Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Don't knock the weather:

nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while." ~Kin Hubbard

I always like to start and end with a quotation on my weekly post here, and I stumbled upon Kin Hubbard, identified as an American humorist who lived from 1868-1930. This time of year the weather is a main topic of conversation because it is a little erratic. I thought by now I could have posted pictures of the outside of the store all ready for the new tourist season, but not so...40 mph winds...40 degree temps...so the plants are sitting patiently waiting.
And, my shop is waiting for its face-lift!
So, let's take a look at a new find...a lucite purse.
I never find these in quantity. The prices are sometimes quite ludicrous. In fact, I saw $900 as the going rate on an article while researching. Of course, you know my feeling about the online pricing. In the 1950's DuPont developed a wonderful new plastic that was used for the boxy purses. This sturdy new plastic could be structured, molded and carved into interesting new shapes never before known.
Lucite was created in many wonderful colors with interesting features such as marbling, added glitter, pearlized, clear, opaque and transparent. Some had inset rhinestones and many had wonderfully ornate metal trim.
There had never been such revolutionary creative purses as these and they became very popular for about a ten to fifteen year period. It is an interesting study in women's buying...is the attention span 10-15 years? That brings another Hubbard quote...“There are two ways to handle a woman, and nobody knows either of them.” Women are fickle...like Vera purses...very retro fabric...what has turned them into a sensation? Who knows?

 As with any purse, these bags came in varying degrees of quality to accommodate any pocketbook and were priced from $5-$75 ($36-$545 in today's money). They were fun and unusual and remain so today as collectors and lovers of vintage accessories snatch them up. The most common names associated with Lucite purses are Wilardy, Charles Kahn, Patiricia of Miami, Stylecraft of Miami, Gilli, Lewellyn, Maxim, Tryolean, Rialto.

Many were unsigned or have lost their paper tags. This would make a neat Mother's Day gift...and also...the jewelry elf, Sharon, is up from Florida...check out these new bracelets! These are made from old clip-on earrings.

She also made some more of the beaded bangles...old beads recycled...
and then, a new series...this is a set of 2 since the more bracelets, the better in the new retro fashion world.
Also, my BFF Ruthie the elf is helping me get the shop all gussied up for the new season...and we will be doing the Bayberry Twigs Antique Show in Avalon, Saturday May 26 at the Community Hall at 30th and the beach.
We are putting away some special treasures just for that show. So, if you are coming into town for the Memorial Day weekend, you can find us there...of course, the shop is open also, and with my teaching wrapping up in 2 weeks the shop will be going to its seasonal hours...daily except Tuesdays. It is always exciting to welcome the new season and new arrivals to the area.
"The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May." - Edwin Way Teale

Sunday, April 22, 2012

“It is difficult to see why lace should be so expensive;

it is mostly holes.”~Mary Wilson Little

 I talked about buying online the other week, but I am seriously wondering now who shops online...this is the second set of $145 used paint brushes...first set sold...
I am sure I am missing something here, and the price would not be bad if you threw in the painter.  There was also a ladder for $495!  I continue to be gobsmacked by the online prices!  Your local antique store is a far better deal...do not think that the online prices reflect the average shop...at least not in my area.

But, if you have that kind of cash in your wallet, we have a Victorian cloisonne ginger jar in the shop.  Granted, this is made in China, and I have been promoting American, but this is just a gem of a ginger jar....the art of cloisonne traces its roots to the 14th & 15th centuries. The earliest securely dated Chinese cloisonné is from the reign of the Ming Xuande emperor (1426–35). However, cloisonné is recorded during the previous Yuan dynasty, and it has been suggested that the technique was introduced to China at that time via the western province of Yunnan, which, under Mongol rule, received an influx of Islamic people.  If you think about the look, it does have an Arabic look.

Historically, ginger jars held provisions, including not just ginger but salt, oils and other spices.The ginger jar appellation is a vestige of the wealthy Westerners who bought imported jars filled with ginger, largely for decorative purposes. In China the jars have a variety of cultural roles. Some were made as gifts to Chinese emperors. Others were traditional wedding gifts to grooms.

