Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden

Welcome to my blog, Panoply. If you are a new reader here, I am a vintage and antiques dealer, sharing rented booth space with two of my six sisters in the same antique mall for the past nearly twelve years (currently on hiatus as a non-essential business). In everyday life, I downsized our household a year ago, purging and reorganizing years of things accumulated and duplicated, so my social distancing has no real backlog of projects looming. However, tablescaping is a hobby I still enjoy, and I've readied the table for Easter. Come, join me while I dish on the details!
Today's Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden tablescape post is an outlet - a sort of pressure relief valve - to our current state of world affairs. Just so you know, I am not living under a rock, but I created this table prior to my state's (and most of the nation's) shutdown. I have been enjoying this delightfully cheerful table in the dining space of my great room each day, and plan to continue enjoying it (minus the flowers, which are long gone) until Easter. I hope you will too. We will most likely only be sharing a quiet dinner and table for two this year. 
This table was first inspired by the tablecloth I'm using. My peripheral vision was drawn right to the bright florals as I passed it on an aisle perpendicular to the one I was walking in the store. Screech! I backed up, and grabbed it. The dinner plates I had, and used previously in this table setting, here.

I found the super cute bunny salad plates on sale, and I knew the colors were just right for both the dinner plate and tablecloth.
There are four different faces of the bunnies in the set of salad plates.
Just as I love mixing vintage with new items for table settings, I love pattern and color play too. I pulled more things from my stash, including the polka dot napkins and flatware, the checked chargers, the butterfly napkin rings, blue cake pedestal, and the blue water bottle I recently got from participating in a make-your-own workshop. I blogged on that experience, here.
I had a coordinating tablecloth for the napkins, but it was for a round table in my previous home. I wondered if there was a runner that might match the napkins. Sure enough, I found a 'new with tags' matching runner on Ebay. The runner allowed me to place a floral arrangement in the center so it would stand out instead of getting lost, as seen in the photo below. (Note: I also purchased a small bouquet of irises to mix in my arrangement, but most of those withered within a couple days).
The runner serves double duty. While its layer allows the floral arrangement to be highlighted on the table's center, it coordinates with (and also highlights) my napkins and flatware in color and pattern. Also [annoyingly] highlighted are some permanent packaging wrinkles in the tablecloth. That was the only drawback to its great price point. It's made of 100% polyester, and I gave up after repeatedly dampening and pressing with no luck. 🙁 I usually buy only cotton or linen blend cloths for that reason.
Colorful M&M peanut "eggs" were scattered down the runner among a string of little lights.
Each place setting has a miniature watering can place card holder, this time holding a flower packet and candy carrot umbrella for each guest.
The stemware is new, and I know I will be using this for many an occasion to come. It matches my Blenko water bottle to my satisfaction.
Our great room has a definite spring vibe now. The background shows my fireplace nook and ledge, where my chicks with carts (seen recently, here) have found their place in front of the bunny with a basket full of eggs.
 Salt and pepper bird shakers on the table are vintage.
The table, from the bird's eye view. 
I have to share another couple floral items I found after I created this table. This teapot and stockpot were less than $35 for the pair! These sure did spark joy for me, and they came right home to bloom in our kitchen.
Although they'd be pretty enough to serve with on the table, they're serving food, drink and lots of joy on my stovetop, especially during this #StayAtHome season.
And though the flowers are now all withered, a little bunny stole the spotlight on the table's center.
I want to thank Chloe Crabtree from the blog Celebrate and Decorate for hosting this Easter table blog hop. Chloe also has several other social media platforms that you'll find on her blog, and if you love designing and sharing creative tablescaping, I encourage you to join her Facebook group page, Tablescapes and Tablestyling. Also, please enjoy the entire list of stylists below for their inspiring Easter tables, with links that will take you directly to their posts. These were all collectively organized by Chloe as part of this event for our readers' convenience. Enjoy!
For your convenience, below is a list of the elements used on my table, and the sources (no affiliations or sponsorship for me, just information for you).
Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden Source List
Tablecloth - Pioneer Woman Fiona Floral (WalMart)
Napkins, Table Runner - Kate Spade Charlotte Street (HomeGoods and eBay)
Chargers - Parchment Check; Napkin Rings - Butterfly Garden (MacKenzie-Childs)
Dinner Plates - Mikasa Provence Garden by Kim Parker
Bunny Salad Plates - Hobby Lobby
Watering Can Place Card Holders - Ballard Designs
Vase, Pitcher, Basket (holding bunny) - Blenko
Cake pedestal, salt & pepper - vintage finds
Stemware - Wayfair
Flatware - Pfaltzgraff
Crofton Floral Teapot, Stockpot - Aldi finds (aka AOS - aisle of shame)
Flower Bouquets - Sam's Club
Chicks with carts, Bunny with eggs - MacKenzie-Childs
Copper Pitcher (with yellow blooms), Old World style bunny paintings - vintage finds
Thank you so much for your visit today. I love reading all your comments. Stay well, my friends, and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Flowers and Birds as Inspiration in Beaded Purse Collection

Those who know me know I have a fairly extensive collection of vintage and antique mesh and beaded purses, mostly dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am a member of the Antique Purse Collectors Society, some of whose members' collections rival those of world museums. There are members within the society whose knowledge of purses through history have led to reference books highly regarded on the subject among collectors. We even have members who are still preserving the art of hand beading and restoring these gems today.

