Thursday 26 November 2009

Christmas Fayres - Packwood & Sheldon

Angel earrings from Avon

Last Saturday was a busy day for Christmas Fayres. We couldn't have attended many more than the two that we did, as there were three Christmas Fayres locally - but all held at the same time. So it was physically impossible. So we choose our two favourite places to go to instead.

Packwood Christmas Fayre was held in the morning in the village hall. When we arrived it was already in full swing and bustling. Difficult to find a car parking space but at least the weather held and it was not raining.
Lots of stalls to choose from - raffles, tombola, books for children and adults. Toys and gifts tables, local history information, local church Christmas cards and information, house plants and bulbs, jams and cakes, just to name a few.
Very enjoyable and a great village atmosphere. Particularly liked the piano playing by the gentleman in the corner.

By the afternoon the weather had changed and as we headed to the hall next to St Giles church, in Sheldon, the heavens opened; and we were glad to get inside. Local events are always well attended at this hall and the queue was as expected. By the time we got inside, the hall was almost full. Tables of gifts, books, cakes, games and toys were already surrounded. Father Christmas for the children and so much more.
St Gile's Church is well worth a visit with its imposing architecture and its ornate entrance. We would have taken a photograph of the churches gate, but it was horrendous when we emerged from the hall. Raining and so very windy that we were unable to stop and take any pictures.Nice to see the Community police at this event discussing any problems and socializing with local residence.

Next week is busy again as more Christmas fayres are held. Go visit a Christmas fayre this week. Many are now being held in schools, churches and many community centres. Not only are they fun but you may find many great gifts for family and friends. You are also supporting local communities and raising funds for many good causes.

Our website Jewels and Finery has been very busy and we are nearly sold out of the vintage Christmas jewellery. We have added just a few more pieces of jewellery, in particular men's jewellery.

Cartwheel vintage cufflinks

Seventies Chunky Tri String Bead Necklace


Sunday 22 November 2009

Repairing Jewellery Part 1 - Enameling

This is part one of - Repairing vintage jewellery.
To start I thought I would look at re-enameling. Having a collection of jewellery that technically was okay but could not be used because it was worn - either the enamel or the plating. Also those pieces of vintage jewellery that were a bit boring and very tired looking.

Invested in a few small pots of enamel paint that is used for painting model cars, planes, soldiers, etc. Had a few puzzled looks from the numerous men who were browsing in the model section of the craft shop when buying!

So set to work and got carried away...

Here is a vintage brooch that I brought earlier this year for myself. The pearl bead at the front needed re- pearling and the green colour that someone had already repainted was a bit too green.

I am very pleased with my first attempt and will be wearing this garland brooch soon.

This brooch was just a bit tired, vintage filigree that was a dull gold colour. So repainted it with the enamel paint in a dark gold and added a bit of colour.

The vintage bangle above belonged to my grandmother. The silver coloured plating had worn badly. With the edges worn and the front part of the buckle black, really the bracelet was unusable. So I have given it a couple of coats of silver coloured enamel paint. The result above was far better than I had hoped for. Will be wearing this and see how the enamel stands up to being worn.

This was my favorite from all the jewellery that I painted. This seventies vintage bracelet was wearable, if you like the worn plate look and the stones also had been rubbed almost bare. Unfortunately I did not take a before photograph. I like bright colours and so first painted the whole bracelet in a dark gold colour. Just to give the bracelet an antiqued look. Then repainted the triangular stones in various bright colours as previously they were pastel tones. Even painted the chain and charm at the end. Will be wearing this vintage bracelet now.

This is just my first attempt and I am certainly no Picasso! But I love turning something that is unusable into a piece of jewellery that I can wear. All the above pieces I will be keeping for myself - although my daughter did say she liked the bracelet.....

Been busy this weekend visiting more Christmas fayres and will be bloging about them soon. Next repair will be replacing missing stones. So please bookmark.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Christmas Fayre - St Stephen's Coppice, Solihull

Yesterday' weather was awful, it rained most of the day and then was very heavy in the evening. But this did not dampen the number of visitors to the St Stephen's Christmas fayre in Coppice, Solihull.
The fayre was held in a large community hall, it never ceases to amaze me the work that goes into running and organising a fayre.I would like to congratulate the large army of volunteers that helped to make this fayre so successful.

