Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Do what you can,

with what you have, where you are."
       ~Teddy Roosevelt

If you have ever watched one of the sites that monitors population growth like World Population Clock, you will see the number clicking way over 7 billion by the seconds.   That is quite a crowd to put on our 196.9 million square  miles which is why the current wave of "repurposing" is such a plus for the planet.  The complete phrase is recycle, repurpose, reuse, and, when you think of it, those of us who deal in reselling have been doing this for many centuries.

Antique collecting dates to the 16th century in England and Europe.  The 18th century brought advances in art and in archaeology, and public and private collecting began in earnest.   In the United States, old books, manuscripts, possessions owned by famous people (see the more we think we have advanced, the truth creeps in!), as well as classical antiquities.

State historical societies encouraged preserving colonial history and those artifacts.  In the late 1850s Mount Vernon was restored and became one of the country's first "house" museums.

Then in 1876 the Centennial Exposition probably created the first antique show where household articles like pewterware and furniture were displayed in reconstructed colonial rooms.
The 20th century was the collectors' time. From paintings, books, and furniture to stoneware, stamps, and quilts, the world of "recycle" took off.  Now, there was the issue of "antique".  The 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined antiques as "artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830."  There are still what I call "old school" collectors around, but I am not Christie's nor Sotheby's, and I believe the antique/vintage seller was...and still is...the best recycler in the 21st century.

With the concept of recycle, repurpose, reuse in mind, let me introduce you to a new friend who has specialized in those words...Juliana of The Faux Chateau.  For personal reasons, she has relocated to New Jersey from Virginia, but her web site shows her expertise in faux finishing.  She can give new life to everything from walls to concrete statues.  I have the good fortune to have her working with me on recycling clothing and, in this new partnership, giving jackets new life.

Even though I have her using her artistic talents on for hand painted silk you can contact her for personal faux finishing work as can click this for her Facebook page link.

These jackets are currently in the shop...and I have added accents from our inventory to make statement displays...

This is a neat piece...accents on the color and a neat ruffle around the bottom...

This one has a fun message on the back...
This is the front...
I love the idea of reusing the old to create new, and you know I love supporting local talent.  Whether it is reworking a clothing idea or designing a wall mural...Juliana is a welcome addition to the talented artists in the area and across the USA.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."  
      ~Thomas Merton

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"Someday I will find my Prince

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Be curious always!

For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it. 
    ~Sudie Back

If you read this blog, you know my curiosity sets me off, and this week it was this 5 pound vintage can of Vaseline that got me thinking.

I must say that I will never look at Vaseline jelly in the same way anymore.  Some oddities that it is used for:  coat the feet of fending machines to keep pests out; rub in chickens to prevent frostbite; coat everything from baby's bottoms to lips, and manage out-of-control hair.

The name Vaseline comes from the German word for water-wasser- and the Greek word for oil-elaion—though I never thought German and Greek mixed (if you follow the world economy that is even more true today!).  The -ine was added to make it sound scientific.
We have a 22 year old British chemist to thank for this pure jelly.  Robert Chesebrough was using sperm whale oil to make kerosene but wanted to explore other petroleum products.  He was in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859 to study the oil fields there, and he noticed the workers using a residue from the oil drilling to help heal cuts and bruises.  The workers called it rod wax since it had to be removed periodically from the oil rig pumps.  He took samples to his Brooklyn lab, and, after 5 years, patented a process that involves a triple-purification seal.  It still is made that way, filtered, distilled, and de-aerated to remove air bubbles.
Chesebrough continued working on the product and opened a factory in Brooklyn, NY in 1870.

Then, he traveled around New York by horse and buggy demonstrating his product.  Now, this part of the tale is the ultimate ad...he would burn his skin with acid or open flame, and the he would spread the clear jelly on the wounds all the while showing past burns that has healed.
In 1872 Chesebrough rebranded the Wonder Jelly as Vaseline, and by 1874 Vaseline Jelly was being purchased at the rate of 1400 jars a day.

In the 1880s, the iconic blue label became the trademark.
Since Chesebrough was a British citizen, Queen Victoria knighted him in 1883 and admitted to loving the jelly for her dry skin.  By the early 1900s, he had factories in Perth Amboy, NJ, Europe, Canada, and Africa.
In 1909, Commander Peary took a jar to the North Pole, and both World War I and World War II soldiers used it to treats wounds and burns.

Chesebrough came down with a bout of pleurisy and had himself drenched top to toe with Vaseline, and he soon recovered. Shortly before his death in 1933 at 96 (average life expectancy then was 61), he revealed that he’d been eating a spoonful a day for several years.
In 1955 Chesebrough Manufacturing merged with Pond's Extract, and they still exist as Chesebrough-Ponds, Inc. but under the Unilever umbrella since 1987.

