Saturday, July 30, 2016

"I don't like the idea of things

being off-limits to kids - like a fancy sitting room where they can't touch anything. I own vintage pottery cups, and I let my girls hold them. It teaches them to treat objects with respect.
~Debi Mazar

I mentioned my Midwest connection was coming with pottery, and in the tub of goodies were Van Briggle pieces.  Interestingly, the pottery managed to survive for nearly 111 years until the economy forced its closure in 2012.  I say economy, but I am going to call it as I see it...lack of consumers who understand quality and shop for cheap.  I have heard people in the shop say, "Oh, I can't have good things-the kids will break them."  Now,  I do keep my mouth shut, but I guess dollar store trinkets are good enough for the kids, and so begins their love with the dollar store and you-know-what-mart. But, let us consider when artists were revered.

Artus Van Briggle started the company in 1899 in Colorado Springs with his wife Anne Louise.  According to the Van Briggle history, he was an American artist of Dutch descent, and he was established as a world class painter in Europe. Having been trained at the finest academies there, and with paintings accepted by the Paris Salon, he received the highest honors for a painter in his day. Yet his artistic passions would ultimately lead him away from his brush, canvas, and easel toward another artistic pursuit that would ultimately define his genius. From his years as a celebrated artist at the famed Rookwood Pottery in Ohio, he knew first-hand the extraordinary range of expression an artist could achieve with the potter’s materials. His pursuit was the creation of exquisite satin matte glazes, like those he’d seen on ancient Chinese masterworks, in a palette of glorious colors, never achieved by any artist in modern times. 
Clay and glaze are indeed extravagant media, offering the artist a lifetime of challenges and rewards. Artus, however, didn’t have a lifetime - tragically, he had contracted tuberculosis and, though a relatively young man, his future was uncertain.
He succumbed to tuberculosis and within five years and died there in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, but not before receiving word that, when shown at Exhibitions here in the United States and in the Salons of Europe, his creations had won their highest awards.

 The company went through several owners, bankruptcy, a war-imposed closure and other problems over the next half-century before emerging prosperous in the 1950s.
These are a few of the pieces I have in the shop along with a brochure from the pottery when it was still alive.

I liked these lines from the Van Briggle collectors' web site:

"When you hold in your hand a piece of fine artistry and craftsmanship, a human creation with elegant lines and a sensual surface - something experienced by the eyes and hands and ultimately felt by the soul, you’ll know what Artus Van Briggle was seeking - and what he ultimately achieved."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"I'm just a lucky slob from Ohio

who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
~Clark Gable

For those who may not know that Clark, a la "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn", echoes some of the sentiment about collecting these days.  Gone are the elaborate price guides, except for Kovels, they are still hanging on, but, the younger generations are not looking to collect every piece of Roseville or every egg beater.  That was Grandma or Mom who wandered the yard sales, flea markets, and shops seeking the elusive piece.  Enter ebay...and there it was, along with a hundred or more of its brothers!  And, the tech savvy kids knew they only had to point and click if they wanted something, but, in that mindset, they still do appreciate a nice piece of pottery, not just 100 pieces of pottery.  And speaking of pottery, I was unwrapping and pricing some pottery that I have had tucked in the far corners.

Interestingly, Ohio was the center of pottery in the United States for many decades.  Zanesville, Ohio, was home to many of the potteries collectors used to buy.  From the Zanesville history...Colonel Ebenezer Zane and his son-in-law John McIntire blazed Zane’s Trace, the original pioneer trail into the old Northwest Territory. Zane, a Revolutionary War veteran, was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to blaze a pathway into the rolling hills and the dense forests of the Ohio Valley, and to establish ferry crossings at three major rivers including the Muskingum.
McIntire and Zane’s brother Jonathan took responsibility for operating the ferry at the Muskingum River and they were the county’s first settlers. A town laid out by McIntire called Westbourne quickly grew out of the settlement and in 1801 it was renamed Zanesville in honor of Colonel Zane.
Zanesville served as the temporary capitol of Ohio from 1810 to 1812. In 1814, the city’s well-known Y-shaped bridge was initially constructed to cross the junction of the two rivers in the center of Zanesville – the Licking and Muskingum. Today, the fifth Y-Bridge still stands at the heart of the community.

Rich natural resources such as sand, clay and iron made Zanesville and Muskingum County ideal for the manufacture of steel, glass and pottery. Ceramic tile and art pottery are an important part of the heritage of the community, as Zanesville became known as the “Pottery Capital of the World” and the “Clay City.”

