up in the nursery. They chose one of my favorite color combinations for the nursery – gray and yellow – so I made sure to incorporate those colors into the piece. I used various illustrations from vintage children’s books, and I tried my best to find images that held some sort of personal significance. For example, I chose illustrations of two boys playing together (in the upper left & right corners) because of their two sons. I also chose sheet music and a picture of a boy playing a trombone because their family is musically-inclined. Finally, I painted a glossy, mustard-yellow “M” for the baby’s initial. It was such a fun piece to make!

A horse for Ann


 A gift for my co-worker and friend, a portrait of her horse “Carr”

Acrylic on Canvas, 20×20


Love is In the Air: A vintage hot air balloon inspired wedding

As promised, here are some photos of my September wedding showing some of the hand-made elements that took a lot of time and love in creating.  The theme was “vintage hot-air balloons” and I had fun tying the theme into different elements of our special day.

These are twelve of the fourteen original 8×10 acrylic paintings that I made for the table numbers (two of them went missing after the reception before the decorations got taken down).  Each painting rested upon on a gold wire table-top easel, and I cut numbers out of thick gold paper and stuck them to the corner of each painting using double-sided adhesive (which was easily removed after the wedding).  It was one of the most challenging projects that I did for the wedding, but also one of the most rewarding.  Someday, I will hang these in our nursery once we start a family and they will gather more precious memories that will be cherished forever.

The colors are a little “off” in these pictures (I am not a photo-editing pro).  The colors are much softer and richer in real life  But you get the idea.

1 2 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Here is one of the table numbers that got lost, but my father-in-law took a photo of it during the reception.  You can see the number in the corner (which looked much prettier in real life – the gold paper was texturized).

15Here is a picture of the other one that got lost – Glad I took a photo of it before the wedding.

20130807_191543Invitations – I used Adobe Illustrator and InDesign in creating the design for our invitations, and then uploaded the design to Vistaprint’s website (I was very pleased with the quality and affordable price that Vistaprint had to offer, and they turned out wonderful).   They were printed and mailed to me within 10 business days.

4The most stressful project that I did for the wedding, hands down, was the programs.  I got it in my mind that I was going to hand-stamp each program cover.  First, I had draw and carve the design into a lino block.  The first stamp I carved was a failure (as my husband-to-be pointed out that the design was BACKWARDS – I did not carve the mirror image).  The second attempt was a success, and the “D” was not backwards this time.  The day that I stamped the covers, my entire living room was covered with programs that were laying out to dry.  It took a few hours of charging the stamp with orange paint, pressing the paper onto the stamp and rubbing it with my fingers to make sure the entire image was transferred onto the paper (my fingers were sore for days), and carefully pulling the image away from the stamp.

By time I was finished, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt like I had just conquered the world.   After all, I am not an experienced print-maker and I was just teaching myself the basics as I went.  I was so afraid that hours of work would end in complete failure, but the Lord knows I needed this victory amidst all the last-minute wedding stress.  I obtained the desired affect I was aiming for – imperfection.  I like how each print had its own subtle differences, each a work of art.  As I pulled print after print, I imagined walking down the aisle and seeing the faces of our friends and family – people who mean so much to us, and who love us so much.  I wanted them to know how special they are, and how much attention went into each little detail.  After all, the wedding is just as much for our guests as it is for us.

3Seating chart – I few years ago, I garbage-picked a huge, beautifully ornate gold frame.  I knew that I had to use it for the wedding.

I made rows of twine, purchased a hundred tiny wooden clothespins, and cut out a hundred hot air balloons from different shades of cardstock.  For spacers, I added pennant flags decorated with buttons and vintage jewelry.  This was such a fun project!

IMG_2738 copy IMG_2740 copy IMG_2741 copy IMG_2742 copyA view of the reception area (my grandma sewed ALL of the hanging pennant flags using vintage fabric that I got from thrift stores).

IMG_2806 copyMy husband and I <3

IMG_3485 copyLike our wedding portrait?  Check out Sheri Tuttle Photography  for more examples of her beautiful work.



A Christmas gift I made for my brother’s girlfriend, a portrait of her dog Zazel.

Ink & watercolor on paper in a rustic wooden frame.

Playing with beeswax


This is my first attempt at using beeswax in my collages.  I used an 8×10 canvas and layered decorative napkins and scrapbook paper for the background.  I added some flowers, a bicycle, and other images to the foreground,  but nothing that acted as a focal point… it all blends together a little too well.  It wasn’t very well planned out as I was just experimenting,  but it still turned out pretty.  The beeswax creates a soft,  translucent,  dreamy effect.  Now that I kind of have the hang of it,  the next one I attempt should turn out even better.   This would look cute propped in the corner of a mantle or bookshelf. 

Bright Birdies


I made this 9×12 acrylic painting last year for my mom.  She wanted a piece of art to match her new robin’s egg blue walls.   I used soft nuetrals for the background and brighter pops of color for the birds.   To add even more contrast,  I glazed the birds with a high gloss varnish, which makes them shine against the matte background.   It’s full of texture and color, and went perfectly in her newly painted room. 

White Bicycle Silhouette


A painting I made just for fun, and sent it to a friend who’s an avid cyclist.

Copyright 2013 Melissa Davies


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