According to the web site, in 2005, it was determined that every 39 seconds a tub of Vaseline sold somewhere.  So, it seems Sir Chesebrough turned a rather strange petroleum by-product into a worldwide sensation.  Still remember...
               "Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."
                                                  ~Samuel Ullman

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"As the purse is emptied,

the heart is filled.
    ~Victor Hugo

If you love to shop, that 19th century quote may apply to you and your stash of cash.  Even though I carry a large purse because I am usually dealing with my Mother's "stuff", shop "stuff", and my "stuff", I envy someone like the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton...check the neat clutches...
Of course, I am sure she has an entourage to carry the "stuff"!

I did get some neat vintage purses in...small neat clutches...and so today...a look at purses...

Historically, the term "purse" originally referred to a small bag for holding coins. In British English, it is still used to refer to a small coin bag. A "handbag" is a larger needed accessory, that holds items beyond currency, such as a woman's personal items and emergency survival items. American English typically uses the terms "purse" and "handbag" interchangeably. The term "handbag" began appearing in the early 1900s. Initially, it was most often used to refer to men's hand-luggage. Women's accessory bags grew larger and more complex during that period, and the term was attached to the women's accessory. 

While “handbags” as a term did not exist until the mid-nineteenth century, ancient pouches made of leather or cloth were used mainly by men to hold valuables and coins. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show men wearing purses around the waist, and the Bible specifically identifies Judas Iscariot as a purse carrier.  By the Middle Ages, men and women carried pouches attached to their clothes.  Pockets had not been invented yet, and so the pouch held rosaries, Book of Hours, scented oranges, chatelaines, and daggers. 

By the 16th century, aristocrats would carry "swete bagges" because personal hygiene was virtually non-existent.  These bags held sweet-smelling herbs and spics, like lavender, or perfumed balls of cotton.

The modern purse, clutch, pouch or handbag came about in England during the Industrial Revolution and the increase in travel by rail, and bags were about to experience a revolution. In 1843, there were nearly 2000 miles of railway lines in Great Britain. As more people traveled by train and more women became more mobile, professional luggage makers turned the skills of horse travel into those for train travel, and soon the term “handbag” emerged to describe these new hand-held luggage bags. 
Many of the top names of today’s handbags got their start as luggage makers (in contrast to the previously made purses and pouches which were made by dressmakers). For example, Hermes bags were founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermes, a harness and saddle maker, while Loius Vuitton was a luggage packer for the Parisian rich. Modern handbags still allude to luggage with their pockets, fastenings, frames, locks, and keys.

Handbags in the early twentieth century became much more than just hand-held luggage, but Britain continued to dominate the market.  According to my research, women could choose from small reticules, Dorothy bags (now called dotty or marriage bags) with matching robes, muffs, and fitted leather bags with attached telescopic opera glasses and folding fans. Working women often used larger handbags, such as the Boulevard bag, leather shopping bags, and even briefcases which could be worn around the shoulder.  Handbags also included folders for the newly invented pound note which replaced the gold sovereign in 1914.

The 1920s saw the introduction of a pochette, a clutch decorated elaborately. By the 1940s, the war impacted design as the smooth contours of the 1930s changed to a more military look. Bags became larger, squarer, and more practical, reflecting a desire to appear self-sufficient.  This bag from my stock has a neat has a overlocking clasp, and the inside is suede.  I love the handle on the outside also.  It is shown here with a little purse...there is a long chain that is tucked behind the small purse.

As zippers, mirrors, and leather became scarce, designers turned to wood or plastic for frames and employed new synthetics such as rayon. The drawstring bag reappeared and was often homemade. Bags in Great Britain were made both to carry gas masks and to match an outfit. In France and America, as more women entered the workforce, they turned to shoulder bags.
The 1950s brought designers back, and femininity ruled.  Small bags implied beauty and sophistication, and, when thinks about it, a small purse is a much more demure look.

Then, the 1960s ushered in a variety of styles from the long clutch to the shoulder bag with long chains as well as the Bohemian satchels.  Army shoulder bags also became popular (and are very much back in vogue now).  The 1970s saw shoulder bags remained popular, and they also added
buckles, pockets, and zippers.

The brightest star of the 1980s was the Vera Bradley classic quilted handbag with sales of over $1 million in just three years. By the early 1990s, small designer bags with giant Hs and CCs were all over London and New York, and only the trained eye could tell the real from the fake.

Today, women can carry anything from a large bag to a small clutch, but I thought this quote from 18 year old actress Rachel G. Fox may predict where the younger generation will go:
    "I never carry a purse.  My iPhone is always with me, a credit card, and a piece of mint chocolate     chip cookie dough ice cream gum."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Souvenirs are perishable;

fortunately, memories are not."
       ~Susan Spano 

A collection of post cards of New York City that I bought at the flea market got me thinking about souvenirs.  With Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, does anyone even send postcards?  I see racks of them in shops on the Boardwalk or on the streets of New York City.  I guess there are still some who receive postcards, but I wonder if any of those people are under 80 (just kidding).   

