Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vintage Cameras: Collection or Decorating Element?

When guests walk into our home for the first time, it's not the abundance of vintage knotty pine woodwork and paneling that elicits comment (maybe they're just being polite). Nor is it my extensive collections of vintage Thermos, flower frogs or our books. Not even our Hoosier cabinet, antique wooden ice box or Stickley postal table. The oohs and aahs frequently are directed at my collection of more than 150 antique and vintage cameras.

"How many do you have?" people generally ask.

"More than 150," I always say, not quite sure of the number anymore.

Years ago I started a haphazard inventory of my cameras, but I didn't keep it current. So, I lost track of how many total cameras I have and how many are duplicates.

That's about to change. My husband gave me McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras for Christmas. It has more than 1,200 pages of photographs, descriptions and current values of cameras. It's the bible of camera collectors.

Cataloging my collection is one of my goals for the new year.

I've acquired most of my cameras at estates sales, but my own Brownie Flashfun (left), which I received for my 11th birthday, and my mother's Vigilant Junior Six-20 (right), which she received as a high school graduation gift, formed the basis of my collection.

Increasingly, I see vintage collectible cameras integrated into home decor. Indeed, they can make a nice addition in almost any setting.

In recent years--at least in my neck of the woods--I've been disappointed to see that estate sale proprietors, as well as many flea market and antique dealers, have grossly inflated the price of collectible cameras they offer--often up to five or six times the actual value of the camera. That means the casual collector or the young couple who just wants to pick up a camera or two to add interest to their decorating are paying much more than market value.

If you're interested in adding a few vintage cameras to your home decor or collecting for yourself or a young hobbyist, you'll discover that they're not difficult to find. Collecting vintage cameras such as the Kodak Brownies, many of the Ansco, Argus and Agfa models and several of the simple pocket type cameras that have come on the market since the early 1900s can be very affordable. The brightly colored models from the early 1960s, such as those seen above, are still in circulation and won't dent your pocketbook too badly.

Most of the Kodak Brownie models--and there are well over 50 Brownie types--have a market value of $20 or less. Many are in the $10 and under range. A good number of folding cameras from a variety of makers can still be purchased for $20 or less. Box cameras come in many shapes and sizes and often at a reasonable cost.

That said, as I noted, these same cameras can also carry price tags that are heftier than those mentioned above. To be fair to dealers and vendors who come across vintage cameras infrequently, finding reliable values that can be used in pricing is not as easy as it is with glassware, kitchenware and other more common antique and vintage items. The McKeown guide my hubby gave me is one of few--and, I believe, the most reliable--price guides on the market. It's expensive and not easy to find, other than on-line.

As you can tell, I have a love affair with antique and vintage cameras. I'm absolutely not an expert on them. But, I'm happy to share my camera hunting experiences or assist--if I can--if you have a curiosity about collecting cameras or a specific camera you'd like to find out more about. Feel free to leave me a comment below and I'll get back to you.

Make it a great day!
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of the Season to All

I will honor Christmas in my heart, 
and try to keep it all the year. 

-- Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Simple Splash of Red

When I visit the wonderful blogs on my reading list, I find the all-shades-of-white, light-neutral and shabby chic vignettes and decor are what most often catch my eye and draw me in first. They're so luscious,  soft and romantic.

Funny that the soft whites impact me that way because I love color. Our home, while dressed in knotty pine throughout, bears color on all the (non-knotty-pined) walls and the original vintage tile floor on the lower level.  Some of that color is big and bold. Additionally, most of our accents and decor are colorful, and I don't mean colorful as in a single color family. I guess it's my passion for all things vintage that heavily influences a color palette with a wide variety of hues. 

This Christmas season, for the first time ever, I "neutralized" much of the holiday decor in the living room. Not quite able to let go of all color, I added small splashes of red amongst the winter whites, silver, gold and mercury glass. Like my great-grandmother's tiny antique bottle brush Santa.

And an antique German liquor bottle in the shape of a Santa.

A couple of well-placed pretty red items alongside the feather trees adds interest. In my humble opinion.

And, the tall, ceramic pencil Santa my mother hand-painted for me adds subdued, but stately, color against a collection of vintage mirrors.

A simple vintage ornament with a red band creates some pop next to the large mercury glass bowl on the Stickley postal table.

Relax! It's not a bonfire in my living room. But, I wanted to share a night shot of the mercury glass bowl on the postal table. I filled it with twinkle lights and this is what it looks like with the lights on. Sort of. You'll just have to take my word for it that it's softer light than that in person.

For a final splash of red, I included this stunning male cardinal I photographed this morning in the cedar tree along the ravine at the back of our yard. This was our first significant snow of the season. Fitting as a prelude to winter, don't you think?

