Friday, August 14, 2009

Iron Man

My first piece is on this wonderful cast iron hanger. It is amazingly ornate and I decided to sketch it out when my camera bateries started to die. The intracacies somehow remind me of tatoos. I wonder how a person decides to make that onate mold out of wood or plaster in order to pur that liquid iron into it and have it come out looking like it was produced from cloud or vapour. The shapes are fluid and natural and look more like the grew naturally than being fored to the point of liquidity and then let harden into the mold. I am unsure how to date this item, bit I am curious if these instricate sort of bulbous shapes are part of a "casting culture" the way skulls, dragons and mermaids are present in body art. I am not sure why, but I feel there is a real connection.

F 2.5o

This candle reflecter is a good example of the basic products being produced after the turn of the 19th century in America whan many of the 1st tin smiths began to operate. The large round backing for the candle would have reflected the light into the rest of the room. In fact, a good deal of candle is still melted into the receptacle fashinoned for it. You can tell from its alomost crisp, yet still hammered look that the larger pieces were rolled out and then hammered and snipped into wanted shapes.
The candle holder and various joinings on this item were connected with solder.
Tin is abundant in the collections and in the decoration at The Farmers' Museum. It's ease of manipulation and realtively quick turn around in terms of production time must have made it quite poular to use and produce.
The piece is clearly discolored from use and time. It may be from the 19th century, I would hope so if it is collections, but I have purchased similar items in the last five years that in ten years of use could look like this. There were many other tin items in the collection, cans, canisters and oddly shaped decorative pieces that had turend to rust. I am wondering why they were kept for so long and able to be saved?

Pwter? I hardly know her!

So this is an awesome looking item. It is marked with IPS and a date of 1824. This is one of the older items that I have worked with from the collections. It has a dull silver color but not the tarnished color of silver of mirrors. It feels as if the surface has some texture, and you can clearly see a good deal of scratches in it. It is not too heavy, and the pewter items I have at home tend to be large heavy candlesticks. I wondered if it was tin, but all the older tin items have long sense begun to rust. It looks llie it saw a good deal of use and I wondered if it may have been used in a tavern where it would see the kind of ware it seemed to show.

Tea Caddy N.143.73
This is a pewter pitcher taking a ride on an ornate silver tea cady. The cady isnot marked with any makers mark and is tarnished. There is a grape leaf motif and the bases are a porus wood that must have been used for liquid containers that tended to sweat. The wheels, the axels and all of this item is made of silver that must have been modled in these ornate shapes.
It has a wonderful shape. The mouth is irregular and the spout seems to be in estrange place. It looks almost organic rather than metal, like pottery or ceramic ratherthan metal. I don't know if this was always such a battered mess or just in the early design.
There are a other pewter items I have looked at including this next coffee urn that seems to have an iron base because my NYSHA badge stuck to it but the upper body was pewter or tin. Because it had many of the same qualities of the above item I think it is pewter. It lacked the real black dulling or rusting of tin. It had a big soldered fix it job on the side. You could tell it was a repair because it was on the messy side and the opposite side did not have the same work on the seam.'I wonder if the bottom is iron or steel based in order to conduct more heat, so it can be directly used to cook in?



At first glance seems to be a coffee pot that is a combination between silver with an iron interior.I think it may be silver plate or Britannia ware. The mark on the bottom indicates that it was Roger Smith and Co who specialized in a water pitcher. That would explain the write interior, and actually the rust.
It is dated June 13, 1869 My badge did not stick on the outside but did on the inside and you can clearly see the rust on the inside. there is a white glaze on the interior.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gazing at Glass

The coolest thing ever. This large globe on a pedestal is a hand blown object that is one complete piece. It is seamless and of such clarity and reflection it really is hard not to lose yourself staring into it. This gazing balls were made mid 19th century by firing them with silver and Mercury. You can see the cork on the bottom that would be used to basically keep the mercury "in."
Some referred to them as "Butler's Balls." They could be used on tables or in rooms so staff could keep an eye on their employers need unobtrusively. I Imagine If this thing broke you would need a hazmat team to clean it up.
These must have fetched a pretty penny. We have those gazing balls they put in gardens today but thankfully we don't fill them with poision.
i do wonder how many rich children broke them just to chase the mercury around the parlor floor? I have destinct memories of doing that with athermometer when I was a little kid.

