Archive for the ‘Wedding’ Category

Depression glass and silk flowers.

From Wikipedia: “Depression glass is clear or colored translucent glassware that was distributed free, or at low cost, in the United States and Canada around the time of the Great Depression. The Quaker Oats Company, and other food manufacturers and distributors, put a piece of glassware in boxes of food, as an incentive to purchase. Movie theaters and businesses would hand out a piece simply for coming in the door.”

You know how something always goes wrong at a wedding? Well, we lucked out because our little disaster was very minor and happened a week before the big day. One of my co-workers was building us beautiful centerpieces based on Art Nouveau lamps. Unfortunately, her dog ate one of the molds, and then the other two melted together in her car while she was bringing them into work to show me. Re-making them just wasn’t an option.

Time to scramble! I already had some glass pieces dating from the 1930s-60s, and we were going for an art deco theme, so I ran with it. I spent several afternoons scouring the Cities’  malls and thrift stores, and collected about $700 worth of glass and silver. Three days before the wedding, my college roommate and I sat down in my living room and started throwing pieces together until we had 14 centerpieces and several small decorative pieces.

Setting up a table.

Extra pieces to decorate the other tables.

I realize that $700 on decorations isn’t exactly cheap, but these are pieces that I’m glad to keep now that the wedding is over. I’m planning to arrange many of them in the new bookshelves that R and I are planning for the living room, and much of the silver service we will keep and use for holidays and other fancy occasions. The glass is highly collectible, and so if we ever decide we want to get rid of it, we’ll be able to E-Bay it and come close to breaking even.

The world of antique glass is both deep and wide, and it can be a little daunting to get started. For me, I adhered to a few clear rules that helped me limit my palette a little and put together a cohesive look. Here are my tips for creating a stunning visual display with depression glass:

1: Do your research! Spend some time Googling and on E-Bay, Etsy, and other vintage retailers. Knowing what’s out there will help you make some preliminary decisions and give you a good idea of what you can expect things to cost. You’ll learn the proper names of the pieces you like, so you can ask the folks staffing the antique stores for help finding things.

2: Limit your color palette. Depression glass comes in a few common colors: blue, red, green, pale pink, yellow, purple, and clear. There is a lot of variation within these palettes, depending on date, manufacturer, and pattern. For our wedding, I used ruby red, clear, and black/black amethyst. There were a few exceptions – Indiana Cranberry Flash (which comes in a combination of  a magenta accent on clear glass) and a couple of amberine pieces (an ombre fading from yellow to dark red).  I knew ahead of time from my research that I wanted to look for some of these variations, and when I found them I used them separately from the other reds because I knew they wouldn’t match.

3: Add some bling. In this case, I chose silver accessories to reflect and offset the colors of the glass. Buying metal can be a lot of work – both because it tends to be pricy and also because it requires a lot of elbow grease to get it clean and shining again. A little can go a long way, if you’re thoughtful about where you use it.

4: Create levels. For centerpieces, I picked out one large vase or dish per table, and then chose smaller pieces to group around the big ones. You can either use a variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns like I did, or if you have the time and patience, you can try to find matching pieces. There’s a lot of this glass on the market, and some things are more common than others.

5: What else is going on here? Think about what you want to have in your dishes. I knew that I didn’t want to have real flowers because I didn’t want to deal with real water. We were making a fast transition from the ceremony to dinner in the venue, and having anything on the table that could spill would. I used silk and dried flowers, again in that narrow color palette, to liven up all the empty vases, glasses, and bowls. I also incorporated a few different vase fillers and table scatters for visual interest. Lastly, I added some lights. Because we got married in a theater, we weren’t allowed to have live flame (also a good idea to avoid fire because of the fake flowers). I bought battery operated tealights to tuck into votive holders and among the flowers.

Centerpiece in action!

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re shopping – E-Bay and Etsy have a lot of great stuff, but you’ll pay a mint in shipping. Most sellers won’t ship glass items together because they’re more likely to break, so each piece has to be shipped separately. It’s much better to hit up your local retailers for this kind of material. Go to thrift stores first! You’d be surprised at what there might be. I bought most of the silver trays and two tea sets at Goodwill, for half the price they would have been at an antique mall. At the antique stores, don’t be afraid to ask questions or have the attendants open up the locked cases for you. Ask if they have a table or a spot where you can set all your pieces out and look at the whole group, to make sure that there’s a visual flow amongst all the things you’ve chosen. Don’t be afraid to axe anything that doesn’t work.

In the end, I loved the solution of the vintage glass. It added an elegant feel to the room, shone beautifully in the light, and everyone commented on how pretty they were! They made a unique look for our wedding, and now get to be a valuable souvenir for us of the best day of our lives.

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The Big Day

Ok, yeah, I know. I’ve been gone a long time. A REALLY long time. Like, 6 months long.

In my defense, I did throw a wedding. A really lovely wedding. And I worked 60 hours a week all summer long, right up until a week before said wedding. And then we went on a really well-deserved vacation.

And then I came back home and teched another show. I’m just now beginning to resurface.


There’s been so much happening this year that it’s been hard to have time to do it and write about it. I realize that not writing will never make me a Famous Blogger, and it’s not going to get me invited to fancy parties or to give motivational speeches. I’m hoping to get my groove back in the coming weeks. The husband (still getting used to that!) is a great inspiration – he’s now running a blog of his own. It’s a cool project based on a box of postcards we found in an antique shop in New Orleans – Postcards to Joe. R spends a lot of time wandering down the “Wikipedia hole,” exploring all kinds of topics and getting to know this Joe guy in the process.