Although we go after China today for taking manufacturing jobs, these companies except Robinson Ransbottom met their demise after WWII when we occupied Japan and gave them manufacturing rights.
  • Brush-McCoy Pottery
  • Burley Winter Pottery
  • Gonder Pottery
  • Hull Pottery Company
  • Nelson McCoy Pottery
  • Mosaic Tile Co.
  • J.B. Owens Pottery
  • Peters and Reed (Zane Pottery)
  • Radford Pottery
  • Robinson Ransbottom Pottery
  • Roseville Pottery Company
  • Shawnee Pottery
  • Watt Pottery
  • Weller Pottery
  • Zanesville Art Pottery
  • Zanesville Stoneware Company
What one can see reflected in the pottery is an artistic society among those Ohio potters.  This is a piece of Weller from the 1920s.   
Samuel Weller founded his pottery in 1872 operating out a cabin with one kiln.  He produces flower pots, bowls, crocks, and vases.  By 1905 the pottery was the largest in the country, and it produced art pottery until 1920 and commercial lines until 1948.  The flower bowl below complete with original flower frog is from the Woodcraft line produced from 1920-1933.  You can see the intricate design and colors in the piece.
Another popular pottery and one of my favorites is McCoy.  Now, before McCoy was on its own, there was Brush-McCoy.  This is a piece of Brush...simplistic and colorful...they survived from 1925-1982.  (China did probably get them!)

McCoy, which is now dubbed the most collected pottery in the states, existed from 1848 until 1991.  They produced over a hundred different styles, but their pieces from mid-century are most appealing.

Another pottery in that list is Shawnee.  They were in production from 1937-1961.  I find their pottery modern.  This piece is in an intricately designed holder, but the planter itself reflects a modern twist.

So, a look at Ohio (which just survived the RNC), and its history as the center of American pottery.  Too bad Americans decided they wanted planters for $1.00 from China instead of unique quality pieces from American potteries, but thank goodness there are those who still appreciate the workmanship of the past.  Maybe they don't want 100 pieces, but at least there are those who can appreciate 2 or 3 on a shelf.

“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed. Art has remembered the people, because they created”
~ William Morris

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Anything in existence,

having somehow come about, is continually interpreted anew, requisitioned anew, transformed and redirected to a new purpose."
~Friedrich Nietzsche

That opening quote is from a 19th century philosopher, and now in the 21st century we have reuse, repurpose, recycle.   We do simplify our philosophical ideas...tweets, emojis, Instagram...but those 3 R's are ones that I use in selecting unique items for my shop.

Flea markets are hit or miss unless you are at the brand name ones...Brimfield...Renninger's...Rose Bowl...but I was lucky to find some fun garden accent pieces this past week and made locally...welded from flatware, nuts, and bolts, and odds and ends pieces metal...bugs repurposed...

I know Pinterest has all kinds of ideas for doing reworking...repurposing...recycling...and that is great for restoring interest in older things.  Even glass is making a comeback.  A local glass factory...Durand...        although now French adding 100 people to their work force to make glass products...get rid of the plastic!

I have a friend who deals in faux finishing, and she not only paints an old piece of furniture but also can turn it into a work of art...her business, The Faux Chateau at Capt Scraps in Woodbine, NJ, will be Juliana's new business site.  Here are two pieces she has transformed.

She is a trained artist, and I keep reminding you that Americans are great and can do great things if we recognize each other's talents and not think is cheap is better.

Speaking of a transformation that is priced reasonably...only $450...check out this wonderful teak coffee table made out of a old ship's hatch with brass nozzles for the legs...also from an old ship.  It is available at Capt. Scraps Attic up the road from me.  Tim Erwin is the creative spirit behind this and some other creations there.  Again, Tim is a local, and he is creating in his workshop.
Again...American labor...not made in a Chinese factory! 

Or, someone who sees pallets...
 and creates...hold a bottle of wine or a serving plate...or even plants...
Then I do have some products that use fair trade...Mona B bags have an interesting tale...old tarps and canvas get reborn as bags and totes.  Again...not dollar store prices, but the concept is so earth-friendly and creative.

