Did you ever notice that as a mother you have all these little odd sayings… Weird sing-songy ways of announcing bed time, meal time, to comfort your children, etc. Some of them were handed down to you from your own mother — who may or may not have heard them from her own mother. Somethings you say, you picked up from your children — like when your toddler isn’t forming the words just right, but you understand him anyway and use his words to communicate with him. (Speech therapists do not like that; but we do it now and then!) Other words and sayings are just part of that secret world of parenthood, things we sing or say along the way that become recognizable comfortable traditions of communication.
My mother has a whole slew of words that she’s entirely made up. Words and sayings I didn’t know weren’t real until I used them around others and received only quizzical and comical responses. Embarrassing then; much beloved now.
As a society, we have such expressions too. Quite often you can find these old sayings on antique and vintage prints, like this one, from an art deco 1920s calender, illustrated by L Goddardfeaturing. At the bottom it reads, “Baby is Going to Bye-Lo Land.”
I’ve been running into a lot of new collectors of vintage and antique things at Listia; I kind of feel like I’m becoming a resident expert, both it terms of being able to help folks and because of the amount of time I spend at Listia. *wink* I don’t normally take the time to give detailed responses, let document (blog), all the requests but this time there was great merit in doing so…
This is the question from Sherry:
Hi my name is Sherry and I saw a comment that ya posted on another auction about ya writing about antiques and collectibles online. I have been in search of someone to talk to about some pictures I have that were left here years back. My nephew was living with me as well as his girl friend. When they broke-up she left plenty behind. My nephew thought I had burnt all that was left. He freaked out and said there were photo’s that cost a lot of money, because they were some of the Charmin Toilet Paper Girls.
By the style clothing that are being worn in the photo’s I can only assume they are from the 50’s – 60’s maybe older. I do not recall commercials from back then, so I have no idea if these are even worth anything. Is there away ya might be able to help me figure these photo’s out? Thank You in advance.
I was pretty sure what Sherry had were prints, but since she had called them photos I was glad she had sent me some scans (some of which I’ve included here).
What Sherry has are vintage promotional prints from Northern Paper Mills aka Northern Tissue. The series of prints was called American Beauties, illustrated by Frances Hook. (You can see her signature printed on the little girl’s shoulder that doesn’t have the kitten on the scan above.) Hook is most known now for her religious works, but her career began in commercial illustration for various advertisements as well as illustrations to supplement magazine stories. Her American Beauties begin to appear in the Northern Tissue advertisements in 1958 as the original Northern Girls. On March 23, 1959, the first rolls of tissue featuring the girls were shipped from the mill and tissue sales skyrocketed —
And prompting the corporate response to sell the prints.
The first American Beauty prints were available as a set of four: one baby girl and three little girls.
Not long after, the company released Northern Towel’s All American Boys, a set of three prints of little boys.
Not much later, Northern asked Hook “if she would take our little “American Beauty” girls and cast them into some fresh new poses” — for both the toilet tissue packaging as well as an additional print set (also four prints).
That would bring the total of American Beauty girl prints to eight. As far as I know, the All-American Boys series remained at three prints. Which brings the overall total of the Northern prints by Hook to eleven. All prints were available in multiple sizes: 11″ by 14″, 8″ by 10″, and 5″ by 7″.
You know I don’t like to discuss monetary values, but this is another opportunity to discuss some collecting basics…
Generally speaking, the larger the quantity of art prints (and anything else) made, the less the value they have. According to Georgia-Pacific, who now owns the Northern brand, “Offers for prints of the girls and Northern Towel’s All American Boys break records with 30 million sets of prints being sold by 1966.” Which means there were and still are a large number of these prints out in circulation.
However, as these pieces are advertising collectibles, they do have some cross-collecting appeal. Again, these prints are a bit less desirable as they were mass produced — as well as more likely to be saved — which means more of them are available.
Like most collectibles, these prints come and go in popularity; which means the prices go up & down. Because they are desired primarily for the nostalgia (“I had those prints in my bedroom!”) or a sense of nostalgia (“I love those vintage baby prints!”), their ability to match decor or gender of child for a specific room, the size of the prints (available wall space), and/or for the appeal of individual images themselves (one may look just like their son or grandson, etc.), prices can vary quite a bit for each print.
