lifestyle

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

My Grandma recently downsized to a new apartment, and wanted to pass on some things she doesn’t use anymore, and no longer had the space for in her new place. She asked if my sister and I would like some of her blue and white ceramics- and we both immediately said yes!

I have always loved blue and white ceramics. They are a popular style, and come from such far flung places around the world including Holland (Delft Tile) all the way to Vietnam. I love hand painted ceramics and am always drawn to crisp blue and white colours. I am always so amazed at the talent and detail that goes into them. I took a pottery course once. Suffice it to say, we will not be handing those pieces down through the generations. 🙁

I already owned this pitcher, which I purchased from Ten Thousand Villages last year, so I was very happy to add these beautiful new pieces, to create a small collection.

In my family we didn’t get much handed down in the way of clothes, like many vintage lovers I know, who have gotten dresses, hats and jewelry from past relatives. However, from both sides of my family, I have gotten dishes. Not all of them are antique, but they are each special, because they are a part of our family history. They will become heirlooms, even if they aren’t very old right now, like these pieces. Really, if you think about it, everything that is antique and old today, was at some point brand new. However, someone thought it was special enough to preserve. And so it will be with these. They will always remind us of our Grandma, and they will be preserved and passed down. And maybe someday, my distant great-great-granddaughter will be using this very same pitcher, or candy dish herself, getting ready to pass it down to the next generation too. It’s a nice thought anyways 🙂

Do you have any special collections? Do you have any pieces (of anything – not just dishes!) passed down from your family? If not, have you ever thought of starting a new collection of heirlooms yourself?

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The blue teapot is my sisters, and the white one is mine.

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

Such a neat design for the candy dish. 

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

I use this pitcher often, not as a pitcher, but as a vase! It makes a lovely vase for weedy roadside bouquets like the ones I picked here, or for pussy willow branches in the spring. It’ll probably be lovely for some evergreen boughs this winter too! And, on the right is the beautiful lattice design bowl of my sister’s.

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The little teapot is a tiny little knick-knack that my Grandma gave me years ago. It is a favour that Red Rose used to include in their teas years ago!

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The entire “collection”, (to date!)

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend

Hints To Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist

October is Slow Fashion and Fair Trade month, and although I haven’t taken part until now, I didn’t want to let the month pass without contributing my voice to the discussion going on around the internet. When I originally planned to write this post, I thought that this week’s prompt was “long worn”. Apparently I got my weeks mixed up though, as this week’s prompt is actually “handmade”. Oops. Well, I guess this post will not only be long worn, but long overdue as well. 😉 The term “long worn” refers to the clothes that are already in existence, here on our planet, and how we can make the most of them. I thought that this would be a great time to share some of the garment care tips that I have picked up over the years, that will help to increase the longevity of your clothing, as well as including a few tips from the reprinted copy of Make Do and Mend that I purchased last year while in England. (I’d been wanting to get my hands on one for ages!)

Taking care of the clothes that you already own is a great first step to creating a conscious wardrobe, and there are so many simple things you can do to increase the life of your clothing. It is really only in the last 10-20 years that our society has drifted into a more “throwaway” attitude towards what we wear. Mending, altering, maintaining and preserving your clothing is actually a rather “vintage” way of looking at your closet, which is evidenced by the ingenuity of people during the Great Depression, and the rationing years of the Second World War (which is when the pamphlet Make Do and Mend was published). So, without further ado, here are some helpful hints for caring for your clothes, and some excerpts from the book Make Do and Mend. (excerpts are indicated by “italics“)

Wearing:

  • Wearing scarves when you wear a coat keeps the collar off of your neck, to keep it clean longer. Instead of having to continually wash your coat, you can simply wash the scarf instead.
  • Wearing slips, undershirts and underarm shields can help to keep your clothes cleaner for longer. We tend to wash our clothes more than is actually necessary, and constant washing shortens the life of your clothing. By extending the period of time between washes, you can significantly increase the life of your garment. By keeping your skin away from direct contact with garments, especially delicate ones, they don’t soil so quickly. Just make sure to remove the shields before putting away your garments
  • It is best to wear clothes in turn, as a rest does them good. Shoes too are better for not being worn day after day.” This gives them a rest, and a chance to completely dry out. It is also better for your feet, as it prevents them from rubbing too much in one spot etc.
  • “Always change into old things, if you can, in the house, and give the clothes you have just taken off an airing before putting them away.” 

