Flannel shirts are part of the iconic image of the American lumberjack and have been an American fashion staple since the mid-century. The plaid flannel shirts place in American culture is only a small part of its long history. The flannel shirt, as we know it, became popular in Scotland and England in the early 1800s.
But the flannel, the fabric, has been around since the 17th century. It was woven by the wives of Welsh farmers, who had been spinning wool yarn for centuries and eventually found that if you brush the wool on both sides it becomes much sturdier. This created a thicker more industrious fabric. It was durable and insulating, while still being soft and comfortable. Perfect for wet, cold, and windy climates.
The addition of the horizontal and crisscrossed bands done in multiple colors were originally added to represent the weaver’s region, and these patterns were call Tartans. Tartans have ancient origins, the oldest being from the 6th century B.C. found in Austria, belonging to a Celtic culture. Tartan pants were also found on ancient Chinese mummies from a similar period during the Iron Age. These textiles were simple checked patterns using light and dark wool, but very distinctive and usually worn by higher-society.
The more intricate spacing and patterns of the bands and the defined color choices first popped up in 16th century Scotland. Tartans became so popular they were once outlawed and only used for military uniforms and royalty. The tradition of associating a tartan pattern to a family or clan became popular in the 17th century.
The High Society of London wanted the heads of each clan to be honorably represented by a specific tartan pattern. These tartans would then be authenticated and recorded. This tradition carried on and became very popular, almost all Scottish clans now have several tartans attributed to their names. Now it’s possible for anyone to register a tartan to their name through The Scottish Register of Tartans.
So how did the tartan/plaid flannel shirt become this American symbol of resilience, strength and masculinity? Well the same way the country kind of did, through the Industrial Revolution. The country was growing at a rapid pace, forests were being cleared for cities, train tracks were being run to connect the coasts and the men working these grim jobs needed clothing that would hold up.
Everything from coats, shirts, pants and underwear were made from flannel. Flannel clothing would hold up against harsh weather and arduous work. The gritty images of railroad workers and lumberjacks in plaid flannel shirts working on these massive projects were popularized through the media and became synonymous with the American prospector.
In the mid twentieth century, the popular folk lore character Paul Bunyan brought the flannel shirt back into fashion. He is the symbol of the great American frontiersman, the American dream of the previous generation. Paul Bunyan was extremely popular with kids, but also adults, so this made the flannel shirt well-liked by everyone.
The flannel shirt remained a wholesome fashion choice for much of the century. It was in the 1990s with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam that the representation of the plaid shirt got completely flipped around. Grunge culture took the flannel shirt ripped it up, burned it and tied it around their waist. The cultures rejection of the previous generations American ideal was clear in the way they treated the flannel shirt.
Now you’ll find a plaid flannel shirts everywhere, it has sort of shed its culturally distinctive nature. It doesn’t belong to one specific group or represent certain ideals, it is almost as common and universal as a white t-shirt, anyone can wear it and feel comfortable.
We always have a rotating variety of vintage flannel shirts in the shop, come find one that speaks to you!
If you didn't grow up buying vinyl and playing records you might not know a whole lot about how to find a good record. Knowing your tolerances when it comes to sound quality is a good thing to consider first when shopping for a vintage record.
Do you mind a light scratching noise here and there?
Can you handle some crackling throughout?
Or are you shopping for a pristine vinyl record?
These things matter, if you can handle some disruption a record with a few light scratches and some wear will be just fine! If you need the true undisturbed audio experience, good luck, your hunt is going to be a bit harder.
10 Signs You Shouldn’t buy that Record….
1. Make sure you have good lighting when inspecting the record. Take notice of how the record looks, does it shine? Are there deep grooves? Usually a worn-out record will look grey and flat.
Is it dirty? Dusty? Grimy? Dirt and grime can sometimes hide scratches or look like them. Try and blow away as much dirt as you can. If you have water on you, put some on your finger and run it over the record and dry it off with your shirt. This might remove grime you thought was a scratch or reveal a scratch, it's always good the check.
If you pull a record out and it has what looks like tiny little hairs, you've found yourself a winner! These fibers come from manufacturing and only stick around after removing the record from the sleeve a few times.
