Sunday, January 17, 2016

Neoclassic Elements: The Adam Style Swag

I have a tiny hallway that goes to the powder room and master bedroom.  While it is not deep enough to house a piece of furniture, I wanted to put something there.  I have so many benches and chairs around the house I did not want that.   Hallways tend to be dark so I decided to put a mirror there.   

 Below it seemed like a perfect spot for a finial from Restoration Hardware.  I spotted it and knew I had to have it-- because I can't seem to resist anything with the gracefulness of a neoclassic swag.  I don't care that it is not antique, but that would have even been better, of course!

I realized that I have lots of things with swags on it.  This beautiful federal eglomise mirror is a favorite of mine.  The tiny bit of blue in the border is really nice.

The condition of the eglomise painting is wonderful, no paint loss, etc. 

 I see this a lot as I exit the bedroom.  

This is my new pared -down look in the house.  I am trying a more sparse look to give the house a more updated feel.

 I resisted the urge to put sconces on each side of the mirror.   They are in a drawer.     Ok, across the hall you can see a reflection of hunt prints.    I guess that end doesn't feel too sparse!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making Beautiful Lavender Sachets With Antique Linens - The Perfect Hostess Gift

I got to thinking about the round of parties and family events coming up with Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon.   Do you struggle with what to give the hostess who has everything?  Well, I do.  I don't drink so I am not going to pick out a bad bottle of wine.  I think that three of these tied in a bow is perfect for a hostess gift.

What could be better than antique beautiful pieces of lace made into lavender sachets.  Check out the beautiful ones I made below.

When you grow lavender, you must harvest this wonderful flower for sachets!  The scent is heavenly, and is supposed to help with moths and critters eating your clothes.   Of course you need to dry and screen the lavender to get rid of dirt and chaff.  Right now I am still seeing lots of lavender in the yard.

I grow a number of varieties.  Hidcote and Purple Ellagance.   I seem to ignore all advice on how to grow it.  I forget to cut it when I should, and then I'll whack it when I shouldn't.   I cut it way down into the woody stems, which is supposed to kill the plant, but it doesn't.

Anyway, I wound up with buckets of lavender.  I sometimes cheat and just put them in sachet bags like below.  They are handy to hang from hangers in the closet, so they are very useful.

Then I thought I would dress up the bags by sewing some antique scrap linen on it.  

I kept digging around and realized my box of "smalls", which is mostly antique coasters and doilies less than 4", is the perfect size for sachets.  Don't you just love the drawnwork square below?    The round wheel lace sachets are lovely too.

Below is a fabulous tape lace square I stitched to a sheer organdy "pillow".  I filled it with lavender and it looks wonderful beneath the lace.

Another trick is to make an organdy sachet for those little linen envelopes used for gloves, lingerie, etc.  Don't you just love the Victorian era-- they had so many pretty things for every purpose.   Now we can add beauty to our lives to a sachet by using them.  The one below is monogrammed, very charming!

I especially love these because you can refresh the lavender easily.

Below is a fingertip towel wrapped around an organdy pillow filled with lavender.  I really thought the embroidery was amazing and it makes a wonderful pillow.

Below is a sampling of fabulous coasters I've collected.  At first I was selling them on eBay, but you get almost nothing for these round coasters, so I decided to keep them once I got this idea.  So this is a good tip for you-- They are very inexpensive to pick up on ebay, especially if you can get a lot multiple types.
Look for the lacy if you like seeing the lavender.  Or you can buy the sacks and put scrap on the front like I did.

Any vintage scrap that catches your eye can be turned into a beautiful sachet.  I also recommend using hankies with damage on them.  looks at this lovely small doily I found for $.50 at a garage sale, they had 2.

The one below was a punchwork coaster.  I should have embroidered an initial on it.  OK, next time.

I'll end on my favorite.   Yes, they make great gifts, but don't forget to give yourself some!.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Antiquing on the Internet: 11 Interesting Items on Ebay to Consider

It is really easy to put together a bunch of pretty pictures of antiques from Ist Dibs, but most of us don't have many thousands to spend on antiques.  I spent time on Ebay looking for affordable items to accessorize your home.   I look for interesting things that catch my eye that I believe are charming antiques.  I do not warrant or guarantee anything, I don't know most of the sellers, I am merely surfing and sharing with you what I think is fun!

