Wondering how to decorate your bungalow for the holidays? Let this quote by William Morris, the father of the Arts & Crafts Movement be thy guide.
I grew up with a mother dedicated to creating magical moments for her family, & zhuzhing up the place for the holidays every year was high on the list. (Though her credo was,”Less is more,” I’m not going to swear that she was true to it.) In consequence, as the days at the Hare House, my 1910 Craftsman began getting shorter, & the weather started cooling, I was prompted to consider the holiday decorations that the Reverend & Grace Hare might have chosen back in 1910. Though childless, they had family nearby & were of sufficient standing in the community that it would have been expected that they would entertain. The Hares were reasonably affluent, with refined tastes, but they were not lavish spenders. The lot they chose was not on the prestigious Eagle Rock street of Hill Drive. The house had only two bedrooms & a single bath. In the bathroom they chose to use scored plaster instead of tile. The fireplace sported a modest hearth, covered in smooth tile rather than the more ornate Batchelder that was often seen in our neighborhood. I could not imagine that the Hares would change their habits for the holidays. My thought was to follow Morris’ inspiration & choose the simplicity of natural materials from Grace’s garden decorate my bungalow.
PLANNING MY HOLIDAY GARDEN
“The houses were decked with evergreens in December
that the sylvan spirits might repair to them and remain unnipped
with frost & cold winds until a milder season had renewed the
foliage of their darling abodes.”
~Quoting the Druids in CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS FROM WINTER’S GARDEN, The Craftsman Magazine, 1911.
My first bungalow holiday in The Hare House, was a year in the making. I moved in in December of 1998 & started thinking about the next Christmas. I had been living in a terrific Mid-Century hillside house in Pasadena. Because the Hare House was built before electricity came to that part of what would be Los Angeles, I didn’t feel like I would do the same celebration with the 50’s colored lights & Blow Mold Santas.
As I planted my garden beds at the Hare House, I thought of Stickley, & wanting to remain “unipped” in the cold winds of Los Angeles, I considered what might be good choices for Christmas foliage for my darling abode. Asparagus ferns are a total takeover nightmare, but I decided to plant a couple to use on the deep mantel & above the built-ins in the dining room. They bounce back even after the closest haircut & provide a nice fluffy element. I am in love with ferns, so I planted a few different types, again thinking of bedecking the halls.
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS FROM WINTER’S GARDEN also suggested, “Of those bearing bright berries that we can gather from the woods or fields to adorn our homes at this Christmas season, perhaps the general favorite in the East is the holly—in the West it is the toyon. These two glossy leaved bushes of the scarlet berries are too well known to need words in their favor.”
I was lucky enough to have toyons on my property, perennial California native shrubs that had been trimmed into trees. Also known as Christmas berry, I knew that they would provide me with all the red berries that I would need. Fortunately, the tree in back produced a sufficient quantity that I could leave all the lovely, red berries on the tree to decorate my front yard.
When I left L.A. for Florida, I requested that my sister-in-law in California gather toyon berries & bring them to me in her suitcase. I adorned the mantel & sideboard of my 1925 bungalow with the little red berries from California, adding large, shiny magnolia, the tree of the South, leaves to the mix.
I crafted a fluffy wreath out of pine cuttings, added pinecones & a bow & hung it on my door to greet my guests as they entered, after walking up the poinsettia lined steps.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Though Edison offered strings of decorative electric lights as far back as 1890, power would not come to Eagle Rock until 1914 so I used candles to re-create the simple, but festive holiday home of these people for whom I held such affinity & admiration.
I clipped branches of our huge, old pine which I augmented with branches of other conifers & fluffed up with the ferns I had planted the year before. These I piled the on mantel & the top of my sideboard, & strew across my dining table, then tucked in candleholders of various sizes. I added pinecones & the prickly little pods I’d gathered from the neighborhood. The pods I had sprayed gold & I handled them with care because they were full of nasty little stickers. For color I used batches of toyon berries & pomegranates from my local Trader Joe’s. I had considered apples, but discarded the idea in favor of the richer color of the exotic pomegranate.
My tree was fir. Since childhood my mother had taught me about Christmas trees adorned by candles. Because they came into common use in 1917, & the town where she lived had been electrified in 1911, I’m thinking that she, born in 1919, never got to have the experience of candles balanced on the ends of branches. My mother’s tales of these candles included stories of horrible fires so I didn’t go that route, instead opting for strings of white electric lights which seemed like a good (but sorry) compromise, though quite likely the Hare’s used candles on their tree. I had some of my mother’s childhood glass & celluloid ornaments which I embellished with the ones that I had gifted her over the years.
