So, my husband; feeling a bit left out of my vintage linens, (what man isn’t?) decided to add a “Dads Corner” to my AmericanClassics – B30 space. “Dads
Corner” in a Mom & Me space? What, is he crazy? Well, as it turns out, he may not be. He put in some of his vintage pens that he took from his other case in the store (case 409), some beautiful paperweights that I had admired when he first purchased them, and some funky art pieces that frankly make me laugh every time I look at them. (The “Primitive Printers” on top of the case is so ugly – it can only be a piece for a man cave or a writer with a sense of humor.
Anyway, he set the case up and immediately it started to gain attention. Mostly from the men who’s wives were forcing them to wait while they visited my lovely linen selection. I began to see my husbands thinking here. Mom & Me should be a shop that everyone could enjoy. Of course his reasoning was that it helped poor husbands who are doing their best to pass the time while waiting. Then he began to put in some Japanese and Chinese Netsuke carvings. Now he had my attention and, as it turns out, some of the attention of my visiting wives. Now he has three cases – two in Space B30 and one in Space B26 where he has many of his older Victorian items.
Good for him – it keeps him out of trouble and out of my . . . well you know what I mean.
We have been busy and it has been good but I have been neglectful, so I hope today’s entry makes up for it. The new site in AmericanClassics is growing in customers and we are happy as can be. We added the Victorian Section and that too has grown in popularity. The other day I spoke with a woman who was getting married and she was going to have a Victorian / Steampunk wedding. Because of our yellow tag sale, she bought things right and left. That would be a fun wedding to attend. I hinted my behind off, but to no avail.
Another lady asked me how to get older linens white. Here’s a quick formula I use for the linens here. It’s a gentle remedy.
In a large roaster or pot, (I use the roaster we roast the Turkey in.) fill with hot water and several slices of lemon. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add your linens. I sit the roaster over two of my top burners. Use a wooden spoon to push them down until they become completely submerged and saturated with the water. Cover the pot and leave overnight. I cover mine with tin foil. The following day, rinse well, wash with mild detergent and water as usual and then lay the items out in the sun to dry.
Another way to do this, especially while it’s still cold outside when you would end up with frozen linens, is to use Biz & Oxyclean Use 1 Scoop Biz and 1 Scoop Oxyclean to 1 Gallon Hot Water. Soak in the hot water for up to 48 hours, then rinse and launder as usual. Use the scoop that comes with the Oxyclean. This works very well.
By the way, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for spring to get here.
When you are facing a raft full of gingham, lace, satins, silks and velvet, what do you think? The first thought that came to my mind was “I need to open a section of Mom & Me’s Vintage Linens and Lace, devoted to Victorian / Gothic (Goth) style. The idea intrigued me so much, the more I thought of it, the better it became. Of course, that thinking led my creative side to go crazy. That expansion led me to adding a partner who’s an expert in furniture and the styling’s of the Victorian era, especially the American Victorian era; where, if you were in the south, extended into the Antebellum era. (After war) Naturally, a theme setting like this, demands authentic furniture and they have some beautiful pieces. The more the idea nurtured and the more we talked about it, the better it became. So, we did it.
We added Furniture like a three-piece parlor set with chairs, footstools and a beautiful couch. Add in matching 1860 velvet couches. Not reproductions mind you, serious Victorian era furniture, including a Barrel top desk and a Victorian dresser with a marble top that will knock your socks off.
Want to see what we produced? Stop in at the American Antique Marketplace and right next to my store in space B30, you will see my new addition in space B26, which include the furniture I just described. If you love Gothic, Victorian, or Steampunk, you will be sure to find something that matches your taste here. Stop in, finger the Satin. Run your hands over the Battenberg lace banquet tablecloth that’s hanging on at the entrance. That’s 123 year old lace you’re holding. Still beautiful to this day and it has many more years left to grace your table. However, if you see me holding tight to the 130 year old Rose colored Watermark satin with Battenberg inserts, please try to understand. I’m having a little separation anxiety.
As I write this, it’s cold outside, something close to 15 degrees. It is expected to get to a balmy 19 today. My husband, dressed in his lucky Bronco’s shirt and sweat pants, sits in his easy chair, outfitted with all the goodies he will need for the big game today. Makes you think of Spring and weddings doesn’t it?