Mostly what I’ve been doing is feeling completely overwhelmed. The house is a mess, the Halloween costumes are barely begun, I’m staring at another 60 hour week this coming week, my car needs work, and the repetitive motion injury in my hand has been acting up lately, leaving me in various amounts of pain. I dream of having a week off just to stay home and try to get my head around it all. I don’t know how people with kids do it – I can barely keep up with the messes my cats make.  (This morning, it was discovering that the wee gray one had knocked over a water glass and ruined an entire stack of knitting magazines. There is mold growing on my desk. Ugh.)

I spend more time than is strictly good for me surfing Pinterest during shows, and it seems like all the pictures link back to “Happy Housewife” blogs, where pretty women with very white teeth explain how you can clean your oven for three cents using baking soda and a toothbrush, all while home-schooling your five kids and cooking wholesome organic meals from the veggies you grew and canned yourself. Whilst I realized that this is a form of masochistic torture, I can’t look away. It’s captivating. It’s all Martha Stewart-y. Thank God for the Yarn Harlot, who adds a little much-needed perspective. It’s nice to know that there are other women on the internet who accidentally wear their underwear inside out and consider the dining room clean if at least one person can eat at the table. Of course, she’s a jet-setting Famous Blogger, but a girl can dream, can’t she?


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She walks in beauty, like the night

   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!
George Gordon, Lord Byron

This poem, dredged from old days as an English major, has been playing through my head for the last couple of days. The celebration of these two are always the most problematic for me, because I think they’re the least straightforward. Flowers, jewelry, dancing, even luxury are open to a certain amount of interpretation, but in the end pretty concrete. Love and beauty, however, are notoriously difficult to pin down. Every year these two lead to a great deal of introspection and a certain amount of navel gazing, and in the end I do them a little differently each time.

Today I thought about beauty all day long. It ranged from the simple – putting on a favorite shirt and my moonstone earrings – to complex thoughts about the nature of art (or Art) and finding beauty in the most mundane parts of our days. I set aside the never-ending parade of chores for a few hours (work that produces its own kind of beauty) and concentrated on some projects that often get neglected but are the essence of the person I think I am. That person is a Maker, a crafter of beautiful objects and ideas, a sculptor of light, and a fashioner of grace from old, unwanted, and broken things. My workroom has been piled under a combination of junk and treasures for the last few months and essentially unusable; I’ve been working hard to get it clean for the last few weeks and I’ve finally reached a point where it’s not clean, but it’s livable. Today I played with yarn, washing and blocking the swatch for the green sweater, winding off some skeins for my next project, and putting things away. I opened up one of the boxes of my Great-Grandmother’s linens and washed a few things, and looked at how to clean and use a lovely piece of woven wool tapestry that is damaged and fragile. And I read some Byron, and thought about the ideals of beauty that people have had and changed for the last umpteen thousand years.

Yesterday was my day of Love. In Vodou, there are many Erzuli and each has her own complicated relationship with the idea of love. Erzulie Freda wears three wedding rings, one for each of her husbands. Erzulie Dantor embodies mother love, and is a protector of women and children – and often associated with lesbians. Other Erzuli deal with hiding secrets, revenging wrongs, or helping women though childbirth. Some are fierce and some coquettish, some dangerous and some nurturing. All of them love passionately, though, and all of them weep tears of pain and sorrow for the heartbroken, the wronged, and the downtrodden. I think that for all the celebration, the central image of Erzulie is of a lover with a complicated relationship to the things she loves. The practitioners of Vodou recognize with their Spirits the realities of love that are sometimes overlooked in other religious or philosophical contexts.

Love can also be controversial. All we have to do is open a newspaper, turn on the radio or tv, or do a little web surfing to find people from all ideological camps arguing about who may love whom, and how, and whether or not it is up to God, society, or individuals to even make those decisions. I certainly have strong opinions on the subject, and I’m not shy about them.  R and I are planning a September wedding, and we think it is a travesty that many of our friends and family who will be in attendance cannot enjoy the same privilege in most of our country. The entire point of the American Dream is that we strive to be more free, not less – and we certainly shouldn’t try to make others less free. Yet in the US we have a long lineage of “moral” tyranny including slavery, indentured servitude, Jim Crow, miscegenation laws, disenfranchisement of the poor, the indigent, and the different… the list goes on and on. The United States isn’t alone in this history by any stretch of the imagination, but we may be the biggest hypocrites, since our nation was founded on the preservation of individual freedoms. In Minnesota, there is an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot in November that would codify institutional homophobia here. These so-called “Marriage Amendments” have been cropping up in states all over the country, and in every state to this point the people have decided to ban same-sex marriage. It’s hard to guess what will happen here. The Twin Cities are two of the most gay-friendly in the US, and yet they’re ringed by the suburbs that elected Michelle “Pray-The-Gay-Away” Bachmann to the US Senate. People in the Upper Midwest are conservative by nature, if not by politics; I fear that those are the people who will take their uncertainty and distrust to the polls with them this fall.

I’ll wrap up this already-too-long post with a lighter note: a Litany of What I Love. These are the things that were circulating around in my head yesterday as I mulled all this stuff over.

  • R, the idea of getting married, and the joy of having a partner in life
  • The Kitties, who are still trying to kill each other but getting better
  • My family who keep me honest and my friends who enable me
  • God, in the complicated way that you come to after many years of disagreement
  • Having a job where they pay me to play
  • Having space of my own and time in which to work
  • And last, myself, my journey, and the gratitude I have for life

Thanks for hanging through this whole thing with me. See you tomorrow for DANCING!

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