Souvenir is French for remembrance or memory.  In doing a little research for this article, I found it interesting that there were numerous articles on how to budget souvenir cash at Walt Disney World.  Based on what I read, it seems several hundred dollars is the usual amount spent on "stuff".

The tourism industry designates tourism souvenirs as commemorative merchandise associated with a location, often including geographic information and usually produced in a manner that promotes souvenir collecting.   Think shot glasses, plates, magnets, mugs.  Ashtrays used to be big, but I guess the demise of smokers has impacted that production.  The research indicated that throughout the world that the souvenir trade is an important part of the tourism industry serving a dual role, first to help improve the local economy and second to allow visitors to take with them a memento of their visit, ultimately to encourage an opportunity for a return visit, or to promote the locale to other tourists. 
All the cards I bought had never been used, and that always fascinates me because I wonder why they were purchased...with the thought of sending them?  or for a scrapbook?  You ever wonder how many pieces for scrapbooks live their lives in shoe boxes or pretty decorated boxes never to see the light of day or a page in a scrapbook?

I like to study the backdrop in picture postcards...check the clothes in the close-up of the one card...

This group has a NYC snow scene...
Of course, the showstoppers...several of the World Trade Centers...
Don't forget the Statue of Liberty...and here I will confess to a collection of mine...Lady Liberty herself...
This is a neat photo souvenir...selfie done antique style...with a real camera and printed for us to absorb decades later.
Again, just looking at these post cards, you realize how much technology has impacted even the idea of souvenirs.  In a hundred years, what will there be?  Castoff I-phones?  I-pads?   Many of the souvenirs seen on the tables at flea markets and in vintage shops truly look as though they have come from another planet. Probably the best sellers today are the t-shirts or the sweatshirts since I do see those on both tourists and locals in our area.

Maybe Jarod Kintz has a unique look at souvenirs...hold the stuff...
"When I visit England, I want to bring back the best souvenir an American can get: A British accent."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill,

that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. 
                                               ~John F. Kennedy                                 

Despite this weekend being the kick-off of the summer season here at the Jersey shore, it is good to remember that the beach, the Boardwalk, and the businesses are here because men and women gave their lives to maintain our freedoms.
 I happened on a copy of the sheet music for "God Bless America," and I wondered about its history.  Many of us connect the song with Kate Smith...
In my research I found that Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1918 while serving the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, but he decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank.  Fortunately, he kept it, and in 1938, with the rise of Adolf Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish and a Russian immigrant, felt it was time to revive it as a "peace song." It was introduced on an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938, sung by Kate Smith on her radio show.

Woody Guthrie criticized the song, which he considered unrealistic and complacent, and in 1940 he wrote "This Land Is Your Land," originally titled "God Blessed America For Me," as a response. Anti-Semitic groups such as the Ku Klux Klan also protested the song due to its authorship by a Jewish immigrant.
Berlin gave the royalties of the song to the God Bless America Fund for redistribution to the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Smith performed the song on her two NBC television series in the 1950s and in her short-lived The Kate Smith Show on CBS, which aired on from January 25 to July 18, 1960.

The song was used early in the Civil Rights Movement as well as at labor rallies. During the 1960s, the song was increasingly used by Christian conservatives in the US to signal their opposition to secular liberalism and to silence dissenters who were speaking in favor of communism or in opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Later, from December 11, 1969, through the early 1970s, the playing of Smith singing the song before many home games of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers brought it renewed popularity as well as a reputation for being a "good luck charm" to the Flyers long before it became a staple of nationwide sporting events. The Flyers even brought Smith in to perform live before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974, and the Flyers won the Cup that day.

Among some of the tales that relate to the song, was one from August 26, 2008 when a fan at a Boston Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium attempted to leave for the restroom during the playing of the song.  He was restrained and ejected by NYPD officers. As part of the settlement of a subsequent lawsuit, the New York Yankees announced that they would no longer restrict the movement of fans during the playing of the song.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "God Bless America" is commonly sung during the seventh-inning stretch in Major League Baseball games, most often on Sundays, Opening Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, All-Star Game, Labor Day, September 11, and all post-season Major League Baseball games. Following the attacks, John Dever, then the Assistant Media Relations Director with the San Diego Padres, suggested the song replace "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", the more traditional 7th inning anthem.  MLB quickly followed the Padres lead and instituted it league-wide for the rest of the season; presently, teams decide individually when to play the song. Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, and Turner Field are currently the only Major League ballparks to play "God Bless America" in every game during the seventh-inning stretch. 
There is actually a book on this song!  It came out July 4, 2013, and Sheryl Kaskowitz tells the story behind our "other national anthem".   The review says, "After the attacks on September 11th, it was sung on the steps of the Capitol, at spontaneous memorial sites, and during the seventh inning stretch at baseball games, becoming even more deeply embedded in America's collective consciousness."

So, remember those who died "standing beside" America and "guiding" America, may God bless them as well.
“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” 
                                                                         ~Bob Marley