Brenda’s High School Project gets an A+!

Many Saturdays ago, I found myself meandering through the rural parts of Clay County, looking for garage sales. There were a few out there, but not many. But they were in the right places, so I found something really cool at almost every stop. Which brings me to this guy.

It’s no secret that I’m somewhat obsessed with anything between Tiffany blue and seafoam green. This stein fit the bill perfectly, although it had obviously been in a barn for many years. As a matter of fact, the woman who sold it to me, Brenda, said that she and her husband moved it for 30 years and just never really used it. She had made it in an art class in high school.

I brought it home and cleaned it up. I think Brenda did a pretty good job! I love the color and I love the relief  and that it’s still all perfectly in tact. It’s a great piece for someone who wants a splash of breezy blue in their design. Isn’t that floppy-eared dog so cute, resting his head on his master’s leg? I just love it.

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Too Pretty to be Single: Beaver Falls Tile All Alone

I don’t know anything about antique tile. Well, I know only what Nicole Curtis has taught me on her show.

So here’s what Nicole Curtis has taught me so far:

  • Old tile is thicker
  • If you can save old tile, do it.

So I was out and about today – it’s been a great weekend for treasure-hunting – and came across this inconspicuous green tile. She was sitting all alone among figurines, ashtrays and other bric-a-brac. I almost didn’t see her, but I did.

First thing you do when you find something old and made of glass, ceramic or porcelain: turn it over. So I did. The lighting in Savers wasn’t that great because when I checked the underside, I didn’t see any identifying marks. I could see that the glaze was crackling, which told it me it was old. (It’s awfully hard to fake that.) She was only 99 cents, so home with me she went.

Beaver Falls Antique Tile

Beaver Falls green checkered tile

In the better light of this beautiful day, I was able to make out the word “Beaver” (tee-hee) under the barely-scraped-off price sticker, so I did a search.

Beaver Falls Antique Tile

Beaver Falls antique tile bottom

Turns out “Falls” was also under the sticker poop, and that’s who made this tile: Beaver Falls. They were in business 1886-1927 and made some of the most beautiful cameo and relief tile in its day. I found some incredible examples, and even more here.

Beaver Falls tile is often highlighted/found on fireplace surrounds as well as stoves and walls (and I’ve seen something similar to the portrait below used in a fireplace mantle too) in homes built in that time. You know, the tile that Nicole Curtis finds many times in the homes she so lovingly restores, the tile that can’t be duplicated, where replacements can’t ever be found should any tiles become damaged… In other words, this tile is the bomb diggity. Unfortunately, because tile can only really be identified on the underside, we may not know when we’re looking at Beaver Falls when it’s in place, and considering the tile artists of the day were moving between and forming new tile companies somewhat frequently, it would take a real pro to discern one from the other without the benefit of the underside/I.D. Whereas mine is a 4 1/4″ squared tile, Beaver Falls also made the smaller subway tiles that we also see in those older homes with the original fireplace tile work, and many other sizes and orientations.

Beaver Falls Antique Tile

Beaver Falls antique 3-tile set floral swag

I wasn’t able to find anything that looked exactly like mine, so here she is!

Photoshop and Restoration

It’s pretty rare that I find a piece of furniture that I like in my price range that doesn’t need some kind of attention, whether it be a thorough cleaning, tightening of screws, paint job, Windex or something. In order to decide which direction I will take on its upgrade, I use my graphic design chops. My most recent case in point: this door-less Empire style tiger oak buffet. It’s got amazing bones and the original bevel mirror, and all of its drawers are in tact and accounted for. But how do I make it look fabulous with no doors below and old, unsightly wood exposed?

tiger oak empire buffet

Tiger Oak Empire Buffet

Well, that’s just it. I don’t know. So I start playing with the image on Photoshop. I can add whatever color I want, whatever texture I want, whatever design I want…

I just started playing with colors on it, and the jury is still out on what to do with it, but I have some ideas now. It appears as though someone tried to give it another stain/poly job and it didn’t do it any favors. So we’ll see. I don’t want to have to paint the whole thing but this poor thing has been through so much, I just don’t know if she has another life exposed in her.

I found a few examples of buffets like this that were painted. I’m weighing all options.

What do you think?

Empire Buffet painted by Moxy Liberty

Excelsior Springs Soda Jerk Sign

Talk about a step back in time! I found this lovely at a garage sale here in Liberty this morning. The house was half of a block from William Jewell College, and the home was a gorgeous Century home with three stories, each 1,000 square feet. The man having the sale said he was downsizing. He didn’t look all that happy to be selling, but he was friendly enough.

The sign came out of a diner in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. He bought it when the place closed for good. But he couldn’t for the life of him remember what the name of it was. It drove him crazy, like it was on the tip of his tongue. So the mystery, for me, still exists. He probably remembered the name as soon as I drove away.

I love its simplicity. I love that it’s a little dirty and just a little beat up. I also love that there are tape marks over the .25 price for Malts & Shakes. And I love that this still exists! And that it’s still in Clay County! And that we know where it came from!

