Village Blog | Nature's Art Village

1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370


Nature's Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367
The PAST & The Gateway Museum:860-437-3615


Curling Irons – 1866

This week’s Throwback Thursday examines an interesting invention in hairstyle, the curling iron! In 1866, Hiram Maxim obtained the first patent for a hair curling iron. This, however, was not the first curling device. Throughout history as we see in the ancient carving and artwork left behind, ancient peoples cared about the style of their hair. It was no secret that you could apply heat to a lock of hair and shape it. The trick was not to overheat and scorch the hair. The first curlers were metal cylinders heated over an open fire and temperatures were nearly impossible to determine and control. Many of the historically popular hair styles involved curled hair. Babylonian men dyed their hair black and crimped and curled their beards with curling irons. Persian nobles were also known to curl their beards. Many cultures including the Egyptians used bronze curling tongs.

Curling irons were not only for use on a person’s actual hair; it soon became more customary and hygienic to shave one’s head and use fancy wigs and perukes. During the 17th & 18th centuries, hair dressing became a very popular profession though it typically was the styling of wigs. The wigs were worn by the wealthy elite and styled with curls using curling tongs. Marie Antoinette, Queen of France in 1770, did not like wigs and began the fashion of curling natural hair and supplementing with pre-curled hair pieces and readymade clips with attached curls.

Vintage curling irons were often referred to as curling tongs as they resemble a pair of tongs or needle nose pliers. The wooden handle of the curling iron remained a safe temperature to touch the metal end was heated and consisted of two pieces that hair could be clamped between or a single piece of metal that hair would wrap around. Crimping irons crimp hair in a saw-tooth-style iron.

Many 19th century local blacksmiths would make curling irons for the wealthy ladies in town. Antique cast iron curling irons stands attached to the gas unit on a stove. The inner metal rod would heat up and the curling tongs were laid across to heat.

Coal oil curling iron furnaces allowed women to use a curler in the privacy of their room. Coal oil was the first clean burning fuel. Brass box style coal oil furnaces were used in place of a stove. The advent of electricity brought electric curling devices. Modern curling irons are now made of a variety of materials including Teflon, titanium and other metals, ceramic, and even tourmaline.

Antique and vintage hairdressing tools are highly collectable. Rare curling tongs are worth several hundred dollars. Barbering accessories are diverse, interesting and are beautiful to display. The PAST Antique Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has antique straight edge razors, shaving mugs and more available for sale. The Razor Sharp Barber Shop exhibit inside The Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village has an extensive collection of antique curling irons, barber shop and hairdressing tools and supplies. Visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for a new Throwback Thursday post.

Butterfly ArtJune 14, 2017

Butterfly Art

Nature’s Art Village has quite the selection of stunningly brilliant butterfly art. These beautifully framed butterflies from Peru come in a variety of sizes and colors. The frames come in black or natural wood and display single or multiple butterflies. The most unique quality of the butterfly art is that the glass pane allows for admiration of both sides of the butterflies – often times the backside of a butterfly is just as magnificent as the front and is usually a different variation of colors.

The best part is no butterflies are harmed in the making of these beautiful works of art! Butterflies have a relatively short lifespan. These specific butterflies are raised on a farm and are collected only after dying naturally.

Nature’s Art Village has over 32 different species of butterflies on display including a particularly striking butterfly named Morpho Didius; this butterfly is an iridescent shade of royal blue. Another popular butterfly species carried at Nature’s Art Village is Morpho Sulkowskyi, a cream-colored butterfly with brown edges and iridescence resembling the beauty of moonstone.

Butterfly art is not the only use for these beautiful creatures. Nature’s Art Village also carries a one-of-a-kind selection of butterfly wing jewelry. The jewelry often features the same traits, with each side of the pendants or earrings displaying a very unique color pattern of the butterfly’s wings.

These magnificent butterflies can make for great gifts, interesting conversation pieces, and can add a splash of color to any room. If butterflies aren’t for you Nature’s Art Village also carries elephant beetles, tarantulas, and even bats in framed glass! Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of amazing and unique gifts.

Bausch and Lomb Company – 1853

The Bausch and Lomb Company began in 1853 when German immigrant John Jacob Bausch opened a small optical goods store in Rochester, New York. He soon partnered with Henry Lomb, a friend who had loaned him money while starting out. The company began selling hard rubber eyeglass frames made from vulcanized rubber, a new revolutionary material at the time. In 1883, it was John Jacob Bausch’s son Edward Bausch that produced the first photographic lens. In 1912 John Jacob’s other son, William Bausch, became the first producer of optical quality glass in the United States. The company manufactured 40,000 pounds of glass over the next decade to be used during World War I for binoculars, rifle scopes, telescopes and searchlights.

