Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On the BRIGHT side!

Yesterday was the perfect day weather-wise.  It was bright and sunny; warm but not hot with a very gentle light breeze.  I had a doctor's appointment after work and couldn't wait to get home so I could be outside working in the yard.

When I got home, I did an abrupt change in plans.  Instead of yard clean-up, I decided to work on my suitcase. 

I covered my small patio table with a tarp, hauled the case, paint, and brushes outside, opened the case so I could work on the top and bottom at the same time, cracked open the new can of dark blue Tremclad paint, and I got to work painting the metal bands that go around the suitcase.

It turns out the dark blue paint I bought is actually quite BRIGHT dark blue - much brighter than the color already there, but I still think it will look just fine.

It took awhile to get all the metal pieces painted, but I wasn't in a rush, I was loving being outside in the beautiful spring afternoon.  I was on the last band and had to move over to the other side of the table to reach the last little bit of metal that needed to be painted.  As usual my sweet assistant (Molly) lay flat out on her side in the sun, at my feet - after all where Dale is - Molly is..... always.

I knew she was there - why wouldn't she be?  So instead of stepping over her, I decided to set the can on the table first so I wouldn't spill paint on her or anything else for that matter.  The plastic tarp sort of stuck out from the table a bit, and so I confidently placed the open paint can down - only there was no table beneath the area I chose.   Funny thing is I realized the table was missing right at the moment I would have actually let go of the can - but not before I spilled most of the contents of the can, on myself (feet, hands and clothes) and the patio.  Somehow I missed the dog entirely (thankfully).

What a mess... BRIGHT dark blue, not- able- to- wash- with- soap- and- water kind of paint everywhere!

It wasn't my best moment, and very quickly I discovered I was nowhere near adequately prepared to be using this paint as I had nothing around to actually clean this sort of paint from my skin.  I walked around the patio like a surgeon about to glove up for surgery, the gentle light breeze quickly drying the BRIGHT dark blue non- washing- with- soap- and- water paint firmly on to my skin.

What could I do?  I got Gary to let me in the door and went to the kitchen sink where I instructed the poor distressed man to drown my hands with dish soap... smear smear... did I say smear?  After I had smeared the blue mess into every pore in my hands and halfway up my arm, I realised I had made yet another error in judgement.

The distressed man suggested nail polish remover - I had about 3 drops left in the bottle (I've been meaning to pick up more) so I nixed that option and decided that magic eraser might work.  Erase, erase.... nothing! Seriously - it's the first thing I have found that Magic Eraser did not Magically erase!

So it was back to dish soap - please note: dish soap + Tremclad paint = a very sticky paste of whatever colour you are using. Not much colour was coming off so I gave up and reached for the paper towels which immediately adhered to my hands.

I'm here to tell you that we women should never let our polish remover get too low - especially if, like me you are not adequately prepared to paint metal.  Those few drops of polish remover removed 80% of the blue from my hands - the further 20%  was kept as a reminder of my own stupidity!

So now that I know how dumb I really can be without trying - I am quite ready to start using fabric to cover my case.  This should be a whole lot cleaner - I hope!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's all about the Case - The Future

When I went to choir practice last Thursday evening I popped into the crypt to see how things were going with the sorting and pricing for the rummage sale.  Hard to believe that they could stuff even more things in that space, but they have.

I visited with my friends for a few moments before practice, and I happened to notice another suitcase sitting on the floor beside a bunch of boxes.  This case is not as old as the one I dragged home, and it was smaller and in much better shape.  It wasn't antique, but I'd say for sure it was vintage.

I didn't dare ask about it, in fact I tried not to make eye contact with it - really I did!  I don't think anyone noticed my interest.  I hope not, I don't want to get a reputation or anything like that - but seriously - if it's not sold by the time I get to the sale on May 5th - I'm buying it and dragging it home!

I need storage in my craft room, and I have a lot of plastic totes, but they do take up a lot of room.  I would much prefer this look to that of plastic piled to the ceiling.

Last week we got to dream a little about my suitcase's past.  I know you are wondering what I intend to do with my old relic.

I do have a purpose for it besides storage in my craft room.  I am going to use the suitcase as a display apparatus at my craft sales.

My niche is Victorian Crochet - mostly tree ornaments, but I also have table runners, afghans, bridal accessories, baby items, and some dolls.   The tree ornaments are displayed on a small tree on the table, but the rest just lies on the table.  I want to make the case the display background.  For example - I could have the runners and afghans spilling out of the case.  A part of the lid could hold smaller items like bridal accessories, another part of the lid could have a spot for hanging baby items such as Christening Gowns, Shawls etc.

