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From Beads to Jars: Applying the Artistry of Cloisonné

Cloisonné is an art. Artisans from all over the world have employed this technique of designing on metal vessels with colored-glass paste. The designs are put within enclosures formed from copper or bronze wires, which have been wrought into the desired pattern. Rightfully known as cloisons (French for “partitions”), the artisan usually solders or pastes the enclosures onto the body of the metal vessel.

These are only two of the varied applications of cloisonné which any creative worker will do:

  • Cloisonné Beads

Each cloisonné bead can take up to four hours to produce. Since each bead is handmade, colors and styles which the artist creates is different from another creation. It’s a real treat for creativity to shine!

The following are the general steps in making cloisonné beads:

  1. Mold a copper base then sketch the desired design.
  2. Paste or solder brass wire cells to form a pattern.
  3. Paint enamels in the cells and (in most cases, fire them into the bead).
  4. Fill in enamels in the uneven spaces in the design.
  5. Repeat filling enamels (and fire the paint on the cell for the third time) until every filled-in space becomes smooth.
  6. Smoothen and polish the surface of the bead.
  7. Finally, the cells are gold or silver plated. 
  • Cloisonné Jars or Vessels

Varying with an artisan’s experience and skills, a vessel made by the cloisonné technique takes a week at most to prepare from start to finish. This also depends on the design and structure of the created vessel – the size and length and the number of patterns in the design.

The following are the general steps in making cloisonné vessels:

  1. Mold your vessel, according to your designed specifications.
  2. Shape and solder copper or bronze wire patterns on enamel cell shapes.
  3. Fill the cells with multiple colors of enamel then put in burning kiln.
  4. Continuously fire or paint enamel on the cells – three or four times – until the surface is even and smooth.
  5. Sand and polish the surface so that the design will be level and uniform.
  6. Polish once again and coat the entire vessel with electro-plating – either gold or silver-plated.

Cloisonné is an art that is both interesting and engaging to whoever does it. So do not be afraid to try it – the creations will be a charm, when made with the best of one’s capabilities with heartfelt dedication.

When passion becomes an art, the heart takes control of the flow of the mind.

 

How to Care for Your Silverware

Whether you’re a collector or a user, care for your silver flatware is essential. No matter how beautiful they were when they started out, time will come when your precious silvers will dull and tarnish. This will especially be a problem if you don’t give them proper care or if you don’t use them as much as you should. Yes, you read that right. The more you use your silverware, the easier they will be to maintain, and the less often you will need to polish them. I sense a lot of perplexed faces on the other end of the screen but fret not, my darlings. There is no rocket science to taking care of your silverware, and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take that much time either.

1. After each use, wash your silverware separate from cutlery and serving ware.

Use warm water and mild detergent or dish soap, to remove residues. The acids from food leftover on your flatware can corrode and tarnish them. Your safest bet will be hand washing but if you must use the dishwasher, place them at the top rack, and set it to the gentlest cycle like Crystal or China. This is to ensure that you don’t scratch or damage your silverware.

2. As soon as you’re done washing, dry them.

If there’s anything you should remember in elementary science, it’s that water corrodes anything and everything with enough time.

3. Polish your silverware.

As stated above, you don’t have to do this as often if you frequently use your silverware. With regular use, you only need to polish them once every few years. But if you’re an infrequent user, or collector, or are about to sell your silverware, here are a few tips on polishing them to brilliance and perfection:

  • After washing and drying, purchase quality silver polishing cream. Think gentle polishes from companies like Hagerty & Sons. Yes, it may be more expensive and may take more effort to rub the cream into the silver, but the constant rubbing for longer periods of time on silver actually brings out its brilliance.
  • There is a way to cut some time and effort from polishing your silver to perfection: Silver Cleaning Cloth. It’s specifically made to make your life easier and, furthermore, the material and production is tailor-made for silver. This way, you know you won’t damage your precious flatware.
  • No instant shines, please. Believe me when I say it’s worth it in the long run. The instant polishing creams are high in octane, which do produce faster results with minimal effort, however are highly acidic and abrasive. This means that each time you polish with these products, you strip off metal which decreases the value of your flatware. Even worse, if you don’t remove these instant shines properly, they leave unsightly translucent white film on your silver. Believe me, these are tough to remove.

