NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for May 2007
IN THIS ISSUE:
- The Art of Collecting or The Creation of a Purple Packrat's Nest by Ruby Lane Shop Owner Renee Keeton
- Vintage Earrings by Brenda Duff of Brenda's Treasures
- May Editor's Pick: A Child's Garden
THE ART OF COLLECTING OR THE CREATION OF A PURPLE PACKRAT'S NEST BY RUBY LANE SHOP OWNER RENEE KEETON
My first collection was started by accident, at the tender age of three. My Aunt Aileen lived in the mountains of North Georgia, in the shadow of Yonah Mountain. We would go to eat with them once a month. This particular Sunday that we went, I was 3 years old. Aunt Aileen had bought me a tall yellow plastic Pig Piggy Bank. I fell in love at first sight! All day long, my pig was with me everywhere I went. Playing in the barn, feeding him straw, etc. The day ended and I sat my piggy down on my aunt's outside table, in order to hug everyone's neck and kiss them all goodbye and then we left. Unfortunately, my parents drove off and left my pig sitting on my Aunt's table, unbeknownst to me! Many miles down the road, I suddenly remembered my new friend. He was NOT in the car. They tell me that I pitched such a fit, that they turned around and drove back for my pig. I now have hundreds of pigs of all shapes, sizes, and colors in my collection. This was the beginning of the end, as they say! This was my very 1st collection, 48 years ago. Needless to say, Mr. Pig sits on my desk even now as I type this article. A little worse for wear, being toted everywhere for years, but still my favorite pig! Pig Lovers take note- I will be listing some of my collection as I filter through them over the summer.
As a child of Depression era parents, I grew up learning to appreciate items that last. None of this disposable stuff for me! I remember when I first got married; Corning Ware was real popular with their stovetop cookware. Being nicknamed `Grace' at an early age because of clumsiness, I soon broke all of the Corning Ware that I had received. My sister, who knew me all too well, had given me a set of cast iron for my wedding present, so I dug them out of the back of the cabinet after the last Corning Ware pot was dropped; this was when I realized that cast iron does not break easily, it cracks instead under cold water when it is hot. So, I began collecting cast iron. I now have a 100 plus collection of cast iron pans; trivets, wall hangings, string balls, nutcrackers, etc. I am sharing my kitchen collectibles, including cast iron, here on Ruby Lane and will continue to do so until I have what I really need to cook in. Red handled utensils, primitive strainers, butter molds to name only a few. As I grew older and my tastes changed, (after all, you actually only NEED a few pots and pans that you can cook in), I started to take a fancy to teapots and teacups, and pretty much anything that still has LIFE in it! What a waste in today's world, for everything to become so disposable.
My father was a Barber by trade, but a junkman and packrat by heart and I was his traveling buddy. Everywhere we went, we could not pass up a garage sale or estate sale, flea market, etc. Soon it became an obsession, and the rest is history. I have fallen in love with the hunt to find the most unusual and the bargain. As you shop "Purple Packrat's Nest" on Ruby Lane, from my years of collecting, you will notice a wide variety of items that are listed. Collecting is not for women only. I have met many men at the auctions and sales that I have attended over the years.
So watch your head when you come into my shop! Teapots and Teacups are flying off the shelves lately! Suddenly I can't seem to keep enough tea related items stocked! My customers are in luck though, as I have been a teapot fancier for the last 35 years. Having 3 guys in the house over the years, teatime has become MY TIME. With Testosterone dripping off the walls around here, I needed SOMETHING that THEY could not invade, my teatime. They all know, LEAVE me alone....(It should be noted that I now walk around with a fancy teacup whenever I want them out of the house! It works for me..........)
As I began collecting every kind of tea set that I could find, I soon discovered that for the best tasting tea, I needed to use a pot the size of the amount that I was going to drink. I recommend that you invest in at least two china or porcelain teapots of different sizes, perhaps a two-cup and a four-cup to start and use each one when you want to prepare at least the specific quantity of tea it holds. Don't use a four-cup teapot, for example, to prepare only two cups of tea as the extra air in the teapot cools the water down too quickly so the tea doesn't steep properly. Be sure to always choose the right size teapot and fill it up. You can always make more, and you can always ice any leftovers, if there are any!
I especially love fancy teapots, the fancier the better. Of course, I also love whimsical teapots...and character teapots, and old teapots. Heck, I just love teapots! When I started out buying teapots and teacups it was because I thought that they were just gorgeous and I needed some pretties to display in my `nest'. I was all about quantity in the beginning of my collecting. Then as I grew more mature, I actually started USING my teapots, instead of simply displaying them. Now, my desires run to the most beautiful examples of tea sets that I can afford. There is nothing like walking past your hutch or china cabinet, viewing YOUR collection of pretties, or sitting down to an aromatic cup of tea, just the way that you like it!
