This book of early American folk decorations will be welcomed by the home decorator looking for a new source of design ideas. It features a wide variety of figures and motifs―including hex signs, stylized birds and animals; fruit, floral, and leaf patterns; depictions of angels, mermaids, and other human and semi-human figures; scrolls, tendrils, and simple geometric ornament―that were used to decorate everything from the smallest household utensil to the sides of barns and carriages. The possibilities of their modern application are limited only by the imagination of the individual decorator.
Detailed practical instructions are provided for each type of decoration. The author carefully explains techniques for both free-hand work and stenciling, covering every aspect of the subject: preparation of surfaces; choice of materials and paint and where they can best be obtained; application of leaf; methods of enlarging designs; and finishing. She has included a large number of specific projects with patterns that are easy to follow. For the collector there are recommendations about restoration and preservation. In addition, to give the reader an idea of the great variety of uses for these designs, there are over 180 photographs of floor coverings and fireboards; decorations on doors and windows; tin trays, pitchers and boxes; picture frames, clocks, chests, chairs, and practically every other item of household use, chosen from museums and private collections.
In chapters that deal individually with tinware, furniture, accessories, fabrics, architectural decoration, coach and sign painting, and fracture, Jean Lipman, the noted authority on early American art, provides extensive discussion of the history of the craft. She emphasizes the development of a native style through modifications brought over from England and the addition of a specifically American iconography. This aspect of the book will be found useful by anyone who is interested in the history of art in America.