Saturday, May 24, 2008

Never Enough Blue and White

When Analise announced china was the topic for this Sunday's Show and Tell I knew I'd be busy with the camera --and what you're seeing is only a small portion of my blue and white collection. What better accent for blue and white china than heirloom pink roses and sunshine? I was lucky enough to have both today. This is a rare instance of another color mixing with my pure blue and white palette, but I loved the combination of the pink plaid and the blue squiggles on these spice jars. My family members are all too familiar with my blue and white obsession. One of the best birthday presents I ever received was from my brother on my 40th birthday when he gave me The Blue Room collection of plates from Spode. To add interest in this plate rack, I mixed in some Spode spice containers. The one old piece in this gathering is the lid (bottom center) I found at an antiques market. With blue and white, all ages seem to mingle well. These Blue Willow spice containers were another present from my brother, who also loves old things. I believe my love of blue and white began when I was a girl and a kind neighbor gave me a Blue Willow plate and told me the pattern's romantic story of forbidden love and transformation. Spice containers are some of my very favorite items because I love the lettering on them just as much as the designs. The plate was given to me by a friend who found it at a garage sale. I like the little flying bird and the verse which is a verse also found on two other things I have collected--samplers and autograph albums. The cup is one of my more valuable pieces. It's a Clarice Cliff version of the pattern "Tonquin." Its beautiful scene is one that I'd love to be able to walk into. Pieces with a Dutch influence also appeal to me. The little children depicted on the silver purse seemed right at home among the blue and white windmills. I have some pieces of the Blue Onion pattern displayed on a Victorian bamboo shelf that I am in the process of restoring. The round object on the left is an egg poacher. I have so much blue and white that I now try to limit myself to buying unique pieces. At my informal house, the plates are more likely to be hung on the wall and the cups turned into a lamp than to be arranged in a proper place setting on a fancy tablecloth! In fact, this vignette on top of the kitchen pantry is as close as these odds and ends will probably ever come to the table. They do get attention though, as this is my seasonal display area. The rose plate stays for the spring and summer and is replaced with a blue and white turkey plate and dried leaves, small pumpkins or bittersweet in the fall and a blue and white holly-rimmed snow scene plate and evergreens in the winter. I won't blog much in the next few days as I'm driving to Minnesota to get my son registered for his first year of college. I promise to try (emphasis on try) not to buy any more blue and white along the way! If you know of any good spots for vintage shopping in the St. Cloud or Minneapolis/St. Paul area please let me know in a comment or e-mail. Thanks again to Analise of Sugar*Sugar and Cerri at Little Pink Studio for getting us all together.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Share Your Studio Saturday

The Little Bluebird Diaries is hosting a Share Your Studio Saturday with the theme being organization. I have to admit that I do have a couple of those plastic organization bins in my closet for rough items like china shards for mosaics, but I much prefer storage items with a vintage look. To store paper scraps for decoupage and collage, I made this box. I purchased a wood file box from a craft store and painted it inside and out in a chocolate brown. I decoupaged an image of a woman spinning flax onto the lid and glued two layers of ribbon around the edges of the lid. For the sides of the box, I cut scrapbooking pages into panels and decoupaged them one at a time, trimming them to an exact fit with an Exacto knife after the glue had dried. I dropped a piece of gold embossed scrapbooking paper into the bottom just to pretty it up a bit. Most of the time it's hidden by all the paper scraps, but I like knowing it's there. This little chest of drawers came from an antiques market. I think it was cobbled together by some guy in his home workshop years ago. It was roughly done, with circles of wood for drawer pulls. It had been painted over several times in red, blue and a dirty cream color and the sides of the drawers were covered in graphite. I spent a lot of time sanding, painting and waxing it. The rose drawer pulls caught my eye at another antique market and I decided to use them on this project. There were 4 smaller ones and 2 larger ones and they were probably supposed to be used in pairs, but I used one centered on each drawer front. I wanted decoration on the sides that echoed the design of the pulls. After much searching at my local hardware stores and then online, I choose these appliques from Rose Blossom Cottage. They had a very similar motif, were the right size and worked with my budget. The appliques looked like clay when they arrived and were steamed over a pot of water to a pasta-like consistency which activated the glue. Once dry, they painted up nicely. I decoupaged some toile tissue paper inside the bottom of the drawers. You can see that the drawers were originally grooved for dividers, but they were missing and I did not replace them so I could have larger storage areas. This drawer holds an assortment of ribbon and trim odds and ends and the others store items like stamps and ink pads. This still shabby little chest of drawers sits on a vintage folding table that serves as my work space. Now I'm off to gather ideas from the rest of you--I've found that as my interest in blogging and collage grows, so does my stash of tools and supplies!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Ladies of My Studio

