Saturday, June 25, 2016

#collectandstyle - June Monthly Favorite

@gingerfancy on Instagram, collect and style, collect style, vintage collection, World War II memorabilia

Hello #collectandstyle community, I'm so happy you're here, at the Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog! Today, I'm excited to be featuring my favorite image from this month's Instagram #collectandstyle hashtag. Meet gingerfancy, who is, in her own words, "a Minnesotan discovering wonder and magic in the everyday". 

Barbara Marincel's Instagram gallery is full of beautiful flowers and vintage findings, but what really tugs at my heart most in Barbara's images is the way she lovingly styles her collection of precious family photographs and mementos, such as the above tribute to her father. She has also featured letters from long ago written by family members, a diary kept by her grandmother, and her uncle's war rations book, all of which she lovingly shares, along with other tidbits of her family history.    

Barbara's father, Leonard Henry Resch, served in the United States Army and fought in several battles, including what is considered to be one of the most famous battles in history, the allied forces' landing in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944.

In the caption to the above photo in her Instagram gallery, Barbara stated: "My dad was in the third assault wave to hit Omaha Beach... that morning. His unit took 50% casualties. He always told me that courage is being scared but doing the right thing anyway. He would know."

In addition to her own beautiful gallery, Barbara is also a member of several Instagram hubs and is a moderator for illustrious_art. In addition to her work on Instagram, Barbara also blogs at, where you'll find "Everyday Wonders and Gingerfancy Photography." There, Barbara writes about living life to the fullest despite chronic illness, and is in the planning stages of starting up her own fine art photography business. 

Thank you Barbara for sharing your beautiful photos to the #collectandstyle gallery!

If you are a collector and would like to participate in my Instagram hashtag project, you might like to read #collectandstyle - A New Instagram Hashtag. See you there!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Styling The Seasons - June

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, Numi Organic Tea, made in Japan, ceramic birds made in Japan, wild sweet peas, Homer Laughlin, Homer Laughlin Virginia Rose, Homer Laughlin Virginia Rose Moss Rose, Homer Laughlin Fiestaware, Homer Laughlin Persimmon Fiestaware

The urge to preserve our memories is a basic human phenomena, which has endured over time, and the methods we use to record the events of our lives are steeped in traditions such as writing and photography. These days, we might even prefer writing on paper or perhaps taking photos with our film cameras, to the more modern electronic devices available to record our thoughts, hopes, dreams or remembrances. 

But even in this modern age we may still want to find more traditional ways to express the significance of some of life's more memorable moments. And in our homes and other personal spaces, we might gather together objects and memorabilia, and display them in a way that, hopefully, communicates the special meaning of those special times.

Thus, my Styling The Seasons post for the month of June represents two significant and memorable events that happened within the last month - my first foray into sponsored posts on Instagram, with Numi Organic Tea, who sponsored my #collectandstyle hashtag on Instagram for the month of May, and the purchase of a circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch.

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

Several of the tea related objects on the shelves of this newly acquired hutch are the result of my collection habit going into full gear, for the sake of tea. If you've been on Instagram lately you may be aware of a recent styling trend using flowers and tea or coffee as design elements. I was drawn towards this, both because I loved the idea of a good scrummage through a charity shop searching out vintage tea cups and saucers, and I also enjoy the challenge of having new subjects to style and photograph. As well, the tea and coffee trend fits nicely with my #collectandstyle hashtag.

I thrifted all of the teacups and saucers, as well as the neutral colored hand painted Japanese teapot on the middle shelf (right side) and the creamer next to it. The white Chinese teapot, also hand painted, (top shelf right), has been in James' family for a very long time, since the early 1950s. The dinner plate on the top shelf, also thrifted, was made by the Homer Laughlin China Company in 1940. 

The bamboo box on the bottom shelf is very special to me because it was a gift from Numi Organic Tea. The grand prize during their May sponsorship was their "Flowering Tea Set in Bamboo" gift box. They sent me one of the gift sets for styling and sampling, and I plan on reusing the beautiful hand crafted bamboo box for memorabilia. 

All four of the ceramic birds are some of my most precious keepsakes - they are all from my childhood. I really have no idea how it is that I still have them! While growing up in the city of Chicago, there were many Saturdays when I would walk to the neighborhood shopping district with my weekly allowance. One of my favorite stores there was Woolworth's, and that is where I bought all of these colorful, made in Japan birds, one at a time.

No Styling The Seasons post would be complete without flowers, and I am happy to share a bouquet I made with wild perennial sweet peas. For years I've been seeing the many lovely wild pea vines growing next to the bike path along the Willamette River, and recently thought it would be fun to grab my clippers, gather some up, and bring them home.

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, wild sweet peas, vintage Japanese wooden lamp
circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, wild sweet peas, wild sweet peas in vintage Asian designed container

Such a bright color! But what do you think, is this magenta or fuchsia? What I really love about this color is the subtle underlying blue or blue/violet tone, and as they fade, these wild pea flowers gradually become that darker bluish shade.

