Monday, April 3, 2017

Relics Reimagined: A Black Basalt Pastille Burner

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


We are in the midst of daffodil season here in the garden, the most glorious time of the horticultural year.  At least I consider it so, for I regard the humble daffodil to be my favorite flower above all others, followed closely by summer's sweet pea.

Last evening, after a long day of blustery winds, I noticed that a clump of narcissus Albatross was in peril of being toppled over.

Chronica Domus
It was rather a challenge to photograph these daffodils as they whipped about in the wind
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Curious Norton proved himself  to be a further challenge, albeit a pleasant one
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Narcissus Albatross in full bloom or would that be in full flight?
Photo: Chronica Domus


Having endured losses to winds in years past, I thought it prudent to gather up the flowers already in bloom and enjoy those indoors.  There are plenty still remaining, in bud, to be savored in the weeks ahead as garden ornament.

Chronica Domus
Into the garden trug go a dozen blooming Albatross daffodils
Photo: Chronica Domus


Seeking a suitable container in which to display these dainty heirlooms, I looked no further than my mantelshelf where an early nineteenth century black basalt Wedgwood pastille burner takes pride of place.  Removing its lid, I placed a small circular metal flower frog within it before adding water.

Chronica Domus
My chosen flower container for the heirloom daffodils, an early nineteenth century Wedgwood black basalt pastille burner
Photo: Chronica Domus


Then came the flowers.

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


As I stepped back to admire my handy work, I was reminded why it wasn't always such a bright idea to repurpose certain objects as flower receptacles.  A slow dribble of water from three previously unnoticed tiny holes in the base of its bowl rendered this particular vessel wholly unsuitable as a vase. I suspect the trio of holes were intended to provide oxygen to the aromatic pastille while lit.  A further hole in the lid allowed a wisp of white smoke to escape and saturate the air with its perfume.

Ah well, I thought the basalt burner made for a very pretty little vase, if only for a brief moment.  I hope you think so too.

If you are interested in learning more about pastille burners, the air fresheners of yesteryear, I would encourage you to read the excellent post written by the author of The Regency Redingote, which can be found here.

44 comments:

  1. Well, you get an A for effort. ;) Lovely narcissi, regardless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Eliza Waters. The dribble of water did have me laughing but the flowers looked pretty all the same.

      Delete
  2. Lovely. I'd not heard of pastille burners before so this was interesting. You might tuck a glass or plastic dish down into the burner in case you want it to hold flowers another time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello pbmgarden, and thank you.

      Yes, I'm now on the hunt for a diminutive glass container (perhaps a shallow custard cup), as I'd enjoy attempting to use my pastille burner for flowers down the road.

      This little exercise in flower arranging has also inspired me to actually seek out scented pastilles and try them out in the burner. Not quite sure why I hadn't thought of doing this before!

      Delete
  3. What a charming delve into the internal affairs of a long-ago household. Regency GLADE, indeed---I can smell the sandalwood and lavender now, and all the time I was reading, I was catching the faraway whiff of good old-fashioned Vicks Salve---the original scent-stealer.

    And what a lovely receptacle for incense or flowers, ventilations notwithstanding. I've never had a yen for black decor (i do not count the momentary loss of my senses when i caught TWO SETS of black naugahyde den furniture on sale, and used the two sofas, love seats, ottomans, and side chairs to fill our enormous den in the early 70s). but I so admire your perfect use and display of all your beautiful basalt.

    Hope you're having these gorgeous April days (attested by your daffodil riot).

    r .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello racheld,

      Thanks for awakening my childhood memories of Vicks, a staple in our household growing up. With three school aged children, my mother seemed to be constantly nursing one of us over a bout of cold or flu. Into simmering water went a dollop of Vicks, which soon filled the room with its distinct aroma.

      I believe the color black should be used sparingly. I find it acts as a sort of exclamation mark to punctuate a room. Thanks for the vision of your den, which provided me with a good chuckle this fine April morning.

      Delete
    2. I don't think even I can picture that great echoing room properly, with a fireplace, as Daddy said, "big enough to roast an ox," at the far end, and the whole huge orange-floored room filled with those hulking black couches and chairs. Add the long Brady-Orange kitchen countertops, at the other end, and it was Halloween in there all year round.

      I LOVED it. That house was always glad to see me.

      Delete
    3. That room has a positively 70's vibe about it, and has obviously made quite an impression on you judging by your fun memories of it.