And, of course, condition of the print itself matters; not only in terms of tears, creases, spots, etc., but in terms of the color of the prints, such as fading of the colors or tanning of the paper itself which weakens the contrast of colors (and usually the strength of the paper itself). Those prints with spots and damages on the faces especially will likely have no interest (no value). However, someone, on Lista or elsewhere where you have no seller fees, might want these imperfect prints for altered art or collage projects.
Depending upon the condition of the paper, etc., right now they could be worth anywhere from $1 to $9 a piece in today’s market. How do I get that value range? Based on the information discussed above and years of dealing in collectibles — and by getting a “snapshot” of the market by using eBay. I looked at current sales of these prints as well as recent past (closed) auction sales values, searching for Northern American Beauty prints by Frances Hook, and variations on those words. I also checked searches for Charmin print — as a great number of folks mistakenly think these prints were put out by Charmin toilet tissue.
You can check eBay for current and very recently closed auction sales prices too — anytime, for anything. You can also use Price Miner. Checking periodically does take time, but that’s the best way to see if there’s an increase in demand or a decrease in offerings of these prints — both of which will mean higher prices. If and when that happens, you might want to list them for sale. The prices may rise again; a few years ago, I sold individual prints for $10 to $29 each. You just need nostalgia and or the appeal of sweet charming children to sweep back into home decorating again.
Last Tuesday, August 2, 2011, Picker Sisters aired on the Lifetime Television. (If you were confused by the ads showing American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz promoting the show on the History Channel, that’s because both Lifetime and History are part of A&E Television Networks — but that really didn’t help those who went to The History Channel on Tuesday night and, confused, wondered why the TV promos weren’t as clear as they could have been.)
The show’s premise is that best friends and interior designers, Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen (of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition — Picker Sisters has the same producer, RelativityREAL) are on the hunt for what Wolfe and Fritz would call “farm fresh rusty gold” to turn into “stunning pieces for their Los Angeles home decor pop-up shop.”
To assist the designers in the creative process, there’s a third cast member, contractor, Alan Luxmore, himself with connections to Extreme Makeover and previous host of A&E’s Fix This Yard.
Despite early complaints or fears (primarily based on the American Pickers‘ promos) that Picker Sisters was going to emphasize pretty women (including the use of short-shorts and other feminine charms in order to get deals), I was looking forward to the show. Like Cash & Cari, I was hoping this series would emphasize decorating both in terms of objects and projects; much like Cash & Cari, I was to be disappointed. As with Cash & Cari, I was hoping we’d not only have the Picker Sisters show us what they transformed, but how it was done. But it misses that mark.
Since the success of these collecting shows is partially dependent on the personality of the cast, it bears mentioning that Hutson and McQueen come across as Valley Girls meet former professional NFL cheerleaders; perhaps a bit to bubbly and hair-twirly for most of us. (And those 80’s headbands only emphasis it.)
I don’t want to bash these beauties for how they look; that would be as wrong as saying someone isn’t good-looking enough to be on TV. But there are practical matters here…
Those of us willing to pick on farms, through old industrial items, etc., we don’t only have work gloves, we wear jeans or long pants to protect our legs — no matter how fab our legs look in short shorts. I get that they are on camera, but aren’t they annoyed enough by their own Farrah Fawcett locks, blowing into their eyes, sticking to the sweat on their necks, to put it up in a ponytail or something? I’m less worried about two grown women — complete with camera crew — getting hurt heading off with strange men than I am about cuts, infections and diseases from stumbling about improperly dressed in places where tetanus and hantaviruses make excellent bedfellows.
As I mentioned, I feel that Luxmore‘s work is slighted… But perhaps that’s because he’s an actor playing a character role. In the few scenes Luxmore is in, he plays the frustrated “daddy” to the two little girls on the road, ominous about projects, money spent, design ideas. Worse, he’s shown working while appearing straight out of some Gap ad or GQ photo-shoot, his black sleeveless muscle shirt taunt across his chest, tightly and neatly tucked into crisp belted green khakis. If he’s a master of the 100 hour build, why is he playing a stock masculine character, one part beefcake one part paternal male disapproving of his errant shopping sex kittens?
