© 2016 Kelsey A. Smith

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The World of Fraktur

June 1, 2014

 

 

 

 

Fraktur—an early German American art which remains obscure to many, but beloved by those who have discovered the beauty of its worn pages, swirled and splotched with ink and age.

 

How in the world did a girl in her twenties become an imitator of this historic art?

 

Ancestors begin the story. Those immigrants from Germany settled in the blue mountains of Western Pennsylvania. They brought their color and designs along with their worldly possessions, trekking through Penn’s woods to find a home in the heart of the Alleghenies.

 

Their broken lettering, fractured into straight lines and bold curves, is where the name is drawn from. But frakturs were not just filled with letters to proclaim births and marriages, document families and other records. They are covered in birds and trees, tulips and hearts--motifs of their world. 

 

My grandparents, still living in these peaceful mountains, collect remnants of the past, caring for and passing along antiques to those who also treasure pieces of days gone by. They do not confine themselves to collecting, but practice arts of old. My grandmother’s hands work with wool and thread, hooking rugs and stitching samplers. She passed along the love of historic art forms to my mother, who works thread and wool in different ways. She also brushes paint across wood and walls, bringing Pennsylvania German motifs to new life in people’s homes and hearts. I once helped her in this effort, learning the curves of tulips, the symmetry of urns, and the style of birds. 

 

In the end, wood and walls were not my calling. I discovered that the feel of ink on paper gave me the most satisfaction, and that watercolors were the hues that fed my passion for folk art. My hands were created to work the pen on the page. 

 

The time has come to share my work. Here you will find pictures of what I do and musings on what inspires my fraktur art. I will be selling my frakturs online soon, so watch for updates! I hope my works gives you a little spark of joy and an appreciation for the art of my ancestors.

 

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