Although I used a long lens to capture him, this brilliant guy was quite a distance away. So, I hope you'll pardon the photo quality.

I'm dedicating this post to my mother, who was born in December and passed in December six years ago. She was an avid, amateur birdwatcher, who counted the cardinal among her favorites.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Is It About Vintage-Style Bottle Brush Trees?

What is it that's so appealing about bottle brush trees? 

Maybe it's that they take many of us back to our childhood when our mothers decorated with small bottle brush trees, often handed down from their mothers.

Maybe it's that they're easy to work with. Because the more contemporary versions come in so many colors and sizes (from large to teeny tiny), they can make a nice addition to almost any holiday vignette.

Maybe it's that they're simplistic. Nothing fancy, even when embellished with fake snow, glitter or a few vintage glass balls.

Whatever the reason, I've grown to love this versatile addition to my holiday decor and thought I'd share some of my bottle brush trees with you.

On the buffet, accompanied by vintage glass ornaments and tree toppers . . .

A nice grouping of three creates a simple, peaceful scene sprouting from among vintage silver ornaments in a large blue Mason jar . . .

This one was among a shoebox full of trees I picked up at an estate sale. It started out a hideous blue-green color. I doused it in Clorox before giving it and some of its cohorts a home on the family room mantel alongside my eclectic group of snowmen . . .

Some of my trees are tucked inside drawers around the house  . . .

Some are planted in vintage aluminum molds on the basement hearth and in a vintage wooden cheese box on the Hoosier cabinet  . . .

And some are nestled in glassware . . . 

If you're looking for something simple to tie things together in your holiday decor, try using a few vintage-style bottle brush trees. You can find them at any craft store. And, if you prefer to decorate in shades of white, go ahead and buy the green craft store trees. Drop them in a bucket of bleach until the color is gone, rinse, let them dry and you're set to go.

Make it a great day!
Knick of Time Tuesday

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Still Star Struck--A Quick Homespun Garland

Twinkle, twinkle little star . . .

Stars have fascinated me since childhood. Both the celestial kind and star-shaped anythings.

A look around our home and, year-round, you'll catch a glimpse of my Abingdon Pottery and other star vases, some rustic metals and primitives and milk glass filled with shiny baubles.

My dad was an amateur sky watcher and built his own telescopes. We spent many a summer evening with our eyes trained on the sky, examining the sparkle of the stars and imagining if there were others like us out there in the vast darkness.

The past few months, I've seen so many cool crochet items on Pinterest and Etsy that I got the itch to get out my crochet hooks. It's been a few years since I've done any crocheting.

Since the week of Thanksgiving, we've made two trips to Illinois. Nine hours round trip each. Great time for a couple of crochet projects.

I made a garland of cream-colored stars on the first trip and, on the second trip, nearly finished a longer garland with smaller stars in green that I plan to use in my spring decor.

I added the garland to the family room mantel above which we recently hung a special family painting my husband's parents gave him. 

These little gems are a joy to make and very easy. I found the instructions on the internet here. I strung them all together with a simple chain stitch string. Twinkle, twinkle . . . 

Make it a great day!
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Monday, December 3, 2012

Faux la, la, la, la

Oscar Wilde said, "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

One thing I can't be accused of is decorating for Christmas the same way year after year. I don't always throw the baby out with the bath water, but I do change things up and add some unexpected delights to the vignettes I carry over from a previous year.

This year, I wanted a different centerpiece for the dining room table. I had picked up a clear glass globe at a thrift store for 99 cents last summer. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to photograph it before I started its transformation to a faux mercury glass tree.

The weather was so incredible this weekend that I set up shop outdoors and worked on my tree creation and a few other projects I'd had sitting around. 62 degrees in Nebraska in December isn't unheard of, but it's a bit uncommon.

In contrast to the high gloss of the mercury glass, I wanted the base of the tree to be rougher. I poked around the potting shed and found a terra cotta pot that was the perfect size. Cleaned it off with a wire brush and transformed it with a mixture of gesso and a paint sample with the name of  "Marble Glass."

I wanted the pot to look rustic and distressed, as a contrast to the sparkle of the globe, so I dry brushed the creamy paint mixture.  The pot also has a couple of chips and a crack in the rim. I think they call that character.

A flameless votive inside the pot adds a soft glow to the globe.

One of my milk glass cake stands on top of a vintage oval mirror, several small mercury glass ornaments, a few glitter stars and some acrylic ice crystals round out the centerpiece.

The sparkle and shine in the center of the dining room table is a nice complement to the arrangement on top of the buffet--one of those vignettes for which I retained a few elements from the previous year. I'll share that with you later.

Have you tried making your own mercury glass? Isn't it fun?

Make it a great day!
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