Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crackle Glass Fruit

Today I'm going to share a beautiful collection with you that doesn't even belong to me!  It actually belongs to my son.  Our family likes to wander through antique shops, flea markets, basically anywhere you can find old and interesting items.  A number of years ago, my son "discovered" crackle glass and began picking up pieces here and there.  So, for Christmas, his Dad and I purchased a couple of books about Crackle Glass* for him.  It's always  nice to learn the history of antiques that "strike your fancy."  Lo and behold, the book had a section on crackle glass fruit.  Up until then, we had not seen any crackle glass fruit and were excited to begin the search.  I say "we" because  it's always nice to find a special birthday or Christmas gift for him.  I was able to find some crackle glass fruit on-line from private sellers and also on ebay.  My son was actually able to find crackle glass fruit in antique shops.  It has been a fun search, and the fruit is absolutely beautiful.

A little history-  It is thought that crackle glass was first created in the 16th century by Venetian glass makers.  To create crackle glass, the glass blower plunges red hot glass into cold water, and then reheats and reblows the glass item.  This process creates multiple fractures, but the surface remains smooth.  It is reported that this crackling process was initially used to cover imperfections in the glass pieces.  Crackle glass continued to be created in Europe, then in the United States.  There were many glass companies in the United States, most of them in the West Virginia area.  They chose West Virginia because of its abundance of natural gas.  It is reported that most of the crackle glass was produced from the late 1930s to the early 1970s.  The most well-known glass companies in West Virgina that produced crackle glass were Bischoff, Blenko, Kanawha, Pilgrim, and Rainbow.  Because glass blowers tended to move from company to company, it is not always easy to determine which company made a crackle glass piece because they often produced the same pieces.  Please keep in mind that crackle glass products were only a small portion of the items made by these companies.  It is reported that the only company that still produces crackle glass, today, is Blenko.

My son's crackle glass fruit collection.

This amazing crackle glass pumpkin is approximately 6 1/2 inches tall and 6 inches wide.  Most crackle glass fruit is much smaller, as you can see in the first picture.  This amber pumpkin was made by the Blenko Glass Company, as it still has the sticker on it.  Pieces are more valuable if they still have their stickers, because most people immediately removed the stickers, and washed the fruit after purchase.
As you can see, this Emerald green crackle glass apple was made by Blenko, and has a fairly new sticker including a current phone number and website address.  I contacted the company and they told me that crackle glass fruit is not a part of their regular production, but that fruit has continued to be made.  Because of this sticker, this apple was probably made sometime from the late 1990s to the present.

From clockwise:  A cobalt blue crackle apple made by Blenko, a crystal crackle pear with green leaf- manufacturer unknown, an Emerald green lime with peanut shell crackle- manufacturer unknown, and a rose crystal apple-manufacturer unknown.  Obviously not all crackle fruit is "signed."  Companies sometimes pressed a design on the Pontil mark, or etched names on the bottom of the glass piece.

This is a cobalt blue apple made by the Blenko company.  The value of Crackle Glass is determined by the design, color, rarity, and quality.  Some of the colors were and are more expensive to make, therefore, remain more valuable today.  These colors include cranberry, ruby red, amberina, and cobalt blue.  Even though amethyst was not more costly to make, it is more collectible as people tend to prefer this color.  Also, smoke ( gray) was only made for about 10 years, so there are a limited numbers of pieces.  Crackle Glass fruit is highly collectible as it was usually not a part of a company's catalog and fewer pieces were made.

Emerald green peanut shell molded lime-  manufacturer unknown.

Clockwise:  Emerald green apple with clear stem- manufacturer unknown,  Ruby red apple- possibly manufactured by the Kanawha company, amberina tomato- manufacturer unknown, cranberry with yellow highlight apple- manufacturer unknown.

Sometimes it is more difficult to see the "crackle" in darker pieces, this apple is finely crackled and is beautiful in the sunlight.

Clockwise:  Emerald green apple- Blenko Company, amethyst apple- Blenko Company, cranberry apple- manufacturer unknown.  This emerald green apple is more valuable because it has the Blenko name and "hand" logo sandblasted on the bottom. This was done in 1959 and 1960.

Green crackle pear- manufacturer unknown.

Rose crystal pear- manufacturer unknown.

This view shows the different sizes of the crackle glass fruit.

This amethyst crackle glass apple sparkles in the sunlight.  As you can see, it has the Blenko sticker with the "hand" logo.  The Blenko Glass Company is still in operation and has a factory outlet store.  So, if you are ever in Milton, West Virginia, please check it out.

