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.

Wesla Weller

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.


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


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


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*


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


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


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!


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


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:

Mandeep Khunkhuna

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.