I never said I was well. In my defense however, I am sitting here fingering and pricing beautiful damask tablecloths. When I close my eyes, I can see these on a beautiful spring day, gracing a bride’s table at her wedding. Inauspicious patterns intricately woven together – shimmering when you hold it up to the light. When paired against a white satin and lace wedding gown, vintage Damask showcases a bride on her special day.
Something old, something new . . .
Of all the vintage linen and lace tablecloth’s I have in stock, Damask is my favorite. The definition of Damask is a reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving. Damasks is woven with one “warp” yarn and one “weft” yarn, usually with the pattern in warp-faced “satin” weave and the ground in weft-faced or “sateen” weave. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damask) This reversible weave is what makes Damask so durable. One mother told me of having passed her Damask tablecloths to her daughter, just as her mother had passed them on to her, having had them passed on to her from her mother’s mother. Four generations and each generation had used the same tablecloth to grace the brides table on their wedding day. What a special tradition.
My mother’s Damask linens never made it out of the fire they had years ago. I never had the opportunity to appreciate them as I do these I hold in my hand. However, as I look over at my fourteen year old daughter, her head bobbing to sounds only her ear buds and she can hear (thank god), I think that in a few short years, her newly acquired Damask tablecloths, mine that I pass on to her, will be gracing her wedding table. She may be deaf by the time she gets married, but on her special day, she and the Damask will be beautiful.
You can start your own Damask traditions by stopping in any (or all) of our stores and picking out your favorite pattern of Damask linens. Be sure to pick up a brochure with the discount card attached while you are there. And, as usual, if you see a person with her nose buried in the fresh smell of newly laundered linens, it’s probably me. Say hi.
We moved! We didn’t go far, we simply changed locations within the same store. We moved from the dinky little space C30 to a bigger and better location at B30 – within the American Classics Antique Marketplace on N. Academy and Constitution. The response has been tremendous. People love the new space and I would love to hear what you think. The beautiful lace is no longer hidden. The satins shine and the Damask tablecloths take on a whole new sheen as they are allowed to breathe. Does it sound as if I have become too personal in my relationship with my linens? Perhaps. They needed to be showcased. Our new home for them does that. I darn near killed my husband moving everything in one day, but he survived. A little special loving, a lot of aspirin and he eventually stopped whimpering.
While you’re there, look for our brochures, because attached to them are discount cards that you can use anytime. Pick one up for your relatives and your friends. In addition to American Classics, the cards are good at our store in the Treasure Shoppe, downtown at Pikes Peak and Wasatch and the Willowstone on Dublin and Academy. Keep them with you because you can use them over again. As usual, if you see me in there, stop and chat. I’ll be the one with that dreamy smile on my face.
I almost forgot. Take a look at the Tiffany lamp in my husbands new case. It is one of Tiffany’s earlier “pulled feather” designs and it is stunning.
“Nobody wants to live in the past, we just want to be able to step into it when we need to breathe.” That was the philosophy of the
visitor who stood before me, casually fingering the 1860’s Waterfall Satin bedspread I had hanging in the corner. She went on to say, “That is why I created my “get away” room using a Victorian theme. I love everything Victorian. I can step back into that era when ever I want. When things are going too fast, I can close the door and slow the day down. The rest of my house I call modern country but my room is strictly Victorian. I don’t have a telephone or any other modern conveniences in there.”
She stepped around to finger the French Victorian Lamp shades. We were in the Willowstone store and she had been there for about five minutes when we struck up a conversation. She went on to tell me, “I have my books, my Victorian couch, my tea set; which I have filled with Earl Grey, and I have my plush French Provincial chair and footstool, in which to plank my butt in and close my eyes for a while. Sometimes I read, sometimes I merely sit there, unwinding. I may sit there for hours doing nothing but quilting, sewing or reading. Then there are those days when I may only get to sit there for a minute or so. No matter what, this is my sanctuary and I use it.”
She went over to the lace section and picked one of our Quaker Lace tablecloths. “This will look beautiful draped over the back of the settee and used as a shawl.” Just the right weight to keep the chill off the legs in the wintertime, without being as heavy as the wool blankets I have in our living room.”
