Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just in Time For School: Alphabet Sampler

 I've seen posts from all my friends about school starting.  It made me think about my Biedermeier framed needlepoint alphabet sampler. I'm not sure what this item fall into:  My screen collection, or sampler collection.  I think I have about 7 firescreens. 

The world has certainly changed since this wonderful sampler was made!  Young girls would practice the discipline of stitching and have a wonderful accomplishment to show for it.   My nieces are masters with their hands too--texting in shorthand, lol....  I wish they'd have a sampler to show for their summer's work....

I love the pastoral scene underneath the sampler. It is done in needlepoint, with a handpainted face on the shepherd.  It is considered Berlinwork.

Currently, the screen lives in the uncluttered study.  How uncharacteristic of me!

I'm off to Baltimore for some shopping therapy at an antique show, then swinging by St. Louis to visit my daughter.    I am looking forward to it, minus the flight across the country.  Have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Antique Clock Face

I mentioned that yesterday was an adventure attending a small antique show.  One item that I couldn't leave there was an old clock face.

The name on the front of the clock is Wright, Birmingham.  There were companies in England that just made clock faces.  Thanks to the internet, I found out within seconds that there were two companies that made clock faces in Birmingham:

Wright, B&Co.           From  1805 - 1820
Wright, Christopher    From  1835 - 1845

Clock faces can be dated based on what is in the corners of the clock.  The link below talks about how to date a clock face.  If there are flowers in the corner, the clock is earlier, 1770 to about 1800.

For more information about clock faces:  http://www.dialrestorer.co.uk/date-painted-dials.html

I wondered what kind of clock case it must have lived in originally.  I hunted on the internet for a clock case that had a similar looking dial with "Wright-Birmingham" and found the following photo:

From Liveauctioneers.com
It looks very similar to my clock face, wish they'd had a closeup.  It appears there is a girl and a fence in it like mine. .

This little 200 year old gardener brightens up my day when I look at her.  Notice the sheep dotting the hillside.   Is this a scene out of the Cotswolds?  Maybe I'll put a battery operated clock and hands on this, and tuck it in a bookshelf near the TV.  Or maybe I'll just talk about how I'm going to do that someday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Antique Patina: Antique Letters and Papers!

This morning I went to a cute little antique show.  I got there a half hour early, and still missed a few great things.  One thing caught my eye was a stack of old French documents.  They range in date from 1751 to 1818.   It appears that some are letters of introduction.  The old paper has watermarks on it, plus impressed seals.   I don't know if it came with the paper, or it was added when the document was written.

I have a vitrine display table.  I know alot of people use them to display fancy smalls, but today I decided to fill it with antique papers.  The only thing that is missing is the old quill pen!
The papers aren't viewed best from the side, but the sight of them makes you curious!

Looks like a piece of history to me!

I hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I enjoyed buying them and putting this together.  I will probably layer more items on top of them.   They also would be great to copy and use for other clever things--like wrapping books, perhaps make a photo mat...Hmmm... what fun!

A follower, Dr Vacuum, found that I'm not the only one interested in these pretty documents.  She found them on Williams Sonoma Home, too!  I was amazed that the date of 1753, is so close to the papers I have (1751-1818+)

Description from their website:
From Williams Sonoma Home
Logged by hand on November 22, 1753, these ledger pages record the transactions of a working French farm, including such everyday events as items bought and sold. Today these pages from history look romantically genteel, and our prints reproduce their graceful script and weathered paper in exact detail.

• 20 1/4" x 28 3/4" high overall
• 16" x 24 3/4" high image
• Archival giclée prints on acid-free paper
• Set behind Plexiglas and floated on an acid-free cream mat
• Italian wood frame with black stain and gold-leaf finish
• Made in the USA; frame made in Italy

Are you sitting down?   $525.00

Don't they look nice framed.   I'm enjoying my messy pile of them though!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

French Wire Hamper on Wheels!

Ever look for a stylish hamper and get tired of all the baskets?    Yesterday I stopped by Pottery Barn with my husband.  We were really just goofing off, killing time before lunch.  I spotted the cutest hamper ever and had to have it.... I like to use vintage wicker laundry baskets for clean clothes, but I've never seen anything with wheels!
Photo from Pottery Barn website.  

I only bought one, but I love it!  You know I always want to have new things that look old.  The Crate and Barrel might seem more functional given the narrow shape, but this one is really nice because you don't have to bend over to empty it.  They only had one color liner, but I bought it anyway, thinking it would be easier to use it as a pattern if I wanted to redecorate.  You can get the porcelain tags that say "lights", etc.  but I only purchased one, so I didn't need the tag.

