MERRY CHRISTMAS to all,
and to all a good night.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all,
and to all a good night.
I’m not sure where my obsessive collecting habits span from.
I’ve never been satisfied with just a few of anything. If I collect something…hold on to your butts, because I am going for the gold. Why stop at ten or twelve, when I can have several dozen? As a child, I couldn’t have just the main characters in action figure form, I wanted every single one…. plus extras for “back-ups”.
Tin globes, large letter postcards, Polish glass ornaments, western belt buckles, conversational ties, Zuni fetish…..the list goes on and on.
A few short years ago, about the same time I joined the Golden Glow of Christmas Past, I was introduced to these little gems,
Milk glass figural bulbs.
I was immediately smitten and because they are priced pretty inexpensively, (I can usually buy a lot of 5 to 10 for about $20), it really didn’t take long to amass about a hundred.
I can’t believe that I’d never even heard of them before.
In case you hadn’t either, here’s a quick history lesson;
At the turn of the last century glass figural bulbs were first produced in Germany, Austria and Hungary by many of the same artisans that made glass Christmas ornaments, often from the same molds. They were beautifully mouth-blown and hand painted. But the heat of the electric bulb gave these decorations a short life span, and the painted details flaked off pretty quickly.
When World War I interrupted imports from Europe, it was the Japanese that stepped in to meet the demand for figural lights, this time using milk-glass.
Milk glass is thicker and more heat-resistant. Plus, it’s already white. Which meant that decorating them was faster. Like their European counterparts, they were also hand-painted, although slightly cruder and usually by children. A lower price kept Japanese figural lights very popular with American buyers for several decades. Until sadly, tastes shifted and plastic and aluminum decorations dominated the market.
Thought I’d share a few from my collection;
There are Santas….so many Santas. I’ve shifted my focus to more of the unusual designs.
and houses with snow-covered roofs,
Fruits and vegetables were popular. I don’t see many corn cobs though.
As were flowers, like these budding roses.
Animals were designed in all sorts of whimsical designs. Here are dogs, cats, teddy bears and an elephant.
This big ol’ lion in a vest was one of my first finds.
Religious themes still prevailed in the middle of the last century during Christmas time.
Themed sets of lights were pretty popular too; Disney, the Sunday funnies, and nursery rhymes were sold in sets of eight characters. I’m pretty close to finding complete sets of all of these familiar faces. (In fact, Jiminy Cricket arrived just after I took these pictures)
I can never have enough Humpty Dumptys.
Or cupie dolls
I haven’t seen them yet, but I’m hoping there are seven more band members to go along with this drummer.
Do they still light? You may ask.
I’ve noticed that about a quarter of them still do.
I think this is because C-6 bulbs require all the bulbs to be working for the entire strand to light. Once one bulb went out, the strand was either tossed, stored in the attic or the bulbs hung with hooks like ornaments.
Because most of them only fit C-6 light sockets, something that hasn’t been made in over 50 years, you can actually test them with a 9-volt battery. Like so…
So what do I do with all these beauties?
Glad you asked.
There are a few bowls-full scattered around the house.
And I added a small feather tree with several of my favorites wired to the branches.
I think they look amazing on that white tree. It really showcases the still vibrant colors.
Next year I planing on adding strings of them to the vintage themed tree.
So watch out,
At the rate that these things multiply.
Lord only knows how many I’ll have by then.
When I was just a tot, one of my favorite TV shows was I Love Lucy.
Still is, by the way.
Just to be clear, I had no idea how old the show was at the time. I just assumed that every woman who lived in New York City wore petticoats, the Tropicana was the hottest night club, and married couples slept in twin beds pushed together.
Did y’all know there was an I Love Lucy Christmas Special?
The I Love Lucy Christmas Show originally aired on Christmas Eve 1956 and was somehow lost soon after that. It was rumored that Dezi was embarrassed by the episode, thinking it was just terrible because it was mostly a re-hash of older episodes. (Something that was unheard of in the early age of TV, but became all too commonplace in sitcoms of the 70’s and 80’s.) Also just a rumor was that the film reel for this episode, I Love Lucy was filmed on film stock btw, was discovered stashed under Dezi’s bed after his death. Anyhoo, CBS somehow got a hold of it and aired the *restored (read that as colorized, which was a dreadful trend at the time) episode just once in December of 1989 as the “Lost Lucy Episode”.
Regardless of what Dezi might have though, there is more charm in this episode…than any of the Connecticut episodes. Especially the one with the watered down Carolyn Appleby.
