Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fire Screen, not a Fire Screen!

English Regency , Rosewood, Cheval Type, Fire Screen  with Needlepoint .

Hand Painted English Fire Pole with Windsor Castle Scene.

English Victorian Rosewood Fire Pole with Needlepoint.
 To start off  with today, I would like to report that The Mississippi River, out front of my house, is at a stand still, as of now. We had the first of many crest. We usually have at least four. At this time the river is going down a little, but, is to come back up in the next few days, to about the height it was at Easter Sunday. Stay for a few more days and go down a little more. This could go on for most of the summer. I know it is not good to have a flood wall on our main street and a city park under water for most of the summer, but, it is far better than a major flood. The streets are mostly all open in town now, we have sand bags down the sidewalks, so our customers have to go a little out of there way, but, we are open and ready for business. Thanks for all your prayers and good luck comments. It meant a lot to me.
    You are also probably trying to figure out the title of todays post. Well you see, there are fire screens that are made to catch sparks and hot coals that might tumble out of the fireplace. These are made of metal and have a wire mess inside. Then there are fire screens that were made to control the heat. These were most often made of wood and had needlepoint or glass inserts inside. The subject of todays post is that type of fire screen.

French Brass Fire Screen (guard )

Iron and Mess Fire Screen ( guard) Kitchen .

    I would maybe start out with a brief history of the fireplaces in our homes that were made to use as a heat source. The earliest method providing interior heating was an open fire contained in a fire box. Families gathered around the fire to keep warm and also to cook. In England, the fireplaces were recognizable as early as from the 12th century. Initially the fireplace was an open fire on the ground in the center of a house,positioned against a wall. In the begining years,it was made of stone.soon brick was the more popular media for building fireplaces.Mantel were introduced in the 16th century and were made of wood, stone, marble or metal..  For the Victorian people, fire places were the main source of getting heat during the freezing cold weather. Fireplaces were found in every room of a Victorian home. During cooler months of the year, open fires roared in virtually every house in the land. Real fires were the primary source of domestic heat. But though the cracking blaze was  warm and cozy ,the fierce heat given off did not suite every one gathered around the fire-some roasted while others feet were cold. So this is when the fire screen came into its own.By placing the screen in front of the fire the heat from the fire could be controlled.

English Rosewood  Cheval  Screen .

Down River Parlor . Example of Fire Fender.

     There was also a fire screen that was used for a total different purpose. This screen- also known as a fireguard, is placed in front of a fireplace to protect the occupants of the room from sparks or a log rolling out. This screen also shields them from flying embers and flames from the open fire. The early types of these screens made of forges iron and looked more like a iron fence piece. Latter then became more decorative and were made of brass, iron with screen mesh or even glass panels inserted. Along side this screen was also a fire fender. This was a surround that was usually made of some type of metal. While it might also catch a spark or ember, it's main purpose was to keep ladies long and full skirts out of the fire. Especially in the Ante- Bellum years when the big under hoops were worn. Can you not just see a lady getting close to the fire to get warm and her skirt jets in and catches ablaze? Fire fender became big and elaborate in the Edwardian years and often had padded seats so people could set and warm themselves.

Tri-Pod  Foot of the Fire Pole Screen 

   The early fire screens featured either a  flat panel design,  standing on attached legs,or a shield-shape design supported on a tripod legged pole. This is where the term,"firepole", comes into the picture.Both these types of fire screens are still in demand due to their vintage or antique value. They are very saught after by interior decorators as well. These pieces of furniture are available in tradional, oriental and semi- modern styles as per the requirements of the home owner. By the 19th century, many styles of fireplace screens were available. Construction materials included wood,leather.paper- mache' and wicker. A popular footed design featured a heavily, decorated frame, flanking a stretcher that supported a screen panel of painted wood, embroidered tapestry or stained glass. The glass fire screens are transparent and enabled the rooms occupants to view the fire clearly.

   When spring came, the fire would no longer be lit and yet the decorative fire screen still had a role to play-it was placed close up against the chimney breast to cover the gaping hole and hide the blackened grate. The other fire screen or fire guard and the fender were often banishes when the fire was no longer needed.
   In the 18th century, screens tended to be fairly light and often had small oval or round shields to protect one from the heat. The panels could be raised up and down and turned from side to side, all for the purpose of directing the heat from the fire place. The fire screens designed with two legs  and a larger center panel that moved became known as the cheval screen. It the Edwardian period fire screens became bigger and more elaborate. All kinds of moving parts. Sides that  pulled  in and out, tops that raised up, tables that dropped down. They were almost considered a piece of furniture.Ladies soon took on the position as fire screen decorators. Covering the panels with needlepoint and hand painted designs. Martha Washington was said to have stitched one that is still in the White House today.

