old linens.

I have a definite weakness for old, vintage, and antique linens. Today I stumbled across a bunch of beautiful heavy cotton pillow cases with the hand done crochet tatting at the edges of each pillow case.

This is what the hand tatting/crocheting looks like:

The pillowcases are in perfect condition with no holes or split seams. They have yellowed with age and that is why I have them soaking and what I use for almost all of my old linens- Restoration.

I have spoken about this product before. Restoration is by Engleside Products. I used to use Biz and other things, but this is far superior and gets out more stains than I’ve ever seen with any other product.

I will soak these pillowcases in Restoration overnight and then rinse well and possibly wash again in Woolite and then dry on a drying rack.

These pillowcases will need to be ironed but they’re lovely. And a good tip for when you are ironing old linens is to do it on the reverse with a colorfast towel in between you and your vintage/old/antique linens. And I know how awesome these are going to be once the yellowing lifts off them.

I really like the feel of old crisp pillowcases. Old linens are just the best. People think that they are off-limits because they either shouldn’t be used because they’re old, or or too difficult to use because they’re old.

It’s like your old china and silver and glassware – who are you saving it for ? Use these vintage things. Use these antique things. They were meant to live not live like they are in a museum in your blanket chest or china cabinet or linen closet.

I like my old stuff, and I use it. I have also written before about vintage quilts.

When I pick these pillowcases up they are never too dear in price and don’t be afraid to ask for a better price from a dealer. I use them and when they wear out I often give them to people that work with textiles to give them a second life in something else.

The picture at the bottom of this post is one I found on the Internet of pillowcases someone else had that they were selling on eBay. I just want you to have an idea of what I bought looks like since all you see is them soaking in the sink. The pillow cases I have soaking have triangular edged tatting.

Thanks for stopping by.

the hunt for eastlake

My Eastlake table once I got it home! I think it’s beautiful!

I have a DIY antique hunter heroine- Victoria Elizabeth Barnes . I live vicariously through her Victorian home restoration and furniture acquiring and objects d’art acquiring writings. (And if you don’t read her blog you really should, it’s delightful!)

Today I think I channeled my inner Victoria Elizabeth Barnes when I went to pick up an Eastlake table I found.

I have always had a love affair with Eastlake furniture and I finally found something that could fit in my house. I will never have a large Victorian, and sometimes Eastlake furniture can be quite substantial in size.

What is Eastlake? Eastlake was considered a furniture movement:

The Eastlake Movement was an American nineteenth-century architectural and household design reform movement started by architect and writer Charles Eastlake (1836–1906). The movement is generally considered part of the late Victorian period in terms of broad antique furniture designations…
His book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details posited that furniture and decor in people’s homes should be made by hand or machine workers who took personal pride in their work. Manufacturers in the United States used the drawings and ideas in the book to create mass-produced Eastlake Style or Cottage furniture…

Eastlake furniture can be quite beautiful.

But Eastlake furniture is very still popular today and it is hard to find pieces reasonably priced that are in good shape at the same time. 

So when I saw this table advertised I jumped on it. I was second in line and  I did not think I was going to get it, but the woman ahead of me found it too large for her purposes so it came home with me.

A lot of Eastlake furniture is made of woods like walnut or maple also. It’s not all just heavy oak furniture like a lot of Victorian furniture.

It was a gorgeous day so I set out on my pilgrimage across part of Chester County to pick up my table.   I am not sure that this table was living in Chester County before I bought it, I seem to think it came out of a house in Lancaster County.

My table needs a little TLC but I don’t think I’ll need to refinish it. I will however have to rearrange other furniture in my house to place it.

Of course I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to make it home today or not, because I am somewhat limited by a sedan in as far as how much furniture I can actually place in it.  The person I bought it from and I definitely had some giggles maneuvering it into my car. But it fit! And I drove home with a table in the front seat next to me. 

My new table makes for a great end to the week!

Enjoy the day it’s absolutely gorgeous!

The Eastlake table just fit in the front seat of my car!

picking stock at antiques for tourist prices

DSC_0034On a trip up into Lancaster County this past weekend we stopped at what from the outside appeared to be a promising antique and antique salvage place along Lincoln Highway in Parksburg called Pheasant Run Antiques. A giant bank barn with  architectural salvage displayed from the exterior.

