The Truth About Snowflakes

“My Vintage Garden” celebrates gardens, nature and flowers in antiques, collectibles and jewelry. Included may be intriguing historical information, curious bits of folklore and a few useful gardening tips. Flowers have inspired art and design since ancient times, and their beauty, symbolism and sentimental meaning make our treasured collectibles even more precious.

At the first snow, our woods and garden are transformed into a dazzling fairyland. In the still early morning, it is easy to believe that each glittering snowflake is unique and perfect. Later in the day, our toes are numb and our noses are red and tingling. As we shovel the driveway or brave the icy roads, snow loses its charm. Is each and every snowflake really different? Who could, or would check?

The idea that no two snowflakes are alike began with Wilson Bentley. Bentley was born on a farm in Vermont in 1865. While he was still a boy, his mother, a school teacher, gave him a microscope that he used to observe everything from flowers to snow, and snowflakes especially fascinated him.

At first, Bentley tried drawing snowflakes while looking through his microscope, but they melted too quickly. After much trial and error, Bentley developed a complex method of photographing snowflakes through a microscope. In 1885, he finally produced a photograph of a snowflake, the first ever taken. Over his lifetime, Bentley took portraits of five thousand three hundred and eighty-one snow crystals.

Bentley at first expected all snowflakes to be alike, but was amazed to find that all he examined were quite different. Bentley concluded that, to the best of his knowledge, no snowflake was an exact duplicate of any other snowflake.

Up in the clouds, all snowflakes begin as more or less identical hexagonal ice crystals. As snowflakes fall, they ride air currents up and down for an hour or more. They encounter water vapor, temperature variations and are buffeted by winds. Each snowflake is transformed into evermore complex pattern of crystallization. The average snowflake is made of 10 18 water molecules (that is 1 with 18 zeros, for the non-mathematically inclined). Even if two snowflakes look alike to the human eye, the chance that they are exactly the same is essentially zero.

The final truth about snowflakes is that they become more individual and beautiful as they fall. Like snowflakes, many antiques and collectibles may look the same, but no two are exactly alike, as each bears the marks of its creation and unique history. Just as a snowflake is transformed by the winds, the antique changes through the touch of human hands, through daily use and in the passing from one owner to another. We may seek antiques in “mint condition”, but we do not really want new items. We value the patina on fine silver, a worn but lustrous finish on old wood, or the muted colors of old fabric - all which increase the beauty and desirability of the treasured object. Even the wear upon a clasp or an old monogram - which some may call a defect - tells a story of an object’s journey through time.

And so, I celebrate the all the beautiful and unique snowflakes on Ruby Lane. They will not melt! Thanks to the shops below who have shared photos of their gorgeous snowflake items.

Antiques on Canaan St - Hand Hooked Mat Chair Seat Pad Geometric Snowflake Brown, Pink, Green

Vintage Ladybug - 2 Pyrex Glass Casseroles & Lids Snowflake Pattern White On Blue

Art of Style - SNOWFLAKE Bogoff Vintage Emerald Green Rhinestone Pin

Rare Finds - Green Glass Footed Pedestal Snowflake Christmas Bowl

Antique Investments - Miniature White Opalescent "Snowflakes" Pattern Miniature Oil Lamp with Original Shade !!!

Milkweed Antiques - Whiting & Davis Off White Bubble Mesh Purse

Gypsy Jewels by Sharon - Amethyst Snowflake Earrings with Sterling Silver accents

Dotty Lee's Treasures - Pair Small Round Hand Crocheted Doilies

 

About me: I have had the Ruby Lane shop “SuzansTreasures” for over 10 years. I have been involved with antiques and collectible business all my life, as my mother, grandparents and great-grandmother all had antique shops. I also have a life-long love of gardening. I am a member of several gardening societies and am a qualified flower show judge.

 

Suzan Miller

Suzan's Treasures on Ruby Lane

 


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