Looking Back At Family – Literally
Thanksgiving means time with family, not working. However, in order for the family to be able to eat at the dining room table, one must first clear off all the inventory waiting to be cleaned & priced… So, in today’s endeavor to provide a clean horizontal surface fit for family, I, the wifey, had to work a bit.
To my delight, I rediscovered a few gems I’d forgotten about. As both these items are family & gift-related, I figured I’d take the time to share them.
On the face of things, both of these wall hangers are nifty enough. But it’s the back of them which really tells the stories & gives additional charm!
One is “A Tribute To My Dad.” A classic poem or motto from the 1920s, much like those by Buzza. However, someone has placed a plastic golden “DAD” plate on the front covering any attributions. (A search on the Internet attributes this work to MAH.)
We dare not try to remove the vanity “Dad” plate, for risk of damaging the original glass or framing – especially as the aforementioned back is where the real charm lies…
On the back brown framing paper, there’s a message written in what appears to be red marker:
Did you give this to your Dad?
Well, we all want to know!
But, sadly, we will only be able to imagine the answer is “yes”. And, for those of us who enjoy such flights of fancy, imagine how both the original gift-giving to dad went and the following story or stories involving the red marker questioner.
The other piece that has charmed me today has its own story to tell.
This piece is a framed handmade textile piece: a yellow and black Chevy hand-stitched onto a background of tan cloth (which rather resembles burlap). I am a huge fan of needlework, so this could be impressive enough. However, there’s a full story written on the back!
The inscription includes the birthday boy’s name & celebrates his birthday on April 25th, 1979 via this memento of childhood automobile memories:
This is a replica of our old Chevrolet that you had so much fun riding in the rumble seat. Remember? Hope you enjoy this picture. Much love, Mom & Dad
Just how does anyone want to give this up?!
I barely can, & it’s my job!
For anyone else who loves such charming pieces, come on out to the Farm this weekend – both pieces will be there!
Giving Thanks – & A Little Fall Decor DIY
Looking for something to mix into your Fall decor — something that will work with your country burlap and chicken wire looks as well as it will with more simple styles and even more elegant looks? Perhaps something that will work not only for today but can also work for your Thanksgiving table? Check out these handmade vases!
I like the mix and contrast of glass, metal, and thread. Tone on tone ivories and whites makes for an elegant sort of rustic glam, which is perfect for Fall decorating. The delicate dried flowers gives them a more elegant look. But you can use fresh flowers — or, my current obsession, air plants. The neutral tones allow for these little vases to work into many decor styles — and be flexible enough to change with the seasons!
About 20 years ago, I spotted the idea in a textile art magazine… I call them “floss vases.”
Sadly, I no longer have the publication nor even remember its name. (If you know it, please do let me know so I can properly credit the idea!) But I loved the look so much that I kept the idea in my head. It didn’t take long to stumble upon a box of vintage and antique balls of Coats & Clark crochet thread at an estate sale. It took longer to find the glass pieces for the vases themselves. Eventually, I scored a box of vintage glass cigar tubes. But the box of crochet thread was now buried in storage… You crafters and collectors know how this goes. Years of moving didn’t help. But recently, when we cleared out our storage unit, I found the boxes one at a time… One by one I dragged them home. Finally, decades later, I was able to put these beauties together!
While I adore the ivories and whites, this idea has lots of possibilities — including more color! Colored balls of floss or thread can be used. And the decorations can be colorful too.
Other favorites are what I call the “ecru and blues”…
(Shown here with a little vintage sewing drawer piece I made.)
Here are some made with colorful thread balls, paired with vintage diaper pins, hair barrettes, and buttons. They are very cute for nurseries and little girls’ rooms.
To make these, all you need are balls of crochet thread, glass cigar tubes (or test tubes or other small glass tubes or vases).
If you don’t have such vintage items on hand, you can try Etsy, of course. Or, if you are excited and would rather not wait (or risk the scenario I described above!), you can get new items at Amazon for this vintage look: Crochet thread balls, test tubes.
