Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Up and Away

I believe vintage doesn't just apply to objects, but can be a state of mind as well. 

When my mother was cleaning out her farm house, we discovered this old book, Up and Away

Up and Away is the first volume of the Canadian Reading Development Series of textbooks used in Protestant Canadian Schools across Canada from the post WWII period until the early seventies.

This volume has nice poetry (a lot of Walter de la Mare) and lots of animal stories and wonderful illustrations. It was edited by Marian James.

It's a nice snapshot of what life was "supposed" to be like - the ideals, morals, and lifestyles that people were striving for.

For me, it brings back a few childhood memories of summer days spent with this volume, stretched out on a sleeping bag in the tent pitched in the backyard. I was mesmerized by an earlier time period that seemed so long ago to a little girl of the 1970s. I would fantasize about living during the 1940s. 

Yes, vintage is definitely a state of mind.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sweet Taste of Summer

Summer days bring berries and fruit ripe for making jams and jellies. 

Is there any better comfort food than homemade jam? It goes so well on warm, buttered toast or hot pancakes for breakfast. How about dabbing some on scones or biscuits fresh out of the oven?

My father loved raspberry jam and I remember one summer my mother canned 101 pint jars for him!  I guess I come by my love of jam honestly. Now I've  discovered that it seems to taste even better when it's served out of vintage jam pots or fancy condiment dishes, such as these ones I've collected recently.

If you're hankering to preserve a sweet taste of summer for the cooler months, here's a great grape jam recipe courtesy of the Atco Blue Flame Kitchen that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

2 lb (1 kg) Concord grapes, about 4 1/2 cups (1.125 L)
White granulated sugar

Stem and wash grapes; press pulp from skins. Cook pulp until soft, about 10 minutes; rub through a sieve to remove seeds. In a separate saucepan, cook skins until tender in just enough water to cover, about 15 minutes. Combine the two mixtures and bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes. Measure mixture. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar for each 1 cup (250mL) of mixture. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thick. Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm) headspace. Wipe jar rims thoroughly. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield: About 3 cups (750 mL).

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Blue Mountain Pottery

I'm learning so much about collecting these days and have found another Canadian company worth mentioning because of its beautiful works of art created over a 50 year period. One of Canada's largest potteries, Blue Mountain Pottery (BMP) of Collingwood, Ontario began in the early 1950's and closed its doors in 2005.

During that time period, the factory produced a variety of items for sale to the United States, British Isles, Caribbean, and Australasia which have now become collector's items around the world. BMP items were sold during Expo '67, which helped build its worldwide reputation.

A variety of glazes were used, with the traditional green glaze (a type of flowing drip glaze that made each piece distinctive and unique) being its best known. It also produced items in hues of plum, blue, red, harvest gold, white and black, as well as others, and some of these are quite rare and valuable.

Some of the company's many gorgeous pieces included clocks, statues, vases, bowls, ashtrays, goblets and coffee sets.

Although the company ceased operations in 2005, I'm sure its art will be treasured for many, many years to come.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Incredible 1970's Vase Made With Volkswagen Paint Colors

Yesterday I was out and about visiting neighborhood garage sales when I stumbled upon this stunning multi-colored vase:

Immediately, the owner approached me and began to tell the story of its origin. She was from Germany and during the 1970's, had a friend who worked at the Volkswagen factory. He had made her a vase using all the colors that were available for Volkswagen cars at the time drizzled onto a 1 litre glass bottle.  

A paint reference website says some of the 1970's Beetle colors were Cliff Green, Brilliant Orange, Saturn Yellow, Havest Gold, Olympic Blue. Most of which can be found on this bottle. Here are how some of them looked on the actual cars:

According to Bill Vance at, the rise of the giant Volkswagen factory after World War II in what became the West German City of Wolfsburg, was a modern industrial miracle. Constructed before the war to build Hitler’s “Peoples Car,” it produced few cars before and during the war. It mostly built Volkswagen-based Kubelwagens, Germany’s version of the Jeep. When hostilities ended, the plant was largely in ruins from allied bombing. 

