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


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 The business originally made costume jewelry and decorative photo frames.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.

Spearfishing – Approx. 14000 B.C.

This week’s Throwback Thursday explores the incredible history of spearfishing! Humankind has hunted oceanic and river wildlife with sharpened stakes and harpoons since the Paleolithic Era. Sixteen-thousand year old European Stone Age cave-drawings have detailed scenes of aquatic mammals and fish being speared for sustenance.

Early fishing spears were made from stone or flint and usually strung with sinew or animal hair then attached to a sturdy wooden pole. Hunters would generally fish by boat or wading in shallow waters with a source of light in order to illuminate the fish’s location in the murky depths.

Moving ahead to the Greco-Roman Era, iron harpoons and tridents were widely used throughout the ancient world, from the Mediterranean coast to the banks of the Nile. Neptune, or Poseidon, the classical god of the sea and water, famously carried his epoch trident and was feared by nearly all Ancient Greeks and Romans living along the sea. Greek historians Polybius and Oppian described spearfishing in their writings, including traditional gigging tactics – the practice of using a small multi-pronged spear to hunt small marine life.

The fishing spear or trident became a common sight across the Roman Empire (27 B.C. – 395 A.D.), even being wielded in gladiatorial matches for sport fighting. In the east, primitive Indian and Indonesian tribes commonly used copper harpoons with long chords to fish ancient waterways.

Spearfishing and gigging remained almost completely unchanged for almost twenty-millennia, until the advent of the rubber/pneumatic spear gun. However, the ancient practice of spear fishing continued in popularity during the first half of the 20th century, especially on the Italian and French coasts where European sport fisherman would dive without breathing apparatuses and carried no more than crude swimming goggles and a harpoon.

Spearfishing is highly prohibited in many areas throughout the world, and only allowed to be practiced in certain seasons. That being said, there are many individuals that continue to legally spearfish as a means of livelihood in tropical regions, where fish in shallow waters are plentiful.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace houses several fishing and maritime spears for sale and on permanent display, including a 19th century wrought iron eel spear, featuring a five-pronged spear head, forged entirely in one piece of iron. To learn more about the history of spearfishing and explore our incredible selection of antiques and vintage collectibles visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut!

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!

Sand Art DisplaysApril 05, 2017

Sand Art Displays

Sand art is a relaxing, almost Zen-like form of “moving art”.  By moving art, we mean that the artwork is always changing, and you will never see the same image twice!

These innovative pieces of art are made with 4-7 different density sands and minerals in each frame. The different densities allow the sand to fall at different speeds creating a unique image each time. Each picture is comprised of crushed minerals (such as quartz), sand and some synthetic materials to create stunning colors. Some even have the ability to fluoresce!

How do these soothing sand art displays work? Good Question! Each picture has air trapped at the top just along the frame. Once the picture is turned over, the sand is now on the top and the air is on the bottom. Due to laws of gravity, the heavier, denser sand is unable to stay at the top with the lighter, less dense air beneath it. This causes air bubbles to float to the top trapping the sand. The sand finds the weak spots in the middle of the air bubbles and starts to fall through causing mountains and valleys as it falls.

You may notices at some point that the sand is not falling as fast or as slow as you would like. This is all adjustable! Each sand art comes with its own syringe that you can use to add or subtract air depending on how you would like them to flow. The more air you add, the more air bubbles there will be and the sand will fall slower. The more air you remove, the less air bubbles there will be obstructing the sand, and the sand will fall faster.

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut today to purchase your own unique sand art display. Then, flip it over, sit back and enjoy the relaxing effects!

Real Flower JewelryMarch 31, 2017

Real Flower Jewelry

April begins tomorrow and Nature’s Art Village is bursting with Spring Fever!

These ravishing pieces of jewelry, in the photo above, are all 100% handmade from real Bonsai flowers. Each plant takes months to grow in a greenhouse in Texas and is hand trimmed every few days to keep their miniature size.  Each flower, or set of flowers, are then preserved in a clear resin and then adorned with a rhodium plated clasp, backing, and or ear wire.

The flowers featured in our current collection are the Bonsai Rose (which represents life’s greatest feeling), the Forget-me-Not (which represents love and friendship), Sunflower (which might be one of the most celebrated flowers around the world), 4 Leaf Clover (a renown symbol of good luck), and the Crown of Thorns (which is a widely viewed religious symbol)

As mentioned earlier, this entire collection is rhodium plated. Rhodium is a precious metal and a member of the platinum family. It is used, especially in jewelry, to provide a surface that will resist scratches and tarnish, as well as provide a white, reflective appearance. The electroplated rhodium is tarnish free; therefore there is no need for constant polishing.

Visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of real flower jewelry and many more springtime treasures!

Schwinn Bicycles – 1895

Spring has arrived and that means one thing: it’s time to get out the Schwinn and go for a spin! Today’s Throwback Thursday takes a ride down memory lane and looks at the history of Schwinn bicycles. The Arnold, Schwinn & Company was founded in Chicago in 1895 by a German immigrant named Ignaz Schwinn. Prior to immigrating to America, Schwinn had worked on draisines, foot-operated railroad vehicles used to bring maintenance crews to trains requiring service. The draisine’s design was an early predecessor of the bicycle.

The first safety bicycles became popular in the mid 1880’s. Unlike the high wheeled bicycles, which had been used previously, the safety bicycle was low enough so riders’ feet could touch the ground; thus making stopping much easier. Safety bicycles also implemented a new chain design instead of having pedals attached directly to the wheels.

