Tag Archives: Antiques

Bye-Bye to Grandma’s Stuff, Part I: 6 Tips from an Amateur Decorator

Recently, my friend and I spoke about an online article that claimed nobody wants your old, inherited stuff. Amen to that. My daughter’s home is lovely and filled with what she and her husband prefer. Okay, maybe a few cherished items from yesteryear, but not myriad collections. Nor are Donna’s children interested in her old bits and pieces. Only one granddaughter shares my friend’s passion. Without the passion part.

FSR.Wheatley Oil Lamp

Donna’s 1880s Wheatley Oil Lamp relocated to the fireplace mantel. This cool lamp has four sides, each painted with a different flower. It’s pretty special. And now, everyone can enjoy it.

I’d come to see Donna’s newly acquired Wheatley Pottery oil lamp, but couldn’t get a good look because it sat on a shelf crammed with other antiques. Then I noticed her fireplace mantel seemed very crowded, as well. More Wheatley and other pottery, pictures of her children and grands in modern frames, and various treasured whatnots. Plus a plant or two. Why wasn’t the lovely oil lamp on the mantel with the other Wheatley cache?

Boldly, I suggested some minor reshuffling. Indulging me, Donna played along. Soon, the pictures were on the shelf and the Wheatley was on the mantle. After a little creative reorganization, we had achieved something of a designer look. For ten feet or so.

FSR.Mantel.3

The redesigned mantel featuring: the Wheatley oil lamp, a small Wheatley Vase, a curved vase (also by Wheatley), a stoneware, Roseville fruit jar, one more Wheatley, & an American Belleek vase w/winter scene. The age of the pieces. colors, & primitive nature makes them go together.

Since then, Donna has made more changes. “The living room refresh inspired me to dig into my curio cabinets and pare down my collections. But…those are hard decisions.”

Are they ever! I’m trying to do the same, but it’s not easy. Here are some of the things we agree help us to let go and make our nests the best:

  1. First, have a trusted “someone” take a look at your room with new eyes. As Donna said, “Things are just there and you don’t see them anymore.” When I noticed a less-than-lovely-basket filled with dried flowers, ready for retirement, Donna agreed. She freshened the display with different fronds in a favorite Roseville vase. Now she smiles every time she passes by that corner.

    FSR.Roseville Corner

    A Roseville Bittersweet vase from Donna’s curio replaces an old basket. The foliage has    been freshened & the arrangement shines atop this charming wicker table.

  2. Only surround yourself with items you actually like/love. One often displays an object out of respect for the former owner, but it gives no pleasure. It can go.
  3. Think “lots of white space.” As an author, I notice when big blocks of text make me want to close the page. If every space on every wall is covered, the eye has no place to rest. Look for things to delete from your décor.
  4. Lower pictures to eye level. We’ve all seen pictures floating near the ceiling. When asked why it hangs there, the answer is always, “There was a nail in that spot.” Go ahead & patch that old nail hole. Bring that picture down and it will become a member of a vignette family.
  5. Remember to group items in odd numbers: one or three or five, etc. My mother, an artist, taught me that principle long ago. It is more pleasing to the eye. Thinking odd numbers of items grouped together will help you choose only your favorites. The others? Bye, now.
  6. And of course, the old “less is more” adage. I believe in it, even if I don’t always adhere. It promotes white space and the choicest selections.
  7. A final point, things don’t have to match, but they should go together. Do you want your room to look like a hotel or furniture store? Or a home, reflecting your taste, lifestyle and memories? If decorated with what you like best, chances are good that things will “go together.”

Coming tomorrow – six more tips on how to recycle your unwanted collectibles….

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Picture Perfect

During a recent trip to Washington, I enjoyed a lovely visit with my brother & sister-in-law (Mike & Pam) on Whidbey Island. And, as usual, acquired a few antiques. Among them, a lovely old pastoral painting in a wobbly, gilt frame. Something about the scene spoke to me & Pam encouraged me to buy it, saying she & Mike could make the frame fit.

Once back at the house, Pam got busy, first removing the old frame – stamped with “Made in France” on the back. (Ooooo, France!) Mike took the frame apart in his man cave, then brought the pieces inside & laid them on the table.

“Back to you, sweet Sis.”

Pam lent supplies to work on the grimy-looking frame parts. With a turpentine-soaked toothbrush, I began a gentle scrub, trying not to dislodge any of the remaining gilt.