The only thing I didn't like about it is that it looks like rusty wire.  I like the look, it's just not that functional--don't put damp clothes in it.  The really cool part is--the basket collapses flat!   I thought I'd share, as PB always seems to place one-time orders and when it's gone, you're out of luck.

I saw this hamper at Crate and Barrel's website.

It's function, and you could roll it down the hallway if you're like me and do 3 loads at once.  I hated those cheap looking plastic wheels and it just doesn't have the charm of my new one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Berlin Work: Creating Needlework Using Antique Patterns

Isn't this a wonderful piece of petitpoint?  The frame is a wonderful old birds-eye maple, the glass is wavy and has seeds in it here and there.

A closeup of the stitches shows meticulous detail.  There are 360 stitches per inch.  The work is a combination of cotton and silk on a linen background.

I love the subject--3 doves on an urn, with gilt bronze handles.  Wouldn't you love the urn too!

I do needlepoint, and can't understand why people do all these modern designs when history is loaded full of beautiful designs.    I did so many projects as a teenager and gave them all away.  After I had "the empty nest", I decided that I wanted to do needlework based on historical designs. 

At the time, all I could find was Elizabeth Bradley's work.  I've done alot of her Victorian animals.  

A kit.  I modified the colors a bit.

Another kit.  It's a really great piano stool used at a desk.

A design from one of Elizabeth's books.  I made up the border from another kit.  
I had a friend with terminal cancer who picked out the design, and looked forward to my
visit every week to see my progress.  I have to work like crazy to have some "expected" progress.
I was happy to finish it before she passed away.  I don't walk by it without thinking of her!

This Elizabeth Bradley sampler was made by my daughter.
The urge to do something while sitting  goes to another generation..
This is another sampler kit I found.  You can buy it here on Ebay for under $10
By Permin of Copenhagen
Anna Thies 1859
So you can imagine my joy when I found A BOOK that describes exactly the kind of work I like to do and collect.  It is by Rafaella Serena.  She wrote 3 books in all.  The one below is "Embroideries and Patterns From 19th Century Vienna"

Back Cover

Pattern of above doves, From "Embroideries and Patterns from 19th Century Vienna"
Rafaella goes into detail about the style of the times--covering more than just needlework.  She talks about the influence of Empire and Biedemeier on needlepoint designs.  It is fascinating and worth reading.  It helped me hone my collection and what I am looking for.
Yes, I made the framed needlework of the doves.  I made the decision to make the roses pink, because of project #2, pictured below.  I also changed the center of the urn color,  I had trouble finding the right color to match that in the pattern.  This was about 10 years ago, and now there are all sorts of wonderful threads, silks, etc, thanks to the internet.  Lately, I've been using alot of Trio, and Silk & Ivory by Brown Paper Packages.

The linen used was special linen for samplers, about $75/yard.  It was a colored linen, and this time I didn't mess with dying it with coffee or tea to give it a more aged or stained look.  That is popular.  I am always on the hunt for period frames and glass, as I like to use them for my projects.   Sadly, I just broke a large piece of wavy glass in a frame in my move.  So a spare picture frame is always nice!

However, I'm off on other things.  I'm in the middle of two projects, and I'm scoping out the next two projects.  I think the dove picture needs a mate:
"Someday" Project #2:  This is the mate that I plan on doing next.  From "Embroideries and Patterns from 19th Century Vienna"

If you want to find out more about Rafaella Serena, she has a website here. She sells some kits and patterns.

You can find her books on Amazon, Ebay or Bookfinders, sometimes at incredible deals.  

She wrote about the Nowotny Collection.  There is a store in Vienna that sells some fine needlepoint going back in time to that original collection.  They have a website.  I'll be sure and go by the shop if I'm ever in Vienna!

My family didn't have any treasures passed down through generations.  Wars and running for your lives has a way of making that not very relevant.  After collecting other families heirlooms, I think I should make the effort to share something for future generations in a thoughtful way. 

Either that, or someone will have a great $20 buy at my estate sale someday.
Do you have a favorite designer who does antique reproduction needlework designs?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hanky Primer #3: Embroidered and Petit Point Hankies

Photos are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission!

I have written 2 previous blogs on hankies. I need to cover a few more things.  I am not covering lace wedding hankies as that is a VERY complex subject.  You have to know different kinds of handmade laces before shelling out $50 to $300.  There are bargains to be had on eBay, if you know what you are doing.

