Oklahoma 100 Mile Yard Sale. Mother-Daughter Road Trip. Happy Mother's Day!
I found these really great tool charm that actually move! I thought they were perfect for steampunking! First, a little bit of history: the Gries Reproducer Corporation operated out of New York and from the 1950s to 1960s ran giveaways of tool charms (like these) in Cracker Jacks! Pretty neat, huh? The pliers are perhaps my favorite since I do work with them often myself. I made a cute pair of earrings for my mom & I.
First off, I would like to say thanks for reading my blog! I've noticed that there are a number of you reading in other parts of the world--so hi to my neighbors in Canada, Bonjour France, Cheerio England, How are things Australia? Ciao Italy, Hei Finland, Guten Tag Germany, and Cześć Poland! It's a lazy day here in my little steampunk studio. I received a care package of flea market treasures from my family yesterday and today I have set down to research some of the oddities they sent.
Pictured below is a tiny toy bust of a woman, an early 19th century Fireman's medal (marked Station no. 2), and transistors (which are so breathtakingly intricate & add pops of color to the monotone metal that they are a frequent staple in my jewelry).
Among the many neat bits & bobs sent were 2 medals. The first is for Second Prize in the All Round Contest of the Outing Club, located in Hartford, Connecticut. It was issued and engraved with the year, 1891. The Outing Club was one of many gentleman's clubs in America. Men would gather for excursions outdoors, namely hiking, fishing, hunting, and swimming. On the back of the pin the name of the medal-maker is imprinted: a Mr. John Harriott of Boston, Massachusetts (located at 3 Winter Street). Mr. Harriott was a silversmith, enameler, engraver and jeweler who even made 2 medals for J.P. Morgan's son, Evan on behalf of the Loon Lake Historical Society.
The other medal, made to mark someone's membership to the Woodstock Council No. 147, was made by The M.C. Lilley & Co. who operated out of Columbus, Ohio. According to the Columbus Metropolitan Library, M.C. Lilley & Co. was "[f]ounded in the mid-1860s, the M. C. Lilley Company was world renowned as manufacturers of regalia." They made a number of items: swords, flags, emblems, uniforms, and of course, medals. Among their many customers were the Freemasons, Knights of Pythias, West Point & Annapolis, and a number of fraternities. The company was founded by 4 veterans of the Civil War: Mitchell Campbell Lilley, John Siebert, and Charles & Henry Lindenberg.
The greatest surprise of all was the 9 tintype photos that I found wrapped up in a piece of crinkly tissue paper. I have no clues as to who these souls were, where they came from (except to hazard a guess that they were from Connecticut or New York), or what their names were. I love old photographs just the same--despite their endless mystery.
Last but certainly not least, out of this marvelous box I pulled out a pair of children's goggles. My favorite part of these goggles is that they were marked by the little adventurer--Billy--who wrote his name on one of the flaps. These motorcycle/automobile goggles were made in France, marked on the metal rim as "L'express Brevet L.C.B.F. 433606."
I got a lovely care package from my family in New York today. In typical care packages, most people find their favorite sweets and little trinkets & edibles. Mine, however, are filled with machine parts, cuckoo clock innards, and flea market finds from my whole family. It's really wonderful to get one of these packages and it often results in holing myself up for the next few days and creating lots of new steampunk pieces. There are so many great finds that I had to share them with you! The first thing I found inside was this dainty little bracelet. Clearly it belonged to a lady named Margaret and was a token of her love of Everett. Margaret & Everett sittin' in a tree...K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Pieces like this always make me wonder--were they ever married, or did their love had some torrid end? Another treasure I unwrapped was a broken pocketwatch. Some pocketwatches are engraved with a maker's seal or brand. The most fascinating tidbit of history is that this pocketwatch is stamped with the word "Remontoir" which indicates that this watch is powered by a mainspring on its own. Before 1860, even pocketwatches had to be wound with a clock key. Another wonderful detail is that the clock is engraved with the original owner's name--a Mr. Irving Abel.