In 1911, the Bausch and Lomb Company produced their version of a magic lantern called the balopticon, the precursor to the overhead projector. These easy-to-operate lanterns used 400 watt gas mazda lamps with an internal chamber insulated with asbestos. They used transparent slides and reflective light to project still images on screens or walls. The projectors became popular among teachers, professors, scientists and artists.

The name balopticon comes from combining “ba” from Bausch, “lo” from Lomb, “opti” from optical, “co” for company and adding an “n”. The 1927 model used a 600 watt lamp providing enough illumination to shine an image up to 12 feet in width on a surface. A spherical glass reflector was attached directly to the lamp bulb for greatest efficiency. A 1911 catalog advertises the balopticon for $22, and by 1927 the machines cost between $50 and $75.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a 1911 Bausch and Lomb balopticon double lens dissolving projector. Dual lenses were used at angles allowing projected images to overlap, as well as providing the ability to have images fade in and out. In addition, The Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village has an extensive collection of antique photography and projection equipment on display in the “Snap Shot Photography” exhibit. Visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for a new Throwback Thursday post.

History of Ironing

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a “De-Wrinkle” in time! We’re discussing the history of ironing. It is quite difficult for modern historians to determine the exact date of when humankind began to press and smooth cloth; however, most sources point to China as being the forebearers of ironing as we know it today. The ancient Chinese used pans of iron or bronze to press stretched cloth, and this practice was quite common by the time of Late Antiquity (284-632 AD).

Moving forward a half-century, evidence of primitive ironing techniques started appearing in late Middle Age Europe. Blacksmiths began forging basic flat irons, generally made of iron or stone, with some eastern examples made of terracotta or soapstone. All of these irons were heated by an open fire or stove, and the laundress had to be wary of soot, embers, and temperature in order to avoid scorching of the cloth.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, flat or “sad” irons became typical in western households. These were manufactured in many different styles. The term “sad” is an Old English word for “solid”, distinguishing the heavier irons from the flat irons. To iron effectively, the laundress had to use two irons; one in use for pressing, and the other re-heating. In some laundries and larger homes a special stove was implemented, the sad iron stove, and was able to heat several irons at once by aligning the irons around the trunk of the stove in inserts.

These early irons had difficultly retaining heat, so the “charcoal” or “box” irons were invented in the 18th century, allowing the iron to stay warm longer. These “box” irons were essentially a lidded container, which would be filled with hot embers from a fire or brazier, and used air vents to let the smoke escape while continuing to smolder.

“Chimney” irons, where a small chimney was added on the side of the sad iron to keep the smoke away from the user’s face or clothes, were also produced in the 19th century. Throughout the 19th century, many clever inventors patented various styles and designs of the sad iron, including early crude steam irons with mounted water tanks. The most important aspect our generation must realize about laundering is the incredibly grueling task it was to iron before the advent of electricity. Fires had to be stoked and tended to all day by servants and it became customary in colonial America that Mondays were “wash-day” and Tuesdays “ironing-day”.

The Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village hosts a number of sad irons, flat irons, trivets, washing machines and devices, all housed in our Laundry Shop exhibit. The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village also features an assortment of laundry related antiques and collectibles. To learn more about the history of laundry and ironing, please visit our massive collection on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut!

Check back next week for a new Throwback Thursday post.

Breyer Horses

In the year 1950, the Breyer Molding Company made its first horse to adorn a custom order mantelpiece clock for the F.W. Woolworth Company. Once the public got their first look at the stunning craftsmanship of the horse, orders started pouring in. However, these customers didn’t want the clock, just the horses. It was at this moment, the founders took their company in a whole new direction and became Breyer Animal Creations.

Today, the Breyer division of Reeves International is the largest producer of porcelain, plastic and resin model horses and accessories for play and collecting. Each model horse begins as an artist’s sketch and is then handcrafted and hand painted using airbrushes and paint brushes. Today, each horse is worked on by approximately 20 different artists just as it was 67 years ago which is why even now, no two models are ever exactly alike!

The Breyer Company introduces approximately 300 new unique horses, animals and accessories to the market each year, and starting in 1998 they widened their market base to include movies. The company has become the “go to” company in Hollywood for all horse related movies.

The Shops at Nature’s Art Village just received a large collection of Breyer horses. Visit Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of toys and gifts.

Coca-Cola – 1886

This week’s Throwback Thursday is all about the world renowned Coca-Cola Company! Founded in 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton, the beverage that is bought by millions every day started as an experimental drink sold in a local Atlanta pharmacy. In an attempt to popularize the drink, Pemberton’s friend and bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, handed out coupons for free beverages. He also created the recognizable Coca-Cola logo in 1885.

