Despite a trip to the ER after a day in the car (my youngest son has a stomach bug or severe car sickness and needed fluids), we had a wonderful trip out east to visit our family. We made our first stop in North Carolina to visit Jeff’s parents and his sister’s family before we drive up to Pennsylvania to visit my parents. We spent a ton of time in the car, but it was all worth it so we could see family. We hadn’t seen Jeff’s parents since December 2019 and my parents since last summer.
I took a break from writing here on the blog, but I did sneak some painting in. Painting outdoors from life (known as plein air painting) is such a challenge for me compared to painting in the studio. I struggled through this one and didn’t love the end result, but it was a fun experience and I know I just need more practice.
And my mom and I visited a couple of my old favorite antique stores. Oh, it was so nice to hang out with my mom and look for treasures. We always have such a good time together. I’ll share more about my finds in another post, but here is a little preview…
I spent most of Saturday cleaning and washing everything and, since we’re talking about deep cleaning this month, I’ll share some of my go-to products for cleaning, washing, and polishing antique pieces in a post later this week.
Today, though, I thought I would share something I bought for myself for my birthday. (It was on Easter this year!) So, remember all of those art supplies I sold when I was cleaning out my studio? Well, I feel like I need to confess that I ended up spending the money I made on more art supplies! Oh, I know…I’m a lost cause. The good news is that I spent the money on just two very cool and special things and I consider it a good trade – selling supplies I never use in favor of two beautiful antique pieces that will sit out on my desk and be used (and admired) often. And I did wait a couple of days before making each purchase to really think them through.
The big purchase was a Voctorian Reeves watercolor box. I know I just shared one I bought back in December, but this one is absolutely perfect and it was at a fantastic price… less than half of what I typically see for boxes of this quality and condition.
One of my Instagram acquaintances who buys and sells antique art supplies (@thearqivist), sent me this listing from an 1895 catalog and it looks almost exactly like my box. (I suppose that makes this one Edwardian or Georgian, not Victorian.) The interior configuration is a little different, but it gives me a nice idea of the era of my box. It originally sold for 22 shillings!
First of all, the patina of the box is beautiful. There is some water damage on one side, but I’ll be able to fix that. I also needed to glue up a few loose joints and Jeff helped me do that yesterday. Now it’s sturdy and very useable. The thing that made me giddy about this box, though, was how many original pieces came with it. It has all of the dividers and trays, and several ceramic full and half pans, a ceramic mixing palette, three ceramic mixing dishes, and a small bottle with a cork.
It even came with the original key and drawer lock, both of which are missing on my other box. I also love that the top of the box fits 3 full pans and 3 half pans since I use a limited palette. I don’t need room for a ton of pans, so this configuration is very practical for me.
I am just over the moon about this box and I can’t help but feel the romantic notion that someone like Beatrix Potter probably worked from a similar set-up. I wish I knew who used this box over the 120+ years since it was first made.
I do know that whoever used it before me was using it for tinting photographs because it was filled with a bunch of tiny bottles filled with pigments for tinting photographs. They were not original to the box or as old, though, so I removed them.
For the ceramic pieces that were stained, I tried a new-to-me cleaning method I read about last week…
…and I soaked them in denture tablets!
It didn’t get every stain out, but it did clean them up a bit and made them smell minty fresh! Who doesn’t want minty-fresh watercolor pans and palettes?
I’m going to fill the pans today with my go-to colors and start putting this box to use. I’m going to keep my other box, too, but I’m not sure how I’m going to use it, yet. Because that one doesn’t have dividers, there are lots of options. I can use it for graphite, charcoal, pastels, frequently-used oil paints, etc.
Since I have a few really lovely watercolor boxes now, I’ve decided to give one away here on the blog. I don’t think I’ve shared it before, but I’ll show pictures and give details when I have the giveaway. It’s a sweet French watercolor box that’s the prettiest blue and I even had ceramic palettes custom-made to fit it. I think I’ll always use my two Reeves boxes and the small French travel box Maria from Dreamy Whites sent me, so I’d rather give that extra box away to someone who will use and love it.
Keep an eye out for that giveaway coming soon!