My mother loved tinsel & insisted that each piece be carefully draped a single piece at a time, over individual branches. Tinsel originated in Germany as strands of thin, beaten silver to reflect the light from the candles. Being affordable to only the wealthy, the next generation of tinsel was made of an alloy of tin & lead. I’m thinking that due to the avarice of the lead industry, which was allowed to continue for decades, both our families suffered the misfortune of handling this material.
The gift wrapping at the time was very simple, usually red or green or white tissue paper, or even plain brown paper. Modern gift wrap was invented by the Hall brothers, of Hallmark fame, in 1917 & it seemed a bit out of place in our simple holiday. I did use cellophane tape though, which was not invented until 1930. String & sealing wax were used prior & I’m an admitted Luddite but with the craziness of the holidays, I didn’t feel like sitting around manipulating hot wax around the noses of overly curious kitties.
”Would we not be entering more into the spirit of Christmas by going out to meet it, as it were, by searching for these aromatic symbols of immortality & bringing them into our homes, rather than by unromantically ordering wreaths, vines & branches from the florist’s.”
My decor was very simple but elegantly brought the aromatic, natural world indoors & clearly conveyed the spirit of the holiday. As I picked up my shears & my grandmother’s woven basket, & headed out to the garden with my pussy-cat, I thought of Grace Hare & my grandmother preparing for their holidays & felt the peace of the season.
ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS AT STICKLEY’S CRAFTSMAN FARMS
The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is a National Historic Landmark & historic house museum, located on the campus of Craftsman Farms in Parsippany, New Jersey. It was built by Gustav Stickley between 1908 & 1917 as the most complete expression of his “Craftsman” style & provides an unmatched opportunity to experience Stickley’s ideas about the impact of architecture, design, & landscape on a meaningful life. The Log House, which was the Stickley family home, will be decorated in period holiday décor & will be open for holiday tours. Their Crafts-Mas Open Houses are: Saturday, Dec 2nd Saturday, Dec 9th Saturday, Dec 16th Their holiday tours of the log house are: Dec 3rd: Tours at 12pm and 3pm Dec 10th: Tours at 12pm and 3pm Dec 17th: Tours at 12pm and 3pm
If you want to read about my family Christmas, & my wild uncle Bill, just click here.
Few things are more at home in a bungalow than American art pottery. Its bright colors & luster bring cheer & light to a dark interior & add details that complement the simple lines of the more rustic Arts & Crafts furniture & Craftsman architectural details.
Anyone can collect art pottery. Mine was representative of the finest from the period, chipped & mended into affordability. There are plenty of imperfect pieces on the market & artfully arranged, you can emulate the most prestigious collection of any museum. (I won’t tell.)
Pottery can serve as an inspiration piece when you are starting from ground zero in decorating your home. Using the colors, the images, the shape, you can use them as a basis for choosing your furniture & your textiles.
LEARN HOW POTTERY CAN BE BEAUTIFUL IN YOUR BUNGALOW
American Art Pottery Secrets – Paul J. Katrich – 1of6.mp4 (9:08)
Paul, himself a master potter, is passionate about historic pottery. This is the first of 6 videos in which he explains the origin & inspiration of Arts & Crafts pottery. He tells us about the aesthetic & technological developments that culminated in American A&C, then shows & tells us about the icons of the period.
I am not going to list every video in the full series. The parts are best viewed in order & when the first video is over, the second & those after will magically appear. You will experience some lovely examples of the American Movement!
THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN IN AMERICAN ART POTTERY
Women artists have been overlooked for centuries. By the end of the 19th Century, we began coming into our own. In addition to demanding to work, we were also clamoring for a place in the world. Recognition would come much later, but what we wanted was the opportunity to use our wits & talents to contribute to the human cause. For many women, gaining artistic skills meant that they had greater earning power & could feed their families.These videos tell of how the crafts, especially pottery allowed us to do this.
Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise (1:32)
An overview of the Smithsonian exhibition of ceramics. metalwork, textiles & images of the women at work.
