Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mennonite Ledger Drawings

The Mennonites, being famously frugal folk (how's THAT for alliteration?), lived by the motto of "waste not, want not".  That being the case, when their children wanted to draw and doodle, they made do with whatever scrap paper was on hand.  Oftentimes, that paper was old, previously-used ledger paper, covered with pen-and-ink script.

No matter.  The Mennonites just drew right on top of it, usually simple pictures of domestic/farm animals and wildlife.  Ironically enough, the results are self-consciously naive and old-timey: just as hipster-ish as any artwork you see listed on Etsy! That modern sensibility is what makes these pieces so fun to decorate with, if you're lucky enough to own one.

I have read that Depression-era Mennonite art was usually executed on 19th-century or early 20th-century paper, which leads me to wonder: were the Mennonites hoarders? Please advise.

I myself bought a wonderful Mennonite drawing of a deer from Carole's Country Store years back.  I am greatly saddened to see that owner and founder Carole has passed; she had impeccable taste and was no doubt a lovely person to boot.  Here are a few of the ledger drawings she sold previously:

Since paper tends not to age well, most of these drawings don't withstand the years and hence are difficult to find.  Here's a set that's currently for auction on ebay.  Although not verified as Mennonite,  they do in fact come from Pennsylvania (where many Mennonites resided) and are executed on 19th century ledger paper, although less heavily written-up:

Art Antiques Michigan offers this magnificent framed ledger bald eagle:

And J. Compton Gallery features this delightful lizard, straight from a small child's imagination:

Of course, if you're the artsy-crafty sort, you can obtain your own antique ledger paper at your local antiques mall/flea market, then add your own folksy embellishment.  Collette Copeland did this a few years back on Etsy, and with great success!:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Canary Yellow Staffordshire Pottery/Lustreware/Pearlware

I have always been drawn to strong color.  In graduate school, I had a large Kandinsky poster hanging over my bed that was just a riot of blues and reds of all gradients.  I remember someone passing by my open door and saying, "Ugh. That poster is way too bright.  How can you live with all that going on?" And I remember thinking: "Oh, my God.  How can you live without it?"

It's no surprise, then, that my new favorite antique is 19th-Century English canary pottery.  I've come across some labeled as Staffordshire and some labeled as pearlware and some labeled as lusterware.  I'm not up on my Georgian-era pottery, so I won't bother with labels.  All I know is that this pottery -- whatever you call it -- is distinguished by its vibrant, Dick Tracy yellow hue (often accompanied by a pearl or luster glaze or painted details).

A lot of canary ware is transferware, and if that's your thing, you can find many charming yellow child's mugs that were often given as gifts or prizes.  As for me, I prefer the pieces decorated with charmingly naïve hand-painted flowers and designs.

From Patrician Antiques, a sweet plate:

From Fort Hill Studios, a darling flower pot for your pencils or posies:
I'm in love with this pitcher from John Howard:

And I like the funky metallics on this one, also from John Howard but since sold:

Finally, this bowl on ebay is too pretty for words:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

19th Century Pennsylvania Chalkware

Remember paint-by-numbers kits? Or hook rugs? Or even shrinky-dinks? (Yes, I am dating myself as a child of the 1970s)Well, Pennsylvania chalkware was the 19th-Century version of do-it-yourself fun. These plaster figures would be peddled door-to-door in their white, unfinished state.  The "fun" was in adding your own paint decoration -- and guessing from the primitive, rather naïve painting on most chalkware, I'm guessing a lot of the artists were kids.

Chalkware figures are so innocent and absolutely charming.  Linda Rosen Antiques features several on her site, including the deer (below), which is not a form I see too often. Love his lopsided eyes.

Bridlehurst Farm (via DigAntiques) sells these two precious spaniels -- kind of like Staffordshire gone country primitive.

More darling forms from Summerhill Gallery, via Trocadero.  I really like the Amish-style touches along the base of the sheep and the sides of the squirrel.

Also at Trocadero, Susequehanna Antiques Company features a very sweet rabbit:

 . . . and for the biggest grand-daddy of them all, The Sign of The Whale Antiques offers this amazing BIG chalkware mastiff.  I've never seen this form before -- and I'm in love with the expression on his face!

I wish I could say that old owl hook-rug I made in 7th grade was as delightful as these figures . . . but let's face it: it's ugly!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Well Hellloooooooooo Again . . .

