Monday, December 12, 2011

A Perfect Time

When it got light enough to see, my heart swelled with joy. We had snow overnight, and it was a spectacular morning! Here is what I saw first.

And then I saw this view:

No matter what window I looked out of, it was Mother Nature's masterpiece. What a perfect day to put up the tree.
It's been a while since I put up a Christmas tree, so it took a little while to get everything set up and just so. It was like being on a shopping spree as I pulled things from boxes. My memory of them had faded somewhat over time, due to the length and the ups and downs of my health over the past two years. So, everything, even tiny ornaments, were a joyful surprise as I opened their boxes. Mitch Miller was playing quietly from the studio as I assembled the tree, strung the lights, and debated over which garland to use.
After placing the tree on the bench, I noticed it was horribly bare around the base. Lacking a traditional tree skirt, a huge red stocking wrapped around the base became a tree skirt, with no one the wiser but me. And now you, of course. Hey, it works!

I used all my vintage ornaments, and they were placed very strategically for maximum viewing. It was imperative that they be seen, no matter where you looked at the tree. The bells were first, then the Shiny Brites. The little wood birds fluttered into place, gently swinging from their branches. All the other ornaments came one by one, each finding their own spot on the tree. What do you think?

I needed to dress up the oil lamp bracket on the wall, so I used a candy cane style candle and a garland wrap to fix it right up.

A pretty little bird:

And one with bells for neighbors:

All in all, we have a fantastic tree with bright and shiny decorations throughout the main two rooms of the house. Finally, everything we have collected and bought over the years looks like it should- shimmery and sparkly and merry and bright! Even our fiber optic snowman still works. His subtly changing colors match the tree lights to perfection, and you can't ask for better than that.

I'll close this bragging post with a night shot of the tree surround.

I hope you all have a warm, festive, relaxing Merry Christmas.


Cowland Studio

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Enduring Update

Part I and Part II of Enduring Christmas Ornaments needs an update. I probably should have taken my time, really looking at them thoroughly, but it didn't dawn on me to do that until after I did some major reading on the history of ornaments. There are many interesting markings, but I neglected to look at the most obvious- the cap!!

Here is what I discovered:

The four blue striped bells, two gold bells, and one silver bell in the rear are clearly stamp/embossed 'Czechoslovakia' on the caps. That was a wonderful discovery! Only once in my research did I see a bell that resembled the gold bells.

My favorites are also clearly stamp/embossed 'West Germany' on the caps. They'll hold a place of honor on the front of my tree this year.

These bells proudly proclaim 'West Germany' on their ornate caps.

All of these ornaments are stamp/embossed 'Shiny Brite - Made in USA' on the caps, except for the little one on the lower right. There are no identifying stamps on it, but the cap itself is unique to all the other ornaments.
These, also, are Shiny Brites. I was surprised!

All Shiny Brites! And, there turns out to be another clear lantern, making my grand total- two!

The end of the Shiny Brites, including the top on the far, lower right. I still love that Stagecoach!

That is all the information I have on my ornaments at this time. My Mom told me that the little wood painted birds were given to her by an old friend. I understand they bring good fortune, and will grace my tree this year. Slowly, the decorations are going up. I'm hoping to tackle the tree tomorrow. It's finally snowing, so, that will boost me along! As I put things in their place, I just as quickly bring them to the studio for a splash of glitter. Some things just need glitter! Watch this blog for pictures.

Happy Decorating!


Cowland Studio

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Enduring Christmas Ornaments- Part II

This post is about the rest of my collection of Christmas ornaments. It doesn't include the many I have hand painted this year. By the time I get to decorating the tree, the few in the pictures will seem like a multitude on a four footer, and I intend to fill it up.
As before, if you have any information on the following pictures, please comment below.

These adorable little wood birds hung on my mother's tree. I always thought they were just so cute. Where they came from doesn't matter, but I'd love to know who made them. I think the tiny flocked ornaments were my grandma's.
Looks like the snowman needs some help!

