Thursday, July 21, 2011

pink and green, glass

block optic sherbet bowls with raspberry jello

block optic goblets 
depression era pressed glass "Normandie"pattern plates
I was home recently to celebrate with my mother her 79th birthday. She cleaned up some of my high school antiques collection after I pulled two boxes out of the basement on my last visit. In these two boxes was my green depression glass I bought with money I earned  doing some of my earliest jobs like washing dishes and making pizzas or cleaning up county water department valves and pipes that survived the flooding from Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Remembering as a young teenager I was set free by my drivers permit, freed to drive to work, ballet classes and take my mother, who did not drive, out to the country antique shops. We antiqued regularly on weekends for a few years.  I decided to start collecting depression glass when I bought 5 pink plates that were chipped on the edges in a pattern called "Normandie" or "bouquet & lattice" made by Federal Glass Co.   from 1933-1940 some of which is delicate and very thin like the "American sweetheart" pattern mom's family used in during the actual depression of the 1930's. I would have liked to get some of that monox (white with hits of blue) American sweetheart pattern but it was thin and mostly broken and was seen rarely in the 1970's so I thought it would be fun to hunt for this pink pattern. Sadly, I quickly found that it wasn't much more common than the monox color of American sweetheart. After much consternation, I switched my collecting focus over to the more commonly seen and a little thicker glass pattern called "block optic" in green.  I remember eating jello and ice cream out of the sherbert cups of block optic at Grand mother's in Narrows VA as a youngster. My block optic plates, cups bowls, goblets, and glasses have been stored in the Manassas house for all these years with brief uses in NYC when I was just out of college.
I have been on a amazing diet for the last couple months and my interest in food has become very keen and I am cooking a lot more than I used to do before this diet. I rediscovered that presentation of my food made it all taste better and makes even fat free, sugarless foods seem more delicious. I dug out various plates in my cabinet here in DC then went picking around for some of my old stuff at home in Manassas. I have been using some Good Will plates bought in 2008, four green sandwich glass pattern plates that I use a lot and I pulled out my own modern opalescent dinner plates. Then I was craving some pink to mix it up. I found that the old pinks lattice & bouquet plates were still at home in a cabinet in the dinning room. We pulled them out while I was there for mom's birthday visit and I brought them home. I vaguely recalled the sales lady telling me the sharp chips on the edges of these pink plates could be filed down but I never tried to fix them until I got them back to DC. I recently bought some emery paper for the metal stool restoration and I though it was worth a try to see if that would smooth out the sharp glass edges caused by old chips. Bingo! After 45 years I have usable pink depression glass plates! I like that the edges of the plates are sculpted and contoured and now the chips are all smooth and softened. No longer do I risk  cutting anyone when we use them. I also enjoy using my fine antique plates and bowls for so many reasons they make me smile and feel fine.

pink lattice & bouquet pattern and opalescent dinner plate 

green glass plate has great texture 

green plate design may be reproductions of depression era dinnerware. 

I like the way the light bounces on this pressed glass design and the way it feels to the touch

bought at Good Will shop, depression glass bowls perfect for puddings 

breakfast on the modern opalescent plate

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a small restoration

a wrought iron garden stool was rusty where several layers of old paint were peeling away

I began working before I thought to take a picture of the peeling paint and rust.
This old stool was sitting by a trash can on the road as I was passing in my car a couple years ago. I was enchanted by it's style and pulled over and threw it in my trunk. Once I got it home, it sat on the back stairs for a long time until I decided to get to work on it's  restoration. I haven't ever done metal restoration on this scale, I was learning as I worked. First the old paint had to go so I pulled out the wire brushes and gave it a try. Got some paint off but I needed a scraper, which I soon borrowed from Mom in Manassas. We also went to the hardware store shopping to buy a rust remover I had heard about called Naval Jelly and we got some spray primer and paint to finish the job. One thing I liked was this stool was originally painted several shades of green and that was an unusual color for metal furniture so I wanted to find a nice green in the spirit of a restoration. There were several layers of green on the stool, granny smith apple green, an acid green, a dark forest green and one layer of creamy white among those layers of old paint. At the hardware store I had a choice of John Deer tractor green, dark green or bright apple green and I chose the dark green thinking it would go best with my other iron garden furniture which is all black. 

After I scraped off as much paint and rust as I could by wire brush scraper and steel wool,  I broke out surprisingly hot pink Naval Jelly 

Naval Jelly is a type of acid, I wore rubber gloves to protect my skin. 
After the first application and more scrubbing with steel wool and small wire brush came a rinse with water. Then it dried in the sun to look like this.
Under closer inspection it needed more Jelly. Second coat was applied. 
Finally it was down to the steel! Gray blue and shinny in a few spots. 
Next came the under coat of spray primer, which is light gray in this case I chose it to help the green top coat reflect more light and greenness when it was completely covered.

