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Archive for the ‘Toothpick Holders’ Category

Nestled with plates of my soap are some of our Vaseline Glass items:  a creamer and spooner on the left, a Candlewick covered candy dish toward the center, and a small tumbler with an opalescent rim to the right.  Over years of antiquing and rummaging we have collected a nice assortment of this gorgeous glassware.  Some pieces, particularly toothpick holders, were given to us by my parents.

Beautiful as it is in the natural sunlight, Vaseline Glass takes on a delightful (although eerie) fluorescence under a black light.  Below, you will see the transformation.  The photo does not do justice to this glassware.  When we turn the black light on in a totally dark room, the effect is amazing.  All the Vaseline Glass within range of the light glows—not only those dishes beneath the black light, but the pieces on the table and in the cabinet across the room.  Everything white in the room lights up, as well.

Joe just installed our black light a few days ago.  We had two of them over shelves of Vaseline Glass in our Northern home, one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen.  We moved one shelf and light tube down here where it sat in our storage area for over two years.  Suddenly I got a “bee in my bonnet”:  the black light had to go up once more, so we could enjoy it.  Although we are not into Halloween at our home, the glowing glassware does make kind of a year-round spooky show!

Although this yellow-green glass has been produced since the mid 1800s, the name “Vaseline” was attached to it after 1950.  The origin of the name is obvious.  Sometimes called “Canary Glass”, it was tremendously popular between 1890 and 1940—with designs spanning Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco eras.  At one time entire sets of dishes, serving pieces, oil lamps, and many extras were manufactured by America’s great glass foundries.  

The fluorescent, yellowish glow is achieved by adding a small amount of uranium oxide to the basic ingredients of glass:  silica, soda, potash, and lime.  Most yellow glassware, such as the lemon yellow Depression Glass, does not contain uranium—and will not fluoresce under a black light.  Some of the green Depression Glass will glow, as will Custard Glass (an opaque glass that looks like lemon curd) but these do not contain uranium and (although very pretty) they are not Vaseline Glass. 

Nearly all the well-known leaders in America’s glory years of art glass made Vaseline Glass—including Imperial, Northwood, George Duncan & Sons, Heisey, Fenton, and Westmoreland.  As most of these companies declined when the demand for art glass diminished, new companies procured some of the old molds.  A few (mainly decorative) pieces are still being made.*

Our great-grandchildren have not been to our home since last Sunday when Joe installed the black light.  I hope they’ll soon visit after dark, so we can display “Grandma’s Spooky Show” in its “best light”! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*Only one of the former great glass producers is still manufacturing today.  Fenton has been a family operated company since its inception, and continues the tradition of fine art glass.  Below, you will find a clip from the Fenton website.

About Fenton Art Glass

“Founded in 1905 by brothers Frank L. and John W. Fenton, the Fenton Art Glass Company ranks among the world’s foremost producers of handmade art glass. Fenton is the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States, and the company is renowned for innovative glass colors as well as handpainted decorations on pressed and blown glassware.  For more than a century, Fenton has developed new colors and patterns, including items enhanced with hand-painted floral decorations and 22k gold accents. Fenton glass appeals to all types of customers, and, over the years, this appeal has led to the company’s success.

In 2005, the Fenton Art Glass Company celebrated its 100th anniversary. The firm is now led by third and fourth generation Fenton family members, who work side by side with over 100 employees, including skilled glassworkers and decorators, to create beautiful, handmade art glass in Williamstown, West Virginia.”

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At last, winter has dumped its trademark on our Northern land.  The world around our country condo and quiet park is heaped in the quiet beauty of winter.  Our little patio is heaped.  I love the charming top hats on the bird feeder and saxophone-playing frog—leaning against the feeder as if he were a bit inebriated.  Against the patio door you will see a five dollar poinsettia plant (fake of course) wearing a dusting of snow.  Soon the Christmas plant will be replaced by other fake blooms, until next December.

Now our local ski trials are being groomed for the cross country crowd.  “Downhillers” who long ago exhausted the limited thrills of Midwest runs will throng into airports and board for the high country.  I no longer ski, and I never was intrepid in the high country, although the Colorado Rockies are like a second home and I love to experience their beauty in any season.  While the rest of my family skiied in Colorado, my favorite sport was just sitting outside the lodge in that glorious Western sun and clear, dry air—while savoring a natural Rocky Mountain High.  But there is another winter sport that, in my mind, beats all:  the ceremonial indoor change to spring. 

Here is how it goes around the year.  Late every August I stash my Russel Wright IROQUOIS® dishes, Vaseline Glass pieces, and lemon yellow Depression Glass in a cupboard so that we can adorn our dining table and buffet with Carnival Glass pitchers and bowls, and a harvest-motif set of English china decorated with baskets of luscious autumn produce.  In mid-November, the harvest dishes yield to English Transferware in red and white—paired with ruby red Depression Glass.  Sometimes the red dominance remains in view until after Valentine’s Day, but not this year.  As of today, our village of Nashotah boasts 18 minutes more daylight than we had at the winter solstice.  I’m feeling those minutes.  Extra daylight, winter sun on fresh powder, and the joie de vivre have catapulted me into the new year in celebration of the sparkling season on hand and anticipation of glorious days ahead.

