Monday, August 29, 2011

Vintage Design Inspiration Board #16 with Creativity Quote

Life is a great big canvas
and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
~Danny Kaye

Inspiration Board #16 features:

vintage straw millinery leaves (Paris, France,
wrapped with embroidery floss and vintage Czech button)
vintage mother of pearl buttons (USA)
vintage pearl leaf bead drops (Japan)
vintage glass mirror leaf cabochon (Western Germany)
vintage plastic leaf charms
vintage red glass leaf cabochon
paper wrapper from vintage sequins
twine from original boxes of vintage buttons
embroidery floss
vintage linen tea towel
stamped with Thicket Birds stamp by Memory Box, black StazOn ink
and embellished with French knots
mounted on 4x5 inch gallery wrapped canvas base


Friday, August 26, 2011

Featured Artist: Lena Duncan of Big Ass Bindis on Etsy

Check out these wonderful bindis created by Lena Duncan of Big Ass Bindis on Etsy.
What’s a bindi? Lena says “The bindi is one of the most beautiful and unusual forms of body decoration. Considered a symbol of Parvati, (Lord Shiva's wife), a bindi signifies female energy.
The bindi is traditionally worn between the eyebrows, over the sixth chakra known as the 'agna', the seat of concealed wisdom.
In the Western World, the bindi has evolved into a unique fashion statement and has become an essential finishing touch to Tribal Bellydance costuming.”
How do you wear a bindi? Again, from Lena: “Mounted on a sturdy vinyl backing, it can be adhered with eyelash adhesive, although spirit gum is recommended. With proper care, your Big Ass Bindi can be used many, many times.”
Lena creates these beautiful works of art using beautiful metal filigrees and decorative elements, coupled with glass cabochons, rhinestones and embellishments, including some from Bumbershoot Supplies, which is how I learned of her work.
After all, who wouldn’t check out a shop with the name “Big Ass Bindis”? Now it’s your turn! I hope you will head over to Lena's shop to be inspired by her beautiful designs. 
Maybe even treat yourself to a bindi or two.
Because "bigger IS better"!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is Cherry Brand? History and Provenance of Vintage Japanese Beads and Cabochons

What is “Cherry Brand”? You may have noticed several items at Bumbershoot Supplies labeled “Cherry Brand”. We have beads on wire, rhinestones and cabochons, all glass and all labeled "Cherry Brand".

These items often arrive wrapped in tissue sealed with an orange gummed sakura blossom label.

We love to obtain vintage beads and cabochons labeled Cherry Brand since the label helps us in dating and locating the supplies, providing information about their history and provenance.

My source for information about Cherry Brand comes from Dolce Street Arts and Crafts, a Japanese site. I recommend visiting this link for an English question and answer fact sheet about Cherry Brand. Here is a summary of the information provided.

Cherry Brand was used to label beads and cabochons made by a group of glass artisans in Osaka, Japan, from 1945 to 1952 during the US Occupation of Japan after WWII. Some glass beads and cabochons marked Cherry Brand were made earlier, but the vast majority of currently available items come from this period. Cherry Brand was not a factory per se, rather a large group of individual artisans who were rice farmers during the day and glass workers at night and during the off season.

At the end of WWII, American dealers brought samples of items they were interested in and commissioned these artisans to make similar beads and cabochons. The samples were European, usually Czech and Venetian. This is why you will see vintage and antique Czech cabochons from, for example, the 1920’s and 1930’s reproduced by Japanese glass artisans in the 1940’s. It is very interesting to look through Sibylle Jargsorf’s book Baubles, Buttons and Beads. The Heritage of Bohemia because you will find examples of beads and cabochons that were subsequently reproduced by Japanese Cherry Brand artisans.

In addition to being able to date and locate Cherry Brand beads and cabochons, we also love to obtain them for Bumbershoot Supplies because with Cherry Brand, we can always expect extraordinary beauty, as well as remarkable quality and craftsmanship. When an item is marked Cherry Brand, we know that within is contained a glass treasure, almost always made between 1945 and 1952, in Osaka Japan, by glass artisans working from their homes. Plus with these beads and cabochons, there is a direct connection to the original glass artisan – from their hands to yours. Does that thrill you? It does me!

