The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

With the continuing popularity of Victorian style ornaments and home decor, and the paper crafts such as scrap-booking, it is easier than ever for the less skilled among us to create attractive Valentine cards and other Victorian-style items. Look for paper doilies, ribbons, romantic stickers and "scrap" art, along with undecorated cards, boxes, frames, and bookmarks to decorate. Group the different images by theme, such as "birds", "flowers," "pretty women," "children", and "clothing and accessories" (this includes hats, fans, gloves, and shoes). Collect tissue paper and wrapping paper in solid colors that coordinate with the other items you've assembled, and make sure you have a pair of scissors and some glue (preferably a glue stick rather than liquid glue), and you are ready to begin! Use the solid colored paper as a background for your design, or not; layer stickers and ribbons on top of doilies and scrap art, or not, and finish with glitter or tinsel or stick-on tiny rhinestones if you like. It is helpful to have some pictures of real Victorian valentines to look at, for inspiration; the current issue of Victoria magazine has a short article on the subject, so you might want to check the website at to see the photos.

The finishing touch to a Valentine card is the text. Copy some lines from original Victorian cards, use the tried-and-true phrases such as "be mine", or write your own. Here are some words of wisdom from 1850 that you may want to keep in mind:

Be cautious in yielding up the heart to a worthless object.
Do not choose a partner of a weak capacity.
Look not at a handsome exterior, and an assumed splendour, but regard the general deportment of the person on whom you fix your choice.
If you discover the inward weakness and incapacity of the individual, sever the connection, ere it be too late!"

"The requisites most essential in a lover are:
An agreeable person.
Accomplished manners.
Sweetness of temper and disposition.
Free from levity and anything bordering on the ridiculous.
An unblemished reputation.
A mind stored with virtuous principles."

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)