Archive for January, 2011


Friday, January 28th, 2011

In the house where I grew up, my mother, sisters, and I each had a built-in vanity in our bedrooms. It was next to the dormer window of our Cape Cod house for the natural light. Over the vanity was a large mirror. There we kept our toiletries, comb, brush, and hand mirror. There was also a vanity tray which was mirrored glass with some sort of rail or side to keep things from falling off.  Beautiful perfume bottles and atomizers were decorative as well as utilitarian. My oldest sister’s favorite perfume was Chanel Number 5. Estée Lauder was my mother’s choice. A holdover from Victorian times, ladies’ vanities are seldom found in homes these days.

Update: atomizer has been sold.


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

On cold winter nights before the internet, TV, and gaming took over our free time, one interesting and productive hobby was painting useful items for the kitchen and living areas. If you were artistically inclined, you could do free hand painting. But in 1951, Max Klein of the Palmer Paint Company in Michigan invented paint-by-number kits. I remember well painting paint-by-number kit pictures (mostly of horses) as a child. My mother took up painting kits of toleware matte black metal trays with brightly colored flowers and leaves. 

Toleware is defined in several ways but is generally meant to be painting on (usually utilitarian) metal objects. Here we have an example of the folk art form of free-hand toleware painting which was popular in the 19th and early 20th century. This spice box with fruit and leaves is typical. Heavy use items like trays were often given a layer of shellac for protection, although none is on this vintage piece. This decorative pasttime continues to today in many areas around the world.

American Art Pottery

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Recently, Maimeo has been fascinated by American Art Pottery. In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, the Art Deco and Edwardian movements in decorative arts influenced everyday functional items. Jewelry, tableware, pottery, and clothing took on cleaner lines and natural subjects after the ornateness of the Victorian age.

Pottery makers like McCoy, Roseville, and Weller were (and still are) immensely popular. But there were many makers who did not impress their names on the piece – like the two shown here. Frequently, however, “U.S.A.” was pressed into the bottom to distinguish the piece from outside makers, especially during the WWI era.

The finish was often matte; green, blue,  and yellow were popular colors. Interesting effects were created by experimenting with different coloring agents and applications.

Vases like these are still an excellent way to display flowers even after 100 years!

Dendritic Quartz

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

People have always been fascinated by natural rock formations containing beautiful patterns and pictures. This love of nature reached a height during the Victorian era, through the Edwardian era, and into the Art Deco era. Stones were gathered from all over the world especially through exploration and colonization by European countries.

Polished or cut stones and natural materials like ivory or even hair were fashioned into jewelry and trappings of the rich and notable.

Quartz is found all over the world in many forms.

Dendritic quartz is interesting because not only is it natural and beautiful but it often mimics fern patterns. It actually occurs when quartz forms fissures and other minerals gradually seep in to fill the gaps. It is found primarily in Africa and Brazil.