This primer is about embroidered hankies.  There is very little written on collecting embroidered hankies, and I feel that sharing a huge amount of photos is the best way to educate you on hankies.  Many people are concerned about where a hanky was made.  I am more concerned about the quality of what is in my hand, rather than whether it still has a label attached.   However, if you're not able to judge well, buying hankies with a label is a way to start a collection.  

A collection doesn't have to be 300 hankies--you can just purchase a dozen to put in that antique box.  Think about your guest room.  What do you have in the nightstand drawer?  A box on the dresser?  How about that top drawer in the dresser.  Wouldn't it be amazing to open it up, and have a wonderful display of hankies in there.  Think about being a guest, and you've gotten up too early, because you're on a different time zone.  You've already read the magazines in the room, enjoyed the water and snack left on the desk.  You don't want to disturb anyone, but every drawer in the dresser is laid out with all these gems!

Who cares if they think you're the crazy hanky lady.  It's alot less work than the crazy cat lady.

Click here for Primer #1, and here for Primer #2.  Click here for using hankies under centerpieces at a wedding.   On more linens, here is a link to using antique tablecloths at a wedding.

I do petitpoint myself, so admiring fine petitpoint and embroidered hankies was a natural extension of that.

Don't forget to click on the hanky if you want to view an enlargement.
Petit Point Hankies
I have only found Switzerland stickers on petit point hankies.   They may be made elsewhere, but I've not seen other labels.  The fabric used to make petit point hankies tends to be a linen or cotton lawn fabric.  

The photos below have 3 hankies.  The quality of all three are very high.  Check out the workmanship.  The edge is very well done.

Pansies are very popular to collect.  Think about the Victorian era and the popular flowers then--and you'll find them on a hanky!

This is a wonderful hanky.  I've shown a tiny spot in the photo, but it is inconsequential based on the beautiful work--and the fact that it is embroidered in 4 corners.

This is a combination of petit point and crewel embroidery.  It is very common to combine the techniques.

This poppy is very well done.  The floral spray is very large, worthy of the best collection!

This is a wonderful hanky.  I sometimes wonder if a hanky with drawnwork isn't made in China.   So I look for high quality work.  This passes the test.

Awesome work!  Iris is a wonderful old-fashioned flower.

Poppies are a popular theme too.  Great quality, nice colors.

I love the fact that there is a simple rose in each corner.  Nice quality, even though it is only one tine rose in each corner.

Violets are popular, they fly out when I find them.
Wonderful made in Switzerland hanky set.   I love the tiny colored embroidery.  Notice the edging isn't as high quality is Madeira hankies.

Crewel Embroidery Hankies
These are made all over, from Switzerland to the Philippines.   Again, look for quality in the workmanship. They are works of art, so look for the thoughtful design.
Nice work,  quality embroidery.  This gets a thumbs up.

I totally love this hanky.  It's definitely one of my favorites!  There is a border woven into the fabric,
an interesting design.  I sure hope I kept this one... it's got to be somewhere.

These 3 hankies are a good quality.   The center hanky is interesting--you often find a single rose the the stem going from the center of the hanky.

This hanky says "ALL COTTON" MADE IN SWITZERLAND.  It's a nice quality of heavy crewel embroidery.  You can feel the difference--it is not on linen.  Notice how the bouquet starts in the corner.  I'm baffled as sometimes they make the spray upside down.

This one is a favorite!  Don't you just love the garden scene someone did?  I think this was amateur embroidered, but very well!

This is a wonderful hanky with applique bows, and bullion technique embroidered flowers. 

Beyond cute! Between the little bird and the flower faces, who could resist?
 I took the label off because I washed this adorable hanky.

Good quality, extremely fine work, great quality cloth. A real winner.

Very heavy embroidered pansies on a cotton cloth.  It's sort of boring as the decoration is small,
but I liked the work because it is very well done crewel.

The cloth is very distinctive--made in Switzerland.  The embroidery is a nice quality.  I've
seen this fabric on a lot of Swiss hankies.  It's almost like a mini-calico printed linen.
One caveat is that the edge isn't as nicely done, it looks machine-finished to me.

Great quality on the flowers, but this is machine made. I wish I had taken a photo of the back.

Interesting, looks like someone did one petit point flower, and then switched.  It's a really fine quality linen cloth.

This is an interesting boxed set.  They always charge more if there's a box.  I got the set because I loved the birds.  Isn't it cute!