   I hope you enjoy my fire screens that I am sharing with you in todays post. I have two examples of the fire pole and one of the cheval. The one pole is made with a wood pole and a paper- mache' screen. It is English and has a hand painted early view of Windsor Castle  guard house. The other pole example, is again English and is a more grand scale. It is made of Rose wood (Rosewood is from the Rosewood tree and the tree grows hollow, so the wood is quite rare)and has a wonderful needlepoint panel of a Victorian lady with her dog and cat. It is one of the finest examples I have come across in all the years I have been doing antiques. The needle point is Divine. The final screen I have is a cheval screen, again English,made of rose wood with another needlepoint panel.. Far more   early  than the former, it is of the Regency period(1700's) and has a center panel that rises up to block the heat for a standing person.
  Please drop by for a tour any time, I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss. I also am including a few snap shots of the Hosta in my tree surround shade garden, they are just getting beautiful and are the birth of spring. Have a wonderful day and Thanks for dropping By. Richard

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Dinner and a Flood

All the dogs got into the act  and got  all dressed up for Easter,

I had candy eggs, rabbits and chicks for the little ones.

The dining room in it's Easter finery.

This is right out side my front door. We put up a temp. flood wall. If the river rises we have to add sand bags to the top.This goes up fast and 4 people can do it in a couple of days. It is 1000 feet long.

  I hope every one out there in Blogville, had a wonderful and blessed Easter. I had the family for Easter Bunch at, My Old Historic House. Every since my Mother and Father have gone my brothers and sister and I have to take turns having the family get together. It was my turn this year to host the Easter celebration. Of course right in the middle of it, or on top of it, the Mississippi River, that is only a few 100 feet from my front porch, decided  to flood it's self right out of it's  banks. For the past few days the whole town has been busy building a temporary flood wall and filling thousands of sand bags. If viewed from the air, I am sure it would look like an ant hill.

I got out my beautiful English platter to show off.

This is out the front door of my shop. The sand bag wall will grow to about 4 foot tall.

I saved the jonquils in the ice box for weeks for the Easter brunch today.

Standing on my front porch looking toward the shops down town.

  Every year in the spring we have this problem to deal with. In 2008 we had a giant flood. I had only owned, My Old Historic House, for 2 years and that was an awful present for any one to give me. The river rose to a record height and we had to build a  sand  bag wall all the way around the house. There was no electric or plumbing because of the high water, and I had to wade water up to my waist to go to the rest room, in a porta pot. The water stayed up for over a month and was a couple of other months before we could get rid of all the sand bags. I was sure hoping that would not happen again,  for a least 20 years. Last spring we had threats and the river came up and down all summer. No problem in the end. This year there has been so much snow and bad weather up above us, that the old Mississippi is on a ramp page.We can not set and wait as all this pre-flood prep  takes time and man power. Sometime it comes up so fast there is very little warning.It's a lot to go through, but living on the river, the views and the barges and birds all year, I guess , some how make it worth it.

We have to rent big pumps like this one to pump the water that comes under the flood  wall, back into the river.

The park is completely under water.
  I took the day off  today, after I spent the morning making a few hundred sand bags and got every thing ready for my family and our wonderful feast. I figure I needed to take a break and observe the Lords very special day.I tried to make it nice, even though we were almost in the middle of a flood,I thought my family and I deserved a beautiful table.
   I am really under stress as the flood causes the whole town to close down. We get water over the roads coming into town from both directions and we become an island. No one can come and shop and I worry about the bills. This could go on and on and I might be closed for a couple of months. I hope some people shop on  in my Etsy shop, on line, and that would really help.Some how it always works out.
    I will be away from the computer a lot in the coming days. I do manage to check in at least three times a day. I wanted to get this post done and out there before tomorrow , where I will again tackle the sand bag war.Come by for a tour or to help sand bag. I will leave the lights on till they cut them off, because the water has gotten to high,  Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss.


The big old ham, the guest of honor at our Easter brunch.

Some one had to wash the dishes.

This was my bargin  shopping find. A quilted peach colored bed spread for $6.00 at Goodwill that I will use as a table cloth. Just throw it in the washer and dryer.

Angel food cake and fresh strawberries. 

Our youngest, great niece, four months old.

My Victorian glass Easter eggs made a grand appearance.