      Delete
  4. Hello CD, You did a perfect rescue job on those daffodils. Your exquisite initial choice of container gives a fascinating new look to flowers that are usually arranged in a tall fashion. Incidentally, pastille burners are not unrelated to the vinaigrettes that I recently wrote about, and do indeed have their Chinese equivalents, although it would admittedly be difficult to equal your magnificent basaltware example.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,

      The burner was the very first piece of black basalt I ever purchased and I feel fortunate indeed to have stumbled upon it. I've not seen another for sale since, at least not in any of the antiques shops or shows I've visited.

      I did think of your vinaigrettes when using the burner, and their connection funnily enough. I suppose there was a lot of bad air to be banished in days gone by. I'm going to seek out some scented pastilles and actually put this thing to use for its intended purpose. Perhaps I'll post about it when I've done so.

      Delete
    2. Hello again, If you do use your lovely burner to burn pastilles, you might want to get some kind of porcelain or insulating lining, so that the burning pastilles won't lie directly against the antique Wedgwood, which might have invisible micro-fissures or stresses in it. --Jim

      Delete
    3. Thank you for your wise advice Jim. I shall do that to be certain as I'd hate to damage this lovely piece in any way.

      Delete
  5. It's a lovely container - it's too bad it didn't work to your specifications. The daffodils are very pretty and a welcome sight, especially as mine have already been taken out by our vigorous Santa Ana winds. I enjoyed seeing your handsome Norton too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Kris Peterson,

      I hope my diminutive arrangement has inspired you to gather up your daffodils next season before those punishing winds have their way with them. Better to enjoy indoors than not at all.

      Norton, our recently adopted stray, has settled into his new role as Junior Gardener-In-Training quite nicely as of late. I'm thrilled with his progress.

      Delete
  6. It briefly looked very lovely! Did you laugh or not? At least you have more coming to try another style. I have many new daffodils coming up and opening so there is a suprise every few days. Such a joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello AlisonC,

      Yes, I did have a good chuckle after briefly panicking that the pastille burner may be cracked. Thank goodness it was not, and that it was the trio of holes that had caused the water to drip, drip, drip!

      I look forward to viewing your daffodils over the coming weeks so please do post on those. There is another batch of a different variety about to burst open in my garden so I'm looking forward to viewing those in the next week. Spring is such an exciting time!

      Delete
  7. A very creative vase and style!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anca Tirca. I'm so pleased you liked it.

      Delete
  8. Well, you had me enthralled with your re-purposing, until the the "unfit for purpose" paragraph. In the two flowers you admired in my last post, they were placed in re-purposed receptacles - both (empty) shochu bottles which we bought in Japan on our recent visit. They are both ideal for single stems, (laden with flowers).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello columnist,

      Well, lessons learned, that's for sure, but I did get a little laugh from my failed experiment with the burner. It also made me realize that I should probably try it out for its intended purpose one of these days soon. I'm now on the hunt for a scented pastille that won't smell like a hippie's den.

      The bottles you repurposed for your blooms suited their shapes perfectly. Nice to know that not every modern beverage container ends up in the recycling bin.

      Delete
  9. Pity it leaked but it does look lovely. I would plant daffodils but there are so many in the park that I enjoy them there. They are starting to go now but the cherry trees are out in full force. You have to visit in spring next time CD - Norton looks like he is having fun too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Naomi,

      Are the park's daffodils the expected yellow variety? I imagine so. If yes, perhaps you should consider planting only unusual, older varieties for those tend to be more daintier than the modern yellows, and often the color combinations (white with apricot, white with orange and sometimes with a hint of green etc.) are quite arresting when in bloom. I would say that though as I'm biased.

      Norton does so enjoy being at my feet whenever I'm pottering about the garden. Only yesterday he was playing with a clod of dirt as though it was a ball.

      Delete
  10. Beautiful, despite the mishap with the burner. ;-) Interesting too, as I had never seen a pastille burner before! We often get a brief hot spell in spring that wilts the daffodils quickly, but with a variety of sorts they should keep flowering for a while yet. Oh, and I love your trug for placing cut flowers in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello wordsandherbs.com,

      Thank you for your praise of my trusty garden trug. It was a gift, long ago, from a beloved cousin. I remember her each time I have the pleasure of filling it with flowers, fruits, and vegetables from the garden.

      I'm also pleased that this post has played a small role in enlightening you about pastille burners and their intended use (not for flowers to be sure!).

      Delete
  11. I love daffodils too - so your vase was bound to be a favourite with me. As for the sweet little passtille burner (I also have never heard of such a thing!) - it's definitely worth trying to make it flower proof for the future. Lovely vase!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Cathy Thompson,

      Thank you for your lovely comment. I'm just mad for daffs and it's nice to meet a fellow appreciator of a flower that is often overlooked in favor of flashier blooms.