Like his female cast members, Luxmore ought to dress for the work at hand. We’ll notice he’s handsome, anyway, I promise.
Overall, the show feels far more Hollywood glossy than “unscripted” (the new word for reality shows). While this may appeal to a certain part of the television audience, I feel it’s a disservice to the cast — showing them more as pretty and, due to the lack of “reality,” more bumbling than the educated and experienced people they are. Coupled with the absence of any shop or announcements of where it will appear, the pretty posing makes me feel the shop is simply a premise. Television does blur with tinsel town, you know, so it all feels too glossy, too fake…
Perhaps we’re supposed to enjoy the fashionista-fish out of water thing… But McQueen, Hutson and Luxmore are build and design heavyweights, so maybe they should have left them a little more raw and saved all the polishing for the finished project pieces.
That said, there are good things in the show…
There’s less of a monetary focus on the show; though that could simply be due to the too-small price / sold graphics.
And it is fun to see the before and afters — even if it is at sacrificing how it’s done. I consider myself a creative person, a visual person with an eye for seeing the potential in “junk” and I’m not bored with what I’ve seen so far — far from it, I’m inspired by all the repurposing of industrial items!
I won’t be glued to episodes, but I will watch more of Picker Sisters. Even if I am hoping the show format itself will undergo a transformation of it’s own.
PS Because Lifetime quickly signed on for a seven-part, one-hour series (originally entitled To Live and Buy), I’m not sure we’ll see any changes in Picker Sisters; the slick format’s likely set.
PPS Check out the comments below for more & updates!
Is it best to hang them or set them on something – And do you set things in them or attach them inside the little boxes?
I’ve seen them painted but I really don’t want to do that…
I’d love it to end up looking cool and eclectic but not like something off the show Hoarders. I want it to look cohesive not a big ol’ hairy mess…
I don’t have any old wooden printer’s drawers; if we did have them, they’d likely be filled with old print blocks. (And while most of the print blocks would be hubby’s, guess who’d get to dust it? *wink*)
Although, we shouldn’t overlook the original and obvious intent of keeping it flat, storing and organizing anything from screws to Legos in it. But this is a collectors’ blog, so I’m going to stick to displaying collectibles. Plus, as the drawer has no cover, it would need to be stored flat in a place not likely to be disturbed. (If you have one of those places, please tell me how to get one! lol) I highly recommend the wooden drawer is to be hung on the wall for the most visual appeal; you can use small amounts of museum putty to hold the items safely and securely in place.
I remember that my mom once used to display her thimble collection in a printer’s tray. If you have a collection of “the same things” to fit inside, this is the ultimate way to keep things from looking like a “big ol’ hairy mess.” As many decorators advise in general: keep to a theme.
Here’s an example of glassware and travel souvenirs; however, even those pieces are likely too large for the spaces in a drawer meant to hold printers blocks. You might have smaller items on a theme… Buttons, marbles, shells, rocks and minerals, pinbacks, vintage game pieces, jewelry, coins, fishing lures… Even if only half the little objects on display are say, marbles, the number of them will move the eye about and give the cohesive look of a theme.
Another interior design principal for creating a unified look is to select a color palette for the items on display. Since the antique wood is rather dark, and the spaces small, I’d suggest light colors to create more of a contrast and visual interest; perhaps whatever bits and bobs you have in shades of white and ivory… Again, even if you can’t carry the color theme throughout the entire drawer, proper placement, spreading the items of common color around, will create the impression of a carefully cultivated, organized collection.
Personally, I find little displays of “whatever” to be quite charming. Here’s an small wooden antique shelf, with nicely scrolled details, that I’ve put little bits of random childish sentimental loveliness upon.
Yes, every item in there has a story — and it’s my hope that whoever visits our house will ask to hear each and every one!
