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

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!


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!


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Automatic Bank Punch – 1884

Auto Bank PunchThis week’s Throwback Thursday sends us to 1884 when John Newton Williams invented an early piece of office automation; a check writing machine. This machine had a metal carousel design with wooden knobs that pressed down into slots numbered 1-10 to punch the corresponding number into a check. The machine was first produced for Williams by the Brady Company. In 1885, Williams began producing the check writer himself under the name Automatic Bank Punch Company in Brooklyn, New York.

The automatic bank punch was designed to prevent altercation on bank checks and paychecks.  This was also referred to as an automatic check protector. The machine would punch out a hole in the shape of the number. It was automated in the sense that it would progress to the next position for punching on the check without manually needing to move the paper. Each check was done individually and this required a full time employee known as a check writer. Today, businesses use check writing software to complete this task. Research suggests that more than 24 billion checks are now written each year.

auto bank punch 1In 1899, over 22,000 automated bank punches were in use. Williams’s automatic bank punch was known as “bullet proof”, a quality piece of equipment that was nearly indestructible and reliable, rarely needing repair. Advertised from 1884-1914, the U.S. Treasury Department Clerk stated that the Automatic Bank Punch had been found to serve the purpose better than any other machine on the market. A substantial amount of bank punches were purchased by the U.S. Government. The check writers were used to put a price on government checks in punch form and could be used to cancel checks by punching upside-down.

In 1892, the price for an automatic bank punch was $25, this was expensive for most of the public at the time. Most private banks owned only one machine. This makes the automatic bank punch a rare item. John Newton Williams went on to invent the Williams Typewriter in 1891.

Typing Machines ExhibitThe Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village features a John Newton Williams Automated Bank Punch on display in the Typing Machines Exhibit. The display features the early models of office equipment from many of the greatest inventors. The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village also features many vintage and antique typewriters and office machines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To see our full selection of antiques and vintage technology visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!


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Corning Glass Works – 1851

IMG_2041This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to the mid-nineteenth century with a look at Corning Glass Works. Corning was originally founded in Massachusetts in 1851 by Amory Houghton before moving to Corning, New York in 1868. The company specialized in glass, ceramics and other related materials used for industrial and scientific uses as well as a line of kitchenware. Corning’s glass technology has been and is still used in many applications in a variety of industries.

One of Corning Glasses most popular inventions is Pyrex. Pyrex is a heat tempered glass that is resistant to temperature changes and was first designed for railroad lanterns by Corning in 1913. Pyrex is a borosilicate, a low expansion glass used in test tubes, laboratory equipment and kitchenware. Pyrex kitchenware comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and patterns. Pyrex cooks food evenly, is easy to clean and is break resistant.

CorningWare cookware with PyroCeram was introduced in 1953. This white ceramic material can withstand thermal shock and extreme temperature. PyroCeram gave cooks the ability to take filled baking dishes from the freezer to the oven, then to the table and dishwasher without needing a second dish. This break and chip resistant bakeware is durable and lasts for years. The glass was so strong the military used it to build guided missile nosecones.

MIMG_2038ore than 750 million pieces of CorningWare have been manufactured. However, CorningWare with PyroCeram is no long produced as the material was so durable, it never needed to be replaced. Corning Glass Works changed its name to Corning Incorporated in 1989 and has continued to develop the latest in technology for over 160 years. The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York displays one of the world’s largest collections of glass objects. The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a large variety of hard to find vintage Pyrex and CorningWare kitchen products available for purchase. Visit The PAST Antiques at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.

Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!

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Blue Ridge Mountain Boys Mugs – 1947

Mountain Boys MugsThrowback Thursday takes a look at the story behind these interesting mugs created by the Imperial Porcelain Corporation of Zanesville, Ohio in 1947. The mugs feature popular characters from a 1940’s comic strip created by American cartoonist and illustrator Paul Webb. Webb was the creator of a single-panel cartoon called the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys. These Mountain Boys became featured on a large variety of merchandise during the 1940’s including the porcelain mugs shown here.

Paul Webb‘s comic strip series in Esquire Magazine, the “Mountain Boys”, was published in 2 collections: “Comin’ Round the Mountain” in 1939, and “Keep ‘em Flying” in 1941. In 1960, a paperback collection was published. Webb also produced paintings, calendars and illustrations of the popular Mountain Boys characters: Ma, Grandma, Pa, Willie & Luke.

American Art Pottery, which was first produced in Cincinnati, Ohio during the 1870’s, was still popular in the 1940’s. The pottery was hand-thrown and hand-decorated. In the 1930’s potters began making more creative and artistic pottery and wares. Collectors consider pottery made by a select group of pottery companies during the time period of 1876-1950 to be “Art Pottery”.

IMG_1793 (002)The Mountain Boys mugs were some of the last Art Pottery pieces to be created and wildly distributed. As they are all handcrafted, no two pieces are identical; this adds to their value. The caricatures portray southern mountain country daily life in a humorous and whimsical fashion.

Paul Webb passed away in 1985 after producing decades of artwork and collectibles. His folk art and creations are now highly sought after. All of his art is unique and each is signed and dated by Webb. The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a collection of Paul Webb Mountain Boys Art Pottery Mugs available for purchase as well as many other popular Art Pottery from famous American artists. 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 another Throwback Thursday!