The flashbacks are some of the best moments from the series. Including; the time Lucy told Ricky that she was “expecting” (“Pregnant” was not a word network censors would allow on TV at the time), the time Lucy snuck her way into Ricky’s barbershop quartet, and the time Lucy announces that Little Ricky is “on his way” – only to send the gang into a tizzy and leave for the hospital without her.
In fact, the flashbacks are so mesmerizing that Fred gets lost listening to the stories and accidentally trims all the branches off the Ricardo’s Christmas tree. No worries though, Fred is delighted to learn that a replacement tree is half a buck on Christmas Eve. The quartet proceeds to decorate the new tree in 1950s fashion with white C9 ceramic lights and aluminum reflectors, a few American glass ornaments and clumps of long tinsel icicles.
Christmas morning finds the gang, unbeknownst to each other, each dressed as Santa to surprise Little Ricky. But instead of four Santas, there are five. The fifth, of course, being the real Santa Claus, who disappears in a poof after Ricky tries to yank his real beard off.
It’s during the tree trimming that Lucy shows Ethel her very favorite ornament; a huge teardrop shape with a hand-painted figure carrying a pine tree. The best that I can tell; it’s Polish, and most likely made by the Fantasia Glass company.
Seems that I’m not the only fan of this episode. In the early stages of his blooming ornament making career, Christopher Radko produced a reproduction of the very ornament that Lucy shows Ethel.
He named it, so appropriately, “Lucy’s Favorite”.
I’ve been on a hunt for a Lucy’s Favorite of my own for decades now – one that I could afford, anyway.
Until this week.
I finally scored one.
It’s even signed by Mr. Radko himself..
Which makes it even that much more special.
Is it MY very favorite? That’s a tough call.
It is in my top 10.
If you ‘re so inclined, the I Love Lucy Christmas Special is available on DVD from Amazon. And CBS still shows it occasionally.
Be sure to catch it if you can,
I’ve never been a fan of Christmas tree skirts.
I mean, they’re perfectly fine for some people. (Ladies mostly) but I prefer the illusion of a potted tree, maybe resting inside of a bucket, or a basket, or crate, or even a whiskey barrel.…
Like we’ve done for the past 7 years.
But, this year; New Christmas tree = new container = new idea.
I started in my slightly hoarded garage. With a stack of wood scraps.
I cut a pine 1X10 into 4 equal sides of 20″ and used a brad nailer to attach them overlapping like so. My tree stand is about 18 inches wide. So 19 inches inside my box should be exactly enough to hide it, and all the ugly extension cords, quite nicely
Once the basic box was made, I found a handful of 1X2 to use a trim. I cut 8 of them at 22 1/4″, with a 45 degree beveled angle.
I used a brad nailer to attach the trim pieces to the bottom edge of my box with the beveled corners lining up over the sems.
I repeated the process along the top edge with the 4 other 22 1/4″ trim pieces.
I wanted a lip on the top of my box, and since I had a 1X3 board……1X3 it is. These 4 pieces I cut to 24 1/4″. Again, I mitered all the edges at 45 degree angles….like so.
And then attached them to the top edge with that handy brad nailer like so.
Looking down on my box, this trim gives it a nice clean finish. I know that you’re thinking; “That thing needs a bottom.” But it doesn’t. Trust me….that’s just extra work.
I used a wood filler to fill all the holes from the brads. This isn’t really necessary, especially if your finished box will look aged. But I would recommend this if you’re going to paint it a solid color. Your choice.
Speaking of painting, Jamie had suggested that it would look really cool if the tree was coming from a stack of old Coke crates…..like these,
Well, it just so happens that I had a quart of what I would consider “Coca-Cola” red……Ralph Lauren “Stateroom Red” actually. In flat latex.
If you’ve never dry-brushed something before, I think the technique is pretty self-explanatory. You simply apply as little paint as humanly possible to the surface with a brush. I want the finished box to look weathered and rough, so this is pretty close to perfect for me.
Well, almost perfect. Just to make it look even more aged, I roughed it up more with some 80 grit sandpaper.
The sandpaper really exposed all the edges to the natural pine underneath, kinda like on my inspiration Coke crates.
And there you have it, a finished box for the bottom of our Christmas tree.
Way more, much better.
I do this every year,
Cram a few hundred vintage glass ornaments onto a 4foot wreath frame.
This year Jamie set a camera up at the end of the living room and set the timer to get a shot every 60 seconds. Motivation like that really set my ass on fire, and what usually takes me all day (I guess I get distracted a lot) only took a couple of hours……condensed to 10 seconds of video….