Very Victorian Basket.  The crewel rose is well done, as is the basket.  However I don't think the flowers
are a great quality. The overall look is nice.

Machine embroidered silk flower.  Really nicely done for a machine! It looks like a Royal Society Silk embroidery.

I totally love these!  Any hanky with an animal is a winner for me!

Hankies with Embroidered Borders

Embroidered borders often wind up as a bridal hanky or gift.  They can coordinate with wedding colors and are great for the bride that hates lace--and you can't find a monogram.
Both of these are winners.  The work is amazing.   Hard to find!

I've seen work like this with Madeira, Switzerland and China stickers.  Look for quality work.

Similar to the 3 above, but likely Madeira.

Possibly Hong Kong or Madeira? Similar to the 4 above.
These tend to be sold as Appenzell.  If they have the grey pencil underneath that doesn't wash out, I wonder if they are from Hong Kong.  These don't, the two top ones are more elaborate expensive Appenzell.  They often sell on Ebay as pulled thread hankies.  I did see one on Ebay once with an Appenzell sticker.

Madeira Organdy

Made in Switzerland. Superfine quality.  Check out the work that went into attaching the border.  Hard to believe you can pick this up on Ebay for under $20.  The original price was probably around $75.

Beautiful quality work! Swiss.

Totally fabulous border! Almost always Swiss.
Madeira Applique, Shadow-work and Embroidery
Madeira hankies are very distinctive. While they are best known for the monograms, there are some very fine floral hankies.

This has applique leaves, organdy inset--alot of work. A little funky for me.

Really fabulous high quality embroidery.  Notice how the bow has an organdy insert--right through the border. I think the wheat stock is unusual. Probably has some meaning to be included in a bouquet.  Notice the border.  When you have a hanky that has a border woven into the fabric, it is almost always a more expensive hanky.

Fantastic hanky with embroidery in every corner.  Could be Madeira, could be Swiss.  The edge is hand-rolled and hand-hemmed.
You want that.  Newer ones are machine hemmed.

OMG!  Isn't this cute.  Living in rain country (Portland, Or has only 60 sunny days/year)  I had to have this one!
It's a Madeira hanky.  Notice that it has a border woven into the fabric.

Has the Burmel label, made in Madeira.  The most common look in Madeira floral hanky.

Slightly less elaborate than the previous Madeira hanky.

Another applique hanky.  The applique rose was enhanced with embroidery to give it more of a 3D look.

Maderia 3D Organdy Applique Hankies

These hankies are really fun.  Some collectors look only for these.  

Really fun hanky--stuffed cherries.

This hanky had the original Madeira sticker.  Tough to find.  Love the grapes!  Definitely a show hanky!
Isn't it wild!   

I have to say this is my favorite---what an unusual motif!

Great blue roses!

Monster pink rose!
Care & Cleaning of Hankies
 Sure, you can throw it in the laundry in a laundry bag.  I know, most people think that's sinful.  Just don't put it in the dryer.  If you don't put them in the laundry bag, they wind up going the way of the missing sock.  I will actually iron them while they are still damp.  That's about 10 minutes out of the washer. 

For serious hankies with lots of embroidery, just soak in the laundry tub for 5 minutes to 5 days in Biz.  They'll come out good as new.  I rinse with a bit of vinegar to make sure all the soap is out.   I never use starch with linens, they say it attracts bugs.  The reason I don't like starch is it gets on my iron and is nasty to clean up.  If you must use starch, spray it on the reverse side of the item you are ironing. I prefer to use sizing (not as heavy as starch) if I've got trouble with an embroidered piece that isn't squaring up.  Don't forget to iron it embroidery side down with a (once) fluffy towel underneath.

I don't know if I've inspired you to collect hankies.  Think about carrying an emergency hanky in your purse. It can be folded up in your wallet or makeup bag.  It's much smaller than a pack of tissues, and alot more durable.  I'm not a blow-you-nose kind of girl, but I am a cry-baby, so even if it's a just a bad pollen day, I'm not going to dab my eyes with a pile of lint from a tissue that has started to fall apart in my purse.  Besides, it dries in-between sobs, hee hee.

A vintage shoe-holder used to display print hankies.

Here are the links to all of my hanky articles:
Hanky Primer #1 Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #2 More Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #3 Embroidered & Petitpoint Hankies
Hanky Primer #4 Appenzell & Appenzell Style Hankies

You can find me from time to time selling antique linens on Ebay: antique-monograms-- I need to share some of my fabulous finds, I don't have room for more!