Saturday, September 28, 2013

A WWI-Era Beaded Purse Restoration - Before & After

If you know anything about me, you know I love beaded and mesh antique and vintage purses.  I have a personal collection that spans from very collectible to those first acquisitions which are, for the most part, reminders of lessons learned in collecting.  But every now and then, the proverbial ugly duckling turns into the beautiful swan, right?

This is the story of the beaded purse that was transformed, much like the duckling to swan.  The purse dates from the first quarter of  the 20th century, likely between 1917-1925.  I won the purse through an online auction, and paid just a pittance for it.  You might argue it was pitiful, indeed.  Here are a couple of photos of the BEFORE condition of the purse (as acquired through a winning bid):
BEFORE:  WWI-Era beaded purse - front
BEFORE:  WWI-Era beaded purse - back
What prompted me to bid in the first place was the design of the purse.  Historically-themed purses are highly collectible, and I knew it was likely WWI because of the French and American flags on front, along with the Cross of Lorraine.  On the back there is an obvious rainbow, but a not-so-obvious USA beaded into the bottom and an even less obvious '42' beaded into the top, right hand corner.  I am a self-professed Francophile, a purse collector, and a calculated risk-taker, so I bid and, ultimately, won.

When the purse arrived, it came with a tiny bottle of beads, and the bag was literally shedding each time I lifted it.  Here are a couple more photos of the shape the bag was in:

I pretty much just reveled in the inexpensive score, and then put the purse in a drawer and stored it - for more than two years.  In 2010, I attended the Antique Purse Collector's Society annual gathering in Cincinnati, and took the purse along, hoping I would meet one of the members who restored these types of bags, someone who might take on my purse project.  I was too embarrassed to even bring it out.

This summer, I decided to contact one of those members on the West Coast who restores purses, Marion Held, through Facebook.  I sent her photos and asked her if she would evaluate the project's worth.  She immediately commented on the unusual pattern which she had never seen, and said it was salvageable, and ultimately gave me an estimate for completing the work.  Scope of work was to include repairing the body, replacing the frame and lining, and adding a twisted, bead fringe to the bottom.

The work-in-progress was promising, and I was sent the following photos, showing me a sampling of the fringe, along with three different frames to choose from:
WORK-IN-PROGRESS:  Frame Choice #1
WORK-IN-PROGRESS:  Frame Choice #2
WORK-IN-PROGRESS:  Frame Choice #3
After three months, my purse finally arrived, and here are the AFTER photos:
AFTER:  WWI-Era Beaded beaded purse - Front, Fully Restored

AFTER:  WWI-Era beaded purse - Back, Fully Restored

AFTER:  WWI-Era Beaded Purse, Inner Lining Replaced
I did some research, and I found a little more history of the motifs beaded into the purse.  Although I originally felt the purse was dated to no later than 1925, the '42' confused me a bit.  Turns out, it stands for the 42nd Infantry Division (Rainbow) of the National Guard and US Army.  If you have an interest, you can read more about it here (you need to scroll down until you come to the rainbow and sub-heading).  According to this source noted, the 42nd Division has served in WWI, WWII and in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).  The rainbow started out as a half-arc, multi-colored thin striped motif and later changed to a standard, 3-color striped quarter arc, outlined in green.  As per the description, my example matches the earlier version, near the World War I era.

According to Wikipedia, The Cross of Lorraine "is part of the heraldic arms of Lorraine in eastern France. Between 1871 and 1918 (and again between 1940 and 1944), the northern third of Lorraine was annexed to Germany, along with Alsace. During that period the Cross served as a rallying point for French ambitions to recover its lost provinces. This historical significance lent it considerable weight as a symbol of French patriotism."

As a collector, I am thrilled on several levels with how this purse turned out.  I originally bought the purse on a hunch that its design was special.  I found a first-class purse restorer in a fellow member of the Antique Purse Collector's Society.  The restored purse is, once again, the beautiful example it was intended to be, with a reasonable sum invested.   My experience with this purse restoration has been very positive, and I would certainly consider undertaking it again.