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, essential tools

Storing:

  • If you are going to be storing a garment for any length of time, such as off season coats, it is nice to cover them with a garment bag, so they don’t collect dust and dirt while in storage. That way, when it comes time to wear them again, you won’t need to clean them first.
  • Hang delicate garments on padded hangers to protect the shoulders from stretching out of shape. “A hanger that is too narrow will ruin the shape of the shoulder and may even make a hole.” It is also a good practice to store clothing off of hangers, as hanging garments long-term can distort them.
  • “Do up all fastenings before hanging clothes. This helps them to keep their shape. And see that the shoulders are even on the hangers and not falling off one side.”
  • “Put away clothes in the condition in which you will want to wear them when you take them out again. Make quite sure they are absolutely clean; dirt attracts clothes’ moths.” (And who wants to wash clothes first thing when you take them out again?)

Cleaning:

  • Deal with stains and spills right away. Taking a few moments to wash out a stain as soon after it happens as possible, is much better than waiting until you do laundry only to find that the stain won’t wash out.
  • If a garment is not dirty enough to need a washing, you can deodorize by using vodka. This is a practice that is still used today in theatre costumes (according to my friend who is an actress). For a garment such as a blazer or a delicate item, which is not easily washed, simply turn the garment inside out, spritz the inside (especially the underarms) with vodka, and then leave until dry. This neutralizes any odours, and keeps your garments smelling fresh without having to constantly wash them. (I suppose you could use rum instead of vodka, but then you might smell like a pirate! 🙂 Don’t worry, the vodka leaves no scent, so you won’t smell like alcohol.)
  • Washing your clothes in a delicate, cold wash, is easier on them than hot water. Also, air drying your clothes, rather than putting them through the dryer, extends their life. This is especially true for knits (such as t-shirts, sweaters, or jeans with Lycra in them.) Dryers are extremely hard on stretch fabrics.
  • It is better to hand wash your sweaters, so they don’t stretch out of shape. Use a gentle soap, rinse, and then lay them flat to dry. By hand washing your knits, you will help to avoid the dreaded pilled sweater! Putting your sweaters through the washing machine, even on a delicate cycle, leads to pilling. Although you can fix (some) pilling, it is easier to just avoid it in the first place.

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, tools for mending

Mending:

  • Fix places where seams or hems have come undone, or buttons are loose. It is so much easier to fix right away, than waiting until it turns into a much bigger problem. “Watch for thin places, especially in the elbows of dresses, seams of trousers, heels of socks and stockings. Reinforce a thin spot with a light patch on the inside. Choose material that is strong but rather lighter in weight than the original material. Scraps of net darned lightly inside thin heels of stockings make an excellent repair. If you have to patch or darn and have no matching material or thread, sacrifice a collar, belt or pocket if it is merely ornamental, or unravel a thread from the seam. You could unravel the pocket of a knitted garment to provide thread for a darn, and a patch made from a matching belt may save a frock from the bits and pieces bag. You can replace the belt with one of contrasting colour.”
  • “Always carry a needle and cotton and mending silk with you- this will save many a ladder in stockings or prevent the loss of buttons; your friends will thank you too. How many times have you heard someone say, “Has anyone got a needle and cotton?”
  • Take care of the pills on your knits with a sweater shaver. Nothing looks nastier, and cheaper, than a pilled sweater! It is amazing what a shaver can do for making things look fresh. One of the winter coats I got from a coworker came to me in terrible condition (it looked as though she had thrown it through the wash) and I wasn’t sure if it could be saved, but I used a sweater comb, and now the wool looks brand new!
  • Keeping your leather shoes and purses polished, and hydrated with a conditioner of some sort, will keep them from cracking and drying out. Also, they just look nicer. And, of course, if your shoes are past the point where you can do anything with them, take them to the cobbler. Those people work magic! I have had many a pair that I thought were gonners, and they have brought them back to life.

So, there are my tips and tricks for keeping your wardrobe spic-and-span! Would you like to hear more tips from the Make Do and Mend pamphlet? And do you have any garment care tips of your own? Do share!

Life Lately: In Photos

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Canola in Full Bloom

(Alberta: Canola in bright, sunshine-filled bloom)

We are a culture surrounded by and immersed in images and photos everywhere we look. Advertisements, magazines and social media: a constant influx of images. Everyone is a photographer, and each one is documenting the world they see around them, the way they see it.  I love how these little snapshots are being captured and catalogued. They are memories of a moment in time.

I have always been a person who takes photos daily. I used to carry around my little point and shoot film camera, always hoping for that special photograph I knew was waiting for me. A few years ago, I even challenged myself to a “Photo a Day” challenge: sometimes taking photos of the beautiful, sometimes of the mundane. Today, I don’t always carry my real camera with me, but I have one in my phone (as many of us do) and so I always have it ready to capture an experience, or something interesting. Do the photos I take need to be perfect and professional? Do I need to have a “purpose” for the photo? Do I have to share them on my blog or on Instagram? No. Sometimes it’s just nice to look back and think- “Oh yes, remember that time?” Or, “When did such and such happen”, and you have a picture to refresh your memory. Sometimes the photo serves no purpose, but to be there and bring a smile to your face. And really that is all they need to be. Snapshots; offering a glimpse into one little moment that was, no matter how fleeting it may have been.

