Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good morning! Thank all of you who have expressed good birthday wishes, I am 80 and thrilled and grateful to get to this in happy shape! I look forward to a nice day, the second of 4 painting workshop days this week taught by friend Chuc Mauldin.

Jack made us a private cake last night, just a regular round one from Duncan Hines. We will make the big sheath cake for the family next weekend. Jack and I have four grown children and their spouses plus all their kids and a two great grands. Almost all live here in Fredericksburg. Only my oldest daughter Cheryl and her husband Glen live away from us, at the edge of a national forest on the outskirts of Redcliff Colorado, higher than Vail pass! Cheryl worked in Vail for over 20 years, with a difficult and dangerous daily drive to get there.

I speak with Cheryl often on the phone, several times a week now. As Glen has retired, so has she and is painting almost full time. It is bitterly cold, often below zero. The weather has eased now a bit and a trip for supplies and a meal out is again possible. Wed Thurs and Fri, the temps will rise almost to freezing in the afternoons. Clearing snow and ice is a constant requirement.

It is harsh living in that cabin on the mountain side, where a puma might leave tracks over night, or an elk or a bear wander through, and a whole family of wild fox know them as neighbors and a few will eat from Glen's hand. He can step outside in the morning and call down a mountain Jay they call just "Bird" and Bird will come and take food from Glen's hand. A family of raccoons visits all summer long, they sleep in the winter. There is a small squirrel called "Brave heart" who delights them by begging nuts and daring to run right under their old pet cat's nose to grab cat kibbles. For 18 years they have lived in a wonderland of sheer wild beauty, their photos to me show this. All of these creatures and more are the subjects of her paintings. I love best her paintings of the foxes.

In summers they travel to the national parks with a camera, she tells interesting stories of walking quickly backward down a road shooting pictures of a great buffalo moving toward her. Her photos of wildlife are gorgeous subjects for her paintings.

All over the US this is starting off to be an epic winter! My friends in Maine send emails and pictures of it all. I am going to go enjoy a piece of chocolate cake on my birthday morning! Warmly, Edyth

PS I have finally added some pictures of Christmas decorating to an older post in December, to see them look below the Blond Greiner doll post to the December 14th post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is it old Staffordshire?

A Friend wrote today asking how to tell the old Staffordshire dogs from newer ones. There are a lot of the spaniels around these days. Here is some of my answer to her. and I would welcome comments from others here and will add any of them to this discussion which I think will aid us here.
..... the spaniels and other figures have been heavily reproduced since at least the 1950's. There are some I am not sure of even in my hands. This makes it hard for most people to be sure what they are buying, and affects the pricing among casual buyers. The hordes of new Chinese ones in the last 20 years has made this even far harder. I had a number of the dogs in the 1960's probably over 10. I felt and feel now that they were fine old ones. I lived in Dallas and then Fort Worth, large cities with a lot of antiquers interested in Staffordshire, and much of it in the shops, Vacations in New Orleans, when I was a working single woman, were filled with trips up and down the streets of the quarter looking in antique shops and book shops.
It is easier to say what is not old enough and dismiss those right away. First the modern Chinese ones I have encountered are made of hard porcelain, not pottery which is softer in the hands. The porcelain ones are always wrong, period. There was certainly porcelain in England long before the hey day of the dogs, about 1850, and the porcelain was used by a few of the "potters" in the Staffordshire district, but the things we collect and call "Staffordshire" today are the earthenware output of this region, that is, pottery. Feel of the early transferware, feel of the early figures, and feel of dogs every chance you get. One must develop a set of hands. You like I, probably have a lot of each in your own kitchen cupboards. Pottery will craze from age and temperature shocks, Porcelain like the German doll heads does not craze. The sometimes poor replacement limbs of ceramic (earthenware, pottery) do craze, you know this right?
Next without touching them, the modern Chinese pieces often have an off color, a grey cast in an effort to look old or dusty? This was true of dogs made a few years ago, but more recently made ones have a better color. The eyes are not painted right. You know how fast you spot the wrong painting on a reproduction china head doll? So can one who has looked at the eyes on a lot of the dogs spot this.
Glass eyes on vintage lions and dogs mean late undesirable about 1890 animals, Many of these were spray painted, or air brush painted so the glaze is fuzzy not like the colors applied with a brush.
The way the spots and features are painted on new ones differs from the way they were done on old ones 1850 to 1870. These are just some of the things that come to my mind. Like old dolls, English ceramics is a field needing and worthy of study and thought. A great field to enjoy! Pictured here is a small part of Jack's mother's collection, much of which we enjoy in our cupboards.
I am not an expert on English ceramics by a far stretch,I have handled literaly thousands of pieces as a dealer and collector, but not with the focus I have given old dolls and Jack has given American pottery and American furniture. So this letter is a very cursory attempt to comment on a huge subject! Good luck with all this! Warmly, Edyth

Blog Archive