Friday, January 27, 2012

Josef Originals Month Girls

February & March

May & June

August & September

I believe this little lady to be an earlier series July. Unfortunately some of the lacework on her delicate cap is broken off.

Sorry the photos aren't so great. These were taken before the new camera on the point and shoot (no tripod).

You can find out more about these figurines at my Alphabe-Thursday post: J is for January and Josef Originals

Thursday, January 26, 2012

J is for January and Josef Originals

January Girl says,
I make so many resolutions
Many things that I'll improve on
But as the months go rushing by
I can't remember what or why."

Muriel Joseph George of California (see California Pottery) evidently started her career designing lucite jewelry; but as this material became rare during WWII, she switched to pottery.  Having a love for children and animals, she created a unique line of inexpensive figurines with sweet and simple themes, expressions, and lines. After the war, Muriel began making pottery out of her basement and garage. She averted a possible crisis when her name was misspelled on labels she had ordered by choosing to use them, and "Josef Originals" was born. Known for their distinct black eyes and markings*, these nostalgic figurines have become quite popular with collectors.  Her work has been copied; so interested buyers should do their research. There are several good books available itemizing her collection.  She created many different series including: International, Month (pictured above), Bell(e), and Birthday girls. For me, Muriel Joseph George represents the ingenuity and indefatigable passion and heart of the WWII generation. Her attention to design and artistry while trying to offer something affordable to the average person are inspiring.

Much of the information in this post was gleaned from this article.
But I think the original source may be this excellent article by Leon Carlson.

I've posted images of a few other Month Girls here.

*Markings may include "Josef Originals" carved in or stamped on the bottom of the figurine and/or a letter "C". Earlier figures may say "M J George." Figurines may also have their original foil labels saying "Josef Originals" and "Japan" (as production was moved there around 1960) and their paper card tags.

I am linking to Alphabe-Thursday and, by the way, J is for Jenny our wonderful host too. Please take a jaunt over to the her blog and read the other J posts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year! Year of the Dragon.


For more information on Chinese New Year check out Wikipedia's article here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I is for Ignite

Monday the 23rd of January 2012 will come in with a bang.  It is the first day of the Chinese New Year and at midnight New Year's Eve the sky will explode in a crescendo of whistles, pops, booms and color.  The fireworks and firecrackers will light the night and leave a lingering gray haze over the ground. And the fun has already begun.  Red tents are set up on every corner with fireworks for sale and the children in my neighborhood, off from school and reveling in the holiday atmosphere, have already begun to take good advantage of them. People have bought their plane, train,and bus tickets; all preparing for their yearly hiatus which leads them home. Roosters crow and chickens squawk from apartment balconies, dumpling flour is scarce on grocery store shelves, and glutinous rice for 八宝饭 (bābǎofàn or eight treasure rice pudding) is also in high demand. Round red lanterns hang from trees and light posts, and children anticipate the red money filled envelops that they will receive. Doors will be decorated and an overall festive mood hangs in the air.

 Fireworks' Tent

 Firecrackers in Rectangles and Rounds

Smoke Balls, Crackers and other "Mild" Fireworks

Buying.... One of my favorite fireworks are the ladybugs at the bottom left corner.

Lighting Bottle Rocks into the Pond

Welcome Chinese New Year of the Dragon!

I am linking to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.  Please check out other interesting "I" posts here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

H is for History

Me with my doll
I love history.... Well, I haven't always loved it.  High school History class seemed to be a vague collection of unrelated dates and battles which held no particular meaning for me and threatened my GPA.  I don't know whether it was age, wisdom (or both) which led me to the discovery that history is actually the interwoven stories of life.

Innately I must have had some sense of this all along, even though I didn't connect the dots. I have always loved "old things." When I was a little girl I went antiquing with my mother.  Being the youngest by five years, I was her ever-present side-kick.  While she examined the lovely wood furnishings (she has exceptional taste), I wandered here and there in search of treasure. I was always particularly drawn to phonographs and some times other amazing inventions of the post Civil War Industrial Age.  All I knew then was that there was beauty in its looks (design) and there was romance in its memories.

I went to college in what was then a fairly small town in Virginia. You could easily walk from the upper campus blue stone buildings to the town square.  And yes, it was a square with the county courthouse building symmetrically enclosed by perpendicular strips of road (thus "Court Square").  Main Street and its tributaries still contained proprietary businesses such as an occasional small antique shop, general store, and cozy college sandwich nooks.  Jess's Quick Lunch has been there forever.... best hot dogs in town.

Anyway, as a freshman I loved to walk downtown and scour a certain vintage clothing shop.  I found a wonderful cardigan sweater there with a deep front "v" of one black, one red, and one white stripe. I also bought a great black pencil style party dress.  My mom thought it was a little strange for me to wear someone else's old clothes (which is understandable for what her generation had been through), but I felt incredibly artistic and pretty.

Across the way from this shop there was also an antique dealer. His place wasn't large or plentifully stocked, but in a glass case on a small wooden shelf sat a tiny one-legged doll which I fell completely in love with. I had not yet read Rachel Field's Hitty Her First Hundred Years, but I found myself wondering about her history. Perhaps this is where my adult love for dolls was born.

Okay, so back to the present.  I  just finished reading A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff and, other than the premarital interaction, I found it to be an extremely well-crafted, enjoyable and sensitive story all about the magic of vintage clothing and the healing power of friendships. The unique characters along with their back stories compel you to appreciate and care for them; and the plot hangs delicately on the the threads of an unsolved historical mystery.

“What I really love about them (vintage clothes)... is the fact that they contain someone's personal history... I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment... without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?... When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you're not just buying the fabric and thread - you're buying a piece of someone's past.” - Isabel Wolff

I hadn't actually intended to mention the book in this post, but as I reflected on my fascination with "old things"... boxes with hidden compartments, 1950's wedding dresses, Ada Lum cloth dolls, vintage children's books, black and white photos... I thought again about this novel and how "objects" contain the mysteries of history... the interwoven joys, sorrows, laughter and tears of our lives.

 Josef Original figurines
I am linking to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.  You can find wonderful posts brought to you by the letter "H" here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh the Possibilities...

What is it about gates that they seem to create a passageway in to magical, otherwise uncharted worlds? Is it the "breaking the rules," "No Trespassing" thrill or the heart-pounding discovery of something previously unknown and secret?  I, myself, am not a rule breaker... pretty rigid in that way. I guess the fear of getting caught weighs too heavily on my conscience. But when I think of neighborly English countryside gates and glorious rose bestrewn or boxwood hedged private gardens, I am captivated.

Even a good rugged American cattle guard stirs the imagination. What's inside?  Or what beauty and mystery does each hinge swing wide to embrace. The possibilities are endless. There is security and safety in being lovingly enclosed, and wonder and excitement in the exploration and adventure of what lies within and without.... of whatever's on the other side. There is romance in a gate where lovers tryst or one designated specifically as a place for them to kiss.

Gates can be unyielding and exclusive, not a glimpse or hint of what sterile thing may be guarded behind the walls, but these are not the kind of gates I like. I like the ones that open in to love and indefinable riches...   and freely open out to daydreaming's limitless possibilities.

Dew (Minster Lovell)  by Rupert Brun.  This image reminds me of the interior of the gated community in the film "Notting Hill."

As JRR Tolkien says,

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I am linking to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.  This week is brings you these great G posts.


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