He also writes: "The ex-prisoners and others scrounged around and found the hidden VW tooling. They set about cleaning up and restoring the plant. Pleased to see the people occupied, the British Army began trucking in coal from the Ruhr Valley. By the end of 1945 the enterprising Germans had produced several hundred Volkswagens. There were setbacks along the way, but the VW plant gradually got into full scale production. By March, 1953, it had built a half-million Beetles, and by August, 1955, a million."
My neighbor brought the vase with her to Canada and kept it all these years, but is now of the age when downsizing to move to an apartment with her husband means some treasures have to be parted with.

I think her friend -  that Volkswagen employee/artist -  had created a stunning vase in tribute to not only Volkswagen, but 1970's culture. 

Please check out my Etsy shop if you're interested in owning this piece of 1970's nostalgia.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Vintage Canning Jars

A few weeks ago, I attended an out-of-town estate sale and came away with three beautiful, old canning jars.

One is a pre-1910 aqua Ball jar half full of hollyhock seeds the lady had harvested herself many years ago. Another was an aqua Perfect Seal jar with marigold seeds in it, also harvested by the lady. 

The third was this amethyst Perfect Seal jar, which came empty. It's such a pretty pink color, shiny with noticeable bubbles throughout the glass. The color indicates it was made prior to World War I. Perfect Seal was a brand of Canadian-made canning jars.

As for vintage canning jars, I see a lot of these for sale right now as repurposed garden lights. There are many Etsy shops selling them pre-made with LED solar lights installed under the lids, and I see on eBay you can buy the solar light lids ready to install on your own Ball jars. Now I see new ones for sale at Home Hardware. Made to look vintage, of course, with frosted glass and ready to go. 

All these solar lights look quite stunning glowing away in the evening darkness. 

I'm not sure what I'll do with my jars yet. So far they're just sitting on a shelf where they can catch the morning sunlight from the dining room window. I find them quite beautiful simply as they are - seeds and all.

Monday, 13 June 2011


I have to write about an awesome glass company from my neck of the woods - Medicine Hat, Alberta - called the Altaglass Manufacturing Company. This beautiful glassware item is just one of the many being collected since the plant closed in 1988.

John Furch, the company founder, came to Canada from Czechoslavakia in 1949. He was attracted by the cheap and abundant supply of natural gas offered by Medicine Hat. Altaglass used about 500,000 cubic feet of gas a month to produce the high temperatures needed in the melting furnaces. 

With the help of his daughter and son-in-law and a small number of employees, Furch produced many fantastic blown glass vases, bowls and artglass. The company also made hand-shaped glass birds and animals. 

There's a wonderful website dedicated to Altaglass, which has a detailed history of the owners and talented glassblowers that worked there. It also has a gallery of pieces produced if you would like to see more of their beautiful work.

If you would like to buy the item pictured here, please check out my Etsy shop.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Spring Weddings

We have a wedding in the family today, as my brother's daughter marries her wonderful fiance.

It's amazing to me how fast the years have flown by. It doesn't seem that long ago I was anxiously awaiting a phone call telling me of her birth!

Today the weather's going to be a little rainy, a little overcast but with some periods of sun. Sort of like life and very fitting for two people starting their lives as one, I think.

In honour of my niece, I created a wonderful "Spring Weddings" treasury list of vintage items from various vintage shops on Etsy. It's posted to the right on my blog if you care to check it out. There's some wonderful memories there.

Enjoy and have a nice day!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Bartlett-Collins Hand Painted Glass Products

I found an interesting glass company while researching some glassware my mother had given me. It had belonged to my grandmother and that it was old was all my mother could tell me.

