Wednesday, April 30, 2014


 An interesting bottled whimsey that gives a fresh spin to the usual "ship-in-a-bottle" folk art. This crucifixion bottle, an ebay pick, dates from the early 20th century, and is quite an elaborate creation, featuring almost all the symbols of Christ's passion, all carved and cut from pine.
 The focal point of the bottle is a large serrated cross, and each facet shows allegorical and symbolic carvings such as a ladder, an anchor, a heart, a cross, and miniature crosses.
 This side of the bottle shows a rooster (associated with Peter's denial of Christ), a lance, a hammer, and a whip.
Turn the bottle around and you will see a pair of crossed swords, a shovel and a spear. The cross itself is trimmed with 3 criss-crossed serrated bars. Crucifixon bottles, as these are called in Europe and the U.S. were favorite folk art crafts done by local artisans and ordinary people during their spare time. There are also crucifixion bottles from the Philippines which were believed to have been made by Bilibid prisoners as part of their rehabilitation program. Regardless, all these bottles were made by deft and steady hands, requiring patience and many hours of perseverance to complete such folksy, collectible bottled art.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

296. Lord of the Tangles: TARZAN HAIR PRODUCT LABELS

An essential to manly good grooming in the 50s is a thick dab of pomada on your hair to keep hair licks in place and give your mane a noticeably brilliant sheen. Pomades like Brilliantine, Glo-Co, Bryllcreem, Verbena and Three Flowers were the leading brands of the day--guaranteed to turn one into a Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, James Dean or Elvis Presley.

One other popular brands was TARZAN, which not only manufactured a pomade (the greasy stuff was bottled in a small clear glass with a an aluminum cap) but also a whole line of hair grooming products like quality hair tonics and lotions--as these colorful labels show. The graphics are bold, the colors brilliant and the illustrations art deco-ish.

The brand name makes an allusion to the shiny, elegant locks of the Lord of the Jungle, exemplified by Johnny Weissmuller, who swang from tree to tree--always with hair in place. But while Tarzan had a lush head, but have you ever noticed that he has non-existent facial hair? I wonder why.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

295. Toby or Not To Be: JESTER CHARACTER CUP

I couldn't help but stare back at  this character mug when I chanced upon it at a Makati thrift shop. Fairly small, with some crazing, it looked definitely old, reminiscent of the toby mugs of yore depicting a character in history. Technically, a toby jug depicts a whole person, while a character jug shows just the face, but these ceramic creations share one thing in common--they are all highly collectible!
This example is unmarked--Royal Doulton currently makes the most desirable toby cups and jugs--but the finish of this face jug is superb, the colors vivid and appealing. So off  it went to my collection of kitschy ceramics, that includes dozens of lady head vases. I'll probably use this cup, so every time I drink my coffee, I can face-off with this cool, jester dude from the 50s!!