current obsession: hand shadows + shadow wallpaper

Ever since Amy and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Playing with Pictures” exhibition, I have been mildly obsessed with all things collage and Victorian. As most of my friends can attest, I am probably the least Victorian-loving girl around. The Jane Austen movies that everyone else loves tend to make me a little sleepy. But for some reason, they’re seeming more interesting these days, thanks in no small part to that amazing art exhibition and a new pack of hand shadow cards I picked up at Cog & Pearl.

These amazing cards (which are based on Victorian-era originals created as advertisements for a chocolate company) depict six different hand shadows: dog, bird, goose, rooster, bunny and turtle. I initially picked them up thinking they’d be perfect for postcards, but their shape might make that a little difficult (unless tucked inside a larger envelope). I’ve decided to either string them together as a banner near my desk or turn them into non-traditional place cards for the upcoming entertaining column we’re working on for D*S. Either way, they’ve inspired me to look around for other forms of beautiful hand-shadow imagery and I thought I’d share my favorites here, old and new. xo, grace

Want to learn more about hand shadows? Check out a fun how-to book right here and a book about the history of “shadowgraphy” right here.

Image above: ‘Hand Made’ wallpaper by Paper Boy. How have I never seen this? I need it in my life. Now.

Image above: Hand shadow wall decals by Domestic.

Image above: Hand shadow card by Honeylux at Etsy.

Image above: A fun hand shadow photograph by Russ and Reyn.

Image above: Antique hand shadow posters at photo history’s Flickr page.

  1. margot says:

    wow, i love this!!!

  2. Oh my, I love the wallpaper by Paper Boy! Loved making bunnies on the wall when I was kid.


  3. angie says:

    great post on these hand shadows. i love them!

  4. Isabel says:

    Great post :) I think a really wonderful piece of work to add to this collection is Suzy Lee’s new book called Shadows:,book-info/store,books/products_id,8992/title,Shadow/

  5. Ruedevamp says:

    that is adorable! I am going to share it on punkymoms

  6. mia cabana says:

    There is an amazing children’s book called William and the Magic Ring that is meant to be read with a flashlight shining through the cut-out pages, so the illustrations are actually sillhouettes on the wall. So cool!

  7. I love things like this. I’d seen the wallpaper and cards before, you can see and buy the originals in an amazing French shop I blogged about earlier this year

  8. I really like the hand shadow wall decals by Domestic-the drawing of the hands combined with the colourful shadows they make.

  9. Wesla Weller says:

    Fun post, Grace! Hand shadows are a great interest of mine, too. I don’t know if you remember visiting my NSS booth a couple of years back. You’d liked my Shadow Play card designs.

  10. keith says:

    We love Paperboy – they produce in the same factory as us and we are all one big happy wallpaper family…Victoria from paperboy is also the most lovely person too…
    keith at mini moderns

  11. Holla says:

    my husband made this lovely woodcut print back while at SCAD. I think the theme fits!

  12. alissa says:

    That wallpaper (and all the other images) are fabulous!

  13. iHanna says:

    You’ve found some amazing images and put them together in one post. Just love the yellow card from etsy. Cuuute!

  14. Alisha says:

    All of today’s posts are amazing! Eye candy everywhere! I’m so in love with this wallpaper and that homemade fire pit would be perfect for my new patio set. *swoon*

  15. Paperboy’s fabrics and wallpapers are fabulous and wonderful quality too

  16. karen says:

    Glad to hear I am not the only one with this obsession lately! These are great finds, especially the cards. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Kate says:

    Jane Austen is not Victorian, or Edwardian. Jane Austen is considered Napoleonic or late Georgian, and of a very different stylistic era.

  18. Neko says:

    Just a heads up – don’t attempt to contact domestic – they don’t respond to emails, I’ve tried them all! They have crazy gorgeous stuff, but to send one little decal is $60.00 and up. Great post!

  19. Emma says:

    Just goes to show that Victorian design can be surprising and does not have to be overly formal or stuffy.

  20. elsia says:

    I commisioned an exhibition last spring in Strasbourg (France), the name was “Noire Lumière” and it mixed shadows, paper cutting and silhouettes, in illustration, animation and puppet shows. There was definitely something in the air about it all!

    There’s a great online shop where you can find many many optical toys… shadow cards included!

    For exemple:

  21. Amy Ramaker says:

    I love this wallpaper too. I actually blogged about it in September of 2009.

  22. Hannah says:

    Check out Elyse Allen’s display of her fingerless gloves on her website:

    She is not only amazing but my cousin as well!

  23. I think that the hand shadow wallpaper is amazing. I have never seen anything quite like it. Ideal for a child’s room. I know I would have loved that when I was young. I love the colours used, the contrast really makes it stand out.


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