The best part about this antique store was the creative way they merchandized a lot of things. Cute tableaus interspersed with salvage.

However, with no offense intended to the shopkeepers, I personally won’t stop twice. I do not like mostly picking stock priced at antiques for tourist prices.

Yes they have some architectural salvage, yes they have some primitives, but the merchandise is rough for the most part and all is quite over-priced comparatively speaking.

Antique show prices are more reasonable than what I saw.  And I also saw some stock that appeared to be reproduction (like a black metal possibly iron candle chandelier) , not antique and it wasn’t marked as such.

They advertise as having sale days “for the trade” (or other dealers), and maybe they swap and dicker with them for better pricing, but for what I saw there, I would rather keep on barn picking.

If you just want to go to educate your eye, they do have fun salvage to look at here and there.

the death of traditions in chester county

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One of the things I have always loved about Chester County are the traditions. Things like the horse shows and horses, the farms, the carriaging, the crafters and artists, barn sales, flea markets and church sales, ballooning, and the independent spirits.

But today I mourn the loss of those things. They haven’t all disappeared over night, but if we as residents don’t start standing up in our communities and telling municipal governments to pay attention to us and not just the developers, we will lose what helps make Chester County so special.

I am going to re-visit the case of Upper Uwchlan and the Smithfield Barn. I will note in case Upper Uwchlan’s manager is feeling vindictive after this post that I have NOT spoken to the Smith family about this situation in a while, it is merely that people are TALKING.

I have been told that the manager (who came from Coatesville and why do I point that out? Well Coatesville always ends up in the news for not so nice things, don’t they?), met with the Smith family finally after the media picked up on the story at the start of the new year? I had heard that and was hopeful, and well what did I hear recently? That the manager had not seemed to follow through on what they had discussed? What do kids still call someone like that? A welcher? Do I have that right? Or is this just a rumor and he really likes the Smithfiled Barn and acknowledges how much his township folks go there and to places like that Carmine’s , right? Maybe they will have a new rule against pizza and wings down the road too?

So what does this manager named Cary Vargos, get out of this? Is he doing this doing this for the developer coming back to his township which shall remain nameless? The developer who will share borders with the Smithfield Barn Farm? How are those bog turtles and percing stuff going?

Of course then there are the rumors bandying about concerning municipalities that want to tell people how, when, and what time they can hold the humble garage sale and isn’t that just crazy here in the land of the free?

So I have to ask who would be hurt by allowing Smithfield Barn to have a set number of barn sales a year? Is it possible that this township manager doesn’t know barn sales are rural America’s garage sale and a deep rooted tradition? Is Upper Uwchlan going to morph into one of those individual freedoms stomping municipalities that next puts a million rules on garage sales? Auctions?

I mean obviously Upper Uwchlan government has some sort of identity crisis because they allowed the crossroads village of Eagle to grow up to be Barbie’s Lego dream village didn’t they? This is their jurisdiction right? I mean it is good to know CVS can do other architecture, but still.

When you go through there you are also reminded of the development when you look at Upper Uwchlan’s shiny newish township building. It is not as grandiose as some I have seen, but it is a testament to the present and all that developments have built isn’t it?

I hate to pick on this township manager, but I just don’t get why he wants to be the squasher of local traditions do you?

The reality is Smithfield Barn is beloved by locals and those farther afield. Barn sales are a real part of country history and tradition. That makes them a positive ambassador for their municipality. Townships can’t buy the good publicity and PR generated by happy people and goodwill towards neighbors, can they?

But the country isn’t so country any longer is it? The country has been taken over by developers who don’t plant crops in the beautiful farm fields of Chester County, just plastic mushroom houses that give off the smell of hot plastic in the summer.

Take for example another sad thing: has anyone been by what was that huge empty former working farm on White Horse Road in Charlestown Township I guess it is?

I was a passenger in a car going past that last Saturday and it made me want to cry. It is slated to be a new development and it looked like a battlefield. Demolition equipment on site and they had just basically raped the landscape and all you saw were felled trees lined up like dead soldiers from a Civil War battlefield reenactment. It was shocking and sad.

The pace of development in Chester County is somewhat terrifying at times. Nothing ever seems to be a restrained size or scope. These projects are huge and homes squished so city close together that you know residents will live crammed in like lemmings. And the crime of it is, these people don’t seem to know any better.