This week it seems like I was looking at either prints or linens.

1.  Charming French Print
I love decorating with miniature prints.  This one is $125 on Ebay.  It says it is Eglomise, which means that it is painted on glass.  However then is says it is just a piece of paper attached to glass.  Either way, I thought it charming.  4 1/2" x 4 1/2". 

2.  Dutch Master Floral

This is more expensive,  It is from Estonia, not sure I want to have it shipped to the U.S., but I liked the look of the picture.  $690.  I will try not to blow the budget on every link.

3.  Staffordshire Dogs with Baskset

I like these dogs because of the baskets they are carrying.  They shouldn't go for a fortune because the paint is a bit chippy.  I should warn you, red dogs seem to go for more than other colors, and the baskets make the price higher.

4.  Toile Fabric

I saw this lovely fabric in pink.  There is a green version below.  They both have an almost luminescence to the print compared to modern prints.  Isn't it sweet with the goats and rabbits.  30" x 99".  It is $75.00

5.  Toile Drapes

The same print as above, identified as "Le Meunier" theye print is vibrant, lovely pattern.  Interesting history on the print.  This toile was produced at the Jouy factory in 1806 and was designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet ,  employed by Oberkampf .  The animal designs that Huet used, were often modeled after his own animals ( including his dog, in this toile scene) .   It was a popular print made many times, this one by Schumacher in 1910.  $175 for the pair.

6.  Antique Print Girl on Donkey "Country Girl of Tuscany"

Here is a lovely old print in a nice looking frame.  Isn't it charming.  I love the old antique prints, they have a quality and patina that adds alot to your home.  110 British Pounds.  I never have problems recieving items from the UK.  It is $170 plus shipping.  Or make an offer.

7.  French Water Color

Ok, so I like this one because it has horses and men wearing French hats.   An auction, currently at $55

8.  Fabulous Embroidery

How great is this monogram on a Euro sham!  I love the cutwork / eyelet work along with the fancy stitches making up the B.  $45, great price don't you think.

9.  French Tin Box

Isn't this the cutest box to put things in!   I have lots of boxes all over the house.  I keep thank you notes people send, all my ticket stubs from interesting places we've been.  It's fun to open and see what is inside.  At auction it is at $20 currently plus $17 shipping.

10.  Austen Style Prints

Here is another wonderful old pair of prints $84.95, or best offer.  Make an offer.  They are from around 1900.  Aren't they charming!   Looks way nicer than anything you pick up at Home Goods.

11.  Dudson Cheese Dome

In my last post I mentioned how I am so over all the seashells everyone uses. I really like it when I see designers using antique collections to make a statement.  Jackye Lanham has this kitchen everyone has published all over the internet.  She is probably my favorite designer that uses lots of antiques (after Charles Faudree, of course)

Notice she has two jasperware domes, along with a bunch of silver. Isn't it lovely!  Anyway, below is a dome that has a hairline in the dome, and is priced at about half of what you normally see.

The price is $232.97, plus $83 shipping, depending where you live.  Expensive, but you can always do some comparison shopping on these lovely domes.

In Summary

Don't be afraid to do some editing.  Don't let your decorating be defined by gifts that people gave you 20 years ago.  Clear out the boring accessories you thought would look good and it didn't work when you got it home.   Put the shells back on the beach.  Make sure your collections are tastefully displayed so your mood lights up when you walk in a room.

Be organized, have a place for everything.  That is what eliminates what most people call clutter.  It's stuff that is just dropped in a room because you don't have a place for it.   Take the time to think about how to live in your house, and then after you have places for everything, you can think about what brings you pleasure and adds beauty.

A tray below organizes useful things on this nightstand.  Organizing things doesn't mean everything has to be hidden.  You're living in your house.

