Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Vintage Finds: Johnson Brothers Plates and a Chinoiserie Figurine

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As the temperatures dip below freezing here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, we've consigned ourselves to the inescapable reality of wool sweaters and hot cups of tea. Yes indeed, the weather has definitely taken its inevitable turn towards winter.

Just yesterday James and I were pondering what our chances are of seeing snow again this season and reminiscing on our unfortunate series of events last December.

An unusually large accumulation of heavy wet snow weighed down and broke the power lines in various parts of town, including in our neighborhood. There were many of us without electricity for three days. The temperatures hovered in the teens and twenties. We shivered our way through the long hours with candlelight, down comforters and wool blankets, and used our camping stove to cook our food and heat water.

In other words, it wasn't anything like the calm, untroubled scenes pictured in the pair of Johnson Brothers 'The Friendly Village' transfer ware plates I'm featuring today.

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'The Schoolhouse' 10" Dinner Plate

In 1883 brothers Alfred and Frederik Johnson founded the Johnson Brothers pottery at the Charles Street Works, located in the Stoke-on-Trent district, United Kingdom. The brothers manufactured earthenware, which they called White Granite. Over time Alfred and Frederik were joined by two more brothers, Henry and Robert.

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By 1888 the Johnson Brothers potteries were producing their now famous colorful and charming under-glaze printed ware, or transfer ware.

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'Sugar Maples' 6" Plate
To create transfer ware a master artisan engraves a pattern into a flat copper plate. Ink is then applied to the copper plate and the carved design is impressed onto a thin sheet of tissue paper. The design on the tissue paper is then applied, or transferred, onto the surface of a ceramic object such as a plate, bowl or teacup. The object is then ready for a low temperature firing in a kiln.

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I have been enamored with transfer ware for a couple of years now and am slowly building a collection. Of course I have been anxious to share this particular find, but I thought it would be fun to wait until winter when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are bundling up and looking out our own windows at the winter landscapes of the towns, cities or countrysides in which we live.

Similar to my fascination with transfer ware is my interest in all things chinoiserie. I love chinoiserie style because it can be timeless, classy and ultra chic, while at the same time playful and kitschy. Figurines such as the boy shown here have become a quintessentially familiar part of the style. Knowing that statues such as this one came in pairs, my only regret on this particular thrift shopping adventure is that I was only able to find the one piece. After I placed it in my basket I wasted a lot of time searching throughout the store for the other one.

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At 8" tall, he is a dynamic looking fellow in a flowing white tunic and pants, a cute matching cap on his head. The tunic, accessorized with high collar, epaulettes and toggle button enclosures are a classic 1950s green, embellished with gold. He's gracefully poised within a moment in time, as if stopped for a quick pose before rushing off to an important social engagement or celebration, ginger jar in hand.

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This happy chinoiserie style figurine will definitely be making various appearances around my house.

I am definitely now on the lookout for more vintage chinoiserie home decor pieces, especially since I discovered that vintage English transfer ware and vintage asian or chinoiserie style decorative items are quite pleasing when styled together.

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful December and a happy holiday season.


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Monday, November 20, 2017

Vintage Tea Treasures, An Etsy Shop Holiday Sale

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Hello friends and welcome!

I'm pleased to announce my Etsy shop Vintage Tea Treasures is having a holiday sale, starting today November 20th. You can save 10% in the shop until December 1st.

There you'll find classic, timeless and fun teatime china ware from famous name brands such as Royal Albert, Aynsley, Shelley, Wedgwood and Franciscan.     

You'll also find the 'Christmas Eve' Viktor Schreckengost snacks sets and the Nikko Classic Collection teapot featuring a Christmas tree, pictured above.

Buying vintage is good for the planet and in today's home decor atmosphere, mixing vintage and modern pieces is a strong trend that is going to be around for awhile. Not only that, but vintage items are unique one-of-a-kind pieces, offering individuality and an opportunity for you to create a distinctive look, exclusive to who you are.

So no matter if you are shopping for yourself or a friend, or if you just like to gush over vintage tea ware, I hope you will consider visiting Vintage Tea Treasures.

