Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Decorating with antiques and collectibles’

At a recent social occasion, a young friend shared that she simply can’t stand the word “beige”.  She said it’s so “You know, beige!”  I agreed that “beige” is indeed a boring, generic word when one could qualify with something more colorful like “pale nutmeg”, “1/2 whole wheat,” or “overcooked chicken thigh”.

Anyway, I got to musing about words that I “can’t stand” (I say that instead of “hate” which my parents taught me never to say except when referring to major issues like war, disease, race discrimination, etc).  I came up with two words, and both of them begin with a preposition:  “update” and “downsize”. 

To me “update” is an unimaginative, harshly pedestrian word smacking of anything that would threaten to ratchet me from the 19th and 20th centuries where I felt at home, to the 21st where I live—although that hasn’t yet made a dent in me and I hope it never will!  And I knee-jerk even more, over that intimidating verb—“downsize”! 

Of course some downsizing is essential when it means moving from a large home to a smaller one (we’ve done that three times in thirty-two years—paring a bit here and there without diminishing our penchant for acquiring antiques and junk).  Lack of space is a valid reason to delete some of one’s stuff, to make more space for collecting at the other end!  Also, it makes sense to give our children and grandchildren some family heirlooms and perhaps some silver, china, or crystal—so we can see them enjoying these items before we depart. 

Obviously, when “things” or “clutter” become disorganized in a home—or when they prove burdensome and inordinately time consuming—then it’s good to take drastic action.  Also, we need to run an inventory if things are overly important in our lives.  We are never to idolize stuff! 

While appreciating these disclaimers, I pray Joe and I will never need to change our modus operandi!  I’ll continue to shout from the highest rooftop and scream from the highest mountain, “Bring on the stuff”.  You can downsize me when you lower me into my grave, because by then I’ll have left this earth for the best Home of all!  🙂 

The currently popular fad of downsizing may be partly due to that horrible contemporary lack of commodious attics in which to stash the extra detritus of bygone years.  What a loss to the human race and quality of living—although heating Victorian houses might not appeal to many of us. 

But I think the contemporary downsizing syndrome implies more than the lack of an attic.  Some late 20th century sterility has crept into the American pop mentality.  And by now, nearly thirteen years after the turn of the century (which to me will always mean from 1899 to 1900) our culture has degenerated full-throttle into the crazed concept that everything has to:  1) move fast, 2) be bio-degradable, and 3) be “easy” to maintain.

Those souls who simply cannot live with dust, rust, stains, or tatter, will definitely choose advancing into the 21st century—perhaps in tandem with some who can’t sit still or walk slowly, but rather need to be metaphorically catapulting from coast to coast with a brief lay-over in Minneapolis or Chicago. 

Fortunately, however, there are others who will always resist the latest trend.  We are those intrepid and dauntless anachronisms—suspended in time, while happily preserving the artifacts of other eras.  We anachronisms don’t care two hoots when our stuff gets dusty—although, because I enjoy the process, I actually dust (most) everything twice (or maybe three times) per year whether I need to or not! 

I love rust, the stains of antiquity (barring spilled food and dog messes), and tatters.  I do draw the line at mold, but only because I have a chronic sinus infection and asthma.

So while some may say (often a bit sanctimoniously, as if there were a “spiritual” aspect to downsizing) “I don’t do antiques shops and garage sales anymore”, my husband and I still hit them frequently whatever the season—antiques shops in winter and garage sales in summer.   (Remember, we live in Wisconsin.  That should explain the seasonal element.)

When we lived up north a woman came into our home, looked around, and made a classically caustic comment (get that alliteration—it’s the poet in me).  She said, “How can you do this to your children?”

Well, at least one granddaughter is very glad we are “doing this”!  Once again on this blog I quote our brilliant granddaughter, Alicia, who maintains:  “I know I can’t take anything with me.  That’s why I’m enjoying it all now!”

Above you will see a view in our current home which is much smaller than past digs, yet equally packed with fun and funky stuff—along with whatever heirlooms, china, silver, and crystal we haven’t yet given away. 

When it comes to plain old wonderful junk, and of course home grown art, the population is ever-increasing!  Our gardens and walls will vouch for that!  We are always “upsizing”!  I didn’t say “upscaling”—that would be stressful and no fun at all.  Just upsizing

Our rooms may diminish in numbers, but never in that overflowing variety of ambience loved by that unique breed of folks known as collectors!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012—yet fondly preserving slower years!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.”

Read Full Post »