Cloisonné is the technique of creating designs on metal vessels with colored-glass paste placed within enclosures made of copper or bronze wires, which have been bent or hammered into the desired pattern. Known as cloisons (French for "partitions"), the enclosures generally are either pasted or soldered onto the metal body. The glass paste, or enamel, is colored with metallic oxide and painted into the contained areas of the design. The vessel is usually fired at a relatively low temperature, about 800°C. Enamels commonly shrink after firing, and the process is repeated several times to fill in the designs. Once this process is complete, the surface of the vessel is rubbed until the edges of the cloisons are visible. They are then gilded, often on the edges, in the interior, and on the base.

Cloisonné objects were intended primarily for the furnishing of temples and palaces because their flamboyant splendor was considered appropriate to the function of these structures but not well suited to a more restrained atmosphere, such as that of a scholar's home. This opinion was expressed by Cao Zhao  in 1388 in his influential Gegu Yaolun (Guide to the Study of Antiquities), in which cloisonné was dismissed as being suitable only for lady's chambers. However, by the period of Emperor Xuande, this ware came to be greatly prized at court.

If the piece is a series of abstract patterns, perhaps with some stylized flowers,  then the piece is most likely of Chinese or Middle Eastern origin. If  it portrays a naturalistic scene, perhaps a bird such as a wren or sparrow perched on a twig and surrounded with a spray of flowers, then it is probably Japanese cloisonne. Examine some of the individual cloisons. Rather than being uniform blobs of color, cloisons on the finest Japanese wares often display delicate shading.

So, you could buy a couple paint brushes online, or you could check out a local antique shop for some cloisonne.

Or, as Pablo Picasso once said, "I don't own any of my own paintings because a Picasso original costs several thousand dollars--it's a luxury I can't afford."  If he were alive, he probably could not afford to buy his own paint brushes back!





Sunday, April 15, 2012

"If we knew what it was we were doing,

it would not be called research, would it?" ~Albert Einstein

You never know where research will take you. I am currently reading my students' research papers...our culmination of a semester working with the phrase "forbidden fruit." I love to look something up and be amazed by what I discover. And...that brings me to today's tidbit. I have boxes of treasures that I have never unpacked...those box lots from auction that you just tuck in the shed. Well, I have started my archaeological digs, and here is a find!Based on research, I discovered that in 1865, Robert H. Dicks and Elmer Wiggim began producing sealing wax for food-canning out of Dicks' garage in Dayton, Ohio. In those days before refrigeration and commercially prepared foods, canning was a widespread practice and demand for their product was high. In 1906, Dicks bought out Wiggim and joined with George Pontius, incorporating their partnership in 1913 as the Dicks-Pontius Company.
When Robert Dicks died, his son John entered the business and expanded it to include putty and caulk manufacturing in bulk form. (You have to wonder how he got from sealing wax on jars to putty and caulk...those kids...always thinking of silly things!)

The Dicks-Pontius Company revolutionized the home repair products market in the 1940's and 50's through its marketing and product development including moving the industry to marketing caulks and sealants in disposable cartridges. Through the 1950's, the company grew through several acquisitions, including a merger with the Chicago-based Armstrong Company in 1957. The resulting entity was renamed Dicks-Armstrong-Pontius, which was eventually shortened to the brand name DAP. The company continued its path of innovative growth, introducing new products and expanding its reach. In 1964, DAP pioneered the development of latex caulking compounds followed with acrylic latex technology breakthroughs in 1970 and advanced acrylic latex technology introductions in 1984.

Through innovation and acquisition, the company continued to expand its product line. DAP entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with the worldwide leader in silicone technology in 1980 to market a full line of silicone sealants. In the mid 1980's, Weldwood® branded adhesives came into the fold. Subsequently, the Plastic Wood® brand was integrated into the DAP portfolio of products in the 90's. Finally, the first decade of the twenty first century led to an exclusive marketing agreement with the worldwide leader in antimicrobial technology, Microban International, as well as the integration of the Phenoseal® brand of adhesive caulk.

See...American companies do exist...and to go from canning wax to an industry leader in sealants is an accomplishment. So, the next time you caulk that window or shower door, you are supporting a company with a long history...and do you notice how all these American companies start in garages??? (Think Microsoft, Google, Apple...) Maybe we need to build garages not offices!

"An invention has to make sense in the world it finishes in, not in the world it started." Tim O'Reilly

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Here comes Peter Cottontail

Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity
Happy Easter Day."
I am probably going to get some folks "hoppin'" with this post…but if they hop to thinking, then that is a good thing.

