Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blue Christmas...

hope not...but I needed a lead in for a follow-up on hobnail...wanted to highlight some of the blue hobnail...but I did get a little history on "Blue Christmas".

It was written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1948. A heart-broken tale of unrequited love during the holidays had long been considered a Christmas staple of country music. In 1957, Elvis Presley effectively made "Blue Christmas" a steadfast rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it in his signature style. Elvis Presley's famous recording of the song appeared on his 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album. It was also released as a single. Ernest Tubb's version of the song included an extra verse not used by Elvis' later version.

So, there you have for some blue hobnail...the blue color is made by adding copper to the mixture, and in a book on cake stands, this turquoise blue is dubbed "Jersey blue."

These hobnail pieces are signature depression era Fenton. You can tell their styles by the ruffles and the rolled edges at the bases of the pieces. These are all early pieces because they do not have the Fenton name imprinted on the glass. Fenton used paper labels until 1970.

You can see the various shades of turquoise in these pictures. The shades do piece I got with this collection was a Westmoreland piece. It is a totally different shade as you can see...

Westmoreland Glass made some gorgeous Victorian glass when they opened in 1890 in Grapeville, Pa. English Hobnail was a big hit thru the Depression Glass years. This in a 50s piece because it has the intertwined W G mark that originated in 1949. Unlike Fenton, which is still in business, Westmoreland closed in 1984.

So, hopefully, your Christmas was a pretty blue like Fenton or Westmoreland blue...and remember as we face the new year, as Mark Twain says:
“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter white...

So, I did mention winter white...I do not think I specified snow...but, alas, that is what we have...I have not dug my way out to the shop, so this will be snow white scenes...not this SW this one...
It is so seasonally appropriate though! So, for those of you who are browsing in your shorts and tees, let me refresh your winter spirit!

And, as you contemplate the winter...think about this...“Where does the white go when the snow melts?”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The color of

springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Ward Elliot Hour

I am going with the winter white theme this year in the shop. We have had so many gray rainy days that bright and light seemed to be needed. Of course, I am still waiting for my drunken paper whites to do their thing! Chuckle!

So, I thought the opalescent glass was a nice touch, and I have a nice collection of hobnail glass available. According to my research, the term “hobnail” comes from the nails with thick heads that were used to secure and protect the soles of boots. It is funny how such a utilitarian product turned into a decorative art. Hobnail patterns can be seen on dishes, candlesticks, lamps and vases. It is created by blowing the glass into a mold. There are early Victorian pieces, but Fenton is best known for the style.

Fenton Hobnail glass, dating from 1930, is decorated with a pattern of bumps.
Early hobnail pieces such as Fenton brand had a signature look to them. No matter what the piece was made for (soap dish, perfume or even holding fine liquor) it came with a wooden lid or stopper adorned with a round wooden finial. The glass itself is not marked with the manufacturer’s name; rather it is marked on the underside of the lid. In the later years of hobnail glass, the wooden toppers were replaced with matching color glass, but still had the round knobs on top.
Fenton produced many colors of hobnail glass, the most popular being the opaque milk glass. The most rare and sought after color is an opalescent cranberry that was used in some vanity sets and miscellaneous items before it disappeared in the late 1950s. I have some other hobnail colors, but I will save them for another time.

Fenton was not alone in the hobnail manufacturing because Anchor Hocking stepped into production with "Moonstone." Anchor Hocking manufactured the distinctive Moonstone pattern from 1941 through 1946. This pattern is easily identified by the clear hobnails and the milky, or opalescent, edge. It was produced in the first five years of the newly consolidated Anchor Hocking Company, which had begun to manufacture glass for the home in 1937. The opacity, or milkiness, comes from adding ash or tin oxide during the firing process.