Pleasant faces keep me company while I play with paper, cloth and trim in my studio. The ladies of a blue and white toile are scattered around the room, and I've found that others I've brought home mirror them in dress and pose. I find it pleasing when one design element is echoed by another, and I seem to be drawn to the same images over and over. A basket of fruit, a rake, a pretty dress--because of these gentlewomen it's always an idyllic summer afternoon. . It's striking that these two young beauties have such similar features and wistful expressions. The one on the left is a postcard image and the other graced the cover of a vintage book called The Kingfisher's Egg, whose blue spine, rose border and ribboned portrait beckoned me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lovely Linens

On this Show and Tell Sunday, it is my pleasure to share some of my vintage linens with you. Most of the pieces in my collection are embroidered and were made for use at the table, but I use them elsewhere, and especially in my studio. In my studio, I display pieces of Blue Willow, including a stacked teacup lamp I made, on top of a white roll top desk. This long piece of cloth, perhaps a towel for drying dinnerware, anchors the vignette and is embroidered with the word "China" in a variegated blue. Several vintage linens decorate my slipcovered chair. A towel with a blue monogram was turned into an envelope-style pillow. A long bag with a tasseled drawstring and the word "Corsets" stitched in white was also repurposed. The beautiful hand towel came from a retirement home thrift store and someone has witten 408C (probably an apartment number) on an edge in permanent ink. The corset bag had the initials JT stamped on a seam. Although not nearly as pretty as the tradition of stitching initials on linens to identify them at communal laundries, these inked marks served a similar purpose. A blue and white doily is draped over the back of the chair in true grandma style. A tablecloth and napkins wait in a white basket for their next tea party appearance. Here's another tea cup napkin from my collection. I love the sweet little French knot flowers. My most recent find came from an auction. My new blogging friend Beth invited me to go and I found the whole auction process exciting. This towel, with its very fine stitchery, and the Blue Willow plate it rests on came home with me for just a couple of dollars each. This little blue and white piece is a darning sampler. These pieces were done by young girls to teach them how to decorate and maintain the linens they would one day make for their households. In a future post, I'll share the rest of my sampler collection with you. In the meantime, you can click on any picture to see more detail. Thanks again to our hostesses, Cerri and Analise.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's Under the Cloche? (1)

I had been admiring cloches (or bell jars as they're sometimes called) for quite some time. I was seeing them in decorating magazines and I liked the way they brought a sense of importance to whatever was placed under them. I was finally moved to buy a cloche after looking through Decorating Cottage Style, by Neva Scott, a Lark/Chapelle book. The vignettes presented in their books are so often my style and this title was no exception. Bell jars appeared throughout the book, but there was even a section called "Books, Buttons and Bell Jars." Stacks of blue and white china, a bird's nest, old books and even silverware looked lovely displayed under glass. Of course, it would have been wonderful to find an antique cloche with old bubbled glass, but I am not known for my patience. Mine came from a discount department store called Gordman's and I recently saw some very pretty tall ones with a bit of cut glass ornamentation at Tuesday Morning. What's under my cloche? This spring it was a dried pussy willow branch which echoes the ones in the vintage Raphael Tuck Easter postcard. The branches and postcard are supported by an old pin-style flower frog. Propped up against that is a little Whitman's candy tin, added for its pretty blue color. I know there's a trend in magazines lately to decorate with French chocolate boxes, but I'm fond of using Whitman's tins in my vignettes. I'll show you more of my decorating with Whitman's in a future post. So tell me, what's under your cloche?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Recent Treasures

