Sunday, March 21, 2010

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DAFFODIL: MARCH FLOWER

Symbolic through the ages for regard, unrequited love, and chivalry, Daffodils are also associated with the arrival of spring and rebirth. Some of its other names include the jonquil and white narcissi, and they are part of the genus Narcissus. One of the first flowers to make an early spring appearance, Daffodils with their trumpet shaped center against star shaped petals have been recorded in history as early as the second century B.C. They are believed to be native of the area around the Mediterranean Sea. Daffodils were important flowers to both the Greeks and the Romans. The Romans brought Daffodils to Britain as the sap was thought to have healing powers. Egyptians used these bright bunches in funeral wreaths. The early American pioneers took these hearty bulbs across the wilderness in their covered wagons. I was fortunate to be given some of these heritage Daffodils as a volunteer Master Gardener at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. Daffodils are also admired and sought after in poetry, art, antiques, collectibles, and in home d├ęcor. Below are some Daffodil inspired finds!




"Daffodils"

I Wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
-William Wordsworth 1804


I’m the Golden Daffodil
Gleamin’ over Childhood’s hill,
Gayest thoughts to you I bring
Of happy days
And sunny spring!

-Helen E. Jeffers

In time of daffodils - who know
The goal of living is to grow
Forgetting why,
Remember how...

E.E. Cummings



Yellow yellow daffodil, dancing in the sun..
Oh yellow , yellow daffodil, you tell me spring has come.
I can hear a blue bird sing, and hear a robin call.
But yellow yellow daffodil,
I love you most of all.

-Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!

Since this is Saint Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be in keeping with the holiday to highlight one of Ireland's most famous collectible exports -Belleek. On the 18th of November 1858, the foundation stone was laid for what would become famous world over for fine Parian china. Belleek Pottery of County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, would establish itself as a producer of translucent fine domestic ware and decorative pieces. By 1865 these pieces were being exported to England, Canada, the United States, and Australia. The demand has kept coming ever since as the handiwork on many of these pieces is absolutely stunning! If you have ever handled the earlier black stamped pieces, you can appreciate the fine eggshell delicacy and transparency. There is nothing like it!


Below is one of Belleek's most popular themes - the shamrock! Notice how you can see the green back stamp through the plate due to the translucent fineness of the china. Another popular feature with Irish Belleek is their trademark cob (yellow) luster finish shown in this Belleek swan. Some pieces are just accented with this color, some are completely yellow while some just have on the inside this cob finish. This swan has just the head and wings touched with yellow luster.






This Belleek grouping has a lusterless swan, a pair of candlesticks with cob luster, and a basket-weave cream and sugar complete with hand painted shamrocks. Some of the artisans at the Belleek factory serve apprenticeships for many years until they have the necessary skill to work on the more difficult hand painting, sculpting, and weaving. The Belleek basket below has delicate hand cut and hand applied roses and leaves and would definitely have been set aside for the more seasoned artisan.






Many Irish Belleek pieces are Irish heritage themed which is not very surprising! You will find many pieces adorned or shaped as: shamrocks, harps, wolfhounds, thistles, thatched cottages, Celtic symbols, seashells/maritime, wild Irish roses, and more! Yes, there are even teapots to vases shaped like the castles and ruins that dot their lush green countryside!





Whether you are purchasing Irish Belleek for reselling, collecting, or just incorporating pieces into you home decor, knowing the back stamps with their approximate time period is a must. As with many fine old porcelain pieces, the date can really make the difference between getting a deal and overpaying! Books such as: Belleek: The Complete Collector's Guide and Illustrated Reference by Richard K. Degenhardt are available on the history and dating of Belleek for those who want more in depth information. The official Belleek Factory website also has some valuable information about Belleek, its history, and dating Belleek - and better yet - this info is free at: http://www.belleek.ie/Index.aspx.