A Thirst-Quenching April Fools

Happy April Fools!

Well, it’s that time of year again and we busy bees are here to facilitate public awareness of our stuffy, dignified ancestors mercilessly pranking one another. There are so many vintage-made jokes found at QBO sales that this year’s April Fool’s selection had to be selectively limited to “beverage-related”.

You say you like coffee AND you’re a golfer? How about a “Hole in One” mug? (The hole tunnels all the way through it.) Or, if you’re of Polish descent and can enjoy a good laugh at yourself, here’s a “Polish  Mug” with the handle on the inside. On to the bar…

A set of bar implements from the man caves of yore, styled after woodworking tools. (Ha.)

Or, (heh heh) how about gross plastic flies to freeze in ice cubes for unsuspecting guests?

Next we have 2 shots and a flask measuring liquor out by how soused you’ll get: 0 oz = Rabbits, 1 oz = Ladies, 2 oz = Gentlemen, 3 oz = Pigs, 4 oz = Jackasses! Or, Ladies, Gentleman and HOGS. Or, One Drink, Two Drinks, Half-Full and DAMN FOOL. (guffaw)

Moving on. One detailed, working bar-top liquor dispenser elaborately modeled in the form of an old-timey gas station pump. One martini shaker in the shape of a 1950s fire extinguisher (this ‘Thirst Quencher’ approved by Underwriters & Fire Chiefs!) And lastly, one oh-so-classy decanter based on the famous Belgian statue, the “Manneken Pis”, AKA the “Little Pissing Man”. And yes, the liquor comes out exactly where you’d think. The original bronze fountain was made in Brussels in 1619 to dispense water in the town square. Needless to say, it is a MAJOR tourist attraction, stolen so many times that now a replica stands in its place while the original Little Man pees safely in a museum.

But this, THIS is the Holy Grail of all beverage-related pranks: the legendary Dribble Glass. Long has your humble servant searched and AT LAST! Found at a QBO sale! The Dribble Glass is one of the those annoying, relatively harmless pranks: You, at a church social, innocently drinking a glass of Hawaiian punch when – “Ack!” – there’s punch all down your shirt front! How could you be so clumsy? It’s a gaslighting kind of joke; the victim assumes themselves at fault since there’s no apparent equipment malfunction… but there WAS.

The Dribble Glass’s method of mayhem also created its diabolical camouflage, allowing it to blend right in with a style of tumbler common in the 1940s, 50s & 60s: thin blown glass, holding 6 to 8 oz and adorned with cut designs of twinkly stars or florals. There are thousands of legit drinking glasses like this still with us. The designs were hand-ground into the glass surface using very hard stone cutting wheels of varying dimensions. If the artist accidentally ground too far, the wheel would penetrate right through the glass, ruining it with a nasty hole. But for a Dribble Glass, that “right through” was done ON PURPOSE, locating nearly invisible holes high enough on the glass to clear the top of the beverage when the glass is filled. Liquid only leaks out when the glass is tilted into the unlucky mark’s mouth – haw HAW! (sorry…)

Fortunately for those who care about their clothing, cut-glass tumblers were deposed by larger, sturdier drinking glasses decades ago. And, losing its essential camouflage, the Dribble Glass faded into obscurity. But, if you are the spicy kind of person who still wants one, they can be found with a bit of careful searching. Often the fatal holes are almost invisible but can be felt from the inside of the glass with a fingernail. And of course, there’s no better place to look for one than at QBO.

Blue Willow

Blue and White Painted Scenery

A traditional Chinese Fairy Tale brought to you by QBO: Once there was a stern father who lived with his daughter in a pagoda beside an ancient apple tree. As the girl blossomed into a woman the father arranged to marry her off to a wealthy merchant. Alas, she had fallen in love with her father’s clerk so the young lovers had no choice but to run. With his men-at-arms in tow, the father pursued the defiant lovers across oceans, finally finding them in a cottage on a small island. Blinded by rage, the father moved to strike them down but the gods intervened, transforming the pair into birds who escaped into the sky. In some versions of the story the lovers are even executed, only becoming doves as they attain immortality. And thus Blue Willow china, which you will find at many, MANY Queen B Estate Sales, was created to immortalize this historic tale.

Only this is NOT a genuine Chinese folk tale; just the fact that frequently the characters are said to “live in a pagoda” (which is religious architecture, not a dwelling) is enough to tip you off that the story was made up by people from elsewhere in the world. And that elsewhere would be England.