Less than sparkling
In contrast to my exciting "Butler Ball" I looked at a more plain Amber looking ball. This is hand blown and it looks as if it was broken on the ponti. There is a hole that is not filled with anything.
The glass is amber indicating sulfer compounds being added. Gazing balls were popular in the victorian period but have roots to the thirteenth century. Interestingly I found several on-line sources that claim "Southerners" kept them in the garden so they could see their guests coming and get the hose clean or duck out of site respectively. As a southener I only wish I had installed one in my garden back home.

Venice? Maybe

I sent my son to Italy in High School and all I got were these glass cups.

It was a sweat story that Christian had bought these cups in the Pizza Sam Marco and had accidently left them in the square. Hours later he went back to the last person he had seen, a man selling crumbs to feed the birds and when he asked him had he seen some red venitian glasses, he took them from his coat and said Theese Glasses?
I have no ilusions that these are worth a great deal of money. They are hand blown. I can see the pontil on the bottom pontil but it looks as if it has been sanded. The color of the glass is red as if gold was used in the firing to color it and there is gold leaf on the outside in an ornate floral pattern.

A couple of Selections from The Cupboard

Two smal glasses from the China cabinet reveal the diffrences between glass and crystal.
One is a desert dish and the other is a port glass. Emphasis on the glass. The desert dish is heavy and refracts the light with almost sharp diamond and triangle shapes that surround the glass. It is heavy for such a small glass. It makes a wonderful variety of high pitched tones when struck on the rim and near the stem.
The sherry glass is a duller color and while it picks up the light it doesn't have the same clarity. It also has the hollow tink of a coke bottle o matter where you hit it. It's slightly dull and while it is comprable in ize it is lighter.There are seams on both sides of the glass indicating that it must be pressed glass.
Both of these items a probably 20th century and there is a good chance they were made in Asia as my father was in the Navy and much of our "Chin"a is from his travels.

Swirly Glass
Not the technical material culture name and yet-swirly glass. This ornate bowl is blown glass and probably of New York origin. This aqua marine blue is indicative of glassware made in shops on the glass makers own time. The swirly flower Patel pa tern and color are tell tale signs of glass work done in the mi to middle of the 19Th century.
Clearly on the bottom is the pontil marking where it was broken away after firing and cooling.
This looks like an item that a glass maker made for the pure pleasure of it. It is over sized and of no formal use other than a decorative bowl. It looks like the kind of piece where they were testing their ability to make large hand wrought pieces without having them fall apart due to their size.

Not China and Tin Glazed weird Vase John's Jug and Lusterware!

N 322.56
This plate with its cornflower blue foliage and fake pagodas was clearly an attempt to imitate the early ceramics from China. It is heavy and not translucent. It has some marks that real china would not have and their was a bit of staining around the interior which real china would also resist.
It is earth ware and has the under glazing of these types of plates. There is a potters or ceramics mark on the back

This oddly shaped stoneware vase looks to be thrown on a wheel with the very dark brown found in some of the stove ware. It has a very curious shape with an almost enclosed top with an indentation that has a small hole with a second hole on the side. The highly glossy glaze suggests a tin glaze. It isn't a sanitary ware or certainly wouldn't be practical as such so I am chalking it up to a curious vase. There are no potters mark on this item so I am wondering if it might be made by a local potter for local use in the mid 19Th century? It seems to be produced with a measure of skill but I am unclear on its function

This is an stoneware jug with a salt glaze. It has no formal kind of markings but on the bottom we cab see John ? Esq. Has thrown and formed this jug in 1867. It has an interesting dual spout that would let the air in for easy pouring and drinking. The handle must have been attached with the slip but the color is so consistent . I wonder if John was inclined to enjoy a pull from the jug and wanted one that didn't back fire on him when he drew it to his lips, or did he just want an easy pour solution for his wife?

Lusterware sounds like a modern miracle but it goes way back to the Egyptians. There are many types with an iridescent finish achieved by adding metallic oxides into an overlaid glaze finish. This sweet teapot looks all the world like silver at first until you get the lid open and you see a deep brown slip. There is no tarnishing on this item so I am thinking that this could be mercury as well.
They really threw mercury into everything in the 19Th century century. I am surprised there weren't shinny mercury baby bottles. It does seem to demonstrate how that century wasn't one of simple brown grey blue wool and understated old timely colors. They liked their flashy space age looking stuff as well. The moniker Lusterware smacks of 50's space age so interesting to see that a similar sensibility for the shiny was present in a century that was also seeing so much innovation and change. I do wonder if this was embraced by lower middle class who could not afford silver. It seems a good substitute.

