I spent the middle part of my 20s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I had a job trading stocks for a small investment bank in Boston, and I considered myself a worldly and cultured young man (despite the fact that my foreign excursions until then had been a vacation in Mexico when I was a kid and a quick jaunt into Canada during my junior year in college). I thought I had it all figured out. Looking back, I cringe at the memory of that self-important doofus who wore too much gel in his hair and reeked of Acqua di Gio cologne. But for all his faults, that doofus did like to read, and he loved to learn. Of all that’s changed (and improved, I hope), my love of reading and learning has remained constant.
Words are powerful things. They can unite, or they can provoke war. They can anger, and they can soothe. They can take us places we’ve never been and show us things that don’t exist. They elicit emotion – good and bad and everything in between. A master wordsmith only needs a sentence or two to convey a powerful universal truth. These truths are then passed down from generation to generation. In this electronic, interconnected age, they are shared globally on a daily bases and adorn the Facebook pages, decorate the walls and spill from the tongues of people from Boston to Bangalore.
But I never thought about hanging them on my wall until Handan showed me some pictures on Pinterest. Words as art. It was a beautiful concept. I decided to curate a few of my favorite quotes so that I could make my own wordy wall art. And during my research, I rediscovered my favorite poem – one I first discovered when I was that little doofus in Cambridge trying to learn poems to impress the ladies (I don’t think it ever worked).
Handan suggested we start offering printables – both book page art and illustrations – on a regular basis. This post is the first of many more free printable posts to come. I will be focusing on book page art, birds and animals, old ships perhaps, and anything else that strikes my fancy. Handan will offer botanical illustrations and seasonal and holiday printables.
I have designed today’s offerings to fit into a 16 x 20 inch frame or a 24 x 36 poster frame, though you may scale them up or down as necessary. Handan and I bought our 16 x 20 frames at Michaels with coupons, so the whole lot became cheaper than DIYing them, since the frames came with glass and mats. You can also make your own, but if you want glass, you’d have to find a custom glass shop, and that may not be feasible for you. For this initial run of prints, we wanted the smaller frames for my office. In the future, I’m sure we will make some poster prints, as Handan already asked me to DIY a bunch of large poster frames. I’m including two different styles: black text on old paper and white text on a dirty chalkboard. Help yourself to either or both! I like to mix them together.
You may have seen other bloggers touting Staples’ color engineering prints as a budget-friendly way to print large photos or other works of art. An 18 x 24 inch color engineering print runs $3, so that is certainly a great deal. Unfortunately, the Staples stores in our area have all upgraded to new printers, and there is a new corporate policy forbidding engineering prints when the background is fully colored or black (which rules out all the photo and graphic printing we DIYers love so much). For such prints, they now require you to upgrade to heavyweight paper, and that raises the cost to $15. You can still order color engineering prints online with no restrictions, but it’ll cost you about $10 for shipping, so you’ll want to order more than one. We have tried both to compare, and for us, it was worth it to pay the extra money. The prints on the lightweight engineering paper look good, but the paper does warp a little bit:
The prints on the heavyweight paper are perfect. The text is clearer and it has a richer look overall. The rest of the photos in this post show the heavyweight paper.
Another option (and one that I’ll be using in the future, unless I need a same-day print) is Amazon print shop. They offer custom-sized photo prints in matte or glossy, and for a 16 x 20, their price is $13.50 with free shipping for Prime members and $7 shipping for non-Prime members. Since I haven’t ordered prints from Amazon yet, I can’t speak for the quality, but I’ve come to trust them, and I have no doubt that the prints would be excellent.
Let’s have peek at the quotes I picked and see how they look hanging on my office wall.
The first printable is a poem by William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of the hundreds of poems, both long and short, that he penned, The Song of Wandering Aengus is my favorite. It is also my favorite poem of any poet. It’s a simple story, but a powerful one: young Aengus goes fishing one evening and catches a small trout. As he is stoking his fire to cook the little fish, it magically transforms into a beautiful maiden who runs off into the night. Aengus then spends his life looking for the girl. As an old man, he informs us that he will continue to search for her until he finds her, and then they will spend eternity together.
This poem is perfect. It’s not too long, and it has beautiful imagery. Can you picture the silver apples of the moon? That image has been knocking around my head for the past twenty years.
By the way, I’ve caught hundreds of trout in my life, and not a one has turned into a beautiful maiden. I must be using the wrong bait.
The next two quotes I adapted from Turkish folklore. There was a man named Nasreddin Hodja who lived in the 13th century during Ottoman times in what today is central Turkey. He was a Sufi (Islamic mystic) philosopher and was known for his funny stories and jokes. Over the centuries, more stories were created and told with Hodja as the central figure. The stories are almost always funny, but they work on many levels. The joke is at the forefront, but just behind the humor is a moral. If you look just a little deeper, you’ll sometimes find an extra twist that illuminates the mystic philosopher’s journey towards enlightenment. His stories are taught to young schoolchildren and studied by older students. They are an integral part of Turkish culture, and they can be heard on the lips of old timers in tea houses and on radio and TV. To make the character more accessible to Westerners, I have changed Hodja’s name to The Old Fool, as that is how he is perceived by those he interacts with in his stories, though his foolishness is merely a cloak that hides great wisdom.
You’ve probably heard of the Persian poet, Rumi. Like Nasreddin Hodja, Mevlana Rumi was also a 13th century Sufi mystic. He is considered one of the greatest poets in all of history, and for good reason. He was a profound thinker, and his words still move readers all over the world to this day. He was born in what is now Afghanistan and later lived and died in what is now Turkey, close to where Nasreddin Hodja lived. I wonder if they ever met. I think they would have enjoyed each other’s company very much. As Sufis, they put their love for God above all else in life. The petty differences in religious dogma that other men squabbled and killed over meant nothing to the Sufi mystics. Their relationship with God was all that mattered.
Click on ‘Page 2 of 2’ below to continue and download the free printables.