My godmother found this next piece, a silver & pearl pin with the words--"Ais Urites Es Usaugu" written on the front. The pin features a women standing underneath a tree by a lake at sunset. I had searched for a translation of the words to no avail. I believe they are a Latvian dialect & that the woman under the tree is Zeme māte, or Mother Earth, a figure in Latvian dainas (or folktales). If anyone has come across this before, please let me know--I'd love to pick your brain.
My family, knowing my love of old photos, sent me a tintype photograph of 3 young ladies. I am assuming they are sisters. There is no information about them scrawled on the back. I am left to ponder what their names were and what their lives were like. Here's a close up of the sisters.Among other flea market treasures, there was a whisk-holder which I am happily converting into a business card holder; a wooden puzzle piece of Oklahoma; and some vintage jewelry to upcycle.Another piece that sparked my curiosity were the Springfield Street Railway Co. coins. The company, originally called Palmer and Monson Street Railway, operated out of Springfield, Massachusetts and changed its name in 1901. The coins are from anytime between 1901 and 1927 (when the company stopped its operation and changed to the bus system). A fare was 5 cents. More about the Springfield Street Railway Co. can be found in Albert Sutton Richey's quantitative study, Traffic and Operation: Springfield Street Railway Company published in 1917.
In my flea market & thrift store travels I often happen upon little pieces of history. My mom and I picked up these brass tags, marked W.S. Rockwell, at a street fair & flea market in NYC in September. Yesterday was a deliciously rainy morning and afternoon so I curled up with some tea and did a little research. Here's what I discovered:
W.S. Rockwell Co. was established in 1880. The company made furnaces and was chartered in 1908. They owned many patents on their furnace innovations, like this one for a tilting crucible melting furnace. Their main office was located on 50 Church Street in New York City in the Hudson Terminal Building. Their company slogan was "Better Heating, Lower Cost." Their dedication to a quality furnace and thus quality heat lead them to write a book on their industrial craft in 1922 called The Elements of Industry. The book itself is fascinating--filled with diagrams and explanations of metal working.
I found little about the tags themselves, except that they were used to identify and differentiate between valves. I have a whole key ring of valve 29s. They are beautiful brass tags that certainly reflect the beauty of Rockwell's furnaces.
I love typography and anything that makes print & type and so I find myself collecting letterpress drawers, vintage stamps & pens, and antique inkwells among other things. My mom happened upon this inkwell a month ago at a flea market and I have just now had time to sit down and research more about it. My only clue was its (very difficult to read) makers’ stamp and model no. on the bottom (pictured below). I have found that when a stamp or brand is difficult to decipher 2 tricks work best: 1) rubbing the stamp with chalk (a trick that worked well here because I could not tell whether or not the Bs in Hubbard were in fact Bs and not Rs.) or 2) paper and crayon (which you would use as you would a grave rubbing).
Here is what I have discovered: This inkwell is in fact a Bradley & Hubbard Bronze Mission Style (or Arts & Crafts) Double Inkwell, model no. 6062. The company began in Meriden, Connecticut in 1852. Their primary products were clocks; however, they prospered during the Civil War and came to manufacture a vast number of oddities: hoop skirts, measuring tapes, match safes, kerosene lamps, desk accessories (like the inkwell), and hearth necessities (andirons and the like). Their products were carried in many stores, including Sears & Roebuck. To learn more about Bradley & Hubbard, click here.
If you are looking for a Bradley & Hubbard inkwell yourself, make sure you check for their brand: a triangle with a lantern inside. Along the three sides of the triangle is stamped their name: “Bradley & Hubbard MFC. Co.”
A google search for a Bradley & Hubbard Co. Mission Inkwell will reveal several Ebay auctions and antique dealers’ listings. There are a number of these inkwells out there and for a wide range of prices. I have found nearly immaculate inkwells for $450.00 and ones that need a little TLC and elbow grease for $75.00. My mom found mine for a steal—a whopping $45.00. It is one of my favorite flea market finds & acts as both a conversation piece in my home, inspiration for my writing, & a prop for photographing my Steampunk jewelry.
I love vintage & antique lockets! When I stumble across one at a flea market or estate sale I usually end up buying it. As jewelry, they are often intricate & beautiful and as nostalgic objects, they are both mysterious & romantic. I wonder what torrid love affairs the wearer had or unrequited loves they may have harbored. Lockets seem like they have secrets already inside. This particular locket came with a mystery--a trademark that eventually lead me to its history. I was able to track down information about W & H thanks to the New York Public Library's digital archives of advertisements and a few skilled Ebay auctioneers.
