Flickr Widget

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween TriBond

This has nothing whatsoever to do with mid-century modern, but I'm in a Halloween kind of mood, and I'm hooked on TriBonds, so I thought I'd share today's puzzle with you. (For those of you who require a MCM connection, pretend we're playing The $64,000 Question, only without the cheating.)

What do these 3 have in common?

Pumpkins, Turkeys, Initials

To check your answer, go to TriBond of the Day and click on Answer. Happy Halloween to each and every one of you!

Jens Risom

Jens Risom (1916- ) studied interior and furniture design at the Arts and Crafts Academy of Copenhagen, graduating in 1937. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States where he established himself as a proponent of the Scandinavian Modern style, which, at the time, had not yet achieved popularity.

That changed in 1940, when his design for a model house in New York's Rockefeller Center attracted widespread attention, generating both publicity and commissions, among them the distinction of being the first person invited to design furniture for Hans Knoll.

One of Risom's most recognizable designs is the birchwood chair (1941), which was made of molded birch and army surplus webbing. It is still in production today in a variety of colors. He is also known for his sculptural tables, chairs and sofas which had a lip that edged over an open base, giving the piece the illusion of floating.

After the Second World War, Risom founded his own furniture business, Jens Risom Design. He served as chief designer until 1973, when he sold his company to Dictaphone. He then moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where he founded a consultancy studio called Design Control. It is still active.


Lounge chair




Magazine table

3-seater sofa

Chair and ottoman

Love seat

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Of Dr Pepper and Dublin

I drink Diet Coke, but there was a time in my life, like most native Texans, when nothing but Dr Pepper would pass these lips. My great-uncle owned a grocery store…a small one on the town square with wood floors and a big green metal soft drink cooler with sliding doors on the top. I remember going in on sweltering summer days in the 1950s and 1960s, grabbing the familiar “10, 2 and 4” bottle, popping the cap and taking a long swig of that cold, delicious concoction.

I also remember my grandmother’s big kitchen clock--a Dr Pepper advertising model that she undoubtedly received from her grocer brother.

Dr Pepper originated in 1885 at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. It is the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America. Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist working at Morrison's store, is believed to be the inventor of the now famous drink.

Patrons at Morrison's soda fountain soon learned of Alderton's new drink and began ordering it by asking him to shoot them a "Waco." Morrison is credited with naming the drink "Dr. Pepper,” but the period was dropped in the 1950s.

Just 100 miles away from Waco is tiny Dublin, Texas, home to the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world. And while the little Dublin franchise is one of beverage giant Dr Pepper Snapple Group's smallest, it's consistently ranked near the top in per capita sales. In fact, Texas-based upscale Central Market grocery store can't keep up with demand...even at $8 a six-pack.

The reason: the Dublin plant has returned to making Dr Pepper the old-fashioned way, with pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and selling it in special retro-styled bottles, proving that what’s old really can be new again.

From and

Old Dr Pepper bottle

Vintage Dr Pepper vending machine

Dr Pepper delivery truck

Dr Pepper advertising clock

Dublin Dr Pepper

Update: 1/12/2012 - As a result of a lawsuit with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Dublin Dr Pepper will no longer be bottled at the Dublin plant. Jeers to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group for destroying another piece of history.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rejuvenation: junk store hits the big time

Rejuvenation House Parts was founded in 1977, but the story really began in 1975, when Jim Kelly purchased a condemned Portland storefront for $1000. Having trouble finding materials to restore the building, Jim decided to create a business serving the needs of old-home renovators. He quickly realized that demand exceeded supply, so he hired his first employee to start making basic reproductions. Today Rejuvenation, Inc. offers a full line of period reproduction lighting and hardware, including a mid-century modern collection.

On my to-do list is putting their very reasonably priced chrome pulls and backplates on the cabinets in my workshop, and several of their light fixtures are on my wish list. I consider this site a must-see for anyone restoring a MCM home.


Sfera 16


Aloha closeup

Cabinet knobs

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eva Zeisel

Ceramics designer Eva Zeisel (1906-) began a prolific career in her late teens and continues to create innovative pieces even today. She was born in Budapest and pursued a career in painting, studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, but left in search of a more craft-oriented trade. She was apprenticed to a ceramist and soon became one of the first female journeyman potters.

In 1932 Zeisel moved to Russia, drawn by the folk art and the peasant customs that still thrived there. She was forced to leave by the increasingly hostile attitudes towards foreigners. In 1938 she moved to England and married Hans Zeisel. The couple immigrated to the United States in late 1938. One of Zeisel's first commissions in America was designing giftware for the Bay Ridge Specialty Company. When she started teaching at Pratt in 1939, a position she held until 1953, she arranged an innovative apprenticeship for her students through Bay Ridge, offering them a unique opportunity to gain professional experience.

In 1942, after the MoMA's Organic Design in Home Furnishings exhibit, the Castleton Company asked the museum to find a ceramist who could design a series that would define a new era of modern china. Zeisel was chosen, and her 1946 Museum series was unveiled. She followed this line with the colorful and playful 1946 Town and Country dinnerware for Red Wing Pottery (shown in my October 26 post). Another acclaimed series was Tomorrow's Classic for Charles Seliger.

