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 just looked at my timeline for the first time in a long time. My o’ my, where has the time flown. It’s been six plus weeks since I have posted anything. You would think I fell off the earth. Actually, I have been quite busy with back to school things. Things like getting the daughter prepped and ready for school and getting myself ready for the back to school grind. Actually that part was easier this year because I taught summer school for the first part of the summer and the daughter attended two band camps of which I participated by being the second camp chauffeur . The hubby did the first camp during my summer school phase.
Then there were the busy summer sales at both stores. We put these on in between band camp and summer school. I love summer sales. I was trying to decide just what items to put on sale when the hubby said, “Just put it all on sale.” So we did. He’s so practical. In the afternoons and on the occasional weekend, we did manage to get out and go picking. He’s into collecting and selling “netsukes” and vintage pens and I let him put some in “Dad Corner” in my space at American Classics. He also has his display in Case 409 there as well. I love our excursions to the antique stores, estate sales, and garage sales. Together, we love the flea markets. It’s where he occasionally finds some of his best treasures. The weather was hot most days, but we endured. (it’s a tough life isn’t it?)
So that’s my excuse for not writing and I’m sticking with it. Been too busy to write and too busy being busy. In all fairness, I could have simply sat around all summer and complained about the heat. I know many people who did; so I let them, all by themselves while the hubby and I played. But now, it’s back to work time.
However, every weekend and after school many times, you will still find me in one of my locations, nose deep in my linens, getting my weekly fix. If you see me at either the Treasure Shoppe (B4) or American Classics (C30) and I have that glazed look in my eye, know that I’m in my own little heaven. Feel free to grab a handful of freshly laundered linens and join me. It’s OK, I know what you’re feeling. You’re welcome here.
I have to admit I didn’t know much about steampunk. I probably still don’t know a lot about steampunk, even after my long conversation with two neat people who came into my store dressed in Victorian steampunk style. I’m learning however.
However, I am always curious and open to new things. Shrugging off my middle America farm girl cloak, I went looking for answers to my question “What is Steampunk?” Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that Steampunk is a genre that originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether it be an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or the “Wild West” era United States, Science fiction depicts Steampunk in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.
Now I understand it. Turns out I do know some of the steampunk styling’s after all. TV Shows such as the television series The Wild Wild West (1965–69), which inspired the film Wild Wild West (1999) with Will Smith as James West. is a Steampunk genre. The popular “Sherlock Holmes” series is considered Steampunk, the modern version with Robert Downey, Jr. more so then the older versions. I love these type of films. If you want to know more about the history of Steampunk, look up the Wikipedia article. It’s a comprehensive look at the genre and the history. I understand why it is attracting so many young people today. It’s creative and inventive and that is exciting to anyone who has a pulse and the ability to fly in the face of convention. I understand this.
I find myself involved because of the linens and the lace that I have in my stores. Turns out the Victorian style genre that steampunk builds on, incorporates the linens, lace and the styles from the Victorian era. Both of my stores are perfect for the creative imaginations of the steampunk aficionados. Even my husband’s collection of desk and writing items; some from the late 1800’s, plus his ornate watches that he has tucked into “Dads Corner” suit the genre. I can’t say that you will ever see me dressed in the steampunk style, (as a teacher I may frighten the conservative parents of my students) but I love the freedom of expression and uniqueness the genre brings. I’ll continue to furnish the lace and satins, but it will take a more creative stylist then I to make the material live in the steampunk tradition. I would love to see the results however.
I’m sure I will have more to say about this fascinating art in later posts. Readers feel free to help me out here. Point me in the right directions.
Wet vintage linen can be delicate. When the fibers are wet, they become fragile. Tears or separations are commonplace. So, how can you dry vintage linens safely? The best way is to use a large towel. Lay the wet linen on a large towel and roll it up, squeezing the water out of the linen as you go. Repeat as many times as you need until the linen is fairly dry, then drape the linen piece over a drying rack. Make sure you support the linen across the entire drying rack and not just one rung, as one rung will stretch that area touching the rung. Let it dry – then fold it. Try it – you’ll never dry fine linens on the line or (shudder) throw them into a dryer again. I have more tips like this on my new public Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mom-Me-Vintage-Linens-Lace/335108499846187?sk=page_insights Join me and share your tips as well.
Have you ever bought an item from an antique store or flea market only to get it home and realize that the seller glued a %@*$#+ sticker on the wood or other finish, that will not come off without the threat of ruin? Don’t use alcohol, scrape it or use any abrasive. (shudder) Don’t even pick at it with your finger nail. Instead, grab the salad oil or mineral oil, pour it on a soft cloth and cover the sticker, letting it sit and soak for a while.
If you have already pulled parts of the sticker off, use the cloth, rub the oil into the glue in a circular motion until it softens and rolls off. If the sticker is stuck fast or has been there for a long time and you can afford the time, (and with some stickers you may have to do this anyway) pour either one of the oils directly on the paper and let it sit overnight. The following day it should be soft enough to pull off, glue and all.
While we are on this topic, every collector should have mineral oil around. A small amount of mineral oil works great on removing light scratches from vintage furniture, without stripping the original finish or patina.
Let’s talk about “diapering.” No, I’m not talking about a baby’s butt, but diapering as it applies to Damask Linens. Diapering is derived from the French term diaspre, (bed of flowers) and means to adorn or bejewel. Vintage Damask linens were used to “diaper” walls, windows, tables and bedchambers. When used in a fashion sense, ladies of the French and English court were said to have had their bed chambers “diapered” with fine Damask linens. And (I’m speculating here) probably someone “bejeweled” a baby’s butt with a piece of Damask linen and a whole new use for the term “diapering” was coined.
From the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, most damasks linens were woven in a single color, with a glossy warp-faced satin pattern against a duller ground. Two-color damasks had contrasting color warps (fatter thread) and wefts, (thinner thread.) Polychrome damask is often gold or other metallic threads or additional colors as supplemental brocading wefts. Medieval damasks were usually woven in silk, but wool and linen damasks can also be found. (Thank you Wikipedia)
Today’s Damask is usually a single-color produced from silk, linen or linen-type synthetic fabrics. Damask weaves appear most commonly in table linens, but also in clothing and furnishings. Many repurposers take a Damask tablecloth and repurpose it to beautiful Damask evening dresses. For a wide variety of Vintage Damask linen, visit our vintage linen and lace store in The Treasure Shop. Space B4. We are exclusive linens and lace, and we’ve been in the same location for many years. Repeat customers come from all over Colorado to “pick” our finds. If you have never been there, we invite you to try us. Let us know what you are looking for. Send me an e-mail. If we don’t have it (yet), we may know where we can get it.