Capturing the essence of spring in the designs with flowers and birds, I thought I'd share a small portion of my beaded purse collection - just one type of the many purses I've collected - which reflects the skill of these little works of art. Grab a drink and get ready for lots of photos. I hope you enjoy!
Many of my purses have come directly from long-time collectors' collections (noted within this post, from the collection of), including those pictured immediately above (tulips, Czechoslovakian), and below, both from the Evelyn Haertig collection. The handbag below is featured on page 74 of her reference book titled, "Restoring and Collecting Antique Beaded Bags".
Other handbags in my collection have been scoured from online websites over the years. As is true with any collection, trying to buy nearly perfect examples is key. I am showing some of my best examples of florals and birds, but I have plenty of lesser examples from my early years of collecting.

The example pictured below (roses) has a chatelaine clip (worn on the waist), and is framed in sterling with British hallmarks, monogrammed 'Anne Vaughan Heins'. It has a push button opening. Although the bag is in very good condition, it has no beaded fringe (but probably did at one time). Replacing fringe is an acceptable restoration in the eyes of handbag experts if done professionally.
Glass beads used in antique purses were primarily manufactured in Venice, Italy, and in Czechoslovakia. Value of purses is dependent on size of beads used (smaller = generally more valuable). Most examples are either hand knitted. woven, embroidered, netted or crocheted, worked in a horizontal and vertical looping technique. Hand knitted beaded purses were mostly made in Germany, historically speaking. The purse below depicts chrysanthemums, and one notable flaw is a few missed counts in bead colors used on the yellow mum (see approximately halfway through the flower and the horizontal line).
The example below has various florals including iris, forsythia, carnations, roses and morning glories, with a twisted loop fringe. Fringe styles can often denote German makers' origin and can be determined by the trained eye (I am not that trained!). The styles of fringe include ball and tassel, plain or twisted loop, plain stick or stick and loop, basket weave, or some combination of these mentioned.
Pictured below is a primarily white glass beaded bag with roses and violets, and a unique, Italian micro mosaic frame. Desirability among collectors can be increased significantly not only by smaller beads in the bag's body, but also when frames used to attach the bags are unusual or jeweled. Jewels may be semi-precious or precious. Precious metal frames, and marked frames by noted jewelers such as Cartier or Tiffany are prized. Other frames can be made of brass, tortoise shell, bakelite or celluloid.
The bag below was machine made (roses and peacock with a celluloid, gate mouth frame), and has a basket weave fringe. The lining is cotton, but many finer purses are typically lined in silk. The bag is in good condition and has a nice, intricate fringe, but would be of lesser value than a handmade bag of similar design.
The example below is knitted columbines - a lesser common floral theme - with a twisted loop fringe, from the collection of Mary Littiken.
Elaborate tassels are part of the appeal on the reticule (drawstring) with roses bag below. It was made in France.
Many French-made beaded bags were made from cut steel beads. The handbag pictured below is one such example, with a Cupid center medallion and rose bordered design, from the collection of Shara Stewart. The fringe is stick and ball, with a push button opening. Steel beaded bags can be determined by testing with a magnet. If the magnet does not stick, the bag is likely made of aluminum beads - another, more modern bead.
The handbag below has a predominantly brown background glass bead, with roses and other florals, a jeweled frame, kisslock opening. From the collection of Lori Blaser.
The French-made handbag below has a beautifully draped knitted body with floral spray, and a coral and gilt frame, push button opening.
The frame on the bag below is 800 sterling silver, with a cherub harvest design frame and floral baskets for the chain, predominantly roses in the body (beaded tassel fringe on ball are missing).
Another example below shows beaded florals and fruits on enameled and jeweled frame, kisslock opening, and simple stick fringe, from the collection of Mary Nunn.
The bag below, while missing its fringe, is desirable because it is a Tiffany sterling frame. The lilacs are a less common floral design found, also increasing the desirability for collectors.
Some floral beaded purses take on more complex designs, such as the scenic beaded purse with garden, gates, staircase, lake and trees with jeweled frame, push button opening shown below. From the collection of Shara Stewart. The scene is repeated on the reverse, as are all of the bags in this post, unless otherwise noted.
Also from the collection of Shara Stewart (and probably a top favorite in my personal collection) is a rare example of a two-sided, beaded scenic garden and lake. Side one depicts people in boat on the lake, with jeweled fob closure.
Side 2 depicts lake with sailboats, and floral path to the water.
Detail of the jeweled fob.
Other beaded handbags appeal to me for the combination of florals with birds, as in the example of floral and macaw bird reticule below.
The beaded bluebirds and cherry blossoms, while a favorite for its design, is another example of a machine made handbag.
Lastly, another example of beaded bluebirds on branches with florals. The intricacy of the design appeals to me for its realistic capture of the birds and flowers. From the collection of Kathy Gunderson.
My first advice for any would-be purse collector would be to seek out what you love. These handbags all appealed to me for my love of gardening - florals and birds. I have several categories of the types of purses I love and have collected, most of which may be seen on my Pinterest account on separate boards by their category (such as antique beaded purses, mesh purses, children's purses, etc.).