This next batch has me baffled. I can't tell what they were made from. It's not wood, and they are crudely shaped, but they're just different enough to hang on my tree.

Grandma had a thing for Bambi, that's for sure. I remember her huge tapestries that hung on the walls either had a deer scene or a horse scene. With these, I figure the riveted holes on their bellies were there so each Bambi could 'sit' on a post. I could be wrong. And their little heads rotate. You can turn them all the way around, place them in different poses.

These plastic critters totally escape me, but they were grandma's, so I keep them. The stickers on two of them clearly show they were made in Japan and could be had for one thin dime.

It looks like they're trying to tell me something...

Another bell- this one a birdie elf. Just right for my tree.

Along with our four foot tree this year, we have two small trees- one for the bedroom and one for
 the end of the kitchen counter. The tree in the kitchen sports all my itty bitty wood ornaments that I've had so long I can't remember if I bought them  or acquired them. It doesn't matter, because they fit so well with that particular small tree that the whole thing just needs it's own space to be. When all of the decorating is done, I'll post pictures of my handywork.


Enduring Christmas Ornaments- Part I

No matter how old your ornaments are, they are something special, if only to you. Once they're on the tree with the twinkling lights gently glowing, those ornaments are captivating. Memories of long ago, cherished Christmases come to mind, and the smells of those times trigger more. Does it matter how old the ornaments are? No. Does it matter where they came from? Sometimes, yes.
I am one of the lucky people who are in possession of ornaments that came from a family member, or two. Some are from my grandmother, and there are some precious ones from my mother, as in her bell collection. These are the few that are left, and will be on my tree this year:

I just adore bells. Many of the decorations in my kitchen this year are bells- a wreath of bells, bells hanging from ribbon, clusters of bells dangling from the table lamp, and a few left over in case I think of someplace else to put them. But, the bells pictured above are for the tree.
Some bells are glass, some are collectibles, a half dozen are plastic (and still cute), and there are two wood bells (not vintage). The triple set of small brass bells in the center of the picture are affectionately known as the 'Cat Alarm" bells. Mom's Siamese used to love to climb the Christmas tree, with the resulting breaking of ornaments, so this set was always placed on the lowest branch to sound the alert when he was trying to climb! Keeping the tradition, I always place them on the lowest branch, even though my cat won't go near a tree.
The pretty blue bells and gold bells are plastic, as far as I can tell, and they are delicate.
The next picture is of my favorite bells- the lacy kind. There aren't many of them left, and luckily they have their own box.

The bell on the far left of this next picture has me baffled. The bouquet is beautiful, and looks like it might be a decal. Any thoughts? Let me know if you have any information on it.

Now, for the vintage ornaments. I'm sure there used to be many more Shiny Brites in grandma's collection. Some were probably broken by cats and kids over the years. So, here is what I have:

Just recently I learned quite a bit about ornaments and their origins, mostly from one of my favorite sites, She has a number of posts on the backgrounds of Christmas ornaments. I never knew it would be that interesting!
The little stray on the lower right has me stumped. There's almost no pike. Another mystery. If anyone knows anything about it, please, let me know. I find their histories fascinating.
I call the ornaments in this next shot, rainbows, for lack of a better word. I don't even know if they were made by Delta (as printed on the box).

A few indents remain. Those no longer with us were quite large.
The stagecoach ornament is really wonderful. It looks like it has retained all its 'snow'.
This clear lantern was from the World War II era, when silver was not used to coat the inside of an ornament, because the silver was needed for the war. As in all the others, there used to be more in this collection.
The last picture is of lose ornaments that have no box of their own, but do have a home- mine. The blue ball in the rear of the group seems to have a long pike, possibly made in Poland. I'm not an expert in the field of ornaments, so this is only a guess.
The pine cones are cute, aren't they?

These are now, happily, my collection.
If you have any background on these ornaments, please leave your info in the comment section below. I look forward to reading it!