Roger Ogden on Newcomb Pottery (2:31)
Craft in America
Roger Ogden, collector explains the femininity of New Orleans, the home of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College (Tulane University’s former women’s college.)
Earth into Art — The Flowering of American Art Pottery (2:00)
Lead by woman, America’s first success on the World’s art stage.
These videos are mentioned in my post, BUNGALOW TOASTERS which I encourage you to read. It includes a video of this little gem, dubbed a “Sweetheart” toaster, being used.
At the risk of becoming very hungry, I encourage you to also watch the magic of the videos of folks as they lovingly use their old toasters. This is a variety of toasters & even a toaster collector with a sense of humor!
One of my favorites is of a full restoration of a poor toaster that looks like it was used hard by a family of 10 & then abandoned when they got an updated model. A talented man meticulously dismantles it, revives each tiny part & lovingly puts it back together again.
I also offer you my Pinterest page of old toasters. I have quite an array!
THE VIDEOS- Antique Toasters
Antique Toastmaster Toaster 1A5 Demo “Automatic Pop-Up Type Toaster” Bachelor Model 1 Single Slice (:50)
Laura’s Last Ditch Vintage Kitchenwares
Would you like your toast medium or well-done?
Toaster Collector (2:55)
Texas Country Reporter
He started with his mother’s toaster & 300 toasters later, he eats jam for breakfast every day.
I adore old appliances & the antique toaster may be at the top of my list. I come by it honestly, being the granddaughter of a West Virginia baker. My grandfather decided to enter the business because he figured that it would be economically stable. People would always eat bread. It was a correct decision that benefited our family for several generations.
When I was a child growing up in Arizona, there was bread on the table every meal, never bought off the shelf, always purchased from the family bakery that had a stand at our neighborhood grocery.
Then I went to school & discovered Wonder Bread, served in our cafeteria. I was astonished & confused. You could squish it up in a ball like Play-Doh! I was accustomed to bread with body. You had to work a little to eat it.
My mother was appalled at this version of bread. In no way did she consider it the best nor even think of it as real bread.
The specialty of my family’s bakery was salt rising bread. An Appalachian invention, I cannot but wonder if the recipe made its way from Sara Emmeline, my great-grandmother on the farm, to my grandmother, Gordie Elsie who left the farm as a young girl to become a woman of culture, to the bakery of her new husband. My cousin, whose father took over the bakery from my grandfather & who worked there for many years tells me that, “It was not a big seller unfortunately. Most of it was sold in the outlying small towns, mainly mining communities or communities with lots of old timers that come out of the West Virginia hollows on a Saturday morning to do their shopping in towns like Grant Town, or Fairview or Hundred. Fine folks with discerning tastes.”
Not to be found in Arizona, my mother dreamed of salt rising & was sent loaves of it by the family. This humble bread, born of poverty & necessity, became a luxury for my mother because of its scarcity. Yeastless, it was very dense & chewy, like the most well-known sourdough & like its San Francisco counterpart, made exquisite, crunchy toast. We argued over who would get the heels.
LET’S BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TALE OF THE ANTIQUE TOASTER
And jump around. I try to write chronologically, but cultural history is not always chronological. Different locations & classes changed their practices at differing times. I hope that you can follow along as I move from 1950 to 2000 B.C. to 1850 to 1910, then back to 1905, in my attempt to tell the tale of the antique toaster.
So here goes….
We have been eating grains since we were hunter/gathers. We learned to cook them, making gruel, which was easier to digest than the raw seeds, but rather messy. Then we discovered that baking grains into bread was a great deal handier. It grew mold more slowly. You could tote it around & it was tidy. You could eat it with your hands.
Bread is mostly sugars & starches making it the perfect candidate for caramelizing. Our affinity for crunch is hardwired into our species, as is our love of fat, so it’s not surprising that avocado toast is the food darling of the decade.
So, the obvious next next step was toasting the bread which made it even easier to digest. You could melt stuff on it. It was warm & comforting & it packed a nice caramelized crunch.
THE TOASTER AS PART OF OUR CHANGING CULTURE
When we’re talking about bungalow toasters (That’s kinda what we do here, you know. We talk about bungalows.) we’re talking about pre-electricity for most of the original homeowners.
The earliest toasters, from the 1800’s, were forks made of iron with long handles so that you could stand back from the flames of the open fire. By the 1850’s, they began making the holders in a lighter metal & featured a mesh grill so that you could see the bread browning as it toasted.