4. Store your silverware in a dry place, away from the stove and fumes.

There are also tarnish preventive bags (should you choose to invest in them) which are advisable for those who live near the sea (as salt air has a corrosive effect on silver).

And that’s all there is to it! Wash-Dry-Polish-Store.

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Check out The Escape Place’s Set of 2 Hampton Renee Pattern Dinner Knives Stainless Steel Flatware

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Check out The Escape Place’s Hampton Renee Pattern Solid Serving Spoon Stainless Steel Flatware Collectibles

 

Do you know any flatware care tips that I missed in this article?

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Let me know in the comments!

Teddy Bears & Care Bears

The fabulous thing about teddy bears is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a huge teddy bear that’s bigger than you or a small one for you to hold close, a teddy bear is a child’s best friend. Children’s love for teddy bears starts at a very early age.

When I was little, my teddy bears slept all around me to protect me at night. Some children carry their teddy bears everywhere they go. Some treat them like their best pal while others treat them like it’s their baby. My two year old nephew has a teddy bear named Charlie.

build-a-bearCheck out this cute teddy bear (Build-a-Bear Teddy Bear)

Charlie gets burped, has his diaper changed, and gets put in the swing when he’s crying. But teddy bears aren’t just for children. Many adults have collections of teddy bears. Those collections can contain hundreds of bears in multiple colors and costumes.

Teddy Bears are also used quite often to decorate the house or spare bedrooms. There is only one thing cooler than a teddy bear, and that’s a Care Bear. Care Bears are different than teddy bears in a few ways. First, Care Bears have cool powers that regular teddy bears don’t have.

Second, Care Bears are made of fun, bright colors, with different symbols on their tummies. Third, they teach children about feelings and about caring for others. Care Bears live in the Kingdom of Caring and go on missions using the symbols on their tummies to ignite the Care Bear Stare and emit a shooting light onto the villain. That light brings caring, happiness, and love onto its target. With the teddy bear and Care Bear having so many great features, how do you choose? You don’t, buy both!!

Visit our store for amazing plush animal toys and teddy bears http://theescapeplace.com/

The Magic of Build-A-Bear

buck. Some people would argue “Afterall, it’s just a toy”.
Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc (St. Louis, Missouri) is an interactive retailer of customizable teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Each customer who walks in the store has a selection of animals, accessories, sounds, and other features to choose from to create their own unique plushie.

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Build a Bear Teddy Dark Brown Plush

If you’re a first timer with the Build-A-Bear Make Your Own Stuffed Animal process, it goes:

1. Choose Me

The first step is in selecting from over 30 animals, you’d like to have as a new furry friend. From classic, warm, and fuzzy teddy bears, to “My Little Pony” characters; they definitely have an animal for each child.

2. Hear Me

The next step is recording your message or choosing from their collection of pre-recorded songs and sounds.

3. Stuff Me

In Build-A-Bear, you and even your kids take part in adding the stuffing to the plushie. It’s even encouraged to give the little critter a test hug to see if it’s “just right”. Afterwards, you get to select a heart for the new toy. This is a trademark of the Build-A-Bear Workshop. There’s an entire ritual for physically warming the heart, making a wish, and planting it inside the plush toy. Think of it as a symbol of bringing life to a new friend.

4. Stitch Me

By this point, it’s mostly the staff who stitches up the toy to make him/her “whole”. Although, they sometimes allow the kids to help in this step

5. Fluff Me

Now the furry friends get a “bath”, brush, and blow dry, kind of like a mini spa treatment for plushies.

6. Name Me

To complete the process of bringing the toy to life, it’s time to name the little critter. But Build-A-Bear doesn’t like doing things half way, so their naming ritual comes complete with a personalized birth certificate, and is registered in their tracking system which “helps lost animals find their way back home” (buildabear.com).

7. Dress Me

The last step is to give the animal little more character. Is it a pirate? A cheerleader? A princess? You have a myriad of ways to personalize, with hundreds of clothes and accessories to choose from.

8. Take Me Home

And that’s it! After styling, the new plushie is ready for its new home.
Believe me when I say that after seeing the look on your baby’s face, you’ll realize that it’s more than just a toy. It’s about seeing the look of pride in your child’s eyes in knowing that he or she participated in (quite literally) making a new friend. The magic of Build-A-Bear is in the experience. Try it with your little ones and experience a day of magic and warm hugs.

Enjoy!