So, here are some photos, taken over the last month or so. Not related to anything, or related to each other, but I like them nonetheless. Do you take “purposeless” photos too?

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist -Nature

berry picking, my Grandma’s beautiful rosebush & so many mushrooms this wet year

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Bouquet and Country Lane

a weedy clover bouquet & my favourite country lane near my house

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Domestic Arts

books read/reading (we are reading Little Dorrit aloud, as Dickens was meant to be)

baking, tea- always tea & the latest sewing refashioning project

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Berry Picking and Hosta Leaf

berry picking bounty & after the rain

The Ladies Garden Tea, Part 2

Ladies Garden Tea Party, Part 2 The Artyologist

So continuing with the second instalment of the Ladies Garden Afternoon Tea party.

I’ve always loved pretty dishes, and silverware and fine china teacups. I’m pretty sure I get this from my mom, who I’m sure learned it from her mother. When my Grandma was a young lady, living in a farm community, once a month the ladies would get together for a tea party.  It was a way for the farmwives, some of whom were probably fairly isolated, to get out and see each other. Each month was hosted at a different farm, and each lady would bring her own teacup.

A few years ago, my Grandma downsized, and passed on her teacups to us- and a collection was born! With that humble start, I’ve started picking up pretty teacups at thrift stores, or antique sales, and I’ve been able to form quite a collection. I love to throw parties, and as my collection of fancy dishes has grown, I have tried to come up with ways to use them, rather than relegating them to the china cabinet. A few years ago, continuing in the tradition of my Grandma, the Ladies Afternoon Tea was born. It gives us a chance to use all the fancy dishes, and is a way for the ladies in my church to get together for an afternoon treat.

teacups the artyologist

As I mentioned on Tuesday, we got rained out and we were forced to bring the party indoors this year. It was too bad that the party couldn’t be outside, as there is something so lovely about enjoying tea and sweets out of doors, but at least we do have a large living room, where we were able to spread out several tables and chairs for everyone to sit at.

When we were planning for this party, we counted up my cups, my moms, and my sisters and came up with 29 teacups! Needless to say, the ladies didn’t need to bring their own to this party! We did end up borrowing some cups from another lady, just in case we ran short, but fortunately we didn’t.

invite and teacups the artyologist

Every good party starts with an invitation. There is something so personal about an physical paper invitation, even if it isn’t handwritten, and I think it reminds people of the party more than a verbal invitation or email, which can be easily lost or overlooked. Also it is a great place to write the address or location of the party, because unless everyone is very familiar with the area, they might get lost en route!

teacups and chocolate the artyologist

silverware tea party, the artyologist

plates and tea service the artyologist

For the party, the food was set up on the kitchen table, and the tea was set up on the kitchen counter, which was dressed up with a lace edged tablecloth, so it wouldn’t look so “kitcheny”. The peonies were blooming in full force the day of the party, so we had a gorgeous bouquet on the dessert table, and a weedy little bouquet of daisies and alfalfa collected from an “obliging field” for the tea table.

chocolate muffins the artyologist

menu and silver service for ladies tea party the artyologist

desserts at the tea party the artyologist

For food, we served a variety of desserts: Coconut Macaroons, Ganache Topped Chocolate Cakes, Lemon Drizzle Loaf, Coconut Cream and Dark Chocolate Squares, Pineapple and Pecan Cheesecake Tarts, and Toasted Almonds and Pecans. We chose such a large variety of desserts, including chocolate and non-chocolate, as we wanted to make sure there was something everyone would enjoy. (I mean, l love chocolate, and the entire menu could’ve consisted of different varieties of chocolate, but something I find hard to comprehend is that some people don’t like it 🙁 so we wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed the desserts!) Also, it was very fortunate that my best friend was visiting that week, so the day before the tea party, when we were baking, baking, baking, she was there to lend a hand 🙂

party preparation the artyologist

lemon loaf the artyologist

Overall, the party was quite the success- even though hours and days of work was consumed and destroyed in the space of an hour 😉 Ah that’s the best thing about parties right? It was a lovely time, spent with some very lovely ladies! As people were leaving, we had a lot of requests to do it again. Don’t worry I’ve already started planning for next year’s tea party!

macaroons and desserts the artyologist

teacups for ladies tea party the artyologist