Monday, May 10, 2010

Tramp Art

Last week I ventured out to a local antique auction looking for a wardrobe for my son's bedroom. I love to go to auctions.......I never know what I'm going to find and sometimes items can be found at a great price. Just as I hoped,I found a super wardrobe at a great price!

While previewing the merchandise, I noticed two "Tramp Art" picture frames. This was an exciting find for me. Tramp Art is rare,especially if it is in good condition! I hardly ever find tramp art, and it's even more remarkable to find it at an English container auction. One of the frames was in passable condition with only medium damage, while the second frame was more significantly damaged. The level of damage was something I could live with.........These frames are beautiful.

Some of you may be familiar with tramp art, while other may be scratching your heads wondering what on earth is this lady talking about!! Tramp art is a folk art form that was mainly produced from the 1870s until the 1940s. It became quite popular in the 1970s. If you have a tramp art picture frame or box tucked away in you home or your grandmother's attic, dust it off and place it in a prominent place.......You have a highly collectible treasure that deserves to be displayed!!!

Tramp art is produced by chip carving discarded wood or old wood cigar boxes. Chip carving is a long process of notching and layering. There are several layers to a piece with each layer getting smaller. The two identical frames I found have four layers of chip carving;some boxes or frames have six layers.The whole carving process was a time consuming endeavor. It was common for some artists to incorporate inlaid decorations or geometric patterns into their work. The finished work was then stained or painted.

While some sources state that tramp art was the art of vagabonds or hobos, others say European pieces of tramp art were produced by skilled German or Slavic artists. In my opinion, these pieces are so intricate and beautiful, only a skilled artist could produce them whether he or she was a hobo or a skilled European artist.

The old prints inside the frames are spotted and honestly, not in good shape at all. I am way too nervous to remove them to replace them with something else. I don't want to chance damaging the frames any further. Perhaps someday I'll meet an expert that can remove the old prints for me, but for now I'm going to enjoy them just as they are. Someone over a hundred years ago spent a lot of time carving these outstanding frames. It boggles my mind that they ended up in my family room!


Penny said...

Those are neat! You are so good at finding gems in unexpected places!

BillySue said...

poor artists! they have their art called tramp art! whoever made the name up should be called a tramp.