I began this wild floral arrangement by placing a frog on the bottom of a vintage ceramic container. Luckily, I happened to have the right size and shape frog in my collection of flower arranging tools:

Flower arranging using a frog, how to use a frog to arrange flowers, wild sweet pea flower arrangement using a frog

I gathered the flowers in pairs back to back, and placed the pairs first in each corner of the vessel, then began filling in the front, sides and back in the same manner, poking the stems securely down onto the prongs of the frog. I repeated with double stems along the front, then directly behind this row of flower pairs, I placed single stems, all facing front using longer stems, in order to build some height in the middle of the arrangement.

wild sweet peas, wild sweet peas in Asian style container, wild sweet pea flower arrangement, Asian style flower arrangement, Asian style flower arranging

This vintage container, with its Asian influenced design on the front and repeated on the back, has a base style that echoes the 'feet' on the James Mont Chinoiserie hutch. Have a look:

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, vintage hutch, vintage Asian style hutch, Asian appliques on vintage hutch

It's interesting how the design of the cabinet base, with its cut-away groove between the cabinet and the pedestal, creates the illusion of the base floating on its pedestal legs. 

As long as we are focusing on the bottom portion of this hutch, check out the lovely three dimensional appliques on the doors!

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, close up view of appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch
circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, close up view of appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

This pair of elements is what places this piece of furniture squarely into the 'Chinoiserie' genre; with its evocation of a Chinese garden scene, it is very reminiscent of the famed 'Blue Willow' dishware pattern. As well, the uncomplicated design of the piece as a whole also lends itself to an Asian influenced style.

Owning a hutch has been on my wish list for years - I always wanted a special place to gather and show my favorite vintage pieces. And it may surprise you to know that I didn't want just any hutch, but this exact one! Some years ago, I had seen a limed oak James Mont hutch in a furniture magazine from the early 1950s, and always dreamed of owning one exactly like it.

And now that this wonderful vintage hutch is here in the dining area of my kitchen, I'm looking forward to the promise of future styling opportunities, displaying all of the fun collectables and family mementos that it will hold on its shelves, and in my heart, for years to come. 

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, vintage oak hutch,

If you would like to read the story about my purchase of this hutch, you can find it here: Vintage Finds: c. 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch. Also, if you would like to know more about my Instagram hashtag #collectandstyle and find out how you can participate, you may like to read #collectandstyle - A New Instagram Hashtag

And finally, Styling The Seasons is the brainchild of Katy Orme at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lots and Lotts. You can participate by styling a surface in your home that reflects what the month means to you and sharing it on your blog and/or on social media using the hashtage #stylingtheseasons.

hydrangea, blue hydrangea

Thank you for reading!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vintage Finds: c.1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

mid century modern, mid century, James Mont, James Pess, Demetrios Pecintoglu, James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, oriental hutch, asian styled hutch, blonde 1950s hutch, mid century blonde hutch, vintage hutch, vintage oriental hutch, mid century oriental hutch, limed oak mid century hutch, Asian style furniture, Chinoiserie, Oriental, Oriental Spice,

Hello vintage lovers and collectors! Have you ever dreamt of owning a certain piece of furniture, in a distinct style from a particular era, and wondered if you would ever find it? That's been me, for the past twenty years. When I first started getting serious about collecting vintage, I saw an ad in a 1950s magazine that featured a blonde finish dining room suite, and all of the matching pieces had beautiful Asian decorative elements. I was immediately drawn in and knew that this was my dream furniture.

Last week as I was poking around in one of the charity shops downtown, I saw a gem of a hutch tucked sideways in amongst several pieces of run of the mill, nondescript furniture. I walked over to it to get a closer look, and for a moment I stood there awestruck, not believing what I was seeing! I ran my hands over the wood, felt the finish, looked closely at the construction, all in an effort to determine the quality and condition of this unique piece of furniture. My conclusion was that it was well constructed and just needed a bit of elbow grease. What sweetened the deal for me was that it was on a half price sale! 

I was tempted to buy the hutch on the spot. Instead, I brought the story of my discovery home to James and the next day we went to take a good hard look at it and make the decision together. We weighed the pros and cons of this purchase:

  • It has 'good bones'
  • There is no major damage to the wood
  • The decorative appliques on the bottom doors are perfectly intact
  • The doors function perfectly

  • The sliding glass doors on the upper shelf section are missing
  • There are no labels, tags or identifying marks of any kind
  • The top of the enclosed cabinet section has glue residue and several mystery screw holes and it is not clear what these were for 
  • It was pretty darn grungy!

James agreed with my initial impression that this hutch was indeed a well-crafted piece of furniture that just needed some loving care. I gladly paid $87.50 and made the arrangements to come back the next day to pick it up, which was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend. 

I happily spent the next couple of days gently wiping away over six decades of accumulated dirt with a sponge dipped in a mild wood cleaning soap solution, followed by furniture polish applied with a soft cloth. By Monday afternoon, the cleaning process was done and I took the above photo, and since then I've been working on styling the shelves, so stayed tuned for the month of June's Styling The Seasons! 

It took several Google searches before I finally found a very similar, almost exact duplicate piece in their image database. According to the internet, this is a Limed Oak Chinoiserie Hutch by James Mont - a notoriously infamous East Coast furniture designer, decorator, and underworld figure who was active from the 1930s to the 1960s. Not only did I find an image of this same piece, but I also discovered that the hutch came in two sizes, of which mine is the smaller one, and were part of a collection that also included a credenza and matching table and chairs. The more I looked at the images I found on the internet, the more I think that this was the same dining set that I saw in that 1950s magazine oh so long ago! After studying the photo of the original, it became obvious that there was a short base piece between the upper shelf and lower cabinet portions of the hutch, missing from my new old find - hence, the glue residue and screw holes in the top of the lower piece. 

Overall, I'm very happy with this hutch - it's not perfect, but I love it! Now, how about some new wallpaper on the wall behind it?

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