The case will add an element of time to my thread work that no table adornment ever could.

In order to use the case this way - it needed a whole new look - so I decided to change it's image completely.  I am repainting the metal bands that go around the case with a dark blue Tremclad.  It is a little lighter than the blue on the strips now.

All the paper inside the case has been removed (thank goodness for my handy steamer), it removed the old paper and sterilized the interior as well - leaving it as fresh and bare as the day it was made.
I am replacing the paper with a pretty Victorian-type print fabric.  It will be a perfect back drop for my typically White, Ecru and Ivory Victorian Crochet pieces.

The outside of the case is where the most change is going to happen.  I decided that sticking to the "Victorian" look would be the thing to do, so I found some beautiful fabric in multi colors of greens and blues.  I will cover the areas between the metal bands with this fabric, thus brightening the exterior the the suitcase considerably.

Before I do the outside, I am going to sort of mod-podge the labels permanently on the outside of the suitcase with some white glue that will dry clear.  I want the history to stay with the case forever.  It is where it belongs, and if years down the line someone removes the material I place on the case, the labels will still be there so someone else can research the suitcase's history if they so desire.

So now that you know my plans, I'd better get busy and get it done!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Cleaning Anyone?

I hope you didn't rush here this morning  - I take that back - I hope you did rush here this morning, but I hope you didn't do so thinking you would see pictures of a finished project such as a suitcase or something like that.

It really was my intention to have those pictures ready for you today - however thanks to the weather man, and my guilty conscience my plans for the weekend were sort of altered.

It was predicted to be a rainy day on Saturday and because I have neglected my housework for some time, I decided that it might be a good day to try and get some spring cleaning done.  So Friday evening while I was still determined to achieve this goal, I tore apart my living room to the extent that forced me to do a major cleaning effort on Saturday.

As it turned out Saturday was a nice day, the sun even shone, which helped me to get in the mood for cleaning, and so I lit into my work like someone possessed.  I washed walls, ceilings, floors: steam cleaned my furniture, washed and pressed my window treatments.  I even broke out the can of paste wax and waxed the piano, and all the other wood I could find. By 9 pm Saturday I had completely cleaned not only the living room, but also the dining room.

Sunday after church I was all set to head outside to work on the suitcase, but this is where guilt set in.  As I walked through the yard I noticed that the boulevards had not yet been raked, and the gardens still had a lot of leaves from fall, so instead of working on the case, I grabbed a rake and started raking.  Here too, I accomplished quite a bit - not enough to be able to say I'm finished, but at least things are starting to look better out there.

Then it was 4 loads of laundry, ironing clothes for the work week and thankfully - rest (at 10:15pm)!

My home looks and smells wonderful, but I am not moving all too swiftly this morning.  Think I might have used a muscle or two this weekend that have been dormant all winter.

So that's why there are no pictures to share.

I am going to try and remedy that situation this week, because next weekend I plan to tackle my kitchen...

Guess I shouldn't have fired the maid!

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's all about the case - Welcome to Holland!

I have had more fun with this old suitcase than you can imagine.  First of all, it has given me something different to work on than my usual crafting projects, and secondly it has given me something to research.

I love to research - it is one of the main reasons I love to write.  I think in all honesty I love to research more than I love to write, but they are so solidly intertwined that it's hard to determine which is loved best.

It has been fun to look for clues to my suitcase's past.  I am no expert, but I'd be willing to state that this case is early 1900's - perhaps in the 1920's or so... which again is an era that I so love.  I did a lot of research about this era for my book WINTER WHEAT, which you can find here on my blog if you would like to read it.

The last part of research associated with this old suitcase was inspired by a second label on the side of the case.

The Connections link
Hook of Holland.

I know nothing of Holland, except perhaps what I might have learned in school - certainly long forgotten now, so I had no idea what Hook of Holland was, or is.

So off to Holland we go.....

The only passenger route  between the UK and the Netherlands is by Ferry across the North Sea.  Like my old label states the route is from Harwich (UK) to Hook of Holland (Netherlands).   The Hook of Holland  (Hoek van Holland) is a town and port located on the North Sea Coast on the north bank of the Nieuwe Waterweg ship canal.  It is literally the corner of Holland.