I hope you enjoyed this portion of my purse collection, and that it has provided a bit of spring gardening inspiration for you. If you have any questions concerning this or the Antique Purse Collectors Society, I will be happy to answer or refer you to one who can if I do not have the answer. If you do not want to comment below, feel free to email me: wv.panoply@gmail.com. As always, thank you for your readership!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

2020 Keeper of the Shamrock Cloth: St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans

Hello, readers! Today I'm bringing the luck of the Irish to the table, along with a little history to share in the details.
First, there's a background story of my vintage shamrock table topper used today. The cloth has been traveling among bloggers since 2010, when Marigene of In the Middle of Nowhere used it. She then sent it on to Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen, who hosted a St. Patrick's Day blog crawl for a number of years. Marigene's stipulation was for the cloth to then be sent to another blogger each year to make an annual appearance. In 2013, Rett of the Gazebo House was the first recipient after Kathleen. In 2014, Mary of Home is Where the Boat Is added the little leprechaun to the fun, and he's been traveling with the shamrock cloth ever since!
Below is the sequence of keepers of the cloth since Mary's post in 2014. Each of the bloggers' posts (as well as those previously mentioned above) are linked to their original posts sharing the cloth.
Pam contacted me a couple months ago asking for my address, and I became the 2020 Keeper of the Cloth! Can you believe this is now its tenth year?! I was totally up for the tablescaping challenge. Shenanigans is in my Irish ancestry!
I played around with dishes on hand, and decided on my Majolica dinner plates resting on Mackenzie-Childs Courtly Check chargers. The base cloth is a textured white cotton, and the shamrock topper is set on the diagonal. The white napkins are folded in the bishop's cap (as shown in this video, here), and rest upon Courtly Check napkin rings.
The bowls layered on the plate were purchased directly from Ireland. I love the Celtic knots on the outside (see leading photo in this post), as well as the single knot inside, surrounded by vines of tiny shamrocks. The Celtic knot is also part of the vintage cloth's motif, at each corner. Green stemware, flatware and little green mints complete each place setting.
A little more history on St. Patrick, Bishop and Patron Saint of Ireland: his historical imagery is that of a bishop (hence, the napkin fold); however, his history began in England, in the 5th Century. As a teen, Patrick (his name taken as a priest) was kidnapped from his family by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave, to herd and tend sheep (hence, the flock grazing on the table).  
Patrick escaped four years later, returned to Britain, became an ordained priest and, later, bishop. His mission led him back to Ireland, where he worked tirelessly for over 40 years, converting pagans to Christianity. He often used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. He died on March 17, 461.

What started as the "wearing of the green" - a cluster of shamrocks on the right breast to show Irish heritage and connectedness to St. Patrick - has, well, gotten a little out of hand as the years have gone by. Oh my....a little day drinking with the leprechaun could soon have the situation spiraling a bit out of control. Let the shenanigans begin!
As night falls, the more serious leprechaun (who's tending the sheep) tries to maintain control, while the shenanigator leprechaun jumps on the pedestal and goes full tilt on the sheep!
Oh boy! Looks like the shenanigator wants to take the serious guy for a ride....
Oh no! Now the shenanigator thinks he's a self-ordained bishop, donning the napkin hat!
Well, let's hope this night ends well, and that all the shenanigans don't end up with the shamrock table topper turned into a toga! How in the world would I explain that to next year's keeper of the cloth?! Speaking of next year, who will be the next keeper of the cloth?

All shenanigans aside, I'll close with the following Irish prayer. This little gem was something I picked up at an estate sale, originally purchased by the owner in his travels to Ireland. It is framed with wild, dried Irish flowers, and sits on my bedroom dresser.
Thank you for your visit today! I hope if you're a shenanigator this St. Patrick's Day, you survive all the fun and take the luck of the Irish with you each day.

St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans Source List
Table Topper, Shenanigator Leprechaun - vintage, traveling through the blogging years
Tablecloth - DKNY - HomeGoods
Majolica Plates, crystal tumblers, silver julep cups, white napkins, serious leprechaun, sheep - vintage finds (one sheep was gifted, new)
Celtic Bowls - Carrolls Irish Gifts
Chargers, napkin rings, small pedestal - MacKenzie-Childs
Green flatware - Horchow
Green Stemware - Dollar Tree
Rita C. at Panoply