Many guests have told us the closest thing to celebrating Christmas at grandmother’s house is a December stay at Andrew’s Legacy Bed and Breakfast. Drawing on our memories and the memories of our friends and neighbors, we have tried to recreate what an old-fashioned North Fork Christmas was like. In the next few upcoming blog postings we will give you a taste of how we have tried to do this.
In this posting, we discuss how we have made many of the ornaments on our Christmas tree using vintage and antique materials in the Victorian style. These materials would have been more readily available 100 years ago, many of them could be found around the house. But today, they are collected in antique and specialty shops and from on-line auction sites such as eBay. The result is authentically styled Victorian ornaments based on pictures and records of the originals. The following explains the list of materials that were used to make these ornaments.
German old-style papier-mâché cardboard boxes- The base of each ornament is one half of a papier-mâché “box,” made of pressed, unfinished cardboard which is then painted. These “boxes” are shaped like eggs, pinecones, nuts or balls.
Vintage glass glitter- This is glitter that is made from real ground silvered stained glass. It imparts a subtle old-fashioned sparkle and because it is made from real silvered glass it mellows with age.
Dresden trims and scraps- These are die-cut, embossed paper foiled embellishments which have been produced in Germany since the early 19th century. Some are produced using dies created over 100 years ago.
Scrap pictures- Embossed, die-cut chromolithographed paper scrap pictures from vintage old store stock, most over 50 years old.
German Lametta tinsel trim- No longer manufactured, this wired tinsel garland was the only type of its kind available during Victorian times. Some old stock still exists, but is in short supply and is becoming costly and hard to find.
Vintage millinery Flower Trims- These flowers, all well over 50 years old, were collected on line and from antique shops, taken from old hats and old store stock.
Spun glass- Also called Angel’s hair, it is actual spun glass, similar to what we now call fiberglass but more coarse. It is rarely seen on Christmas trees today, but created an ethereal cloud like beauty, that offset the ornaments and lights.
Bottle Brush Trees- Originally made by a toilet brush company, bottlebrush trees were around a hundred years ago, today they have experienced resurgence in the ceramic-lit Christmas villages.
The papier-mâché boxes are painted and then glass glitter is applied on the exterior and interior (depending on design.) Lametta trim is applied with glue and tableaus are created using the chromolithographed paper scraps. Dimension and support is added with cardboard backing. Cotton simulates snow and clouds, and golden angel hair simulates straw. Millinery flowers, holly leaves and berries add festive embellishments.
The paper scrap pictures lend themselves to the themes Victorians would use to decorate their tree. The most common being the religious, but Santa Claus, children and toys were also used, as were patriotic themes and themes from every day life, such as birds, farm animals and pets.