Get out there and have fun collecting.  On don't go all obsessive though.  If you have one piece of cranberry glass,  50 pieces does not make it better.   It suddenly becomes boring when you have too many.  

My good friend Beverly always said, collect 3-5 of the best in a collecting genre and move on.   Sometimes we are afraid to buy the best of something because we don't understand the field.  With today's internet, you can research anything before you go drop your bank account on something.   

So take the leap, stop buying new junk and  buy something antique that has some patina!  Leave a message if you buy one of my recommendations!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Decorating with Antiques in a Bedroom

This bedroom is in a little guest house at my daughter's house.   I just left this morning and thought I would share all the antique touches in the room.

The photo below was taken from the doorway into the room.  It is very welcoming.  I love the dramatic impact of the monster flower painting and the beautiful toile drapes.  The toile fabric is a vintage print, I know I've seen it in the Colefax & Fowler book.

The bed is covered in a white metalasse spread, great in the hot summer.  There is a really cute quilt done in tiny postage stamp size pieces that is nice if it gets too cold.  The giant snake pillow is a wonderful peice of french tapestry, the background of the tapestry is a gray blue.

The lamps on the nightstands are new, they look like trees with birds on them.  The house is in the country and this is something whimsical that works on this country guest house.

To the right of the nightstand is a wonderful little Georgian fire screen, and a needlepoint bench for your clothes or robe.  There are two wonderful blue and white German plaques that echo the cartouches in the toile drapes.   I remember my antique dealer friend telling me the story of how she dragged these back in a carry-on after purchasing them on Portobello Road in London.  Room was made for it on the plane, lucky for me they didn't get kicked to pieces underneath a seat.

 I can't get enough of that fabric. Isn't it a wonderful shade of blue!   I love having so many things to look at.  Some people call it cluttered, but I think it is fun.  There is a wonderful Berlinwork needlepoint with a girl and her parrot.  The glass on the front makes it hard to photograph.  There is a little writing desk in the corner to the right of the door.  It is stocked with note cards and note pads in case you need to make a note of where you are going the next day.  (remember this is a guest house).

Above the needlepoint is a lovely carved shelf, with what else but a cute piece of Staffordshire. Staffordshire is also sitting on the right nightstand.
 To the right of the desk are a couple of oil paintings, transferware plates, and an old piece of French gilt tin roses.
 I know, it's not minimalist, but my decorating with antiques has never been minimalist.  My daughter left this more English & German than the French that she usually does because she knows how much I love all this stuff!

Below is more of the German stuff in the room.  On the wall are Berlinwork needlepoint slipper pockets.  There is a dog, horse and monograms.  There are lots of other needlepoint pieces on the wall.
Above the nightstand, (an English chest of drawers), is a rack with a display of Austrian handmade antique petit point bags.  I sometimes use them when I dress up for special events.  It also follows one of my principles of collecting.  Mass similar items together for a more effective display.

To the left of the bed is this lovely turtle chair with dutch marquetry.  It is covered in Fortuny fabric, (when it is not covered with my bath robe!)

My nightstand has a couple of German hats on it.  There is a black one, very old.  The grey one my dad wore.  (See my German coming through, the verb at the end of the sentence?  I was an ESL kid here in the U.S.)    I didn't do anything to stage the room, so WYSIWYG.  

Ok, so here's my quick go to items on the nightstand.  I have  a silverplate tray to hold Jo Malone perfume, Secret, L'Occitane lotion (great stuff), Chapstick, L'Occitane lip balm.  That teacup is a fabulous handpainted teacup that I like to use for necklaces and rings.  I have a photo of my awesome daugher at work, framed in a black forest frame.  I use the little shaving mirror to put on makeup. The crystal Gallia picture frame of me with 4 of my sisters.  I was the bald baby on the end.  Mom made all the matching red and white dresses (yes it is a B&W print.  I just happen to recall wearing each and every one of those matching dresses.  I grew out of one, and into the other, wore that dress for 6 years..!!)

Below is a photo of my dad wearing the little grey hat.   Last spring when we were in Germany we saw a farmer all dressed up, or so we think, wearing said hat, riding on a tractor.

