By Karen Parr-Moody
In July 4, 1776, America won its independence from Great Britain. Ever since, Americans have been celebrating the joyous day with marching bands, firecrackers, and lawn games, along with draping their homes in red, white, and blue cotton bunting. In joyful tributes to those days when white colonials homes were festooned in stars and stripes, today's patriotic homeowners can use vintage items to deck their house out. Old-fashioned Fourth of July décor easily brings the patriotic spirit home.
Inspired by turn-of-the-century celebrations, the Fourth of July menu mainstays include potato salad, watermelon, and homemade ice cream, to name a few. After seeing the whimsy with which designer Jason Parker Counce interprets the Fourth of July, his darling folk art pieces will become a new tradition for the table.
"I believe that decorating for the Fourth is the time to enjoy America," says Counce. "Pull out the red, white and blue in every way with flags, flowers, dinnerware, and picnic tablecloths."
In the photo, right, is one of Counce's large, tomato red "Summer Bunnies" handmade creations ($75; Booth B-309). Counce made this darling duo of out of felted wool, then he added moss and polka dot mushrooms to decorate the platform on which they stand. That scent you smell wafting from the big bunny? That would be the lavender-filled strawberries draped around his neck. Counce doesn't miss a beat when it comes to creating adorable, yet practical, items. Also in the photo is an Uncle Sam mug, which could be cute on a Fourth of July table, to be repurposed afterward as a pencil cup on one's desk ($18; Booth B-309).
Counce's booth also features many other Fourth-themed items, such as an Uncle Sam hat cookie jar from the '70s, patriotic quilts, and star-shaped pillows. In the photo, left, are his "Bunny in Flowerpots" handmade items of décor. Peeking out of a painted or aged clay pot, these cute bunnies celebrate the Fourth with their patriotic flag and bow tie (small bunnies, $6; large bunnies, $7; Booth B-309).
The glazed ceramic eagle in the photo, right, is the perfect complement for patriotic porch or kitchen décor ($85; W-101). It is so much more sophisticated than eagles of more ordinary ilk. If opting for a porch, one could complement this neutral eagle with pops of red, such as a rosy-toned vintage cooler, potted geraniums, and red-and-white linens. County-fair ribbons in red, white, and blue could be tied to chair backs to infuse them with a vintage American vibe. And an old quilt can be used to top a wicker chair. To use the eagle in a kitchen, simply replace everyday necessities with those that symbolize a patriotic color palette. It's easy to fold in colorful trays and dish towels, along with red shelf liner and brightly-colored cups and such. This is also the perfect time of year to bring out the Blue Willow; any blue-and-white transferware will look great on full display when contrasted against bright red.
The tobacco crate label in the photo, left, is a fine chromolithograph of a golden eagle, the very picture of patriotism ($250; Booth B-1004). The label dates to the 1880s and was printed in Virginia; it is now kept under glass with professional matting. Such crate labels are collectible pieces of Americana. They were originally used to mark crates, containers, and other packages that transported tobacco. Such chromolithographs were among the earliest attempts at creating brands for tobacco products, as the well-being of tobacco farmers depended on the successful marketing of their products. This patriotic print will last until well after the Fourth of July.
It's easy to go create a cozy outdoor seating area with the fabulous aqua-and-white striped metal-and-plastic chaise, a true blast from the past. It would look great paired with a white table topped by a vintage tablecloth. Also in the photo is an old 7-Up cool and a sign for the purple drink called Grapette, which was introduced in America in 1939. Grapette is popular with collectors who gather up soft drink collectibles, and it includes an array of branded vintage products including lighters, key chains, pencils, matchbooks, clocks, and picnic chests. Other soft drinks that were sold alongside Grapette in the 1940s included Orangette and Lemonette (chair, $123; old 7-Up cooler, $82; Grapette sign, $145; all at Booth B-319, the Burlap Rabbit).
Fourth of July decorations are so simple: Red, white, and blue is the color scheme of the day. By using vintage accoutrements, one harkens back to the time of our country's roots for a visual history lesson. Patriotic motifs, flags, stars, stripes; all of these are great fun for celebrating the spirit of freedom ... and the ante is upped with vintage-inspired décor.