Dr. Pemberton died two short years after starting his famous company, and never got to see his legacy that still lives on. As popularity grew, Coca-Cola wanted to serve even more groups of people. Rabbi Tobias Geffen of Atlanta kept receiving questions from other rabbis across the country inquiring if Coca-Cola was kosher for year-round consumption. The company provided him with the secret Coca-Cola formula, just as long as he kept the ingredients to himself. He saw that the beverage was made with tallow, or beef fat, as well as a grain that was not permissible during the Jewish holiday Passover, and suggested the company change them to vegetable-based kosher ingredients. The formula was tweaked, and in 1935, Coca-Cola was certified kosher.

Starting in 1915, the company wanted to filter out competition by manufacturing the same bottles all across the board. There were a lot of different and unique designs; some original bottles for the drink had a wide middle with a smaller base. Coca-Cola continued to toy with different designs until the final bottle was patented with the base wider than the middle and the top; or the “contour bottle” as the company calls it.

Cans of Coke started being manufactured in 1955. In the late 2000’s, Coca-Cola glasses were introduced, as well as aluminum Coca-Cola bottles, which were later used for their “Share a Coke” advertising campaign. Many vintage Coca-Cola bottles can be found at The PAST Antiques Marketplace!

Coca-Cola has experimented with many different flavor combinations in the past, and still are coming up with new ones! There are the standard Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coke and Coke Zero, as well as flavored ones like Cherry, Lime, and Vanilla still in production, and fairly new ones such as Coca-Cola Life and Coca-Cola Ginger. The Coca-Cola Company has filtered out flavors like Lemon, Orange, Raspberry, and Black Cherry Vanilla, though some are still available in Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which can be found in many chain restaurants across the country.

Coca-Cola, as of today, is a billion dollar franchise that hosts many more of our favorite beverages under their company name. The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village holds many Coca-Cola Company antiques and collectibles including signs, bottles, and more! To learn more information on The Coca-Cola Company and to browse our full selection of antiques and collectibles, visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut!

Check back next week for a new Throwback Thursday post.

Himalayan Salt LampsMay 15, 2017

Himalayan Salt:  A Gift from an Ancient Sea

Pink Himalayan Salt is widely used today in lamps (shown above), as a spice, and cosmetically. It is said to have positive therapeutic properties. Most people know this salt is from the Himalayan region of Asia, but not many people know why so much salt is found in some of the highest mountains on Earth; nor do they realize that the salt is mined in northeast Pakistan at the foothills of these great mountains.

Scientists estimate that the salt deposit was formed 800 million years ago when tectonic shifts caused mountains to trap a shallow inland sea. As the water slowly evaporated the salt and other minerals were left behind in a large deposit that was later buried. The salt deposit was discovered by soldiers of Alexander the Great in 326 BCE when their tired horses started licking rocks in the area. The salt was used by the small communities in this mountain region until the late 1500’s when Emperor Akbar began the standardization of the salt mines and used the mineral as a trading commodity.

In 1827, the Dome and Pillar method of salt mining was introduced by the British. This method leaves 50% of the salt in each room (or Dome) in order to support the mine and mountain, making the mines safer for the workers.

Thousands of tourists visit the salt mines each year. There are six working mines in the region and they stretch all along the 186-mile salt deposit. All the mines still utilize the Dome and Pillar method of mining and the standards put forth by Emperor Akbar in the 1500’s! Because of these techniques, the environmental impact of the mining is negligible.  The salt is left in its natural state, and nothing is added or taken away.  All the work is done by hand in the traditional manner so the salt stays pure.

The Shops at Nature’s Art Village carry a unique selection of Himalayan Salt Lamps as well as many other Himalayan Salt Products for sale. It is believed that the lamps emit negative ions into the air, attracting harmful positive ions; and thus purifying the air. They make wonderful gifts and beautiful additions to any home. Visit Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of gifts and home décor accessories.

Fenton GlasswareMay 12, 2017

Fenton Glass

Fenton Glass has been around since 1905 when it was founded by brothers Frank and John Fenton in Williamstown, West Virginia. Today it is known as one of the world’s foremost producers of handmade, high quality art glass. Over the years, the company was renowned for its use of innovative colors and hand painted decorations on their pressed and blown glassware. Fenton is the largest manufacturer of colored glassware in the United States.

For more than a century, Fenton’s tremendous success was due to the fact that they appealed to many types of customers. Their array of customers was due to their use of new vibrant colors, hand painted floral decorations, and use of 22k gold accents.

