I have always liked candlesticks. Not the shiny sterling silver variety although I do appreciate their beauty. The candlesticks I have always admired best are the simple ones especially Depression Glass era clear or etched candlesticks, simple crystal sticks, and those bulk-classified as “primitives”.
Maybe thirty years ago I started picking up a form of primitive – cool chamber sticks at church sales, garage sales, and flea markets. Chamber sticks are the candlesticks that look like they are in a little saucer and have a circular hook (for lack of a better description) for your finger.
These chamber sticks I found were mostly pewter, and occasionally pottery. The porcelain ones are also pretty but somehow too fussy for my taste. They never cost a fortune. They were inexpensive accents I picked up for anywhere in the range of $5.00 to $15.00 and they added a touch of home to wherever I lived. (My love of candlesticks and oil lamps is all my mother’s fault.)
I never considered myself a true primitives or country person as far as decorating styles went. Some people just take it too far and too dark for me. Too much plaid and gingham ribbons, wooden carved-out hearts. But when I started exploring Chester County I began to appreciate elements of country and primitive in decorating.
I have fallen in love with primitive candle holders. Punched tin lanterns and especially primitive candle sticks known as hog scrapers. When I first developed this candlestick crush, I wrote about it.
My crush is now a full-blown love affair. Made of iron, tin, and even pewter the simplicity of them is so beautiful.
Some people consider them rustic and too beat up. I see the lighting of our forefathers.
Hog scrapers were the go to lighting of average families in Colonial America. My research indicates these candlesticks have not only British roots but Dutch, French, and German as well. Which of course makes perfect sense given a lot of our country’s early settlers.
The name “hog scraper” comes from the similarity in shape and appearance to a tool made for scraping the bristles off of a newly butchered hog (yes a reality of farm life, but yuck…and yes I like pork roasts.) I have read while researching that people actually used hog scraper candle holders for this purpose but none I have stumbled across this far have had any hog bristles snarled up in them. Which is probably for the best, that might gross me out. (I have a thing for chickens, cows and goats but less so for live pigs. They just smell.)
My first primitive candle holders came from The Smithfield Barn. They turned up when someone brought them contents of an old farmhouse. From there I have hunted them in various locations but rarely buy them from traditional antiques dealers because they mark them up too much. Also, I am a practical person and I know I like these candlesticks, but know my knowledge base of age and dating them is somewhat limited. So I would rather not break the bank.
These candle holders seem to date from Colonial times through a good part of the 19th century as America moved west with the pioneers. Stylistically it is my opinion that some candlesticks described as “mission” have their roots in these primitives. I am no expert, but that is my opinion.
I have seen them on Etsy and Ebay. The prices range from inexpensive to ridiculous in price. I recently came across some new reproductions that came into Reseller’s Consignment in Frazer but they were brand new reproductions and felt too light weight-wise in my hand. I think part of why I like these candle holders is the comfortable, solid feel of them. The new reproductions feel like a Xerox copy to me they are so light. Kind of like the difference between truly old oil lamps and the newer reproductions.
I know I seem to preach a lot about decorating on a budget, but that is just the way I am made. I am not the one who wants a decorator, I want my own stamp on my home. And I love the thrill of the hunt for pieces. I hate to say I use high end antique store and antiques shows to educate myself and my eye, but I do. They provide me with an invaluable resource.
That being said, if you live in Chester County or close enough to it, be sure to add the Chester County Antiques Show to your schedule. It is a lovely show and the dealers for the most part are happy to talk to you about their pieces and antiques and collectibles. There was only one dealer last year that I did not find particularly convivial and unfortunately that was Stevens Antiques in Frazer. The attitude of whomever was running their booth the day I was there wasn’t what I would describe as warm or welcoming.
This year the Chester County Antiques Show is April 4, 5, and 6 at the Phelps School in Malvern. This show benefits the Chester County Historical Society which is an amazing resource and they are always doing cool stuff.
If you want to learn about hog scraper candlesticks check out this old post from Blue Dog Antiques.
I saw this special on PBS about the Nashville music of today and the “Americana” or “American Roots” movement music. (I think that is what they called it – I heretofore thought of a lot of it as simply indie music.)
