vintage glass

Vintage glass is one of my weaknesses, a predilection I share with the great Amanda Jane Jones. I’m betting you’re a Kinfolk fan, so you know her fabulous graphic design work; and you likely already follow her on her sweet blog, so she needs no introduction. Instead, let me introduce Amanda’s tried & and true, a collection of vintage glassware.

vintageglass2.s.jpg

My love for vintage glass began at a very young age. My momma would keep all my drawing pencils in an old jar that belonged to her granny. I’ve kept the tradition, and whenever I see one, I generally have to buy it. They are used all over our home — holding toothbrushes, scrabble pieces, pencils and pens, hair pins (you name it, it’s probably in a jar!). In addition, my husband and I travel quite a bit and like to collect bits of nature from the places we visit. For instance we have one jar filled with white coral from the white sand beaches of the Philippines. Another holds jagged rocks we collected at the base of the Matterhorn in Switzerland. The jars, in a sense, hold little memories mixed with pieces of our everyday life and that’s why I love them so.

amanda jones' vintage glass

Such beauties. Thanks Amanda!

glass juicer

Glass is one of the materials I trust to touch my food. I try to store my food in glass, I refrigerate it in glass, or in glazed ceramic. Kitchen tools made of glass are a bit more unusual – glass rolling pins? Glass jelly moulds, gorgeous! But the everyday glass utensil I love most is my glass juicer. It’s a modest, simple thing.

lemon squeezer

The pressed glass juicer has its roots in the early 18th century ceramic presses, used in Constantinople to extract citrus juices from imported lemons. In the dark of November, I’m quite happy with imported lemons myself, though naturally I’d prefer to grow them in a glasshouse, a Victorian orangerie. As it is, well-traveled oranges and lemons are still just the thing for short, cold grey days.

(Now, I often mix a bit of our freshly squeezed juice with cod liver oil, or rather, the other way round, to mask the flavour, in hope of surviving the northern darkness with a bit more natural vitamin C & D induced health, joy and contentment than one might experience after a solid three months of rain. Endless rain.)

glass juicer

I’m fond of the juicer not only for its simplicity of materials, and its wonderful, fluted shape, with a trough designed to catch the liquid – some even have shapes to collect the seeds! But what I like is that there’s just very little to go wrong with it. Well designed, and nothing more to worry about. I lived for a while without one, in London I had almost convinced myself that a fork was quite sufficient, until that fork got through a lemon into my palm. A most unfortunate combination. In Canada I was reunited with this, my grandmother’s glass juicer, and I am glad of it.

marbles

Like so many good old fashioned pastimes, playing marbles has fallen out of fashion in the last few decades, despite centuries of popularity all over the world. People in the Indus valley in the Bronze age played marbles, the Romans played marbles, the ancient Egyptians played marbles. I didn’t grow up playing marbles, but like so many good old fashioned games and skills, I’m learning along with my children.

marbles © elisa rathje 2011

There are so many ways to play marbles, with variations as rich as there are regional accents.

The way that we like to play is with an archboard, shooting marbles through in order. I think my father likes to call this ‘mousehole’ and he taught it to my children. My childhood fondness for the things was almost purely aesthetic. I could still spend long moments absorbed in the depths and beauty of a glass marble.

In our old cottage the phrase ‘losing your marbles’ does come up a lot, as there is an unfortunate slant to the floor that angles toward a gap under the stairs, just the size to take your best marble. The other day I encountered a mouse bowling a horse-chestnut towards that very spot. Mousehole! I can just imagine the games those mice are playing with our marbles, below stairs. It explains a lot, really.

tea warmer

An essential figure in our cold weather rituals is our glass tea warmer. A simple device. It is built carefully, strongly shaped to support a full pot, with openings around the sides to bring air to the tea candle lit below. A steel plate holds the pot, and a little glass cup holds the candle. It keeps our tea astonishingly hot.

tea warmer © elisa rathje 2011

The tea warmer is particularly excellent for rooibos teas, which only get better as they steep. If I’m drinking earl grey I keep a strainer of leaves nearby on the tray and remove it after a short steep in fresh water, to keep the brew warming without becoming bitter. I set the copper kettle on the wood stove and fill the tea pot now and then. It requires very little energy to have tea all day long.

tea warmer copywrite elisa rathjer 2011

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p>I must warn you against using a flat-bottom tea pot, which, though adorably shaped, is apt to put out the light if it covers the entire top of the warmer snugly. I found this warmer at my favourite tea shop in Vancouver and it was first in line to join us in England. It’s sustained me as I’ve worked through many a cold afternoon in the studio. The tea warmer will play a supporting role in a few tea parties we’ll be throwing over the next little while!

jelly mould

The jelly seems singularly English to me. I didn’t eat them for years, being a vegetarian, but having turned to eating animal foods from organic, sustainable sources, and in becoming interested in using the whole creature, gelatin is something we’re eating now. I was so pleased to find organic gelatin powder, so we’ve been making our own jellies.

jelly mould

When I was at Liberty for the lovely book launch for Decorate I came upon a beautiful glass jelly mould in a traditional shape, and fell hopelessly in love. We saw a few at the antiques fair but their material was questionable, so we kept looking. Found! I am rather fond of a bubbly elderflower presse as a jelly. I’d like to try floating edible flowers in a jelly, perhaps made right in a champagne flute (with champagne!) as we saw on the achingly inspiring Treats from the Edwardian Country House. I will be so happy when we can use our own fruit to make jellies, I’ve planted out the strawberries today, though we may miss them entirely this year. Perhaps they’ll establish a beautiful patch for next. Have a lovely weekend! I’ll be twittering and pottering in my studio tomorrow, though the garden is beckoning with increasing urgency.