Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Buttons To Benefit..." National Button Week Mar 12-18

Welcome to the "Buttons to Benefit" post! Now that March is here, the benefit -- and the button fun -- has already begun!
18 Claremont businesses, many individuals, The California State Button Society, and The National Button Society, are participating in a variety of events that are button-themed, with fun and fundraising in mind. Various charities are benefiting from your participation and purchases.

The Poster, created by Rachel McDonnell

The Events Guide, front and back, including the list of Claremont Village Business participants and the charities they will be donating proceeds to.

This is the list of events!

And now for the photos....
Who's Got the Button?  Button Hunt (Mar 9-18):
This is the button hunt card for  the event titled "Who's Got the Button?" Participants may purchase this card,which has a list on the reverse of where they can go to "find" the buttons they can glue onto it. Fill the tree with one, two...or twenty buttons! Buttons (and glue dots) are free at participating businesses.

Button Silent Auction: Mar 9-18
Visit the Claremont Businesses designated in the Events Guide to place silent bids on these button creations. You may bid as often as you like; bidding ends March 18th 4PM.

This soft bowl and ceramic buttons card are donated by Helen Feller

Artisan Button by Bob Benson donated by A Brush with the Past

Handmade Button Book Created and donated by Patricia Evans

Antique Buttons Bracelet Created and Donated by Jan Wheatcroft

Button Planter Created and Donated by Angela Bekzadian-Avila

Buttonful Lamp Created and donated by Joan Bunte

"Jar-Fulls" Button Count: Mar 9-18
Visit the Claremont Businesses designated in the Events Guide to make a guess as to how many buttons are in the "jar-fulls" at each location. Donation requested per guess.  Winner wins a prize donated by the host business!  

Exhibitions: (Mar 13-31)
There are two button theme exhibitions this month. Hair Stream presents "Mixed Buttons" Group Exhibition: Here are just a few photos to whet your appetite (we will post more when the exhibition is installed!)...

Button Tree Created by Janet White and Donated by Stamp Your Heart Out

By Fr Bill Moore c 2012
And a solo exhibition titled "Grandma's Button Tin", new storypaintings by Anne Seltzer, at A Brush with the Past: Here are a few examples from the exhibition.

"I Liked to Line Them Up" by Anne Seltzer c 2012

"I Poured Them Out" Anne Seltzer c 2012

Collector Buttons and Button Treasures Sales (Mar 1-31)
Participating businesses are contributing a percentage of their button sales to their choice charity. Here are some photos of the buttons at A Brush with the Past

Buttons Brush has collected, and button donations from Janet , Aleta, Helen, and Shirley.

The buttons at  A Brush with the Past!
"Cute as a Button" Edibles: Mar 9-18 Three Claremont bakeries are creating "Cute as a Button" edibles March 9-18th....check the Events Guide for locations! Yummmmm...(I will post pictures when they are fresh out of the oven -- but before I take the first bite!)

Now...I want to remind you that National Button Week, which is the kernel in all this corn, is March 12-18. So I must leave you with this question to ponder:
How will YOU celebrate National Button Week?

See you there!~




Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb 23: Bone Story


I have always loved bones. As a child, I collected the somewhat less tidy four-legged animal skulls we found while horseback-riding in rural Alabama, which we would take home to boil lightly in bleach. I suppose my brother still has one or two of those.

But my favorites are the delicate tiny little bleached bird bones I used to find in the ocean dunes near Ano Nuevo in California. Each detail was perfectly preserved, and my 9th grade biology rigorous training allowed me to inspect them with great appreciation: each ridge, hole, and knob has its utility, though I admit the particulars have faded in my memory. Once the discovery of an entirely intact spinal column of a small mammal in the dunes left me so mesmerized, I could not disturb its beauty, and my outdoors bone collecting ceased thereafter.  

I found the bone in the photo recently at a yard sale.  Not a very romantic find - no ocean, no green fields -- but it was big and had a sketchy history (simply put: it was "from Montana"), and this intrigued me just enough to pay 3$  for it and cart it to the shop.
Brush with a Past guests often asked me what kind of bone it was. I didn't know. Some suggested it was a horse's bone, and others insisted it had been from a cow. Having grown up around both, I was not simply "came from Montana." Not really sure it should be sold at all - but rather buried or given away -- I put a low price on it. Then recently, I dropped it on the shop's floor, and some of it fell off into dust that was hard to sweep up. A sharp shard big enough to see landed near the desk and I took it outside to my shop garden and buried it.

Today Robertjohn came in and saw the bone and immediately said it was a bison - without my asking. I wanted to know how he knew, and he told me he had used some before in Sundances, and explained to me the ritual. I asked him if he could use it.

I like to think of the bison bone that stayed at A Brush with the Past for awhile in relation to other myths, songs, and stories about found bones that take on another entity of sorts, like the Brothers Grimm story of the singing bone. I think of my own skeleton, its strength and form, its support and function. I think of the phrases that borrow the word for comparison, such as "down to the bones,  bare as a bone, bone tired..."