After visiting with Beth and Karla at Beth's antique booth on Thursday, my time to browse got cut short. I went back on Mother's Day and treated myself to these two treasures. I love how wide the rose lace is. The petite mother of pearl spoon reflects light beautifully and may be paired with some salt and pepper shakers with mother of pearl lids (in a vignette of course--we don't dine that elegantly around here!) Beth has a wonderful eye! This photo is the first one taken with my new camera, which was a Mother's Day gift from my family. It's a Fuji Finepix and was rated one of the top five budget-friendly cameras for bloggers. My megapixels have doubled, but what I really love is that it has a battery pack that actually holds a charge. With the old camera I could hardly get a good shot or two before the double A's were out of power. The next shot is taken with the Auction mode. The camera provides a choice of layouts and then combines shots. Cool, right? This little stash is from a visit to my favorite thrift store last Friday. It cost $3.15, with the bone china thimble being the most pricey item at $2. I got the thimble for the little crocheted teacup I picked up in Omaha a few weeks ago. I love the print on the vintage wrapping paper. It's called "Caught in a Shower" and is circa 1949. I bought it, the rick rack and the deck of cards with future collage projects in mind. The little wood hobby knitters are destined for a future installment of "What's under the cloche?" Now that I've said that I better go photograph the first installment!

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Thank You Note

Yesterday I got to meet Karla and Beth while they were re-doing Beth's antique space. They were just as warm and funny in person as they are on their blogs. And what a great rapport they have! I would like to thank them for being so encouraging to new bloggers like me and for thinking up such fun challenges for all of us. My photo today is of a panel I created for their Birds & Bonnets Vintage Workshop Swap. This was my first try at collage and I really liked it. I'd also like to thank Amy at The Vintage Workshop for the images she provided for the swap and for the additional download she is giving the participants. The choices are wonderful. It's been a long time since the question "What's next?" held such excitement for me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blast from the Past

My brother was just in town visiting and he brought me this paper doll. Don't you love that red hair, hourglass figure and those kicky majorette boots? He got it in a retro shop in Napa Valley (he takes the best vacations!). He said it seemed so familiar to him, and he remembers a Carnation Ice Cream store from our childhood. I can't say I remember that store, but I remember my love of paper dolls. Our local hardware store (it was a very small town) sold books of paper dolls for a quarter and I bought lots of them. I also took out a book from the school library about making your own paper dolls. I remember using a batch of flour and water paste and scraps of fabric and rick rack. I wish I had saved some of them. My favorite paper doll memory is from when I was a bit older and I had the mumps. My Mom came back from the grocery store with a Twiggy paper doll for me. I watched Twiggy on tv and adored her short hair cut, big eyes and boyishly thin figure. The clothes that came with the paper doll were all those great mod styles: the bell bottom pants, the mini-dresses with cut-outs on the side and the patterned hose. There was even a paper mini-dress for me! The dress didn't survive, but I still have Twiggy. While my brother was visiting, we toured the Steamboat Arabia museum. If you're in the Kansas City area, I would recommend it to you. It sank in the Missouri River in 1856 and its cargo has been rescued and restored. My favorite items are the tiny porcelain frozen Charlotte doll, the calico buttons and the Italian glass beads. The beads have such beautiful colors and such a glossy surface--they remind me of that beautiful holiday ribbon candy. One of the amazing things to observe about this collection was how much detail was lavished on the most mundane items. For example, the handle of a saw would have amazing curves cut into it or beautiful flowers painted on it. I've visited several times and I always find some new detail to delight me there.