People who create with their hands and are not busy with Pokémon are the true gems in our America.  Drawer bottoms converted into mini chalk boards and necklaces created with bits and pieces...
Consider when you see something that someone has reused...repurposed...recycled...even given a fresh coat of paint...that person had a vision and, as Nietzsche wrote, "redirected to a new purpose."  And, do not expect them to work for pennies...maybe you have seen the Pinterest know it is not all that easy to copy the creative artistic minds.

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” 
 ~Pablo Picasso 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

"Sooner or later,

everything old is new again."
                                                     ~Stephen King The Colorado Kid

In the July issue of a trade magazine, Smart Retailer, I am flipping through the pictures of stuffed snowmen, candles, and Christmas, when I see this page...
Now, what caught my eye was in the lower left corner...New: reads in part  "55,000 sq.ft. of antiques will showcase such diverse items as original art, glassware, china, heirloom jewelry, home furnishings, and accents, all dating between the 17th and 20th centuries."

And there is more...the VP for this tradeshow says that "designers are increasingly using antiques and one of a kind items to tell their clients' stories."  So, now along with "curating" there is a story to tell in decorating.  But wait, there is more...a panel...and the title sounds like something from a Ph.D seminar..."Past Perfect: Why Antiques are Essential to Design Projects Across a Wide Range of Ages and Aesthetics."   They need to follow-up with another panel for the retailer new to the antique world...  "Past Present Future:  Can You Do Better?  What's Your Best Price?  Where Do You Get  All This Old Stuff?".           
Retailers who deal in new merchandise may not be aware of the antique have to give them a deal...well, maybe now the antique dealer can move back into a retail world with those one of a kind stories and not be treated like they have these huge mark-ups. Old timers figure antique dealers have bought things for a quarter at a yard sale or dollar box lots at auction.

As I wrote last week, thrift shops can be more expensive than the "antique" shop.  Still, it is good to see the business gaining some respect again.  In 7 million square feet of display space at AmericasMart Atlanta, 55,000 is not much, but it is a step to recognizing what those of us know...quality...unique...inspiring.
So, maybe my story of white restaurant china and McCoy will appeal to your curating or  will fit your

Maybe in this techie world of Pinterest, Snapchat, Tweets, Hashtags, we will go back to the curate a piece into our lives for history not for ctrl-alt-del.
   “I've always had a keen sense of history. My father was an antiques dealer and he used to bring home boxes full of treasures, and each item always had a tale attached.” 
~Sara Sheridan

Saturday, July 2, 2016

"I didn't get here

by dreaming or thinking about it. I got here by doing it."
~Estée Lauder
That is just a side view of a feed and grain building from 1893 that is about to be reborn in 2016 as a destination for vintage, flowers, workshops, coffee and seltzer bar, and weddings and events extraordinaire. It is located in Tuckahoe, New Jersey, across from what was once a vibrant train station that used to bring folks all the way to Cape May, New Jersey, from the big city!

A 15,616 SF building on 2.5 acres of land will be transformed into Everly.  Michelle Joy, on the right, seen here with Nancy from Captain Scrap's Attic, is the master mind behind Everly.
Nancy and I decided to stop in to wish her well and see what is going on!  We pull up and see the garage doors open and so the adventure begins.
I thought my Independence Day article was appropriate for this adventure since the independent entrepreneur truly represents the fireworks in the retail world.  Without corporate money, the small retailer has to be curious, creative, and a bit crass to develop the dream.  That is why when you deal with the person who owns the business, it is so different from a sales clerk in a big box.  Oh, sure, there are good retail assistants in Pottery Barn, Anthro, or Home Goods, but they get paid whether you buy something or not.  And, come to think of it, do you ever ask a clerk in Anthro if that is their best price...just saying...  
Anyway, take a look at the before pictures...and I will post after for you when she is finished...but I want you to see the work this woman and her posse will be dealing with as they create a destination.

In the midst of years of treasure collecting, you can see pops of clarity...
A hallway leads to an area where weddings and parties can be staged... 
These are the outside entrances from this section of the allows for wedding parties to have access to both indoor and outdoor events...and then there is what I am calling the "I Do" tree that stands proudly out there.

This will be the coffee and seltzer bar, and the kitchen is ready for a master chef to bring it back to life.

 You can see remnants of her former Linwood shop Primrose floating around...

And there are traces of the building's former life...
And, of course, more treasures waiting to be "curated"!

Here is the crew taking a lunch break...
I imagine one day that they look forward to sitting on the porch and celebrate the everlasting joy of Everly!
In the meantime, keep up with the progress on the Facebook page...Everly...
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." 
~Mark Twain