I just love this amberina tomato.  I personally think it looks more like a little pumpkin.  I don't know which piece of fruit is my son's  favorite...I would guess that he likes them all!

Crackle glass fruit sparkling in the sunshine.   As I said previously, my son has always admired hand blown glass.  In fact, he is now taking classes and learning this amazing skill.  I hope he gets a chance to try to crackle glass someday!

* Crackle Glass reference books:  Crackle Glass, and Crackle Glass Book II,  by Stan and Arlene Weitman.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gourds, Gourds, and more Gourds!

Yes, I like gourds.  They remind me of fall and the changing colors of trees, farmer's markets, canning, pumpkins, cornstalks, and gourds.  I am a gourd artist and I like to embellish hard shell gourds.  They are an interesting medium to work with because you can do so many different things with them.  So, I have a collection of gourds just waiting to be carved, painted, dyed, burned, drilled....

There are many types of gourds.  The above picture shows 17 different kinds of gourds.

My husband and I go to a gourd farm in April to harvest gourds that have been left in the fields all winter.  Most of the gourds are dry, but some of the larger gourds are still in the drying process.  Over the winter, a mold grows on the gourds, along with the addition of a lot of dirt. The mold often gives the gourd shell interesting patterns.  These "cannon ball" gourds still have the mold coating and have not been cleaned.

My wonderful husband cleans all of the gourds for me....I know, I'm really lucky!

This is a kettle gourd with the top removed.  The rim has a philodendron sheath laced with waxed linen.
This is another kettle gourd with acrylic lines and a date palm rim.

This is a large canteen gourd with leather dyed leaf designs.

This is a kettle gourd with long pine needles laced at the rim.

This is an Indonesian Bottle gourd with acrylic designs.

This is a short handled dipper gourd with a pine needle rim.

All of these gourds are decorated with acrylic flowers.  The top gourd is a kettle gourd, the bottom left is a small martin house gourd, and the bottom right is a cannon ball gourd.

This is a kettle gourd with a wheat rim.
This is a basket ball gourd with acrylic lines, variegated leather dyes, and pine needle rim.

I decorated these gourds after having seen "The Lion King" on stage.  Both gourds are medium sized Martin house gourds.   The top gourd is painted with acrylic paint and woven fiber, the bottom gourd is also painted with acrylic paint and the rim is braided cording.

These kettle gourds are "painted" with silk dyes.  The top gourd has a felted wool rim and the bottom gourd has a silk embroidered rim.
This gourd is a large kettle gourd with pine needle rim and an agate medallion.

This Martin house gourd has leather dye graphics and a pine needle rim.

This cannon ball gourd has an acrylic designed lid with a beaded handle.  The top is attached with a hinge.

This is a kettle gourd with a pine needle rim and an agate medallion.

This is a Martin house gourd with a date palm rim.

This is a large kettle gourd with Femo snakes.

This is an apple gourd with dyed leaves cut from gourds.

This is a medium sized dipper gourd with a pine needle rim.
This is a Martin house gourd with a leather laced rim and copper medallion.

This is a tobacco box gourd with leather dye designs.

This is an Indonesian bottle gourd with philodendron sheath rim and embellishment, along with copper wire and beads.

These gourds are decorated with leather dyes and acrylic lines.  The top and bottom left gourds have corded rims.

This is long handled dipper gourd that is used as a wall design.  Embellishments include wheat, dried seed pods, philodendron sheaths, and pussy willows.
This kettle gourd has a pine needle rim.
This kettle gourd is dyed with a leather dye.  It has a pine needle rim and a Petoskey stone medallion.
This is  very large African kettle gourd with a pine needle rim.  The leaves are cut from gourds and colored with leather dyes.

Gourds have been used for centuries as functional implements; to carry things, store food and liquids, and used as cooking pots or as utensils.  I love to look for gourds at history museums and get ideas for embellishments from long ago. The next time you are in a "Field and History" museum, keep your eye open for gourds.