The ferry service from Harwich to the Hook has been in operation since 1893.  It currently crosses four times a day taking anywhere from 6-9 hours, depending upon the tides and weather conditions.

1930 Harwich-Hook of Holland vessel
Today's Ferry.
 Hook of Holland is still an active thriving port, but it also is home to several Coastal Museums, some with history dating back to the early 1800's.

Here is what a present day luggage sticker would look like...

My old suitcase has taken me on quite a journey thus far.  Because of it I have learned many new things about many different places.  I love this kind of learning - it is the kind of which dreams are made.  Can you imagine the dreams that have been associated with my suitcase? 

If the case was used for business,  might there have been dreams of wealth and prosperity?  If it was used for personal travel - might the dreams have been for a relaxing vacation; a splendid honeymoon; a chance to visit with friends and relations?  What if the case was used for immigration (and it stands to reason that it was) might the dreams it carried be for a whole new life?

To me this suitcase is not just a covered wooden box with latches and a handle - it is someones hopes, dreams, aspirations - all contained in a covered wooden box with latches and a handle!

And now it will be my hopes, dreams and aspirations that it carries... how lucky I am!

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me...

Next week I'll tell you All about the Case - The Future! 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's on about the case - and a little Geneology too!

It is very difficult to find a person in history without knowing some very basic information.  It's almost impossible to track a last- name -only -person - but I did try and find Hewitt co. ltd. without much success, I'm afraid. 

It appears there were several business that had the name Hewitt in them in the early 1900's in London England.  Perhaps one might be the Hewitt I am looking for, or perhaps not. 

There was a Hewitt co. ltd - that were Beer Brewers....
There was a Hewitt & Sons - who were in the leather business...

And the one I like the best  -  Hewitt and Leadbeater Ltd.. this one is quite interesting.  Hewitt on Leadenhall - Hewitt and Leadbeater?  The word Lead makes me wonder if this is a co-incidence, or has something not been transcribed properly?

If you have ever delved into genealogy you will know how very possible this is.  When I was researching my Mother's family name of Rossnagel - it was spelled so many different ways it was quite comical.  I had a difficult time finding my grandfather on a ship list from Europe, because the spelling of his name was not anything like what it should have been. 

So back to Hewitt and Leadbeater Potters.  Of all the business my case could have belonged to, this is the one I would like to imagine the most.  This company operated  from 1907 to the 1926 and they made Parian Ware, Tea sets, coffee sets, cups and saucers, chinaware, porcelain figurines, and porcelain vases... and DOLLS. 

I was able to find a piece of their work online...

This company was also known as Willow Pottery.... is it possible that they were associated with the famous BLUE WILLOW pottery?  That would make my suitcase so very very special... would it not?

Speaking of Blue Willow Pottery  - I learned something in this research.  My Mom had a couple of pieces of Blue Willow Pottery - I never knew the story of this design until now - it is quite interesting... have a read....

Tomorrow we will travel to the Hook Of Holland... the ferry leaves early, so make sure you are on time!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's all about the case - London England.

Today we are heading off to London England.  I believe that is where the suitcase's journey began.

One of the two paper labels on the side of my old suitcase is handwritten.  The ink has run quite a bit from water damage, I'm assuming, but it still is fairly legible.  This is my biggest link to this suitcase's past, and even this is not enough to get the true history of this old case.

If you enlarge this photo enough I think you will agree it says.

D or W Hewitt Co. Ltd
98 Leadenhall St.
London Eng.

At first I thought it said Leadenhill St, and so I started my research there - but nothing came up.  So I started replacing the letter "I" in hill   - first with a  "A" - and bingo... There is a Leadenhall Street in London, and it is in the heart of the financial district which might makes perfect sense for a company's address.
Leadenhall street is also close to to the Thames River, The Tower of London, The London Bridge, The London Wall, Queen Victoria Street - in other words - "Old London"

The closest address I could find to 98 Leadenhall St was 122 Leadenhall St.

Since late in the first Century 122 Leadenhall St has been a market place.  In the 1300's it was a meeting place for poulterers and cheesemongers. Later it was the place to buy leather, cutlery and later after the Great Fire of 1666, it became a Beef and Herb market.

It has been rebuilt and redesigned many times over the years, and in 1991 it was extensively restored.   One Lonely Planet Review said this about the market.  "It's like stepping into a small slice of Victorian London".  

