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Past & Present

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This book made My Happy List a couple of weeks ago, and I want to share with you a project from it. But first, here's a synopsis of the book:

From the Palladian columns of our government buildings to Victorian-style taxidermy and terrariums, highlights from past decorative eras frequently resurface in our modern lives. In Past & Present, Design*Sponge managing editor Amy Azzarito presents 24 pairs of essays and craft projects that explore the connection between decorative arts history and present-day design trends. From a Wedgwood-inspired headboard made using molding from the hardware store to an art nouveau– style tree-branch chandelier, the projects celebrate their roots yet fit perfectly into our contemporary living spaces. The projects have been contributed by some of today’s best-known arbiters of design, such as Todd Oldham, Jonathan Adler, and Grace Bonney, adding extra allure to an already fascinating topic.

I truly enjoyed the essays in this book.  I learned so much about design throughout history, and the fun projects paired with each essay are young, hip, and inspiring.

I haven't made this hook plaque yet, but I'd love to make it!  
This project is paired with the Hollywood Regency essay.

This clock is fun!  It's featured with the 18th Century Sweden Gustavian Style essay.

I made a craft based on early 19th Century French Empire style.  The little hors d'oeuvres plates are perfect for this chapter because Empress Josephine loved entertaining.  The instructions were very easy! I bought the small plates from Pier 1, and I ordered the Pebeo china markers and transfer paper from Dick Blick (  There are several templates in the back of the book for many of the projects.  I want to paint some little plates for Christmas!  I can draw some designs directly onto tracing paper, and trace over the transfer paper like I did for this project.

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I used the templates in the book for these little plates.

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I love the little angel with the five pointed crown.
Only the best girls get crowned!  ;P

DISCLAIMER:  Although the pens I used are nontoxic, the manufacturer claims that they aren't food safe.  I will use these plates for appetizers like cheese and crackers and I can't imagine how they could be harmful.  I have read several articles stating that they should be fine with food, but if you want to be on the safe side, you could paint the rims of plates or outsides of mugs (as an example).  Please note that this is my personal opinion!  I paint using toxic paints with heavy metals in them all the time, not to mention toxic solvents and varnishes.  If a product claims to be nontoxic, then I personally don't see a problem.  The book suggests using the plates to collect small items on a desk like change of for hors d'oeuvres, so obviously the designers and writer of Past & Present agree with me!

This book is fantastic for those interested in design.  This book is worth reading for the essays alone! I like the projects, too.  I would love to make the huge terrarium coffee table!

There is a delightful Brief History of Greenhouses in the book!

What's inspiring you today?  Leave me a comment and tell me!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. You are always mentioning books I should pick up. This looks like a good one.

  2. That is such a cool book!!! Love your plates!!!

  3. This looks like one I'll add to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.
    My mom and sister are inspiring me today. Just returned from time with both, and they are amazing women. I'm fortunate to have them in my life. '-)

  4. This books looks great!!! I love your plates!!!! Great designs. You know you can use colored sharpie pens too. Once you have your plate completed, place it in the oven 350 degrees for 30 minutes to set. I did this with some small desert plates and added a hanger on the back to hang on the wall in my Kitchen.

  5. That sounds like a great book of essays and projects. I love your plates and do think it would be fun to make some Christmas ones, too. Then hanger this is really cute, too. What's inspiring me? CLEANING! Deep Fall cleaning! xo Diana

  6. What a great concept. I love learning about art and design history and I love that they have projects tied in with it. Your plates are lovely. Will you be able to eat off them? What amazing Christmas gits they will be.

  7. How cool! Seriously, all of those images are awesome. Must see if our library has this.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! The hook plaque looks like it would be easy enough to do but will make a huge statement. Your plates turned out great...I have been thinking about a plate craft but it involved Mod Podge so I've been putting it off. lol. This looks so much easier! Hope you are well...happy weekend. <3

  9. How DARLING! That little angel is also a maple leaf, which is so very charming. :D
    I love the concept of this book, and I can see right now I'd be in trouble if I read it, because I'd want to make everything. I adore historic (well, pre-1940) decor!

  10. That hook board is fantastic! There are so many cute ones you can buy! Would be fun to do a smaller scale one for jewelry.

  11. What fun and creative projects, especially the terrarium table! I love your decorative plates :)

  12. Your plates are so sweet & I love that idea for a coffee table!

  13. Your plates are so sweet Ricki.. love them! This looks like a great book filled with lots of creative inspiration. The terrarium coffee table.. very unique idea!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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