Sunday, June 24, 2012

"If I don't do laundry today,

I'm gonna have to buy new clothes tomorrow. 
                ~ Anna Paquin
Ever have one of those weeks? You just don't get to the laundry!  But, laundry is still a breeze for most of us in the civilized world.  It is better than having to go to the river or water source and let your clothes wash nature's way!
Special tools like a bat  helped and a board or a rock was used to scrub on.  Long thin washing bats initially were just sticks, and they were used for moving cloth around as well as for beating the dirt out of it. Doing this with a piece of wood was called possing, and various styles of possers developed as an improvement on plain tree branches. Squarish washing bats could double up as a scrub board. Simple wooden boards can be taken to the riverside, or rocks at the edge of the water may be used as scrubbing surfaces.
Domestic laundry was often treated like newly woven textiles being "finished". Today we rarely...if at all...think about where the fabrics that we wear are manufactured, but traditional laundry methods often followed techniques used by weavers, including home weavers.
Soap, mainly soft soap made from ash lye and animal fat, was used by washerwomen whose employers paid for it. Soap was rarely used by the poorest people in medieval times, but by the 18th century soap was fairly widespread, but it was used for finer clothing and for tackling stains, not used for the whole wash. Starch and bluing were available for better quality linen and clothing. A visitor to England just before 1700 sounded a little surprised at how much soap was used in London:      At London, and in all other Parts of the Country where they do not burn Wood, they do not make Lye. All their Linnen, coarse and fine, is wash'd with Soap. When you are in a Place where the Linnen can be rinc'd in any large Water, the Stink of the black Soap is almost all clear'd away.
~M. Misson's Memoirs and Observations in his Travels over England (first published in French, 1698)
Leave it to the Americans to gravitate toward the gadget, and the Industrial Revolution helped that right along.   The mangle or wringer was developed in the 19th century — two long rollers in a frame and a crank to revolve them. A laundry-worker took sopping wet clothing and cranked it through the mangle, compressing the cloth and expelling the excess water. The mangle was much quicker than hand twisting.
Meanwhile 19th century inventors further mechanized the laundry process with various hand-operated washing machines. Most involved turning a handle to move paddles inside a tub. Then some early 20th century machines used an electrically powered agitator to replace tedious hand rubbing against a washboard. Many of these were simply a tub on legs, with a hand-operated mangle on top. Later the mangle too was electrically powered, then replaced by a perforated double tub, which spun out the excess water in a spin cycle.
Laundry drying was also mechanized with clothes dryers. Dryers were also spinning perforated tubs, but they blew heated air rather than water.


So....why laundry...well, I have some new laundry detergent in stock...brought to you by Mary of Terra Viam...my soap maker...whose soap was featured in Country Living last fall...and who sells internationally!  According to Mary...and I quote: "These little one pound bags clean 32 loads for reg. washers and 64 loads for HE washers. That is like .50 cents per wash for regular washers! Pretty cool I think!!! This is highly concentrated soap so one should use only a rounded tablespoon per load. This soap does not suds up....which is good! There is no need to, the suds only get caught up in the fabric of the clothes anyway and doesn't rinse out clean.  Using this laundry detergent and hanging up clothes on the clothesline can really reduce one's carbon footprint! My family has used this for years!"

Now, thanks again to my BFF elf, our sink cabinet has been reborn to highlight laundry.
So, in our constant attempt to have unique...creative...not the typical product...we bring you this new product...just smelling it makes you feel clean! 
The scents are: Clothesline Fresh (and it does smell just like freshly line-dried laundry), River Wash(and you do not need to go near the river...unless you want to), Lavender, Lavender & Linen (lavender is a calming scent...for animals as well as people), and Bohemian Cedar (for the cabin folks).

Also, we have some neat old framed ads, washboards, and even some old clothespins. So, if you want to make laundry day more than a chore, stop in.
 




"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry." ~ E.B. White



Sunday, June 17, 2012

"There is often a big disparity

between the way in which we perceive things and the way things really are." ~ Dalai Lama

I lucked into a stash of early books at the flea market a couple weeks ago, and, even though it is Father's Day, I am doing a roundabout to talk about men.
 