Have you ever had one of your collectibles restored?  How was your experience?

If you're interested in seeing more of my purse collection, here's a link to my latest version of a Shutterfly book I created, "A Panoply of Purses" (©2013, all photos copyright RP Cobb).  You'll see my restored purse there, along with many other examples of beaded, mesh, and other styles.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Decorating with Birch Wood (or Facsimiles Thereof!)

If you recall, I mentioned we originally planted three white birch trees in our landscape in 2004, and the last two succumbed to birch bore last October.  The remains pictured below were all I had left to show for the eight years of nurturing my birch trees. :(
I recently heard a great statement about our state, West Virginia:  "we're the northern-most Southern state, and southern-most Northern state.  The USDA rezoned our area to Zone 7(a) in 2012 from its former Zone 6(b) in 2004, which basically means more northerly specimens of plantings (such as white birch) won't reliably survive, and more southerly ones will. It was a slow death for my birches, so over the past couple of years, I would take in a few of the smaller branches as they fell, and I would place them in my dried arrangements.  But the pile above begged for something more.

Fast forward to April of this year, and I placed a stack of dried branches into a basket in our TV/family room area, beside the fireplace (I had moved them to the garage for drying out through the winter) .
I have yet another stash that I filled in a rusted olive bucket, at the ready for mixing with what I already have for indoor decor, or for crafting ideas:
With my daughter getting married in October, I'm still pondering whether I'll use some of the logs to make some risers for what will be her 'cake' display (she's actually having cupcakes) or other table decor, or even make coasters for pitchers, etc.

I love clipping and pinning inspiration ideas for my racing mind, and if you follow my blog (and I hope you do or will!), I hope you will also follow me on Hometalk - the Home and Gardening Hub, (click here to go to my page).  

I just finished curating a board for various ways to decorate with birch wood / birch bark on Hometalk, and you can explore some of those ideas I have clipped to that board by clicking on the collage image below (the board has each clip and its original source / creator). And, by the way, you don't have to have access to real birch trees to do some of the projects I've clipped - some of them are with birch wrapping paper and others are with painting birch imagery onto furniture!  The ideas are for year-round interest, too, in both home and garden.

Here's an image of the board I just curated on decorating with birch wood:
Once you're at the linked page, just click on the "FOLLOW" button below my photo, and you'll be following all of my activity on Hometalk, including ideas I've shared, along with those of others I'm following.  Or, you can choose to just follow the particular boards you're interested in, or start your own! 

I have found Hometalk to be a very user-friendly way to not only clip ideas to boards, much like Pinterest, but to be able to engage with others through comments, messages, and even through posting questions, similar to Facebook. When you post an idea or question, the community of both pros and amateurs of members jump right in, and help you find answers to your everyday home and garden dilemmas, and give you immediate feedback on projects you're sharing.  

Many thanks to those who are following me and supporting me, both here and on Hometalk.  We all help each other in blogland, and that makes for some great conversation and friendships, both virtual and real!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Panoply of a Pumpkin Patch

(Thank you, One More Time Events, for featuring this post!)

Feeling good....feeling Fall....finally having a chance to let the decorating bug bite!

It's been a crazy busy September, and I took a day just to take a little break from dealing with contractors and my daughter's wedding plans.  I gathered my pumpkins, a few found naturals, and a few other Fall decor items and played around with some arrangements.  Here, I'm posting my Panoply of a pumpkin patch from my home, garden and our antique mall booth space of some of those arrangements.