On arriving it was a major feat to avoid the deep puddles formed on the car park surface and get into the hall relatively dry!
Inside the atmosphere was bustling, I almost got knocked over in the rush of children queueing up to visit Father Christmas. For just £1 the children could visit Father Christmas in his grotto and receive a small present. The children I saw were very excited and could not wait to see him.
The tables were well laid out with plenty of room to look. There were tables full of small inexpensive presents for adults and children. My eye was drawn to a small paper mache box, painted with bright colours and holly on the lid. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, but it just had to come home with me!

You could have a go at the tombola with its mountain of prizes to win. Try your luck to pick the tube with a bottle in - squash wasn't what one friend had in mind though!. Great fun with the lucky card game and many other stalls to participate in. There was a few hand knitted crafts - very tempted by the knitted tea cosies. Almost did not get past the large table filled with home made and brought cakes and jams.
We came away with a few books to read from the large book table, enough to keep me going for a couple of weeks anyhow.

The fayre is on today Saturday also so don't miss out if you live locally.

To get into the Christmas spirit - we still have a few pieces of vintage jewellery left with a Christmas theme.
Vintage and second hand Christmas jewellery

Also we have packs of Christmas themed charms for sale that will be ideal to make a Christmas charm bracelet.

Vintage modern charms for Christmas

Monday 9 November 2009

Support The Heritage Crafts of the UK

The Heritage Crafts Network

Over the last few years I have become increasingly worried that our heritage here in the UK is not being sustained. Our history, traditions and crafts have become threatened with progress and the decline of centres to practice.

It is one of the reasons that we sell various out of print books on crafts that may not be practiced by many people now and especially vintage childrens craft books.

Join the Heritage Crafts Association to support and promote our heritage before it is too late.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Christmas Fayre's have started

Hubby and I love browsing the Christmas Fayre's that are held in November and early December.

While I look for craft ideas and hand made Christmas presents, he looks for the jams, pickles and chutneys.

Today we went to our first fayre of the season held at the St Swithins House in Barston just outside Solihull.
It was an absolutely beautiful setting. Unfortunately I have no photographs to share as my memory card broke last night and as yet I have not brought another.

The fayre center was set in small cosy rooms with tables covered with crochet scarfs and corsages, knit wear, glass painted glass art, hand made cards. One large table full of dressed bears for all occasions. Cakes and biscuits, jams and pickles, Christmas hand made decorations and books.

Today was very sunny but extremely cold so the hot mulled wine and warm mince pie was very welcoming. Hubby had a cup of tea and the mince pie as he was driving. Thoroughly enjoyed whilst sitting at a very festive decorated table. Will be back to this fayre next year for sure, it was just so relaxing.

St Swithin's House has a fantastic embroidered and tapestry quilt displayed. Very unusual but beautifully designed, as it was a map of the area surrounded by embroidered or applique pictures of local buildings and farm animals. I really wished that I had brought a memory card and had taken my camera today.

Following our browse around the fayre, we took the opportunity to walk around the church and church yard. Such a beautiful setting in the countryside.

Christmas presents - yes found a lovely pot with a glittering frog on the top. Although not new it was so nice it will be a present for family member, someone who collects frogs. I suspect the glittering stones are Swarovski as they are very sparkly. Hubby came out with a home made jar of beetroot chutney.

Camera will be back for the next Christmas fayre due next week, as we start our annual tour around Solihull, Warwick and the West Midlands.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Tidying Up Today

Finally got round to tidying up my corner by our bed. As an avid reader, within a short time my corner gets cluttered with piles of books and magazines.
But the real reason was to unearth my sewing box. When work was completed on our central heating in May, everything was hastily cleared out of the way and my sewing box was used as a side table instead of my actual side table that ended up where my sewing box should have been!

Just sorting through my old vintage sewing box (which must be from the fifties), I thought that with so many interesting vintage sewing equipment, I have acquired through the years I must show soon in this blog. So made a note to myself for future blogging and to get some photographs.

Found a book that I brought at a book sale earlier this year "Rose Buckner's book of HOMEMAKING"

Written in the fifties for women especially new brides, the complete instruction on how to create the perfect home, a happy husband and contented children. Love this book it takes you back to an era - before women went out to work and they had children and stayed at home, cooking, cleaning and darning socks!
In the sewing and Knitting hints were the following ideas:
  • Buttons will stay on longer if you rub your thread with beeswax before sewing
  • If you desire a decorative button for a blouse, belt or hat. Choose a large coloured button, then crochet around the button with coloured silks. to the required depth. 
  • Wooden buttons can be bought and painted to match any dress colour scheme
Large swirl buttons

And how about this for "Carrot sandwich spread"
Take equal quantities of mashed cooked carrots and mashed cooked apples and mix with a little marmalade.
Mmmmmmmm let you know!