That’s only likely to happen when another collector visits. And one who has already heard the stories behind all the larger, more attention-grabbing items and collections in the house. A pretty tall order indeed. *wink*
Two things that are always plentiful at thrift shoppes…
Partial tidbit trays or plate holders / servers…
And unwanted vinyl records. (And by “unwanted” I mean they are either badly scratched or recordings so common, they are only destined for recycling or worse.)
So why not put them together and make a retro-styled display piece?
I wouldn’t use them for serving food. And unless you firmly attach the records to the frame, there’s the danger of the records, and whatever light objects are placed upon them, sliding off. As I just played at the thrift store (yes, they looked at me oddly) I haven’t experimented with how to attach the pieces… But a glue gun would likely do the trick!
At the very least, this piece can one again hold stacked plates and other items at the buffet table — allowing your guests to talk about how clever and resourceful you are.
A vintage advertorial announcing “what’s new” to ladies who read Modern Woman magazine (volume 17 number 1, 1948). In this case, “what’s new” was a Lucite tea tray and luggage rack. Since the photo was courtesy of DuPont, I assume it was a DuPont piece.
Tea for two — on a distinctive “Lucite” table, combining an attractive Chippendale-style tray and luggage rack of the crystal-clear plastic. The light-weight tray is easily removed for carrying dishes. The decorative, sturdy luggage rack folds away for convenient storage, and has gold-color tapes across the top, woven in a leaf pattern.
I’ve seen this done before, but all the tiers were plates, and it became a nice tidbit tray for serving cookies, etc. Having the tea cup saucer on top makes for an excellent lip for hanging wire earrings!
Wouldn’t this be a fabulous way to share an antique, but incomplete, family heirloom china set? It would make it easier to share the family china with each one of your children!
Pick: I suppose it is time. Time to take down the tree, put all the ornaments in their boxes, until next year. We are the only ones in our ‘group’ who have a live tree. When the kids were small, we’d work on putting it up for a few days. You’d do the lights, the girls would put the ‘unbreakables’ near the bottom and I’d do the top part.
Grin: I remember a few of the early years when our trees were SO crooked that we’d have to wire them to the window hardware. Otherwise, they’d tip over. We got numerous comments , none of them good.
Pick: We have talked about getting an artificial tree, but then you mentioned the ‘limited space’ in our attic. And I truly love the smell of a real tree. A friend has an artificial one and her son-in-law always walks up to it, takes a good sniff and retorts “Ahh, the smell of dust!” I don’t want that from my son-in-laws. (Not that either would be so crass – ha!)
Grin: And then there is the concern of the ornaments. The ones from your grandmother, for example. If you left them on the tree, you would worry until next year if one would be broken when moved around. So, since we have to take it all down and wrap them, we’ll keep the live tree. But is there any way we can eliminate some of those ornaments?
Pick: Each time I pack and unpack I have fond memories. I remember putting that exact angel on our tree-top at home. She has withstood the test of time. And the bird with the tail-feathers, why, that was my grandmother’s and there is precious little from her.
Grin: That is understandable – you’ll always want to keep that one. But what about these poorly-painted ceramic ornaments.? They are a bit tacky on your classy tree. And we have so many to pack away.
Pick: But don’t you remember these? We made them with the kids when they were about 8 or 9 years old! They are very special to me.
Grin: OK then, but these plastic ones can go. They are out of date and very cheap too!
Pick: Now wait a minute – those are the bottom-of-the-tree ornaments. Nicholas, our youngest grandson can still come over and touch things. You know how I want to be a ‘fun grandma.’ And then if our Westie knocks one off when he strolls past, who cares? You need the lesser ones near the bottom.
Grin: Sounds like you have rationale for every one on this tree. But then, I am not surprised. It is the same with your year-round decorations. Everything has a special memory, or makes you smile to recall where you found it or who gave it to you. Someday, the house will just sink slowly into the ground.
Pick: You exaggerate – there is still room in the basement for a few things and the attic has a bit of room.
Grin: Dear, if you started collecting toothpicks, we’d be in trouble. But let’s get back to the tree.
Pick: It will look so darn empty in this room when it is gone. Can you put up an Easter Tree?
I purchased this vintage wall pocket awhile ago simply for it’s whimsy; what’s not to love about a pirate duck?