During the late 1890’s there were over thirty factories in Chicago producing bicycles. This came to be known as the golden age of the bicycle craze. Schwinn received backing from German-American Adolph Fredrick William Arnold and together they opened a factory. This bicycle golden ages passed quickly and by the early 1900’s the popularity of bicycles waned with affordable motorized motor bikes and automobiles now available. Many of the Chicago bicycle manufacturers went bankrupt. Schwinn chose to buy out many of the smaller companies and was able to position his company as the leading American bicycle manufacturer.

Schwinn developed a cruising-style bicycle in 1934 called the aero cycle. This bike featured balloon-style tires that were more durable and could withstand rough terrain. Theses sturdier bikes were targeted to younger riders. The heavy frame design, modeled after an airplane fuselage, was much more durable and a faux gas tank and battery powered light completed the look.

In 1938 Schwinn introduced the Paramount; a lightweight track race and touring bike for adult enthusiasts. During the 1960’s Schwinn developed muscle, lowrider chopper-style bicycles with banana seats and ape hanger handle bars. Recreational mountain and geared racing bicycles were developed in the 1970’s and once again targeted adult riders.

In 2001, The Schwinn Company and brand name was sold to Pacific Cycle; then, in 2004, Dorel Industries acquired Pacific Cycle. Schwinn brand name bicycles are now made in China and are not the quality of original Schwinn bicycles. The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has several vintage Schwinn bicycles available among other vintage bicycle brands. Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!

Moldavite

This week’s Mineral Monday from The Shops at Nature’s Art Village is moldavite – a dark forest-green variety of a tektite. Tektites are a group of natural glasses that are formed from the interplanetary collision between a meteorite and Earth. Moldavite is only found in the Czech Republic along the Moldau River where a large meteorite crash landed about 14.8 million years ago leaving a very large debris field. The sharp glass-like edges of moldavite have been made into arrowheads and cutting tools dating as far back as the stone age and was even used as an amulet of good fortune and fertility in many ancient cultures.

moldavite-earringsMetaphysically, moldavite is believed to counteract cynicism and connect one with the universe. Due to its high vibrational field, some wearers of moldavite jewelry experience light headedness or lack of grounding and can only wear the jewelry for a short amount of time. Many people will also use moldavite while meditating as it is said to increase ones sensitivity to guidance and increase the ability to understand messages sent from other realms.

The Shops at Nature’s Art Village have an incredible selection of moldavite jewelry, rough moldavite specimens, moldavite incense, oils and more for sale. To see our full selection, and many more fossils and minerals, visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Check back next week for a new Mineral Monday!

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.

License Plates – 1901

Today’s Flashback Friday examines the history behind American license plates. We travel to the turn of the 20th century, when the first American automobile factories began production. At this time, automobiles were expensive and reserved for the wealthy upper class. As automobiles became less expensive and grew in popularity, outdated traffic laws and undeveloped roads made driving conditions extremely hazardous.

In 1901, New York was the first state requiring residents to display an identification tag. California followed soon after requiring a tag on bicycles and wheeled carts as well. There was an obvious need for the tags as collisions were common and the drivers involved needed to be identified.

The first New York tags were do-it-yourself license plates, with the residents responsible for making their own ID tag with their initials and state name. That same year the state realized that conformity was necessary and began issuing individual registration numbers to be used. These homemade tags were often made of leather or rubber and some people just painted the ID on their car.

The use of homemade tags created obvious problems, such as counterfeit tags. Massachusetts became the first state to have state issued license plates in 1903. These early plates were fashioned of iron coated with porcelain. This style did not last long as the porcelain coating was too fragile. The state of West Virginia designed the first stamped and embossed style metal plates in 1906.

The first Department of Motor Vehicles was established in 1915 and all states required license plates by 1918. During WWII no plates were issued, and to save metal in 1943 and 1944 other materials such as cardboard and stickers were issued as replacement plates. It was not until 1960 that the size of the license plate was made uniform throughout the United States.

The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a wide variety of vintage license plates and transportation memorabilia for sale among its assortment of over 90 vendors. Visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

For more antique history, check out our Throwback Thursday posts!

Bullard Safety Helmets – 1898

Today’s Throwback Thursday sends us back to 1898 with the founding of the E.D. Bullard Mfg. Company in San Francisco, California. The company, founded by Edward “E.D.” Bullard, began by selling mining equipment and carbide lamps to copper and gold miners.

Miners during this time period wore canvas caps with a leather trim. The miners would brush a layer of tar over their hats and dry them in the sun to form a hard outer shell. E.D. Bullard’s son, E.W. Bullard, realized the need for an improved safety hat. In 1919, he invented the “Hard Boiled Hat” after returning from World War 1 with a steel helmet. The Hard Boiled Hat was made using canvas, glue and black paint. Later the same year, the U.S. Navy requested improved hard hats for shipyard use and Bullard was eager to improve upon his product.

In 1931, construction workers were required to wear hard hats for the first time while building the Hoover Dam. Workers sandblasting needed further protection and, in 1933, Bullard designed a hard hat that protected workers faces with a mask. These hats had a cover over the face and a clear window to see through. The covered hat had an air supply provided by a compressor.

By 1938, the canvas material was replaced by aluminum and the helmets were now being used by a variety of fields, most recognizably by firefighters. Firefighters had previously worn leather helmets and were given the nickname “Leatherheads”. These early helmets did not provide much protection, but instead served the purpose of identifying the firefighter. The new helmets, produced by Bullard and made of metal, were more durable and offered significant protection.

Hard hats were further improved on over the years with stronger materials and with specialized features for specific job requirements. In 1998, Bullard introduced the first thermal imager. Law enforcement uses this thermal imaging for search and rescue and to locate hidden compartments. Bullard continues to manufacture safety equipment, air quality equipment, respirators, thermal imaging, and, of course, helmets.

The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has an early Bullard Fire Helmet available and a large variety of antique and vintage firefighter and mining memorabilia for sale. Visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full supply of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!