Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Adding Color with Glass Items

One of my favorite things to decorate with is glass.

I love the shiny, eye catching reflective quality it has and the range of colors to choose from is fantastic. Glassware comes in a large range of price points and can do much to spruce up any display.

I especially love green glass and my home is full of it. I like to scatter it among my personal displays for an extra pop of color and the reflective quality draws they eye nicely to sections that might not have a lot of natural light to showcase some items.

Above are 2 vintage glass flower vases in interesting shapes and a set of vintage medicine bottles, scattered in with a variety of antique photos and items I've collected over the years.  The reflectivity of the glass adds an nice effect to the over all display.

My green glass collection ranges from expensive vintage Bohemian glass to modern green soda bottles and everything in between.  Vintage vases and bottles can be picked up for super reasonable prices and you can add  in a few more expensive items for extra eye interest if your budget allows.  Look for interesting shapes and patterns or you can add in some extra interest with flowers or other items if you choose.

The bottles with the pink flowers usually rest on my kitchen window sill and the other items are used in various places through my house.  Some of my recent favorites are on the next to last shelf. The two square medicine bottles are from the 1950s and the barrel shaped bottles behind those are old Mickey's Malt Liquor bottles.

It's fun to match up items that co-relate. The vintage green medicine bottles are from the 1950s but they work nicely with this 1923 photo of my great-grandfather with his Sottish-rites brothers and nurses in front of  a children's hospital in Atlanta Ga.

This large green vase is what started my green glass collection many years ago.  It's vintage Bohemian glass with a 24kt gold wash on it and raised enamel flowers and leaves.  I fell in love with it at a antique sale in Brimfield Mass. and luckily got it home to NC in one piece.

I've since expanded my Bohemian glass collection but with much smaller pieces.  My favorites are the mini vases, especially the squat, double handle urn that my father-in-law gave me a few Christmases back.  I even found a great vintage metal lamp base pedestal to set it on.

I love my vintage Bohemian glass and it creates a pretty display on it's own but over the years I've come to appreciate the simple plain green glass pieces I have just as much if not more.  So spending a lot of money on a glass collection is not necessary in order to put together an aesthetically pleasing collection.

For the most part I collect green glass but glass collections can be anything you choose it to be. You might concentrate on a specific kind of glass, or a particular color or colors of glass. You might only collect bottles or depression glass. There are so many choices when it comes to glass that it's fun to investigate all your options.  I chose Bohemian green glass when I first started and then later expanded my collection to include all kinds of dark green glass.  Now I also collect vintage mason jars and interesting antique bottles.

Vintage bottles are fun to collect on their own or in addition to a colored glass collection.  I've always enjoyed finding them in vivid colors.  Here are a few from my collection that I now have for sale at my booth at Countryside Collectibles in Siler City, NC.  The cobalt Milk of Magnesia from the 1950s has already sold.  Not much of a surprise there since there are many cobalt blue glass collectors.  I especially like the early 1900s aqua tonic bottle (Scott's Emulsion Cod Liver oil with Lime & Soda) and the pale lilac (Richard Hudnut toilet water) perfume bottle.  The clear bottle on the end is a vintage Esquire Lano Wax shoe polish bottle with a fun swirl pattern pressed into the glass.

These kinds of bottles are fun to have in a collection since they tell a story due to the words pressed into the glass. What was once trash is now treasure, 50-100 years ago these items were normally trashed but luckily some of them still hang around to tell their own story and to peak our interest. Before you throw out a modern day glass bottle or jar, take another look because it could be tomorrows treasure.

Clear glass items seem to be the slowest to sell  but I think they can be the most versatile to decorate with and are usually less expensive to collect than colored glass items.

Clear glass can be subtle and just add a bit of reflective eye appeal or it can be modified by adding some temporary color.  This vintage, tall vase has a pretty pressed pattern in it but I wanted to set off the red birds in the branches a bit more; so I added some shredded red foil excelsior to jazz it up a bit.  I'm not a red glass collector, so for me this was an economical and sensible way to add the illusion of red without investing in red glassware.  I like this little bit of red mixed in with my green and clear glass for a Christmas holiday display.

I know it's hard to see in the photo but the glass stopper in the clear bottle is a fun bit - it's a sleeping pig with one ear folded over one of his eyes.  It's a hoot up close and personal.

Collecting glass may start with one special piece or even a wine or soda bottle you just consumed that you like the color of.  You can find interesting stands to place your glass on or let them stand on their own.  You can leave them empty or add interesting items to them for a fun twist.  It's amazing where you will find odd and interesting glass items so keep your eyes open when you are out and about.

The first bottle in the above photo is a modern bubble glass decanter style bottle, sorry the picture does not do it justice but there are thousands of bubbles in this glass and it's most interesting to look at in person.  The two center pieces are a modern ginger beer bottle I took the label off and it's sitting in a 1950s funky floral dish vase.  The vintage vase on the end is sitting in an antique brass bangle bracelet.  The vase's base fits perfectly into the bracelet's opening and makes an interesting accent to gives it a more genie bottle look.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great colored glass collection but even with inexpensive pieces you need to consider quality.  Many modern glass pieces are coated glass and the color is not fused into the glass, which means when you wash them, or scratch them slightly the color coating can come off.  It's such a bummer when that happens, so beware of coated glass when purchasing for your collection.  Many times color coated glass will have a clear bottom, so turn the piece over and if you see a clear glass bottom - think about how you will use and clean the piece before purchasing it.

These glass skulls are fun display items but the orange and blue skull have a heavy color coating on them. They hold up well when dusted or wet wiped but I would never chance them to the dishwasher as a cleaning method. The skull in the center is recycled green glass and it's color will never be a problem.

Some color coated glass will also have a coated bottom so a clear bottom is not always an indicator that a piece has a color coating.  A few years ago I bought these great chunky glass votive holders in dark green to use at Christmas and when I popped them in the dishwasher to get the remaining wax residue off them before packing them away; I was shocked to only find clear glass when I pulled them out.  Apparently these had a color coating on the bottom as well as the sides so instead of purchasing green glass I got suckered into buying color coated glass.  What a bummer, now I'm extra careful when purchasing colored glass pieces to avoid this heartache going forward. 

I hope seeing some of my glass collection inspires you to add a bit of colored glass to your decorating style too.

Best Wishes and I hope you have a great Holiday Season!
 The Rusty Squirrel

PS - don't was antique glass in the dishwasher, carefully wash vintage glass by hand since old glass needs the extra care to stay nice for years to come.