Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Casket for Christmas

This Christmas I was able to continue the tradition of giving my young cousin a jewelry box as a Christmas gift.   As usual, the requirement was for it to be something unique that you wouldn't find anywhere else.   That usually brings me to flea markets...

It turns out August was a good month.  A new dealer showed up at the open market and had something interesting that I just had to have.   A beautiful metal box on legs with a rose on it.  Of course it needed some TLC, but I'd never seen anything similar before.   Sold!  Renaissance

Box in it's original condition

This one would definitely need some elbow grease.

Some internet searching identified this as a casket style jewelry box.  The inside of these boxes - rather than being lined along the edges - is puffy like a pillow (or a casket) on the inside.    I was able to use one web site to date this piece to the 1920's.   The inside is a pastel rather than a dark or red color - and the silver exterior was all tarnished off (They didn't learn to electroplate better until the 40's - so if you find a shiny one, it's a newer copy...)

Jewelry Box 2016 - 2
Box before cleaning - with the good camera and a nice background

Even though this needed some work, the detail was amazing.  

But hard work was ahead of me.   I have to again  thank Ann of the NBSS Jewelry program for helping me out for the second year in a row.   For the second year in a row I brought a jewelry box to the NBSS open house to get some advice on how to restore the piece.   While last years box was cleaned with Brasso and NevrDull, this year I was introduced to Rouge Cloth for polishing.

Jewelry Box 2016 - 3
Even before cleaning, the detail was still a highlight of the piece

And polish I did.   As you can tell this piece had lots of nooks and crannies, so a small section each night.    The detail took a lot of time.  I did sneak a little NevrDull and tooth pick into some corners I just couldn't get into with the cloth.   But not getting every little spot turned out to be nice - there's enough black here and there to bring out the design.  

Jewelry Box 2016 - 6
The finished product, polished, sealed,  and ready for delivery
The 'unclean-able' black that remains adds character and helps emphasize the design

Jewelry Box 2016 - 9
The top detail looks quite different after a good cleaning.

The interior needed some work as well.   Someone tried to repair the interior lining with regular white glue.    ugh.   Who would do that.   Luckily, it was regular white glue.   A little dab of water and began to soften.  So another few nights to soften some flue, then gently tweezer it out without damaging the lining....

I didn't polish the bottom much - I wanted to keep that in something of an original state to see where I started.   There was some ID on the bottom - the initial JB and the number 1187.   Probably leads back to the manufacturer, but I've found nothing on line to help me...

Jewelry Box 2016 - 5
The bottom of the piece.  Identification marks?

As you can see, the finished product came out amazing.   Sealed with some Renaissance wax, I hope it stays in good condition for years to come.

Jewelry Box 2016 - 7
Interior of the box, with the 'casket' like puffy padding.

Jewelry Box 2016 - 11
Safely in the hands of the new owner.  I think she likes.   :)

You can see a few more Jewelry Box photos in my Flickr Album.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stratford Point Light

I grew up in Lordship;   a small neighborhood at the tip of Stratford, CT.   Where the Houstaonic river meets Long Island Sound, a small lighthouse sits helping ships navigate.   The lighthouse is on private property, so I've never been able to explore it - until now.

Recently I was in CT for a wedding.  That weekend the lighthouse was having an open house - so I convinced Mom to take a side trip to check it out Stratford Point Light in detail..

Google Satellite image of the lighthouse site

The lighthouse itself is small.  Just over the height of a 2 story building, it pales in comparison to other lighthouses out  there.   But the Connecticut coast is rough terrain, and lighthouses dot the coastline.   This lighthouse is one of several markers at the mouth of the Housatonic.

Stratford light, as seen form the street/driveway

Placard on the property

It's interesting to visit as an adult the place that was such a mystery as a child.  The light was visible from anywhere in the neighborhood, especially if there was haze in the atmosphere.  Two quick flashes of light if you could see the lighthouse.   From my bedroom window, two arcs of light would race across the sky on foggy nights.   

Stratford Light 1
Stratford Point Light  

And the foghorn.  Just hearing one today brings back memories of the beach in pea soup fog;  the smell of salt water;  the gentle lap of waves on the sand.

The view while waiting in line to go up
The light could use a little TLC...

Mom decided to sit this one out and explored the grounds while I ventured inside.  The grounds had several vendor tables selling souvenirs and giving out various civic and coastguard information brochures.    

Placard on the entrance to the lighthouse

CG personnel giving us a history of the light

 Plenty of Coast Guard staff were on hand to ensure our safety and to give us some history.  In the image above, those are the lights that were in place when I was a kid growing up.  A more modern light source is in place now.    Stratford Light flashes twice, with 20 seconds between flash sets.

The Way Up
The staircase up to the next platform, rendered in Black & White

More education at the second level.  

the second level had a map of all the lighthouses on the CT coast.   There are a lot of them, although most are automated now...  A nice map of the area can be found on this PDF.

Stair from the 2nd level up to the light

Another visitor and I check out the light itself

While you see circular patterns on the light, it is no longer a fresnel lens.  

Stratford Light View
The view South from the light

The view East

Looking East, we can see the mouth of the Housatonic River, with the town of Milford in the background.  Below we can see some of the tents set up for the day. Adjacent to the lighthouse is Dupont property, once home of the Remington Gun Club.  The circular driveway can be seen, but the shooting areas are long gone.  The site, while still owned by Dupont, is cared for by the Connecticut Audubon society and operators as a protected migratory area.   More information on that area can be found here.  

The view West

Looking west we see several beaches.  the first cove is private.   The second cover is a mostly public beach (Russian Beach), with a few private beaches (the houses in the distance).  At the far point is "The seawall" - a small cluster of restaurants and a small hotel, as well as the seawall where you can park and watch the surf.  A perfect spot for ice cream on summer evenings.  Definite childhood memories of parking there during storms and watching the waves crash over us.   (History of the seawall)

Mom, checking out the lighthouse

All in all a fun morning out.  It was no Boston Light, but I enjoyed visiting a childhood icon.  A thanks to the Coast Guard volunteers, without whom the open house would not have happened.

Photos of the lighthouse throughout the decades.

Additional Stratford Light history.

Look for my next blog post, which will have more artistic impressions of Stratford Point

Also check out my Flickr photo stream