Tips for Collecting SilverWritten by Kathleen Sullivan
"How can I tell if my flatware is sterling or silverplated?" This is our most frequently-asked question. If it doesn't have word "sterling", then it most likely is not sterling silver. The word "sterling" is found on American silver dating after 1860. Early American silver is very rare and was usually marked with only maker's name or initials. Silverplate has maker or company name and often includes terms such as "A1" or "quadruple plate". These are various descriptions of amount of applied silver.
Whether you choose to collect sterling or silverplate, following tips apply.
Choose a Style, Era or Maker. Reflect upon your lifestyle and personal taste, then make choices that will be a good fit. There are many specialty areas of silver collecting. Some collectors are devoted to a pattern while others collect a particular maker or era. Some only collect a particular type of piece, such as fish servers or tea strainers, and many expand into all areas.
Mix-n-Match. The mixing and matching of patterns has great aesthetic appeal on any table. This is a wonderful option particularly with hard-to-find, discontinued flatware patterns and is often a must for affordable entertaining.
Wear or Damage. Signs of use do not necessarily detract from value while damage may or may not. Slight damage on a rare flatware or hollow ware piece will not significantly reduce value, if at all. Be wary of buying tarnished silver as it can hide otherwise obvious wear, damage or repair. The price of a tarnished piece should be signficantly lower than retail because true condition of a tarnished piece is unknown.
Monograms. Many collectors view old, elaborate monograms as a lost art form and historically important. It does not detract from desirability or value of a piece. If pieces you collect are readily available without monograms, they are, in this case, more valuable if they do not or never had one. Monogram removal can damage a piece and is, in most cases, easily detectable.
The Art of Stained GlassWritten by Nick Volpe
As with all forms of art, its beauty is defined by sensations it arouses. Perhaps most intriguing aspect in art of stained glass is in its' versatility. It's durable, yet fragile, challenging, but yielding to experienced hands of artist. I discovered this form of art some seven years ago when my girlfriend and I decided to take a series of evening classes at a local stained glass retail store. We took six classes and I have been hooked ever since.
If you are in need of a way to take away stresses of everyday life I would recommend stained glass as great way to "download" and at same time get into a new hobby. It is a form of self-meditation. The steps you'll follow in arriving at your finished work of art will teach you self-discipline, and provide a great sense of artistic achievement. And if you're like me, you will not be able to get enough of it. That's when you'll want to expand out and begin doing projects for others.
But be careful, once word gets out that you're into stained glass, all of your relatives (you know ones) will be first to ask you to make them something. Actually, it's not so bad at first, because they make great test cases and you'll want to experiment.
Where to begin? I suggest a visit to your local stained glass retailer. While not all towns have one (here is a great business opportunity for you) a look into your telephone book should yield a location or two or you can perform an Internet search for local retailers. Start by inquiring into whether or not they run classes. Most retailers usually do because it's a source of increased revenues to them (they know that you'll probably be buying your supplies from them). Cost of classes will be relatively moderate for same reasons. Check out your local County Colleges as well. My instructor also taught night classes there.
TIP: Bring a friend with you; it will add to fun and you'll be able to compare notes.
The place you'll be taking classes from will no doubt also provide you with basic beginners kit, which will contain tools needed to get you started. Expect to find a glass cutter; there a variety of types and you should choose one that your most comfortable with. I have tried a variety myself but in end settled for basic non-oil filled type. A breaker, similar to pliers, is used to snap off glass after being scored. A specially designed scissor is used to cut out your pattern, and of course a soldering iron is used to join cut pieces of glass together. Expect to pay somewhere in neighborhood of $100.
There are other items that you'll need along way, but they will be available to you during your classes, such as grinder, which is used to grind down excess glass, not removed by cutting process and to polish off edges of cut glass. This last part is important because of foiling process that takes after glass is ground down. Foiling is a process whereby copper foil is placed around edges of ground glass. The foil is sticky on one side allowing it to adhere to glass. The purpose of copper foil is to provide a surface for solder to stick too.