Garage sales are so cool. It’s finds like this that keep me going every week.

Excelsior Diner Sign.jpg

Roached-out Silver Still Holds Its Appeal

I started with one. One that my belonged to my great-grandmother. Then I saw one at a yard sale for next-to-nothing. Then some time went by and I saw another one, all seemingly cheaper than the last.

And so it began. I didn’t set out to collect old silverplated pitchers, but I do. Some are art deco, some are frilly and some are so old, they don’t even shine anymore. Hahaha!

When I was in Miami, I saw these OFTEN. The things people sold down there always killed me. Folks in Southern Florida have little appreciation for everyday antiques, so I was in heaven. But I digress.

I snatch these up anytime they’re marked at my magic number or less. Today I actually paid a little more for one, but I don’t usually go above that “number”. So that brings my number to nine silver pitchers. I met up with some old-timer antiques dealers a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t all that surprised to see that they had a collection of them too. They were asking more than three times my magic number, so I know I’m on to something good here.

My favorite use for them is as a vase. They kind of elevate the presentation of the flowers in a charming way.

Silverplated pitcher with roses

Antique silverplated pitcher as vase.

I decided not long ago to start using some of these things in my everyday life. So I use one of my small silver trays for a catch-all on top of my dryer. It holds things like buttons and change and lots of lint I’m sure. I don’t know, it still makes doing laundry seem more… civilized.

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Pretty, Little German Spice Cabinet

On my recent lazy, meandering, antiquing trip to Lexington, Missouri, I came across this beautiful little German mini spice cabinet. It was found in a little store on the outskirts of town and trust me when I say there was NOTHING interesting in the store but this. (Think vintage furniture, the ugly stuff.) I was ready to leave until the store employee showed me two more rooms to the store than I had realized. It was in the last room that I came across this little nugget of fabulousness. The price was steep; I had some work to do.

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

After some casual chatting with the store’s only employee, I decided to make an offer. Beings as how I know nothing about cabinets like these, I was really guessing at what I thought was “fair”. After some fourth-party (me to employee to wife on phone to husband working in the yard) dickering over the phone, we settled on a price and I hit the road with my new treasure. The 45-minute drive home was longer than usual, as I couldn’t wait to sit down in my office and do some research on it.

Here’s what I know: these little spice cabinets used to be a thing. When? Well, that’s where I’m fuzzy. Similar cabinets claim to date from as early as the late 1800s, but I just can’t verify that for mine. They’re also called baking cabinets I believe.

Whereas they were popular, they are again. Decorators love epothecary cabinets, and anything else with a thousand little drawers. I know this because they’re hell to find in the rough. I saw an old metal card cabinet (like you would see in libraries growing up) at an estate sale this past weekend; it was gone within an hour, and it wasn’t cheap.

This cabinet is made of wood, has one cabinet door with a porcelain vented tile in the middle. It was covered in a grease/dust mixture that equated to glue, but cleaned up nicely. Inside the cabinet is a shelf, which looks to be original.

There are six drawers: Paprika, Gewurz, Pfeffer, Zimt, Kumel and Nelken. They are white porcelain with black lettering, black frilly scrolls on the sides and a pretty little image in the middle of each of the silhouette of a woman with a parasol. It includes just the right touch of blue to make the whole piece sing.

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

Close-up of German Spice Cabinet Porcelain Drawer

I did find a lot of fabulous antique cabinets in my research though that I fell in love with. Aside from mine, I think I like the metal ones best.

What do you think?

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

Close-up of interior cabinet of German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

Backside of Porcelain Tile in German Spice Cabinet with

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

German Spice Cabinet Porcelain Drawers: Paprika, Gewurz, Pfeffer, Zimt, Kumel, Nelken

German Spice Cabinet with Porcelain tile and six drawers

Close-up of German Spice Cabinet Porcelain Zimt Drawer

Coolest Thing I Saw Today! And it Hides a Secret!

I go to estate sales all over Kansas City these days. It’s a good day when one is happening in my very own town. Today was such a day.

I was one of 30 people in line when the doors to this shoemaker’s estate sale opened up at 9:00 this morning and I’m so glad I was. I had my eye on something in particular – this 1920’s cast bookend, which I was lucky enough to grab up.

1920's cast bookend - boat captain and wheel

And I also put my hands on this beautiful walking stick, and didn’t let go (estate sale-goers are crazy!). All I knew about it was that it was old and gorgeous.

late 19th century walking stick with hidden blade

It wasn’t until I got home and was playing with it that I realized that it had a secret hidden inside: it is also a knife.

late 19th century walking stick with hidden blade

A little research and I was able to determine that the item is probably from the late 19th century and made in India. It features carved bone and hand carvings in the wood, which has been ebonized. And I love it.

As much as I think I would love to be a little old lady who walks with a cane that has a hidden 22″ blade in it in a few years, I have decided that I am not ready for a cane just yet. So on eBay it goes. Isn’t it fantastic?!

UPDATE: eBay doesn’t allow hidden blade items. If you have an interest in this item. Let me know. I’ll be enjoying it in the meantime. 🙂