At the foot of the bed is a lovely antique French bench with stretchers.  Notice the carving on the front edge of the bench, beautiful!  It is covered in grey linen. 

There is carpet on the bedroom floor.  It is soft and wonderful to get out of bed and step onto carpet.  I know everyone loves wood and tile floors, but I am partial to comfort when it comes to getting out of bed and stepping onto something comfy.

Below is the bedroom set in a room before I moved.  We downsized so I had to figure out what to do with the set.  Storing it in the guest house is a great idea!  I get to visit it once in a while.

I think I like the fresh look of the new room, brighter colors.

The other room was quite large and the look more monochromatic.  This room has a cozy (ok small) feel to it, and is fun with all the stuff in it.  I think it would be boring edited down.  If other company stays in here they must know it was done for me!!

Don't be afraid to use antique items for accessories.  I get really tired of all the pieces of coral and shells that I see in all the stores and decorating magazines.  So have fun antiquing and replace something new with something vintage or antique!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hanky Primer #4 Appenzell Swiss Whitework Embroidery & Appenzell Style Hankies

Some of my most popular posts are when I write about my fascination with hankies.  I wrote about hankies in the following posts:

Hanky Primer #1 Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #2 More Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #3 Embroidered & Petitpoint Hankies

I am not sure when my fascination with Appenzell began, but all whitework embroidery always catches my eye.  I think I was the only person interested in buying hankies at estate sales for years, and I tried to keep it a secret, I mean who buys antique hankies?

What is it?  That is my question.  Appenzell?  Madeira?   Reticella?   Hong Kong?  China? 

Most people call this Appenzell, while some say it is from China.  The Tourism Board from Appenzell has a video on Youtube describing how embroidery is done.

Click here to see on You Tube

The video discusses the history of embroidery in the region.  In Appenzell, Switzerland, embroidery has been a cottage industry for hundreds of years.   In the early 1800's, whitework embroidery really gained foothold.  Famine in the country made it possible to earn a living embroidering.   According to, two Frenchwomen gave an embroidery course in Appenzell in 1818.

The work would go to spa cities, where the wealthy would place custom orders.  Example of hanky from the St. Gallen Museum, 2nd half of 19th century.

 Appenzell hand embroidery really gained foothold around 1820, with the women of farm families doing the work. Machine embroidery was developed in 1850 which did the work of 40 people.  Hand embroidery was still done with 70-90 stitches in use.  Many different individuals would work on the same piece, with each person specializing in a certain technique.

By 1880, fine hand embroidery was on the decline, and was confined to Appenzell Innerrhoden.  By 1920 half the women in the region did the embroidery to bring income into the household.  Most farms were too small to support a family with income, so more income had to be generated.   By WW2 there were 3500 women embroidering, with school girls working 3-7 hours a day on school days, and 12 hours a day on holidays.  After the war, embroidery began to fall from favor, and the number of embroiderers dropped to 2000.

The ink you see is caused by a pricking device used to punch holes in the finished drawing.  Graphite dust was then placed over the holes, to transferring the design to the cloth.  It was then fixed with something to keep it from smearing.  The video shows them spraying it.

The video talks about how the designs were limited by the artist, and people profiles were added after 1914 after the influence of an artist.

Some photos of work from the video are displayed below.

I feel the photos above are of items made in the 19th century, based on what I saw in the museum.

In the 20's, a hanky would sell from 50 to 500 Swiss francs depending on the complexity.  I couldn't find a way to convert that to today's dollars.

Earlier this year I managed to add a trip to the Appenzell Museum in Switzerland to a trip itinerary.  I did not have a lot of time to plan the trip, so I picked the Appenzell Museum because of the film I saw above. (If you are planning a trip, please add St. Gallen Museum to your list, I didn't have time, but should have added it due to their much larger textile collection.)

 We had a car so it was nice to wander through the Austrian countryside to Switzerland.   The weather was typical spring-- rain.  That is not unusual, and just reminded me of Portland, Oregon.

