Category Archives: Artful Rabbit Shop

The Violet Mystery



It isn’t often that I am flummoxed by research into something I’ve found, but this case had me chasing my tail. Here’s the back story: I recently acquired a batch of stuff being sold by a gentleman whose very old mother had gone into assisted care, he was beginning to sell her bits and pieces to pay for her stay in the facility. It’s a common story and a sad one, but sometimes it lets me send lovely things back into the world for another life so I try to be positive and honest. In this case he had a silver Mexican bracelet that was to die for, I gave it back and told him it was worth in excess of $150 and he needed to get more than I could give him for it. Its just good karma to be fair in my world.



None of what I got had a ton of value other than curiosity and my love for bits of Odd Stuff. One of the other people I was with acquired lots of depression glass and some serious pieces of carnival glass, I opted for stranger things, like two shoe horns, one from JC Penney and the other Sears and Roebuck.

Paris Souvenir bracelet

Paris Souvenir bracelet

I also got a small wooden box of things including ten tiny ceramic deer, a cool brass souvenir of Paris bracelet, a hat pin and sundry bits of things that will be used to create other things.

My tiny deer accidental collection

My tiny deer accidental collection

My favorites in the mix were of course, the French bracelet and the ten tiny deer. I seem to have accidentally begun to acquire deer. They are seeking me out but that’s another entry entirely.v16 I  also got a set of very old Lancôme perfume bottles still  in their box and an odd little wooden case. More about that in a moment. The Lancôme bottles go back to the late thirties and were well and truly stuck shut. A little hot water unstuck the tops and I could pull the stoppers out and smell the heavy old perfumes in them. Did you know there are serious collectors of empty and almost empty old perfume bottles? Who knew. Those will be on their way to a new home soon…

Rieger violet Coffret

Rieger violet Coffret

Now, for the wooden box. It’s 2.75 inches tall and looks like an old cannon barrel standing on end. It’s actually a coffret, a tiny wood case, of maple that is threaded about an inch down and unscrews. The exterior has a purple and silver metal paper label that reads Florosa Fanoma, W Rieger, Frankfurt A/M, which is most likely for Am Main. At the bottom is the single word, ” Violet”.

Inside the tiny wooden coffer, or coffret more properly, is an eight-sided lead crystal bottle with a cut glass stopper. This stopper was also stuck shut until I gently ran warm just over the top, at which point the crystal perfume dauber/wand slid cleanly out. No label on the bottle inside and amber colored liquid fills the bottle about three-quarters of the way up.

Open Sesame!

Open Sesame!

A little background here: My favorite scent in the entire known universe is violets. As a child in Germany, I loved that they grew in the parks and lawns in Springtime with great abandon and very long stems. I would take hours and pick huge bunches of them to take home. Their scent was so haunting and so elusive and the air smelled like heaven wherever they perched in the water glasses my mother gave me for my bouquets. In France a few years back I brought home a bottle of Violettes de Toulouse and I have hoarded it until I can go back and get more. That’s enough of a reason to go back to France for me. Yes, I love violets.

I am serious about my violets, so it was with both  fanfare  and trepidation I pulled the stopper out and sniffed it carefully. Holy Cow! It smelled like it was bottled last week! I dabbed some on one wrist and then the other and sat there with essence of violet all around me.

How could this be? The container was old, the label was old, so how old was old anyway? I started digging and found very little information on the elusive W. Rieger. I know that he was part of Wilhelm and Guillaume Rieger and they founded a perfume company in 1860. I found a reference to Violet Perfume then and in about 1910. The style of the label tips me off that this is an old, old bottle but how can it still smell so good?

And there is another Rieger connection:Paul Rieger of California was famous for his ‘flower drops’ perfumes from the early part of the 20th century. There are a ton of Paul Rieger ads for sale on eBay, all clipped from magazines that survived until now. Apparently flower drops were THE perfume to give and wear as the ads are everywhere. There are still many actual flower drops bottles around with CALIFORNIA flower drops printed on the labels.v6

The two Rieger thing was making me as crazy as a raccoon with a can opener and a six pack of tuna. Paul Rieger and Wilhelm Rieger? How does this whole thing go together? That’s just too much of a coinkydink as my mom would have said. A few more hours of digging (God bless the internet and my research abilities) and I uncovered the 1910 San Francisco Crocker-Langley City Guide. Bingo. Paul Rieger, big wig San Francisco perfumer, is the owner of Paul Rieger Perfumes but guess who the manager is? William Rieger. I’m betting Wilhelm became William in America. There is even a Mrs. Paul Rieger, widow, listed so there may have have been even more Rieger generations in the Bay Area.

