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

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Seth Thomas Mantle Clock – 1892

Throughout the 19th century, Connecticut was one of the world leaders in the clock making industry. Clock repair and production hit the Nutmeg State at a time when the state was first beginning to realize its massive industrial potential. Being in close proximity to major urban centers of the northeast, as well as passable rivers and numerous raw materials, Connecticut was ideally positioned to become a manufacturing giant.

One of the early leaders of the Connecticut clock making boom was Eli Terry (1773-1852). As a young child he apprenticed under Daniel Burnap (1759-1838) in what is now the town of South Windsor, Connecticut. Burnap had apprenticed under another Connecticut clock mechanic, Thomas Harkland of Norwich, Connecticut, and the skills he learned were passed to on to Eli.

In 1793, after seven years of apprenticeship, 21-year-old Eli Terry opened up his own establishment in Plymouth, Connecticut and a mere four years later he became the first inventor to receive a clock patent from The United States Patent Office. Terry’s early clocks were primarily wooden with wooden gears and works, as was the norm for 18th century clock making. Unlike costly and hard to acquire steel and iron, timber was plentiful in New England and could be easily crafted into beautiful pieces. Eli would go on to receive nine more U.S. clock patents and taught many different apprentices, including the now-widely known clock maker, Seth Thomas, of Wolcott, Connecitcut.

Seth Thomas Clock - Photos - Throwback Thursday TBT - The PASTSeth Thomas, originally a wood worker skilled at carpentry, joined forces with Eli Terry and, between 1807 and 1810, the two men produced nearly 4,000 intricate clocks, including the “shelf clock” or mantle clock. These pieces were quite affordable to New England households and their popularity made Connecticut the industry leader of time pieces in the United States in the early 19th century. Moving forward forty years, helped by Terry’s designs and his skilled followers, the Waterbury Clock Company was incorporated on March 27, 1857, from the Benedict & Burham Manufacturing Company.

The Waterbury Clock Company produced the popular Eli Terry style shelf clock, and later seized the growing popularity of personal brass/steel timepieces and pocket watches. The company’s pocket “Dollar Watch” was sold worldwide, and vastly popular among the mid to lower classes, only costing $1.50 new. By 1896, the ever growing Waterbury Clock Company had storefronts in New York, Chicago, and Glasgow, Scotland. From the early 1920’s into the Great Depression the company began focusing their efforts toward a small, stylish watch that could be worn on a person’s wrist.  In 1933, The Waterbury Clock Company created an icon, the Mickey Mouse Wrist Watch. On the watches first day of release to the public, 11,000 were sold at Macy’s New York Department Store, for the price of $2.95. In the mid-1950s, the company produced a wristwatch line whose popularity was so widespread that The Waterbury Clock Company changed its name to match, Timex. Affordable and fashionable, Timex (based now in Middlebury, CT) continues to produce quality wristwatches that are revered by generations.

Thanks to Connecticut clock makers like Eli Terry and Seth Thomas, the Nutmeg State continues to keep the public on time and not a second late. The PAST Antiques Marketplace has an enormous selections of vintage and antique clocks, watches and timepieces both from Connecticut and elsewhere. To see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles, visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.



Cartapesta Angels

Cartapesta is an antique art form which uses papier-mâché to create angels and other sculptures. Papier-mâché, which translates to chewed paper, was first made in China in the second century AD before being adopted in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Once in Italy, specifically Lecce, Italy, it was used for cartapesta, oftentimes called “the poor man’s marble”. By the seventeenth century, cartapesta was in full bloom and was considered an upper-class art form. During this time period cartapesta was used to create furniture, statues and ornaments. In Lecce, Italy, where it was very popular to use papier-mâché, sculptors would create designs of nearly everything and everyone, from peasants to saints and angels.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace carries some cartapesta angelic ornaments and mantel pieces. The angels are fragile and majestic with intricate detail displaying their fine feathered wings and other features. Many of these beautiful angels carry instruments with immense detail including trumpets, violins, symbols, and even small harps. The history on these angels dates back to the fifteenth century, when papier-mâché was most popular.

Papier-mâché was a long and time consuming art, every cartapesta creation was hand-painted making them all one-of-a-kind. Every face and sculpture had its own unique look, just like the angels at The PAST Antiques. Papier-mâché was also made using a clay mold. The clay, which was a negative imprint of the design, was pressed down hard with the papier-mâché and soaked in water, then left to harden. Once removed from the mold, the piece could be painted and smoothed over. This allowed for more generic styles of papier-mâché.
Many of these methods for sculpting papier-mâché are still used today. For centuries, the people of Lecce, Italy have held a holy week where they carve and create statues of holy figures and angels. With the invention of papier-mâché and cartapesta, it became much easier to create sculptures. In addition, the lightweight material, especially compared to ordinary marble, could be transported with ease. This made the event easier for artists to show off their work and add many more sculptures to the celebration.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a beautiful selection of cartapesta and papier-mâché angels. These are excellent gift or decorations for the holiday season. Visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Read about more antiques from The PAST by clicking here!