Assembling them is relatively easy. The vintage glass cigar tubes have rounded bottoms, so they must be hot glued or otherwise affixed to the paper bottom of the balls of crochet thread. For best results, I recommend putting the plastic seals on the top of the tubes to use. Simply cut off the part which would fit tightly inside the tube. Now you have a tiny flat-bottomed “dish” which can be filled with hot glue. Fit the round bottom of the glass tube inside the little dish of glue and hold ’til it sets. (Low temp glue is fine.) Once that’s set, use the glue gun to apply more glue to the flat bottom of the cap piece and quickly insert it inside the ball of thread and hold it securely in place until the glue sets, affixing the whole piece to the paper bottom of the ball of thread.
Once the glass vases are inserted, and, if necessary, secured in place, you are then free to decorate with bits and bobs you have sitting in your craft drawers… Bits of broken jewelry, charms, buttons, beads, sequins, bows, found objects, etc. Depending on the pieces used for decoration, you can attach them to the balls of thread via pins, tacks, chains, and even the glue gun again.
I like the simple clean look, where you can see the thread and the vase. But you can create your own variations… Stack more balls of thread to hide the vases. Load up the glam by covering up the surface of the balls of thread as much as you’d like.
All of these vases can be found in our booth spaces at both the Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market & the FM Antique & Repurposed Market. Small vases (single ball of thread) are $12; larger floss vases are $16 each. As always, if you are interested in any of these items or any others on our site, contact us! We do ship (in the U.S.).
New Vintage Clothing Shop In Fargo-Moorhead!
The Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market (F.A.R.M.) has expanded, opening a new, second location in the Moorhead Center Mall — and we’ve expanded too, taking another two booths there. You can see a bit of our space in this photo taken for the article about the new location in the July 7, 2016 issue of the FM-Extra.
The two booths are together, but one side (currently) focuses on Mid-Century Modern furnishings and decor (that link is just a sneak peek; will share more photos later, I promise!) and the other booth is filled with vintage clothing. Yes, Fargo-Moorhead has another shopping venue for authentic vintage clothing!
Our space features, easily, 100 years of vintage fashions, from Victorian all the way to retro 1990s pieces. There are some truly rare beauties, including “Mad Men” fashions from the 1950s and 60s. We have couture dresses (including quintessential little black cocktail dresses and wiggle dresses), classic rhinestone jewelry, “popcorn” bead handbags, violet vintage gloves, pink chiffon hats — even vintage hat boxes, train cases, vintage glove drying racks or hand forms (with adjustable thumbs!), and fashionable vintage sewing advertising signs!
And we are proud to offer a number of new old stock (NOS) fashions from the 1980s and 90s which have their original sales tags! These dresses and jumpsuits came from the Stamas Boutique in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, where the wives of Milwaukee Brewers and other well-heeled society shopped. (I know; I used to work there back in the 1980s — I probably handled some of these very same garments!)
In addition to our vintage clothing, several other dealers at the new FM Antiques & Repurposed Market store also have vintage fashions for sale. So why not come on down to the Moorhead Center Mall and check it out? In fact, hubby & I will be working there today (Saturday, July 9th) so we can help you out!
Look for more photos on our Twitter, Tumblr, & Facebook Page too!
In The Mood For Red, White, & Blue
If you’d have seen the wifely lately, you’d know a bit about what we’ve been working on due the color of her hands. *wink* For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, we’ve just made these pretty (and rather large!) quilt block boards. Each board features a red, white, and blue star quilt block. The boards are stained either red or white. Each measure board measures 29 inches square. It was the best way to salvage the quilt. Perfect for quilt lovers, fans of Americana — and, of course, just in time for the Fourth of July!
Also shown in the photo from our space at F.A.R.M.…
That 8-foot long primitive industrial cart, vintage Pigeon Forge Pottery racoons, and a collection of vintage handmade, wooden Hagar The Horrible characters!
Oh, and we’ve some of these vintage quilt block boards at Su Laine’s too. You can see what they look like in our booth with other vintage red & white items. (The whole thing is so Pennsylvania Dutch looking, isn’t it?!)