Since I'll be mostly in wedding mode from now until the end of October, and the new month just being around the corner, I thought I'd go ahead and get my witch on now, hehe. I threw one little pumpkin in this mix for good measure.
This is the stair landing area of my second floor, directly outside my office / spare bedroom.  This little witch ensemble came from a local craft fair.  It consists of a tea-dyed, tattered dress, complete with "spells" bag attached to its sash, a cone hat, and tattered witch shoes.  The hooked heart mat came from the same craft fair, and the cross-stitched "October Curls" pillow was from another local festival from a prior year.  The primitive bench, leather tote and suitcase, along with the plush chickadee are all past finds.  Here's a closeup of the little witch ensemble:
Isn't that set just the cutest?  I don't do much Halloween decor, but I fell for this easily.

After picking up several items from our Capitol Market this past week, I took the opportunity to arrange them in various ways.  I love the white pumpkins, and I made the arrangement pictured below with some deer antlers and a couple of past auction finds.
I love the mix of the rustic, thrush-woven, wooden stool with the contrast of the English sterling serving platter against it.  The platter was a one of those bargains at auction where the most of the bidders weren't quite awake or paying attention, and I nabbed it!
The serving platter is quite heavy, and has some fantastic detailing on the lipped rim.

Using the stool as a prop for another display, I tried the combination pictured below.
I like the whimsy of the little velvet pumpkin, looking as if it's about to get squished into the tiny tureen. Pumpkin soup, anyone? :)

Mr. P. and I walk almost every single day, and I picked up these two chestnut pods on one of our recent treks - very carefully, I might add - ouch!  I love the color & size of these when they're fresh.  I first just placed them in this little marble birdbath, along with random wine corks and pine cones.  
I already had my mossy tureen and pumpkin in the dining room, so I moved the chestnut pods there:
They'll soon shrivel and lose their color, but for now, I like their appearance.

In the sunroom, I placed another, traditional pumpkin purchased at the market in this vignette:
This little washstand was also an auction purchase, and the surface serves as both decorative display and functional serving when we have company.  The marble surface, chalkboard backsplash, and natural wood frame lend themselves readily to Fall decor.  Antlers, pine cones, and stems from my fallen birch trees complement the faux bittersweet and twig stems on display.  The twig stems have teeny, tiny lights on their ends, and give a really nice glow at dusk in this room. 

Along the same wall in the sunroom, in the other corner,  is my reading nook.  This is where my recently slipcovered chaise lounge is situated, with my Fall wreath behind me (the last photo in this post shows it encircling a pumpkin), and the lamp (an estate find) and table beside me.  

In a couple of weeks, I'll grab a few more naturals, this time from the garden, courtesy of this perennial - a tall, daisy-like mum (this photo is from last Fall; it's still a little early for the blooms yet):
And I'll make the arrangement pictured below, for the sunroom table.  My white sweater pumpkins were purchased last year from Deb, at Homeward Found Decor:
Shadowplay in Fall is just amazing to me, and I especially like how it comes through the sunroom's mostly glass windows.

After playing around with my market pumpkins indoors, they ultimately landed on the front porch for this display, pictured below.
I bought one white, one traditional orange (it remains in the sunroom), one blue and one gnarly orange pumpkin, along with the Indian corn, bale of hay and yellow mum.  I like to purchase budding mums so they'll be sure and last through the better part of October, unlike the Indian corn, which the squirrels start attacking soon after I place it!  The ceramic pumpkin planter holding the mum is a previous find from our local feed and seed store.

One of my last pumpkin displays comes from one of our antique mall booths, a table setting/vignette we did last Fall:
Going with rustic elegance as our theme, we mixed natural wood textures with both shiny and darkened patinas of metals.  The cast iron urn on the floor cradles a real pumpkin, while other textures are mixed in the form of feathers, glass and textiles.  The cape and hat on the mannequin are vintage, giving a ghostly appearance as your hostess to the tables setting.

That's it for my Panoply of a pumpkin patch.  I'll be finishing up a couple more outdoor projects before the wedding, along with putting the garden to bed and styling our booth spaces, all of which should keep me plenty busy until it's beginning to look a lot like.......I can't even say it.