Bone tired....yes,  it is late. Perhaps I am just not able to say what the bison's bone actually stirred in me -- perhaps I don't even really know, myself. I am glad it is with Robertjohn, and glad it was with me at A Brush with the Past......

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15th: Ironing "From Berta's Closet" Collection


In Southern California, we get so little rain, that wet days become extraordinarily special. I miss the heavy rains I was used to as a child growing up in the East, when we could literally watch the storms sweep in across the hills.

Today the rain seemed to daunt much visiting to A Brush with the Past. This meant that I could spend a lot of time with Guest Myrna, who needed special buttons for a fabulous artisan camel's hair coat she had hand-sewn and is going to wear for a fashion show this coming weekend. It meant I could put up a sign saying "Gone to lunch" and have hot chicken noodle soup at Podge's, a local restaurant whose soup I favor. It meant I could do one of my favorite cozy-indoors-in-winter activities: ironing.

You heard me right.  I love to iron.  But don't bring me your laundry: it takes me weeks to get around to my own.  Or sometimes I wait for it to rain, and you know what that means in SoCal!

But ironing is one of those home-memories: the smell of the freshly laundered cotton, the hiss and gurgle of the steam, and the satisfaction of a crisply pressed linen or blouse....

And I had plenty of ironing to do. I knew I would have to get myself set up to do this at the shop soon -- neighbor Berta had given me 2 full boxes of her clothes from the 50's to put on consignment. They were clean but creased. I happened upon an ironing board at an estate sale last weekend, and I found an extra iron ... so today I opened the boxes.  here are some of the items I pressed:

Pre-ironed summer frocks

Many of Berta's Dresses are "California Charmer" labels

3/4 length sleeves and faux pearl buttons

Not quite a house dress smock
Berta says this was not part of a suit -- she just wore it with a matching skirt or slacks
That pointed collar!

I'm sure someone can tie a prettier bow...

Reminds me a bit of Vera
This is a long, flared, jersey polyester top
And a few of the items that have been in A Brush with the Past, and needed a fix-up pressing:
A fabulous color tie!

The black trim is flock "velvet"

This is a Hostess apron

So that is one way I spent the rainy day at A Brush with the Past. I have put away the iron, the board, and have placed the clothes on the racks. Tomorrow we expect sunshine!

Folded and ready to put away for a SUNNY day!

Until next time on A Brush with the Past,

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big Button Benefit at Brush this March 2012!


I am so pleased to have been able to follow my dream to own a shop just like A Brush with the Past, that I want to reach out and share my good fortune in a fantastic fundraiser. A Brush with the Past is sponsoring a fundraiser month this March, and all proceeds will be sent to St Jude's Hospital, to further research and treatment for children with cancer. I am impressed with their work, their financial contributions policies (81 cents of every dollar goes directly to the research and treatment), and I mostly wanted to support their admissions statement: no patient is ever turned away due to inability to pay.

It just so happens that March is the month that includes National Button Week. My my! My favorite hobby is honored! Seems to me I could celebrate both my good fortune, and my hobby in one month. SO here it is folks...February and short notice, but I hereby don March the month for:


I have already begun in A Brush with the Past, by collecting every nickel from the "nickel bowls of buttons" sales and am mid-planning event and opportunities with participating Claremont businesses as well as reaching out to more distant button-lovers for participation. Look for scheduled events soon!

Nickel bowls

By Jan Wheatcroft (she is donating $5 from each bracelet sold at Brush)

The sign for Brush was created by Helen Feller, who is donating be-buttoned boxes to the fundraiser

Beautiful buttons from the "blues/green" nickel bowl

The "Celluloid" Drawer in the button cabinet. Brush donates 10% of all cash button sales during March to the fundraiser

Meanwhile, if you would like to become a participant in any way (buttons donation, button crafts teacher/donation, planner, or other), please email A Brush with the Past:

For now, I leave you with the Big Question:
How will YOU celebrate National Button Week?

Until next time on A Brush with the Past,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Jan 28: A Balancing Act


I have been back in the shop for two weeks now -- after a two-week vacation (during which time I went afield and afar to find goodies to bring back to A Brush with the Past). I had almost forgotten what it was like to be a shopkeeper for 6 hours a day 5 days a week (in addition to my other work as an artist, my other work doing Internet sales, a few additional sporadic work gigs, and buying for the shop!). I am the only one who minds the store these days, as friend and sometimes Brush Clerk Jan is on vacation for months, scouting about in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and thereabouts.

So today it hit me: I am tired. But still very excited about the shop. How do I balance "tired" with "excited"? Pat baked cookies and called me up to say "come on by after work" for a care package. She and I walk every weekend for an hour at the local and lovely Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens. I watch Ridiculously Retro TV shows like "That Girl" and "Mary Tyler Moore" at night. I try to get my evening walks every night, eat healthy, sleep enough, and look for laughs as much as possible.  I love to laugh. And I still love A Brush with the Past.