With the decline of domestic help, as woman left working as maids to labor in the factories, appliances designed to ease the workload of the lady of the house became a necessity. Fortunately, the domestic technology was developing that could support this cultural change. For a more in-depth understanding of this glimpse into LIFE & TIMES, read this article.
In 1905, the first filament, Nichrome, a non-magnetic alloy of nickel & chromium was discovered that could repeatedly generate heat to toast bread.
G.E. patented the first electric toaster, the D-12, for use in the home in 1909. It has four heating elements with the wire wrapped around forms made of heat-resistant mica. It sat on a porcelain base to insulate the table under it. As an option, you could get the base with a floral design. The toast was held in place by an exposed wire frame. Of course, it toasted only one side of the bread, giving you ample opportunity to burn your fingers!
However, electricity was not common in homes until the 1920’s. By 1925, only half the homes in America had electrical power & these were in larger metropolitan communities. It wasn’t until 1936, with FDR’s Rural Electrification Act, that millions of Americans, living outside of cities had access to electricity.
(Let’s do the Time Warp Again!) However, the Hare House, which was built in 1910, was lit by gas & most likely had a wood burning stove so Grace did not use the D-12 to make Alfred’s toast. One option was to use a cast iron skillet. She might have also used a tin contraption that sat on her wood burning stove. This flimsy piece of vented metal held the pieces of bread that you cut from the loaf & offered your fingers no protection against its heat. Tin rusts very easily when exposed to moisture so I can’t imagine that these lasted very long. I had one in my collection for my dreamed of restoration of the Hare House kitchen. I considered trying it out but it was too awful!
In 1913, the Coleman Electric Stove Company made a toaster that automatically turned the bread, saving fingers.
In 1914, Lloyd & Hazel Copeman, of the Copeman Electric Stove Company, were issued five patents for ways to “turn the toast” in their “automatic” toasters.
In 1919, the year that my mother was born, Charles Strite, a Minnesota mechanic invented the pop-up toaster, the Toastmaster, with both springs & a timer, for restaurant use. He later improved his design & sold it to the general public. You could even twist a little peg to set the toaster for the degree of toasting! Check out my toast videos to hear the timer loudly clicking away at differing speeds, depending on how dark you wanted your toast to be.
Around this time, manufacturers began adding a case to the units as a safety feature. With this newfangled toaster, Mom no longer had to be asphyxiated in the kitchen by smoke from burning toast, when she was preparing supper for the family.
A commonly voiced cliché in our baker family was, “The best thing since sliced bread!” In 1928, a bread slicing machine was invented & by 1930, The Continental Baking Company, which made that bread that fascinated me so as a child, Wonder Bread, began selling sliced bread which greatly increased the popularity of toasters. At the same time, assembly line production & easy credit made it possible for ordinary Americans to purchase many of these new consumer goods. A toaster on every table!
WON’T YOU BE MY SWEETHEART OF AN ANTIQUE TOASTER
A favorite toaster has been dubbed the “Sweetheart” because of its heart shape face, pendant “earrings” & its delicate, ornate casing. This Landers Frary & Clark toaster (Universal Model E9410, patented in 1929) was designed to attract the American housewife & was promoted as being an appealing addition to her kitchen decor. One of my readers remembers it fondly from his grandmother’s house, where, no, the children were allowed to watch, but not allowed to touch it.
Rather than march all the various styles of toasters across the page, I think I’d rather invite you to my Pinterest page where you can just gorge on pictures of them & also other small appliances. As one of my readers commented, “This is where the good stuff is!”
To see a variety of antique toasters in action, visit my YouTube playlist, ANTIQUE TOASTERS.
Most people do not know much about the now antique wood-working machines that were used to mill the lumber for their bungalows. Eric LaVelle is a master historic preservationist who uses the old machines that he rescues from 100+ year old abandoned mills to restore the houses in his care. I am a believer in having full understanding of a subject & believe that having knowledge of the machines that helped create your bungalow is intrinsic to this understanding.
When I could find them, I am including the antique versions of the old machines. Several of them are made by Eric & posted by klavelle. If needed, I also include the modern ones so that you can see them in action. They are listed here in alpha order of the names of the machines, not the manufacturers. Because there are so many of them, I have not included the images for each video, but just the links to each.
