Sunday, July 30, 2006

Unknown pottery 13, TJM 2.

I have a giant backlog of photos readers have sent to me. Life has been very busy lately and we're just settling back down to normal. In the past month or so, we've bought a house (moving in Sept or Oct probably), been out of town twice, and went several days without power due to some storms that moved through a couple weeks ago.

For the record, the pottery I collect is mostly made in the midwestern USA, and is mostly from larger factories like McCoy, Brush, Shawnee, Red Wing, Haeger, Morton, etc. Doug and I can usually do pretty well with that type of pottery, but are pretty clueless when you get outside of those parameters. Evidently we got mentioned on a message board on Ebay and we have received a lot of inquiries, many of them way outside of what we collect. We've given them all a shot, but have come up pretty short. Unfortunately, there are some that DO look like stuff we would collect, but we've been unable to find them in our books, either. I'll post the pics anyway, on the off chance that someone else might know.

Jim sent in photos of this pink vase. We were thinking Camark or Niloak, but couldn't find it in either book. Unknowns 1, The Junky Monkey 0.
UPDATE: Chris wrote in with the following information:
"I have a piece that is the same shape and size. It has a different treatment but I recognized it. I believe it is made by Rocky Mountain Pottery of Loveland Colorado. Here is a link to an Ebay auction of the same item I have."

Pink pitcher 1Pink pitcher 2

Karen sent me these pictures of a mug. The thing that bugs me is that I'm almost certain I've seen it in a book before but can't for the life of me remember where. Unknowns 2, TJM 0.
Face Mug 1Face Mug 2

Greg sent a pic of this beautiful egret vase. The only think I'm pretty sure of is that it wasn't made in Ohio (like most of the stuff I collect): it looks European to me but I can't be sure, since it's way far from what I collect. Unknowns 3, TJM 0.
Egret Vase 1Egret Vase 2

Donna sent this picture of a Haeger... um, a Haeger... um... thing. She already knew it was Haeger because of the sticker, but the question was: what the heck is it? I have two Haeger books and didn't find it in either one. If I had to guess I'd say the holes are for candles. But that's just a guess. Unknowns 4, TJM 0.
Haeger Thingy 1Haeger Thingy 2

Karen sent in a picture of this blue jar. It has a mold number 1A11 and USA but that doesn't help much. I'm not used to seeing a copyright sign on a piece. Unknowns 5, TJM 0. *sigh*

Cheryl sent this cow pitcher. I have a couple places I'll look for it but am not hopeful. Unknowns 6, TJM 0.

Greg sent in this beautiful brown vase, signed by the artist, and I have no clue who that artist might be. Unknowns 7, TJM 0.

Chris sent pics of yellow vases and an elephant. I actually have that elephant and have looked and looked, but have been unable to find out who made it. The yellow vases do appear to be Brush (Chris already knows they might be)... I agree that the elongated "S" in "USA" usually points to Brush. I'm not used to seeing the mark vertically instead of horizontally and I couldn't find the vases in either of the Sanford books or the Huxford one. Doug thinks it might be Brush as well, but says there are other potteries with an elongated S. Unless he shows me a photo, I'm going to accuse him of smoking crack. But anyway, since he's not convinced, I won't consider this to be a positive ID. Unknowns 9, TJM 0.
UPDATE: Chris has identified the elephant as a Cronin Pottery "Novelty" with the help of the Vintage Colorware group on Yahoo.
Horn vaseHorn vase 2
Blue elephant

Elizabeth sent photos of a beautiful Morton vase. Identification isn't the issue here (it has an American Art Potteries sticker), but she was wondering if I could find any more information about it. I do have the Morton Potteries: 99 Years book it's not in there. Because it's American Art Potteries sticker instead of one of the other Morton Potteries, that narrows down when it was made to between 1947 and 1963. Most other vases in the book are valued between $18-25 or so. I'm going to take credit for knowing this one, since by now I'm getting desperate for a point. :-) Unknowns 9, TJM 1.
Morton 1Morton 2

Melody sent in a photo of this sugar bowl. It looks a lot like Shawnee, but is not in my Shawnee books. I don't have a photo of the bottom, but if it's completely glazed then I'm stumped. Usually the Shawnee pieces are marked with a U.S.A. I've run across Japanese pieces that I could swear from the glaze were Shawnee so without being able to handle it I just can't say for sure. Unknowns 10, TJM 1.