2. Start from the outside edge of the record to check the condition of the first track, look on both sides. This is where the stylus first hits the record and usually where the most damage occurs. Look for fingerprints and scratches, some of this can be cleaned up, but if there is significant damage that usually means the first tracks have been damaged.
3. Look for needle scratches, they are usually visible and can be felt with your finger tip. If you find deep scratches, you'll likely hear it. If you can see a scratch but can't feel it, there is a chance that you won't hear anything too disrupting.
Records produced in the 60s tend to have deep grooves, so a scratch you can sort of fell might not be picked up. If there is a scratch that's smaller than a pin point, chances are you won't hear it. Scuffs usually aren't that much of an issue either, as long as the damage doesn't cut deep, the record should be alright.
4. Look even closer, this is where good lighting comes in. You may have a record that looks great, no major scratches, until you tilt it to the side and catch the light and there are a ton of micro scratches. These usually happen because the record wasn't stored properly. Records with deep grooves won't be as affected as thin, shallow grooved ones.
5. Some scratches might be fine and others won't, skate marks, which go across the grooves, are usually ok. As long as they don't actually cut through the wax. Scratches that cross the rubicon that fade and come back are usually not deep enough to be heard.
6. Scratches that will be heard are called Tramlines, these run with the groove or sometimes diagonally and are the worst. They're hard to spot because they're hidden among the grooves. These kinds of scratches cause the needle to get stuck or skip, requiring manual intervention. Tramlines cannot be fixed, you should avoid buying any records with them.
7. Look for warps! Warping isn't usually a big problem, but it is definitely worth checking for if the record just doesn't feel right. Hold the record at eye level and look latterly across it. If there is any waviness to it, it's warped and this will definitely distort the sound.
8. Heat damage is also a killer. Check the edges of the record, damage is usually only on one edge. It will look pockmarked, bubbly, foamy, sometimes wavy. If it extends 1-2 inches into the record, this kind of damage will make a whooshing noise that is very unpleasant.
9. If you find small bumps on the surface, don't be discouraged. These are pressing faults, which happen when labels aren't dry enough, trapping water during the pressing, essentially steaming the vinyl. The small bumps don't usually cause the needle to skip and can't be heard.
10. Probably one of the most damaging things to look for is polythene transfer. This is found in a lot of albums from the 60s, where polythene lined inner sleeves bonded to the vinyl. This looks like patterns have been transferred on to the surface usually around the runout area. This stuff cannot be cleaned or removed. If you play one of these records, this plastic can transfer to the stylus tip permanently!
DO NOT PLAY THESE RECORDS
These are just the basics, a good starting place. The best way to really understand vinyl records is to listen to them. Pay attention to where those scratches are and evaluate the sound that is created when they are played. Happy hunting!
Fiesta Ware covered it all, bringing bright splashes of color to the dining room. The range of colors allowed for people to mix and match sets to their liking. The bright variety of colors and simple art deco design was a big hit. In the first two years of production more than a million pieces were made.
The craze all started with the infamous “radioactive red.” From 1936-1943 they used a small amount of uranium oxide to create the red color. Luckily in 1943, the U.S. government took control over all uranium oxide for developing nuclear weapons during World War ll, which was great because the use of uranium oxide made the ceramics RADIOACTIVE! Unfortunately, after the war they went on to use depleted uranium oxide, which still may be radioactive, all the way until 1972!
So be careful of the radioactive red if you ever come across it! But the other colors were safe; Fiestaware was released in: cobalt, light green, yellow, old ivory, turquoise, forest green, rose, chartreuse, gray, medium green, antique gold, and turf green.
After 7 decades of producing simple, art deco styled ceramics the craze wore off. There were many more American dinnerware companies on the scene making wide ranges of designs and styles. After 37 years of colorful production the Homer Laughlin China Company retired the line.
But the story doesn’t stop there, since Fiestaware was a part of so many people’s lives during the mid 20th century, there was a strong feeling of nostalgia for those pieces for people coming of age in the later 1970s and 1980s. People started coveting the discontinued, vintage, Fiestaware. This created a strong resell value, some individual pieces going for hundreds of dollars.