I would like to believe that my suitcase has been part of this legacy... and this fits so well with my intentions for this case..... but that's another post!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's call about the Case - and the travelling salesman!

Do you remember the Fuller Brush Man?  My younger readers will be say "The What?".

As a kid growing up in the 60's the arrival of the Fuller Brush Man and also the Watkins Man was an exciting thing for sure.  We were the fourth house on our street, so we'd see him coming down the city sidewalk, lugging his huge sample case - which was about the same size and shape as my old suitcase.  What intrigued me was the way the suitcase was laid out inside.

What a thing of beauty!  Inside the case was hundreds of sample items of wares for sale.  Every thing had it's section and everything had it's place.  In the Fuller Brush Man's suitcase was brushes and cleaning supplies.  My Mom was very fond of some of these brushes, and my Dad always used the shoe polish brush every Sunday as he spiffed up his Sunday shoes for Church.  Now there is something we don't see anymore!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this :  Who knew this company still existed today?

I personally liked the Watkins Man's visits better, because he always gave each kid a new comb - a black men's comb to be exact - but at that age we didn't really care... we had a chance to own our very own comb... for awhile.

Why is she going on about this anyway, you ask?

Because my plan for my old suitcase is for it to be put to work to sell things.  I'll discuss that more later, but bet you are waiting to see the first clean up.

Drum roll please!



After some serious sweat equity.

Tomorrow we are going to London England....

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's all about the Case!

What do you see, when you look at me;

Worn old disrepair?

                                                                             Battered, rusty, ripped and torn;
                                                                                  Do you  really care?        
I was owned, and much loved once,
I was even of some use.

                                                                               But that was oh so long ago,
                                                                                   I'm now a sad excuse.


I started to work on the old suitcase that I hauled home last week.  You can see by the pictures that it wasn't in the best of shape.  It was dirty, all the metal parts were badly rusted, and the paper lining inside was bubbled or completely gone.  One of the snap closures didn't work, and it smelled really really bad.

First order of work was to get it smelling almost okay enough to get it in the house, so I opened it up and left it sit outside in the sun one whole day.  The cool air and sunshine really got rid of the odor.  I peeled off as much as of the musty paper inside that I could.

Next it was taking it inside and scrubbing it down with magic eraser (on the leather, or cloth part) not sure at this point what actually covers the case on the outside.  I took steel wool to the metal bands around the case and all the rust came off.  The metal findings are all copper, and they cleaned up beautifully.
Then out came the Armoral - even though the case is nowhere ready for this - I wanted to see what it would look like clean and shinny.

For now I have left the two papers or labels that are glued on the outside of the case alone and I am doing some research to see what I can find out about this old suitcase.

For now, I can tell you that it belonged to someone associated with a  D. Hewitt & Co. Ltd,  in London England, and at some time in this suitcase's life it took a journey from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, because this label says so.

Maybe it's the writer in me that won't let the history associated with this case just go away.  I have a very definite purpose for this case, but first - I want to find out as much as I can about it.

So come along on this new Journey with me... who knows where it will end!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Things that are meant to be!

Our church is having a Mammoth Rummage sale on May 5th, and so in preparation for it, Gary and I spent several hours last evening sorting and pricing items at the church for this sale.  Our church building is 109 yrs old, there is no basement but there is a crypt under the church -  it's a huge open area used only for storage, and usually it's empty.  It is full at the moment, as is another large storage area inside the church building.  Both areas are full of donated items for the rummage sale. 

It is obviously going to be a very successful sale and I will be working in the craft (surprise) and puzzle and game areas. 

Anyway, last night we were working on kitchen items - a lot of glass - so much so that poor hubby was getting quite uncomfortable, I think.  He did well - he stuck it out for about 90 minutes but then "went for a walk".

One of the other workers asked where he had gone, and my comment was - "Just wait a few minutes and you'll figure it out."

Sure enough, minutes later the big 4 manual Cassavant pipe organ was playing us beautiful hymns to work by.

Back down to the crypt - Sitting off to one side was a very old suitcase, a huge big thing, almost trunk- sized, all covered with stickers but otherwise not in too terrible shape.  Immediately repurposing came to mind.  I had a silent discussion with myself about the merits or not, of taking such a suitcase home, but then put it out of my mind as I got involved in my work.

When it was time to leave I was standing close to the suitcase saying my farewells, and remarked at how neat the old suitcase was.  The leader and organizer of the sale said she didn't think it was something that could be sold in the sale.  I said nothing.... really!

