Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall makes me Feel Bookish and Crafty!

It's that time again - the air is getting a little nippy- summer is coming to an end. The arrival of fall sends me looking for books to snuggle up with and projects to do indoors.

I haven't taken up quilting (Yet - Ha!) but some of the gals I'm related to have made me some fine ones. I know there must be men who quilt, but all the quilters I know personally are fabulous ladies. I found this booklet (Centennial Quilts from 1976) interesting mainly for the Lily pattern - a traditional one here in North Carolina - that I think is especially lovely.
Check out this cool booklet of super-mod mens sweaters to knit! Botany Hand Knits for Men dates to 1958 and includes instructions for several different styles, including a knit dickie. Yeah, that's an odd one - but there's a lot of gems in here too.
Ever hear of Dotty Dimple? This children's series about a small girl dates back to 1868. I've been doing a bit of time traveling, reading books from long ago. The style of speaking is so different, as well as the small things in everyday life. It makes my modern but basic lifestyle (I'm a no-frills kinda gal these days) seem so luxurious in comparison!
Nancy Drew for me is a bit more nostalgia for my own girlhood than traveling to one I never knew. I loved Ms. Drew and read most of her books sitting in trees. I also played my plastic recorder from the treetops. It let me get away from my siblings (who were all more indoorsy than out) and feel kind of exotic while I carried on in my bookish ways.

I prefer the 1960s picture covers of the girl detective because these of course were what I read on those tree limbs (picked up used because we were thrifty like that - these books were a little older than me, lol). These older versions have the advantage of being before the 1966 revisions that tried to update Nancy, but mainly just removed some of the details, blanding the books a bit.
They did the same to the Hardy Boys books. Here are versions of the 10th book in the Nancy Drew series, The Password to Larkspur Lane, that pre-date the revisions, but still have those great picture covers. Below is a copy of 13th book in the Hardy Boys Series, The Mark on the Door, with those same desirable features.
The Bill Gillies cover art on the Hardy Boys above and on the small image on the back of the Nancy Drew, can be a tip off to an unrevised version. Another thing to look for in the Nancy Drew books are ones with 25 chapters and over 200 pages. The revised versions are shorter - see I told you they removed a lot of details!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

19th Century Ebenezer Ross Hooked Rug

Ebenezer Ross Burlap Backing for Hooked Rugs
These antique burlap backings for hooked rugs are quite old - probably dating to the late 1800s-1910. Luckily on these the burlap has survived nicely. This is unusual as the burlap usually suffers terribly, becoming quite a mess over the years.

Ross was the inventor of the Novelty Rug Machine, patented in 1881 (some sources site 1886 as the patent date, others 1881- we've chosen to go with 1881, as readers have reported owning the machine with the earlier date printed on it ). Based in Toledo, Ohio, Ross offered a series of numbered patterns many of which were based on designs by Edward Sands Frost of Biddeford, Maine. Frost had created the first pre-stamped patterns, on a burlap backing in 1856. As his designs were very much in demand, he began using stencils to print his designs on the backing bringing them to a mass market. Ross saw an opportunity, offering his own pre-stamped backings (with the borrowed or adapted images) to be used with his invention.

The designs are primitive by nature, with less importance placed on scale or perspective than on the charm of the subject. Early rug hookers often used the images as a starting point, adding their own touches to personalize their handiwork.

This reclining spaniel is my favorite of the two. Isn't she sweet? She is marked number 19 of the series (the flowers above are number 9). While I won't be hooking her, I might copy the design to do a needlepoint- how fabulous would that look as a long pillow for my sofa?

Rug hooking has come and gone then come and gone again, and now is yet again making its way back as a popular hobby. Today you can find several artists creating modern rugs with a primitive or naive bent as well as lots of new and antique inspired ready-made patterns. Annie Hays offers her completed rugs to inspire you and supplies to get you off and running on your own.

1960s hooked rug kits

Other artists to check out include Bonnie Stahl, David Harden, Emma Lou Lais, Sunnie Andress, Rachelle LeBlanc, and Liz Alpert Fay. These are just a few of the many textile artists out there currently making rugs. There is a wealth of sources online for purchasing patterns, yarns and other supplies for indulging yourself in a little creative project of your own!