Thank you! 
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Autumn Garden and Embracing Imperfection

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Hi Friends! It's been too long since I've shared anything here on the blog. The end of this past summer suddenly brought with it so many duties and responsibilities that it all felt like too much weight. Nothing was fun! I really needed to take a step back, evaluate and allow myself to embrace imperfection - the idea that as much as I would like to, I can't do it all.

I actually went for several weeks without picking up my camera or spending time on my favorite social media platform Instagram. I decided to let all that be and see where it leads.

At first it led to many early evening naps on the couch. You know that feeling you get when your body tells you to shut down and get the sleep that you know you've been neglecting for probably weeks, or even months? That was me.

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It's been several weeks now since I allowed myself free time to just let things flow. And I must say it has been a great relief to stare out the window, watch Mother Nature unfold, and marvel at all the color in my garden that I'm sharing with you here. 

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As far as this blog is concerned, it is clear from the stats what I should be writing about: Art History and vintage collectables. I've known that for awhile. I think I just needed to concentrate on photography. Meaning I have been rather obsessed with photographing flowers and my vintage finds for my Instagram feed and hosting the #collectandstyle hashtag. And while I have loved doing that and meeting so many incredibly talented women there, the truth is that I was burning myself out attempting to reach my own version of perfection.

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I have learned so much about still life photography from both trial and error and from all my talented Instagram friends. There is nothing more pleasurable in life than creating something out of the love that you feel in your heart and sharing that expression with the world.

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Giving myself permission to take a step back and disengage has allowed me to feel okay with the fact that in this crazy on-line world, I can't do 'all the things'. Especially since I don't always know what I should be doing next! So, instead of beating myself up for not doing all those things that I think I should be doing, I'm opting for just two priorities for right now - this blog and my Etsy shop Vintage Tea Treasures.

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I consider Vintage Tea Treasures my greatest gift from the world wide web. It all started last year when I worked with Numi Organic Tea. They sponsored my Instagram hashtag and my tea ware shop was born out of that effort. (Thank you James for suggesting it!)

From the very moment I started this blog I knew that I wanted a shop of some kind. And then I discovered that I got a lot of pleasure from sharing my knowledge and growing expertise in vintage tea ware. In fact, I would better describe it as a passion that has grown into a calling. A calling that I have been wanting to spend more time on but have felt too stretched thin to be able to accomplish it.

It was for that very reason then, that I realized I just needed to get to work on my shop and make it a priority.

And so for the last several weeks I have been spending my spare time putting effort into growing the inventory in Vintage Tea Treasures. I've been on the hunt for teacups, teapots and dessert plates, getting them photographed and listing them. If there is any lesson I can say I've learned over the last couple of months, it would be that it feels so much easier to concentrate on one large task at a time, and be in it wholeheartedly.

Since taking a break from social media, a few of my fellow Instagrammers have sent me direct messages inquiring about my well being. Thank you! I do plan to be back, but in a more limited capacity. 

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So as the clock ticks away on the close of this unusually sunny, warm and long-lasting colorful autumn season here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, with its shorter days, long nights and what seems like endless leaves to rake, my family and I begin to turn inward. To more time spent indoors out of the rain, and leaning into the preparations for our Thanksgiving and holiday season.

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Pumpkin pie, anyone?

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Vintage Tea Treasures: A Happy Customer

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Hey friends! When it comes to selling tea ware in my Etsy shop, Vintage Tea Treasures, the one thing that gets me excited is a happy customer.

Karen Noble recently purchased the two violet decorated Crown Trent teacup and saucers sets, shown above, from Vintage Tea Treasures. After her package arrived, she then sent me this image and explained that she will be using the teacups with her pansy tea ware, consisting of the Windsor teapot and Allyn Nelson milk jug and sugar bowl, also shown. Karen now owns an interesting, eclectic, and high quality bone china 'tea for two' set, which not only is highly functional, but also makes a great display.

Thank you for your purchase Karen! And if anyone reading this is also interested in becoming one of my happy customers, you can save 10% by clicking the following link: PLUMBLOSSOM10.
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Monday, August 7, 2017

#collectandstyle - July Monthly Favorite

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Hello #collectandstyle community, I'm thrilled you are here! How is your summer thus far? Busy, no doubt. Thank you for stopping by to check out the July Monthly Favorite, chosen from the #collectandstyle hashtag on Instagram. 

