July 4th Style
By Karen Parr-Moody

This country has come a long way since July 4, 1776, when America won its independence from Great Britain. But now one need not be upending tea in harbors to make statements; we simply pull out the red, white and blue bunting and drape our porch rails. Many more modern statements for today's patriotic homeowners are found among GasLamp's vintage and handmade items of décor.

Old-fashioned celebrations imbued with red, white and blue whimsy can be easily thrown by using the many finds in designer Jason Parker Counce's  Booth B-309.

"The Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday," says Counce. "There's the thrill of summer break, vacation, and getting out in the sunshine and riding my bike, not to mention homemade ice cream, picnics and fireworks displays to thrill the senses."

Such joyful endorsement of the Fourth of July shows all over Counce's booth right now. In the photo, above right, is one of Counce's folk art "Tomato Gnomes," which is hand-stitched, painted and put together by Counce ($26: Booth B-309). It sits on a red velvet tomato, naturally.

"It makes you laugh with silliness," Counce said.

One interesting tidbit to note regarding this charming gnome is that he carries a mushroom known as Amanita muscaria. This fungus is considered to be good luck in many parts of Europe; in fact, you will see Amanita muscaria in many vintage German Christmas ornaments.

Another item in the photo is an Uncle Sam hat cookie jar from the '70s; can't you see him filled with some chocolate chip cookies ($55; Booth B-309)? That is Counce's suggestions.

In the photo, above left, is another of Counce's handmade creations called a "Bunny in a Pot" (bunny, $6; bingo card, $3; Booth B-309). Holding his American flag high, this bunny peeks out of a painted and aged clay pot and is nattily finished off with a bow tie. Nestled among the bunting and flowers of a Fourth of July tabletop, this tiny bunny would make a charming statement. And by adding a few of his friends, it would make for an even better celebration. Counce doesn't miss a beat when it comes to creating adorable, yet usable, items.

In the photo, right, is a patriotic lunchbox which would be cute on a Fourth of July table, used as a floral container ($45; Booth B-309).
 
"What summer lunch would be complete without this "Stars and Stripes" version vintage lunchbox?" Counce asks. "I never had one as a kid, but I always envied the statement lunch boxes going to the lunchroom while I had a Mickey Mouse one."

This lunchbox could also be repurposed as a stationary organizer on one's desk. Wouldn't that be cute?

This antique 1884 ribbon in the photo, left, would look fabulous framed or simply sitting out as part of a Fourth of July vignette ($45; Booth B-309). .

"This was a treat," Counce said of this particular find, which is made of real silk ribbon, gold bullion trim and a smattering of sequins. They certainly don't make them like this anymore, do they? During the late 1800s there was a Skandia Aid Society in both Michigan and Ohio; it is not certain which one this ribbon is from.

Fourth of July decorations are so simple and refreshing: All one has to do is add red, white and blue! But why go modern when you can use a mix of vintage and handmade? These looks harken back to the time of our country's roots and give Fourth of July party guests a visual history lesson. Patriotic motifs, flags, stars, stripes get ratcheted up a notch when mixed in with vintage or vintage-inspired décor.

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