So, for those who like snowy whites, Moonstone and Fenton hobnail may be something to look for.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hummel "wanna-be"

I bought a couple of these cute Christmas figurines at the flea market a couple weeks ago, and I just got them out in the shop today. That made me think of the history of these Hummel wanna-bees as I fondly call them.
Many dealers incorrectly tag them as mid century to rival Hummels when German imports were banned during the war; however, the company behind the figurines, Arnart imported porcelain art.
Erich Stauffer designed fake versions of Hummels and Kalk figurines for Arnart from 1953 to 1970 under the brands Arnart Imports, 5th Avenue, ArMark, Royal Carlton, Royal Chintz, and Royal Crown.
Some researchers speculate that Erich did not even exist, but that he was a fictitious character. Erich Stauffer, a traditional German name, may have been invented to make it seem as though the Arnart imports were from Germany. The paper labels that indicate Made in Japan are not often found on the figurines. But, this could explain why it is so hard to find out information about Erich Stauffer, the designer.

When we occupied Japan, we allowed many of these import companies to gain a major share of the import market which is no different than the Chinese imports of today except I daresay the quantity and quality of some of those imports pales in comparison to the mid century Japanese imports.

And, that brings me to a key point for the beginning of December and the spirit of giving. Can you imagine how many of these figurines were given as gifts to Grandmothers and Mothers in the 1950s and 60s? I remember going with my father the day or two before Christmas to buy some gifts for my Mom. We headed to the local 5 & 10 (now known as the Dollar Stores), and I usually went for some figurine or rhinestone jewelry. I still gravitate towards those displays in the department stores! So, as the season of gifting begins, remember...

Cheerful givers do not count the cost of what they give.Their hearts are set on pleasing and cheering the person to whom the gift is given.
Julian of Norwich

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Star light, star bright, drunken paper whites!

Last Sunday of the month...the months seem to be only a few days long lately...maybe it is the mixture of life that makes time whirl by...not sure though that I would want dull moments anyway.

So, I am finally starting to think winter...holidaze...chilling out even though the semester is ending, research papers coming in, finals and grades to plan. But, I am always into multi tasking...if you are reading this, I am sure you are also!!!

Anyway, this year I am trying the paper white routine. Years ago I tried them, but I was not impressed by their so-called perfume; however, the woman at the garden center at Terrain assured me that these would be fragrant. (Side note here...many of you know of my appreciation of the retailer Anthropologie...well, they have a garden center in PA...showstopper to say the least--Terrain . Maybe I can get back there and do a show and tell on that place. You can find them at if you want to take a look.)

So, in anticipation of late December bloom, I have started the sequence. They take 3 weeks.
Now, it seems simple enough...just add water...Paper whites are the original “Just Add Water” plant. While paperwhite bulbs can be planted in soil, more commonly they are grown in pots or dishes with some stones or marbles to anchor them in place and a little water. Here are directions...

1.Select a container that is about 3 - 4 inches deep (8 - 10 cm) and that has no drainage holes.

2.Spread an inch or 2 of stones, marbles or even gravel, along the bottom of the container.

3.Position your paper white bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the stone layer. Go ahead and squeeze them in. They not only look better in a large group, the tight fit will help keep them from toppling over.

4.Add another layer of stones to fill in any gaps and cover the bulbs up to their shoulders. The pointed tips should still be showing.

5.Add water so that the level just reaches the base of the bulbs. Allowing the bottom of the bulb to sit in water will stimulate growth. Covering the entire bulb with water could cause it to rot.

6.The bulbs don’t need light at this point and they prefer to be kept on the cool side, at about 65 degrees F (18 degrees C.)

7.Check your bulbs daily to see if they need more water.

8.When you see roots developing, move the container to a sunny window. The sunnier the better, but try not to let them get too warm or they’ll grow leggy.

9.Once the plants flower, they will last longer if moved out of direct sunlight, to a cool spot with indirect or diffused light. You can start pots of paper whites every couple of weeks, for a continuous display throughout the winter.

Now here is the kicker...get them drunk and they will be even better. One of my customers recommended vodka in the water, but, after doing some more research, I found these guidelines.

How to Stunt Paperwhites with Alcohol...

1.Pot your paperwhites in stones and water, as you normally would.
2.Once the roots begin growing and the green shoot on top reaches about 1-2", pour off the existing water.
3.Replace the water with a solution of 4 - 6% alcohol, as described below.
4.Continue to use the alcohol solution for future watering.
You should see results in a few days.