Sharing this week with:




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

That Never-Ending Autumn List.....

While most of you out there in blogland are setting pretty tablescapes, decorating homes and gardens, and pulling out all the Autumn stops, September is turning out to be a checklist kind of month for me....checking things off the "before it gets cold and you're sorry you haven't done it kind of list".

Concurrent with the plumbing upgrades completed right after Labor Day, we also contracted to have our riverbank tree legs shaved (limbed up), along with a little pruning of some of the landscape trees.  This was a two-day process once the contractors were here.  It went from looking like this:

To after the maintenance, looking like this:

Our trees had sustained a lot of injury of late, especially during last year's derecho that hit WV hard.  Besides all the [before] furry, wild undergrowth on the main trunks, you can see visible gaps in the high limbs among the trees, as well as dead branches in the foreground, a result of the derecho.  Although you can still see the gap at the highest level (it makes an endearing heart shape :)), the trees look so much better when they're limbed up!  The tiny growth you see below the bank's edge (to the left of center, in front of the pole) is a sassafras sapling, another move in our effort to ensure the one of our better tree's future existence.  We're actually nurturing two, and a neighbor two doors up is nurturing another.  Most of the other trees are indigenous to the area (box elder and silver maples), and keep erosion at bay.

After the plumbing and trees, my focus shifted immediately to getting rid of items sorted for the community yard sale.  That sale occurred this past Saturday, and it was a success for my two sisters and me.  We were up at 4:30 am to be sure to be in line for the unloading, which began at 6 am. We were unloading in the dark and, what I've seen consistently is, dealers start shopping the lot with flashlights at that time.  It's exhilarating and annoying all at the same time - you're trying to get set up before the official 8 am start, and it's just crazy.

Here's what our scene looked like later in the morning (when it was daylight!):
Our space extended from the chairs on the left, to the tables in the background (no clothes!), to the blue tent on the right.  We had already sold quite a few of the bigger items at this point, but I was too busy to snap a photo at the point where we were unloaded.

By 12:45 pm, 45 minutes after it was all over, and the unsold items were loaded onto the donation truck, we were happy campers, and the scene looked like this:

After a much needed two-day rest period of post-sale (although I still have a few items in my car that I brought back, not quite ready to donate), I jumped right back into purge mode with the next items on my checklist. Remember these?
This was the last stop for my displaced houseplant trees after putting my house back together from the plumbing job.  Yesterday, I not only emptied these self-watering containers and bagged the trees for the city's yard waste recycling, I cleaned the pots too (no easy task!).
Remains of trees from front porch!
Clearing the houseplants are part of my plan to get the porch Fall-ready.  So, I look at the porch and notice all the spider cocoons that have used my porch and balcony as party central through the summer nights with landscape lights shining on them.....next thing you know, I'm cleaning the balcony...which I ordinarily do every six months, but hasn't been done for two years (last year was a year of annoying health issues, suffice it to say).

Two hours later, I've got the edge of the balcony looking like this (the photo was taken this morning, looking over the edge, which I can already see black spots that are bugs!!):

I've gone all along the outer edge, with my skinny arms working between the balusters, cleaning disgusting slime and mold that built up over the two years.  Before this job is complete, I will have cleaned every single baluster with a floss-like motion, and then move to the lower porch area and clean all the column crevices, ceiling and lights.  Then I'll use almost an entire can of this stuff just to let the spiders know the partay is over:
I love the spiders' work of eating the pesty bugs in the garden, I just don't like them setting up their buffets on my porch and balcony!  This stuff really works, and keeps the spiders off my porch for weeks, months (no sponsors here, just the facts, ma'am)!