Anyway, they featured in the music this band Carolina Chocolate Drops. They are amazing. Have a listen:
I chose this bird photo (above) I took this morning because it embodies the phrase “pecking order” to me for some reason. And the way my mind works, “pecking order” relates to something my friends and I have been talking about in relation to our kids in school.
The pecking order I am referring to doesn’t have to do with kids, but in fact the adults in the equation, the parents.
As someone relatively new to the parenting game of life I really had no awareness for years of parents groups like PTAs, parents’ associations, booster clubs, school Facebook pages, message boards, and so on and so forth. But now I am acutely aware of them and have been observing them here and there like a sociology experiment.
When I wasn’t a parent I was told by some that I shouldn’t have an opinion when it comes to things about schools, general parent-based groups, school boards, and so on. Now that I am a parent (or parent-in-training) I am sometimes told I shouldn’t ask so many questions or have an opinion because I am so new at the game. I could get angry at this, but mostly I am just amused. But I do know people who move through their childrens’ schools as mute foot soldiers to avoid dealing with these issues. Personally I am wondering how we can learn if we aren’t supposed to ask questions at times.
However, what truly amazes me and those I talk with about this is how groups which can do so much GOOD for a school and for kids can also twist into something almost unpleasant at times where the adults are concerned – it’s all the things you think we as adults left behind in high school but it’s almost like the behavior patterns are reincarnated at times. It’s like the lunch room and school yard cliques that once reigned supreme are resurrected.
For me, as someone new to this fray, I find even observing this behavior as distasteful as I did when I was a tween and teen. It also can be like observing where bullying comes from. How can we teach children not to be bullies when some adults have still not learned that lesson?
As an adult you are supposed to be able to embrace the spirit of individuality, yet even as adults when we become part of a group, individuality to an extent is quashed.
I want my child to be able to appreciate the differences in others because I simply believe to expand your horizons and grow you need to learn to appreciate the differences in others. Mind you I am not talking about destructive or dangerous behavior, just embracing a world where everyone is not just a cookie cutter of the person standing next to them. I figure we have enough of that going on already with the cookie cutter developments taking root throughout every community with a spare inch available. Or, just because the houses all look the same it doesn’t mean we have moved to Stepford.
As an adult, I will question something if I don’t understand it or if I think something is wrong. Yet with a lot of these groups we absolutely can’t discuss and question things like adults, but conversely we morph once again into school kids in the lunchroom glomming up into cliques.
No one leads such a perfect life that they should be able to judge another person via snap judgment. Yet it is human nature that we all have been guilty of that.
People are different, and what I have learned in this new aspect of the adult world is that there are a lot of people out there that even as adults expect you to be just like them and don’t know how to deal with individuality.
And I hate to say it, but sometimes I see it more pronounced in school related groups like PTAs and committees for fundraisers and sports boosters and arts boosters and so on. And (again) it’s all the nonsense you think we as adults left behind in high school but it’s almost like the behavior patterns are reincarnated. The irony is all these people are coming together with the same common goal: the betterment of the lives of kids in school. But since life is cyclical, behavioral patterns can be too I suppose.
There is a definite pecking order, and deviating from the comfort level of some causes drama. One of my friends told me the story of carnival at the school of one of her children. She tells me how she goes all ready in blue jeans and sneakers and a comfy sweater all prepared to help. She is greeted by a mom Nazi complete with walkie-talkie and a clip board. From what I was told apparently most army generals had nothing on her.
The irony and utter humor was of course I remember that woman from when she was a teen. She was the girl who always had high drama at every party with her boyfriends. I can still see her running around either barefoot at a party in tears or being booted from some dark corner in a state of questionable undress. And there she is today, queen of the PTA with a walkie-talkie and a clipboard.
Some people for whatever reason seem to have a narrow view of life or are utterly rules based. But where are the allowances for grey areas?
I believe interaction and discussion is the pathway to building stronger relationships and so on.
But what I am discovering is that a lot of those parents in these groups are not only judgmental, they are kind of mean at times. The world is enough of a cruel place so why can’t we just be nicer to each other?
I have friends with children who have special needs. These are my friends with literally the patience of Job. These are the people whom others always feel the need to tell how to parent and raise their kids.
