Monday, June 28, 2010

Jimmy's - Hair with Heart

Highland Avenue, Malden, MA

'Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.' Eric Hoffer

There are many ways to describe a person. Most of us can immediately conjure up the same rather crude descriptive terms for those we don't particularly like, those who have done us wrong, or those who are just plain nasty. And, then there are the sweet ones in this world...The peach, the doll, the 'lovey'; the person behind the name of James Michael Coiffures. Jimmy - as he is endearingly called by his clientele - is a Hairdresser Extraordinaire, attending to his ladies like a King holding Court. They come to be primped and pouffed. They come for chit and chat. But what is really behind the weekly wash-and-style is caring. The ultimate in pride for ones work.

"It's our little secret...We won't tell a soul...Just for you...Special...Happy to do it...I would have moved a mountain...Pleased to meet you.." And on and on....You sit there and you smile. You have a piece of candy and you listen to the banter - and you smile. You feel good being there; the kindness really is contagious. It is a hairspray-with-humanity genuine show of compassion to these elders; making them feel special, all neat and trimmed and in the spotlight for a little while. They come back, they tell their friends and they come, too, because it really is more about the heart than the hair at Jimmy's. You won't find ultra-chic decor, or the latest new age music playing. It is comfort from 30 years ago. A blast from the past and, well, HAIR :
A home for the fleas, a home for the buzzin' bees. A nest for the birds - there ain't no words - For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my hair......

(A bottom of the heart thank you to Evie, for introducing me to Jimmy and providing this good fun for a day...lunch of homemade pasta at Prisco's - SO DELICIOUS - and, memories for a lifetime.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

I is for Ironstone

Ironstone, also known as Semi-Porcelain, Opaque Porcelain, English Porcelain, or Stone China, was first patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason in Staffordshire, England. It is a durable and heavy porcelain china substitute, composed of white clay with iron smelted pulverized flint and slag. Mason's patent lasted only 14 years and by 1847 a number of other potters began experimenting with transfer ware, brush stroke patterns, and embossed designs, as well as the plain old lovely white. In the late 1840's, England began exporting the undecorated wares to American and Canada to supply the colonists demand for this plain white Stone China. As a result, few pieces of the undecorated Ironstone can be found in England. Clay, which was plentiful in the U.S., was predominantly used for bricks, tiles, and practical utensils such as jugs and crocks. Therefore most dinner ware was imported from England through the early to mid 1800's, with the octagon shaped plate being the most popular.

English Ironstone bears the Mark of its maker and - from 1842 on - a Design Registry Number. Ironstone from the 1840's can be creamy white (often American made), or bluish white (English made). Pre 1840 Ironstone and American white Granite Ware are often not marked and identification is by weight and feel. English makers include: Spode, Wedgewood, J & G Meakin, Wood & Sons, Birks Bros. & Seddon, T & R Boote, Turner & Tomkinson. Various patterns were produced with transfer designs and names such as: Chelsea Grape, Chelsea Sprig, Flow Blue, Willow, Gaudy Ironstone, Mason's Ironstone, Moss Rose, and Tea Leaf.

From the late 1800's through the early 1900's, gas fired machinery with its efficiency at grinding slag into powder, vastly increased production of domestically manufactured Ironstone to satisfy America's high demand. Manufacturers include: Red Cliffe, Knowles, Taylor & Knowles, W.A. Lewis (NY), Homer Laughlin & Co., and McCoy. And, as American's moved West due to an increase in growth and wealth, many Ironstone patterns reflected agrarian themes. Fruits, grains, nuts, pods, wheat, corn, and oats were all present to some degree. A pattern called Corn and Oats used ears of corn for finials on lids and arcs of wheat decorated the Arched Wheat pattern by R. Cochran & Co. In the 1850's, leaves including oak, maple, grape and ivy, as well as peaches, figs, plums, pears and berries were very popular. Flowers included lily of the valley, tulips, forget-me-nots and hyacinths as in Meadow Bouquet by W. Baker & Co. and Summer Garden by George Jones. These popular patterns of Ironstone became known as Thresher's or Farmer's China.

Since Ironstone is a porous earthenware clay, care should be given during cleaning, as any compromise to the glaze will result in staining. Never use chlorine bleach as it will crystallize and dissolve the glaze. Pieces should be submerged and brightened by dissolving a denture tablet (sodium bicarbonate and citric acid), or 3% hydrogen peroxide in warm water. Non-bleaching toothpaste can be used to gently diminish gray silverware marks. Dry in direct sunlight to brighten.

