" ". The Smiling Cat: 2021

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Pottery Makers' Marks-Tell Us a Story

I love to look up and find out what information I can about the odd bits of vintage or contemporary dishware that I find. When shopping around, I usually look for Farmhouse or Cottage style items that would look well as a display in a hutch, plate rack or as a centerpiece. I also find quite a few pieces of good quality dinnerware that one might need to replace a broken or lost item. I'm becoming quite a detective. There's so much info. to be found on the internet and it often becomes a history lesson. Two World Wars in Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union have taken their toll on many manufacturers. For example, if an item was made in Czechoslovakia, its definitely vintage as this country has been rearranged and is now known as the Czech Republic. 

This is an antique 1890's Brown Transferware Cream Platter made by Johnson Bros. The pattern is called "Mignon" which means "small & delicate" in French. The pattern is delicate, but the platter is fairly substantial. It's of the same timeline as Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts Movement. But, I don't see it falling neatly into either style. It is a Nature inspired design.

It has a very British mark, what with the crown and the shield. Johnson Brothers went out of business in 2015, so they were in production for over a century. They were one of the first companies to introduce stoneware or ironware, which is a refined earthenware and a big deal at the time. A growing middle class wanted nice, affordable, useable dinnerware.

This pretty, little celery dish was made in the Art Nouveau style which was popular during 1890-1910, its delicate floral pattern does look Victorian & feminine. This style is known for flowing lines and shapes inspired by Nature. You can certainly see this  in the gently curved edge of the oval dish.    

It was made in Germany as its mark states.

This Reinhold Schlegelmilch, or RS mark, was used on their good quality porcelain manufactured in Germany from 1912 to 1945. Earlier, this same pottery used a similar mark but, designated Prussia and after Germany, Bavaria. The pottery didn't move, the map did. Another interesting note about this pottery, is that to this day there are forgeries of their pieces sold. Mostly vases and decorative items. So beware-

 I really love this simple leafy design, which is pattern: SCG28-Leaves & Brown Pods w/ Gold Trim. I think it deserves a more interesting name. It's dark and light shades of brown with pale greens. Schirnding is the name of the town the where the pottery was founded in 1901. By 1906 the factory had 6 modern kilns, electric lights and its own link to the local railroad. It survived WWI & WWII and is still a successful business today. As with many potters' marks, there are many variations of the same design. I think the simple edelweiss flower is lovely.

There is the same mark, but stamped with "Made in Germany  U.S. -Zone". How soon we forget that Germany was once divided by a wall. I also have a few teacups stamped "Occupied Japan". 

Lastly, this sweet, innocent little sugar and creamer set with a transfer design of pink cabbage roses which may have a dark past. It was made by Bohemia Ceramic Works in what was Czechoslovakia. BCW was founded in 1921 in what is now Nova Role, Czech Republic. Czechoslovakia was dissolved in 1993 and separated into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. 

This back stamp is a bit elaborate.

It depicts a lion surrounded by a stylized B and the words Bohemia-Made in Czechoslovakia. As I looked up info. about this mark, another place kept popping up-Neurohlau....? I turned to Wikipedia, turns out it was a concentration camp during WWII 1942-1945. Furthermore, prisoners, mostly women, were sent to work at the BCW factory during this time. Which may or may not be when this set was made. It is still the same pretty, little table set, but it seems different. I hope it isn't connected to that dark time. 
BCW was nationalized after WWII and became part of Karlovarsk Porcelain in 1958. 
As in Staffordshire, England-Due to the natural resources available in the region of Bohemia, it became one of the largest pottery centers in Europe in the early 1900's, with over 30 manufacturers. 

The items shown here and many others are available at my home shop. Do have a look.

Hope you're a wonderful day....!    Carole

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"Chessie" The All-American Cat Logo

I found a treasure at one of my second hand stores this week...a vintage 1970's crewel embroidery kit. The subject of the kit is "Chessie" the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad logo. I was a teenager in the 70's and worked at a department store, in the sewing & craft area. I bought a similar kit there- I loved that project..!

Obviously, I'm a cat lover, but the "Chessie" logo is one of the most popular corporate symbols in American history. In 1933 Chessie became part of an ad campaign to promote C&O's new air conditioned sleeping car service. A service that would let you sleep like a kitten.

 I think it is interesting to compare a soft kitten to a hard, modern steel train. The first ad was in black and white and didn't name the kitty. The original etching was by Guido Grunewald, a Viennese artist for $5.00. The first ad was so popular that the C&O's ad agency built a whole ad campaign around the kitten and named her Chessie.
Her family grew with her popularity. In 1937 she has two kittens, and her mate named "Peake". Peake first appeared in a Father's Day ad.

You might have found, Peake-Chessie's "Old Man" on playing cards in the bar car. Along with the ads were many promotional items. One of the most popular of these were the Chessie calendars. 
The 1940 calendar shows Chessie and her two kittens snuggled up with proud Peake watching over them.

And for Christmas....

Once the U.S. entered WWII, Peake, of course a patriot, promptly enlisted in the military. After the war, Peake returned home to his family, displaying his medals.
Chessie and her family are true, American cats. You just have to love them.
There were many different versions of Chessie embroidery kits in the 70's designed by Erica Wilson and manufactured by Columbia Minerva.