The Clarks of Athen's Town??

This Earthenware Jug is a wonderful example of stoneware from the potter from Athens New York that utilized the wonderful clays of New Jersey and Long Island to produce beuautiful buff colored objects that would have ranged from this simple utilitarian jugs to later pieces that would be more ornate.

The lighter color and slight pocking have the tell tale signs of a slat glazed earthenware. And As Ipeered in to see the dark slip I thought about the name and of cousre thought of the Clark's of Cooperstown, but there was another piece that I looked at next that was also listed as Clark and Co., but I had no idea why Athens?
The next piece on the shelf is a milk bowl, I think. It has a pouring spout and looks like similar objects I have seen at the Buttery in The Farmers' Museum. It has the name of Clark and Co. Thanks to the internets I found out about the founding of the potter businesses of The Clark's that started in the Athens and then as the Erie Canal opened, the & Co was added when they opened a new shop in Lyons New York.
Knowing a general timeline of when they added the Co, I would put the jug at the earlier of the two. Nathan Clark took over in 1819 and sold his wares all over New York and even into the Southern United States. I think the jug is very early 19th but the later could be 1830's to 1850.
The milk bowl has the classic cobalt blue in the form of a single ear of corn but also around the handles on the sides. This looks to have been thrown and I believe the handles would have been simply pinched or hand formed not fixed with a slip. It has the dark Albany slip inside and is salt glazed.

I have IIKEA plates is this the same as that or is it nicer. Just a few questions.

Albany Slip and other fun stuff

This simple large bowl, possibly from the Albany area has the traditional materials, the dark choclate looking clay and glaze with lighter slip mixture used for decoration.

Gosh it has been a long time, but again I am delving into the world of Stuff

Looking at Ceramics and I will start with a really fabulous bowl that is a very basic earthenware bowl which is almost a good 24 inches in diameter and looks to be hand formed from clay. It is covered in the deep chocolaty color of Albany slip that reminds me of a Mole' sauce in color. The top is glazed and then bottom is not.

There are a series of much lighter lines in irregular patterns scraped into the surface of the slip that create the look to early 19Th century poetry.

This has no marking of a potter and there is a large crack that may have happened when it was fired? I am wondering the kinds of foods that would be prepared in this bowl and would it be designed specifically this was to accommodate a particular regional dish? It could be used for a variety of uses but I am seeing breading or crumbs and rolling stuff in it.

I am thinking this is early nineteenth century, maybe even from Albany as the clay underneath and the slip and slurry is dead on for the materials and techniques used there with its wonderful clay.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How bout them Fabrics?

Woven Fabrics by Thistle Hill
CGP Teaching Collections
Sample 1

How long can you stare at two pieces of fabric? So far these two samples have taken me about 30
minutes with looking back and forth at Coverlet websites.
sem to be woven wool like we have seen in the collections and on the loom in the Farmers Museum
The top is plain weave or tabby of wool. I think it is undyed but it is very bright white.
The second pattern seems to be woven of wool as well but with a herringbone pattern. The fabric is an outlined checker board with indigo dyed ( or perhaps this is just made to look like it) border.
The fabric looks like it has more than one layer so I am going with a double layer construction but I also found a similar looking coverlet that described itself as the traditional tabby pattern.
Looking closely at both these samples I was thinking I would see a cotton wool combo but both weft and weave look like they are made of wool.

Thistle Hill
Historic Jean in Cotton and Wool

Wow I wish all items came with this information. While we are familiar with Anerica's Levi's
but the Thistle Hill Samples are a little more lively. I looked at a dark brown fabric with the 24/2 cottom warp that looks as if it runs at a diagonal to the fabric. It has a brown weft and may be an example of the classic Duck
or maybe it is just a simple brown.
The warp is cotton and the weft is dyed brown.