Instagrammer @modernandvintage Wendy Cook arranges interesting assortments of vintage and new sewing notions, and other collected ephemera, into beautifully styled compositions which surely catches one's eye. Not only does Wendy enjoy this type of fun photography, but she also has a talent for designing and sewing quirky textile accessories and gifts, handmade to order in Bexhill, United Kingdom. The quality and variety of merchandise in her Etsy shop modernandvintage will have you wanting to order one of everything!

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Some of the lovely products that you'll find in Wendy's shop include cases for your phone, eyeglasses and pencils. She also offers Kindle cases, iPad sleeves, and coin purses and pouches, with optional personalization available on any item.

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Besides visiting Wendy's Etsy shop, don't forget to also follow her on Instagram for inspirational flat lays featuring collected and styled sewing notions.

Thank you for visiting, and see you next time!


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Styling with Vintage Teacups - Susan Gary

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From the very beginning of my small vintage tea ware business on Etsy, Vintage Tea Treasures, my goal has been to share a passion for collecting beautiful and one of a kind teacups, teapots, and cake plates, and provide an opportunity to others who also appreciate this lost art, to own a piece of history.

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Vintage china ware pieces can continue to help us tell the stories of our lives when they are reclaimed from a charity shop or estate sale. Plucked from dusty and neglected shelves, these distinct pieces can then carry on with their journeys, making their way through the hands of various family members or friends who share an appreciation for unique timeless pieces. 

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It is under these very circumstances that I met photographer and teacup lover Susan Gary of Glorious Nature. Susan creates and sells her beautiful fine art photographic images on her website of the same name. Her subject matter includes flowers, butterflies and birds, landscapes and seascapes, pets, as well as 'painterly' images, or digital painting, of some of these same subjects. And of course, teacups.

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Susan and I met on Instagram about a year ago and, having discovered we both enjoy styling and photographing flowers and teacups, we became 'insta-friends', supporting each other's efforts. And when Susan found that I was offering vintage teacups in my Etsy shop, she kindly paid a visit and made a purchase.

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Upon discovering that it was Susan who bought the vintage pastel Colclough teacup and saucer pictured here, I knew immediately that the set was perfect for her. If you've ever visited Susan's website or Instagram feed, or seen these lovely images of hers that are posted here, I'm sure you will agree that the Colclough set fits her visual aesthetic perfectly! 

In her own words, Susan states "I love nothing better than sitting down with freshly cut flowers from my ever-expanding garden or new store bought flowers and some cool (mostly vintage) props and creating an artful image."

If you are a collector of vintage tea ware, or if like Susan, you love to collect, style and photograph vintage teacups, perhaps there is a Vintage Tea Treasure in my shop that is just right for you.


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Friday, July 21, 2017

From Garden to Table: Blueberry Pie II

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Hi everybody! A couple of summers ago, I shared a recipe for a blueberry pie made using the blueberries grown in my garden. I'm back in the kitchen again this summer with an enthusiastic grin, baking yet another pie using the delicious homegrown berries from the same blueberry bushes.

I've been experimenting with pie crust recipes since that time, and at last I've found the pie crust of my dreams! It's from Martha Stewart and is the best recipe to use if you love a crisp, light crust - not too sweet or too salty.


Pate Brisse
Martha Stewart
Yield: 1 double crust pie

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Add butter, and using a pastry blender, process until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add half the ice water and mix with a large wooden spoon or your hands until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. To test, squeeze a small amount together: if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. This dough may also be stored, frozen up to 1 month.

The filling I made is a standard recipe from my old, dogeared Fannie Farmer cookbook (pictured above):


Blueberry Pie Filling

1 quart blueberries, rinsed and stems removed
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Roll out one of your chilled disc-shaped pie doughs and transfer into the pie pan. Add the flour, sugar and salt to the blueberries in a large bow and mix well. Pour into your prepared pie pan.

Roll out the other chilled pie dough and place it over the pie, crimping the edges. Pierce the top crust. 

Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. 

Once my pie was assembled I used cookie cutters to cut shapes from the leftover pie dough and baked them separately from the pie. Just before serving I added the cut shapes to the top of the pie for a fun decorative touch. 

Thanks for looking!


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