Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintage Surprise Ball

I've been on a shopping hunt for vintage surprise balls for quite sometime now.  I wanted to see how they were originally made and with what kind of toys included.  I finally found the perfect one (on Etsy) to splurge on. It is a Silver Swan Surprise Ball made by Charles Gregor and was sold through a department store in the 1950's.  I thought it was cool that it still has it's original $1.75 price tag on it; but I had to pay ALOT more than $1.75!  Since the Swan was so valuable and rare, I decided that when I got it I would save it for a special day.  When my customers purchase a Surprise Ball for themselves, I usually suggest that they save it and not open it until a rainy day.  A day that they are feeling really down in the dumps and need that quick pick-me-up happy feeling. Opening a surprise ball gives a small amount of energy boost and can restore your mood (if only for a little while).

I thought I would be staring at my unopened Charles Gregor surprise ball for at least a couple of months before I NEEDED to open it but, unfortunately, I only had it for two days when I needed my Surprise Ball fix.  I opened it on December 14th, 2012...the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

When I hear sad news on the radio, I'm sure I re-act like everyone else does - we shake our heads in despair and maybe say a quick prayer for those who are affected.  Then we go about our business as usual; maybe even forgetting about it until we hear about it in the news again.  But the Sandy Hook shooting was just too much for me.  I can't believe how much I cried for those poor babies and teachers.  Maybe it's because I also work in a school and because my children are not much younger than those who passed.  I wish I could send a million surprise balls to the survivors and friends and families of the victims, but I know even that can't heal the pain they are going through.

By removing a small cardboard disc underneath a couple of layers of paper, I was able to open the bottom of the swan without completely destroying it (which is something I intend to implement in some future designs of my own).  So I'm still able to enjoy the artistic effort that went into creating this beautiful swan.

Here are the small prizes that helped lift my spirits that day: a paper parachute jumper, an Italy eraser, a plastic swan, a whistle, a raffia-like lei, an hourglass (with wood shaving filling), a jumping bean, a pipe, a horse, a set of flowers, and a yo-yo.

Let me know if you would like a special surprise ball created just for you and you too can experience "Surprise Ball Therapy" (tee-hee, I just made that up...and I like it!)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Isabelle de Borchgrave in the USA

I was just going through my blog entries and realized that I never did share with you my visit to the Hillwood Estate Museum.  I really wanted to give everyone (especially those on the East Coast) the heads up that Isabelle de Borchgrave's amazing paper dresses were there on display!  The exhibit has sadly ended by now so I'm totally sorry for this late post.

Isabelle's work is really amazing in person and there were dozens of outfits to look at.  The Hillwood Estate Museum was an awesome sight in it's own right, but it took me over two hours just to examine all the art Isabelle had on display.  Here are a few pictures of my favorites.

You can still see information about the exhibit on Isabelle de Borchrave's website and the books featuring her work have excellent pictures with close up views on the details of the papers.

The museum also had a couple of pieces that once belonged to Marie Antoinette herself!  Here is a gilt wood and leather swivel chair would have facilitated the powdering of her royal hair.