In 2011, the company ceased production of their traditional art glass and sold off their assets to the Fenton Gift Shops Inc. Now only a fraction of their original size, they currently make handcrafted glass jewelry including beads and earrings which are geared towards sorority, collegiate, and inspirational outlets.

Nature’s Art Village has an immense collection of Fenton Glassware from a variety of different decades. Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village and The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of this brilliant glassware.

Barbie Doll – 1959

This week’s Throwback Thursday looks at one of the most popular toys of the 20th century, Barbie! Elliot Handler founded Mattel Creations in 1945 in a Southern California  garage workshop with co-founder Harold “Matt” Matson, combining the names Matt and El (Elliot) to form Mattel.  Mr. Matson left the company due to illness in the first year; Elliot bought out Matson’s share and Elliot’s wife Ruth took over his position. The business originally made costume jewelry and decorative photo frames. Elliot began producing doll furniture with the scrap wood. Mattel Company went on to create many of America’s most iconic toys. These include such names as Fisher Price, American Girl, Matchbox and Barbie.

Barbie was invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler. Ruth’s idea for Barbie was inspired by a doll she found while visiting Europe in 1956. The German doll she bought was an adult novelty doll fashioned after a high-end call girl named Bild Lilli. This risqué doll was sold in tobacco shops and bars and was a collector’s doll not intended for children. Ruth combined the look of the Lillie doll and fashioned a doll like the paper dolls her daughter often played with. Barbie was created to portray character roles in make believe play, such as college student or career woman. Unlike the children’s dolls available at the time Barbie was the first teenage doll produced. Ruth wanted the doll to be shapely like a college age girl for role playing so young girls could envision their futures while they played.

Barbie’s first appearance was at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Original Barbie wore a black and white striped bathing suit. There was a choice of 22 other outfit ensembles offered to wardrobe this doll. Over 70 different fashion designers have created clothes for the dolls over the years. The Ken Doll came out in 1961, two years younger than Barbie and ½ an inch taller at 12 inches tall.  Barbie and Ken are named after the Handler’s 2 children; Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Barbie and Ken Carlson hail from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.

Barbie has had over 130 different careers over the last 58 years. You name it and there is probably a Barbie doll rendition for that career: astronaut, Major League Baseball player, even presidential candidate! Accessories are numerous and available to enhance each play experience. Shoes, glasses, jewelry, gloves, sports gear, automobiles, pets, and Barbie dream houses with furniture. Until 1966 Barbie houses and furnishings were made of thick cardboard. Many of these vintage Barbie accessories are small, rare and hard to find.

The price for an original Barbie was just $3.00, when first sold. In a 2014 auction an original boxed 1959 Barbie sold for $27,450. Mattel has sold over a billion Barbie dolls since its creation. The Past Antiques Marketplace features an entire room dedicated to dolls and stuffed animals, including a variety of unopened boxed Barbie’s as well as other name brand collector dolls. Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to view our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!

Seraphinite – Mineral Monday

Seraphinite Ring Close Up - Photos - Gem of the Month - ShopsThis week’s Mineral Monday from The Shops at Nature’s Art Village is seraphinite! Seraphinite is a deep-green colored variety of chlorite laced with shimmering patterns of silver that move with changing angles of light reflection. These silver patterns are caused by feldspar within the crystals. Seraphinite is found only in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia in Russia. The name seraphinite, comes from the Greek word “seraphim” meaning a type of celestial or heavenly being or angel. The name refers to the feather like patterns within the stone, mirroring those of an angel’s wings. Seraphinite is often referred to as the “angel stone” because of this pattern and it is said to help one communicate with angels.

Seraphinite Full Display - Photos - Gem of the Month - ShopsMetaphysically, seraphinite is believed to assist one in bringing healing to the body. Wearing seraphinite imbues the auric field with the vibrations of wholeness and well-being; and it effects not only the wearer, but also those who behold it. Seraphinite is very evolved and will bring the user along rapidly in his or her own evolution.

Seraphinite easily harmonizes with the vibrations of other high-energy gemstones, such as moldavite, phenacite, scolecite, petalite, tanzanite, danburite, azeztulite, Herkimer “diamonds”, Tibetan tektite and charoite. For healing, seraphinite can be combined with sugilite. For connecting with nature spirits, green apophyllite and Seriphos Green Quartz are ideal allies,

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of seraphinite stones, beads and jewelry.

Metaphysical and healing properties of crystals and minerals are not to be taken as fact. Metaphysical and healing information is collected from various resources as well as gemstone lore, and the information should not replace any advice given to you by your doctor. Nature’s Art Village does not guarantee any claims or statements, both made in our store or on our website, of the metaphysical or healing properties of crystals and minerals and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.