Sunday, February 27, 2011

Texas Ware - Melamine Dishes from the 50's

One thing I really enjoy about having a booth at an antiques mall is that I am learning about vintage items I might not ordinarily get for myself.  A couple of days ago, my friend Susan gave me some Texas Ware melamine (aka Melmac) dishes that had belonged to her mother.  I have seen similar dishes, but didn't really know much about them.

The set had some basic pieces - dinner plates, cups and saucers, bread and butter plates.  There were also several different serving dishes and a large 14 inch platter.

I am not planning to keep them, but I found myself really enjoying learning about them and I hope that whoever gets them has as much fun with them as I have.

The dishes had been briefly used by her daughter, Katie.  When Katie was finished with them, she carefully wrapped each dish in newspaper.  I have come to despise anything wrapped in newspaper and after yesterday, I am even more firmly against it.

Newspaper residue can be cleaned off fairly easily from glass and ceramic and china.  But melamine?  Oh, my.  I spent hours gently cleaning each dish with dish detergent and a tiny bit of baking soda, being careful not to add scratches or damage the pattern on the white dishes. I also used a very soft old green scrubby pad on the toughest spots.  Even though it sounds like drudgery, I actually enjoyed this task.  I felt like a retro period archeologist.  As each dish was cleaned up, I knew I was giving it a new lease on life and it would go on to be loved and appreciated by someone new.

Newspaper ink is very, very messy.  It occurred to me that there was no need to have wrapped plastic dishes anyway.  They aren't apt to break!  I guess, it's just ingrained in us that when packing dishes, they must be wrapped. I must say, the dishes were really nice once cleaned up!

Most of the dishes were a fun shade of pink and would look great in a retro kitchen. Some of the dishes were white with pink and blue flowers. It was very popular to use several coordinating colors and/or patterns together.  I tried to find out what this pattern was called.  I saw zillions of other patterns, but not this particular one.

Melamine was introduced in the 1930's, but didn't become popular with the public until after WWII.  Texas Ware was one of a number of brands.  It was founded in 1946 and was the largest producer from 1957 through 1996. Some collectors feel that the best examples are from the 50's and before - the melanine heyday.

Texas Ware dishes are all tapered and designed to be stackable. That was promoted in their marketing.  They are also practically unbreakable.  The were inexpensive - a three bowl set went for less than two dollars in the 1950's.  They were around 5 dollars in the 1980's.  Even now, these pieces are very inexpensive to collect.  I won't get much for them in my booth.  Who cares.  I have had fun playing with them. 

On the downside, they should not be put in the dishwasher.  They would be damaged if put in the microwave or oven. Acidic foods can cause damage.

The stamp on the back of each piece gives you a clue about when it might have been made and more. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a lot of information about that.  I'm planning to ask Nicole, Rockin' B's queen of retro, if she has any info.

There were a good many different stamps in this set. Of note is the piece on the top left below.  It uses the term MELMAC. If you were a plastics molder, you would have to buy Melmac molding powders from Cyanamid or else you could not use the word Melmac.

The number indicates the size.  There are letters inside a circle towards the bottom.  What do those mean? I'm still trying to find out more about these backstamps.

I read that the oldest dishes have the following information in the stamp: Plastic Manufacturing Co., TEXAS-WARE, Dallas, Texas, USATexas Ware was on every piece.  PMC was on every piece, but none wrote out Plastic Manufacturing CO.  I didn't see Dallas, Texas, USA on any of the dishes.

This is an example of an older stamp -

I found a number of old ads -

Want to know more?

Moxie has an amazing collection of Texas Ware bowls in the splatter pattern.  Some people who collect Texas Ware only look for the splatter patterns (also called confetti or speckle-ware). These bowls were made with leftover bits and now they are the most popular of all.  Rachel Ray collects the old ones and sells new lookalikes.

Flickr has a whole section devoted to photos of Vintage MelMac and LustroWare.

Retro Chalet - MelMac Central has loads of info on melamine dishes.

Want to buy some?
Texasware on Etsy
Texasware on Ebay

I'm hooking up this post with the following link parties:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Inspired By...

