Combining Past with Presents: A Holiday Gift Guide (Week 1)

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1959 Vintage Photograph via ebay

We are just moments away from October and that means the countdown to Christmas is officially on! Don’t panic though, dear readers, Ms. Jeannie is here to help you shop. With just 12 and a half weeks until the big holiday, she’s  excited to launch her holiday gift guide – a contemporary vintage suggestion gift list  that incorporates the old with the new for one completely memorable gift giving experience.

Whether you are looking for a simple hostess gift for your friend’s party, a unique treasure for Aunt Sarah who has everything or a nostalgic gift for your closest family member, Ms. Jeannie will be highlighting a dozen items over the next three months that combine meaning and memory with a modern twist…

So grab a cup of hot chocolate, put on your favorite Christmas songs and let’s start shopping…

Idea No. 1: Lace Patterned Stoneware

Ceramic lace plate made by My mother's Garden - $16.00
Ceramic lace plate made by My mother’s Garden – $16.00

 

Embossed with vintage lace and crochet patterns, these stoneware dishes and serving pieces combine the  prior popularity of the doily with a fully functional and modern shaped piece of pottery.

Blue Ceramic Tapas Dish made by Blue Butterfly Crafts - $15.00
Blue Ceramic Tapas Dish made by Blue Butterfly Crafts – $15.00

The doily has been around since the 1700’s and was intended to protect wood and cloth surfaces from dirt and scratches. Many (so many!) for centuries were used on tabletops to protect expensive wood and on couches and chairs to prevent dirt and oil from seeping into the fabric. (You’ll notice one on the back of the chair in the Christmas photo above!).

Mostly, these cloth buffers were hand-crocheted – fine examples of a seamstress’ sewing abilities, a love of hobby and a stunning example of utilitarian purpose. But with the advent of modern cleaning products  their usefulness has fallen out of favor in the home decorating market. What used to be an example of pride and beauty and function, now no longer seems quite so stylish in our contemporary lives. Which leaves a bit of a sentimental conundrum. What to do with all those family heirloom sewing pieces?

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In Ms. Jeannie’s case, both her grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother were all sewers – which means a fair amount of crocheted doiles have been left behind in their wake.

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You may recall seeing Grandma Dorothy’s tablecloth once before on the blog back in February 2013

A lesson from Grandma

It’s a big swatch of a tablecloth full of round flowers and intricate webbing.  Thanks to Ms. Jeannie’s artistic pottery  friend Sloan, Grandma Dorothy’s tablecloth is also a now a pretty platter…

Serving Platter

Ms. Jeannie sent this platter to her mom as a Mother’s Day gift, which made it a three generation gift. A nod to the past and also to the present!

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Since the design is rolled out onto the clay and then lifted before firing, the heirloom fabric does not need to be sacrificed for a project such as this. Ms. Jeannie was able to choose the shape, dimension and colors of the piece as well  for a completely custom gift.

Sloan also, as  a little surprise, made three pottery birds (one for Ms. Jeannie and both of her sisters) to use as tree ornaments or a petite wall hanging.

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Of course the sky is the limit in the customization department. If you do a search on Etsy for lace patterned pottery, you’ll find a bevy of pretty examples from subtle vases…

Porcelain lace vase made by wapa - $105.00
Porcelain lace vase made by wapa – $105.00

to dramatic jewelry…

Ceramic Necklace Pendant made by  Helihelmed - $18.26
Ceramic Necklace Pendant made by Helihelmed – $18.26

By incorporating lace from a bridal dress or veil you could also transform this idea into a custom wedding or anniversary gift. Imagine what a pretty object this dress could turn into…

Lace Wedding Dress by elikadesigns -
Lace Wedding Dress by elikadesigns –

If you love this idea, but do not have any crocheted family heirlooms in your treasure trove to call your own – don’t worry Ms. Jeannie’s got you handled in that department also.  She has a (non-family!) doily bundle available in her shop here…

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Vintage Crochet Collection Containing 11 Pieces – $28.00

Two artists meeting many years apart to form one special gift for your one special person – it’s going to be one memorable holiday:) Stay tuned for Idea no. 2 next week!

Introducing the Vintage Book of the Month Club!

The English philosopher, A.C. Grayling, recently said “To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

Ms. Jeannie could not agree more! While re-reading Wuthering Heights a few months ago, Ms. Jeannie got to thinking about vintage books and how their stories, while old in years are often times, not old in spirit. They are just more settled and sometimes overlooked by their shinier, more alluring contemporaries.  But Ms. Jeannie aspires to shake these vintage stories up again – to churn their waters of words and wisdom, of history and social commentary, of status and symbolism.  So it is with that in mind, that Ms. Jeannie is thrilled to announce the launch of her new Vintage Book of the Month Club!

