Jul 30, 2011

For the Love of Pyrex

Dear Pyrex Obsessed,
I was wandering around Etsy earlier and I came across a few sites of handmade goods using Pyrex. I know, I know, why ruin such a beautiful thing.. But it's quite special to see our beloved Pyrex in a whole new light.

Erin Ink custom design has a number of adorable Pyrex prints and cards at reasonable prices. Coming out of Virgina, Erin Ink has been selling on Etsy since 2009. I just love the simplicity of her prints. 

5 X 7 Print $8.00

Jeff and Mark over at BootsNGun have been selling high quality up-cycled lamps on Etsy since 2009. I adore these sets of lights made out of vintage Pyrex!!

Up-Cycled Pendant Lights, Set of 3 $230.00

Husband and wife team of scarboroughseashells have been crafting out of Rhode Island for over 10 years. Specializing in glass material, the pair creates with seashells, sea glass, and mosaics.

Sterling Silver Pendent $45.00

Great ideas for the extras from your Pyrex collection, or gifts for a Pyrex loving friend!

Jul 28, 2011

The Stranger Exchange (Photos)

Come August we will be recruiting for another round of the "Stranger Exchange." The Stranger Exchange is an interactive pen pal experience; which connects strangers through the mail, introduces them to each others collections and ends with a bang: a postal box of goodies sent from one to the other! We had 20 folks trade last season, and we are all looking forward to this next round! If you or anyone you know is interested send us an email or leave a comment. All are welcome to play! 

Here are some photos from the last exchange:

Jul 23, 2011

Collecting: Melmac

The thing I've always loved about Melmac, is the colors, such vibrant pinks, muted greens, soft pastels and earthy browns. They stand out on the shelves of even the drabbest thrift stores. Also, I've always been hooked on collecting vintage kitchenware and Melmac is usually reasonably priced.

Melmac dinnerware was developed by American Cyanamid for the Navy during World War II. The light weight and virtually unbreakable dishware could handle wartime in the rough waters. The craze caught on at home and soon stores were displaying Melmac type dinner sets alongside some of their finest China. Hiring creative teams and designers, Boontonware, Raffia Ware and Melmac transformed into a sought after style. By the 1950's it was a staple in all American Homes. 

Melmac's popularity took a down turn after a rumor, allegedly spread by a porcelain manufacture, that the plasticware gave off toxic fumes. This rumor has been proven false. At the top of  the game, there were over 350 company's producing plasticware. As the years went on, production began to drop. Households were buying more glassware. And Melmac was reserved for commercial use; restaurants, hospitals, schools etc. 

Because of it's exceptional durability, Melmac lasts for years. It is the ideal dishware for camping. You could probably drop your gear filled with Melmac under your car, run it over a few times and it would be fine for lunch. I bet it could survive a bear attack. It's light weight and easily packable too. 

Here is Paula Deen's guidelines to preserving and caring for Melamine dishes: 
For scratches ands stubborn stains, use commercial cleaners made for Melamine, like Dip-It ($3.49, 5 oz.) instead of scouring powder. Also, avoid putting your plastic tableware in the microwave and never in the oven. Melamine tends to absorb heat, which can cause it to soften, blister and even crack. It is dishwasher-safe. 
 If you are interested in learning more about collecting vintage Melmac dishware there are books available. It can't hurt to ask your librarian if your local library carries them. I found two on Amazon; "Melmac Dinnerware" and "Collectable Plastic Kitchenware and Dinnerware." 

 Modern Yellow Collection 15 Pieces

All of the dish sets seen here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you, Etsy sellers, for the use of your gorgeous photographs.

Jul 17, 2011

"1000 Ideas For Creative Reuse"

In my family, Tuesdays are library days. With lots of room, thanks to the stroller up-grade, I can now check out books for myself, along with the board books and Charlie & Lola dvds. This last Tuesday I selected a book called "1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse" by Garth Johnson. 
 What a wonderful discovery from the library. This thing is packed with page after page of inspiration. So many artists and craftsmen are featured. And the entire things is broken down into organized sections. Did I mention how lovely the photography is too? 

I'm always on the look out for new ideas of things to collect, or ideas for my existing collections. "1000 Ideas For Creative Reuse" sparked the collector in me, introduced me to some artists I hadn't yet heard of and brought a big smile to my face. I'd like to share.

Elizabeth Morisette: 
Elizabeth Morisette created a series of vessels using unusual objects. I love the zippers seen here. As a sculptor Morisette is challenging our idea of traditional sculptural materials and continues to make pieces with everyday items. She has a blog where she updates and informs about her upcoming shows. 