I'm really enjoying catching up on some of my favorite blogs!  Here are some of the inspiring tidbits I found today -

From Common Ground --- a door + a table + a shelf = a hutch

Fabulous LOCKERS from Milk and Honey Home

Back Porch detail from Songbird

Catchiest Post Title of the Day: 
from The Magic Brush

Nate Berkus Giveaway of the Day - Door Magnet Board

Easter Felting Ideas from Betz White
If you've never felted, I highly recommend it - very relaxing!
 Felted Eggs  - here and here and here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inspired By... C. Dianne Zweigg

I was browsing through some old posts on C. Dianne Zweig and came across a couple of fun ideas.  Check out this dining room cabinet makeover -

The glass sides were missing and they replaced them with chicken wire! I love it!  It makes the piece seem so much more friendly!  I am a casual girl and being around things that are too fancy makes me nervous.  My nerves would be just fine with this piece!  I see similar cabinets at auctions and sometimes they are pretty beat up.  Next time I see one, I'll do my best to bring it home!

In another post, a curvy fence rail section is used to display framed art and trays.
 That's not the kind of rail that you can find just anywhere, but you can bet I'll be paying a lot more attention to all the rails I see in the future.

For my final ode to Dianne Zweigg, check out her post on Cottage Style Shelves.  There's something wonderful about re-purposing. It makes my heart flutter!

This is totally unrelated, but who cares.  The weather in Georgia is amazing right now.  Yesterday, it was in the low 70's at my house.  Doors and windows were open.  Gentle breezes wafted through the house, taking the stale winter air with it. Daffodils are blooming up the hill near our driveway gate.  I have the most acute case of Spring Fever ever!  Today's forecast - Sunny - 68 degrees.  A look at the 10 day forecast shows more of the same with just enough rain to keep the pollen from becoming unbearable.  Oh, honey, it's fabulous!!!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Auctions, Goodwill and Thrift Stores... Trying to Find a Bargain

Finding a treasure at a bargain price is really challenging in the winter.  I've really been on the lookout for some big pieces of furniture since my big pieces sold from my booth. I'm really having a hard time finding anything.

I've been going to auctions for the last few months and you know... I really am not crazy about them.  The prices are too high, thanks to all the Atlanta dealers coming down and I just don't like making decisions that fast. 

I always preview and thoroughly inspect the pieces I'm most interested in.  Apparently, I have good taste.  The Atlanta dealers (or fellow Rockin' B dealers) like the things I like.  The price usually goes way over what I want to pay on my favorite items. The deals usually come about on things I didn't look over well enough.  I keep coming home with some small things that are OK, but they aren't really worth the time and energy and gasoline I've wasted. 

My time is stretched thin right now, so I think I might stay away from the auctions (unless they look REALLY SERIOUSLY, AMAZINGLY tempting and there are things that I'm willing to spend more on).

Yard Sales are my very favorite bargain hunting resource. They take time and lots of traveling, but I almost always have great success during the warm yard sale months.  I am starting to see a few sales here and there, but  haven't been tempted to get out so far.  Yard sale-ing is best in pretty weather, when I can find lots of sales within a fairly close area.

Estate sales stink.  I've tried plenty this winter and they are overpriced.  Even on the last day, when prices are cut in half, most of the prices are still too high.

Goodwill and thrift stores are my best hope right now.  Both of those are more expensive than yard sales, but better than auctions or estate sales.

I haven't tried flea markets yet, but there are some Rockin' B dealers who seem to have good luck.  Unfortunately they aren't close by.

I think this year during yard sale season, I'm going to try to get enough to last me through the winter!  I thought I had sort of done that this year, but this year I'll be targeting lots more furniture.  Then, in the winter, I'll swing by my favorite thrift stores a bit more often.  I'll leave the auctions and estate sales to others who are willing to spend more money. 

Meanwhile, here are some of the piddly treasures I've found recently-

I bought several old cans at an auction last week. Two of them were unopened and still had the turn key thingie attached on top.

I bought another vintage ironing board at this auction.  It's very sturdy but the top needs just a bit of TLC.  I plan to try something different for this ironing board redo.  When I finish, I'll be sure to post about it.

There was a more popular auction going on the same night and they had some great pieces.  I thought that I would try going to the less popular one - maybe I wouldn't have so much competition.  Wrong.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one with that idea.  Oh well.  We had fun.

I found a few things at good prices at one of my favorite thrift stores.  This store is a little inconvenient since I moved to a different county, but I was over that way a couple of weeks ago.  I was getting new tires and the thrift store was within walking distance of the tire store.  Browsing in a thrift store is lots more fun than sitting in a waiting room!  I was excited to find 5 Currier and Ives plates.  I have a set of matching mugs already in the booth.

A trip to Goodwill turned out to be interesting.  Sometimes Goodwill can be overpriced, but on this trip, the things I bought were pretty reasonable.  Most of what I found were small things to put out in Valentine's Day and Easter displays.  Just some smalls. 