It simply has to ‘quack’ you up — or you’ll be forced to walk the plank, arr!
It’s a vintage ceramic piece, made in Japan, rather nicely painted under the glaze with additional spots of cold paint on the bow and hat.
“Cold paint” refers to paint which has been applied after the pottery piece has been both glazed and fired. Because this painting is done after firing and is not fired (heated) itself it is called “cold paint,” “cold painted,” or “cold painting.” And because cold painting was done to save money, the results were not only less expensive but cheap in terms of quality: Paint applied over a glaze easily slides or washes off.
However, as this was such a common manufacturing method, most collectors expect such wear and are more accepting of such missing paint than they are of chips, quacks cracks — or puns.
In fact, while vintage cold painted ceramic and pottery pieces with the majority or all of the paint intact will sell for much higher prices, if the cold paint looks too good to be true, it could be a sign that the piece may be a repro (reproduction) and not vintage at all.
So the missing paint on this little vintage ducky wallpocket may just be the proof that it is great pirate booty. *wink*
…Now if someone could just tell me what the heck I’m supposed to put in a wallpocket — that won’t risk damages to the china.
The headboard appears to be hand painted or, if fabric, embroidered with the titles of her husband’s books. What a lovely idea! …If not your book titles, why not the names of your children, special dates, etc.?
Our last article mentioned our frustration trying to find good antique shops while on the Carolinas’ coastal area. We drove down to Charleston, SC from North Carolina for sightseeing with our traveling companions with no time left that day for antique shopping. Our first break came in finding the Cottage Antiques in North Myrtle Beach and with the owner Malinda’s directions to other shops, we filled our day with antique shopping and suitcases with collectibles and antiques.
In a response to our article, Clyde from Charleston wrote to explain our great loss by not antiquing in his area. His website is dedicated to the wonderful experience of exploring the shops nearby. We wrote to ask for an interview and here is our correspondence.
Clyde’s inspiration for developing a website dedicated to Charleston’s antique shops was simply a lifelong passion for antiques, his knowledge of shops in the area and the great people involved in the antique business. He decided to become his own web designer, and learn the tricks of design from the bottom up. Clyde is at that point where he has designed for others as well. He also writes for Examiner.com on the topic of antique shopping in Charleston. All the the time and energy needed to publish his website on Charleston’s shops, is his own. From the time it takes to visit each place and photograph the antiques, to rewriting with the latest info, Clyde does it all.
Pick: “When did you start collecting?”
Clyde:“When I was 12, My great aunt took me antiques shopping.”
Grin: “ What’s your major collection?”
Clyde:“I collect mostly furniture. I like old book cases that I can restore and sell.”
Grin: Well that sure runs the gambit. Can we come along to your next visit to our favorite, the garbage pile?”
Pick: “Leave me out.”
Grin: “Are there items you wish you had bought, but passed up?
Clyde: “That is a long list. The odd thing about antique shows, if you do not buy it, you can’t go back to get it. It’s just gone.”
Pick: And if you do buy it, odds are you’ll see a cheaper, better example next week.
Grin: Any words of wisdom for our readers?
Clyde: “You often have to have the time and resources to do the research to be sure the item is what you believe it to be.”
Pick: Thanks Clyde for visiting with us. And readers if you have suggestions on great shoppes in your area for antiques, crafts or collectibles, add a reply so others can share your good fortune in hunting while traveling on the road.
Hello again, Grin here, Pick is out shopping in one of those bedroom communities where the old stores that once housed the local butcher, baker and bookie, now are home to the crafts crowd, crepes kitchen and bobbles and bangles boutique. So I’m left to ponder what’s new in our antique world.
Wait, is “new in our antique world” an oxy moron? Or am I just dumb.
It appears we have turned the corner and sales are up this year over last, and that gives us greater reason to be hunting for antiques and collectibles. Even our success rate at finding items at garage sales has been better.
Our recent travels have taken us to several shops that are new to us, in areas remote to our home. An estate sale in one of the better neighborhoods produced some great finds and a shop in Northern Illinois can keep the lights on and pay the rent from all the items we carted out to the van on our last excursion. I suppose our sightseeing along the Mississippi river was more of a buying trip than it was watching for eagles, but that’s the nature of all our travels.