Among the other things we’ve been doing…
We were on the radio again. This time, I joined hubby on KFGO and we talked about picking during Fargo-Moorhead’s Clean-Up Week.
Sometimes we’re so busy picking, cleaning, painting, etc. that we don’t blog as much as we should. We’ll try to do better; meanwhile, keep an eye out on our Tumblr, Twitter, & Facebook Page for some quick peeks at what we’re up to and what we’ve got for sale. (Follow us too, please!)
How I Spent My Afternoon: Cleaning Old Feed Sacks (A “How To” Guide!)
As noted before, “farm fresh” is often an oxymoron. Things found in barns are usually anything but fresh. Today’s example, a number of old feed sacks — burlap feed sacks, to be precise.
While the graphics can be real beauties, they lie beneath layers & clumps of stuff that is not so beautiful and smells — like dirt and, yes, manure.
In order to be of any real value, the vintage and antique feed sacks must be cleaned.
But it is neither safe nor advisable to throw them into the wash machine. (Since the weave of burlap sacks is so wide, I rarely ever trust my washing machine with them. Even the gentle or hand-wash settings always seems to create pulls or holes, often starting at the threads at the seams. I just don’t like to risk it.)
Instead, you must hand wash them — and, due to their size, one at a time at that.
While the old feed sacks I cleaned today are made of burlap, you can clean other feed, seed, flour, sugar sacks etc. in the same way.
How To Clean Old Feed, Flour, Seed Sacks Found In Barns
Step One: Remove Stuff From The Inside
As these old seed and feed sacks once held product (and also may have been used for lots of other purposes) there’s always some icky stuff left inside the sack. Stick your hand into the bottom of the sack and turn it inside-out. Shake it gently to remove any leftover contents. And then follow-up by using your hand (preferably gloved!) to wipe away anything hiding along the seams of the sack.
Once satisfied that you’ve removed everything, stick your hand in again and pull upwards to return the sack right-side-out, so that the graphics are again on the outside.
Step Two: Remove The Clumps Of Dirt & Animal Poo
I prefer to begin by hanging the sacks on the clothing line outside and using the hose to spray off the clumps and first layer or two of dirt; however, as it is below zero today (and not likely to change any time soon!), I begin with the bathtub. So gather your plastic cleaning gloves and follow me into the bathroom…
As soon as I start the warm water running in the bathtub, I take a single feed sack out and begin by holding in beneath the running water. I do not plug the tub yet as because many of the clods of dirt an manure will require pressure to come off. Since we are without the pressure of our handy lawn hose today, the pressure of the running water from the tap will have to do. Once the majority of the big pieces are off, I set the wet feed sack on an old towel while I wash the mud and farm fresh dirty pieces down the drain — being careful to catch any twigs, rocks, or other large pieces I do not want to pass into the drain and clog it. I toss the twigs and other pieces in the trash and rinse the tub a bit so that it is clean enough not to turn the running water brown right away.
Step Three: Soak & Rinse
Next, I put the stopper in the bathtub and begin filling the tub with warm water. As these sacks are pretty dirty, I only use warm water at this point.
Since old feed & seed sacks are quite large, you’ll need to fill the entire bottom of the tub with at least 2 inches of warm water. I lay the feed sack onto the water & push to submerge it. (Despite the earlier soaking, you’ll often find large sections of the sack are not wet. Sometimes this is where large pieces of dirt were; other times, it’s from the graphics themselves or other chemicals preventing the water from penetrating the textile fibers.)
Usually the water turns instantly brown again, but I continue to swish the sack gently around in the water to dislodge more dirt.
I don’t use any brushes or tools. Just my hands, the water, and, as necessary, gently rub the fabric against itself to dislodge things I can see and feel through the gloves. Remember, burlap is an especially rough textile and may contain “knots” and other natural bumps, so look before you spend time rubbing something that won’t come out. (Or at least won’t be removed without ruining the piece!)
As you swish and rub, look for holes, spots, etc. Avoid unnecessarily pulling on the holes and tears while working to remove the spots.