The platter on the left was a Christmas item.  It's pretty big and nicer than it looks in this photo next to the heart pet bowl. 

I put these three items in a Spring / Easter vignette. The bowl was larger than you'd expect from the photo.  I put vintage linen napkins inside - they happened to have colors that went rather nicely with the colors on the bowl.  The white planter has holes around the top and I wove a ribbon through those.  

I pulled all the straw stuff off of the bunny and then he looked quite sweet. In fact, I'm going to my booth today and if he hasn't sold, I think I'll bring him back home. He looks like he'd be very happy on my porch, which I hope to really jazz up this spring. 

Speaking of the porch, we've had some amazingly warm weather this last week.  I am already getting Spring Fever and I'm sorely tempted to start pulling things out onto my porch.  I'm having to use all the restraint I can muster because I know we'll have several more cold spells before winter truly says goodbye.  The daffodils are already blooming here and there.  Spring is exciting!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

South By Southwest - Interesting Vintage Book

Two weekends ago, I went to an estate sale and bought a few small items.  One item of particular interest was a vintage book, titled South By Southwest.  It's by Richard Ellis and Walter Cronkite.  The copyright is 1983, which to me seems like yesterday, but it's 27 years ago.

The book is in perfect condition, other than missing it's dust jacket.  I like to take a glance at old coffee table books when thrifting.  You never know when you'll find a gem.  As soon as I opened this one, I knew it was coming home with me.  The art is what grabbed me. 

Once I sat down at home to really take a close look, I saw Walter Cronkite's name.  The book is about two friends, Walter Cronkite and Ray Ellis, traveling down the Eastern Coast traveling the Intracoastal Waterway, from the Chesapeake Bay to Key West, Florida.  Each recorded their impressions, Walter through writing, and Richard through his art (90 paintings!) I had not heard of Ray Ellis before, but it turns out he's quite an artist! 

The book is huge - each page is 15 inches wide by 12 inches tall.  Some of the paintings take up two pages.

I looked the book up online and saw it for sale for as low as a few dollars and as much as $600.  There didn't see to be any rhyme or reason to the price variations.  I saw lots for a few dollars (plus shipping, which can be fairly high since the book is so big) and lots for over $50 and a good many for over $100.  I'm going to put my copy for sale in my booth in a few days.  My price will be very reasonable - probably $10.  I hope whoever gets it enjoys it as much as I did.

I took some photos of the paintings.  My photo quality is not good.  I didn't even bother to take time to flatten each page.  That little mistake can make things look oddly crooked - some of the buildings appear to be be leaning.  Here's a peak at some of the beautiful paintings.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gettin' Nekked

Did that title scare you?  You'll be happy to know that it's referring to my booth, not me!  My booth (actually, I should say OUR booth - I share with Martie and Beth) had to be rearranged twice this weekend because two big pieces sold.


I got a call Saturday saying my sweet little cream hutch sold.  When a piece of furniture sells, all the smalls are taken off and put somewhere (sometimes on the floor if there's not another surface available) and there's a big gaping whole of nothing left in the booth.  That's a good problem to have.  Sales are good!   Change is good.

Yesterday afternoon I went over and did some rearranging to give the booth "balance". I borrowed a bakers rack just to have another place to relocate some of our smalls.    The new bakers rack works fine for now. I like that it's white and the shape and size worked great.   It was lucky that there was one on hand to borrow!  It was missing the bottom piece of glass so I propped some containers on the bottom. 

The white bakers rack is not what people see first as they come down the aisle. They see the dramatic black hutch.  I love how it draws your eye and invites you in. 

It was almost closing time, the booth looked good and I was getting close to going home when we got a call.  A customer wanted to know if the black hutch was still there.  She wanted it and was coming to get it.  She and her husband would dash right over and get it before closing time.
Oh Dear...  SOLD!!! 

OMG.  Nekked booth!  By the way, I know the correct spelling is naked, but for some reason, we Southerners get a kick out of saying nekked.  It's more fun.

There was no time left to think about focal points and drawing your eye and lovely vignettes.  I had to fill the space and find something to put all that stuff on! Amazingly, there was one more bakers rack not being used.  Those racks are almost constantly in use and to be able to have access to two of them at one time was very lucky!!!

It looks like I'm going to 
need to find some big pieces!
Fun, Fun, FUN!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Experimenting with Green Chairs

In my quest for dining room chairs I love, I am experimenting with green finishes.  I found a green paint that I find very appealing.  I had several chairs in my attic waiting a new finish.  I am using those to experiment with. 