Then, Pam handed me the painting to clean. Uh…how do I…? No idea.painting-whalf-frame  Google offered some choices. But which was best? If I used the wrong method, I might ruin my precious painting. Gulp.

One wikiHow site warned, “…you can’t use water, paint thinner, alcohol, or any abrasive force.” Instead:

  1. Use saliva. (One’s own, I presumed.) Apparently, it was a technique promoted by many museum curators. “Saliva has enough enzymes to break down dirt and grime, but not so much that it will damage the paint.”
    1. Maybe so, but ew. Not a fan.
    2. That was a “no.”
  2. Use bread. Get a loaf of sourdough, break it apart & take some out of the middle. Rub gently against the painting…then brush it off. Really?
    1. On another site, the gal used the inside of a bagel. She seemed happy.
    2. Other sites cautioned, “No bread!”
    3. Okay…no bread unless it’s a sandwich.
  3. Use a soft brush. I had a clean blush-brush so I tried that, going over the painting little by little, using circular motions. I was pleased with the affect. One could see the difference between the treated & non-treated areas.

frame-in-gig

Soon, my bro & wife teamed up to trim the loose frame, Pam measuring & Mike using his table saw to trim a smidgen more. Once perfect, they glued & fit it into Mike’s homemade jig to “cure” overnight. The next day, painting & frame were reunited. Pam finished the project with new strap-hangers & wire.

And voila! A mini-masterpiece…the result of a lot of loving care. Looks great on the wall.painting-4Thanks, you two! What a beautiful & generous gift.

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Shirley You Remember!

43 Years old

She looks great, even after 43 years!

For many years, twenty-three to be exact, I stored my daughter’s classic Shirley Temple doll from 1972. Left behind when Heidi set out for college, I dutifully found a safe spot for Shirley to wait, gently pulling a clear plastic bag over her head. Couldn’t have those beautiful curls covered with dust!

I’d check on Shirley once in a while. But she never ran away or got dirty. Good girl. A big Shirley Temple fan myself, I thought of the doll when I wrote my latest cozy mystery, A Stitch in Crime, placing her on a shelf in my fictional antique store. That dolly needed a little outing, for pity’s sake.

Recently, Shirley was on my mind again. I invited my eight-year-old grandgem, Sidney, to watch a few YouTube clips of the curly-topped moppet singing & dancing. My girl was entranced. Soon my daughter stopped by & watched, too. I glanced at her & she looked at me, both of us emitting mutual “awws.” Amid the craziness of today’s world, I’d missed this sweet, sweet innocent darling from long ago, represented by those uplifting movies and that collectible doll.

When I asked Sidney if she’d like to have her mom’s doll, her face lit up. “Yes, please, Gramsey. Can you send her tomorrow?”

Sidney & Package

Sidney can’t wait to open her package.

“I’ll be traveling tomorrow, honey. Maybe the next day? Or Wednesday?”

“Tuesday?” she asked, hopeful.

I did my best & my best was Wednesday. However, I decorated the mailing label with a pic of a Shirley doll & sent a video message from the very doll I’d just put in the box & mailed. Sidney emailed me back, thanking me for the video & saying she & her little brother were cracking up.

Today, Sidney & Shirley were joyfully united. I hope she’ll treasure this new little friend. Maybe one day, she can pass it on to her own daughter. Meanwhile, I’m hunting for Shirley Temple DVDs to fill in the cultural blank. I think her heart will welcome knowing about a time when America’s Sweetheart enchanted all the country & uplifted us during a troubled time.

Sidney & Shirley

New mommy, Sidney Anne, with her own Shirley Temple doll.

Next up? Pollyanna!

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What’s in Your Wall–…er…Cupboard?

Fiesta Tea Time w/A Stitch in Crime

Fiesta Time w/A Stitch in Crime

When friend, Angela McInnis (who crafted the quilt for my book cover), posted a pictorial record of her new Fiesta collection on Facebook, I rushed to check my own kitchen collectables, including vintage Fiesta, partying behind my cupboard doors.

Goodness, but her new Fiesta was charming! Did I like it better than the old? I read that it’s now (& has been) the most popular line of everyday dishes for Macy’s. Unlike the old, the new stuff has added wonderful pastel colors, is microwaveable, & dishwasher safe. Nice. My daughter uses hers daily & her kids love to pick out their own plate colors. (Me, too.)