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

Featured Artist: Tracy Guillaume of Tied up Memories on Etsy

  August seems like exactly the right month to share with you the designs of Tracy Guillaume of Tied up Memories on Etsy.
That is because Tracy is a member of Etsy’s Cottage Style Street Team, and her designs are inspired by and reflect the cottage style. 
You often hear “cottage style” referred to in terms of interior decorating, where it is characterized by old, timeworn pieces, often painted and weathered, definitely with a vintage appeal. 
Colors are light, such as whites and tans, as well as soft yellows, pinks, blues, greens.  
Overall, there is a sense of warmth and comfort that comes from frequently used and well loved pieces and spaces.
Just imagine a special cottage on the water, one that is returned to year after year, a place to rejuvenate and revitalize, a place where special memories are created.
I'm sure you can see how Tracy’s jewelry designs capture this aesthetic. Her pieces repurpose unique vintage components, the colors are soft, the pieces are comfortable and pretty.
And there are lots of flowers.
Tracy’s work has been featured in Jewelry Affaire (Autumn 2010, page 38-39) , and you can also learn more about her work at her blog.
As summer here in the Northern Hemisphere winds down, you can enjoy holding onto its warmth just a bit longer with a visit to Tied up Memories. Plus, if you are interested in cottage style accents for your space, you may find the perfect piece at her second Etsy shop, Tied Up Memories Market. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Vintage Mercury Glass Beads Were Made: History and Provenance of Vintage Beads

Blown glass beads and buttons have been around for a long time, hundreds of years.  However, finding vintage and antique hollow glass beads and buttons is always a special treat, because blown beads and buttons are fragile and easily broken, so there is considerable loss over the years.

In the early 1800’s in Bohemia, a large selection of blown glass beads was available, including various colors, silver lined, faceted, irregularly shaped, and so on (Jargstorf 1998).  These are blown glass buttons from my personal collection, and are Bohemian glass from the 1800’s. They were individually blown of clear glass, lined with a coating to make them look like pearls, and finally had their delicate glass shanks attached.

You can see these 3 components – thinnest possible glass – pearlized coating – shank – in this broken button.

Making the vintage mercury glass beads that are familiar as vintage Christmas decorations  is a bit different.  First a long thin tube of hot glass is blown into a mold, creating a series of hollow bulges at regular intervals. The tube is then coated or lined on the inside with a silver nitrate solution. Finally the tube is cut between each bulge to create the individual beads. 

Back in the early 1800’s, the solution used to line the beads contained mercury, thus the historical name.  By the mid 1800’s in Bohemia, the lining solution had switched to be a combination of silver nitrate, water and sugar. In Bohemia in the 1870’s two important innovations were introduced: a mold that allowed up to 8 beads to be blown at one time and a pump to line the beads mechanically, instead of by sucking by mouth, although the “by mouth” method did continue to be used, related to the cottage industry character of the Bohemian glass making industry (Jargstorf 1998). 

Cutting the beads apart leaves a characteristic “neck” on these vintage beads and results in beads that are each unique in character. It also means that the edge around the hole of these beads is sharp, so remember to choose your stringing material with this in mind.  The fact that these beads are lined with a silver solution explains why sometimes vintage mercury glass beads can look tarnished - they are :)

At Bumbershoot Supplies, we have a few types of vintage blown hollow beads. These black hollow glass beads are from Czechoslovakia. These were made with black glass and blown into a textured mold that results in gentle facets on the outside of these beads. These hollow beads are relatively thick and study even as they are light in weight.

We also have available vintage Japanese mercury glass beads in both silver and gold, as shown in the photos throughout this article.  Gold mercury glass beads are made with amber colored glass, lined with silver nitrate solution to make them golden.  Our gold and silver beads are typical of vintage mercury beads, light and delicate.
Peter Francis Jr. Beads of the World, 2nd Edition. Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1999.
Sibylle Jargstorf. Glass in Jewelry. Hidden Artistry in Glass, 2nd Edition, Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1998.

Products related to the history can be found right here at Bumbershoot Supplies.