I hope you like my gourd collection...... have a great day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Butter Pats

"Butter Pats", also referred to as butter chips, are very small (usually about 3" diameter) plates used for individual servings of butter.  These butter pats were commonly used in Victorian formal dining, along with bone dishes, knife rests, or napkin holders.  Although they were used the most from 1880-1910, there is evidence that they existed before this time period and well after.  Because of their small size, they became a common item to collect.  Butter pats were often used in restaurants, hotels, ships, railway dining cars, etc.  Those with advertising seem to be more valuable.  Butter pats are made from various clays including low fired earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, silver, and glass.  Some have transfers which were fired on in the kiln, some are hand painted, and others are plain.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law.
 I did not collect my butter pats; they were given to me by my Mother- in-Law. What a wonderful gift!  According to my husband, my MIL began collecting butter pats along with her mother and her sister.  She did really well and amassed a beautiful collection, enough to fill four display cabinets (64 butter pats per cabinet) that she had displayed in her home.  (My husband thinks that one of the cabinets may have been inherited from her mother).  She loved to show me the butter pats and tell me where she got them from.  What I also liked about her displays were the little miniatures that she also displayed with the butter pats.  These were whimsical little figures that she liked to collect.

When my MIL and FIL moved into an extended care facility and "broke up" their house, luckily my MIL had four display cases of butter pats and gave one to each of her four daughters-in-law.  I was so happy!  In the packing up process, the butter pats and miniatures were mixed up and not sorted as she had done.  So, when I received my case, there were some missing butter pats and none of the miniatures were included.   However, I was able to replace the missing butter pats, thanks to ebay.  And, instead of being sad about the missing miniatures, our family decided to look for our own miniatures, which has been so much fun!

My butter pat display case and 64 butter pats.  The case is made out of cherry.

To get a better idea of the size of a butter is a butter pat with a pat of butter.

For an even better perspective...

Most of the butter pats have manufacturer's stamps on the back, but some do not.  Butter pat manufacturers from left to right;  Haviland Limoges,  England (unable to read the company), Japan, I think.  My son brought us the three little pigs from Stockholm, Sweden.

The lower picture shows the reverse of the butter pat on the left- Meakin, the butter pat on the right is Arabia- made in Finland.

The lower picture shows the back of the butter pat on the left.  The butter pat on the right is from Haviland.  The miniature Dala horses and boy were gifts from my son when he traveled to Stockholm, Sweden.

The butter pat on the left is Grindley, England, and on the right is Spode, England.  The "wooden" shoe is from Holland, Michigan.  The Dala pig is from the Swedish Museum in
St. Paul, Minnesota.

The lower picture is the back of the plate on the right- Delfe- Holland, and the butter pat on the left is not labeled.  The enameled bird is from Port Huron, Michigan.

The butter pat on the left is Grindley, England, and on the right is Porsgrund, Norway.  The Dala Rooster is from the Swedish Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The butter pats from left to right:  Furnivals Quail- England, no label, Limoges- France.  The miniatures are match strikes.  Apparently they came with the purchase of matches, back in the day.  The bottoms are rough to light a match.  Our match strikes (there is another name for them, but I can't remember it) are all fairy tale figures.  These are Jack and Jill who fell down the hill.

The butter pat on the left is Wedgewood- England, and the one on the right is Mason's Brocade, England.  The match strike is the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.

The butter pat on the left is Mellor Taylor, England, and on the right is Grindley, England.  The beautiful glass bird belonged to my MIL, I thought it looked perfect alongside her butter pats.

The butter pat on the left was made by Palissy Pottery, Staffordshire, England.  The one on the right is unlabeled.  The little pewter figure on the left looked just like my daughter when she was little and it belongs to her.  The two other miniatures are Wee Forest Folk representing my son and daughter.

The butter pats from left to right:  Wedgewood- England,  John Maddock and Sons- England,  Denmark.  The match strikes from left to right:  Little Bo Peep, Wee Willie Winkie.

Both of these butter pats are unlabeled.  The loon is from Louisville, Kentucky.

The butter pat below is the back of the center butter pat.  The other two are unlabeled.

These miniatures was a souvenir from our trip to France, they are from Avignon.

The butter pat on the left is from Denmark, and on the right is Willow- Wood and Sons, England.

The butter pat in the center is from Powell- Bishop, England, and the one on the right is from Canton, China.  The thimble belonged to my MIL.

The butter pat on the left is Minton, England, and the one on the right is J & C Louise, Bavaria.  
The little train was a fun find in an antique shop in Baltimore, Maryland.  The plate on the left is Haviland, Limoge, France and the butter pat on the right is Mason's Vista, England.

We were thrilled to find these four angels in a Christmas decoration box that belonged to my MIL and FIL.

Another peek at a butter pat being put to good use.

I have no idea of the value of these butter pats.  The price is extremely variable according to condition, and availability.  There are quite a few butter pat collectors, so much so that there is a "Butter Pat Patter Association!"  I am sure that my mother-in-law would have loved to have been a member!
What a special gift that will always remind me of my wonderful mother-in-law.
Thanks  Mom!