31 October 2010

The Simple Beauty of Antique Butter Molds

Being a lover of antiques I am especially fond of aged wood implements that have acquired a patina from being held in the hand while preforming a task. I love the beauty of the natural grain and feeling the warmth of the wood that has survived for generations links me to the past.I am currently selling these beautiful antique butter molds in my Ebay store and thought it might be interesting to give one a try and see if I could transform a mound of softened butter into a small work of art to grace my Thanksgiving table.There was a time when having butter involved hours of labor using many different wooden tools in the process....the cow was milked the cream was separated the butter was worked into a mound of lusciousness and packed into a crock that looked like this If you wanted to make a special presentation after all your hard work you had the option of using a wood butter mold with a motif carved inset and a detachable handle for plunging the molded butter unto a plate.
Most butter molds were made of maple and readily available for purchase for 8-30 cents from the Sears catalog.

Popular designs were a wheat sheaf floral

and my personal favorite the acorn and oak leaf
The process is very simple. Soak the wood mold in cold water. Do not dry the mold before adding the butter, use it straight out of the soaking bowl. Soften a stick and 1/2 of butter for a 4.5" mold. Unscrew the handle from the stamp and spread the softened butter across the design until it is covered completely. Place the stamp in the bottom of the mold. Pack the butter tightly into the mold, filling to the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Screw handle into top of mold and push butter unto plate.

If you are interested in finding out more about butter molds and all kinds of interesting things pertaining to the history of dairy visit www.dairyantiques.com
Want to make your own butter? It is easier than you think. Find out how easy it is here.

16 October 2010

Antique Mouse Penwiper Pincushion DIY Tutorial

Following are the instructions to make this whimsical little mouse who leads an interesting double life!

If you are interested in purchasing a kit that will include all the supplies you will need, please leave me a comment and I will put one together in your choice of colors for at a very reasonable price.


wool/felt scraps
2 small beads
black embroidery floss
fiber fill or other filling for mouse (I used ground corn cob, flax would work similarly)


I scanned the pattern 8.5X11.

*Cut 2 pcs of wool/felt fabric for mouse body
*Cut 4 graduated circles using pinking shears
*Stitch 1/4" seam on mouse body leaving 2" opening for stuffingTurn, stuff and stitch seam closed*Fold ears in half and stitch to body
*Fold tail in half and slip stitch to long edges together and attach to body
*Sew beads in place
*Sew embroidery thread for whiskers knotting close to snout and leaving 1/2" tail/2 on each side*Place circles of fabric together and stitch through all layers with 3-4 stitches*Anchor the mouse on top with additional stitches and secure tail in place

14 October 2010

The Mystery of the Penwiper

I recently was able to unravel a little mystery in a chain of linked events that I would call serendipitous
ser·en·dip·i·tous[ser-uhn-dip-i-tuhs]lucky in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
A few years ago I found a pin cushion on Ebay that I wanted to purchase for a friend that collects antique pin cushions. The pin cushion was very primitive and featured a tiny felt mouse with bead eyes sitting on top of pinked edge circular cut wool...just like this

1.com.... very sweet and appealing to someone that treasures handmade "folksy", primitive type items. Unfortunately and quite shockingly, the price climbed to over $250.

Being the crafty person that I am I decided to reproduce the pin cushion using hand dyed wools from my collection.

I made a little pattern and tucked it away in hopes of making one for myself someday.

and then...

Last week I was following a live auction online when I saw something called a penwiper. I took a closer look at the pictures and realized that what I had thought was a pin cushion was actually a penwiper from 1862.A penwiper was used to clean the ink from a dip pen or a fountain pen.

Here are some of the whimsical images of these ancient useful treasures that sold at auction for between $500-900.
Too precious to mess up with indelible ink...don't you think?The pig...not so much.
Cats and kittens, then as now, a favored theme.Peacocks waiting for their writing plumes.
(Courtesy of Nostalgic Impressions)

A favored pet must have been a friendly companion while doing ones school lessons, ....seated in front of her inkwell, dip pen in hand, blotting on her penwiper before practicing her cursive...imagine ink stains on those pretty little white dresses.
No Tide with Stain BustersWalter MacEwen(1860-1943 American)

and then....
While researching this post I actually found, 5 years later, the EXACT same mouse (shown above) that I had bid on, for sale, at VandM.com!

Googling further I found this booklet.
Victorian Pattern eBooks

On page 18 there is a pattern, dated December 1862, for Mouse Penwiper.
The circle is complete.


...don't you love when that happens!

07 October 2010

The House Bound Traveler

Destination: Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, SW England on the Bristol Coast.
I recently purchased this sweet little souvenir vase at a local antiques market from the booth of neighbor and friend Beth.
She said it had belonged to her mother who was a German war bride.
It is a tiny little 4" pink lustre transfer ware vase with a scene entitled "Weston-Super-Mare From the Encampment" and is stamped Germany on the bottom.
I loved the colors, the beautiful little scene drew me in and for $15 you don't have to think twice.

I brought the vase home and placed it among some other tiny treasures on a shelf in my bathroom.Every morning I would look at the vase and wonder about the little town with the funky name...(sounds like an inexpensive hotel for horses).

With those three little words my ticket was purchased and away I went...you gotta love Google.

The facts:
Weston-Super-Mare is a typical English seaside resort on the shore of the Bristol Channel, in the traditional county of Somerset, approximately 25 miles south west of Bristol, 35 miles west of Bath and 20 miles north of Bridgwater. The main attraction, Weston Bay, has miles of clean sandy beach and traditional seaside attractions.

This sea side town has a long history as a tourist attraction that began in the middle of the 18th century when visitors would come for "the cure" prescribed by doctors. Bathing in the salt water was extolled for its health benefits.During the second world war it served as a refuge for evacuees from London. Large areas of the town were destroyed during the blitzes. This area also played a part in the preparations for the Normandy Landings hosting large numbers of American troops prior to shipment to Omaha Beach. Could this possibly have been when a US soldier purchased the souvenir vase for his soon to be German bride?...I must check with my friend Beth for more details!

It appears to be a very unpretentious town with 85 pounds being the most expensive lodging available. This charming B&B is only 45 pounds a night!

The Wassells Bed & Breakfast Located on the fringe of the town of Cheddar famous for its gorge, caves and ...what else, cheese!...what might you expect to accompany some good cheddar?

Visit the home page for travel information to Weston-Super-Mare.