  Croaker Langley Directory

Croaker Langley Directory

Paul Reiger must have been a marketing genius, his perfumes were in Saturday Evening Post, Sunset Magazine, Photo Play and every magazine out there at the time. Reiger’s Flower Drops was the 1910 creation of Paul Rieger, but I’m betting someone else in the family made them first back in Germany and the family took the concept to the new world and unleashed it.

“Reiger’s Flower Drops were advertised as the ‘soul of the flowers’ and ‘lasting 50 times as long as ordinary perfumes’ and ‘the rarest and finest perfume ever produced. One bottle holds all the delightful fragrance crushed from thousands of living blossoms. The acme of elegance and refinement-entirely different from any other perfume you have ever known.’

The regular sized vials were about 3ml and retailed for $1.50, sample sizes were available for 20 cents.” (quote from Cleopatra’s Boudoir perfume blog)

The secret to the fragrance and my own ah ha moment was in discovering they used no alcohol in the process. In addition it’s been stored in the dark for all that time in it’s little maple coffret, and probably somewhere nice and cool to boot. This is straight concentrated oil of violet, and that is why it has lasted perhaps 100 years. If this fragrance was acquired as late as 1929 it’s still  74 years old.

Why 1929? The McKinley Tariff Act of 1930 meant everything imported had to be marked with its country of origin, as in “Made in”.  This says Frankfurt a/M, it does not say Germany, therefore it landed in the USA before the tariff did. Additionally, it predates the California Flower Drops labeling although it is similar. This purple foil label is so over the top that it has Victorian style all over it, so I’m educated guessing it was made about 1890 or so.

Imagine, this scent was created before there were telephones, or record players, or commercial airline flights, or typewriters, or plastic, or refrigerators or ball point pens or mechanical pencils, or flush toilets, washing machines and running water in every house- and it’s still alive.

I will keep it and wear it and enjoy every single lovely drop of time I wear on my wrists, I think it’s better than a watch because it doesn’t just mark time, it has kept it alive.



Magic Gardens in a Glass


Spring Victorian style sealed globes and glasses are underway. The first ‘clutch’, my Easter egg word, goes to Finders Keepers for sale today. Some are a bit like snow globes, I’m not sure what to call them except fun?

To Sing, Victorian style upcycled Spring globe

They are all made from upcycled or green materials. Little birds and vintage tiny animal figures I cannot resist picking up wherever I find them. Glassware from candle globes to wineglasses, flashing–as in metal roof flashing, bits and pieces of moss, sticks, straw, yarn, feathers and tidbits. Most of the little nests I made from pieces of my curly willow that blew down in the winter storms. The words on paper are from a very old, old falling to bits McGuffy Reader from the late 1890s. The blue eggs? My own little secret in construction.

This one has a message on a metal tag that says love and patience.

Each jar is decorated on top with recycled piece of jewelry. I do love the bling thing… and each one has a message inside on paper or metal.

This one holds a tiny old metal owl and his own forest with mushrooms!

There are also spring things that are just fun. Little animals are fastened down so you actually turn the jar over to read the free-floating words.

This one is a little mouse bootmaker in a cordial glass. His message is Love Life.

The little ‘Snow Globes’ all have tiny glass beads in them. The beads are German glass and come in such fun colors!

Easter bunny used to be a salt shaker, now he's an Easter Egg bunny.

I made tiny flowers for several of them and found other tiny tidbits. All that saving of Stuff with no Useful Purpose actually does come in handy!

The bluebird of happiness in a wine glass with a free floating word, Hope, and a tiny feather.

Such fun for an Easter present or Mother’s day. I purposely did not make very many that were specifically Easter. I think spring should last a long time and not be packed away, we need it around here to chase away the gray.

Tiny bottle with a tiny altered photo and green glass beads. The butterfly wings say Fly Away

So many more to make, I love creating these tiny worlds.


The words say Dream Big, but the cat is pretty small.

I have got to control my bottle collecting nature though. I’m like a magpie when I see tiny bottles. Sooner or later I will construct something fabulous with the whole lot so I’ll have an excuse to go find MORE.

This little guy in antique creamer jar says Cherish.

I’m not sure when I get time to sleep because I love all the things I do so much. I would love to teach a glass on constructing these little jars this summer. So much fun to make and a great introduction to soldering. The bottle cap is included for scale but what a cool cap.

Best friends.

Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?