Typically, I repeat this step at least two more times so that the water bears just a slight tint of brown and few, if any, clumps of stuff. Then I proceed to flip the sack inside-out again, and give the inside a rinse.You’d be surprised how much remains on the inside, even after three rinsings!
If that is clean enough to not require repeating, I flip the sack back so that the graphics are outside and give it one final rinse.
Now, finally, it is time to proceed to washing with soap. This sack is on it’s fourth rinsing and just about ready for Step Four.
Step Four: Wash With Soap
With more warm water running into your clean enough for this (but not clean enough for your family) bathtub, plug the bathtub drain and add some gentle cleaner. I prefer to use, again, Murphy’s Oil Soap. I find it strong enough to clean, but not too drying for such old fabrics. (Old textiles left in barns like this can be more brittle than you imagine!) Also, since Murphy’s doesn’t make a lot of bubbles, you can see what you are doing. And you’ll want to see what you are doing so you can address spots. (I know a lot of you are thinking you need bleach to clean something this filthy, but scrubbing and rubbing does more to really clean than soaking in bleach or other chemicals — and I do not want to discolor or otherwise damage such old fabrics!)
Bonus: Murphy’s Oil leaves a more natural and non-offensive scent, which means the cleaned primitive farm advertising piece is much more like it should be — and isn’t now a perfumed piece that annoys those looking for primitive items or mantiques.
Once you add your previously-rinsed old seed or feed sack to the soapy water, you’re likely to see much more of the brown than you’d imagined could possibly be left. You can let the submerged textile soak a bit in the soapy water, if you’d like. And then come back and gently swish it around and rub spots as necessary.
Step Five: Rinse
As the tub drains its filthy water, I run the tap with warm water again and rinse out the sack.
Step Six: Drying
Once you are satisfied with how clean it is, you can remove the old farm advertising sack from the water and gently wring it to remove the excess water. Once you’ve got as much water out as you can from wringing it, lay it flat on a large beach or bath towel and roll it up so that the towel can absorb more of the water. You may have to do this more than once, with a new clean & dry towel each time, as these large old feed and seed sacks can hold a lot of water.
Then hang the old seed sacks to dry. (Antique & vintage textiles are never a good mix with dryers.) Again, this is great to do out on the clothesline, but the season prevents that. So I hang them to dry on clothes hangers with clips (with plastic, vinyl, or rubber tips to avoid rusting!) over the bathtub. It is best to hang the seed sacks from the bottoms, where they are stitched, so that the heaviest part of the bags are at the top and not pulling so much on the rest of the fabric. I like to use the tired hangers for this, so that I have more room to work on cleaning up the bathtub (again!) while things dry. However, if you have different fabrics and colors involved, you may wish to hang each piece separately so that there is no color transfer, bleeding, or discoloration. (This set lets you have the option to hang tiered or use the hangers individually.)
Step Seven: Inspection
Once the feed sacks are dry, inspect them again for holes, spots, and other imperfections
Sadly, after all this work, there sometimes are spots left. You can wash them again, as needed.
Sometimes I still find a few seeds that have worked their way into the seams and fabric weave as well.
As a buyer or collector, you likely will need to wash your new acquisition again. Even when dealers like myself clean the items, it’s more for presentation than the final act; we know items will be handled in the shop and we remove the “ick factor” but other shoppers do handle the items, including laying them on the floor to inspect them and the like. So whatever textile you buy, you ought to be prepared to launder it yourself for use or display in your own home.
It is especially important to note any holes, tears, or weak spots before you ever even consider using the washing machine.
As a dealer, I never mend any sacks as that would mean the piece is not in original or as found conditions. Other than filth, I leave them as original as I can and instead price accordingly. I leave it for the buyer to decide what, if anything, they want to fix. (Sometimes, they like the authentic nature of the sacks as they are. Sometimes they prefer to stitch them up a bit before displaying them or using them for pillow cases, foot stool coverings, etc. But that is up to the buyer.)
With finer gunny sacks, or sacks with lighter colors and finer weaves, you may need to do some additional cleaning on spots. More on that at a later date as my back is sore from all that time bent over the tub!