Sunday 1 November 2009

Finding old Jewellery - What To Look For

When buying vintage costume jewellery, I would like to share with you what I look for in a piece before buying to wear.
First when browsing through a large selection - I pick up the piece that catches my eye most. It may be something I recognize, such as a known Exquisite or Miracle brooch or just jewellery that has caught my eye. I especially like bold glittering pieces or vintage plastic kitsch. Cameos, fantasy and animal designed jewellery; as well as filigree and the bright enameled pot metal jewellery from the thirties.

I study the front of the brooch or necklace, at this stage I am looking for any damage. Are all the stones present, is the clasp still there and can I see any parts missing?
Now my eyes are not what they used to be and although I use a jeweler's loop using a pocket magnifier is just as good for this stage. Have a good look at all the stones, sometimes small missing stones are difficult to see. Then look at the stones together - are they all matching and have any been replaced. Look around the jewellery are any parts missing such as an empty loop at the bottom of a brooch or missing links that have been repaired but visible on closer inspection. If a piece of vintage jewellery is enameled are there any chips, if so how much damage is there to the piece.  Does the surface have any scratches and has the plating worn to show the base metal beneath?

Mock pearl vintage necklaces are plentiful but extra care needs to be applied. Handling the beads will soon tell you how much cleaning need to be made before they can be worn or used for making jewellery. The only way I can describe faux pearl beads that need an awful lot of cleaning is sticky! The colour is also dull or sometimes a brown shade rather than the luster cream colour that they once were!
If the jewellery has mock pearl bead decoration - assess how much if any have the beads peeled. Once peeling starts, the beads can be difficult to clean or wear without additional peeling occurring. Peeling at the clasp is not as noticeable as if the beads on full view have peeled 
For necklaces and bracelets check the clasp are in good working order and are the stones or beads all there if the clasp is decorated . Apply gentle pressure (so as not to break the jewellery) to make sure it does not spring open, which will happen when worn if the clasp is faulty.

It is very important to view the back of the piece of jewellery. In the first instant you are looking for damage.
In a brooch - is the clasp present! Its surprising how many brooches I have seen that can not be worn!
Check the clasp locks correctly by opening and shutting the pin several times. Is there any other damage - such as a missing loop (some brooches can be converted to a necklace and sometimes the loop for this has broken off) If the stones have an open back - is the coating over the stone intact or scratched as this will effect the view from the front. Again how much wear is there to the plating and if there is can it be seen from the front?

One of the main reasons for checking the back of a piece of vintage jewellery is to see if it is marked. Obviously for gold and silver jewellery the hallmark should be present and readable. Do not take a dealers word that the jewellery is gold or silver. By law any reputable dealer will have had the piece hallmarked for resale or will not sell as gold or silver but gold coloured metal, etc and at a lower price. Take a look at reputable jewellery auction for many examples, at their descriptions for jewellery that probably is gold or silver but by law can not be sold as such here in the UK. For more information have a look at the Birmingham Assay Office's website

As a dealer of vintage and second hand costume jewellery I am more interested in the makers mark. The use of a jeweler's loop or magnifying glass is very handy here. 
The best website on the web for a huge range of international marks and their identification is Illusion Jewels
For identifying Juliana or D & E (DeLizza and Elster) jewellery visit Cranberry Manor's blog
Also now available are many books on Sarah Coventry/ Eammons and Avon vintage jewellery.

From the time I have picked up the piece of jewellery to completing an examination for condition and manufacturer, I will have already gauged the age of it. Already I have a previous blog on aurora borealis for dating and on our website Jewels and Finery many of the descriptions explain why the age is such.
Certain maker's and designer marks will also give an age estimate due to when they were in business, as well as information on when that jewellery was made from the different marks used in set years; and you may be lucky to find the actual year of production in books, catalogues and adverts.
This blog will over the next few months be looking at dating in more detail, so bookmark please.

Vintage costume jewellery is to be enjoyed and either worn, collected or displayed in the home. This blog has been written to assist you in choosing carefully.     


About Me

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Solihull, West Midlands, United Kingdom
I preserve the past. Researching family and local history. Finding about mine and other people's ancestors, is just one of my passions. I also love vintage costume jewellery made here in the UK. I write about my finds and like to research.