Margaux Lange:
Margaux Lang is making one of a kind jewelery pieces using Barbie parts. I've seen her work before on the Etsy open page. It was great to see her again in "1000 Ideas For Creative Reuse." Her pieces are so well done. I love the humor/tongue-in-cheek aspect. Lange has a beautiful Website with many, many pieces available. Midge's Mind is her adorable blog. If you are interested in any of her pieces you can find them on her Etsy page.

Jarod Charzewski:
Jarod Charzewski's exhibition "Scarp" at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in South Carolina speaks mountains of our consumer based culture, our desire to acquire, and how these themes affect our global landscape. I find all of that fascinating, but what really drew me to this piece was the colors. And Charzewiski's ability to collect a vast amount of the same thing, in this case clothing, to re-arrange it into something different and beautiful. I can only imagine what went into gathering 5000 pieces of clothing, transporting, storing and setting up. I bet Scarp is amazing in person! On Charewski's website you can see what he has been up to lately.

....Kinda makes you want to do something with those collections, huh?

Jul 15, 2011

Collecting: Fossils

The other day I was watching an episode of Charlie & Lola with some babies. In the episode Charlie, who is Lola's big brother, is quite interested in collecting fossils. Lola, due to proximity, becomes interested in fossils too. While on a fossil expedition, Lola finds what she believes is a fossil, but her brother tells her otherwise. It was at that moment that I realised that I have no idea how to properly identify fossil myself. 

 The best place to find fossils is in sedimentary rock, rock that has been effected by age and erosion. There are a number of factors required for a fossil to become a fossil. Check out the clip below, describing how fossils are formed.

Collecting fossils is a fairly delicate process. It is forbidden to go digging around some strangers land, pulling up pieces of dirt, bringing them home and tossing them on the coffee table. There is a code of fossil finding ethics. Though it seems obvious enough, the Geological Society established rules of fossil collecting require one to collect responsibly, seek permission from landowners, label specimens, and seek advice on rare finds. 

Once you've studied up on all the rules and regulations, it's time to gather your supplies. You will need a hammer, chisel, and a mallet for breaking up rocks. A trowel and brushes will help rid of sediment of various densities. Sieves and mesh bags help with removing excess dirt.  And don't forget safety, helmets, goggles, gloves and flashlights. 

The next step will be to identify your fossil. I'm clueless as to how to identify an actual fossil. Comparing your discovery with a photo from a book, or a website is probably good for the beginner. I'm guessing the more fossils you acquaint yourself with, the better you will become at identifying them. If you are buying fossils that someone else found it is important to stay away from fakes or fossil fraud. Apparently this happens, I had no idea. 

Once you have identified your fossil it is very important to label and code your find. Cleaning and caring for your fossil will only help preserve it. You can use a  vinegar soak to help remove remaining sediment. Some fossils still have a bit of tissue intact. In these cases you must be more careful in the cleaning process. Here are some very detailed instructions on cleaning your natural discoveries. 

If you are interested in learning more about fossils, I suggest making a trip to your local librarian, asking  to point out some fossil finding books for you. An Illustrated Guide to Fossil Collecting is only $9.95 on Amazon.com. The Fossil Hunter offers this great directory of North American fossil collecting sites, broken down by state. And this page offers you so many links to sites offering fossil resources and knowledge.

Get out there and start identifying some fossils!

Jul 12, 2011

Collecting: Pyrex

Collecting vintage Pyrex is a thing. There is a whole world out there of avid Pyrex collectors. Blogs like Pyrex Collective and Pyrex Love are great examples of the vintage Pyrex network that exists. (Pyrex Collective became so big it had to split into two Pyrex gossiping websites!)  Even Paula Deen gives props to Pyrex collecting. As someone who loves to throw/attend dinner parties, I can tell you, no matter what you make, it looks better in Pyrex.

I started my Pyrex collection the first year I settled in California. I had very few belongings, having relocated halfway accross the country with only a suitcase and a cat. When I finally signed my first lease I went to the thrift store and bought a spoon, a fork, a salmon colored Fiestaware plate, a frying pan and a Pyrex coffee mug.

The next few years I picked up every single Pyrex piece I came across. Thirft stores are a wonderful resource for Pyrex. And garage sales, espically suburban garage sales, where the American Dream is out in full force. Living in the East Bay I scavanged a number of wonderful finds at Urban Ore.

I wasn't the only person back then, I knew that collected Pyrex too. My roomate also had a good stash. An better culumination than me! And when I got married she gifted me a full set of Spring Blossom dinner plates and tea/coffee set. She even got me a matching butter dish. 