Terri sent photos of three pieces. I couldn't find the frog or the white vase (I suspected Brush on the vase but can't find it), but Doug found the blue vase. It's a Robinson Ransbottom. Unknowns 12, TJM 2.

white vase
white vase

blue vaseblue vase

Last, but not least, Doreen sent in a photo of a cute cat made in California. We looked through our two California books and didn't find them. There are so many different California potteries that I didn't hold out much hope. Final score: Unknowns 13, TJM 2.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out.....

I've been wanting to vermicompost (worm compost) for awhile. Since we're moving again in September I didn't want to do one outside, so I started an indoor worm bin. You can purchase indoor vermicomposting kits, but if you want to save some money you can easily make your own.

I started out with two Rubbermaid bins. I have removed the labels long ago so I can't tell you how many gallons they are, but they are approximately 16" x 20" x 9" deep.

I drilled three large holes in each side near the top of one of the bins, and stapled window screen material over the holes. If I had to do it over again I'd bond the screening on using some silicone caulking material. If you do that, make sure you let the caulking cure for awhile (I'd give it a week) until it no longer smells like vinegar.

Punch several holes in the bottom of the same bin that has the other holes so any excess water can drain.

You will end up stacking the bin with the holes on top of the second bin. However, you will probably need to put something in the bottom of the intact bin so they don't nest too tightly together: you don't want to block the screened holes from the first bin. I found a small dish shelf, but you could just as easily line the bottom with a few rocks. Don't make it too heavy or your bin won't be very portable.

Stack the two bins together and lay some screening material in the bottom of the top bin to keep the worms from falling out of the drain holes.

Now it's time to fill up your bin. I used coir (expanded in water to the consistency of a moist sponge) as my main bedding material. I usually keep some of this material around to make potting soil (I hate potting soil with peat moss), so it was handy. I made that initial layer several inches deep, then buried some of my kitchen scraps in it. Don't use meat or dairy, but fruit & vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc. are ok. I also added a little bit (~1/2 a trowel full) of compost from my pile outside to help the kitchen scraps break down more easily. Then dump your worms on top. I used 500 red wigglers I bought from a bait shop. If they have two different types of red wigglers, get the small ones: they are cheaper, and they are supposed to be better for composting.

I shredded some newspaper on top of the coir, and sprayed it with water. That seems to keep the coir from drying out too fast, and it's more material for the worms to work on. You may want to keep the lid off for a couple hours in a brighly lit room to make sure the worms dig down into the coir instead of trying to crawl out of the bin. They seem to get confused when they're first put in there, and if the bin is in the dark right away they are just as likely to crawl up the side of the container -- or out the screened holes -- as they are to dig down. Once they made it into the coir I haven't had any problems with escapees.

How much do you feed your worms? I have yet to measure anything so I can't give you a precise answer. You want to make sure whatever you add can be buried within your bedding material because you don't want to stink up the place or overwhelm the worms. I've been checking the bin every few days and if what I put there before has been mostly broken down then I'll add a little more.

Getting the bin cat-scanned is optional -- for the worms. Maybe not for the cat.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The lights didn't come on. Doh!

Interesting timing on my post on Ameren's latest ad campaign, where they pat themselves on the back for being "reliable." Doug & I are among the 1/2 million who lost power during the recent storms, and the 365,000 households who are still without power three days later. The latest ETA we've heard for getting electricity back on is Tuesday. An article in the Post Dispatch says as many as 1.1 million customers had lost power at some time during the storm. I wonder if Ameren is still airing the ads.

I suppose it doesn't really matter: it's not like we could see them anyway.

Thank goodness for free WiFi at St. Louis Bread Company.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Birthday Party!

Last week Doug and I went up to Wisconsin to visit my family. This was the first time I got to see my newest nephew Lucas, who just turned 1. And what is a 1-year-old's birthday party without a cake-all-over-everything photo?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nothing moves fast

My husband coined a new phrase at work. It probably applies to any large corporation:
"Nothing moves fast around here except blame."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The lights came on. Well, DUH!

I've been bugged by the latest commercials from Ameren, our electric company here in St. Louis. The ads are all about how reliable they are: essentially patting themselves on the back because the lights come on when we flip the switch.

Sadly, there are countries where this might be a valid ad, but here in the USA there are relatively few places where one would expect to flip a switch and not have the lights come on. Choices in electric companies are limited, and there are valid benefits that can differentiate one from another: generating energy from greener sources, superior customer service, lower prices, stepping up to your mistakes and fixing them... The Ameren commercials just leave me thinking "Is that the best thing you can say about your company?"

Yesterday I read an entry on the LunaMetrics blog about product features one may wish to withold in advertising, and one of their points applies to Ameren's current ad campaign:

"When you buy a car, you expect it to come with four tires and a steering wheel. If the tires aren't there, it's a deal breaker, but it's not a selling feature."