Teatime has always been a favorite part of my day. Making the time for tea in a busy day helps me take some time for ME, if only for 15-30 minutes a day, Teatime does a body well, as well as doing your spirit good. The health benefits of tea have always been thought to be good; now science has proven its benefits, by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, anti-oxidant properties, etc. It sure seems to be the Year of the Teapot for me!
How To Display & Why Being surrounded by antiques is a way to stir our heartstring of sweet childhood memories. Collections are windows to our past, present and future. It allows us to show others what is important to us. An item that is discarded by someone is another's love.
By displaying your collection safely, you will not only protect it from damage, but it allows everyone else to enjoy them as well. Making your collection a part of your home decorating theme will add personality to your home as well as color to your room that you decide to showcase your collection in. Here are a just a few tips to spark your creative side when looking throughout your home for display possibilities:
-Lace Doilies work wonders under your china collectibles. This small amount of texture adds completeness to your setting and protects your surface!
-Have an unsightly chip on your favorite teacup or teapot? Use it underneath your African Violets or as a rooting vessel.
-A collection of plates or teacups can be just the thing that doorway needs. Have a narrow section to fill? Saucers work great!
-Light your table with teacups! Use floating wick candles. Instant ambiance!
Without sitting areas in bedrooms, the best place to display your china collection is the kitchen, dining and living areas where they are seen!
Don't be afraid to use your fine china for your family. China was made to be enjoyed, and then handed down to the next generation. Until you experience tea or coffee from a fine china teacup or mug, you have missed out.
So if you are thinking about starting a collection, but you are scared to because you don't think that you know enough about an item that you are interested in, remember all collectors start out as beginners. I have found that learning is half the fun of collecting. Read up on your favorites. By all means, collect what you like and use it! Be sure to stop by often as we are planning to move within the year, and my husband really wants me to downsize. You just NEVER know what will be in my shop!
If you don't see what you are looking for please inquire, because you won't know unless you ask as I may just have it!
Purple Packrat's Nest gladly accepts all major Credit Cards, PayPal, Personal Checks and Money Orders.
Isn't it tea time yet?????
We invite you to visit: Purple Packrat's Nest.
VINTAGE EARRINGS BY BRENDA DUFF OF BRENDA'S TREASURES
Vintage and antique earrings of all shapes, styles and sizes are in vogue and are some of the hottest jewelry items to buy, sell and/or collect in today's marketplace; not to mention they are just plain fun to wear and vintage/antique earrings are fast becoming a major source of sales revenue for my on-line shop.
Ladies with pierced ears have an extra advantage when it comes to wearing vintage earrings because they are able to wear any of the great styles available. A great many of the Victorian earrings are of pieced style but the glass pearl and bead earrings of the 1940's, 50's and 60's are far too large and heavy to be worn as pierced earrings. As an example, during the 1940 - 1960's Miriam Haskell Jewelry made their earrings available in pierced versions upon request, but only if the style could be supported by a pierced ear; many of their earrings did not qualify for this conversion because they needed the support only a clip-back earring could supply. Those of you who think that wearing clip back earrings means enduring hours of pinching pain need to check out the wonderful gel filled slip-on cushions that are now available, they will make you forget you are wearing clip-ons! These cushions are inexpensive enough to have one for each pair you own or for the budget conscious, a few pair of them can be swapped between all your clip back earrings. In short, if you fall in love with a pair of vintage earring, do not let their being non-pierced stop you from wearing them!
Only a few years ago; on-line auctions, estate sales and garage sales were selling boxes filled with earrings containing everything from designers like Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, Haskell, De Mario, Reja, Ciner and more, to earrings of carat gold, genuine pearl and semi-precious stones that could be purchased for pennies each; I purchased several such boxes for research purposes and now wish I had purchased all I could lay my hands on! Alas, hind site really is a wonderful thing. The few boxes of these that I have are now a source for much more than research. The variety and beauty of vintage earrings never ceases to amaze me; just when I think I have seen it all, a pair of 3 inch drippy Eugene's or 4 inch flashy Amourelle's will appear and take my breath away! There are still many bargains and sleeper finds for the treasure hunter, dealer and collector to acquire, maybe not for pennies, but still at a good value for your dollar.
For those collectors, dealers and treasure hunters who may want to add earrings to their collection or inventory, may I offer a few observations and a tip or two? First, there may be a few vintage earrings still on their original card that were only worn by a little ole lady who did not wear make-up or cologne and never used hairspray but do not count on all your finds being such treasures. Earrings can and often are some of the filthiest pieces of jewelry imaginable, this is because they are smeared with make-up, sprayed with hair spray, doused with cologne, tangled with hair, drenched in perspiration and then allowed to mold. So, they need to be examined closely to determine their condition. Obtain a small shopping kit and keep it in your purse or car for examining your finds. Here's what I take with me: A plastic bag, a small one will do (3 by 4 inches, larger is OK too), it is best if it is not a thin sandwich bag type, but it does need to be clear. Craft and container stores usually sell ones for archival storage by the piece for a few cents and these work very well. If you do not have finger nails or do not like using them as little picks, a couple of wooden or plastic toothpicks are needed and a magnification device; jeweler's loupe, reader eyeglasses or what I use, a lighted magnifying glass. Mine was less than $10 from my local office supply store; it is light weight, has a battery operated bulb for lighting the earring and has its own storage case.