In case you have not guessed from past posts, Wifey (Pick) has been selling antiques so long, some items she sells now were purchased
new but now qualify as near antiques. Her “on-line” business is about eleven years old and requires lots of stock replenishing. Flea markets in the summer months are for purging items not sold on the net or too inexpensive to justify the time and energy to list. It also works better for selling larger items such as furniture. And flea market selling is lots of fun and provides interaction with customers and fellow sellers that just doesn’t occur with on-line sales.
Now back to the subject of buying. How can she find items to sell and make a profit, especially at antique stores and malls? Well, it’s more work than you would believe. Experience is the main ingredient, knowing what is collectible, at what price. Then the searching begins, at all and every place that sells antiques and selected collectibles. With magnifying glass and magnet in hand, a GPS in the car, it’s off to explore. The American Pickers are amateurs with limited focus on old metal compared to Pick’s picks.
Just look at the items from recent jaunts, and you’ll understand the broad range of what her customers are looking to collect. Finding these treasures, means looking for the one item another seller or collector has no interest in and greatly undervalues. The best example? Well, let’s take decks of playing cards, a hot collectible just now. Found everywhere, many decks were giveaway advertising from the local feed store to major airlines. I have seen recent prices range from $3.00 to $15.00 per pack in the same antique mall. And what is hot with collectors? Right now it’s the cute little kitten, lovely lily, a tax stamp still attached to a sealed deck, or the styling on and Ace of Spades. Just don’t place your bet on an airline that flew the world, they must have given out a billion decks to bored boarded passengers.
OH!! NO!! Pick is back from her excursion to latte land, with no new, old things purchased. WOW, how sad.
Pick: That was such a fun auction we went to the other night! Lots of variety, friendly crowd, and it moved along quickly too. My favorite thing was the treasure we got, almost a piece of your family heritage!
Grin: I started my inspection of the items going up for auction at the far end of the hall, and had found several pieces that were of interest. When I finally got to the second last table, there were the three items from the old Gridley Dairy that my grandfather had worked at during the (first) Great Depression.
Pick: You showed me the paper sign, amber-colored milk bottle and the mini-milk can and I could tell you were excited by them. You turned the can around to show the company’s name and location and even the date of “1935.” I asked if your grandpa would have worked there then and you exclaimed “Yes.”
Grin: Over the years, I have bought a couple of bottles with Gridley on them and some paper advertising in the form of recipe books. Nothing expensive, nor rare or too exciting. They are in our Depression-era farm and advertising collection, resting on our antique oak ice box.
Pick: This was a large auction and had numerous items for sale. But we were relieved to see those items brought up front early for bidding. The paper sign was first and I asked if I should bid for it.
Grin: When bidding started, I contemplated trying to get the sign, but the price soon escalated past what I considered to be reasonable. Paper is pretty delicate and not easily displayed when not framed.
Pick: When the runner held up the can and the bottle, I was “at the ready” to bid, asking you how high I should go. They were offering “choice of the two”, meaning we could get one or the other for the bid-price. The bidding was pretty active with three of us in early, then down to two. Our price came and went and I still bid a few more times, but alas, we realized we could not get the can. But to our surprise, the bidder took the bottle and they re-opened bidding. We got it for half what our top bid would have been.
Grin: Part of my interest in this milk can was its size. It can easily be displayed inside the house and not stuck in the garden or on the driveway where some of our other milk cans have been placed. I am not sure what the contents of this can might have been but have a suspicion that it was used In a commercial setting. It have been used to deliver heavy-cream to a bakery or restaurant.
Pick: Well, you know how we love to send things back home! That is the ultimate recycling. We have shipped collectibles back to their original owners quite a few times and that just tickles us. Remember the Ruby Farms thermometer?
Grin: That one went back to the granddaughter of the original owner. And how often do we send advertising items found on our travels back to the city of their origination? Many times!
These are going to collectors that have an interest in preserving part of their town’s history.