In doing my research for this post, I was gobsmacked to discover that the Nancy Drew books were not written by good old Carolyn Keene, but by someone's Daddy!  Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate book packaging firm, had created the Hardy Boys series in 1926, and the series was so popular that he decided to create a similar series for girls, with an amateur girl detective as the heroine. While Stratemeyer believed that a woman's place was in the home (again...history is always enlightening),  he was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls' interest in mysteries with a strong female heroine.

The character first appeared in 1930. The books were ghostwritten by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Authors had to sign away all rights to authorship or future royalties. The contracts stated that authors could not use their Stratemeyer Syndicate pseudonyms independently of the Syndicate.

 In the early days of the Syndicate, ghostwriters were paid a fee of $125, "roughly equivalent to two month's wages for a typical newspaper reporter, the primary day job of the syndicate ghosts." During the Great Depression this fee was lowered to $100.  All royalties went to the Syndicate.
According to my research, Nancy Drew has evolved in response to changes in USA culture and tastes. The books were extensively revised, beginning in 1959, largely to eliminate racist stereotypes. ( I think I need to reread these books!).  Many scholars agree that, in the revision process, the "heroine's original, outspoken character was toned down and made more docile, conventional, and demure." In the 1980s a new series was created, The Nancy Drew Files, which featured an older and more professional Nancy as well as romantic plots.  In 2004 the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series, begun in 1930, was ended and a new series, Girl Detective, was launched, with an updated version of the character who drives a hybrid electric vehicle and uses a cell phone. Illustrations of the character have also evolved over time, from portrayals of a fearless, active young woman to a fearful or passive one. Along the way, there were many lawsuits by the various authors who tried to claim royalties.  In 1980, the battles were still in the courts.  Guess Nancy could not solve that problem!
 What is fascinating about these books....other than my dashed myth of Carolyn Keene...is how the books are promoted during those trying times...Depression...WW II...
There are a number of Judy Bolton books also.  Now these were written by a woman, Margaret Sutton, and are also a popular girls' mystery series. The first 4 volumes were published in 1932 by Grosset and Dunlap. The series continued until 1967 and consisted of 38 volumes. Each book was "based on something that actually happened" and many were based on real life sites.   Penny Parker books are in the stash.  Penny Parker was the heroine of a series of 17 books written by Mildred Wirt and published from 1939 through 1947.

I found the book covers fascinating...but, as I said earlier, in a roundabout way, I have to honor my Daddy on this Father's Day, who was taken years ago by cancer, but who helped me write my story...and, unlike Nancy Drew's creator, did not believe I needed to be in the home (although he did expect my mother there!), and who took me to the library weekly for all of these "girl" books.  I leave you with a quote from the one book cover ~little did they know what the 21st century would bring~ granted we have plenty of gorgeous "girl" detectives on TV, but "Take away our books, and we become slaves, unknown and unknowing."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"One day you're in.

The next day you're out."
        Heidi on Project Runway

Vintage is the new "in".  From Junk Gypsies to Etsy, the new craze is recycle, repurpose, reuse...hopefully, this translates to a philosophy of appreciating the old, the history, the value of old or artisan translated works...one can still shop the boxes...I noticed there is a show on HGTV...The Mom Cave...where all of the accessories come from Home Goods...nothing wrong with that since they are paying to sponsor the show; however, the little brick & mortars cannot pay for that kind of advertising although the Junk Gypsy girls do go to the antique shops!  AND...key in their shopping, the prices are amazingly reasonable...they are in Round Top, Texas, and they do not argue over prices!  If something is priced fair, despite the mentality of this business, one should avoid that route. If something is only a couple dollars, unless it is a piece of penny candy, respect the price!
        But, I digress...back to vintage.  I started carrying this magazine in the shop...
This issue has some amazing ideas for all kinds of vintage items.  Looking through this, I realized how much one's personality is tied into the world of vintage & retro.  Like the quote on this picture..."The way you put together the things you love comes from the way you feel about them."
     