I know someone else who told me of a Girl Scout or maybe it was a Brownie troop leader. A little girl wanted desperately to belong to this one particular troop because all her friends were in it. But this troop leader found the girl’s mother NOCD (“not our class darling”). Here was this person, an adult, who couldn’t look past the mean girl of it all. But that is the thing about mean girls that I have discovered: they never quite grow up they just get older.
To a lot of you, this is nothing new. You have been seeing and dealing with things like this for years. But again, to me, it is all somewhat a brave new world. Maybe I look at things at times in an over-hopeful or over-simplified manner. Maybe I ask too many questions or speak out where others are silent. But how are we to learn if we sanitize everything and can’t discuss much of anything?
But while education in a sense has increased with the ability to choose more or better for our children regardless of public, private, parochial, or charter schools, the one thing that hasn’t changed in a lot of cases are the age-old issues with parents. There are always going to be adults that think they know more than their peer group. It’s just human nature. I accept that.
And in the midst of it all, I often see these brilliant kernels of hope. Often the children are kinder than the parents.
Just as we can teach our children, we can learn from them as well. The world is often not a pretty place, but it is not one without hope and brilliance.
All we are, we are
All we are, we are
And every day is the start of something beautiful
~ Matt Nathanson, lyrics “All we are”
I happen to like chickens. I don’t have any real ones myself, just the milk glass variety, but my friends and family will tell you how I have to stop and look at them and take their picture if I see them.
As a matter of fact more than one of my old neighbors in Lower Merion Township, in the heart of the Main Line kept chickens. Never roosters, but laying hens. Just a couple, not a Perdue Farm’s worth. They caused no problems and all had beautifully constructed pens that were basically fancy-schmancy chicken condos. They were even heated in the winter.
Yet here we are in Chester County and as per the Daily Local, Malvern Borough will contemplate oodles of condos no one wants built ghetto close to everything and everyone, but if you don’t have three acres in the borough you can’t have a chicken? How does that work exactly? Are you telling me that in a county where you need two acres per horse you need in Malvern Borough 3 acres for a bird that weighs less than a horse’s tail?
Chickens are cool and there is nothing better than literally farm fresh eggs, so I think this is silly. Heck I have neighbors now who have chickens. I never hear them, never see them, never smell them. Chickens are and should be a non-issue.
Come on Malvern Borough, if you can let developers into your cute town, why not a couple of chickens? And incidentally, Radnor Township is afraid of chickens too apparently. (Read Radnor Board of Health mulls fowl problem )
Anyway, here’s hoping those new borough people and the mayor can become friends of fowls. I can see not having them in places like condo developments or trailer parks where people have no yards, but a limited number of chickens well cared for in a back yard? Where is the harm?
Here’s the article:
By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News
Posted: 01/24/14, 4:09 PM EST
MALVERN – A small group of residents are looking to change the borough’s ordinance to allow for families to raise a limited number of chickens for eggs.
Ken Neeld and his family have been working to rewrite the borough’s ordinance to allow for families to own “backyard chickens” to collect eggs. Neeld said after looking at other urban and suburban ordinances that allow for chickens, he and his wife worked to draft an ordinance that would please neighbors while allowing residents to raise the animals.
Neeld said his family first became interested in raising their own chickens for eggs around 2012 after visiting the Malvern Farmers Market and learning more about the benefits of eating local foods. He said that his daughters approached him about possibly raising their own chickens to get eggs instead of relying on mass produced ones.
“We don’t want to promote anything that is not good for the animals or for us,” Neeld said. “We wanted to give it a try.”
According to Borough Manager Sandra Kelley, the zoning ordinance classifies chickens and poultry as livestock. Under that zoning ordinance, there must be three acres for the first chicken, and then 0.1 acres for each additional one. Kelley said she was not aware of any movement to allow chickens to be raised in backyards in the borough.
Neeld said that while some residents may be concerned about noise, the ordinance he is proposing limits the number of chickens, follows the borough’s noise ordinance and does not allow for roosters, which can be loud…..He also noted that chickens eat fleas, ticks and leftover food scraps that can lower the amount of waste in households.
“There’s very little downside to it,” Neeld said.