This kit is for a small, do not disturb sign that you would place on a guest room door.

The kit includes all necessary supplies to complete the project. This kit is listed for sale at my craft shop here.
You can find more Chessie items at www.chessieshop.com.

Here is one last picture of Chessie that I think would make a great applique pattern:

Bye for now-Hope you are having a great day..! CaroleL.



Saturday, March 13, 2021

Primitive 9-Patch Table Runner-


One thing that all people that sew have in common are fabric scraps. Everyone seems to have their system for organizing them. I like to cut my scraps into 5" squares or "nickels", as they are sometimes called. These are useful as they can be cut into 3-1/2" squares, or 2-1/2" squares. The smallest size I keep are 2" squares.

Eventually, I end up with this:

Time for a scrappy project....! I began by sorting my 2" squares by matching fabrics and colors. I decided to make simple 9-patches for a table runner.

To make a 23"x55" table runner I used:

300 2" scrappy squares 

240 2" white squares, or 3/4 yard white cotton cut into 2" strips.

1-1/2 yard for backing and binding.

Thread and basic sewing tools.

This did make a substantial dent in my scrap pile. I began to match sets of five matching squares and sets of four with a complimentary square for the middle.

Then I staked up the sets and cut the 2" white strips. To save time, I began to set up to strip-piece the squares. 

I took my stacks and strips to my sewing machine. I put down a white strip and taking from the top of the stack, and started placing one square at a time onto the white strip. Sewing with a 1/4" seam with right sides together, carefully keeping the squares in order. I put aside one square from each set.

After sewing a few strips, I pressed them to set the stitches, then cut them into separate units. Then I pressed them toward the scrappy square, so that there would not be a shadow on the white squares.

After pressing each pair, I put one pair aside, then stitched the square that was set aside to the next pair. I sewed together the last two pairs of the set, matching the center seams, and making sure that the seams were laying in opposite directions, to reduce bulkiness.

After pressing all units the same as before, I added the last set of pairs. This time pressing the seams toward the middle. Now, I had a unit of three pairs, and a unit of three squares.

All that's needed to finish the block is to add the last row of squares.

I finish sewing the last row to the block, and pressed the final seam toward the outside of the block. 

I now had a finished 9-patch block...! It's important to turn the block over, and check that the seams are laying straight like this:

Take the time now, and the finished project will lay out smoother. Now, I swapped the positions of the white and scrappy squares and ended up with two piles of blocks.

Sixty blocks total. Now, I started to join the blocks together, alternating the two blocks. I know that most quilters create rows to sew together. I like to join the blocks into squares of four. Then, continuing to sew the bigger blocks together.

Also, when joining the blocks together, I match both the corner seams. This really keeps everything nice and straight. When all the blocks are joined, I had 5 rows by 12 rows. Time to make a quilt sandwich. Layer the completed top over the batting, with the backing fabric on the bottom. Pin together with the large, quilting safety pins. Be careful not punch holes in the fabric or pull threads. Finish pinning and you're ready to quilt..!

I quilted using the "stitch in the ditch" method. Which is sewing over the seams with invisible quilting thread.

I pieced the backing with a cream colored cotton and a small, floral print that's also the binding.

I then finished it with double fold binding. I just used straight of the grain-cut binding, I cut 2-1/2" strips across the fabric. If you would like to finish with bias binding you can find instructions here.
To create either of these bindings, the strips are joined with a 45 degree, diagonal seam. It makes the seam less bulky.
Fold and press the binding strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. The double fold binding with mitered corners is the most commonly used method of finishing quilted projects. It can be finished by hand or by a sewing machine. To finish by hand, start in the center of one side, placing the binding strip on the front of the quilt top. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt. Leave a 3"-4" tail at the beginning. Stitch though all layers, using a 1/4" seam. When stitching is about 2" from a corner, make a mark on the binding that is 1/4" from the edge of the quilt. Stitch up to the mark and back stitch to hold in place.
Cut the threads and remove from the machine. Fold the binding strip upward to make a 45 degree angle. Finger press.

While holding the diagonal in place with your finger, fold the strip back down, covering the first fold. Bring the binding strip down in line with the next edge. This makes a horizontal fold that aligns with the top edge of the quilt.
Start sewing again at the top of the horizontal fold, stitching though all layers. Turn each corner in the same manner. Stop sewing when you are about 4" from the beginning.
To finish the binding, return to the beginning of the binding strip. Cut a 45 degree angle from the top left to the bottom right of the beginning. Press under a 1/2" seam allowance on the beginning tail. Keeping the 45 degree angle, place the end of the tail inside the beginning tail. Trim the end tail to leave a 1-1/2" piece inside the beginning.

Pin in place and finish sewing the binding to the quilt. Hand stitch the fold closed. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt. Sew in place by hand using a blind stitch, with a single strand of thread. Make sure you cover any machine stitching.

To create mitered corners on the back of the quilt, hand stitch up to a corner. Then fold the opposite side over at the corner, creating a mitered corner.

Pin in place and put a few stitches in the fold to secure it. Finish each corner in the same way. When you find your way back to the beginning, stitch the binding closed and you're done...!
Here are a few more pictures:

I love my rooster salt & pepper shakers-