Then there are the things that amuse me. Like for example when people in developments in Upper Uwchlan refer to themselves as living “on the Main Line” or being from the Main Line. Uhhh no, I actually grew up on the Main Line and these people are actually living in Downingtown. And it is o.k. to say you live in Downingtown. These are like the people who say they live in Chester Springs because that is how the developer marketed certain developments, only are they Chester Springs? Not so much.

Developments change the landscape and the attitudes. Do any of these people really know the satisfaction and joy of planting their own gardens? Or do they in fact live in Stepford where all geraniums must match and grass must be “just so”? Do these people know the joy of standing outside and watching the hawks circle and cry out to one and other? And they all say they love horses, but then they don’t want to live near barns, stables, and local horse show grounds do they? And don’t get me started on traditions like skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clays shooting. And hunting and fox hunting is best kept to those countrified wallpapers, right?

I love what makes Chester County just what she is. I am sad that traditions seem as if they are disappearing one by one.

I really hope people wake up before it is too late. Once the woods and fields and farms are gone, they aren’t coming back. Same with barn sales, country auctions, and honor stands at the edge of your local farm.

As good weather seems to finally be here, I encourage all of you to let people know about fun things happening in Chester County. Traditional things.

One thing I will not be encouraging people to be part of or attend is Upper Uwchlan’s “block party” on June 14th. Why support their efforts when all they do is kowtow to developers and sanitize communities against country traditions like barn picking and barn sales? Sounds mean to some, but I think they are being mean spirited to tradition.

But please if you have something fun you want to tell people about, let this blog know. Things I love are farm events, art shows, flea markets, First Fridays, barn sales, even swap meets and garage sales. Other things like strawberry and similar festivals, farmers markets, small businesses celebrating something.

Enjoy the day. It is simply beautiful out. Find your magic in everyday life.

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fun with furniture

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I am not one for those milky pastel chalk paints and I think chalkboard paint should be banned as a decorating idea. Sorry but I am sick of seeing every piece of vintage and antique furniture looking like it was attacked by kissing cousins of Pepto-Bismol. not everything needs to be in pastel or a chalkboard.

And while I do think that white milk paint look has it’s place in beach houses, I just think it has been too done. And done again. As a matter of fact my sole criticism of dealers who go to Clover Market in Ardmore, PA is not only their pricing at times leaves a lot to be desired (I mean let us get real a lot of those people pick at places I haunt so I really know some of the mark-ups) but there is soooo much of the same stuff and it is all candy coated for lack of a better description. Show me the wood once in a while! Don’t make it all look like a French meringue cookie and think that will hide the fact the piece wobbles.

Mind you I was a long time fan of Rachel Ashwell shabby chic and loved it when she had her TV show. She used to go to flea markets and show you how to repurpose vintage finds. kind of like what Cari Cucksey does on her HGTV show Cash & Cari. But not everything was coated in paint. Moderation.

Do I like some painted furniture? Very much so. My mother for example has a piece I have loved since it came to be. She found an antique country armoire easily 25 years ago and had an artist faux paint it and a carpenter convert the inside so she could store china, crystal and serving pieces. It definitely makes a statement and is useful storage. And the painting is beautiful – and not milk paint or pastel chalk paint. You can appreciate the artistic side of it and the lines of the piece aren’t whited out and it is sturdy enough to survive the apocalypse.

My personal approach to painted furniture is if it didn’t start out life as a piece of painted furniture chances are I will not paint it. It’s just not me in the long run. Maybe my tastes will change on this, but I do not think so.

As far as furniture goes I am definitely of the school that believes older is better. But I want pieces that can be used. I don’t want to live in a mini Winterthur or the Modern Museum of Art.

I make no secret of the fact that I haunt picking barns, resale shops, consignment galleries, flea markets and garage and church sales. I will barter, swap, and hondle. It never hurts to ask if a better price is available. One reason I like places like the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown and Resellers Consignment in Frazer is the prices are not only unbeatable but OMG there is a constant turnover of variety and really cool pieces…and I can see the wood.

Yesterday when I went hunting for my garden bench, I saw this crazy slipper chair with a matching foot stool. The piece was probably late Victorian but a prior owner had reimagined it in yellow leather. The chair was usable as is and under a $100 if memory serves and the foot stool was around $50. The pair was so fun and quirky that if I had the room they would have been a total impulse buy. Oh and the chair wasn’t painted in pastels, an added bonus.