If you are interested in collecting Pyrex and want more information, I strongly suggest checking out (as linked above) The Pyrex Collective and Pyrex Love. There are books availabe on the subject. Your librarian can tell you if your library carries them. Here are two that are available on Amazon.com Pyrex: The Unauthorized Collectors Guide or Pyrex By Corning: A Collectors Guide

A wonderful digital resource for information on Pyrex patterns is available here on Pyrex Love. And don't forget to give Vintage Pyrex a shout-out on Facebook.

Paula Deen's advice on caring for your Pyrex:
Pyrex is a durable glass suitable for use in the oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher. But there are a few steps to follow to ensure the lifespan of your piece:
  • Never use on stove-top burner, under broiler, or in a toaster oven
  • Avoid serious changes in hot and cold temperatures (i.e. immersing a hot dish in cold water)
  • Always add a fraction of liquid before baking foods that release liquids while cooking
  • Don’t use or repair a piece if it is chipped, cracked or scratched

All of the Pyrex dishes you see here are availalbe for purchase on Etsy. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your lovely photographs.

Jul 10, 2011

I Collect: Emily

The Internet is a strange and amazing thing. If you can believe it, The Collect Collective isn't the only blog out there focused on collecting! I Love Collecting is Emily's project. She shares her flea market and garage sale finds, thrifting tips, display ideas and great photos. She has an eye for treasure, and an assemblage of collector friends who often make appearances showing off their own collections. 

My Name is: Emily

I collect: a lot of things but right now I'm mostly collecting pottery. McCoy, Shawnee, Haeger, etc... vases, planters, flower pots...

Its been going on for: a long time!

I look for additions to my collections at: flea markets, thrift shops, yard sales, antique shows, centers and shops

When I find one I feel: very happy!!

The star of my collection is: hmmm, i love all of my pieces but i guess it's a double handled HULL vase... pink and blue combination.

The oddest piece in my collection is: can't say that any of my pottery is odd although some of the shapes can be unusual...

 A way my collection has gotten me into a tight situation: finding spots to display it! It's not that I am running out of room, it's just that I like to keep my collections together so most of it is displayed in my sun room... there are almost 300 pieces in that room!

Some other things I like to collect are: restaurant china, vintage garden sprinklers, vintage kitchen stuff, vintage trophies, milk glass, bride and groom cake toppers, tin globes, black and white group photos, garden hoze nozzles, antique bill spikes, chalkware fruit, creamers, vintage christmas tree stands, rusty wire things like light bulb cages, lamp shade forms, some old garden stuff, vintage baskets from florists, souvenir plates, wire plant stands and flower pot holders, cocktail shakers and vintage barware, vintage oil paintings... portraits and still lifes... all of this stuff can be seen on my blog

My family and friends think my collection is: amazing, fun, beautiful, crazy

Thanks for sharing Emily!

Jul 9, 2011

Collecting: Seeds

Collecting seeds is a long practiced tradition. The oldest carbon dated seed is a Date Palm seed about 2,000 years old! Seeds have been collected and stored in Seedbanks around the world, preserving many varieties as a back up plan in case of natural disasters, outbreaks, war, disease etc. There are somewhere near 6 million seeds being stored in over 1,000 seedbanks worldwide.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault collects seeds in an abandoned coal mine about 800 miles away from the North Pole, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. These seeds are copies, or "spares" of seeds held in gene banks around the world. A back up, to the back up, if you will. They are highly protected. 

Seed saving isn't as daunting as it looks. It is something any of us could do, in our own back yards, in our gardens, or even our flower pots.

 Seed saving had lost popularity in recent years with the majority of growers choosing to buy annually, but is feeling a resurgence with growing interest in organic farming, permaculture and heirloom varietals. Seedy Sunday (or Saturday) is a yearly seed exchange started in Canada in 1989. It began as a program to exchange heritage seeds. This community connecting event usually happens near the end of winter. Check the Seedy Sunday seed swap page for the next event

If you are interested in learning more about saving your own seeds, your local librarian could point you in the direction of books worth checking out. Flower Garden News has step by step advice on collecting, drying and storing seeds. The Seed Savers Exchange is a great network to connect with other seed collectors. The International Seed Saving Institute offers 5 day seminars, and also information for the expert or novice on seed saving, broken down by vegetable. The United States Forest Service offers information on saving native plant seeds. And the HomeStead series (on Youtube) offers this strait forward  video on collecting Tomato Seeds. 

For the lazy seed collector, Amazon.com sells a Survival Seed Bank for only $49.95. Providing you with back up seeds to grow a full acre crisis (victory) garden!

Photo Credits: Svalbard Global Seed Bank courtesy of the Svalbard Gloval Seed Bank. Seeds in Jars Photo by: Frans Lanting/Corbus. Seedy Sunday Photo by: Sue Craske.