My Scarf

A Selection of wool and wool synthetic blends including my Cosby Sweater

I have never really owned a scarf. Being from Pensacola Fl. there was simply very little call for any kind of neck muffler. I got it at Target so before I pulled out my Loop I am thinking synthetic. I am also thinking machine made as we live in such times.
It is knit in loops and seems to be primarily Wool but also a synthetic. The grey portion of the sweater is wool I think but the brightly colored stripes are probably Nylon as most knitting or crochet is done with this type of thread.
There are two patterns that are on this scarf. At the end there seems to be thick ribs, Looks like a three knit one pearl pattern.Moving upwards into the first red horizontal stripe it goes to a knit pearl pattern . You can tell because the lines that look like vertical stripes are actually the little loops forming the rib are the knit and the horizontal looking lines are the pearl.

My wife’s sweater explains it all....

Learning The diffrence between Knit and Pearl

So I got my wife to more or less walk me through the whole knit pearl thing. And then I went digging through her closet to find something where I could see it all much better. I found a pink sweater that was 80% acrylic and 20% wool. So I looked at the fibers first. And they all look like wool. Acrylic can be made with the look of wool but it clearly tighter than and not as fuzzy as the real wool. I pulled out what I like to call my Cosby sweater to do a comparison and the Cosby fibers are much more wooly.

So the big revelation for me was that when you pearl on one side you knit on the other and what you choose to do will create the pattern. You can clearly make it out as most of her sweater is straight knit (vertical lines made of loops) and you flip it to find the horizontal pearl loops. It is so refreshing when I actually get it!

Sows Ear or Silk Purse?

Satin weave "Silk" bought in China

My Daughters have many pairs of silks. They were bartered for in Guang Zhou street corners and shop fronts. They span sizes from 12 months to about a size 6.The silks are actually traditional outfits that are worn on New Year’s or special occasions.The thing is silks are usually Satin not silk. Looking over the beautiful fabric it is not immediately evident, but the feel is not as soft as a silk garment.

I found a skirt of my wife’s that was almost 90% silk with just a bit of spandex. Looking at these two under the loop the red Satin “silk” looks like it is warp face, regular with an end every 8 spaces or lengths. The silk/spandex looks like a knit pattern to me.

My wife's silk and Spandex. My 100% Silk tie.

I pulled out my one 100% silk tie and it looks very much like a knit because I can see ribbing and almost the weave of the peal in-between but on closer inspection I believe the tie is woven. In a traditional tabby because the weave is just SO tight.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who to pick?

A collection of Samplers:

So I was intrigued but Cindy mentioning that young ladies may have used the sampler as a means of showing off their homemaking skills with intent at attracting husbands. So I went through a box and chose two as if they were possible mates and one because of its age.

Let’s start with the oldest one.


This is a small nearly square piece of linen cloth that is about seven by seven inches.

It begins with the alphabet in capital letters and then goes into the lower case followed by numbers 1-10 the ten being represented by a 0.

It seems the name Polly has lost a part of the y so Polly looks like Poll/ and her last name is Berolon?

Her city is listed as Richmond and the year 1797. I guessing this is Richmond, Virginia. For all I know there could be a Richmond, NY but I am guessing it is the later.

I am thinking this is an early sampler of a very young girl because there are no specialized pictures, shapes or poems on this piece and it is small. I know that early pattern books would have been expensive so perhaps this is an attempt at creating a practice pattern.

The threads are light green, a brownish copper and black.

Now Sarah Woods looks to be a catch. This is a larger sampler. With a repeated alphabet pattern at the top with chains, zig zags and Grecian looking trim between the other letters and numbers.

Where as the Poll/ sampler was done with simple x patterns of embroidery this is much more complex. The vines, the fruits, and the numbers are all stitched in multiple xs and the various patterns separating the letters are thicker and more ornate.

The parameter of the piece is done in olive thread and the length has two blue threads that run it and the bottom and top have simple running stitches to hem it.

Sarah is clearly more adept at Poll/. She is spiritual, fastidious and dedicated. Plus Sarah is my favorite name, so my matrimonial leanings’ are for Sarah at this point

Now we get to Cornelia Pratt. I was drawn to the work. It is colorful and ambitious but a little messy and less precise than Sarah’s. Perhaps a free spirit?

Only problem, she is age 9; this is listed next to her name along with the year of 1819, which has her being born in 1800.

The threads are brightly colored so it is silk. Blue, green, bight blues and am lively type color for the main vase.

So thankfully for Cornelia, she is too young to wed and has more time for practice. I will have to go with Sarah.