Wooden Giftware

Monday, November 20th, 2017 until Sunday, November 26th, 2017 all Wooden Giftware is on sale for 20% off at Nature’s Art Village!

Beautiful, eye-catching and unique, Nature’s Art Village’s wooden giftware items make ideal additions to your home’s decor.  Whether you need a sturdy, natural root wood bowl for your dining room table, or want to find the perfect wood-carved sculpture for someone special on your gift list, these pieces are just what you need. With sculptures of a variety of animals and bowls of all sizes you are sure to find something you’ll treasure for years to come.

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of gifts, sculptures, bowls, and other gifts for the holidays shopping season!

Mosaic Bowls

Monday, October 30th, 2017 until Sunday, November 5th, 2017 all Mosaic Bowls are on sale for 10% off at Nature’s Art Village!

These one-of-a-kind mosaic bowls are eye-catching additions to every dining and living room. Whether you need an ideal centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner, a special addition to your living room decor or the perfect gift for someone special on your holiday shopping list, these mosaic bowls are just what you are looking for. Beautifully made in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes they are sure to leave an impression on everyone who visits your home this winter.

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of bowls, glassware, home decor and other gifts for the holidays shopping season!

Cranberry Rakes - Photos - Trivia Tuesday - The PAST

Cranberry Pickers

Native Americans first taught the early settlers how to cultivate and use cranberries not only for recipes, but for medicinal reasons and as a red dye. The Pilgrims referred to the fruit as the “crane berry” because of the flower’s resemblance to a crane.

Cranberries grow naturally in marshland areas in the northern United States and some parts of Canada. It’s a common misconception that cranberries are grown in water. These berries can only grow in special areas with the right conditions; they require the right combination of sand, acidic peat soil, gravel and clay often found in glacial deposits. Water is used for a “wet” harvest because each berry has an air pocket which causes the berries to float and can be easily collected.

Today, Cranberries can also harvested using a “dry” method with mechanical pickers that comb the berries off the vines. For hundreds of years people harvested the cranberries by hand, until Luther Hall, Zebina Hall & William Growell patented the first cranberry picker in 1876, which allowed for production to increase exponentially.

The cranberry picker is a hand held rake-like tool, with a large comb at one end and a short handle at the other. Improvements to the tools were added in the early 1900’s with the rocker bottom model. This had a large comb/rake at one end and a new “collection box” at the other with a handle. This enabled workers to rake the cranberries up, rock the basket back and forth to loosen the berries, and then the scooped collection box would catch the berries as they fell. This was the popular tool to use until mechanical pickers were invented. The first tractor like picker came out in 1925.

Cranberries, blueberries, and concord grapes, are the three cultivated fruits that are native to North America. Cranberries do not need to be replanted as undamaged vines will grow indefinitely. Some vines on Cape Cod are over 150 years old!

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village, does not have cranberries for sale; however, we do have antique cranberry pickers. Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles from over 90 vendors.

Click Here for More Antiques & Collectibles!

A Cheerful Giver Candles

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 until Sunday, October 29th, 2017 all A Careful Giver Candles are on sale at Nature’s Art Village. Buy 2 candles, get 1 of equal or lesser value FREE!

A Cheerful Giver Candles are beautiful, strongly-scented candles which offer a variety of powerful aromas to freshen-up any room in your home. Scents include Baked Candy Apple, Bamboo Waterfall, Island Breeze, Spicy Cinnamon and many more. Plus, A Cheerful Giver supports an excellent cause! A Cheerful Giver employs special needs adults through a community partnership to wick their candles. These ‘wickers’ decide how many hours they work and all receive a paycheck each day to build a sense of pride, purpose and accomplishment.

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of candles, incense, essential oils and other unique gifts.

Creativity for KidsOctober 21, 2017

Creativity for Kids

Looking for a great activity for your children? Having a party and want to keep your younger guests occupied? We have a solution!

Look no further than out Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids kits. Whether you’re looking for quick and simple crafts or for projects that may lead to new hobbies, these kits have it all.

Creativity for Kids was started in the 1970’s by Phyllis and Evelyn. They were volunteers at their children’s elementary school and witnessed firsthand how children are able to express themselves through art. Together (and with help from their husbands) they created art kits packaged in burlap bags. Through the years their popularity grew and they were able to expand the brand into what it is today.

What makes Creativity for Kids Kits so unique? Everything you need to complete the project is in the kit. If you need scissors, there are scissors in the kit. If you need glue, glue comes in the kit. The idea was to create an experience where you don’t have to find or purchase any other materials for the crafts you are making. Open the box and you are ready to create your masterpiece.