The thing about buying from Resellers that is fun is the listed price of an item will automatically decrease based upon number of days on the sales floor. But the prices are already old school estate sale prices so if you like it when you see it, buy it because chances are it won’t be there when you go back. And I have seen many furniture and antique dealers cruising the aisles of Reseller’s giant warehouse too. IF items last there more than 60 days they go to 50% off.

Some people can’t believe people will go to secondhand stores and picking barns for items for their home, yet amusingly enough if the same items show up at fine furniture dealers and antiques dealers they are “darling” and “must haves”.

When you buy a piece of gently used wood furniture, treat it right. Don’t rush to cover up its natural patina with paint, try cleaning it and polishing it. I am a big fan of Williamsville Wax – it is a blend of beeswax, lemon oil, and other natural oils and supposedly the company uses a recipe for this that has been used since Colonial times.

And don’t be afraid to have fun with your furniture. It can still be fun and comfortable and not look like you picked it all out from Ikea and Raymour & Flanigan. And believe it or not, you can have nice things around kids. You do not have to live with plastic. That is an added bonus of some of these furniture finds- the prices are so good that say an accident occurs you can actually afford to have the piece recovered or repaired and it is actually worth it to do so.

The other thing is this – educate your own eye- go to antiques shows, check out design magazines and Pinterest boards and create your own inspiration. Face it, while many would love to say they had an interior decorator or whatever, the reality is most can’t afford that and when you connect to your own rooms in your own home it is far more satisfying. And it really is home.

chester county antiques show this weekend at phelps school

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I love antiques shows.  Great place to educate your eye at a minimum.  (Unless you have a bottomless checkbook or just don’t care, show prices are generally marked up.) This week is the Chester County Historical Society’s Antiques Show – I am very psyched to go!

SHOW HOURS     SATURDAY, APRIL 6 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

SUNDAY, APRIL 7 11:00 AM – 5:00  PM

EXPERT VERBAL APPRAISALS     SUNDAY, APRIL 7 11:00AM-1:00PM

$I5.00 GENERAL ADMISSION     INCLUDES SHOW CATALOG & FREE PARKING Free admission to the Chester County Historical Society for Friday and Saturday

A New Location for 2013 -The Phelps School Malvern, PA

Featuring 18th and 19th Century American and Continental Antiques.

FOR INFORMATION 610-692-4800

Dealer list from the CCHS website:

A Bird In HandAyscough Antiques

Back In Time LLC

Brennan and Mouilleseaux

Britannia House Antiques

Cecelia B. Williams Antiques

David Good & Sam Forsythe

David Pownall Willis

Dixon-Hall Fine Art

Douglas Constant, Inc.

Dover House Antiques

Dubey’s Art and Antiques, Inc.

Edward J. Rayeur Antiques

Emele’s Antiques

Eve Stone Antiques, Ltd.

Gallery 51

Greg Kramer and Co.

Greshville Antiques and Fine Art

Hanes & Ruskin Antiques

Heller Washam Antiques

Hilary and Paulette Nolan

H.L. Chalfant American Fine Art Antiques

Holly A. Peters Oriental Rugs

J. Gallagher

James M. Kilvington, Inc.

Johanna Antiques

John Chaski Antiques

Joseph J. Lodge

Kelly Kinzle Antiques

Malcolm Magruder

Marc Witus Antiques

Margaret Johnson Sutor Antiques

Neverbird AntiquesPaul J Decoste

Port ‘N Starboard Gallery

Roger D. Winter, Ltd.

R.M. Worth Antiques, Inc.

Ruth C. Rogers

Saje Americana

Sally Good Antiques

Salt Box Antiques

Shaeffer’s Antiques

Sidney Gecker American Folk Art

Spencer Marks

Stevens Antiques

Steven Schuyler Bookseller

The Antique Store In Wayne

The Bar and Diamond

The Fassnachts

The Haneberg’s Antiques

The Norwoods Spirit of America

Thomas Brown Antiques

Thurston Nichols American Antiques Inc

Van Tassel Baumann American Antiques

Wesley T. Sessa Antiques

West Pelham Antiques

William Hutchison Books-Prints-Paintings

William R. & Teresa F. Kurau

* Dealer list as of 2/7/2013