Word of the Week: Bisque

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), I’m not blogging about soup today.

No, the bisque we’re talking about is a type of porcelain that is, simply enough, unglazed. It’s fired in a kiln at a certain temperature and is typically quite porous.

Bisque is easy to spot because it’s often white and scratchy (not smooth), which are both the result of not being glazed.

Here’s a picture of a bisque figurine:

Do you prefer the soup or the figurine?? 😉

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Word of the Week: Ball and Claw

“Ball and claw” refers to the shape of the footed legs of an item – whether it be as small as a sugar bowl or as big as a tub. In particular, this gives us a claw that is gripping a round ball (usually glass). It’s a pretty classic design and kind of Medieval-chic, if such a thing exists.

It’s as simple as that! This particular ball and slaw foot belongs to one leg of a piano stool we recently sold. Check out the wide shot:

Have you come across this before? What item was it?

Word of the Week: Andirons

An andiron is an L-shaped iron bar used in the fireplace to hold wood. They come in pairs and logs are laid across the horizontal portion, in order to build up a fire. Getting the wood up off the ground allows more air to pass under the logs, reducing the amount of smoke. The vertical portion is there to catch the logs in case they settle and decide to roll.

These are usually made of cast or wrought iron (though the ones below are mostly brass). They’re footed, and some of the better (and older ones) have legs that are actually in the shape of legs! They may have clawed feet on the end, too. Some of these can be extremely ornate.

P.S. Happy Halloween to everyone out there planning some spooky or silly fun tonight! Eat lots of candy!!

Word of the Week: Gilding

Gilding is the process of applying gold (either in leaf or powder form) to another surface (like wood or ceramics). The object can either be completely covered, or just used to highlight certain accents.

I’ve seen some “gilded” items that were simply covered in gold paint. While I don’t necessarily find this wrong in anyway, the term IS supposed to be applied to objects covered in real gold.

For example:

This technique is also quite popular on picture frames. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen gilded?

Word of the Week: American Brilliant

We’ve gotten another request from a reader, this time to discuss the term “American Brilliant.” This has to do with cut glass, and was actually an era that was in existence between 1876 and 1917.

This term is in reference to what is known as the Brilliant Period. Prior to the 1870s, Europeans owned the glass making industry. Many American craftsmen were immigrants, so the American style was practically identical to those across the pond.

Over the years, and as the generations moved on and away from the home country, they started gaining their own techniques and developing their own style. By the time the mid-1870s rolled around, the Americans owned the glassmaking industry and even the Europeans couldn’t compare.

This is what is known as the American Brilliant era.

I don’t have any pictures to show you guys because we haven’t come across any of these pieces before. However, there is an incredible site dedicated to cut glass and this era in American glassmaking. Please be sure to check it out for pictures and additional information!

Spotlight: Art Deco

Art Deco is a movement that was not just limited to interior design, but also influenced designs in buildings, fashion, jewelry, and art, among others. It began in the 1920s, in France, and spread across the globe. In the United States (and perhaps elsewhere, but we’ll stick to this geographical location since I’m most familiar with its timeline) it died out a bit during the 1940s and saw a resurgence around the 1960s.

It is during this timeframe that you’re probably most familiar with the term art deco. It can be described as elegant, functional, and modern. (“Modern” as seen from the perspective of someone who lived during this time. Now we would refer to this style as retro – that curvy and sleek looking décor that was popular in the Mid-century era.)

Art deco is weird. It’s ornamental and strange, often a bit outlandish and downright ugly. But it can be a cool design, especially if you have a room set up in this style – it’s very unique and eye catching. Although the materials are not limited to the following, you often see lots of aluminum, stainless steel, and chrome, along with Bakelite, inlaid wood, and just plastic in general.

The design is very geometrical and symmetrical. Curves were popular, but they’re less natural looking (which would be more along the lines of an Art Nouveau style). It’s more about solid colors than patterns, and most pieces are formed into shapes, rather than having patterns with shapes in them.

Although we could pull examples from several different types of media, I find that it’s much easier to see this style when looking at lamps. The ones you’ll find below are all from our own shop and can be described as art deco – elegant, modern, functional, geometrical, and symmetrical.

(Note: As with most things, defining an artistic movement is difficult and not at all straightforward. Some of these lamps are undoubtedly of this style, while others have simply just taken certain elements from it.)

Do you like the art deco style? Which one of those lamps jumps out at you the most?

Word of the Week: Backstamp

This is in relation to ceramics – it’s the maker’s mark that you often find on the bottom of a piece of pottery or a piece of dinnerware.

Backstamps are useful to pay attention to because they often tell you the name of the maker, where the piece was made, and maybe even the date or pattern name. Oftentimes you can tell the date of a piece just by what kind of backstamp it has – if you’re familiar enough with the history of the company, of course.

If you’re a seller, these are vital to document in your listings. Also make sure you take a picture of it, so people can see it for themselves!