Love this monkey, he still has a tag on his backside from manufacture. He's holding a mirror and a message: Appreciate. Take time to appreciate YOU is my message.


This one speaks for itself. It says Attitude inside



This last one sort of speaks for itself…Its the cutest little bull with a rose and the word “Attitude”. Useful in a wide variety of situations, no? I do have other photos of each container, thank you Iphone, if you need or would like to see another view. Just let me know.

Soldering done waiting for patina. My studio workbench.

These little jars will be at Finders Keepers today and they are priced from $12- $20. I am hoping to have several ready for Etsy soon too. These make wonderful presents, fun little things for gifts. Non-fattening, celebrate spring, green and affordable. Check. Perfect.


Rabbit Loves Research

I love this hat! It's a Mad Cap, Bon Wit Teller Hat Couture. Looks like a velvet hershey's kiss. I smile when I look at it.

Sometimes I really wonder about myself….here I am up to ears in old clothes, beautiful older clothes and I can’t just take a picture and slap them up on the internet with a guess as to their provenance.

By LouBella Extendables, dates to the 70s research proves it

No. I am compelled to be a clothes cop, a dealer detective, an artful anthropologist, and find out exactly what I have in my hands. This is not new behavior. My need to know is one reason I have a heavy duty line of cultural anthropology and ethnography running through my art background.  I have a pressing need to know WHY.

It is definitely down the rabbit hole and beyond fascinating to me. I hope the people who acquire these pieces of history appreciate knowing what they are buying. A sale is two fold for me: the joy of sending something beautiful and well made back into the world for another round AND knowing where it came from. Of course, the research is devouring my studio time.

The first clue...

I have a round rack of clothes in my bedroom that I have to crawl around to get to the computer and the rest of the room. I have a feeling this is not changing anytime soon. Who knew how much fun the treasure hunt for labels and eras could be?

Most of the stuff I am finding and choosing is so beautifully cut and well made it just shames the clothes we buy now. The fabrics are better, the construction is to die for and the designs are as current now as they were then. Planned obsolescence eat your heart out.

Take for instance this nifty little Loubella Extendables shirt whose photos accompany thisentry. In the 60s we called these little ribbed beauties poor boys and wore them with hip hugging wide wale bell-bottomed corduroy pants or blue jeans, also bell bottomed.  In the late 60s and early 70’s lurex and metallic fabrics came along and we all jumped on them. For a big party in San Francisco in 1969 I wore a silver lurex mini dress, silver pantihose and silver sling backed shoes. All in a size 3.  Ah memories…. but I digress.

sparkly fabric and stretchy, so 70s cool

When this stretchy shiny stuff came along we wore it with a vengeance. When I saw this shirt I grabbed it.  I got it home and started doing research on it. I found a few other pieces in different Etsy shops but no history of Loubella.

I kept digging in search engines, and Eureka! after holding my mouth just right and putting in the right combination of words I found a clue. Trade Markia showed the Loubella name being used until 1997, when it expired. I also found the name of the principal in the company. Hiram Jebb Levy.

slinky blue shirt from the back

I remember seeing some of the pieces had a “Loubella Extendables by Jebb” tag in them. More hunting turned up pay dirt and even a photograph. There was a piece written about Jebb Levy in a temple newsletter honoring him and his wife for their activity with the temple.

The rabbi even included a biographical sketch. It turns out the Levy family came from Macedonia to Rochester, New York. Dad was Lou and mom was Bella. They were Sephardic jews who spoke the archaic language Ladino at home. How cool is that? Hiram got tagged with the nickname “Jebb” in his childhood and it stuck.

He and his brother moved from Rochester, New York to Southern California and founded LouBella Extendables right after World War II, named to honor mom and dad. The article said they were in business for 45 years.

So…I know the trademark expired in 1997. I know they went into business right after the war and the trademark was first used in commerce in 1950. I also did some digging and found the Extendables part was registered in 1977.

I also found the name was sold and the company reopened in 2002 in Van Nuys, Ca with another Levy. They apparently do manufacturing rather than running their own line these days.  This means I can date my cute little shirt to the late 70s with some accuracy. It doesn’t add to what I can sell it for, but it does make me happy to know that it really is vintage.

Incrredible blue silk and mohair suit from the 1940s leaves for Australia tomorrow

I have learned soooo much already. When zippers came along, when they migrated from the side to the back. Fabrics, clothes cuts that identify eras. I love it. I am a fashion archaeologist and everything on my Etsy site has been hunted down before it goes back into the world. I fell by accident into this particular rabbit hole, but I like it here and I don’t plan on leaving it anytime soon.