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The book club operates on subscription basis, with a choice of either six months or one year. And there are a few categories available: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s books. The former broken down further into “him”and “her” categories and the latter into “boys” and “girls” categories.  That way if you were giving the book club subscription as a gift you could personalize it with the types of books the recipient likes to read the most.

Every month, subscribers receive one hardcover vintage book in the mail. Written or copyrighted before 1970, each book arrives gift wrapped.  A card detailing the history behind the book and/or author is also included along with a bookplate that bares the recipient’s name.  This is a what the bookplate looks like…

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When Ms. Jeannie designed the bookplate, she went with an Art Deco theme since that is one of her favorite periods in history. The soaring antelope-type deer reminded Ms. Jeannie of the soaring feeling a good story can give you.

It also reminded Ms. Jeannie of the time that she was picking blackberries from a hedgerow in Pennsylvania. It was a lovely lazy grey, green day. Storm clouds were just working there way into the landscape and the birds were singing their hearts out. The blackberries that year, were the biggest Ms. Jeannie had ever seen. The bushes, equally girthy, had grown together and formed an alley of a row that seemed as long as a mile and as tall as a giant.  Full, heavy berries dangled feet above Ms. Jeannie’s head taunting her ability to reach them.

But Ms. Jeannie had more than enough supply at eye-level, so she got to work with intentions to gather enough for a pie and then possibly some tarts for her neighbor. Within 30 minutes, she had pickd an entire bucket full and was working on a second, when all of a sudden,  a dark shadow passed fast overhead. Ms. Jeannie looked up in time to see a furry, white belly sailing through the sky. As she watched the arc of the belly go from front to back, she saw it land, noiselessly behind her and bound off into the woods.

Do you you know what this mysterious flying creature was? A deer! Most likely spooked by something in a neighboring yard this deer was on the run, saw the hedgerow and thought “yeah – I can clear that,” and up and over she went. Ms. Jeannie was awe-struck. It was a magical and dangerous moment. If Ms. Jeannie had been standing just a few inches further back than she was, the deer would have landed right on top of her.

To have the whole scene play out without a single noise (except for the birds) was stunning and surprising. You’d like to think you could hear such a commotion coming.  The event was marvelous and left Ms. Jeannie a bit giddy with excitement to tell Mr. Jeannie all about the day a deer flew through the sky like a bird.   Looking in on the scene – you’d have seen a woman among a batch of berry bushes, but stick around and invest a few minutes of time there, and eventually you’d have seen a bit of magic.  Isn’t that just the epitome of a good book? At the start you think, “oh this is a nice pattern of words” and then without warning those nice little words pull you into the storyline in one effortless swoop and carry your imagination away.

That’s just the effect Ms. Jeannie is hoping for with her vintage book of the month club. As for the types of vintage books that one might receive, the field will be varied. Non-fiction readers could expect a variety of topics including biographies and memoirs (can you ever really get enough information about Ernest Hemingway?!), books about nature, cooking or history. Fiction readers could expect vintage editions of classic literature from Henry James or Mark Twain, tales of romance complete with gorgeous retro dust jackets or a vintage suspense novel or a book of poetry.

The fun part of an “of the month” club is the surprise element behind each package and the appreciation of the item in form, content and appearance.  So just like when you participate in the jam of the month club, or the wine of the month club or the coffee of the month club – you come away just a little bit more enlightened about the subtle differences of a singular subject.  Each of the vintage books in Ms. Jeannie’s club, will be of good quality and will be hand-picked for its story, presentation and/or subject matter.

The children’s book option includes a variety of board books and picture books, tall tales, nursery rhymes, and early education materials.  Ms. Jeannie thinks that this subscription would make a really fun gift for a baby shower or a new mom. The little one’s library would grow bigger and bigger, month by month, just like them, and hopefully they would become the building blocks for a new generation of readers altogether.

So that’s the book club in a nutshell. Fun for gift-giving or fun for yourself, Ms. Jeannie’s Vintage Book of the Month Club looks forward to entertaining a dynamic group of readers.  If you’d like to sign up for a six month subscription, you can do so here. Or if you prefer a one year subscription, you can sign up here. 

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And of course, if you have any questions, please ask!