Hearts and Flowers

Valentine Flowers

Today, while there’s a bit of a pause in the writing process, I’m commemorating Valentine’s Day with hearts and flowers and some fancy papercrafts appropriate to the season.

Although my primary creative outlet is writing, I also love dabbling in various arts/crafts as well. And those two loves intersect nicely when it comes time to design a book cover.

That’s where I am now. While the completed manuscript of Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words is out to a few trusted ‘beta’ readers for comments, I’ve been working on some original art that I hope will become an amazing cover to go with it! No, I’m not giving any sneak peeks of that today. You’ll just have to wait for the exciting cover reveal! But here’s a previous cover art sample, and then I want to share some crafty items with you.

I know Valentines Day was a week ago, but I’m still in the mood, especially since I’m still enjoying the flowers my husband gave me (above)! Unfortunately, Jane Austen had ALMOST NOTHING to say about Valentines, only this from an 1801 letter:

Eliza talks of having read in a newspaper that all the 1st lieutenants… were to be promoted to the rank of commanders. If it be true, Mr. Valentine may afford himself a fine Valentine’s knot…

By “Valentine’s knot,” did she mean a fancily tied cravat… or a heart-shaped sailor’s knot? I don’t know. But Jane Austen would definitely have been familiar with the concept of sending Valentines to someone special.

In fact, I just learned about the Puzzle Purse style of Valentine at a virtual JASNA meeting last weekend. This intricately folded and decorated Valentine is often called a Victorian Puzzle Purse, but it actually dates from c. 1790. So perhaps Jane Austen might have given (or received?) one of these beautiful Valentines herself! It would have been presented as a neatly folded packet. Then the recipient would open it out, first to a pinwheel stage and then all the way, to get the full sentiment, expressed in hearts, flowers, and poetry.

(To see a beautiful example and to learn more about this art form and its Jane Austen connection, please visit this lovely post at Her Reputation for Accomplishment. Find out how to fold your own puzzle purse at the Origami Resource Center.)

Just to learn how, I made a rudimentary puzzle purse myself, which I’d be embarrassed to show you. But I will share a very fancy cut-paper Valentine I made long ago, when I had a lot more patience than I do now. Again, this is another type of craft that would have been popular in 19th century.

I remember this took me hours of work with an Exacto knife and a needle to create, following a pattern. If you look closely, you’ll see that there are a couple of hundred tiny pinholes adding detail to the design. My fingers still hurt when I think of it! So I’m not likely to ever make another one. I framed it and gave it to my parents one year for their February anniversary.

I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day, with hearts, flowers, and someone you love. Or at least with chocolate and a good book! Leave a comment about how you spent the day, or if you have any favorite Valentine’s traditions or crafts. I’d love to hear from you!

PS – Stay tuned for updates on the new book: Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words. The cover reveal is scheduled for April 14th and the book is set to launch on May 4th, so not long to wait now!

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
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4 Responses to Hearts and Flowers

  1. sheilalmajczan says:

    I used to do origami a lot for Girl Scouts and for Art Goes to School when I taught 3rd graders how to make a crane after showing them a video about cranes…if you make 1,000 it is good luck.

    I’ll have to try your puzzle one but where do we get that paper?

  2. Glynis says:

    What gorgeous flowers! And I love the puzzle purse. I spent Valentines on my own, isolating, but I always have good books so that’s a bonus.
    My four year old grandsons still remember Christmas and wanted to decorate the house 😂 they did insist on cake and presents! I’ll be so happy when I can see them again. 😀
    I’m looking forward to your cover reveal.

    • The roses held up well – for a whole week. Today they are finally starting to droop a little. Glad you had a good book to keep you company on Valentines Day. Yes, we will all be relieved and rejoicing when we can freely see our loved ones again, especially the kids! Thanks for your comments, Glynis. I’m excited about the new cover too!

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