But my Fiesta is all from the 1930s & ‘40s & must be hand-washed. No microwave use. Yet, has a charm of its own. Unlike some of my collections acquired over many years, picking through antique stores, yard sales, & online, the Fiesta came to me in an unusual way.

A friend of mine was getting rid of boxes of old things offloaded by someone. “Do what you want with these,” she’d been advised. Knowing I was a collector, she  invited me over to check them out & help her decide what to toss & what to keep.

Fiesta dishes on shelf

Fiesta in the Cupboard!

Deep in the first box, I found treasure. And became over-the-moon-excited about some Vaseline glass pieces, hoping to absorb one or two into my small collection. I oo-ed & ah-ed so much, she decided to keep them all. Rats.

But one box housed quite a lot of old Fiesta ware ready to use.The colors were mainly cobalt, yellow, light green, & ivory. Plus a couple broken bits, some chipped plates, & a cup with no handle. Of little interest to my friend, she offered the entire box to me for $75.00. Of course, I’d hoped for my favorite price. Free. But her price seemed fair.

A few special pieces beckoned from the bottom. A carafe with its rare top & a mint, covered casserole. Later, shopping for missing pieces out in the antique world, I realized that three dinner plates alone might cost $75.00. I had almost an entire set of dishes!

Dishes on the shelf

American Sweetheart & Fiesta ware.

Along with the Fiesta in my cupboard, reside my everyday dishes – a monax American Sweetheart set from the Depression era. They are lovely in form, opalescent, with a raised design decorating scalloped edges. Unlike the Fiesta, it took me ages to collect the American Sweetheart.

The top shelf is populated with early Franciscan ware (Gladding McBean) in a creamy, swirl pattern. A service for twelve, they have appeared in many Thanksgivings at my home, doing utilitarian duty in a most elegant way.

Franciscan & Fiesta

Franciscan & Fiesta

I look into my cupboards & see great value there. Not how much they are worth. But the years of pleasure I’ve had, treasure hunting with like-minded dear ones. I see places I’ve been & conversations & laughter. They are more than colorful dishes. They represent shared experiences.

A very special lady once said to me, “Things do not satisfy. Only Jesus satisfies.” I so agree. These dishes are just things that will break & chip. They won’t last.

But He knows what delights my collector heart. So I’ll enjoy them in the here & now, until the day when I’m walking on the streets of gold.

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Copycat Collector

 When the due date was near, our Quills of Faith Writer’s Group gave a Tea-Party-Brunch-Baby-Shower (can you say that five times fast?) for our revered writing mentor, Cindy McCormick Coloma. In lieu of games, we each brought our favorite teacup or mug to use and tell the story behind its specialness – in fifty words or less.

A fitting and clever writer exercise we’d all enjoy.

Owning a sizable collection of cups and saucers, I opened my curio cabinet to decide between various teacups. Which had the best story? What about that delicate cup of Grandma’s? Or the antique chintz charmer I bought in Alaska? I considered several, enjoying their cool smoothness in my hands, remembering how they came to be mine.

Chintz

Then I realized that many of my collections started because someone I knew collected it first. The teacup bought on an Alaska trip reminded me that my sister-in-law collected chintz long before me. In fact, I recalled once buying three pretty, patterned cups and saucers for her in an antique store in Woodland, California.

The plan was to give my sis a set every Christmas for the next three years. Only, that’s not what happened. I gave her the first one as a gift, then accidentally displayed the others, adding to them on occasion, until it became a full-blown collection.

A similar thing happened when I bought my niece a pink lustre plate for Christmas. Extremely attracted to this piece, I sensed the danger of another accidental collection about to materialize. And multiply. Since there were many months to go before the holiday, I wrapped that baby in a box and hid it in my gift cupboard.

Danger alert averted.

Or so I thought. Until I found three more pink lustre plates in an antique store in La Pine, Oregon. Those pesky plates persuaded me to take them home and soon showed themselves off on my wall, whining for a fourth plate. I dug it out of the gift cupboard and added it to the arrangement. Gorgeous.

Plate that Started It All

Great. Now, I collected pink lustre, too. And was in need of a gift for my niece.

What did that say about me? Was anyone’s collection safe? Did I have to copy everybody’s coolest stuff? I hoped not. Perhaps there was another explanation.

Maybe I just shouldn’t shop so early for Christmas.

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