I'm back. After a year. Or maybe it's two.  Or three.  Who's counting, at this point? So what happened in the intervening years? Well, for one thing, a recession that necessitated I stop blogging and get back to work semi-full-time.  A failed antiques biz on the side (Note to self: do not start an antiques shop at the beginning of an economic downturn.  Follow-up note to self: do not start an antiques shop, period.) And a lot of drama and raging hormones as my darling, innocent twins became greasy, surly middle-schoolers (Some day, I'm sure, they will become less greasy and less surly.  Until then, I buy a lot of Clearasil and drink a lot of white wine.)

But guess what? I miss my antiques, primitives and folk art.  Lucky for me, I am self-employed and can waste oodles of time browsing online sites till my eyes bleed.  And lucky for you, I want to share my folksy finds with the world!

Lately, I've been feeling very nostalgic for the America of yore and what used to be our unabashed, enthusiastic patriotism (for examples of this, please visit my photo blog).  That nostalgia is definitely spilling over into my collecting interests.

To wit: I can't get enough of red-white-and-blue tin parade horns.  They look fantastic displayed as a group, as they are here at Lost and Found Art:

Like all things rusted-out and primitive these days, antique tin parade horns can be quite expensive -- even more so when they still retain their original "Old Glory" colors.  That being said, I turned to Etsy, the site that never lets me down when it comes to affordable antique treasures.  If you haven't checked it out lately, Etsy's antiques offerings have really expanded and diversified since I last stopped blogging.

Sure enough, seller Nostalgic Artifacts currently offers these two perfectly-imperfect horns:

This one checks in at an impressive 16 inches long.  Made in the USA -- of COURSE!

I adore the rounded French-horn shape of this smaller one, measuring just 7.5 inches high.  The tassel just makes it that much more drool-worthy.

And while I'm on an Etsy/patriotic kick, I should include these old painted Indian clubs from Donna's Finishing Touch:

Not parade horns, true, but because of the similar height and primitive look, I'm thinking they would display well together.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Folk Cloth Animals

My development must be arrested, because I'm a sucker for primitive cloth animals. A faded, worn, turn-of-the-century flannel puppy just arrived in the mail for me, prompting my husband to ask, simply: WHY?

He just doesn't get the stuffed animals. But I'm sure you do. You're here, aren't you? Then let's get to them.

Cat Lady Antiques offers an entire zoo of old cloth animals, many of Shaker or Mennonite origin. Their simplicity is absolutely charming -- and sometimes even stunningly modern!

Tell me you don't love this old black kitty, still with her original bone button eyes:

And this 19th-Century velvet rabbit is begging for a snuggle:

Baker & Co. Antiques also sells several wonderful examples of cloth animals. I love the home-made, whimsmical quality of this sock cat. The stripes take the cake!

Finally, this Amish elephant (who knew elephants could be Amish?) from J. Compton Gallery is TO. DIE. FOR. The straw boater hat is a brilliant touch.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Folksy Valentines Part II: Sailor's Valentines

There's something so moving about sailor's valentines. Part of it's the meticulous effort it took to collect and arrange all those shells -- talk about devotion! But also, there's the sense of longing from a distance, the image of a sailor pining away at sea for his loved one back home.

It. Kills. Me.

Of all the sailor's valentines I've found on the web, the ones offered by Diana H. Bittel Antiques are the most beautiful. She states that her inventory comes predominantly from Barbados and are circa 1860-1880. Tell me this one doesn't make your heart swell:

Sailors were also known to carve love tokens for their sweethearts. Helen Warren Spector showcases this lovely emblem, which appears to have been carved from bone:

I also love that sailor's valentines often had a functional use. This shell-encrusted jewelry box from Antiques at 30b would make a beautiful centerpiece for an occasional table or buffet:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Folksy Valentines Part I: Scherenschnittes for your Sweetie

Valentine's Day is around the corner, and I'd like to kick things off by posting a weekly round-up of some delightful hand-crafted and home-made tokens of affection.

Let's start by taking a look at some cut-paper love tokens.

Barbara Ardizone offers this breathtaking scherenschnitte heart with watercolor details. The intricacy is astounding and the darkness of the period frame sets off the silhouette so nicely.

How sweet is this set of cut-paper lovebird love tokens? Too sweet for words. Seller Peggy McClard estimates them to be circa 1840 -- a miracle that they've lasted so long!

Carlson and Stevenson offer a number of lovely and unusual antique Valentines and love tokens. My favorites are the woven pairs of hearts, such as this beauty:

I wouldn't mind a bit if my Valentine gave me one of these antique love tokens . . . but 10-1, I get the same ol' Whitman's sampler I get every year.