In fact, I am ever more excited these days because I think word has gotten round and I am very busy most of the time! I now have people walking in for just buttons and others walking in saying "are you the Button Lady?" Many people remark that it is an unusual place, that they love how the inventory is always changing and they can see new things every time they come in, and then there are always their stories....amazing people come in to shop!

But enough about me. How about some photos of what's new? Here you are:

Stoneware Bell with Stylized Bird Atop

Most of these bottle are from Los Angeles, with original prescription labels.

A few of the Vintage Dresses that arrived today!

I think I am glad this double-dish Coppery Heater doesn't have its electric cord - looks scary to me! it is a terrific design with original name plate.

An Art Deco style carved horse head with what I have dubbed a "BYOB" tooled leather belt  in fine condition. This one has the space for the name still blank -- you can fill in your own name -- I'd tell ya what the BYOB stands for, but I have a little contest going on my Facebook Page and don't want to give it away just yet...

Mosaic Tile Clock

Buttttttons (ceramic) and Dansk Silvertone Candlestick Holders
If you are on Facebook, please visit my page "A Brush with the Past" and LIKE it if you like it....I offer specials and discounts and photos that are not on the blog...

The "excited" outweighs the "tired" and tonight's exhaustion will soon melt away....I am a lucky woman to have been able to pursue this adventure called A Brush with the Past and am grateful for the opportunity and the tremendous support from my community!

Until next time on A Brush with the Past,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 20 2012: Choosing for Brush


Stocking A Brush with the Past is a series of constant choices: what fixtures to use, what display to employ, what inventory to entice. And I like change! So I closed A Brush with the Past for two weeks earlier this month. I wanted to go on an uninterrupted all-out  "buying week",  on various excursions to find new inventory and imagine what my guests might enjoy.

People come in and often ask me what kinds of things am I looking for. I have a stock list for sure, but mostly, I look for things that are unusual, are well designed and functional, are irresistibly beautiful to look at and touch, or are just curious oddities. The truth is that I will know it when I see it. Sort of.

I take chances more often than I thought I would. If an object catches my eye, I ask myself "can I afford it?" (usually the first question!), "is it interesting (well-designed and unusual and/or beautiful)?" and "what does my impulse/intuition tell me about it?" 

I don't always "like" what I buy, but there must be some something about an object that makes it stand out enough that I think it would be terrific in the store. Most often, however, I buy just what I like -- and here are some samplings of what I treated Brush to this last two weeks on my excursions:

This Authentic Craftsman Cabinet is one of the Display Fixtures I purchased for the store. I have placed things in it that are from the same era, art books, and dishes of small treasures that are fun to sort through.

"Mr Henri Tress" box atop an Antique Writing Desk. A pair of 3D Coca-Cola Glasses are temporarily perched there as well.

This round Glass Top Table is packed mostly with colorful dishes a la Fiesta style (and a Fiesta Teapot is hiding under vintage Crochet Potholders).
I love silk embroidery..this Vintage Trinket Box is a perfect size for special trinkets. Vintage Crochet gloves (sold since the photo), a Silverplate Art Nouveau hairbrush (I had to buy brushes, you know), and another of my "always buy" items: anything with Terriers. The little 2 Drawer Box has an inlaid Terrier Motif all around it. Vintage Motif Jewelry by local artist Aleta Jacobson (the newspaper article is a feature on her current art exhibit at the Claremont Forum in Claremont California).

I rarely buy SnP Shakers, even though I know there are avid collectors...but these hand painted ones are beautiful and have an Art Nouveau appeal I love.

If I had a nickel for every Vintage Wooden Stamp I buy....well, now that I have a shop, I may indeed! Love to find the metal Revolving Stamp Holders, and the Scale to the right is a magnificent butter yellow with terrific graphics. I have been looking for such a scale for along time. This one is IT!
Had never seen a Copper Toaster! Love it...this is an example of an item I thought might stay on my shelves for awhile, but that I was way too attracted to to NOT buy for the store. I think it is pretty terrific (not to mention functional!)

Some of these have lived here for awhile, but there are always new ones too...the horse, the bobbing

Another item I am always scouting for are Vintage House dresses. This one is a lovely pink with pinker detail designs, and I have wrapped an organza with black flocked edging apron. I have purchased a huge collection of Vintage Aprons for be released soon :)
And this is one of those "could NOT resist" purchases..."paid too much probably, may never sell , but gee ain't it grand!" items. It is a Wagon Nightlight.  I mean, how could you NOT love it...well...maybe not for everybody, but it lives here for now at A Brush with the Past, and I have dubbed it "The Welcome Wagon"

That's only a small portion of the over 300 new curiosities I brought into A Brush with the Past this week!  I also have lots of new Vintage and Antique Jewelry, Men's Jackets and Cool Vintage Shirts, Cashmere for both Men and Women, and many many more curiosities ....
And that is just INside...the OUTside is getting a bit of a new look as well. Come see.

Until next time on A Brush with the Past,