She looked at me and said - "Do you want it?"

What was I to say?

When I finally pried Gary away from the organ, there sitting in front of the door was the old suitcase, so I pretty much HAD to pick it up and carry it to the van!

I can't wait to get some magic eraser to it and see what is under all the stickers, labels and grime.  Just what I really needed - yet another project - but this is a true repurposing project - a first for me.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Contest Results!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend.  I was busy singing in the choir for much of it which was pretty special for me.  Our reward is a week off from practicing and a Sunday off from singing... whatever will I do with myself this week?

If you are waiting for the results of my Easter contest - I have to tell you that there are no results.  No one entered.  I am trying not to be disappointed, but I am, really.  But I am a big girl, I'll get over it, and like someone in my house pointed out - now I don't have to rush to make and send a fairy!

That probably is a Godsend in itself as I can't see.  I got new glasses yesterday (bifocals) and I am really disappointed in them.. The only thing that is clear is distance (which was exactly what my old glasses were).  I can't use the new glasses on the computer, or to read or to craft, so I am not a happy person.. One shouldn't have to spend almost 600.00 and not be able to see!

So they are going back in a day or so... hope they can come up with something much better.

It has been six months since I last saw my Oncologist and tomorrow is my check up with him, so this morning I had to go and get my 12 tubes of blood drawn.  This is never a fun time for me because the veins in the only arm they can use roll.  BUT this morning everything went well, so now all I need is a positive visit and I'll be happy for another 6 months.

My dear friend Eva has introduced me to three Doll collecting groups on Facebook.  One is for Antique dolls, one is Vintage and one is Modern.  What a hoot!  Who knew there were so many men and women out there who collect and love dolls like I do.  I have seen more dolls in the past few days than I have seen in my entire life, and it's been a thrill a minute.  It has made me want to really concentrate on getting my collection up to speed again.  I certainly now have a network of "like" individuals to help me.

ThankYou Eva - you do get me into the neatest things!

On that happy note, I'll say cheerio for today.

Make your day count in some special way...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

This N That!

Are you busy jotting down your favorite Easter memory for my contest?  I really want to give away a Fairy!  In fact I want to do that so badly that last evening I put together 5 Fairy dresses and made 5 hats.  I have some very cute color combinations happening on the Fairy world - will try and get some photos on here soon.

In the meantime the Easter long weekend approaches.  I added a vacation day (Tuesday) to mine because I am going to be on the go so much that it isn't going to feel much like a long weekend...  I heard the weatherman say the "S" word for Sunday.  5-10 cm of "S" to be exact.  I sure do hope he is wrong!

You all know how much I love Pinterest by now.  So much so that I decided to take the plunge.  Got my invitation yesterday, so now I am going to PIN.  Oh boy  - the internet sure can be time consuming.  I need to spend less time on the NET and more in my craftroom before serious gardening season begins.  Maybe some "S" would force me to spend my time wisely indoors?

Good thing I don't do wise!

So I am off to getting my account in Pinterest set up, a day at work, and then an evening singing for the Maundy Thursday service at church...

Hope you enjoy your day! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Return of the Doily

If you were born in the 40's or 50's chances are you will have visited many homes where doilies were a common decorating accent.  As a child I remember beautiful crocheted pieces on end tables under lamps, on table tops, even on furniture backs and arms.  Antimacassars?  Does a young woman of today even know what these are  - or even care?

I have to admit (secretly) that I have always loved doilies and lace.  Call me old-fashioned but there is nothing lovelier than a polished wood table with a white or off white pineapple doily resting on top of it.  I have even used doilies on my own dinning room table from time to time - but sadly not recently.

I have a comforter bag filled with doilies that were my Mom's.  Some in that stash were made by my grandmothers, and a few even from great grandmothers.  They are made from the finest threads with stitches so intricate I cannot even imagine trying to do them.  They are works of art, indeed - but there they lay in a pile in my linen closet.

In the April 2012 edition of Chatelaine magazine, low and behold - the doilies have returned.  Not in the same way they were before, but still in a way where they can be used and enjoyed... and the young women who are using them are thrilled and proud to display them on their re-purposed wood tables...

They are now called Vintage - and vintage anything is "In".

Sew a bunch of doilies together and make a really beautiful and trendy table runner, these are spectacular and are something that even the novice seamstress can accomplish.  I think I'm going to give this a try...
So dig out Granny's treasures - I am going to try and find uses for all on them - eventually!