Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Faffing With Vintage Tea Treasures

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Hi Friends! Before I carefully pack and ship this gorgeous vintage Rosina bone china teacup set off to Susan in New Jersey, I thought I would have a little 'faffing fun' before I said goodbye.

Of the many teacup and saucer sets in my shop, Vintage Tea Treasures, this is truly a unique set with two distinct floral patterns. First there are the pastel red-pink rose bouquets that are featured on the front and back of the footed teacup.

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Then there is a border of white daisies, pink roses, blue forget-me-nots and greenery on the inside top rim of the teacup and around the perimeter of the scalloped saucer. 

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The saucer also has a small rose bouquet in the center. 

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No vintage tea set would be complete without gold gilding. This set has gilding on the upper rim, handle and foot of the teacup and around the perimeter and inside of the saucer.

Goodbye Rosina, may you bring not only the comfort of a hot cup of tea, but also joy and happiness to your new owner!

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And thank you Susan for shopping with Vintage Tea Treasures!


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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Styling And Photographing For Instagram

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Hi friends! If you are an Instagram user, you may already be aware of the fact that there are a few analytics applications that will calculate the top nine images liked by your followers, friends and other Instagram users in 2017. I used the app called instrack.app and the image shown here is the result of the algorithm doing its magic.

It's interesting to take a walk down memory lane - both figuratively as in the act of looking back at images which hold symbolic meaning and literally taking a walk along an old familiar route, retracing steps from another time.

Both of these activities have occupied my mind lately.

Recently I had reason to walk about a mile to catch a bus. The route was familiar as I used to walk it most weekdays, including during the time I got my first iPhone. Back then I was already versed in photography and having a camera phone opened up my curiosity for learning a new way of taking pictures. I would look around as I strolled along the city streets, seeking out interesting subjects to capture with my new camera. As I retraced that route last week, memories of those days came flooding back and I was thinking about my journey through still life photography and Instagram.

I discovered Instagram soon after I started taking photos with my phone. Like so many others, I began sharing my images there. I was inspired not only by the gorgeous and interesting portrayals of everyday life, but also by the snippets of conversation. People were talking to each other from all over the world! Before long I found a great community of women who were sharing their styled photos of flowers, tea, coffee and other bits of everyday life. They call it 'faffing' which is an English term meaning to spend time doing something that is not important instead of the thing one should be doing. It has gained greater significance though as a calming meditative process that helps to cultivate a relaxing mind.

Intrigued by this artistic community, I decided that I was going to learn still life 'flat lay' iPhone photography. There's something about this style of photography that taps into the ancestral memory. To create an image that is both in the present but yet evokes symbolic and emotional memories of the past piques the curiosity of the viewer. You can't help but want to stop and peer into this moment in time and engage with the objects - search out the familiar, see what resonates and find your own memory locked within. No wonder prop stylists are always on the hunt for new and interesting items to add to their collections!

At the same time, it truly is the art of placing objects. Those everyday things that are familiar to us and have meaning and context in our lives suddenly transform into objects of art. You find yourself considering size, shape, and quantity, and thinking critically about color, style, composition, unity, proximity. There are so many elements to consider, ponder and get frustrated over. But this is an invaluable exercise for developing the artistic eye. It's not easy for most of us and does not happen overnight. Similar to any creative endeavor, one must dive in, keep going, resist the urge to compare yourself to others, and take breaks along the way.

Thank you for letting me share my styling and photography journey thus far. If you would like to share yours, leave a comment or visit me on Instagram.   
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Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year From Under The Plum Blossom Tree And Vintage Tea Treasures

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Hello and Happy New Year! Wishing you a joyful and prosperous 2018. Thank you for being here in 2017. I look forward to sharing more stories with you, through my photos and words, in the new year.

Like many of you, I am feeling grateful for all the good things that came my way in the last year. I've been spending the days since Christmas contemplating what my intentions for the next twelve months will be.

It can be difficult to ask yourself such tough questions about life. Here are some things I'm thinking about:

How do I decide the best way to spend my time and energy in the new year? 

How do I evaluate how best to help the people in my life that need guidance and love? 

What are some healthy ways in which I can better care for myself?

I never feel like I have all the answers to these kinds of questions. But what I do know is that a key component in life is to never give up. That it's important to keep going through the self doubt and the unfortunate events.

In order to keep myself grounded in 2018 I have signed up for One Little Word, a year long online class taught by designer, blogger and teacher Ali Edwards. It's going to place me smack dab in the middle of uncertainty and vulnerability. But that's okay because I need to be there. So I'm taking the brave step of showing up to indecision, risk and unpredictability.