How to Make the Alcohol Watering Solution
•The alcohol content needs to be less than 10%, or your plants will overdose and severe growth problems will occur. Many liquors are only labeled as "proof", not percentage of alcohol. Don’t confuse the two. To determine what percentage alcohol you have, divide the proof in half, So and 86 proof bourbon is 43% alcohol.
•You can use any hard liquor (vodka, tequila, whiskey...) or rubbing alcohol. Don’t use wine or beer because they are too high in sugar.
•Check the bottle for the percentage alcohol.
•You will have to do some math to get the different concentrations of alcohol down to 4-6%.
To convert your booze to 5% alcohol, just divide the percentage alcohol by 5 and then subtract 1. That will tell you how many parts water to mix with your 1 part alcohol. Ex: 40 divided by 5 = 8: 8 minus 1 = 7... 7 parts water to 1 part alcohol.

Now, I would do the math before you start mixing in case you take a nip along the way!!!

Of course, I am going to use vintage pieces for their growing season, and I will post their progress.

How special a gift this would be for someone. Since they take 3 weeks to bloom, you can time it so that the blossoms are open for the holidays. what a neat hostess gift. Tuck a special book on gardening or a journal with the greenery.
It shows more imagination and the true spirit of the season...after they bloom, they can be kept in a cool, dark place, and then planted outside in the spring. They will take 3 years to recover, but they will bloom again in their natural habitat.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow....
- - - Robert Frost "My November Guest"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.

So said Ambrose Bierce, but the weather here is getting chilly...after all, it is the end of November so let the sweaters begin!

What caught my eye this week was a picture from this a fairly new TV show, Glee. Although I usually watch shows that have teaching as a plot line, I have missed this one, but the magic of internet TV will allow me to catch up. Anyway, this picture of a character who is the guidance counselor at the school made me take notice.I think the setting is modern, but she has a sweater clip on!!!! These are so retro 50s! I have had women who did not even know what they were for! If for no other reason, I have to watch to see what trends may be on the move if this show is as successful as it seems to be.

I actually ended up with a stash of these clips in an auction lot the other night.
Some of the older ones have rather nasty looking alligator clips on them while others appear to be simply tie clip styles.

It appears these may have evolved from the European chatelaine pins. These were pins with chains enabled women to keep their needlework scissors and needles handy. Originally chatelaine dates to the middle ages. The name was given to the keeper of castle keys (usually the lord's wife) which were worn on a chain like a belt. Eventually, keys were replaced by magnifiers, sewing kits, and even books! It was streamlined to the pins with small chains as castles fell out of favor as the family homestead.

But, as Fran Lebowitz says, "If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater suggest that he wear a tail."
Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

South Jersey Glass

Despite the fact that we were almost blown out to sea this past week, South Jersey is an amazing potpourri of places and people. We do have beaches, boating, and beauty, and a little bit of attitude thrown in.

At auction Friday night, I bought some fun glass items. South Jersey housed the first successful glass manufacturing company, Casper Wistar in Alloway, 1739-1781.

Glassmaking was prolific from 1830-1890 until automation came to the industry. Although traditional items were produced...pitchers, bowls, salts, ink wells, scent bottles...some unique products were also designed. These whimsies included toy drums, canes, swords, and real oddities like the hammer here, not to mention the hatchets. The one is dated from the 1893 World's Fair. There is also a about fragile justice!

Then I bought this glass hat...
not to mention top hats in glass.

I did see an article on the web that called these top hats celery vases although I would think it would be pretty fancy for celery! I can see them used as floral vases. They are in the glass whimsy family though!

The most common color was aqua since it required no coloring agents...all the canning jars were produced that way. Amber, green, glue and clear are readily found, but ruby and amethyst require gold and quartz or gems to produce the color. These balls are variations of witch balls. The witch's ball date back to 18th century England.

They were hung in a window or in the house, or even given a place on a velvet pillow. They were thought to trap negative energy and prevent it from impacting the household. We need to hang some of these balls throughout the world, don't we!!!

Or, perhaps all we need is to fill this giant wine bottle and pass it around! "“We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.” (Eduardo Galeano)