Saturday, July 30, 2011

Featured Artist: Natalie Ferguson of A Frolic Through Time

If you are someone who loves vintage materials and vintage themed designs, I know you will be inspired by Natalie Ferguson and her blog, A Frolic Through Time. Natalie does what many of us would love to do: she designs and sews period clothing for actual wear.

In her words: “Fashion is fun, but period fashion is more fun. Period clothing speaks volumes about a culture and evokes memories and ideas close to the heart. That’s why I enjoy researching and constructing period clothing and accessories; the feel of the process and the drape of the result open doors to another time and place…[I] am still reading and writing but now joyfully testing what I read on real fabric. Here are experiments and essays - and trials -  in costuming, shared with you.” (Natalie is wearing the feathered hat in the previous 2 photos.)

I learned about Natalie’s designs because she purchased some tiny vintage flat back chaton rhinestones from Bumbershoot Supplies.  She told me she planned to attach them to tiny pieces of fabric, then sew those embellished fabric bits onto a petticoat she was designing as part of a 1795 Full Dress Ensemble for the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville this July, at which she planned to volunteer.  Well, I had to know more and I knew I’d have to share this with you.

See the rhinestone in the center of the goldwork on the finished petticoat…

And here they are again on the buckle…

Every time I visit A Frolic Through Time, I can get lost there for hours, hours that seem to pass by in minutes. This is because Natalie’s designs and her blog bring together so many things I love: good literature, period fashion, living history, fabric, embellishments and accessories, the traditionally female arts, and an attention to detail and authenticity that I greatly respect.  
Plus, a bit of theatre too.

I am also in awe of Natalie’s generous spirit – she provides an incredible amount of detail about the sources she uses to create her designs, the designs themselves and her creative process.  Indeed, Natalie’s blog is a very rich source of information, links and resources on period fashion and I definitely recommend a visit just for the resources alone.  Her blog posts are true gifts.
I hope you will be inspired by a visit to Natalie’s blog for your own Frolic Through Time!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vintage Design Inspiration Board #15 with Creativity Quote

Life is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?
~Margot Fonteyn

Inspiration Board #15 features:

vintage millinery glitter stamens (West Germany, wrapped with hand dyed twine)
vintage glass mirror button (US Zone Occupied Germany)
vintage coral glass beads, whole and halves (Japan)
vintage glass pearl drop (Japan)
vintage turquoise glass bead links (Japan)
vintage plastic flower cabochon (Japan)
lace, hand crocheted with antique crochet cotton (USA) and vintage orange lustre glass seed beads (Czech)
kanzashi flower made from Tracie Lynn Huskamp Nature Inspired fabric, embellished with vintage glass pearl button (Japan)
vintage paper  button tag (Austria)
vintage rhinestone earring component
vintage ivory flower buttons
additional scraps of Nature Inspired fabric
antique embroidery floss
vintage linen tea towel
mounted on 4x5 inch gallery wrapped canvas base

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vintage Rhinestones, Vintage Beads, Vintage Buttons and More from the US Zone of Occupied Germany: Date and Location

A lot of the vintage glass at Bumbershoot Supplies, including vintage beads, vintage cabochons, vintage rhinestones and vintage buttons, comes to us labeled “Made in Germany US Zone”. This tells us that the item was made in Germany during the time the country was occupied by Allied Forces immediately post WWII. Here’s the history…
This map is from
This map shows the Allied zones of occupation in Germany. The division into these zones was in place by July 1945, after a period of negotiation by the Allies and subsequent troop movement. The Soviet zone is in pink, the French zone is in blue, the American zone is in bright yellow, and the British zone is in the softer yellow. At first, each occupying power had authority in their respective areas. Eventually the three western zones were combined to form the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in 1949, with the Soviets forming the Germany Democratic Republic (GDR), also in 1949. 

Allied occupation of the Federal Republic of Germany continued until 1955, but the “zones” disappeared with the formation of the FRG in 1949.  “Western Germany” and later “West Germany” were the common English names used for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which existed from 1949 until the reunification of Germany in 1990. Soviet control of the eastern zone of Germany, commonly referred to as “East Germany”, continued from 1945 to 1990, first as the USSR Zone (1945-1949) then as the GDR.

Who knows how long it took for new packaging materials to be printed for glass baubles and beads, stating their origin as “US Zone”?  And who knows how long it took for packaging material to switch subsequently to “Made in Western Germany” or “Made in West Germany”? In any case, the “Made in Germany US Zone” marking is understood to encompass most of southern Germany as shown by the map and covers the time between the end date of WWII and the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. 1945 to 1949.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Featured Artist. Ann Tatum of Duct Tape and Denim on Etsy

In this latest installment of our Featured Artists, I’m really happy to share with you the designs of Ann Tatum of Duct Tape and Denim on Etsy. Ann is a jewelry designer, mixed media artist and recycler extraordinaire. You may have seen her work published in Somerset Life, Green Craft, Somerset Holidays and Celebrations, Somerset Studio Gallery and Somerset Memories.

Ann’s work first came to my attention when I caught sight of her vintage measuring tape bracelets and these surely are one of her signature designs.