Before you click on these links, you might want to turn the sound down on your speakers. These are monster antique wood-working machines, filmed cutting large pieces of wood & the sound can be deafening! Even the modern ones make a great deal of racket & their manufacturers recommend wearing ear protection when they are being used.
Once again, Eric’s words are in quotes. Mine are just there, unadorned, though, if I’m rudely interrupting him, you’ll see me in brackets.
Rigging is the act of using equipment to lift or support a load. And when we’re talking a load here, many of these old machines weigh over a ton, like a small car.
Eric says, “… in order to bring home a machine to restore, I had to be able to move it. I was on a tight budget, so I had to learn how to do it by hand.”
Also, powered lift equipment simply would not fit into the mills or warehouses from which he removes equipment. Not to mention that the rotting floors he encounters, some of which have already collapsed, simply could not support the added weight.
Machines piled in the basement. Their weight has caused the rotting floor under them to collapse.
“These techniques can often be incorporated into old house restoration when heavy stone or timbers need to be moved and placed.”
There is an elegant simplicity to each of these tools.
HOW TO MOVE RIDICULOUSLY HEAVY STUFF
Don’t try this at home, or anywhere, really!
Drum sander moved out of a basement with no reasonable stairway by totally disassembling it.
“Sometimes a machine can be taken apart into much smaller, more manageable pieces if necessary. When I do that, I take an extensive number of pictures before and during disassembly.”
“…it’s really nice to have a second person to help. They don’t have to be big and strong, they just need to be able to place blocks or pipes as the machine is getting moved.
In fact, any attempt to lift this stuff by hand is really risky. A friend of mine who was in peak physical condition attempted to lift and pull a 2300lb piece of equipment, and ended up very sore and exhausted while the machine just sat still and laughed.”
Below are some images of some of Eric’s hand rigging tools. Please know that these are what he uses to move machines that weigh hundreds, even several thousand pounds each.
1. Johnson bar 2. Come-along hand winch 3. Burke bar 4. 1 1/4″ steel pipe 5. Long wedge 6. 3/4″ steel pipe 7. Regular 2-wheeled dolly.
“I’ve included a photo of some of my favorite hand rigging equipment: [Above]
1. Johnson bar or lever dolly, which will probably lift 5000lbs. [A Johnson bar helps provide leverage when needed to get underneath loads. The wheels provide a strong base, for secure leverage and safety.]
2. Come along/hand winch, a hand-operated winch [a hauling or lifting device such as this one] with a ratchet [a device with a wheel with teeth which allows motion in only one direction] used to pull objects. The drum [a cylindrical part of a machine] is wrapped with wire rope.
3. Long pry bar (specifically the Burke bar, which has become my favorite & can also probably lift 5000lbs)
4 and 6. Steel pipe in a couple different sizes. [Eric places these under the machines and rolls them along the floor and into whatever vehicle is waiting to transport them.] I’ve seen a machine that weighed 10 tons rolled through a building on a steel pipe, and the pipes did not crush. [Here’s a great story of a machine that was moved by the use of these steel pipes.]
5. A couple long wedges
6. A two wheeled dolly which is good for items under about 500lbs.
“Not pictured on the trailer deck are:
1. A chain hoist which will allow you to easily lift up to 5 tons. [You can see this handy little item in operation here.}
2. A low profile car jack which will lift 2 or 3 tons.
3. A pallet jack, which I call a poor man’s forklift and will lift 5500lbs for most models..
“I could probably buy this entire list on the used market for the price of renting a forklift for one day.
2200lb Greenlee 228 mortiser.
“The most difficult rig Claire and I have done is putting the 2200lb Greenlee 228 mortiser in the basement shop. We had to put it on 4×4 timbers with outriggers bolted to them for safety, unload it from the trailer, lay the machine face down with the chain hoist, lever it down two steps while going into a doorway, then stand it back up in the basement with a chain hoist.
“When we have to load a machine onto a trailer, we often strap it to a pallet jack and pull it up ramps with the hand winch. When a machine is on ramps, going either up or down, we wrap a large tie down strap once around the front of the trailer frame and tie it back to the machine. This allows us to instantly stop a machine with a light tug.
“To go across dirt or gravel, we lay a road of planks so the pipes or wheels stay on a firm surface. In a pinch, sometimes a simple 2×4 can be used as a lever. I’ve included a video Claire took where I was rotating a 1400lb planer with a 2×4.”