Creativity for Kids kits come in large and small sizes. Each kit provides anywhere from four to twenty-four projects to do. This means you could potentially use the kit over and over again. Keep your play-date interesting or even use the projects as party giveaways so you don’t have to purchase goody bags.

Here at The Shops at Nature’s Art Village we have a wide variety of Creativity for Kids kits to choose from. Make soap or jewelry, craft paper airplanes or creepy monsters, the possibilities are endless!

All Creativity for Kids kits will be on sale 15% off during our upcoming Toy Sale, October 26-29, 2017. Click here for more details!

Piggy Banks – Marketplace Spotlight

Why are children’s coin banks referred to as “piggy banks”? It is commonly believed that piggy banks get their name from a type of reddish clay used in the Middle Ages called “pygg”. Throughout the Middle Ages, people often made bowls, plates and jars from this pygg to hold small items. The pottery made from pygg clay was not very durable, it was a soft material that scratched easily and it was permeable – unable to hold liquids.

A popular item made from this type of pottery was a small storage pot used to hold coins. Coin boxes and money jars had been around for centuries, but the pygg clay coin holders became very popular in the Middle Ages. It was referred to as a pygg pot or pygg jar. Although the word pygg is actually pronounced “pug”, it did not take long for artisans to take advantage of the pun and make pig shaped banks and coin holders. Pigs have long been considered symbols of good luck in different parts of the world, so making coin banks in pig-shaped tied in well. Similar to modern piggy banks, if the owner of the pygg jar wanted to retrieve his or her coins, they would have to break the container open or slide the coins back through the slot with the aid of a knife.

There have been boar and pig shaped pygg pots discovered that date back to the 15th century. Many European countries have traditions of giving piggy banks to bring luck and good fortune. Even today, children are often given piggy banks for birthdays and holidays to encourage saving money. Many cultures consider strong financial management to be essential to a successful and teach these habits to children at a young age. This makes piggy banks a popular and educational gift to children. As they grow, so do their savings and monetary awareness.

The Past Antiques Marketplace has many vintage piggy banks and other models of coin banks available. Piggy banks always make a great gift as well as teach a valuable lesson of saving money. Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Click Here for More Antiques & Collectibles!

Channel Craft Toys

Monday, October 16th, 2017 until Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 all Channel Craft Toys are on sale at Nature’s Art Village. Save 10% off any 1 toy, 20% off any 2 toys, 30% off any 3 toys and 40% off on any 4 toys!

Channel Craft is one of the top providers of American-made toys, games and puzzles. Their collection of high quality toys range from classics like Yo-Yos and Jacks to juggling sticks, checkers/backgammon rugs and much more. This week only in Ageless Toy Shop at Nature’s Art Village, save 10% off any one Channel Craft Toy, 20% off any two, 30% off any three and 40% off when you purchase 4 or more of these amazing toys!*

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of toys, games, puzzles and figurines.

*All toys must be purchased in one transaction to receive offer. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts or coupons.

Marcus Illions Carousel Horses

Marcus Illions was a Lithuanian woodcarver during the late nineteenth century. Originally in Lithuania, and later in England, he made a living building circus wagons. In 1888, he moved to Coney Island, New York with Frank C. Bostock, a British animal trainer. Initially, Illions carved at the shop of renowned carousel carver Charles Looff and began to perfect the craft. In 1909, llions opened his own shop in Coney Island, calling it M.C. Illions and Sons Carousell Works. His creations which followed this move are considered by many to be the greatest among carousel carvers.

Illions was known for a distinct depiction of the carousel horse, which became known as The Coney Island Style. His horses featured ornate, often bejeweled bodies and gaudy heads.  Very often, gold and silver leafing would accent the horse. Another feature, which is apparent in the image on the right, is the flying mane. Illions watched real horses and used their likeness as the inspiration for his work.

By the 1930’s, the Great Depression had drastically decreased demand for carousel horses, as people had to focus on necessities. Sadly, Marcus Illions passed away in 1949 with little money to his name. The New York Times labeled him “The Michelangelo of carousel carvers”.

The horse shown on the right is a Tobin Fraley porcelain model designed to represent Marcus Illions carving from Coney Island in 1923. It has a brass base with a brass emblem indicating that it is a limited edition (#2865 of 4500). It has a porcelain body with a brass tail and mane. Its body is hand painted and speckled with rhinestones. This horse itself does not date back to 1923, but is a wonderful reminder of a different time and an ode to a master craftsman.

At the height of the popularity of carousels, 1890-1920, there were thousands of these hand-crafted creations operating in the United States. Today, the original antique carousels are a rarity; there are less than 200 functioning antique carousels.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village is proud to feature this homage to the “Michelangelo of carousel carvers”, Marcus Illions; in addition to other replica carousel horses. To see this beautiful collectible, along with our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Click Here for More Antiques & Collectibles!