As she folded it up and stuck in her cart, she went on to say, “ I love to repurpose. Lace of all types are my favorite, plus damask. The quality of the old world workmanship, lives on forever and you can’t find the intricate patterns like you get in bobbin or Quaker lace or the beautiful patterns you see in a pure white Damask tablecloth.” I asked her if her whole house was Victorian Style. She said, “Oh no, more eclectic than anything else. She was mainly into repurposing. “For example,” she said, “I purchased the entire set of vintage lace curtains you had in your store at American Classics and used those over my windows in my office area. They were vintage Chinese lace; a very delicate pattern. They do well over my modern roll top desk which better accommodates my computer screen. I also purchased that large roll of lace trim you had at the Treasure Shoppe and used that on the walls in the daughter’s room. As you can tell, I shop all your stores. I wanted to do something different, so for their room, so I made a lace-ceiling border, like those stick on borders, around the entire room.”
“I used Elmer’s white glue, watered down slightly to make it paintable with a brush, and then glued the lace to the top of the wall. When it dried, I painted over it. I messed up the first time when I inadvertently stretched it too tight. I got in a hurry. It shrunk and separated from the corners. It was easy to peel off and the second time, I just laid it making sure it wasn’t stretched and I only did one wall at a time.”
She promised to send me pictures I will share with you, but in the meantime, do a Google search for interior decorating lace borders and you should find instructions.
By the end of her stay in my store, I was ready to go home and redecorate. Instead, I sat down and shared her conversation with you. I think she has the right idea. If you are into antiques and vintage, decorate to an era and not just to color, plus, repurpose anything and everything you find for that era. The best part however was her advice on de-stressing by building a “get away” room. Good advice and I’m so lucky to have the perfect stores for it. Now if I could just find that room.
Did you know that in 1846 cans were first invented? How ironic is it that it took 12 years for someone to invent the can opener? What did they do with the cans for twelve years; sit and look at the shiny metal lining their shelves; wondering what the contents tasted like? Of course, by 1858, someone had managed to invent the Rotary washing machine. This invention provided the young homemaker with other things to do than stare at cans.
How many of you, when you were kids, remember chewing Blackjack gum? Remember your parents looking screaming in horror, thinking you had swallowed black paint? (Maybe it was just mine who did this; they were a little over dramatic back then.) Well, in 1872, the year Blackjack gum was invented, kids everywhere shoved it into their mouths by the bucket full. Who knew it was so old? So millions of kids (with black gums) chewed Blackjack on the way to the woodpile, because it wasn’t until 1896 that the first electric stove was developed. This leads me to my next revelation.
Before 1896, it was little Johnny’s duty to stoke Moms cooking fire. If he was good, his treat was more Blackjack gum. Only the rich could afford coal, so wood had to do until the something better came along. In 1896 “better” came in the form of magic. The first electric stove graced the family’s kitchen. Homemakers everywhere were happily cooking away on this newfangled contraption up until 1921, when along comes Mr. Henry Ford – a man who couldn’t stand to waste anything. You remember Henry; he invented the Ford Model T and Assembly Line Manufacturing, but in 1921 after the electric stove had already been in full use and loved my millions of Moms, good Ol’ Henry brought to us the now-familiar charcoal briquette. Up until then, no one knew they wanted to go back to wood, but Ford got the idea from the scrap lumber left over from building his model T’s. He had all this scrap, that he could turn into smaller scrap by heating the snot out of it, and that the resulting (now black – semi burnt – scrap) got very hot and lasted a long time when burned in a stove. Being the salesperson he was, he sold the public on using his newly coined “charcoal” for cooking. Low and behold 1921 saw the birth of the “Grill Meister.”
Later that same year the first homogenized gallon of milk showed up on the steps of many a home. A man in a white coat and white hat, who jumped out of a milk wagon pulled by an old tired horse, delivered the new homogenized milk. If, in the summer, you didn’t get the milk off the stoop first thing in the morning, you had homogenized sour milk. You drank it anyway. It was also in 1927 that Kool-Aid was invented. It had real sugar in it. Kids preferred Kool-Aid to the sour milk. I
think this was the year they also coined the medical term “hyperactive.”
By 1930, a man named F.J. Osius had an idea for a mixer that could chew through anything. He also had no money. He went to the famous bandleader – Fred Waring for help. (They probably got drunk mixing the first margarita.) Waring ended up lending Osius the funds provided that he (Waring) could put his name on the product. The pair finalized the deal and then Waring took off, traveling around the country with his band plus a large trunk that opened up into (of all things) a bar. He would play, blend and demonstrate the mixer, then play some more.