Since I'll be creating content for the One Little Word class anyway, I'll also share something I've created for the class here on the blog, hopefully once a month.

As I have in the past, for 2018 I'll continue to share the topics you've enjoyed reading such as vintage finds, seasonal garden photography, vintage home ware design history, DIY, and art history. Something new I'll be sharing is our living room refurbish. If you are looking for an inexpensive wood floor project, James has it figured out and we will be sharing all the details of that project, plus some of the decorating and styling we're working on in that room.

And lastly, in my Etsy shop, Vintage Tea Treasures, I will continue to offer high quality classic, timeless and fun vintage teacups, teapots and dessert plates for your tea time, gifting, collecting and prop styling needs.

Thank you for letting me share. Here's to a great journey through 2018!
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Vintage Finds: Johnson Brothers Plates and a Chinoiserie Figurine

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As the temperatures dip below freezing here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, we've consigned ourselves to the inescapable reality of wool sweaters and hot cups of tea. Yes indeed, the weather has definitely taken its inevitable turn towards winter.

Just yesterday James and I were pondering what our chances are of seeing snow again this season and reminiscing on our unfortunate series of events last December.

An unusually large accumulation of heavy wet snow weighed down and broke the power lines in various parts of town, including in our neighborhood. There were many of us without electricity for three days. The temperatures hovered in the teens and twenties. We shivered our way through the long hours with candlelight, down comforters and wool blankets, and used our camping stove to cook our food and heat water.

In other words, it wasn't anything like the calm, untroubled scenes pictured in the pair of Johnson Brothers 'The Friendly Village' transfer ware plates I'm featuring today.

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'The Schoolhouse' 10" Dinner Plate

In 1883 brothers Alfred and Frederik Johnson founded the Johnson Brothers pottery at the Charles Street Works, located in the Stoke-on-Trent district, United Kingdom. The brothers manufactured earthenware, which they called White Granite. Over time Alfred and Frederik were joined by two more brothers, Henry and Robert.

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By 1888 the Johnson Brothers potteries were producing their now famous colorful and charming under-glaze printed ware, or transfer ware.

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'Sugar Maples' 6" Plate
To create transfer ware a master artisan engraves a pattern into a flat copper plate. Ink is then applied to the copper plate and the carved design is impressed onto a thin sheet of tissue paper. The design on the tissue paper is then applied, or transferred, onto the surface of a ceramic object such as a plate, bowl or teacup. The object is then ready for a low temperature firing in a kiln.

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I have been enamored with transfer ware for a couple of years now and am slowly building a collection. Of course I have been anxious to share this particular find, but I thought it would be fun to wait until winter when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are bundling up and looking out our own windows at the winter landscapes of the towns, cities or countrysides in which we live.

Similar to my fascination with transfer ware is my interest in all things chinoiserie. I love chinoiserie style because it can be timeless, classy and ultra chic, while at the same time playful and kitschy. Figurines such as the boy shown here have become a quintessentially familiar part of the style. Knowing that statues such as this one came in pairs, my only regret on this particular thrift shopping adventure is that I was only able to find the one piece. After I placed it in my basket I wasted a lot of time searching throughout the store for the other one.

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At 8" tall, he is a dynamic looking fellow in a flowing white tunic and pants, a cute matching cap on his head. The tunic, accessorized with high collar, epaulettes and toggle button enclosures are a classic 1950s green, embellished with gold. He's gracefully poised within a moment in time, as if stopped for a quick pose before rushing off to an important social engagement or celebration, ginger jar in hand.

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This happy chinoiserie style figurine will definitely be making various appearances around my house.

I am definitely now on the lookout for more vintage chinoiserie home decor pieces, especially since I discovered that vintage English transfer ware and vintage asian or chinoiserie style decorative items are quite pleasing when styled together.

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful December and a happy holiday season.


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Monday, November 20, 2017

Vintage Tea Treasures, An Etsy Shop Holiday Sale

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Hello friends and welcome!

I'm pleased to announce my Etsy shop Vintage Tea Treasures is having a holiday sale, starting today November 20th. You can save 10% in the shop until December 1st.

There you'll find classic, timeless and fun teatime china ware from famous name brands such as Royal Albert, Aynsley, Shelley, Wedgwood and Franciscan.     

You'll also find the 'Christmas Eve' Viktor Schreckengost snacks sets and the Nikko Classic Collection teapot featuring a Christmas tree, pictured above.