I discovered the set was made by Bartlett-Collins, a company that started in Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1912 and became a division of Indiana Glass Co., which was later owned by Anchor Hocking. High-quality glass sand, with few impurities and high silica content, occurred in abundance in Oklahoma in the early 1900's and glass plants proliferated. In 1910 there were two, by 1915, five, and by 1918, there were 16 plants. Among the resulting products were canning jars, water bottles, gaslight globes, lantern globes, and even glass caskets.

Back to Bartlett-Collins, their specialty items included enameled drinking glasses and mugs, florist vases and candle holders. According to one source, they hired local housewives to paint their decorative crystal during the 40's and 50's. (For some reason, I have a mental image of the Stepford Wives sitting around the dining room table having an afternoon paint/chat session!)

I found out that Collins sold his interest in the company in 1918 and formed the Liberty Glass concern. This Southwest company was noted for its hand-pressed and blown tableware, stemware, and kitchenware. In addition it produced an assortment of kitchen lamps. By 1950, the company was making one million glass milk bottles annually and had a staff of 500. They are still in business today.

Now I've discovered that another vase I had recently sold through my Etsy shop was also a Bartlett-Collins product, made in the 1950/60s. Further browsing on the internet makes me realize how much I love this glass company's products. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of their pieces to add to my collection.

I just listed this pair of Bartlett-Collins vases in my Etsy shop, if you want to check them out!

Monday, 6 June 2011

A Fab Find on the Weekend

I had a hectic weekend, but I managed to get in a ton of garage sales. I met some really nice people and especially enjoyed the one where the host was dressed up like a clown!

This is one item that I came across and fell in love with immediately. The owner said her mother-in-law had it for years and years. I know it's not in perfect condition, but there is something about the dents, the scuff marks and the rusty parts that appeal to me. Maybe because it reminds me that this is life. Time is giving us all little scuff marks and a few dents of our own as we age, but we still retain our beauty and worth.

This imported British candy tin was made by Walker & Hartley Ltd. of Blackpool, England. It has the characteristic rich gold color, elaborate floral design and geometric pattern common in the candy tins of the 1940s.

It has been around a long time and like many tins of its day, was well used by it's owners for possibly storing coins, sewing supplies or keepsakes. The top of the tin features a raised picture of a floral bouquet of carnations, daisies and mums.

It's now listed in my Etsy shop, if you're in the market for shabby chic.

(Please feel free to check out some of my collection for sale online at

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Welcome to Retro Junction

Welcome to my blog which is born from the need to share as I embark on my journey of collecting vintage home decor, housewares and more. 

I am a newbie at both collecting and blogging, and I hope any longtime collectors who may follow my blog will bear with me. My goal isn't to educate, but simply to share and hopefully pass the appreciation for vintage on to younger generations. If you have anything to share about any of the items or topics discussed, please feel free to add your wisdom in the comments section.

My hobby of collecting feels like young love - new, exciting and passionate. It sprouted while I was helping my mother clean out the farm house she had called home for nearly 60 years. As we sifted through my late father's vast collections of coins, matchbooks, licence plates, pens, pencils, caps, beer, history books, magazines and hunting paraphenalia, we joked about him being a hoarder. Deep down we knew he simply loved adding to his collections with no end in sight. 

I never really connected with my father's collections and I would have returned to the city content with a job well done - no spiritual awakenings to speak of. But then my mother began pulling out depression glass butter dishes, Fire King dessert plates and Pyrex coffee carafes. My heart began to palpitate and the adrenaline exploded! These items from the past were so beautiful and each had a tale to tell and a memory attached! 

Suddenly I couldn't wait to get home and look through my own long forgotten boxes and trunks for treasures from the past. started going to garage sales, estate sales, antique shops and thrift stores. At some point, probably during a middle-of-the-night internet "search" session, I decided to nurture this new found romance with all things vintage and see where it takes me. 

Who knows what I'll find next?  

I'll keep you posted.

(Please feel free to check out some of my collection for sale online at