I love exploring  the countryside rather than trying to drive in big cities in a foreign country.  I do love traffic circles, so much that sometimes we have to circle twice trying to figure out which way to go.

Of course, no drive through the country is complete with out pictures of cows...



 We made it to Appenzell.  The museum does close at noon, so this was literally a 20 minute tour.  There are many floors, but I asked to be pointed towards embroidery, and off we went.

I had to speed tour the exhibit.  I was looking for "true Appenzell" embroidery, so I could be able to recognize it.   What I am about to share with you was photographed through glass so the photos are not very good, but they are better than nothing.

Fist I would like to share with you a photograph of a woman from the turn of the century in costume, beautifully embroidered.

Check out some of the details on one of the collars.  Notice the motifs and embroidery techniques used.  They loved using these little needle lace wheel inserts that looks alot like reticella.   They are excellent at padded satin stitch, and many types of buratto work (that open lattice looking work)
Below is another collar.   

Click on the photo, and then right click on it to get the popup menu and select "Open in new tab".  You can then click again and see the photo enlargement.
 The collar below has bunny rabbits embroidered on it--how charming.

I couldn't find dates on each collar,, but one date in this display cabinet said from the 1840's.

The needle lace "wheels" in Appenzell embroidery remind me alot of Italian Reticella lace.  In one display they had a number of pieces of Reticella:

I can't read German very well, and alot of my photos turned out blurry without a tripod, so we have to make do with what I have here.   (Sammlung means collection).

It was very popular to insert needle lace, and here is a fine example of inserted "wheels" (my words).
The wheel below has 4 of those circles in the center of the wheel.  Notice the "petal" structure in the cloth below-- it is same as the collar above.  However the leaves below are very artistic, with half padded satin stitch, and half seed stitches.  I see this technique used on alot of Madeira embroidery.

In addition to the little needle lace inserts, you see a lot of open type buratto work, drawnwork in the background.   The sampler below is a great representation of technique.  Don't forget to right click on the photo and open it in a new tab so you can blow it up and look at the different techniques.

In the museum and in the video, they reference the need to indicate authentic appenzell work with a label

I've seen hankies with this label, but labels don't always survive, so I thought I would share with you hankies I saw in the museum.   I notice that the work from the 1800's is different from the work in the 1900's.  The fabric is different, more of a sheer batiste vs. linen, and the designs are more ornate.

This group of hankies is from the 1870's:

I am not sure of the age of the hankies below.  It is similar to many hankies I own.
Aren't these hankies lovely and delicate!
 The hankies below are from the 1900's

The item below is not a hanky, but typical Appenzell-- a tablecloth.

The hankies below do look like some of the hankies we see today on Ebay.

I kept digging.  I am looking for hankies that say Appenzell, and found one on the internet from an old Ebay auction.  This did not have an Appenzell label that I recall, but it did have a Swiss box.  It may have had a label, but I didn't save the photo. Stoffels was a textile company in St. Gallen (the marketing HQ for Appenzell, basically).  Original box, tissue and ribbon.

The next photo is of a hanky that has an original label on it:  It has two labels, one says Hand Work Brode Main, and the other Schmid-Linder 6000 Lucerne Switzerland.  It came in an original envelope that says Appenzell Swiss Made Alba. 

As you can see, these two examples are two degrees of quality-- both likely from the 20th century.   The top hanky is truly typical of many that you see on Ebay as Appenzell.   I remembered I had an Appenzell box called Appenzell effect.

The embroidery is cute, but not the same type that I am trying to research.  However it does show you the style of flower that was embroidered.

I tried to see if anyone else has made the comparison on the internet.  I found Elizabeth Kurella, on her website, did have a comparison of Appenzell vs. China:

Click to enlarge

Chinese / Swiss

She notes that Chinese fabric is more open, less stable, the thread less silky, the stitches not consistent, the ladderwork looser, motifs more graceful.  The petals are tapered on the hanky on the right.  ( I purchased her Whitework hanky book, a great book if you collect 19th century hankies.  I'll settle for owning at least one in her book!!!)

