8 Year Anniversary party winners: Joan Hochstetler's book winner is -- Caryl Kane, Naomi Musch's ebook goes to Crissy Yoder Shamion, Roseanna White's winner is -- Connie Saunders, Pegg Thomas's "A Bouquet of Brides" goes to Deanna Stevens, Debra E. Marvin's winner is -- Becky Dempsey, Carrie Fancett Pagels' giveaway of Colonial Michilimackinac: Michigan State Parks goes to Wilani Wahl, Carla Olson Gade's winner is Leila Reynolds, Shannon McNear -- Kaitlin Covel

Monday, April 8, 2019

Fraktur Folk Art

Clarissa’s quill scratched, looping letters with the same artistry she dedicated to her Frakturschriften, the ornamental breaking of letters in German script style. Drawings and special sayings, or Spruchbänder, accompanied the swirling text. The technique represented breaking the artist’s self-will.

She paused and looked up. If she were to create a fraktur drawing now, what would it say? Matthew 16:24? Jesus’ own words: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

It had been all she could do to pinch her lips shut and not complain to John about being jostled those endless miles in the wagon with the groaning Pleasant while Rosina gleaned the facts about their destination Clarissa longed to learn. The unknown ahead mocked her. She had thought herself quite good at self-denial, but she’d begun to realize that the carefully ordered life of Salem had not tested her the way the unstructured wilderness would. Clarissa shivered with the sense that her own fraktur, breaking, was only beginning.


Three Hearts Design Baptism Certificate

This glimpse into The Witness Tree, my novel releasing with Smitten Historical Romance this September, catches my heroine in a difficult time of transition. She’s just been joined to the brother of the man she wanted to wed in a marriage of convenience, and she’s on the long journey from the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina, to Cherokee Territory. There, instead of exploring her beloved art, she’ll be teaching the children of chiefs. And expected to record their language, an assignment which could put her in danger.

1785 Fraktur poem
The art form of Frakturschriften, or fraktur, the ornamental breaking of letters, originated from the German, black-letter, Gothic-appearing text fonts of the early sixteenth century. It developed in the late 1700s into a folk art with recurrent motifs that included birds, hearts, wildlife, and tulips. Colors were rich and vibrant, with emphasis on balance and harmony. Mostly done with ink and watercolors on paper and sized roughly thirteen by sixteen, fraktur appeared in a number of forms:

  • Birth and baptism certificates
  • Marriage and house blessings
  • Book plates
  • Floral and figurative scenes
  • Love letters and love knots
  • Private rooms 

Germanic school teachers helped perpetuate fraktur folk art. While my research centered on Moravian fraktur, it was very common among Mennonites as well as Lutherans and Reformed Pennsylvania Germans.
Mennonite Fraktur

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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  1. Very interesting Denise. They are very colorful and must have taken some time to complete.
    Blessings, Tina

  2. How beautiful and interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, ladies! The missionary diaries revealed they would make these and give them as Christmas gifts -- especially a wreath with a verse in the center. Wouldn't it be neat to have received one of those? Wish I had one to decorate with at Christmas. :)


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