When Your Stockings Run, Let Them Run to Labrador.

For those wanting to own their own completed antique rug, better be prepared to empty your wallet! Rugs in good shape can command as much as $1,500 and more, depending on the desirability of the design. Repairs on old rugs can also be costly so be sure you know just what kind of shape a rug is in before making your purchase. There are many wonderful old rugs to choose from to start your own collection.

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell established the Grenfell Mission of Labrador and Newfoundland, suppling rug kits, which when done the completed rug could be returned to the Mission in exchange for food, clothing or medical services. The rugs were then sold in the US. Images featured scenes from nature, like geese and puffins. The kits were assembled with supplies collected from hospitals - the tag line they used (in pink above) was to encourage donations of old stockings, which took dyes well, to be used in the kits.

Other rug themes to collect include geometric designs, florals (like my Ross #9), and a wide variety of animals, including lions, dogs - and, yes, Pink Elephants!

Unfinished burlap backings like these are quite rare. I wouldn't use them for hooking today as these 100 year old backings would not be as stable as a modern reproduction would. The spaniel will be framed and enjoyed as folk art here at Eclectic headquarters.

Did I mention that my spaniel Go bears a bit of a resemblance to this pup? - Now I've got to find a folky Greyhound like our other dog Frampton! Have you seen one online? I'm still looking!

Yankee Magazine's Tips for purchasing antique rugs:
  • Inspect the craftsmanship, color planning, and design.
  • Do a sniff test. Many smells, such as pet urine, never go away.
  • Look for holes. A few small holes may be repaired, but don't buy a rug that has more holes than rug to it.
  • Avoid rugs that show signs of dry rot (a fungal rot that causes cracking and crumbling of the fibers) or mildew.
  • Like any antique, buy what you like and what you can truly afford.

Thanks to JM for providing info for this article.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee - It's Good for Your Head!

Did you hear? Just the aroma of a brewing pot of coffee can get the old brain going! Chemicals found in the wafting odor of coffee have been found to stimulate the sleep-deprived mind, helping to buffer it from the effects of stress. The rats in the study conducted at Seoul National University sniffed Columbian coffee (you know, with Juan Valdez?). It's a good smelling brew, and although just a whiff'll do, I'll keep drinking mine. Bottoms up, my caffeine addicted friends!

Now that we know what the mere aroma can do - its time to perk up the household - with vintage percolators!

Percolators have been around for a long time. The first is credited to a Frenchman named Laurens in 1818. It was several years later, in 1865 when the first patent for a percolator was granted in the USA to James H. Nason (not James Mason as is popularly credited on the net - sounds like someone got a little hypnotized by a famous name being one letter away, who knows...).

cory crown jewel coffee maker

They became increasingly popular from the 1930s through the 1960s. The stove-top styles are still popular with campers and those engaged in many outdoor sports for their ease of use over a camp fire. Plug-in varieties came in a wide range of styles to suit every taste. And taste is what its all about. If you've only been sipping coffee made by our modern drip machines, there is a world of greater coffee enjoyment awaiting you! You alway knew mom's coffee tasted better. It's no secret, it's the coffee maker she used!

The Cory Crown Jewel (shown above) sold for $50 in the 1950s! Thats about $357.75 today! Made by Harvey Cory's Glass Coffee Brewer Corporation of Chicago, Illinois, it is the Cadillac of percolators. As it was also made for just a short period of time, (around the mid-late 1950s) they can be hard to find.

mirro-matic coffee percolator

This circa 1940s Mirro-Matic 8 cup percolator is made of the finest aluminum. Finial and handle are bakelite adorning a classic pedestal body. Other versions have different handles and finials on the same shape.

sunbeam coffee master

Vacuum coffee pots are another way to enjoy a truly superior vintage cuppa joe. This style of coffee maker was in use in Germany by the 1830s. Cory created an early glass version in 1933. While the glass ones are a wonder to behold, this Sunbeam Coffee Master is not so nerve-wrenching to own! No slippery glass to wash and crack - it's a marriage saver! If you've got a roommate and want the delicious treat of vacuum brewing, consider the benefits of chrome on your counter and you may avoid a messy scene! Now that's an ad campaign after a practical gal's heart.