That is why our shop goes through its "disaster" modes...we want you to have fun...to enjoy...to appreciate...we do not want to have a shop that looks like a yard sale on a shelf.   It takes time to get the look...and a skillful placement person...my friend & elf Ruthie!  She also has the ability to take something and transform it into that "artisan translated" object that has use...these old baskets are great for storage...neat cottage accent in a room with extra pillows, towels, whatever...


That is what vintage is all about...taking the old...the discarded and breathing life into it...and you can combine old and new...these dishes are 1955...the linens are 2012! 

Another discussion point is pricing since this is turning into a bit of a business blog...it takes time to rework the old, and there is the age-old myth that one must "deal" in this retail market.  "What is your best price?"  JC Penney realized the constant sale mentality had worn out its welcome.  Price it right, and it will sell.  Many people in the antique/vintage world though do cling to decades old ideas...mark it up to mark it down...well, my theory is "No need to think twice, I have already given you my best price."  Life is complicated enough these days to have to worry about what is on sale, how much can I get off on this...shopping in an open air market...maybe...but even then, sometimes those prices are fair as well.  Sadly, if things are always on sale, no one wants to buy if the tag does not reflect sale...so why not price it right the first time?

But, back to vintage...it creates a unique look wherever it goes...from an old piece of discarded fence...
to an old shutter propped in a corner with a new print and new florals...
Vintage...retro...antique...call it what you want...breathes life into everything...can you imagine the face of someone who walks into your bathroom and sees this rug on the floor?  This could be the inspiration for decorating an entire room...like I tell my students, "Think outside the box."


And to return to the world of fashion, I leave you with words from Coco Chanel..."Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

“I think I've discovered the secret of life -

- you just hang around until you get used to it.”
                      ~Charles Schulz



And...speaking of hanging around, you can now come and hang out at the shop 6 days of the week...we are open for the season.  And..you know I have to segue...transition...into a new vintage find...it is the hanger!

For once, it seems the ancient Romans or Greeks did not corner the market on the idea...appears that Thomas Jefferson was the inventor!  He was a master mind of engineering.  Among the long list, he improved the wooden plow, designed a portable copying press, a revolving Windsor chair, the "dumb waiter",  and automatic double doors. A guest reported: "In a recess at the foot of the bed was a horse with forty-eight projecting hands on which hung his coats and which he could turn round with a long stick; a knick-knack that Jefferson was fond of showing with many other little mechanical inventions."

According to my research, it appears that throughout most of the 18th century clothing either hung on hooks or  laid flat for storage. It was not until around 1850 that people began using hangers to hang clothes in wardrobes. Victorian women's bustles and skirts needed careful storage and hanger inventors and manufacturers came to their aid with all kinds of adjustable components and spring systems to allow the skirts to retain their pleats and hold the waistbands.

Today's most used hanger, the shoulder-shaped wire hanger, was inspired by an employeee of the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company, Albert Parkhouse; they produced novelty items made of wire and lampshades. The frustrated Parkhouse could find no hooks to hang his coat upon and so he took a piece of wire and twisted it into a shape that could support his coat. He included a hook in the wire so it could be hung up. He was so happy with his new hanger that he worked on the design until he had perfected it.
And in the true American capitalist corporate world,  the company took out a patent because companies could patent their employees' inventions.  The company made a fortune, but Parkhouse never got a penny~he did get his name under "inventor".

A total of 89 patents have been issued for the coat hanger, but our modern day coat hanger is based on Parkhouse’s invention. After 1903, the coat hanger has been improved in many ways. In 1932, for example, Schuyler Hulett added an anti-wrinkle function to the item; he screwed cardboard tubes onto the upper and lower parts of the wire, and this way one could avoid wrinkled clothes. Elmer D. Rogers three years later created a coat hanger with a lower cardboard tube, so that the coat hanger could also be used to hang up pants.

I love the old hangers from hotels or cruise lines...this one is from The Biltmore in NYC.  This is fun and useful!!!

Another thing you can do with the old pants hangers is to turn them into unique display pieces...here is one with some old post cards...I do appreciate the new buyer in the vintage/antique world...it is not enough for something to be old...what can you do with it...and that is why neat old clothes hangers make a fun collectible...we all use hangers...and we all need clothes because as Mark Twain said, "...clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."