Now for the last one. Do you know why metal lunch boxes are so collectible? Because in the early 70’s a group of Florida mothers, fearing for the heads of their children, launched a nationwide campaign against allowing metal lunch boxes in school. Apparently, they became very good weapons during schoolyard fights. Little Johnny was getting his bell rung with a metal lunchbox. Apparently, plastic lunch boxes only rang his bell a little.
You can find these tidbits of history and a ton of other information at a remarkable site called Food and Utensil Chronology at https://sites.google.com/site/coquesters/foodandutensilchronology. Check this site out. It’s great for vintage collectors who want to know the year a particular item they are coveting was born. It’s also a great spot for someone who’s been laundering a new batch of vintage linens all week after work, who needed a break and who says to her writer husband, “Please write the blog for this week.”
Linens, Lace & Faux Mink.
I am often asked for ideas about the repurposing of vintage linens. For starters, I’m not a tailor; I’m just a lover of fine silks, satins and lace. I sew my own creations and do small patchwork before I put our material on sale, but being a schoolteacher doesn’t allow me with a lot of time to take on big sewing projects. Speaking of patchwork, let me first get this off my chest. I want you to walk into your laundry room and grab your gallon jug of bleach. On the front of that jug, in bold black letters, write DO NOT USE ON ANY LINEN, VINTAGE OR OTHERWISE. Any bleach or bleach related product you have in your laundry room, do the same thing. Now put the bleach down and step away. Refrain from using it on any linen, new or old. In the last two months, I have tossed out more beautiful linens pieces, then I care to think of. I have tossed out Battenberg and Quaker Lace for the same reason. It hurts me to have a beautiful damask tablecloth fall apart in my hands. When I see bleach burn holes in lace, I want to scream. Bleach has its uses in moderation, but the culprit is the overzealous use of bleach. If you must use bleach, rinse twice neutralizing with a ½ cup of vinegar. I actually had someone look at a small stain on the lace corner of the Rose Victorian Watermark Satin tablecloth/bedspread we have on sale and ask me if they could use bleach to whiten the Battenberg lace inserts. After I calmed down, I pointed out that this was an expensive Tablecloth/bedspread with ecru lace, which was hand sewn circa 1880 – 1890. One should not whisper the word bleach in the same room as this piece.
Now that I have that off my chest, I feel better. The other day, I was going back through some old posts and one of my dear readers had asked if I had any ideas on repurposing left over Damask napkins. I apparently missed this reader question. I apologize. Because old Damask napkins are often large, the first idea that comes to mind is to cut off the damaged part and make Damask placemats. They would be usable with any tablecloth underneath them. Another idea is Victorian Doll clothing.
The third is, (if you have enough,) cut the good portions into smaller squares and make a damask quilt. If you don’t have enough, stop into any of our stores. We have plenty for you. A very pretty idea is a linen Damask border with a lace insert, using a vintage lace-curtain panel. It produces a beautiful tablecloth. On the reverse side, an old or ruined Damask tablecloth will often produce a large enough usable pieces make a beautiful center, bordered by vintage lace. Adjust the size of the tablecloth to take full advantage of the usable part of Damask that you have. Do a search for images on Google using the terms Damask and Lace Tablecloths
What about it readers; have any ideas you can come up with?
One last thing. Winter is here. It’s going to get cold. We just put a large bolt of FAUX MINK into the Willowstone (space 31) store. But I warn you. It is so luxurious; and large enough, that – after purchase – you may be overcome with the need to spread it out on the bed and lie naked on it. When I held it in my hands, my will power was strong, but professional photographers or husbands should take this as a hint.
Why invest in antiques and collectables? Because during a down economy, it makes good economic sense. The article at: http://antiques.about.com/od/thewisebuyarticles1/tp/aa100208.htm explains the point in excellent detail. It’s no secret that antiques increase in value over time. In a down economy, people sell. There are bargains are everywhere. How many investments have you made where the growth can amount to a 50% or more increase in over one year?