Pick: Another thing we sold that brought fond memories to a buyer was the calendar from the dairy near Madison, Wisconsin. The winner kindly shared with us that he had worked that very farm in the 1960s, alongside his favorite cousin.
Grin: Didn’t you just tell me about another treasure that you sent back home?
Pick: Oh, you mean the ashtray. It was from the Golden Zither Restaurant in Milwaukee. The winner was so happy to get it. He got engaged to his wife in that very restaurant many years back. They are close to their 40th anniversary and he is planning to give it to her as part of their gift. Oh, how romantic!
Grin: We’ll have to share other ‘recyling’ stories down the road. I just read about a nearby auction…
Pick: This is going to be our first article for Inherited Values so let’s show off some of our unusual collectibles.
Grin: How about your hand mirrors? You are always bragging to anyone that will listen, just how great you think they are and how well you display them.
Pick: Oh, I’d like to but I’d have to polish them all before we let a whole group of people in to see the collection.
Grin: Well, what’s your idea then? Or are you just Picking on me because it was my idea?
Pick: Why don’t we start with the smallest room in the house and show readers what can be packed into a tiny area with a little imagination.
Grin: Are you referring to your jewelry box? You sure know how to pack that thing full.
Pick: Boy we’re real smart today. No I’m talking about the powder room at the back entrance, the one that started out with a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling with a pull chain for decoration. Let’s show off our antique finds in that room first. I think we managed to accent the room nicely with some unusual pieces in a space of seven foot by four feet. Plus we did our “green piece” by recycling some items.
Grin: Five feet, it’s no longer than five feet.
Pick: Well, whatever, the important thing is we get to display the oddities within. But just to keep my reputation intact, how about a quick measure to see who is right. I say it’s about seven feet by 3-1/2” feet. What is your best guess?
Grin: I think five feet, maybe by 4-1/2 feet.
Pick: What was the measurement?? Oh, guess you were closest. Now, let’s change the subject. How about we start with the egret, the old screen door decoration. You know, the one I dragged home from an auction and had to listen to your questions like “Now, WHERE can we put that old thing?”
Grin: In this instance, you were right. It fits in flush, right over the toilet, a pun intended!
Pick: Well, if you’re giving me credit, I must say, your cold air return register was a perfect fit. It’s a radio speaker grill from a Pontiac Straight 8, probably from the early 1950s. And it squeezed right into the space.
Grin: I also recall where we got the old tin sheets that we needed when I dropped the ceiling to update the electricity to enable a wall switch. We had to purchase the full lot of sheets, but only needed a few and sold off the rest at a flea market. Then you found that marvelous iridescent chandelier at a local antique store. You discovered it just in time, too, because we had not decided on the color to paint the room and the green shade enlightened us.
Pick: Dear, you are funny today – you should be “pun-ished.” And you kept your promise to let me have some stained glasswindows in the house. That was something you committed to when we left our other house that had so many! And you did a super job finding the black and white tiles that are so “1930s”, it really completed the look we wanted.
Grin: Well, let’s continue in another area in our next blog. There’s hardly room for two of us in this room!
I like to use my vintage things, where appropriate (and sometimes I make up uses for things). I feel it really continues the life of old things. I also don’t like to let anything go to waste, even if it’s broken or damaged; but I’m especially reluctant if it was a part of my collection.
Broken china, for example, can break your heart; but sometimes you can salvage or recycle it. Even if you can’t make jewelry from it.
I suppose most people have discovered that the odd, mismatched china saucers, custard cups, and whatever all those little shallow bowls are, can readily be put back into use at the table simply by placing candles in them — or by setting candles in clear glass and/or candles in clear tea lights upon the old china pieces.
It’s an especially lovely way to have them still sit at the table, lighting the more perfect pieces while you dine.
But what about those antique china cups with the handles broken off?
I’m sure you probably have a set of those metal candle stands sitting around somewhere…
Usually they have glass candle holders in them. Well, when my glass candle dish broke, I realized I could set one of my (many) handless china cups in them.
This works with most of these candle stands; even if they vary somewhat in diameter, you’ll find that the sloping sides of china cups eventually meet a secure resting place.