This kit works well on all jewelry, not just earrings. Place the earring to be examined inside your plastic bag, you will immediately notice that it cuts the glare and allows for easily checking stones for damage , it also makes reading those sometimes elusive signatures much easier; as well as, checking finishes for excessive wear etc. Then, remove the earring from the bag and open the clip-back up and use your toothpick to pick at the dark or green spots, do not be alarmed, there will probably be some. If the spots are white and powdery, dusty-fuzzy green or a dull reddish brown color and do not come off easily, pass these earrings up. These are indicators of chemical cleaning damage, verdigris and rust, which are extremely difficult if not impossible to clean effectively. Bright, shiny, waxy spots which are easily picked off with your toothpick, normally indicate a `goo' formed by molding make-up, dead skin cells, perspiration etc. and though not a very pleasant thing to think about, with some diligent effort, this can effectively be removed. Almost all jewelry identification and value guides give very good cleaning instruction, so I will not detail those procedures here. If you are not into cleaning jewelry, this examining technique will let you look for earrings that are pristine and with a little practice examining earrings this way will eliminate the heart-break of purchasing earrings who's rhinestones darken and dull after a few months from chemical cleaning
damage and metal settings that disintegrate before your very eyes.
Second, with the proliferation of computers and the internet, we have so many more shopping avenues open to us but we cannot use our examination kit to check out these jewels before purchase. You can however avoid some of the same pitfalls by searching for dealers and on-line auction sellers that allow for returns if you are unhappy for any reason. Avoid sellers who make statements like `'no returns for any reason`, "I just buy and sell the stuff, don't know anything about it" or "returns allowed only if grossly misrepresented".
Ask questions and expect prompt, courteous replies (24 hours is reasonable), if you do not get them, do not purchase from this person or venue; if you cannot get answers and help prior to the sale, what might you expect if there is a. problem after the sale?
Third, once you have your new treasures in hand, you will need a few things to keep them clean. I recommend that you obtain a micro-fiber towel and a retractable (often called a travel) make-up brush. The micro-fiber towels are lint free (you won't spend time picking fuss out of prongs and filigree) and they do a wonderful job of keeping your jewelry clean, they polish rhinestones too. Use a new towel and only use it for your earrings, this will avoid minute particles that could scratch the finish or stones. Remember to use light pressure and be gentle, as most of the earrings we are talking about are older than we are!The retractable make up brush needs to be new and reserved for jewelry cleaning. The telescoping sheath over the brush allows it to be made as soft or stiff as needed to brush dust, hair etc. from those hard to reach areas on your earrings (Tip: these items will work well on all your jewelry). Again, please be careful and be gentle; if you think it has to be scrubbed , it needs to go to a jeweler or professional jewelry detailer!
Finally, put your earrings on with clean hands and put them on last; after the make up, cologne and hair spray have been applied. Take them off first to avoid knocking them off, dropped jewelry, especially costume jewelry is broken jewelry.
Most of all, ENJOY the treasure hunting and may you find many pairs of beautiful earrings to grace your collections and store fronts!
We invite you to visit: Brenda's Treasures.
MAY EDITOR'S PICK: A CHILD'S GARDEN
"Plant what is good, root out what's bad, Then you'll become a charming lad." (From the game, "The Reward of Merit; a New Moral, and Entertaining Game" invented by George Fox, 1801, London)
It wasn't until the mid-19th century, as industrialization hit full stride, that accouterments of the adult world began to make their appearance in miniature. Prior to that time, child-sized items, made especially for children, were few, excepting things like cradles.
Miniature items, it is said, were not provided to children simply for the purpose of indulging them, but rather to help guide their path later in life, generally in regards to preparing them for doing work suitable for the strata of society into which they were born. Useful skills could be learned and profit could be gained by way of this knowledge.
A child's garden has always been the world in which they grow.
We gather our information now only from what we can read in crisp tomes written long after the times that came before. Or in period diaries or letters, whereby parents may have sought to convince themselves, as much as others, that providing toy items for their children was supported by sound reason. So we tend to assume the giving of adult items in miniature to long ago children always had forthright and significant intent.
But it's possible, just possible, that having seen the sweet, sincere mimicry of a child pretending to be Father or Mother, was enough. And having the pride and satisfaction of secretly affirming, `This is my child. And he (or she) is me.'
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