Thursday, November 27, 2014

To Thee I Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Friends~

        This has been a wonderful year~ with both very high points, and very low points~ but even in the lows, It makes me appreciate the joys even more. We lost several loved ones this year~ laid family down to eternal rest this summer, and said goodbye to loved fur babies~  Mr Giving, Mary, & Randy. For as many losses, there are just as many gains, and even more happy memories & new friends made. I am thankful for everything in life~ the good and the bad, as I feel they are all linked together and make us who we are. I wouldn't change a thing.   It is to you reading this, I give Thanks~ thankyou for your support, your patronage, your love and friendship~ I appreciate it more than words can ever express, and look forward to another year together~ whatever it may bring!

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Annual Christmas Ornaments

 For those who wait faithfully all year for my annual Christmas ornaments, they are here! My design for this year is a cute little elf stuffed stocking. I have been so busy, I have just eight to offer~ but they are a GREAT eight! Each one is entirely hand stitched by me with love and honor that you would consider it for your tree or mantle. There are cheerful little helpers dressed in red, blue, green, pink and purple silk costumes, all trimmed in tinsel and jingle bells~ just like Santa's little helpers should be! They are available now in the Diamond K Folk Art Blog shop~ just click the link to the right~

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mid 19th C Precious Printed Velvets

  If you are a lover of early American Folk Art, you will have most certainly seen at least one mid 19th c painted portrait from the likes of Ammi Phillips, Joseph Whiting Stock, Joseph Davis, or William Matthew Prior, just to name a few. Children were portrayed in the most fabulous and sometimes somewhat gaudy attire that one could ask, did they 'really' look like that?  The answer, most definitely, is yes!  Earlier this year the Museum acquired a small collection of little boys clothing from his family descendants~ all mid century, and most wonderfully, accompanied by an original salt print portrait of the owner~ little Van Cleef Hoagland of Centerville NJ.  Van Cleef was born Jan 27, 1855, and died Nov. 8, 1859, not long after this photo was taken.  As you can see, he is an utterly charming boy, dressed in the ever popular belted tunic of the time.
   Above is the little printed velvet tunic he wore in the photo. Does it look like the same top to you?  Matching extant clothing with the same in a period photograph can be extremely difficult, especially with ambrotype and daguerreotype images that are reverse view of the actual image(mirror images), as well as negative representations of a positive image. Being a privately owned Museum without large acquisition funds or grants available to me, I have become somewhat of an expert in picking out little gems that lay crumpled up in a corner somewhere.  In the study of early children's clothing, because there are so few examples of 'color' circulating for view, one tends to rely heavily on photograph images for research, and in doing so, can become numb to the vibrant colors that the clothing actually had at one time~ so it is really a treat to have a piece together with it's original period photograph.  Many times these little tunics are mislabeled as a girls dress~ in flat cut they are quite similar to the cut of a later paletot.
 Van Cleef's tunic still retains all the fancy waistcoat buttons down the front~ I can say that all of my early printed velvet children's clothing have wonderful fancy swirl glass or waistcoat type buttons~ they pair fabulously with the posh richness of the cotton velvets.  The bottom three buttons have been removed from Van Cleef's tunic to reduce bulk and wear to his belt
 The inside is lined in plain linen, and here, you can see the pile stops just short of the salvedge edge of the velvet~ about a quarter inch.
 This also belonged to Van Cleef~ a print velvet bodice.  Printed in a wonderful nut brown with little boteh or paisley designs~ this one most likely resist printed. Short sleeves, box pleated front with front button closure of cut black glass buttons.  He must have worn this one alot, as the pile is worn completely down to the base fabric at the underarm areas
Looking closely at the waistband, we can appreciate the look of the material when it was new, as it remains lush and unfaded where it was protected behind the button on waistband of the trousers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FREE SHIPPING on ALL ETSY ORDERS until Thanksgiving!

  Thats right~ FREE PRIORITY SHIPPING on all orders placed in my ETSY shop from now until Thanksgiving ~Nov 27, 2104.  For my International Patrons, I will pay half your shipping cost.  This offer is only for orders from the ETSY shop~ but if you didn't realize, this INCLUDES the stumpwork figures and PADDED MIRROR CASES~ if purchased from the ETSY shop!  If you have any on your Christmas list, give your Honey the web address and tell him, or her, to enter the coupon code 'TWINKLE' at the checkout to apply the no shipping discount.  If you are International, just email me and I will invoice you directly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

More Early Glass Cake Decorations~

Solid & Spun Glass....I wouldn't Recommend for Eating....
 The last set of birds in the set are beautiful pink 'somethings'.. I have no idea what, but aren't they pretty? Both are set high atop blue & pink colored pedestals~ one on short feet, the other on rather tall very fragile legs~ they lean to the back a little sitting on a hard surface, but plunged down into a cake, could be positioned so the bird is perfectly vertical. See their long tail 'feathers'...that's spun glass!
 The most beautiful, I assume the male, has a gorgeous dark brown breast.
Each of the birds' tails have three blown holes that the spun glass has been inserted into.  Think of angel hair on your Christmas does shed a little....not exactly something you would want as a decor on an edible cake..
The pedestals are both decorated with little pink roses~ this one has fancy feet that match the feet of several other pieces. You can see that the glass from his tail nearly touches the ground!