You can also stagger the candle heights by surrounding the cups recycled into metal candle stands with cups without stands, small dishes with candles, and plates with tea lights.
Not only does this salvage your old china pieces (and, I daresay, add another layer of interest and elegance to your table setting or home), but you’ll finally use all those candles you bought at your sister’s candle party. (Don’t get hubby started talking about how I own “too many” candles in my candle cupboard!)
If you don’t have a cabinet full of candles — or you don’t have any that are just the right size, Katy Teson aka “Pie Bird — Who Vents While Cooking” (Isn’t that a hoot of name?!) shows you how to make tea cup candles!
So go ahead, recycle those old mismatched china pieces and damaged china cups.
Disclaimers: I’ve never had any problems, but I will caution you that some candles may burn too hot to hold candles safely, meaning the china may crack. (And china that is already cracked probably won’t contain melted wax — though you can put a saucer beneath it all too). If you’re concerned at all, you can set clear glass votive holders inside the cups to hold the actual candles. Or you can, as many candle owners do, simply place the candles in or on the vintage china pieces just for show.
One of the great things about collecting old photographs are the things in the photos — not only the objects and persons the photographer intended you to focus on, but the little extras which make the scene. Like in this vintage photo of Alice White.
Clearly designed to promote the movie star, but (as pretty as the Ms White is, as cute as her little white dog is) I’m drooling over the rather eclectic mix of furnishings in the frame.
Revel in the mix of patterns and textures, including the walls, the upholstery, the lace tablecloth, and the wicker Ms White sits on.
Check out the pretty mirror in her hand (more objects from the vanity set appear to be on the table — a table covered in a lace cloth, with suggestive legs beneath it, making me wonder just how wonderful that old round table is!). I just wish the mirror wasn’t preventing us from seeing more of that dress…
But it’s that fabulous art deco lamp which has me sitting-up pretty and panting, begging like her canine companion. Look at that final, the base, and that shade! All those spheres!
Unpacking delicate vintage glass ornaments, untangling glowing orbs of flickering light, placing winter village scenes just so, divided camps of garland vs tinsel, and don’t forget the tradition of tree topper placement. Some believe less is more (those weird freaks!), and others (like me!) believe holiday is the time of year to go all out. But no matter what our design style, we all deck those halls.
We decorate our homes in the right fashion & in the established order as dictated to us by tradition.
And by “tradition” I mean the stuff that mothers and wives say.
We women get away with all of this for many reasons. After all, it’s usually the women who rule the roost, so it’s we who decorate the roost. We choose between real & artificial trees. We direct the placement of the tree – based on the ability of it to be best seen by those inside & outside of the home, with a dose of practicality to household traffic pattern. We tend to be the ones with the largest collection of ornaments, ceramic villages, and other family historical objects & know the importance & lore of each object as well.
Women tend to be the keepers of family history. The story keepers. We remember whose ornament is whose, the when & why, and we need to balance the old memories of our ancestors with the newer stories of our own families. Not only do we remember the stories, but we also, and this is perhaps the most important part of it all, we share those stories.
And in order to share those stories, we know that there must be proper placement. For how else can we bring up the funny stories of ice skating gone bad, if the winter pond scene isn’t displayed? How can we discuss the history of Uncle Marvin’s elf collection, if the elves are not displayed properly? Without seeing great grandma’s tree skirt, no one can mention how lovely it is, and then we might forget to tell the story of her first Christmas in America.
The physical placement of objects & ornaments is directly tied to our oral traditions.
So it seems only natural that at the holidays, a time of family & tradition, that women give all the dictation on the decoration. This goes here, that goes there, use the angel – not the star, just a little more to the left please. More lights, less lights, all white lights.
If you don’t want the oral tradition to include the tale of the year there was no presentation of Marvin’s elves (a story to be repeated each & every year), you’ll just carry & tote, move & remove, then, yes, then get out of the way & let her do her holiday thing.
Now please bring down those other 8 boxes marked ‘Holiday’ from the attic, honey – we must begin to set up the Winter Wonderland on the console table behind the couch (which will now have to be moved to better appreciate the view of the tree). Everything must be just so.
And some folks already began in October, so we are late.