This jacket still has the original tag on it. $880! Armani from Italy.

The best part of all this is that there are so many women out there who love this stuff as much as I do. I just sent two jackets to Toronto, Canada and tomorrow a Lilli Ann suit and jacket leave for Australia. Two purses are headed for a new home in New Jersey.  The power of the internet has been demonstrated to yours truly, big time.

Okay, now to go research that plaid Armani jacket from Italy, or maybe that adorable hot pink Mister Sig Original, or that sexy Vanity Fair nightgown. There is Vintage fun to be had and I’m having it!




Hope and Believe tag this pink vintage element bracelet

The Rabbit Thinks Pink for a Great Cause

September has become the lodestone for so many things in my life.  It’s odd that events seem to come to along and just stick in September.  Of course we all had the shared national tragedy of 9/11, but I’ve had a few personal chickens come home to roost in September too.

Faye took this picture on a hike in the Cascades last year. The squirrel was after their food! They hike. I stay home and eat bon bons while reading a trashy novel.

September matters to my friend  Faye Barnes too, because that’s when the Susan G Komen 3 day walk takes place.

Every single time I have needed her, she’s been there. Words aren’t enough, so I’m making “thanks”, and like throwing a rock in a pond, the ripples from this thanks could spread with some help.

Artist and photographer Faye in an alley getting the perfect shot during the Lavender MG run this spring.

The back story: Faye is the one I called when I got the word about Terry. She dropped everything, took time off from work and drove to Montana with me the same day, non-stop, and stayed for two weeks. She kept me sane and she helped me stay focused. When it was time to go home, she flew back to Montana and drove my car back to Olympia when I got on the plane with Terry. She is Terry’s favorite hiking partner to this day and she is a big part of my extended family for many reasons.

Long ago at St Martin's with the gurls. From left to right: Jen, Kathy, Sally, Linda, Faye and me. A lonngg time ago!

Faye was always my partner in getting things done at Saint Martin’s College. We were always tapped to throw huge fun parties for no budget at school events, Benedictine Catholic universities=no money. We have had so much fun together doing things from those parties, to my wedding,  to our own annual burn piles, and our annual pilgrimage to cut Christmas trees.



As artists, we can make the same thing with the same materials and because we are so different so is the thing that emerges.

I am in awe of this woman who does the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk. That’s 60 miles! She did her  first one three years ago and signed up for the second one before it was over.

A month after her first walk she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. “I was in the right place at the right time. I believe the Lord put me there so that I could meet and share the stories of these amazing women and breast cancer survivors. It gave me hope and got me through.”  Three months after her final radiation treatment, a weak but determined Faye completed her second Walk. And as usual, she signed up for number 3 before number 2 was over!

Three months after finishing chemo and radiation, Faye's hair is coming back!

I asked what it was like this year and she said, “This year I had a different perspective, it was about celebration and helping others as a team.”

This year's team celebrating the Susan G Komen 3 day in Seattle, Faye is second from left, all smiles too.

This is where I come in and you readers too. I have just designed some very pretty pink themed jewelry. THINK PINK in honor of Faye and the legion of breast cancer fighters she walks to support. Every dime of anything I design and sell that is pink from now until next year’s Susan G. Komen 3 day will go to Faye’s fund raising efforts. To participate, every walker has to personally raise $2,300.00. They all say its worth it and they’d do it if it cost twice as much.

Pink Tibet available now!

The Walk in Seattle this past weekend raised 5.3 million dollars for breast cancer research.Every significant advance in research for the past 29 years has been affected by a Komen grant, which is pretty cool.  456,600 women die every year from breast cancer worldwide and we are all working to stem that tide.

Cool, swingy blingy Swarovski and PINK crystal earrings.

I am hoping to sell a lot of pink jewelry this year to say my own special thanks to Faye for all she has done for me. Anything she fundraises goes right to the Susan G. Komen  foundation, so anything you purchase helps, like that rock dropped in a pond, ripples, spreading to eliminate this awful disease.

Footnote: I do this to honor Verna Snow, too. Verna was my sons’ amazing grandmother, and I loved her dearly. She had a double mastecomy and went on to live many more years cancer-free and if something I can do help more women, even better!

So: every penny from THINK PINK goes to Faye Barnes and the Susan G Komen foundation. Visit the very affordable Think Pink collection  is on my Etsy shop at and on my website, (same price, two venues) This is the direct link to the gallery inside my website.

I hope you can help and enjoy a little pink in your life too.