I think the next two most amazing! Their long glass spikes have not been broken off. (And no, it is not simply the glass rod they were made on, it is an actual spike that tapers to a point at the end). Each has a pink glass basket overflowing with fauna and pink & blue roses underneath an arbor of glorious meticulously shaped cobalt blue glass.  This one is sadly missing it's figure~
But this one is not~ it still retains a beautiful and absolutely cunning lampworked cupid holding a bow in one hand and arrow in the other. I so wish the other one was not lost~ one can see where its feet once stood, little white stumps sticking up...I wonder what it was!  
  Lampwork is the term used to describe the method used to make glass works such as these. It has been around since the 1400's~ A worker would sit at a table with an oil burning lamp that had either a bellows underneath of it or a tube he could blow into to direct his breath toward the flame to make it burn hotter. Rods of glass were held into the flame until they melted to the right temperature, and then he would form them into figures and all sorts of fanciful things. 16th and 17th c lampwork figures commonly are built up over a wire stick form, with some of the rods of glass even containing minute wires of copper within them to give the figures strength. (None of my pieces have any wire in them).  It is quite amazing if you consider that todays lampworkers use acetylene fired torches!  
    ohhhhh to have been there and have gotten to watch how they were made~ what a dream that would be!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day Blessings~

The following Poem was read aloud at every Navy retirement I ever attended, and it still brings tears to my eyes when I hear a fellow sailor or soldier read it aloud...for to me, not only does it speak of our Flag, but of every man & woman who has ever served our Great Nation.  God Bless our soldiers~ may they all come home to us safe

                                                 ~  By Howard Schnauber

I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is "Old Glory".
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
My head is a little higher,
My colors a little truer.

I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped -- I am saluted.
I am loved -- I am revered.
I am respected -- and I am feared.

I have fought in every battle of every war
for more then 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg,
Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill,
the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome
and the beaches of Normandy, Guam,
Okinawa, Korea, and Vietnam.
I was there. I led my troops.
I was dirty, battle-weary and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me
And I was proud.

I have been burned, torn and trampled
on the streets of countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt, for I am invincible.

I have been soiled upon, burned, torn
and trampled on the streets of my country.
And when it's by those whom I've served in battle -- it hurts.
But I shall overcome -- for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness
to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.

When I am torn into strips
and used as bandages
for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,
Or when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter,
I am proud.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Evolution of Hands in Early Wooden Dolls

Actually, More like De~Evolution.....

 Normally we think of a craft as getting better over time....carvers get better and more skilled as they work. True, for an individual, but absolutely not as a 'trend' or idea. I have found that in dealing with early toys and dolls, and by early I am speaking of 18th c and first quarter 19th c....the earlier the toy, the more detailed and 'perfect' it is. Things pre Industrial Revolution era were made by hand, each one at a time, and as the years ticked by, and things became more life became more 'busy', we see the details all but disappear.  Such is the case with hand carved wooden dolls~ I have several early ones here at the Museum, so thought I would pick some out to illustrate, and the hands are perfect examples! Above is an expertly carved hand from a c1720-40 Queen Anne Pandora~ you will find all the same carved details in her hands, as you would see on a real person. Wrists are defined, fingernails deeply carved.
 The palms and under the fingers carved in high relief~ right down to the life line creases center palm
 Her arms not only jointed at shoulder and elbow, but as well, a swivel joint at the upper forearm to allow her hands to be rotated into different positions
 This next precious is a c 1815-20 Grodnertal wooden, quite a bit smaller yes, but the hands still are quite detailed. The fingers have been carved in a curved, expressionate  position, with separate thumb
 If you look closely, she also has carved fingernails with fingers also being carved on the underside. Her arms are jointed at both shoulder and elbow, but no swivel joint for lower arms. She is fully gessoed tho~ the entire arm all the way up to the shoulder, allowing her to wear short sleeve gowns. If you look at her elbow joint, it too is gessoed.
 A bit later in the 19th c, around 1830, this next doll was made. The hands are starting to morf into basic triangular shaped paddles, tho she has separate thumbs still. Carving of her fingers is very basic that consists only of two single very shallow cuts on the upper hand only
 Inside the hands are now very flat and plain, and gesso now only reaches the elbow
 Next dollye, c1840 Tuck Comb, has but a nub for a thumb poor girl! (How is she supposed to grab anything with that??)

 This little gem, late 1840-1850 is what was referred to at the time as a 'Penny Wooden' doll, as they were small, sold a plenty by peddlers on the streets for just a penny (still a good amount in that time tho). Gone are the ball joints, now replaced with simpler mortise & tenon joints that were not that strong~ the entire lower arm held onto the doll by  a single tiny wooden peg (hense the also popular name of  'Peg Wooden')....which is why these dolls are missing their lower arms and legs alot of the time.
Her poor hands look more like some sort of weapon  to me....she could more easily spear a piece of paper than pick it up to look at it.  Even still, there is a charm like no other when it comes to these early playthings, no doubt best friends of our Grandmother's Grandmother's Grandmother, and now, me too.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

hints of Fertility in Glass....