      Pleased, also, that my post has revealed the delights of a pastille burner, which I shall certainly try to "flower proof" for future arrangements.

      Delete
  12. I love black basalt...I remember when Bonham's had a collection of various black, jasper and green pieces several years ago.

    Your daffodils are lovely. We too had high winds in So-Cal a few days ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Diogenes,

      Ah, so nice to know that you too are an admirer of black basalt.


      I recall that thrilling Bonham's auction very well as I attended both the preview and the sale, where I lost my head and succumbed to a pair of basalt bough pots. I wrote about it on this very blog:

      http://chronicadomus.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-auction-preview-to-excite.html

      and

      http://chronicadomus.blogspot.com/2014/04/auction-day.html


      Delete
    2. Those bough pots you won at auction are wonderful! Elegant.

      There were so many great pieces at that sale. I particularly liked the rectangular, neoclassical fresco panels, whether green and white or black and white.

      Delete
    3. You do have a good memory for I recall those too. As you say, there were so many great pieces. It was as though a museum had opened the floodgates.

      Delete
  13. I love pastille burners and have two in the ceramic house version and am always looking for more. I absolutely love your blog and am so happy to find a new posting in my email at the end of the day. I have also kept several of your posts about specific antiques dealers in London (or thereabouts) as a reference for my trip to London. And I learn so much from you, too. I also like to browse your earlier posts, too - more great info. Thanks so much for such a great blog! Susan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello SuSu, and welcome!

      So glad to have you join in on the fun here in the comments section and happy to learn that you too have collected a few pastille burners. Tell me, have you lit yours yet? I'm looking forward to tracking down a scented pastille to experiment with my own burner.

      Thank you also for your high praise of this blog and its authoress' scribbles. One does aspire to write something of interest, or at the very least informative, so I'm pleased to learn that you are enjoying what you read here at Chronica Domus.

      Delete
  14. Your room has been filled with the fabulous fragrance of the daffodils. The first photo is beautiful and excellent.
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello roughterrain crane,

      Aside from their dainty size and beautiful color, the best thing about these heirloom daffodils is their fragrance, which is but a wisp and not at all overpowering unlike some of the other varieties I grow in my garden.

      Delete
  15. You are so smart with your repurposing. Very stylish. Love the trug too. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jen Lawrence. I enjoy using my garden trug for it reminds me of my beloved cousin, who gave it to me as a present many years ago.

      Delete
  16. I discovered your delightful blog earlier this evening after Reggie Darling mentioned you on his Instagram account today. I just completed reading every post you have written! I have lost track of time -- have I been glued to the screen for four hours or is it more like five or six? What a delightful way to spend a Sunday evening! Thank you! Susan Adler Sobol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Susan Adler Sobol,

      I am beyond flattered that you would spend your entire Sunday evening reading back posts of CD, and enjoying them to boot! I do hope you'll consider returning and joining in on the fun of the comments section, which makes blogging so much more rewarding.

      CD

      Delete
  17. I'm with unknown -- I just found you and any spare time I've had has been reading your back posts! I, too, love daffodils and found those wonderful Thalias and those other little white ones (Avalanche?) There's something so refreshing about daffodils.

    I too, live in a 1920s house (although mine is certainly a cottage rather than a "big" house) and I love 20s houses!

    I do have a question for you, however, -- I love the color of that green paint in your back hall -- could you tell me the color? I absolutely adore it and perhaps I can incorporate it somewhere at Linderhof. (Oh, did I tell you our house has a name?)

    Martha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Martha, and welcome!

      Thank you for your comment. I'm so pleased you've discovered my little blog and have enjoyed reading some of the posts from the past couple of years. As you will have noticed, I've written about my love for these endearing flowers several times. I can't help myself!

      As to the green paint, the color was almost identical to the original 1920's paint we found on the stairwell. We used Sherwin Williams' Organic Green. Oh, and how charming that your beloved house has a name.

      Please do come back to enjoy future posts here on CD.

      Delete
    2. I will definitely come back -- I've added your blog to my favorites so I can keep track of when you update!

      Delete
  18. I love that you use your antiques! People are surprise that I use old vases to put french flowers in. I also love the cut glass pitcher. I have one like that that was made in Pittsburgh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello andrew1860,

      Why, of course I do. It is one of the pleasures of owning these things. If one doesn't use one's beautiful objects on a day-to-day basis, why have them in the first place!

      The glass water jug is Anglo-Irish cut glass, I believe, and its size renders it quite useful.

      Delete

Please do leave a comment as I enjoy the dialogue with my readership, thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...