It looks almost new with this light gray paint on it and I know it is at least as old as I am.
the holes make a nice star design in the top 

I love the twisted legs that have loops for feet and the big buttons that hold them on as well as that star. 
Before the sun set,  the second coat of primer was dry, I decided to complete my project with the dark green satin spray paint. I think it will need one more coat of green paint after these harden off. This morning, I sat upon the stool to draw my cone flowers in the garden. It makes me smile to have an antique stool for our garden that looks almost as it did when it was new. Restoration accomplished. Next I want to fix up the black furniture that is beginning to show small spots of rust breaking through the black paint. Taking care of it now will be easier than this project but the challenge was well worth the effort again giving me new understanding and a feeling of accomplishment.
Day 12 purple cone flower sketch 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

walks I like

Keith and I have been walking daily. Before he left to visit family we took an extra long walk and reached a goal I had dreamed about achieving a couple months ago. We walked all the way over to the St. Paul's Rock Creek Parish Cemetery at the top of a big hill. Across the street from the Old Soldier's Home and a U. S. National Cemetery full of Civil War era and the great war graves it seemed like a long long distance up a steep hill at first. Now I can walk up there without much duress in about 20 minutes from home. It has been especially nice this week to go after rainstorms which we have been blessed to have plenty of this week making flower garden watering easier. I like the smells of the wet pine needles and that damp earthy smell of the woodlands all along the way.
I have a few photos to share from my last walk up that way Friday evening.

In side the old soldiers home compound is also the site of a little Victorian gingerbread cottage that the President Lincoln's family used during the summers to get out of the hot swampy downtown area where the white house is located. The summer cottage is not visible from the street but it is open during the day for visitors who have ID so I am planning to make that a trip for one of my walks this summer to get inside and hear what they have to say about the history.
I have walked inside the fenced Soldiers home's 320 acre compound during December's Christmas bird count and it is massive but from the outside it looks very strange to see the old fences as barriers to a part of the city. The good news is it becomes a wildlife refuge from traffic and noise with lots of trees and understory growth. So it is like the Catholic University 180 acre lot on the other side of North Capitol street, off limits without special permission, but with a lot of green space that makes our neighborhood nice. I enjoy a walk  along the edges and I know I can get in if I wanted to go count birds in Dec. again.

gate keeper's house at the cemetery 

Soldier's home perimeter fence 

one of the white marble buildings in the compound of Soldiers home 

Victorian gate keeper's house Soldier's home

Thursday, July 7, 2011

week one: National Sketch Draw Month

 July 1st Orange Chesapeake Crab Leg day lilies 
The first week of National Sketch Draw Month is complete.  I made seven ink drawings with watercolor details outside in the garden. I then photographed them and posted them to the Sketchcrawl Washington DC group on facebook and to my flickr site It is only left to post them here on my web-log for the record. I enjoy sitting down to draw a plant because it gives me so much more understanding of the intimate details of these marvelous creations. I am enjoying the other artists comments and artworks on the facebook page and the opportunity to comment on their drawings and hear feedback from all sorts of friends and family on my own contributions.  I miss art school critiques where we used to get serious consideration for our work on the wall in front of the whole class from each teacher and any brave student who had something to add. This is almost there again for me.
July 2nd blue balloon flowers 
July 3rd Pink day lilies

July 4th Magenta zinnias 
July 5th White day lilies

July 6th Orange nasturtiums 

July 7th Red leaf banana tree 

complete at last: 1967-2011

 detail of yo-yos attached with red threads
It began with a trip to Bridgeport, Connecticut with my family to see some of my parents college friends in 1967. Brad and Winnie Day had no children and a house full of antiques and were hosting us for a couple nights visit. At twelve I was supremely impressed  that my bed was covered in a hand made cover that was antique like the spool frame bed I was getting to sleep in all by myself. Winnie asked me to let her remove the antique quilt before I went to sleep, leading to a discussion about the colorful cover. We sat and looked at the tiny circles of fabric and she told us she bought it for $10 at a garage sale somewhere in Conn. but it was a little fragile and she liked to fold it up and lay it on the quilt stand at night. She thought it was a top to a Quilt someone didn't complete but she liked it this way as it to let the white bedspread show through the numerous colored circles. I remember liking that we could see the backs of the "yo-yos" to study  the print designs of the old fabrics that were a little difficult to see on the gathered side of the yo-yos. If this quilt top had been attached to a backing we wouldn't be able to see those old prints. I realized after close inspection that I knew how to make these yo-yos from some sewing I had done with my Grandmother Sallie Nunley. Cutting out small circles which were gathered up to make a little purse or a hat for a barbie doll. So I determined that weekend  I could make a yo-yo cover much like Winnie's when I got home.