Other signature designs include her skeleton key necklaces and charms, several of which feature embellishments from Bumbershoot Supplies.

Most of Ann’s pieces are limited or one-of-a-kind, using , as she says, “old, vintage, or even antique pieces of jewelry that I buy from local estate sales, garage sales, or even online”. 

In addition to the measuring tapes, many of Ann’s designs reflect an appreciation of traditionally female pursuits and pasttimes, such as sewing, and include buttons, lace, and even vintage thimbles.

It’s not just jewelry you will find at Duct Tape and Denim.  Ann’s shop also includes an ever-changing selection of vintage-inspired art and collages as well as vintage supplies.

In addition to selling in her Etsy shop, Ann also has space at Room With a Past, a warehouse shop open 4 days each month.  If you find yourself in Walnut Creek, CA at the right time, this would be a great place to visit and see Ann’s work in person. She’s also just prepared a custom order of measuring tape bracelets for Red Barn Boutique in Stillwater, OK so you will her designs there too.

If you decide to order from Ann’s shop be prepared for her recycling esthetic to infuse the package that arrives in your mail box.  She says: “I also recycle as much packaging material as I can so you may receive your item in a padded envelope or box that has already been used several times. I often protect my package with recycled bubble wrap, cereal boxes, or Sunday's funnies. You never know what you'll get!” This woman walks the talk!

To learn more about Ann and her designs, I hope you will enjoy a visit to her Etsy shop, Duct Tape and Denim, and also you can visit her at her blog, Keeping Up With the Tatums.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beautiful Czech Bohemian Glass: Amethyst Sew Ons, History and Provenance

These vintage glass beads, available at Bumbershoot Supplies, are amethyst jewels, with faceted tops and flat backs. There are 2 holes in each, for the original purpose of sewing onto clothing and fabric. Happily, I was able to obtain these jewels with original packaging which dates them between 1939 to 1945. Here's their history:

The original packaging says "Czecho-Protectorate-Germany". This is interesting to me since the official name of this region during WWII was the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

The western region of Czechoslovakia, occupied by German troops on March 15, 1939 was declared by Adolf Hitler to be a German "protectorate". This region encompassed the central parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia in what is today the Czech Republic, and was home at that time to some of the finest glass artisans in the world. Bohemia and Moravia were autonomous regions administered by the Nazis and considered by them to be part of the greater German Reich.

This occupation, of course, had far reaching implications for everyone living in this region, including those involved in the bijouterie industry. Exports of glass beads and cabochons and completed jewelry decreased as European and American organizations boycotted Nazi treatment of the Jews (see my other blog post here). The bijouterie industry as a whole was belittled by Nazi officials and the jewelry produced was considered to be decadent and "unfit adornment for German women".  In addition, many factories were converted to military use. To learn more about the effect on these glass artisans of the ethnic and political tensions in this region before, during and after WWII, I recommend the wonderful resource Baubles Buttons and Beads. The Heritage of Bohemia by Sibylle Jargstorf. 

For me, part of the lure of vintage materials, along with the quality, unusual colors and designs, is the joy in being able to touch history in such a tangible way. And I am continually inspired by the beauty that is created and available all around us, even under conditions of great duress. Great little beads, and oh, the tales they could tell...

Products related to this history can be found right here on Bumbershoot Supplies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christmas in July. Stamped Cards with Vintage and Antique Embellishments

I had a bit of time during the July 4 weekend to play in my studio, and inspired by the "With One Stamp" feature that Stampington publishes in Somerset Studio magazine, I decided to use one stamp and many different vintage embellishments from Bumbershoot Supplies and my personal collection to make a series of Christmas cards.

Each one is unique, but for every card, the stamp, colors, and and basic layout are the same. That made it easier for me - I felt my time was limited and I wanted results and I wanted them quickly!

I like this approach, since each card is as unique as each recipient, and I very much enjoy using the vintage supplies for purposes other than jewelry.

The stamp is Thicket Birds by Memory Box. I love this stamp, it looks just like my favorite place to walk, Discovery Park, Seattle, in the winter.  I purchased the beautiful thick creamy watercolor paper sheets years ago from Impress. For each card I used brown and red markers to ink the stamp, foil highlighting in red, gold or silver, brown striped fabric tape purchased from Stampington, and stitched in red thread with my sewing machine. These components formed the foundation of each card.

And then I added lots of different vintage embellishments.

Because life always seems so full, to make these cards I had to break the process down into very small steps.  Ink and stamp. Pick some orders. Stick on fabric tape. Answer emails. Pull out and audition embellishments. Do some data entry. Stitch each card. Talk with suppliers. Glue embellishments. Wrap up designs for shipping. Add foil highlights.... You get the picture!

There are lots of different vintage embellishments used in these cards, some you may recognize from Bumbershoot Supplies and some are perhaps less familiar. I love to use the original packaging materials whenever possible, so there are paper and strings that are from the 1940's and 1950's and were used to wrap buttons and rhinestones and cabochons.

We like to make as many Christmas gifts as possible, and now I feel great because I have made a good start on my Christmas crafting and I am emergized to continue!