emotive votives

October 18, 2011  in vintage finds

It began with a boy and a girl holding paintbrushes (a perfect pair) and a single leg! I first began collecting these vintage ex-votos whilst on holiday in Greece about 15 years ago and they are some of my favourite things.

These metal votive offerings are still found in Catholic churches around Europe and Mexico. They are given to a divinity or a saint as a personal thank you note. Sometimes they were given with prayer as plees for help too. I love the eclectic mix of the subjects and when I come across them for sale I can’t resist them.

My collection is on display in a row on a shelf above my bed. They are so light that jut a small tab of blue-tack keeps them in place. I mixed in some little mirrors that I bought on a trip to India and also blue-tacked some vintage buttons in random places on the wall to form a spotty 3D wallpaper.

In my hallway I placed a more ornate votive inside an old flea market frame that I had painted, both stuck directly to the wall with Pritt pads. The metal is slightly tarnished, but I don’t mind as this adds to the character.

I only come across them on rare occasions but there is probably just enough room for another two or three when I do find some more. I love the way they catch the light, their delicacy, their nieve, folk-art style and that each one has a very personal story behind. A little collection of little things that makes me happy.

Do you collect something that brings you joy?


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  1. Jo says:

    These look lovely. I love the little car one!

  2. Get Hypnotized says:

    Liked this. Cool stuff.

  3. Jesica Bares says:

    How much time are you currently employing this theme? I had been trying to find similar to the idea for my own blog site.

  4. Leanda says:

    I love this! A small story for you… I have several silver tamata (as they are called here in Greece) given to me by the father of a dear friend. His work is to paint church icons and he has been painting the same church for the past 30 years! She took me to visit him to watch him painting one evening and just before we left he took us upstairs to a little room at the back of the church. Inside was a vast 6’x6′ container full to the brim with silver tamata! He gave me a small selection from the top, many of which I see in your collection too and a couple of really unique hand-made ones. The first thing I wanted to do upon returning home was to string them up and display them, but my husband, being greek (I am english), sadly wouldn’t have any of it as each one represents some poor misfortune the person once suffered. Damn superstition! Now I will have to live my tamata displaying dreams vicariously through you 🙂 thank you Sania x

  5. […] emotive votives—Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa EX-VOTIVES—- Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in folk art, people. Bookmark the permalink. ← recycled baskets […]

  6. Amy Puff says:

    I love your blog.Really thank you! Will read on…

  7. […] metal votive offerings from Catholic churches of Europe and Mexico (taken from […]

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.

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