The market for Fiestaware was hot again! So hot that the company decided to bring the line back! In 1986, the 50th year anniversary, five colors were released: rose, black, cobalt, white and apricot. From there minor changes in clay and glazes were made so that the plates would be lead free, lighter and more durable, but still all made in America.
Now only 15 colors are available at one time. A new color will only be released when one is retired and completely sold out. They do this because the Homer Laughlin China Company loves the collectors culture around the Fiestaware. They do special releases for the serious collectors and support the annual conventions.
What they won’t stand for are copycats. In 2002 Target released a line of ceramic dinnerware that looked extremely similar to the Fiesta line and even packaged in a similar style. The Homer and Laughlin company immediately sued Target and won a few years later! This was no doubt a little boost to once most collected dinnerware in America. Fiestaware is still being produced and in only new colors, the company will not take any colors out of retirement.
Brass figurines became a popular collectable in the mid-century and are now having a comeback as a trendy décor object. Since most brass collectables are about 50 years, sometimes older, the brass has probably aged. And it can age beautifully, that darker sometimes green look is called a patina. Some people like to leave the patina but if you want your brass to be shiny and bright, you can clean it! Here are 4 non-toxic ways to get your brass shiny and new!
Before you get started you need to know a few things:
4 Non-toxic ways to clean brass:
1. The easiest way to give your brass some glow is to:
2. Create a paste for more tarnished objects
3. If you’ve got more time try
4. If you don’t have lemon or vinegar try ketchup!
To keep your brass in primo condition after cleaning apply a mineral oil, like linseed, in a buffing motion.
You can find all of these lovely brass collectables, and more in Nostalgia!
Is that Mission Style, Arts and Crafts, or is it Craftsman? Or is it Morris?! The evolution of the Arts and Crafts movement led to many different off shoots of the style that impacted American and English design for half a century. So, what came first and how can you tell the difference? Keep reading….
The English Arts and Crafts movement was the first to come along in England around 1880. It started as more of a social philosophy, which critiqued burgeoning industrialized labor and the replacement of craftsmen by machines. Many organizations, clubs and societies were formed during this time, to uphold the importance of the handmade versus machine made. The design philosophy was based around simple forms and traditional techniques, that took inspiration from medieval, romantic and folk art style of decoration. It was more about honoring the material, structure and function of design.
This movement was led by, John Ruskin, and Augustus Pugin. But it was William Morris who is thought of as the father of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. His designs and ideas penetrated Europe and North America. His name is often associated with the American Craftsmen style, because he was not only a designer but an activist and directed his attention to socialist propaganda that spread across the Atlantic.
The American Arts and Crafts movement made its way from England in 1895, with the founding of the Chalk and Chisel Club, the first Arts and Crafts society in America. From there the publication of House Beautiful, which was solely dedicated to the movement spread the philosophy; clubs, societies and organizations started to pop up all over the country. Gustav Stickely led the movement, through another publication called Craftsmen.
Like Morris and Frank Lloyd Wright, Stickely designed homes to fit the furniture he was creating. These designs were made up of clean lines, incorporated natural elements, and did not include any unnecessary embellishments. These homes would be called Craftsmen style, and this would coin the phrase for the American movement. The Craftsmen style was picked up by the masses and the designs were reproduced by Sears Roebuck, offering a cheaper version of the Morris chair and architectural plans for bungalow styled homes. This paved the way to the movements demise, the designs had been commercialized and mass produced, it ended up exactly what it was conceived to be against.
The Mission Style was derived from the American A&C movement, with emphasis on the designs from the American Southwest and the Spanish Missions in Southern California. Although they do not completely fall in line with the furniture designs used by Spanish Missionaries, they did borrow a few elements and further emphasized them. Mission style is mostly simple horizontal and vertical lines made up of flat panels that accentuate the grain of the wood. A lot of the furniture that is produced today is often done in this style.
These styles have no distinct lines that can be drawn to identify one from the other. These were philosophies first, the elements that make up the designs transcend the visuals and are really brought together by their intentions. So, don’t worry about accurately identifying a piece of furniture or style of house as Mission, Craftsmen or Arts and Crafts, because they are all meant to unify not divide.
Interested in vintage wooden chairs? Swing by Nostalgia in Providence RI and see what we've got!