Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A recent Saturday morning antiquing trip yielded a unique find—a Victorian-era wool flower shadow box. It didn't get much attention from other passersby, who probably just thought it was just odd, but it certainly caught my eye. I must admit I tend to gravitate toward the unusual, but normal is boring, right? The price was right at $28, so I took it home with me.

Being an avid crafter, I feel an affinity with Victorian women, whose pastimes exercised their creativity. I also share their tendency for being frugal. They saved their leftover scraps of wool yarn to fashion into flowers for fanciful displays under glass domes or in shadow boxes. Many of the popular magazines of the day featured instructions on how to make them. In fact, one of my old volumes of such magazines happens to have a tutorial for making these woolly blooms. As a wool lover, I'm mesmerized by their artistic beauty. For more detail, click on all the photos.

They used beads to embellish the flower centers.

These fluffy cream-colored flowers are among my favorites. I also love how they created the yet-to-bloom buds (above the fluffy cream flowers) by threading the yarn in an artistic way. 

This isn't the first of these shadow boxes I've purchased. Several years ago, we picked up the larger one (below) at an antiques shop. It is 46 inches square and hangs at the top of our curved staircase. The cross motif is particularly meaningful to us. We purchased this particular one in memory of loved ones who are no longer with us. I think I must have been a Victorian in an earlier life! I seem to share their sense of sentimentality! 

When we had an antiques appraiser out to our house a couple years ago, he dated this to the 1880s, so I'm guessing my latest find must also be that vintage. The vibrancy of the flowers might make it hard to believe they're that old but they're remarkably preserved under the glass, which is wavy just like 19th-century glass. They don't make it like that anymore!

Here's a detail shot of some of the flowers in this one—even more exquisite than those in the new shadow box I found. 

This shot shows the beautiful handiwork that went into each little flower. It almost looks like beadwork, it's so fine.

And here are those fluffy flowers again. I love the way they wove different shades of green into the leaves.

We saw a similar Victorian wool shadow box when we visited the Rensselaer Russell House in Waterloo, Iowa, four years ago. This is a photo I took of the exterior. The house was built in 1861 for $5,878. 

This is the Victorian wool shadow box that hangs in the home's upstairs hallway. It really captured my heart, so I had to take a photo of it. I have many other photos of this grand old home that I will share with you someday.

If any of you happen to own one of these delightful framed treasures, I'd love to hear from you. I always enjoy learning more about these lovely remnants of the past!