So last evening at dusk we made a seasonal change from red transferware and ruby red Depression Glass—to toothpick holders* and other accent pieces of Vaseline Glass, our lemon yellow Depression Glass sugar and creamer, and (once again) the Russel Wright IROQUOIS® Casual China in soft hues of yellow, green, blue, and pink.  Included in the dining table setting (pictured below), is the Prince Albert MOONLIGHT ROSES® teapot which Joe and I brought home from Cornwall in 1993.  A MOONLIGHT ROSES® cup and saucer accompany the teapot. 

The cliché “What goes around comes around” certainly fits!  Joe and I woke up this morning to sparkling snow outside, and a breath of springtime within—thanks to my passion for, and perennial delight in, seasonal ceremonies.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Note:  My parents gave me their gorgeous collection of toothpick holders, many of which are very old.  For years at other homes, we kept the entire collection on glass shelves in large windows.  Now I simply rotate these treasures around the seasons, color-coordinating the glassware with the time of year.

I often reflect on the toothpick holders.  Within my memory are many years before TV, cell phones, and Daytimer agenda books—when folks had time to sit around the dining room table, picking their teeth to remove those shreds of leg of lamb or pork tenderloin. 

Along with fostering a leisurely quality of life, toothpick holders and toothpicks were probably a substitute for flossing.  Certainly a Vaseline Glass toothpick holder and toothpick afford a lot more ambience than could ever be found in that yucky floss which dentists and hygienists badger (no, order!) their patients to use!

As I enjoy the toothpick holders and all the other lovely old glass collections in our home, it is also fun to reflect on how American glass manufacturers produced such exquisite wares during the heyday of art glass—due to special sands and soils in places like Ohio and West Virginia, and the amazing skills of the glass-artisans who immigrated from Eastern Europe.  We have a special cultural history, here in the USA!  MB

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Yesterday I savored some mellow moments in the little town of Delafield, just 5 minutes from our home.  My first stop was a yarn store where I bought baby fine cashmere/merino blend yarn for seaming my knitted sweaters. 

From the yarn store, I went up the block to an antique shop in an old Victorian era home.  I’ve been visiting this shop since the 1970s, when the (then young) husband and wife who own the shop had just moved in.  In the beginning, they sold out of the dining room on the main floor of their home.  That was exciting, because as well as being able to browse in a gorgeous period dining room, one got a glimpse of the adjoining living areas—all packed with family treasures.

Now the shop is in 2 cozy basement rooms, also packed with treasures and ambience.  What a treat to know these people.  Like me, they grew up with antiques, and their appreciation goes far beyond the mundane level of market value.  Enjoying antiques is all about cultural history, family roots, a love for beautiful craftsmanship, and the art of filling space with objects of interest—things that really mean something! 

A home antique shop is nearly an anachronism in our current age of shopping malls.  When I was a child, many of the antique shops were in homes—with the exception of galleries and outlets in cities.  When my parents and I “road-tripped” we wandered through the small towns, as freeways and by-passes were unheard of back then.  Residential neighborhoods contained homes with a sign in a window, advertising “ANTIQUES”.

I’ll never forget the wonder of entering these private sanctuaries overflowing with porcelain, glassware, old kitchen gadgets, and boxes of sheet music and books.  I was taught not to touch.  Nothing could tempt me to violate that rule, as I didn’t want to jeopardize my special privilege in being allowed to walk around in the shops.  With my hands clenched behind my back, I relished a feast for my eyes.  Bits of information were given out here and there by the shop owners, and I absorbed all I could of that enchanting world of antiques and collectibles.

Pictured above, is my small collection of shell art jewelry boxes.  I purchased the center one yesterday, at the home shop in Delafield.  The others were acquired via EBAY—a fun place to shop, but not nearly as satisfiying as browsing in a store!

The vintage evening bag, hanging above the shell boxes in the photo, was a gift from one of my nieces in Colorado Springs—my nephew Andy’s wife, Sandy. 

The elegant handkerchief under the center shell box was carried by my Grandma Rose on her wedding day in 1892.

The toothpick holder on the little shelf was my VERY FIRST COLLECTIBLE.  It was given to me when I was 6 years old, by an antique shop proprietor who was impressed by my quiet, “hands-OFF” behavior in her store.

The toothpick holder has tiny forget-me-nots painted on it.  It has gone with me nearly everywhere all these years, with the exception of the time I lived in university dormitories—definitely not places for treasures. 

The forget-me-nots remind me of never-to-be-forgotten mellow moments!

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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