Buying vintage is good for the planet and in today's home decor atmosphere, mixing vintage and modern pieces is a strong trend that is going to be around for awhile. Not only that, but vintage items are unique one-of-a-kind pieces, offering individuality and an opportunity for you to create a distinctive look, exclusive to who you are.

So no matter if you are shopping for yourself or a friend, or if you just like to gush over vintage tea ware, I hope you will consider visiting Vintage Tea Treasures.

Thank you! 
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Autumn Garden and Embracing Imperfection

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Hi Friends! It's been too long since I've shared anything here on the blog. The end of this past summer suddenly brought with it so many duties and responsibilities that it all felt like too much weight. Nothing was fun! I really needed to take a step back, evaluate and allow myself to embrace imperfection - the idea that as much as I would like to, I can't do it all.

I actually went for several weeks without picking up my camera or spending time on my favorite social media platform Instagram. I decided to let all that be and see where it leads.

At first it led to many early evening naps on the couch. You know that feeling you get when your body tells you to shut down and get the sleep that you know you've been neglecting for probably weeks, or even months? That was me.

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It's been several weeks now since I allowed myself free time to just let things flow. And I must say it has been a great relief to stare out the window, watch Mother Nature unfold, and marvel at all the color in my garden that I'm sharing with you here. 

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As far as this blog is concerned, it is clear from the stats what I should be writing about: Art History and vintage collectables. I've known that for awhile. I think I just needed to concentrate on photography. Meaning I have been rather obsessed with photographing flowers and my vintage finds for my Instagram feed and hosting the #collectandstyle hashtag. And while I have loved doing that and meeting so many incredibly talented women there, the truth is that I was burning myself out attempting to reach my own version of perfection.

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I have learned so much about still life photography from both trial and error and from all my talented Instagram friends. There is nothing more pleasurable in life than creating something out of the love that you feel in your heart and sharing that expression with the world.

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Giving myself permission to take a step back and disengage has allowed me to feel okay with the fact that in this crazy on-line world, I can't do 'all the things'. Especially since I don't always know what I should be doing next! So, instead of beating myself up for not doing all those things that I think I should be doing, I'm opting for just two priorities for right now - this blog and my Etsy shop Vintage Tea Treasures.

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I consider Vintage Tea Treasures my greatest gift from the world wide web. It all started last year when I worked with Numi Organic Tea. They sponsored my Instagram hashtag and my tea ware shop was born out of that effort. (Thank you James for suggesting it!)

From the very moment I started this blog I knew that I wanted a shop of some kind. And then I discovered that I got a lot of pleasure from sharing my knowledge and growing expertise in vintage tea ware. In fact, I would better describe it as a passion that has grown into a calling. A calling that I have been wanting to spend more time on but have felt too stretched thin to be able to accomplish it.

It was for that very reason then, that I realized I just needed to get to work on my shop and make it a priority.

And so for the last several weeks I have been spending my spare time putting effort into growing the inventory in Vintage Tea Treasures. I've been on the hunt for teacups, teapots and dessert plates, getting them photographed and listing them. If there is any lesson I can say I've learned over the last couple of months, it would be that it feels so much easier to concentrate on one large task at a time, and be in it wholeheartedly.

Since taking a break from social media, a few of my fellow Instagrammers have sent me direct messages inquiring about my well being. Thank you! I do plan to be back, but in a more limited capacity. 

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So as the clock ticks away on the close of this unusually sunny, warm and long-lasting colorful autumn season here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, with its shorter days, long nights and what seems like endless leaves to rake, my family and I begin to turn inward. To more time spent indoors out of the rain, and leaning into the preparations for our Thanksgiving and holiday season.

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Pumpkin pie, anyone?

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Vintage Tea Treasures: A Happy Customer

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Hey friends! When it comes to selling tea ware in my Etsy shop, Vintage Tea Treasures, the one thing that gets me excited is a happy customer.

Karen Noble recently purchased the two violet decorated Crown Trent teacup and saucers sets, shown above, from Vintage Tea Treasures. After her package arrived, she then sent me this image and explained that she will be using the teacups with her pansy tea ware, consisting of the Windsor teapot and Allyn Nelson milk jug and sugar bowl, also shown. Karen now owns an interesting, eclectic, and high quality bone china 'tea for two' set, which not only is highly functional, but also makes a great display.

Thank you for your purchase Karen! And if anyone reading this is also interested in becoming one of my happy customers, you can save 10% by clicking the following link: PLUMBLOSSOM10.
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