Storks & Ibis & a wee little nest of eggs....

 I am not a bird expert, so cannot say for certainty the exact type of birds these are~ but their long bills and legs look like a type of Ibis.... whatever they are, I LOVE them! They are so graceful, so perfectly proportioned and artfully posed
Amazingly, their wings alone are sculpted from three different types of glass that shade from clear to opaque white to pink.
I love this set~ so whimsical! These two beauties are most definitely Ciconiiformes...but which ones???  Tall wading birds~ perhaps a type of early stork, tho I have not seen a stork with such long top knot~
They are so fluid and so fragile! I am still in awe they traveled thru the mail and did not arrive in a zillion tiny pieces.
These two have so much character~ the one looks as tho it is about to take flight
As much as I love the other two, this one is my favorite I think~ the second anyone, including myself, sees the nest of eggs, they gasp in delight.
Here is a closeup of the nest with three precious little eggs within~ you can also see the gorgeous colors of the bird.  There are at least nine different colors of glass in this piece,  5 of which are in the bird. There is clear, opaque white, & opaque pink for the body, opaque dark brown for the beak and eye, and a ring of golden orange around the eye. Transparent green for the foliage, a transparent and opaque pinks for the roses, and transparent light brown for the nest.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Custom Stumpwork Figures for Door'd Mirror

 I just shipped another set of figures for the Thistle Threads Door'd Mirror and just had to share them ~ they came out so cunning I love them!  Instead of requesting the generic King & Queen, the buyer requested they be painted to resemble her & her soon to be hubby.... (Congratulations Leslie Ann! ). So instead of my normal palette of browns for the bows and eyes, I painted them up in shaded greys
 I think I  prefer the grey palette! Does not the King look far more Noble and Handsome in his aged distinction?
 And a precious blushing bride~ her eyes just sparkle with excitement!

 These figures are by far the most challenging little wee ones to sculpt~ their entire heads are smaller than my thumbnail. Even so, I do my best to breathe life and spirit into each and every one~ and not only what I have a vision of, but more importantly, what my customer envisions.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Miraculous...Delicate.... Confectionery Delights!

Antique, Early 19th c Blown Glass Cake Decorations
What a delight to share!  We have been blessed to acquire a collection of early glass cake or pastry decorations amassed c1840, perhaps made well before that. They are of such high skilled execution and design one could speculate they could have been commissioned by Master Chef Antonin Careme himself for some spectacular dessert marvel.  The collection includes 14 separate pieces, and so wonderful, I have chosen to share them each a few at a time so you can appreciate their petite & wonderful magic for yourselves.
They all of coarse have their issues, but they pale in comparison to their Grandeur!  My mind races off on adventures of its own when I try to imagine the cake or cakes that once held these masterpieces of a glass blower's art~ what occasion was so special to require such intricate, delicate figures?  A Wedding???  A Birthday????  Perhaps a Engagement???  Perhaps there was a special baby on the way???  I would tend to theorize it is a set for a wedding or engagement~ all of the birds and animals are in pairs...the only bird that is not, is paired with a nest of eggs (fertility)...there are not one but two pieces containing strawberries (in 17th & 18th c strawberries represented faithfulness and commitment in marriage)...there is a carriage & driver~ (perhaps come to take a girl courting?).... there are the two spade shape arches that still retain their long glass spikes~ in the center of one is a cupid with a bow and arrow (love)....the tallest of all the figures, at nearly 14" tall, is this wonderful piece shown above~ it has a glass hook on each side, that once probably held a hanging basket...but of what? It looks like a scale to me~ a perfectly 'balanced' scale..... so far everything is screaming love & courtship and engagement/marriage!
But gets thrown the big question mark~ a candelabra with not one or two..but three candles!
It is second tallest of the figures, on very fancy cobalt glass feet.  The last home of the collection displayed them glued into their display case~ all of which I will be carefully removing. They are so delicate~ one cannot help themselves to hold their breath when looking at them, for fear of blowing one over and breaking it
 As if the three clear glass rods were not indication of a candle they are~ three wonderfully hand blown hollow glass candles complete with dark wicks atop them
Each fits perfectly over the glass rod of the candelabra
Now there is a funky flourish of glass jetting straight out toward the camera in this picture~ so perhaps there were another two candles on this....but it doesn't look like anything is missing from the middle, where they would have been attached, and there aren't any extra candles....but even if there were....what is the significance of three or five candles??? Three or five years.....what does it man? I want to know!!!  lol

   Whoever, and for whatever reason these were made, I probably will never know, but one thing is for certain, these were a special commission from a master glass worker, from a very, very wealthy person, for a very special occasion.  I hope later to display them as they were made to be, on a set of cakes. Until then, I hope you will enjoy the next few posts of them individually.