So where were the hankies made that were imported from the 20's to the 60's?   Well, the answer lies with a company in Hong Kong called the Swatow Lace Company, incorporated in 1924 and dissolved in 1964. There is a pinterest board that has more information on the Swatow Lace Company.  They have a photo of a hanky with a label.  The hanky is marked $18.50

. Honestly, I'm not too impressed with the level of detail.Detail, embroidered linen handkerchief.
Here is another hanky with the same label, ebay auction.

Here is a vintage box with a Swatow label from Ebay:

The Swatow Lace Company marketed hankies from a town of Swatow, which was 180 miles from Hong Kong.  I found an article here about the town of Swatow and how the embroidery trade stopped when it was taken over by the communists in 1949.  This was a cottage industry,  embroidery made by farmers families, just like in Appenzell, Switzerland.   Prior to that, Swatow produced 24,000,000 handkerchiefs a year!  The fine hankies would sell for $50/dozen wholesale, and sold in the U.S. for $20 each.  That was a lot of money in the '40's.  So roughly half of the hankies on the world market came from Switzerland, and half came from Swatow.

Everyone says that this embroidery is a lost art and almost no one has the skill to do it anymore.  I keep thinking about how that may not be true.  I went looking for current imports of hankies and look what I found made in China:

It appears that the new hankies are more over the top-- they are completely covered with embroidery, right through the center.  Much of the embroidery has a Asian design influence, cranes, etc.  The designs seem a bit more angular than the older Swatow/ Appenzell hankies.  They certainly are worth looking at for purchase-- the amount of labor that it took to make these is incredible. 

I think my hankies are vintage and look different from the new stuff coming out today.

I have been studying my hankies to see if there is a difference between them, the embroidery, the linen, etc.
The China hanky is on top.  (above).  Below, is a closeeup of the China hanky.
 How do I know?  Well I bought it because it has a label in it.  From a San Francisco dealer.  Given the age of China town, who knows how old it is.  I think the linen is equivalent to hankies I see with Irish Linen stickers on it.  The sticker below really looks vintage, doesn't it.

The take-away that I have from all of this research is that there were two embroidery centers a world apart, and not only were their labors over hankies the same, they had the same family life, of growing up in a farm setting, unable to make ends meet with farming, and women and children sacrificed everything making beautiful works of art.

Here are some of my hankies that I think are Appenzell 20th century.   They are totally encrusted with embroidery.   You can click on the hankies and look at enlarged photos.  (Right click the second time)

I really like the circular design of roses on the one below

 I think the one below may be early 1900's.
Comparing the linen to the older Appenzell hankies, all the ones below look like the tight weave of the early hankies.  Remember, they also look the the hanky in the Stoffels box from St. Gallen.

I used the one below to make a ring bearer pillow.  We added a silk peony on top for fun.  (A great wedding idea!)
Ring Bearer Appenzell Hanky Pillow

My conclusion is that each hanky must stand on its own merit,  Unless you actually have a label, you may not be able to determine the origin.  If you love the design of the hanky, the workmanship stitching is well done, you should consider it for that reason.

If you are interested in purchasing an encrusted hanky on eBay, they are often listed as "pulled thread" hankies or Appenzell hankies.  Using those words in a search should help you find one that you love.  They are a fabulous present for a bride to carry.  I made the ring bearer pillow out of an Appenzell hanky.  You can purchase them for as low as $35, although many websites sell them for as much as $400.   The average price on eBay is in the $80- $100, at least this year.     I am talking about the 20th century hankies, not the 19th century hankies, which range from $150-$600.

Thoughts?   Please keep in mind I am not a professional researcher, I am merely a linen lover who is trying to figure out what I have. I am amazed that I was able to get as far as I did without help. Anyone have an Appenzell catalog or a Swatow catalog to share?

I have focused on 20th century Appenzell hankies.  I would like to follow up with an article on 19th century hankies.  If you'd like to continue reading about hankies, here are links to my other articles.

Hanky Primer #1 Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #2 More Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #3 Embroidered & Petitpoint Hankies

If you have any information on these Appenzell or Swatow hankies, please let me know.