The trademark inside this locket, "W & H Co" (pictured below as 1) with a heart etched around it (pictured below as 2), belonged to Wightman & Hough Company who operated out of Providence, Rhode Island.
Wightman & Hough Company made sweetheart necklaces from 1856 until 1922. They were primarily renowned for their lockets. Their slogan, which I find to be quite amusing & sweet, was "There's a heart in every locket!" How true! Below are 3 of their advertisements:
Though I do not know the exact date of this locket as of yet (sadly, I must wait a long while for an inter-library loan to come through for a jewelry catalog from 1910 to verify thestyle & date of this locket)--I believe it is from the latter period of W & H Co.'s production. The design on the locket is an Art Deco pattern and the stones (which are all in tact) are sapphires which were popular at that time. For now I know the approximate value of the locket is between $65.00-$250.00 (I paid $12.00 which makes me feel a bit like a Robber Baron). You never know what you will find & what it is worth until you do a little digging--sometimes you've gotta trust your gut! Happy Flea Marketing everyone!
I had purchased a broken grandfather clock at a thrift store 2 months ago in the hope of making a display piece out of it. As a rule, I never upcycle anything that can be restored. This clock was in a sad state when I happened upon it--the wood panel in the back was entirely overtaken by mold & wood rot. Luckily, the majority of the clock was in tact. Though it is still a work-in-progress (I hope to fashion it with wheels & a working clock mechanism), the exterior is finally done! Here it is in its various stages. I used clock plates, bicycle gears, chain, metal erector set pieces, a clock spring, an old whisk, and lots of screws & nails.
Want to DIY?, here are a few tips! To make your own steampunk grandfather clock (out of an already broken one), you will need the following hardware: screws (of various sizes, fitting your collected pieces), chain & jump rings, metal brackets (for heavier pieces, like the bicycle gear pictured above), Gorilla brand wood glue, nails (for extra support at the base of your grandfather clock), and metal connector pieces (like the metal erector set pieces that I used--which are a rare find; however, at Lowes Home Improvement you can purchase similar metal pieces in their hardware section categorized under hardware designated for "Science Projects."). The tools I used are fairly common: hammers (one large & one small), an awl (for making starter holes for screws & nails), pliers (for opening jump rings & chain links), and screwdrivers (of various sizes depending on the type of screws that fit into your collected pieces).
After you have gutted your clock, I recommend cleaning it thoroughly before beginning to steampunk it. Murphy's oil is great for wood, soap & water, a wood-friendly scrub brush, & (if you are dealing with mold) rubber gloves & a protective mask. Once you have collected pieces that you would like to affix to your clock, I suggest laying everything out before beginning to screw & nail it in or sketching it out beforehand.
Thank Yous Galore, I must take this moment to thank a fellow Make;Tulsan and graphic designer extraordinaire, Michael Chaplin, for helping me transport the grandfather clock to the show & back home again. Sadly, I was not able to affix the clock with teleportation capabilities (sigh, if only). Thanks to RAW; Tulsa for the opportunity to showcase my work, have professional photographs taken, & video--everyone was so nice & I had such an amazing night; Thanks to 33forty & their wonderful staff who helped me with lighting & moving furniture & last but not least, to all of you who came!
I have finally organized my antique printer drawers' letterpress letters (what an undertaking that turned out to be! phew!). While I was sorting through the wayward consonants and vowels and ruffling through punctuation marks galore I marveled at the old way of printing. Handsetting the type would have taken what might seem to us living in the digital age where print is so easily produced & reproduced--hours upon hours. There are a couple of printing presses that I would love to call your attention to--the first of which is a project & dream (called, Moveable Type) started by Kyle Durrie. Kyle is a letterpress printer who rides across the U.S. in her truck spreading knowledge about old fashioned printing. To follow her blog or learn more about Kyle's travels & printing press, visit her website.