Of course, we deal in linens and lace. When I look through a pile of new linens, I marvel at the thought that the material I hold is still beautiful despite hundreds, maybe thousands, of washings, abuse, stains, rough handling and love over the 50, 60 or more years since its creation. The other day in our new Willowstone store, we hung three beautiful examples of true Victorian lace in the form of two tablecloths and a Victorian handmade queen size bedspread. My husband and I speculated about the stories that the bedspread could tell, having been present at life’s moments that are more intimate. We could almost recount the family conversations held over the lace as it graced a Sunday dinner table. Having done the research, we marveled at what its value was today, in comparison to what she had purchased it for 20 years earlier from the estate of its original owner. I calculated that it had grown in investment value by over 400%. That’s a simple 20% growth per year of ownership. Yes, I know the value of compounded growth calculations, inflation, etc., but you get the point. I wish my retirement package as a teacher grew at that rate.
Antiques represent quality you can’t find in today’s products. Most of the modern furniture that the average newlywed couple will buy today will end up in landfills. Rarely does a young adult in today’s society want Grandma’s old Victorian couch or parlor set. They grew up with them. Even when they inherit them, they don’t see them fitting their constantly moving lifestyle. The furniture is old fashion, heavy. They are ready to move on to the new ultra-modern plastic or pressboard furniture. Then, while that ultramodern couch is deteriorating, the 130+ year old Victorian couch continues to increase in value. The French Lace banquet size tablecloth hanging in the corner of our store, ready for you to take it home, will continue to outlast even the best of today’s Chinese polyester import. Its value will continue to grow while the other is long left to the fabric pile. The hand cut dovetail joint in the drawers of that American Walnut 1790’s Hepplewhite desk, will continue to open and close a thousand times more than the nailed and hot glued joint of your Swedish import.
However, before I start running off on a tangent and jump on my soapbox, I ask my readers: At what age did you first notice that antiques were an investment and what factors influenced you?
I hate to see anything end. I don’t know why. Heck, I hate to see a good movie end. I dislike the word “finale,” and “end of a year.” I use to look forward to Christmas. However, years back, I began to realize that Christmas signaled the end of that year. Regardless of whether the year has been good or bad (any year above ground is good) I wasn’t ready for it to end. One more wrinkle, one more notch on the stick of time, one more year where I haven’t written my great American novel. My husband say’s that if we didn’t change the calendar or celebrate New Year’s, we would not be as aware of the change. Therefore, I have adopted this attitude. It made sense.Our ancestors marked the years passing by the seasons and the crops, why can’t I? I have a new crop of grey hair, thanks to my husband. I’ll use that. Calendars weren’t required on the farm I came from, even though the tractor company would always send us one. The auto parts store would always send my dad one, but that calendar somehow always ended up in the garage where we kids couldn’t see it.
Without an end, I can function. For example, for the last two weeks, I have been off on Fall break. You are probably thinking – “well then, why haven’t we read more posts?” I will explain this. Part of the answer is simple. I didn’t have time to think of the end. I have been busy restocking both stores new vintage, in anticipation of the holidays. New “vintage” meaning Christmas linens, tableware and other Christmas items such as Tree Skirts and Mantle Runners from an East Coast estate, late 70’s, early 80’s. I also put in some beautiful lace doilies and tableware from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. (By the way, residents of Manitou Springs, if you have missed your Vintage Linen Store, take time to stop in the Treasure Shoppe downtown Colorado Springs – go to space B4 and look at the vintage German doilies and lace I just put in.)
The only problem with putting new stuff in, is that I am reminded there is a calendar out there, running out of pages. I don’t celebrate New Year’s now, just another day for me. I brought out the Christmas linens only because the big stores did. My calendar is perpetually on 2008. I keep it because of the hunky firefighters pictures. Mr. July has been very good for me.
Therefore, if you are one of my relatives or friends, I am sorry I missed your birthday or anniversary. I was close. I still have your Christmas card from 2007 – all addressed and ready to go. I just need to add more postage – someday. Stop by and pick one up. For my employing school, call me if I don’t show up one day. I’m probably on Spring or Winter Break a little early, (or late) I don’t know. As part of my campaign to let the days roll on, I may not be on time as well. I stopped wearing my watch and refuse to look at the clock. If you roll by the house in the early morning, that’s the husband pushing me, half-dressed – out the door. He is my official timekeeper. Betcha he wishes he hadn’t been so philosophical now.