The simplicity of Ironstone sets a lovely table; practical, durable yet elegant despite its commonplace history. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010


INDEPENDENCE...It's meaning applies to math (the unprovability of a' sentence' from other 'sentences') and probability (two events are independent intuitively as the occurrence of one event is neither more nor less probable than the occurrence of the other), grammar (the independent clause in a complex sentence has at least a subject and a verb) and politics (self-government of a nation or country). Independence is the capability of standing alone; self direction without interference; having sufficient means for a comfortable life. Independence is freedom and one of the best things in the world to be grateful for.

July 4th represents the successful ending of the American Revolution and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It signified freedom from the Kingdom of Great Britain and George III; the Union of 13 Colonies as the United States of America. What began as a protest to Taxation without Representation in Parliament led to the First Continental Congress and war. That Battle of Concord signaled the official beginning of the quest for Independence, with Paul Revere's alarm:" The British are coming, the British are coming." John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence "with a great flourish, so King George could read it without spectacles". Its first public reading occurred in Philadelphia's Independence Square on July 8, 1776, where it was read to cheering crowds twice that day as the Bell tolled in Independence Hall.

With 2.5 million people living in the new nation, the first Independence Day Celebration took place in 1777, with Bristol, RI initiating the tradition of the 13 Gun Salute, once in the morning and again as evening fell. Today a salute of one gun for each state in the U.S. - called a Salute to the Union - is fired at noon by capable military bases across the nation, which is currently home to 307 million Americans. Marked by patriotic displays and pomp, fireworks are often accompanied by songs such as the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, Stars and Stripes Forever, Yankee Doodle (Northern States), and Dixie (Southern States). Independence Day is barbecues and ice cream, it is parades, it is simply...GREAT! Enjoy and be safe.

"Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land Unto All The Inhabitants Thereof."
(inscription on the Liberty Bell)

Monday, June 7, 2010

H is for Hawkes and Company - Brilliant Cut Glass

The American Brilliant Period began around 1880 and lasted until the early 1900's. It competed with European imports of lead crystal from England (Webb & Corbett), Ireland (Waterford) and France (Baccarat). Signatures were rare on these early pieces with the following list of major producers in the U.S. :
Dorflinger, Eggintin, T.G. Hawkes & Co.
J. Hoare, Jewel, Libbey Glass Works
Meriden, Sinclaire, Tuthill
The Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (1876) highlighted this Brilliant Glass and started the trend in the U.S. Cut glass originates from a molded shape but its surface pattern is decorated entirely by a skilled artisan using leaded glass which is softer and conducive to crisp and elaborate design. By simply running your fingers over the edges of a piece and feeling the crispness of the cuts you can distinguish it from molded pieces of glass which have more rounded edges, are smooth to the touch and do not reflect light with brilliance. A typical Brilliant period piece will fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light and it has an exquisite heft. The American Brilliant Cut Period involved wheel and hand-etched engraving, saw tooth banding along the edge, and a ground polished base. The aim of this ornate glass cutting was to admit light into dull glass imparting facets and prism-like effects. The process of crafting it was time consuming and expensive. Facets were cut into finished molds by pressing them against large rotary copper or stone wheels. Up to 100 different wheels, including those that polished were used, depending on the elaborateness of the design. It could take weeks to months to complete certain pieces. The copper wheel engraver is considered an artist after apprenticeship and many years of practice. Glass cutting is recognized as a legitimate and unique expression of art in the U.S.; and, it is presently a lost art as it is prohibitive to produce today.

Thomas Gibson Hawkes, who hailed from several generations of glass manufacturers (Dudley, England and Waterford, Ireland) set up a cutting shop in Corning, NY, from 1880 - 1908. T.G. Hawkes & Co. glass is considered among the finest Brilliant Cut Glass in the world and is presently among collections with Royalty and the White House. During the early years the Hawkes Company used blanks from Steuben Glass Works in Corning, NY (Founded in 1903). When Steuben was sold to Corning Glass Works in the 1920's, Hawkes purchased most of its blanks. Hawkes was purchased by Tiffin Art Glass in 1964, which continued to operate until 1980, when its doors were closed for good.

The demise of the American Brilliant Cut Glass period happened suddenly with the outbreak of WW I (and the demand for lead to make bullets), as well as a style preference for simplicity in design with the emergence of the Art Deco period (1925-1940's). As a unique and valuable art form a piece displayed on a rustic table creates quite a spectacular statement and lends sparkle to a dull room!

Related Posts with Thumbnails