Looking further down the "before it gets cold and you're sorry you haven't done it kind of list", I'm in holiday decor thoughts, and decide it's time to unload the landscape deer that I put out for Christmas.  I have four - two that the lights quit working on four years ago, and two more that have partial lights working - meaning, you can't plug them in because they just look stupid.  So, out of the attic they came, and out to the alley for trash or treasure pickup they went!
About two hours later, this is what was left:
The sign read:
"TRASH OR TREASURE - YOU DECIDE! - 4 DANG DEER - LIGHTS DON'T ALL WORK
Dang deer is a local joke around here - deer are everywhere - city, country, highway, back roads - and our local DJ coined the phrase "How many dang deer?", asking listeners to guess, that he sees on his way to work for the morning shift.
About an hour after the first three deer were gone, here's what the trash pile looked like:
All cleaned up by the taker of the TREASURE!

Today I'm back in porch mode, I've been to the Capital Market to get my natural decor items, and I hope to have the surfaces sprayed and ready for Fall when it officially begins later this week.

As for the seemingly never-ending list?  I'm still hoping to get the sunroom and balcony re-caulked (yep, that stuff just scraped right off as I was cleaning), not to mention the wedding at the end of October!  And,  Mr. P. wants to have the brick porch, walk and courtyard cleaned (which will, inevitably, lead to new mortar repairs); the hot tub needs drained and cleaned; and our neighbors just killed the grass outside our brick fence that butts up to their property and their yard renovation!  We'll see how much of this list gets done before the time runs out.....

What's on your "before it gets cold and you're sorry you haven't done it kind of list"?  Please don't tell me you're completely ready!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Guest Feature Post on Between Naps on the Porch

Today I'm being featured on Susan's blog, Between Naps on the Porch, in her 242nd Metamorphosis Monday series titled, "Beautiful Front Porch Addition and Garden Oasis".
Susan
Susan and I began our conversation after I commented on a recent post of hers, wherein she was contemplating changing her brick walkway to blend with her porch addition.  I sent a couple photos of our porch and yard renovation and, specifically, how we planned the walkway.  It inspired Susan, so more photos followed, with more detail, and a blog post was created.

I am thrilled to be featured on Susan's blog, and it's a first for me on two levels:  being featured at such length, and showing readers my house and garden, together, for the first time.  I've shown garden pictures, and few indoor shots, but none to this detail.

I hope you'll join Susan on her porch and read the post in its entirety.  There are so many wonderful posts in this series and more on her blog.  I hope you'll consider following me on my blog, too.  You can connect with me via Google+ by adding me to your circles, and/or receive my posts via email subscription.  I look forward to sharing with friends already made, as well as new friends.

Thank you, Susan!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Home and Garden Fall Reflections

There's finally a break in the lingering hot temps of summer, projects are getting checked off before it gets cold, and out comes a little Fall decor, both in home and garden.  Fall is a time of profound beauty and melancholy, all rolled into one.  It's a time to reflect and plant seeds of hope for the future.

I'm pulling out my throws for coziness and warmth to sit, read, reflect......
I'm bringing out the pumpkins to coordinate with the mossy greens and browns of Fall color.....
...and the neutrals in my sunroom for the sunny, sleepy afternoon naps.
In the hopes of making guests feel invited and cozy too, the guest bed has added touches of whimsy,
In the garden, I'm drying some hydrangeas to later bring inside for an arrangement.........
...while my little cherub sits on the wall watching the activity that remains in the garden.....
...like the bee that's working hard to pull the last of the season's nectar from the Sedum 'Autumn Joy'.
The porch is all-telling:  it says, "Welcome Fall, Y'all!"
Soon, it will be the perfect time for a little day trip in the hills of our home state of West Virginia, where everywhere you turn, you see the beauty of the Fall season.  You don't have to go far, as we're nestled in a valley where the hills hug us every single day.  Reminiscing my high school years, I had a poster in my bedroom with the message:  "You never really leave a place you love.  Part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind". While the author is unknown, the message is a sentiment I feel with deep understanding.  This photo, which I captured on one of those little day trips, says just that to me. So does Fall.

Linking with:
Common Ground
Savvy Southern Style
French Country Cottage