The second printing press I'd like to share with you is one that is opening up right here in Downtown Tulsa! Isn't that exciting?! Tulsa Letterpress will also be a bar--a place where you can meet with friends or perhaps even curl up to a good book in a place that clearly worships print. Tulsa Letterpress will open up next to Dilly Deli. I will be delighted to learn more about old fashioned printing and cannot wait until their doors open. I'll keep you all posted on their grand opening date.
To check out my latest Etsy listings involving letterpress letters--visit my shop!
Everyone who stops by my booth at craft shows always has something to say about my display. I thought I might begin sharing weekly posts on my flea market finds. On my latest flea market excursion I found a fascinating piece of print culture--a box of "Stafford's Stencil Combination." It is a complete set, with brass alphabet letters, figures, a can of stencil ink, a sponge, and a stencil brush. The worn green box details the stencils' function "For marking boxes, barrels, bags and packages for shipment. Printing all manner of show cards, notices, signs, number, prices, &c., and many other purposes. Instructive and amusing for Boys."
The Directions read: "After wetting the brush with water from the sponge, rub it over the ink until a sufficient quantity adheres. The Ink works freely, does not gum the plate or brush, and will keep in any climate without evaporation or waste." The brass plates themselves slide together to form words, phrases, and numerical figures.
In an attempt to date the stencils I did a google search for "Stafford Stencils Combination" and one of the first entries that I came across was an advertisement for Stafford Stencils in the January 7th, 1886 issue of The American Stationer. The size stencil set that I have, 1 1/2 inches, was $1.50 in 1886. Now a set in mint condition with all of the pieces runs between $300-$500. My set is complete but the box is in very poor shape and missing its cloth lining and stand which is why it was such a bargain. An interesting piece of American print history!
Happy thrifting and flea marketing!
My mom and I, fabric shopping in Mood. I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s sincere friendliness and helpfulness. I expected a cold shoulder since I am not a wholesale buyer or a designer, but was happily mistaken. I found exactly what I was looking for—a pale gray patterned cotton for a pair of Edwardian bloomers I am making from a Folkwear Pattern (the pattern is called Edwardian Underthings).
We also happened upon this stunning brocade fabric which we had to buy to fashion a Victorian style skirt. I am so excited! The fabric is stunning—the other side of it is completely covered with netting which ages the fabric’s look by 100 years
Our next stop was the Antique Garage Flea Market (on 24th Street by the Tish Building). We saw everything from antique writing desks, pornography from 1911-1941, vintage & junk jewelry, old books & vintage apparel, to WWII death announcement cards.
Here are my finds:
Three antique hat pins—so dainty & dangly!
Vintage chains—one with pearls! So delicate & feminine!
A child’s silver identification bracelet, engraved: “H.A. [worn too much o discern] Pinehurst Ave., Troy, NY”
Three vintage cuff links—can’t wait to Steampunk these!
A metal pill box, not vintage but beautiful. I am going to gut the plastic out of the inside and replace it with a very soft velvet.
Two silver lockets—I have already begun collecting lockets for a collaborative project with Tara @ Plume Perfumery. We are going to make a line of Steampunk perfume lockets filled with Victorian scents!
I wish that every Saturday were filled with flea markets & fabric shopping!
It has been a busy week! I launched my new website (leave a comment below & let me know what you think!). I have also been rummaging through local thrift stores for interesting display items. I luckily found two treasures I've been searching months for--an old suitcase and wooden printer drawers!
I cleaned up this well worn suitcase and filled the pocket at the hinge with stuffing to make a long, skinny pincushion. This will be perfect to display hat pins, buttons, and even rings (held in place by tacks)!
I glued 6 clothespins to the top part of the suitcase so I could showcase pictures or more intricate necklaces. The pictures here are Victorian portraits from Montreal, Quebec.
What I love about this suitcase is the circus red cloth interior. I also bought the glass medicine bottles pictured here at a garage sale two weeks ago. I love how they catch the light.
The Printer Drawers
I found two printer wooden drawers (from an American company) with a nearly complete set of metal letters, numbers, and punctuation. I bought them for a wopping $50, a real steal! Printer drawers are all over Etsy (and for quite a price!). The drawers make excellent jewelry displays & holders.
I am going to modify my drawers a bit and paint the drawers' little cubbies with chalk paint! I'll let you know how it turns out.