Back in the summer my sister-in-law and I came across two vintage chairs just waiting for a makeover at the bargain price of 2 dollars each!  They are sturdy and well made. 

First I painted them with several coats of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint and Primer in One, custom mixed to match Martha Stewarts MSL106 - Rhododendron Leaf. I have really been liking this paint.  It has ceramic in it.  I've only needed two coats for everything I've done so far.  Plus, it seems really tough.

At this point, the green is pretty, but it's a little boring.

I did some distress sanding, then mixed up a glaze.  I didn't waste a lot of time fretting over my glaze.  First I mixed a brown I liked by using a bit of medium brown craft paint I had on hand and adding black to make it a darker brown.

Then I added the glaze mix.  I had a ratio of about 2 parts glaze to one part paint.  Even so, I had less time to play with it than I would have liked.  I would also rather have a glaze mix in a container that was easier to pour. 

Glazing is OK, but I think I like using Howards Citrus Wax in mahogany better for adding a little age and character.  (I'll show that technique in a post coming soon about an end table I just finished.)  I also might try the dry brushing technique used by Miss Mustard.  I talked about that and linked to it in my last post.

The photo below shows the two chairs in two stages.  On the left the chair has been sanded, but not glazed.  On the right, it's finished.  My glazing was fairly subtle.  I wiped a whole lot off.  It's not all that easy to see a difference, but it definitely looks more aged after the glazing.  These chairs didn't have a lot of nooks and crannies for glaze to accentuate.  The dry brushing technique probably would have been more appropriate.  Unfortunately, I came across that idea after I had already glazed.

On a funny note, after my husband saw the distressed and glazed chairs, he said they looked like chairs that needed to be painted.  He was trying to push my buttons.  I swear, that man lives to aggravate me!  And clearly, he doesn't recognize that he is in the presence of an amazing artist!

Here's a closeup. Again the one on the right is glazed.  The one on the left is not.  The closeup shows how the glaze got into the imperfections just enough to add age and character. 

I moved the chairs to the dining room to live with the color for a bit.  (Sorry, no photos)  I like the color and I like what the color adds to the room.  These two chairs are not the style I'm looking for.  

What kind of chairs am I looking for?  I want chairs with tall backs and solid seats.  They need to be heavy and sturdy.  And they must be comfortable.  I know I'll find MY CHAIRS one of these days.  I have a feeling it won't be long.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Inspired By...

I've been doing so many Inspired By posts that you'd think I'm not doing anything by surfing the web.  Truly, that's not the case.  It just seems that I'm seeing a ton of great things online in a very short period of time. 

One blog I like to take a look at periodically is Queen of Tarte.  She's just opened a new store in Oregon.  This post and several others leading up to it have a few photos.  Cindy has been working on getting it ready for the last couple of months.  She has such flair. Check out my Booth Inspiration Page for another great photo from a previous booth from Queen of Tarte.  It's one of my all time favorites.

Miss Mustard Seed did a wonderful post on how to find the best stuff on Craigslist.  I often peruse Craigslist so I thought I knew what I was doing, but I still found some good tips in the article.  I also found a number of additional tips in the comments.  Several folks recommended using CraigEasy to search easier by seeing the photos.  I definitely plan to try it out.

Also from Miss Mustard Seed - check out this desk and ottoman she just redid.  Don't you love the wonderful slouchy look of the ottoman?  I also like that she made the top of the desk wood.  Sometimes having an entire piece painted the same gets boring. There are a number of interesting tidbits in this article.  FOr instance, she didn't do any distressing to the desk.  She just dry brushed with antiquing glaze.  I was also excited to see that the paint color she used was Sherwin Williams Creamy.  I have that color!  Woo Hoo! We think alike!  (I wish)

My Re-Purposed Life has a great post - Blog Tips for New Bloggers.  I'm not a new blogger.  I have over 300 posts.  Even so, I came across a few tips that I will likely use.  Plus, I have a few friends who have just begun blogging and I know they would find this article useful.  She's really big on Windows Live Writer.  I have seen a number of bloggers recommend it.  I looked into it a while back and for some reason, didn't go with it.  I don't remember why.  I might re-investigate when I get a chance.

I came across a new blog with all sorts of tips and advice and inspiration for my life as a booth renter - Selling in an Antique Mall.   One thing I found out is that home magazines are a tax deduction.  That's a source for keeping up with style and color trends.

That's all for now. I usually post in the mornings when I'm fresh and energetic.  I'm getting a little sleepy!  Early to bed, early to rise...


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