Speaking of practical - once you've found the vintage coffee maker of your dreams, taking care of it properly will ensure a tastier brew. The frugal folks at Thriftyfun.com offer cleaning tips for many vintage finds, including how to spruce up that percolator. Keep it clean out there - and your appliances will reward you - Mom will be proud!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Andy Soup-Can takes his 15 Minutes of Fame


An Eclectic Salvage tribute to a favorite lunch item and Famous Artist!

Our Andy Soup Can is of course our little homage to Andy Warhol - and served as a nice bit of much needed art therapy! There's nothing like a silly art project to ease life's little strains and stresses. Here at Eclectic Headquarters, we are slowly rebuilding our web site. If a Grilled Cheese Descending a Staircase makes an appearance here soon, it means we're really having a hard time figuring things out - and we're probably a tad hungry too!
The old eclecticsalvage.com was sure pretty, but the new one will soon be able to offer direct shopping to our customers. It is coming, but will take some time - we're not exactly web wizzes so we've got a lot to figure out, but now have the bare bones up. Not much to look at yet, but she's a secure site and will offer our Eclectic Treasures in one central location while we continue to also offer buying opportunities on eCrater and Ebay.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just a Silly Verse...

Oh there ain't no lobsters on me

There, ain't no lobsters on me
There may be lobsters On some of you mobsters
But there ain't no lobsters on me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Radio History - Programmer's Digest LP Magazine

Programmer's Digest was an unusual vinyl LP magazine targeted for radio broadcast professionals. It was only around briefly, published for just a few years in the early to mid 1970s. Issues were originally sold on a subscription basis, like a print magazine.

1972 programmers digest

The brain child of publisher/editor Buddy Blake, who along with Bobby Byrd assembled a nice collection of industry gossip, various air-checks (station ids) by many radio on-air personalities, interviews, sales strategies and some comedy bits in their issues.

These were great radio days - before the air-waves were largely run by just a few mega-media outlets as is the case today. Nowadays the dial seems over-run with morning zoos on every station except NPR and, with a couple of solid exceptions, showing a sad lack of compelling music programming.

There are some true broadcast gems to be found in this series. One of my faves is some great ribbing of recently fallen, but back then on-air, shock-jock Imus at the hands of a gravelly-voiced howler know as the Wolfman Jack.

The LP magazines don't turn up all the time - possibly a small number of subscriptions as compared to the relative expense of pressing up vinyl led to its early demise - and now to its rarity. A few sites offer downloads of snippets from different issues (along with other sources), but to truly get a feel for 1970s radio, its best to spin a platter - analog, baby, analog!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Vintage Weddings

vintage wedding wrapping paper

June is a popular month for weddings so I thought it would be fun to peek around at some vintage wedding items! At my own ceremony in 2001, we used a 1960s honeycomb stand-up bride and groom on the gift table. They've made a great keep-sake that looks fab on a bookshelf corner.

vintage wedding gown pattern

If you're lucky enough to know someone handy with a needle and thread, having a gown made from a vintage pattern can make a truly stunning fashion statement. How about a hooded look for gothic drama? Or a little hippie romanticism for the free-spirited bride?

vintage wedding gown pattern

Vintage gift wrap not only makes a handsome wrapper, but can be used in crafts and scrapbooking. For those concerned about the acid content of old paper, a few different companies make products to neutralize them: Krylon Division Make-It-Acid Free Spray, Archival Mist and Paper Bright are some available on the web.

vintage wedding bell wrapping paper

Decoupage a collage of wedding paper to the cover of your wedding photo album or use cut-outs in page designs! It can also be used to decorate the gift table to fabulous effect.

vintage wedding cake wrapping paper

A vintage cake topper is another great way to bring something old into the wedding. Fancy Flours offers a nice selection to choose from (and edible gold leaf too - think of the possibilities - oooh, and save some for the honeymoon!).

And now for something completely different (and I mean waaaay out there) - here's your chance to TP the bride: The 2007 Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest is officially underway. It runs from May 1 to July 31, 2007. Ladies and gentlemen - let the unrolling begin! But be sure to check out the 2005 and 2006 winners - Wow! the bar has been set high! Have fun - just don't invite Mr. Whipple to your ceremony - could be very embarrassing....