Check out our Build-A-Bear Collections at our The Escape Place Store.

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Build A Bear Pink Yellow Plush Stuffed Teddy 

A Game You Can Play For All of Time: Chronology Trivia Card Game

Chronology: This is one card game that has surpassed the evolution of social entertainment over the years and has continued to bring amusement to consumers the world over. It’s practically a game of pushing your luck, which can go along with how well you know your history. Nonetheless, the entire goal of the game is for players to relish the sense of interaction with the company of family and friends, or whoever they’re playing with.

Chronology | Trivia Card Game

A Game Already Written In History

The first edition of Chronology, a party card game, came out in 1996. There have been other editions released throughout the years; the manufacturers released a junior edition intended for children below 13 years old and a sports edition – for sports enthusiasts/hobbyists.  The latest version had minor changes made, but in any case, the original essence and quality of the game is still there. The objective of the game is for players to form a timeline of events that occurred in history (with a corresponding year when the certain event happened) written on the cards. First one to correctly align 7 cards wins the game.

Easy as One, Two, Three 

A set begins with one card for each player; then a random player starts by drawing a card from the box and reads what’s in it (except for the year written on the card) to the player on the left. That player will then take a guess where to place the card on his timeline. If he guesses correctly, he takes the card and adds it to his timeline. He then has the opportunity to take another guess; his turn ends when he gets a guess wrong – with this, the cards he acquired in that particular turn must be discarded. On the other hand, if he gets it wrong on the first try, the next player gets to guess at the card and the games proceed. The card game has neither a timer nor a board which makes it easy to setup and easy to store when not in use.

Not Just For History Buffs

The events included in the set are from a plethora of categories – from current events, arts and sciences, entertainment, the greatest inventions, famous geographical discoveries, popular culture, general knowledge, to history dating back centuries. A player doesn’t really have to be a history geek to enjoy the game. Plus the fact that you only have to guess the events in an estimated way is like playing a mystery game; you aren’t really sure whether to trust your instincts or just take a wild guess. But that is the real thrill of the game which makes it nerve-wracking and amusing.

Improvise, Improvise, Improvise

If you find the “Race to 7 Cards” too easy and tedious you can always bend the rules and amplify the race to 15 cards; or you can even set a timer to create a fast-paced gaming sensation to the players.  Be creative: the possibilities are endless!

You can find the Chronology Card Game almost in all toy stores and on ecommerce sites such as eBay and Amazon. If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to share them below.

 

 

 

The Perfect Cup of Joe

There are many different formulas to the perfect cup of coffee.  It’s not always the flavor or the strength that makes or breaks it, although I’m sure some would argue with that.  It’s your location and atmosphere.

The perfect cup of coffee is enjoyed while sitting on the patio with an array of breakfast food overlooking Clark Lake on a summer morning.  It’s sitting on a balcony in the Caribbean listening to the waves as the tide rolls in.

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The Toymaker’s Legacy

Russ Berrie’s life was not just of a star that burned once and faded away; it is a flame that continues to burn even after his death.

Aside from toys and plush animals that grace the beds and toy chests of children and even adults, Russ Berrie left many things of value that no one in the world should ever forget.

He helped students to know the value of entrepreneurship by establishing the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales. He advised the students “Set a goal, then persevere in that goal through thick and thin, overcoming all obstacles…. If you have the courage and the sense of urgency to get it done, you will do so. You can achieve what you want if you truly want it badly enough. My wish for you is that you get in touch with the person that is uniquely you. … Trust yourself enough to let the world in and savor all that it has to offer.”

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Russell Berrie, the humble man who never forgot where he came from, devoted endless time, energy and resources to numerous charitable causes. Through The Russell Berrie Foundation, founded in 1985, he supported organizations and initiated projects that reflected his values and passions in the following areas: Juvenile Diabetes, Humanism in Medicine, Salesmanship as a Profession, Arts and Culture, Honoring New Jersey’s unsung heroes, and strengthening the Bergen County community.

His philanthropy earned him numerous awards and public recognition. Fortune magazine, in its February 6, 1998 issue, honored Mr. Berrie as one of the forty most generous Americans. The Russell Berrie Foundation earned the 2001 Outstanding Foundation Award presented by the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In November 2002, he and his wife, Angelica, were honored as Humanitarians of the Year by the New York Chapter, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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Russell Berrie, master marketer of small teddy bears to plastic trolls, died at the age of 69 from heart failure in Oakland, New Jearsey. Russ Berrie’s will always be remembered for the toys his company continues to make and for the people he helped achieve their dreams.