I had a lot of trouble getting the project to move forward as a kid but I kept trying. Mom helped by keeping it together in the closet when I lost energy to work on the yo-yos and knowing right where it was stored when I asked about getting back to work on "my yo-yo quilt". Eventually after years of neglect and half hearted attempts to get the yo-yos completed, I decided it was time to put this project on full speed ahead if it was ever going to have a happy ending. About three years later...

circles cut, needle threaded, and a bag full of finished yo-yo pieces 

Fast forward to July 3rd, 2011 evening comes, and I am sitting in my big chair watching TV news or something and stitching together my last row 1.400 yo-yos in the cover which is 40 yo-yos long and 35 yo-yos wide. It is such a pleasure to have it done but now I miss making those little circles a bit. I have never seen a finished antique yo-yo quilt at any of the Quilt shows we have attended. I hope some day, maybe I will show mine.  I wonder if I can sleep under the heavy weight of this cover? Will I need to fold it up each night like Winnie did?

Now I am feeling ready to go back to the other quilting project I started in 1999 the Crazy Quilt. I will wait until this fall, once it gets colder and I feel like sitting under it's layers to connect the squares that are mostly completed and finish the embroidery over the seams. I love these fabric projects because I like to remember the people associated with all the fabrics, those in my past and present life. I also like the fun it is to stitch something by hand. Color with lots of memories and craft to hold it all together makes it all worth my while.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

orange lilies

greeting me as I go out the front this time of year an armload of orange double common day lilies.

Monday, July 4, 2011

mid summer

colorful coleus give the hosta bed a nice bright border in the shade 

another coleus in the shade 
I am home alone for a while and enjoying the quiet, if you don't count the late night bang & booms of illegal fireworks blasting off all over the neighborhood. I don't know why they do it but when I see rockets I call for law enforcement. Other than some hot weather and annoying fire crackers things are pretty nice. We had two heavy rain storms yesterday. One early in the morning before daylight while I was driving Keith to National Airport to catch his 6 AM flight  to visit his family in Myrtle Beach, SC. The other storm struck right after I finished planting new coleus plants from the DuPont Circle Farmers Market about 7 PM. I was so happy to get them planted before the second storm hit, they were watered into the flower beds twice, once by watering can and once by heavy rain.
new red spine banana tree leaves 
I was in Manasas last week and went to my favorite Merrifield Nursery where I found something I have been dreaming about for a year or two. It is a true 'fire engine red' flowering crape myrtle tree with three trunks which I brought home for a spot in front of our apartment building. No picture available yet. On 10th St. we lost a big Linden tree due to drought a few years ago which was finally cut down last winter. No tree has been planted by the city, to replace it yet. I think if I put in my red Dynamite crape myrtle, which only grows to 20 feet tall they will be happy with it under the power lines above. I talked to the urban forestry expert from the city before they put in a red bud a couple summers ago. The redbud died this year from high heat and lack of water at the end of last summer. It was doing so well, I thought it was settled in, after two years but I was mistaken and it died after doing so well last year. Perhaps it died just to show me how important keeping up the watering of street trees is in this town. At Merrifield nursery I also found a two foot tall banana tree that has beautiful red spine leaves and a dark oxblood red trunk marked down 12 dollars! It will be a nice contrast to the tall green banana once it gets a little taller. Maybe it's leaves will be nice for ikebana arrangements? 

All sorts of flowers are blooming in the garden this time of year. It is really peak flowering time. Day lilies one of my favorites are going gang busters front and back and side yard. Also pictured here are hydrangea, balloon flower and blackberry lily.

To make my 4th of July really special as I was going out into the garden this morning I heard house wren singing. I looked out the porch window to discover that a pair of them were visiting and filling the little bird house I hung on a shepherd's hook back in the spring. They were there for about an hour while I wrote my journal inside, hoping they would stick around and make a family. I tried to catch them both in these pictures from the back window but they move too fast... take my word for it there were two and they took turns going inside with sticks and singing joyfully. Happy Fourth of July they seem to be saying.

Tour de France the famous bicycle race I began reading about in Junior High School French class has begun a couple days ago. Tour de France (TDF) is always inspiring to me and I am going to get my road bicycle down and fill it's flattened tires with air and give it a spin soon. With my protective helmet secured on my hard head, I hope to be ready soon to try out the new Metropolitan Branch Trail  recently opened a couple blocks from our apartment building. This new trail runs eight miles,  from downtown's Union Station to Silver Spring, Md passing by Brookland, up a steep hill to Fort Totten and beyond! It may be the perfect place to go get more exercise on two wheels. Walking has been great this year but I want to add some bicycling so I can get more strength in my legs. As we age, they say, the most important things keeping a person independent and out of nursing homes, are a pair of strong legs and good balance.