Zeisel retired from mass-produced commercial design in the mid 1960s. She kept creating her own work, however, and celebrated her 100th birthday by designing her first teapot for Chantal of Texas in 2006. Asked about her continued work, she said, “My new designs reflect, as always, my playful search for beauty.” And she adamantly refuses to say she's "still working," which she thinks implies what she's doing is unusual. According to Zeisel, she's just doing what she's always done...being a "maker of things."

From and

Museum pattern

Tomorrow's Classic

Baby oil pourer


Town and Country


Duck tea set

Chantal kettle
designed to celebrate her 100th birthday

Update: Eva Zeisel died in 2011 at the age of 105. At the time this post was written, she was still alive.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yippee Ti Yi Yo

While looking at pictures of Red Wing dinnerware, I ran across pictures of the Round-Up and Chuck Wagon patterns, which made me a little nostalgic about the cowboy craze of the 1950s and 1960s.

While 1950s cowboy décor is considered little more than kitschy today, we were dead serious about our “Westerns” back then.  In fact, families planned their week’s activities around which program was on TV on any particular night, and there were plenty to plan around.  Of course, the longest running was Gunsmoke, but there were many others.  Have Gun-Will Travel, Rawhide, The Rifleman, Maverick, Bat Masterson, Colt .45. Cheyenne and Bonanza are names that come to mind quickly.  By some tallies, there were as many as 120 western-themed series on television during those years.

We took turns being the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers or Gene Autry when we played cowboys with our friends.  Feminism hadn’t arrived yet, so I don’t remember ever wanting to be Dale Evans.  Everyone had a felt cowboy hat and a Mattel six shooter.  If you were lucky, you had real leather boots and a red vinyl stick horse.  Missing the Sky King show on Saturday morning was unthinkable, and we could all sing "The Ballad of Paladin," Have Gun-Will Travel's theme song.

My parents had streamlined champagne-finished birch tables and a sleek turquoise sofa, but I remember friends whose parents had maple wagonwheel coffee tables and matching chairs with horse or steer heads appliquéd or embossed on them.  My parents’ living room seemed so boring by comparison!

Kitschy or not, the cowboy style Red Wing dinnerware is fetching a nice price these days.
  A few months ago, I found a huge, pristine set of Russel Wright Iroquois Casual on craigslist for $100.  When I picked it up, I saw that the woman also had a full set of Round-Up, and I hoped I might be able to talk her into an equally incredible deal on it too, but she wanted hundreds of dollars for it.  Alas, in all likelihood, I shall remain forever yee-hawless.

James Arness as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke

Classic felt cowboy hat with white stitching

Mattel six shooter

Wagon wheel furniture

Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as The Lone Ranger and Tonto

Wagon wheel decor
in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans suite
Ruby Montana's Coral Sands Inn, Palm Springs, CA

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain in The Rifleman

Red Wing Round-Up cruets and casserole

Red Wing Chuck Wagon (far left)
and Round-Up (second from left)
Yes, that's right.  Chuck Wagon doesn't have a chuck wagon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Wing pottery

Red Wing dinnerware production began in 1935 and became the company's staple product from the early 1940s until operations ceased in 1967.

Most Red Wing dinnerware patterns were designed by Charles Murphy, but one notable exception was the bestseller Town and Country, which was created in 1946 by noted industrial designer Eva Zeisel. It became one of Red Wing's most important commercial products upon its release in 1947 and was produced until 1956. The Museum of Modern Art is reproducing the ware today, indicating the importance of the pieces in American modern design.

Several other patterns of Red Wing produced in the 1950s and 1960s in demand among mid-century collectors. In 1955, Smart Set and Crazy Rhythm were introduced, followed by Northern Lights in 1956, Lute Song in 1960 and Desert Sun, Pompeii and Pepe in1962.

From and

Town and Country by Eva Zeisel, 1946

Town and Country by Eva Zeisel, 1946

Smart Set, 1955

Crazy Rhythm, 1956

Desert Sun, 1962

Pompeii, 1962

Monday, October 25, 2010

Making room for more

Yesterday I was reading about another MCM blogger’s garage sale. She posted about it after the fact, and her readers were disappointed that they hadn’t had a chance to buy some of her treasures.

My daughter, son-in-law and I closed our mid-century booth in an antique mall a couple of months ago and moved everything into my workshop, leaving the narrowest of paths so I could get in and out. Then, a few days ago we picked up the last of the free MCM furniture my friend gave me after her estate sale. Now there’s not even a path, so we decided that a garage sale is in order. After all, how can we justify buying more if we don't have anywhere to put it?

Here’s a small sampling of what we’ll be selling, in case any of you want to jump in the car and take a road trip to Texas. Hey, we squeezed three adults, a baby and two dogs into a Honda Insight and drove to the Denver Modernism show, so I guess anything’s possible.

Combination lamp and walnut table with tile top

Black upholstered chair with blonde legs

Wrought iron and glass fruit bowl

Clear and gold glass leaf bowl

Herman Miller Eames chair with Eiffel rocker base

Paul McCobb Jackson China restaurantware

Sputnik-shaped lamp with 33" tall shade

Green ceramic ashtray

Thonet stool

Barkcloth pillows

Blonde step table with black legs

Heywood Wakefield Ashcraft step tables