CLICK HERE and check out all the Russ Berrie toys today!

The Rabbit Everyone Loves

Rabbits are fascinating creatures – they curiously observe a situation yet they scurry from unfamiliar things. Their delicate gait and cute furry body have enchanted many an artist and child.

It has been a century since Beatrix Potter wrote the children’s story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but it has not been lost through time. Enraptured by the natural ability of children to be fascinated with animals, Potter illustrated the child-like life of a mischievous and disobedient young rabbit named Peter Rabbit. He was chased wildly around the garden of Mr. McGregor for eating the blackberries and green parsley on that man’s property. When he escaped, he went back home to his mother – a sick boy who overate in the garden. She tucked him into bed after dosing him with camomile tea while his sisters had a sumptious dinner of milk and berries.

The Charm of Peter Rabbit

Actually, Peter Rabbit was inspired by a Belgian buck rabbit called Peter Piper who was the author’s pet until 1901. She used him as her model for the protagonist of her children’s story because he was fat, sneaky, good at tricks and very naughty – the exact atittude of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter even dedicated the book to him in an inscription on one of the privately published edition of the books:

“In affectionate remembrance of poor old Peter Rabbit, who died on the 26th of January 1901 at the end of his 9th year … whatever the limitations of his intellect or outward shortcomings of his fur, and his ears and toes, his disposition was uniformly amiable and his temper unfailingly sweet. An affectionate companion and a quiet friend.”

As Beatrix Potter was charmed by her pet rabbit, Peter Rabbit has become a favored fictional character. Whenever people see a real live rabbit, they remember the childish rabbit whose tale captured their hearts.

Inspiration Begets Success

The The Tale of Peter Rabbit was a success. As a children’s book, it was loved by parents for its simple language which children easily understood as the story was read to them. Not surprisingly, it has been translated into 36 languages and is on the pedestal of bestsellers of all time with 45 million copies sold.

As with other books gaining world wide acclaim, this one has inspired many different kinds of merchandise since its release. Sellers and manuacturers have designed and distibuted toys, dishes, food, clothing, videos, movies and televison shows plus other products for both children and adults. The author herself, Beatrix Potter, was one of the pioneers for these business ventures by creating a patented Peter Rabbit doll in 1903 and almost immediately a specifically designed Peter Rabbit board game.

From the books themselves, different variations were produced and sold in the market – pop-ups, activity books, lift-the-flap books. Toy stores have also sold Peter Rabbit-related products, with a whole section specified and earmarked for Beatrix Potter’s beloved characters.

Aside from this, the market has grown to accommodate other products inspired by The Tale of Peter Rabbit story, including kitchenware and dishes, plush toys and pillows plus clothes with the face of cute lovable bunny.

Beatrix Potter’s creation of Peter Rabbit showed how one can have child-like fun and the love of one’s family even in the midst of a difficult trial in life. Children and adults love this rabbit because they see themselves in his adventures.

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Click here for the “Peter Rabbit” inspired amazing toys.

It Started With A Man’s Dream

Toys are every child’s dream. One man sought to achieve his dream in the name of business incorporating the needs and wants of his target market.

Hans Beck (1929 – 2009), the German inventor who lived the dream he once had as a boy, invented Playmobil. First trained as a cabinetmaker, he pitched model airplanes to the toy manufacturing company, Brandstätter. But Horst Brandstätter, owner of this company, asked him to develop children’s toy figures.

So Beck spent three years from 1971 to 1974 developing Playmobil. After conducting research on the development of a toy not too complex yet also flexible by its own right, he finally came up with a 7.5 cm tall toy, fitting in a child’s hand with a facial design based on children’s imaginative sketches – a large head, a big smile, and no nose.

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Brain Stimulator: Chess

Chess is a sport never to be underestimated. Although some people do not consider this game to be a sport, it is great exercise for the brain.

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Chess today has the same characteristics and style as the game that was played in England during the Renaissance. Basically, chess is a battle between two armies. It was at first considered a game for nobility. Literature reflected it as a metaphor for moral behavior.

Continue reading “Brain Stimulator: Chess”