One of my business forums posted a link to a site…One Kings Lane…and that mail order site added to their typical retail offerings (which, by the way, undercuts the small retailer) the section called “Vintage.” Along with that, they have a video validating vintage as excellent buying choices. Now, I am in hysterics because, when I opened my shop over 20 years ago with fun “stuff” from the 20s and 30s, many of the true “antique” people would “Tsk, tsk” as they viewed the merchandise since it was not really “antique,” that it was just "collectibles". No longer collectible, the economics of secondhand retail is making it legit by calling it vintage...or retro!

I have been through the research, and, yes, antique is 100 years old…and I have discussed that in earlier blogs. The only real law concerning the definition of the word antique comes from the US customs office, an antique is anything 100 years old or older. In the United States, the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined an antique as “works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830.”

So, this is an antique…
this is not…
We have One Kings Lane offering “Vintage” as a buying category and in a video promoting "vintage," they have various "experts" calling it…"a point of view…has age and a soul…has been somewhere.” I am so definitely “vintage”! Then, there are prices…prices are shown “marked down” also. I have to give J.C. Penney’s credit at this point for just setting up fair prices.

Antique/vintage dealers would do that except in our world people have been told to bargain. I am still trying to figure out why it is all right to walk into a small shop...antique, vintage, retail...and ask for a better price. No one would do that in Macy's or Anthropologie. So, in many shops people just mark the merchandise up so that they can give the 10%, 20%, whatever…and make the customer happy. But, how nice it would be to walk into a shop…see a price and know that is the price (that is my shop!). Do people negotiate over the internet on prices? And, does the consumer factor in shipping? And, if everyone started with a reasonable price for an item, would that not be nice? It would not scare off buyers. It would prove logical. I look at some prices on this One Kings site, and I think...WOW! Unless one lives in a totally isolated area, the item could probably be found in one of the local antique/vintage shops for far less.

I wonder as the small shops disappear, and everyone has to become mail order consumers will they recognize what they are losing. I said I would be writing off and on this year about the B & M shops...the brick and mortar shops...the mom & pop shops...the indie...run by real live people who try to give you a neat shopping experience...remember the line from Joni Mitchell (and I actually think some modern groups played into it)...

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot"

Or, in perhaps a rather expensive mail order web site...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"April is the cruelest month,

breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." ~ T.E. Eliot
I am sure my students think April is cruel...the semester is winding down...research papers are coming in for me...but April is also National Poetry Month.

The Academy of American Poets created this initiative in 1996 to highlight "the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. [They] hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated." They chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women's History Month (March), and on the advice of teachers and librarians, April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry—in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.

I featured some neat journals last week that could be inspirational for writers...the wonderful bound works made with old vinyl records. This week I am featuring another made in USA product from Secret Leaves. What do you do with old books that have seen better days? In the true spirit of "rejuvenating the classics" as my friend calls our work, we have journals made from old book covers. Even though typing for this box is so simple, it does lack the human touch no matter how many fonts are available.

I want people to understand the person in a personal gift. Yes, gift cards are easy...but how neat is it to buy something for someone that you know the person will cherish! Small shops have those special one-of-a-kind treasures...whether is is an old book...(once the Kindle/Nook takes over these are gone with the wind along with Rhett! Anyone give a "damn"?) or a old book that has been reborn into a binder...you could add to these books...a hole punch is all it takes...Secret Leaves takes old books and gives them a new life with blank paper for creating your own classics.Sometimes she leaves "tidbits" of the book...imagine the former owner of this cover...Not only does the book live again, so does "A. Leroy"--Andrew, Anna, Ambrose...the poetry of the world is everywhere!

And, of course, this is April 1...April Fool's Day or All Fool's Day. {I could digress} Anyway, the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from March 25 - April 1 to January 1.

Some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled "fools", were subject to ridicule and sent on "fool errands," sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a "poisson d'avril" or "April fish" because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke. But, I am not fooling around when I talk about creating poetry in shopping motion by visiting the local small stores...sure, Walmart has "stuff," but for the poetry of selection, check out the small shops that still buy for you--whether it is vintage or antique...the rejuvenated classics...or specialty retail items found after hours of gift show and catalog gazing.

Over the land is April,
Over my heart a rose;
Over the high, brown mountain
The sound of singing goes.
Say, love, do you hear me,
Hear my sonnets ring?
Over the high, brown mountain,
Love, do you hear me sing?

~Robert Louis Stevenson