Blue Willow is believed to have first been made in England in the late 1700s. Three men are alternately credited with the pattern: Josiah Spode at the Spode Company in Stoke-on Trent, or Thomas Turner at Caughley Pottery Works in Shropshire, or maybe John Turner at Caughley. It’s murky.

But that murk directly contributed to Blue Willow’s immortal popularity. Blue Willow was created when Chinoiserie was the rage in the west. People were mad for luxury goods from China, especially hand-painted blue and white porcelains with exotic landscapes and dream-like scenes of courtly life.

Dutch blue and white Delft pottery is based on Chinese porcelain and this is also around the time that the word “china” came to mean ceramics in the English language. In portraits of the wealthy, it was not uncommon to see blue and white china used as a status symbol. As you might imagine, the economic pressure on English ceramic makers was intense.

To compete with China, transferware was invented. The process uses engraved copper plates to print a design on paper. The designs are then transferred to pottery pieces to be glazed and fired, allowing mass production of pieces which previously could only be hand- painted. Like Blue Willow, the invention of transferware is credited to different people at different factories but the process allowed English manufacturers to cheaply imitate expensive Chinese wares. And, because thiswas before extensive copyright laws, many manufacturers copied the “Chinese” design. Many, MANY manufacturers – there have been 400 different Blue Willow producers in England and hundreds more worldwide!

Thus you’ll find Blue Willow in any shape, size and style you’d like, not to mention it being interpreted into fabric, stickers, mousepads and so much more. You’ll even find Blue Willow in black, red, pink, green, or brown. And, the high-end contemporary porcelain line “Calamityware” offers an homage to Blue Willow which populates the classic pagoda-dotted landscape with giant robots, flying monkeys, monsters and UFOs.

So, what about that myth of star-crossed lovers? Well, it seems to have been spun to add a bit of ‘Oriental gravitas’ to a mass- produced English product, but like the pattern, the story also became beloved, appearing in book, musical and play form. Feel the need for Blue Willow? Visit QBO!

Introducing Hannah! Our First Portland Organizer!

It is a pleasure to introduce you to Hannah! She is the newest edition to our team and will be helping to bring the kind, compassionate, and caring support that Queen B Organizing is known for with their clients. Hannah will be helping clients on the weekends in the the Portland Metro area. If you need help organizing a play area, garage, kitchen or more and need someone with availability on the weekends Hannah is the one for you. Give us a call today at 541-231-6964, email us at getorganized@queenborganizing.com, or use this link to find a weekend to get Hannah’s help!

Hannah has several years of experience with housekeeping and organizing. She has experience organizing storage spaces, art studios, bedrooms, kitchens, and offices. As someone who enjoys rearranging and redesigning her own space often, she has a good eye for design and functionality. With her background in psychology, she has worked with children and families for several years. Hannah is patient, compassionate, and flexible.


Teeny Opener, Great Huge Can

On the go can opener

A happy QBO ‘David and Goliath’ story: first is ‘David’, this handy, tiny-but-mighty tool; SO tiny we don’t sell them individually but we do get them in our $1 grab-bags, emergency gear, or military, camping, and Boy Scout mess kits. Look close and you might find one.

If you served in the military before sealed-pouch MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat), you know these micro-sharps as the P 38 and P-51 Can Opener that once helped hungry soldiers open canned C-Rations. The not-so-tasty C- Ration was first issued to American G.I.s in WWII and each had a can-opening ‘key’ soldered to the lid. However that key could get lost so P-38s were backups, like a small spare tire. These here are marked “U.S. Speaker”, “129-9982 B. A.W. ^ 1975”, “U.S. Koolaire 1951”, “Safesport” and “Shelby” – 5 different makers! The sugar packet-sized envelopes have different graphics but share a regulation text. The P-38 is just 1 & 1/2″ and myth has it that “38” is the number of cuts necessary to get a C-Ration open. But the P-51, introduced in the 1960s, is 1/2″ longer to open cans more efficiently (less cuts), so the myth doesn’t quite make sense. Anyhoo…

The very first tiny can openers were invented in 1914 for British WWI troops. Called either KF6314s after their stock number, or ‘the MORFED’ after their maker, Morfed South Wales Ltd., hundreds of thousands of ‘Baby Can Openers’ were issued. Later N.A.T.O. forces also carried the tiny openers and thus they have disseminated across the planet.

The sterilizer hole lets you carry your P-38 on a keyring or sling it around your neck along with your dog tags, but if you’re concerned about it accidentally unfolding, (a rare but painful occurrence!) its flat profile is ideal for slipping into your wallet so that you, like a good Boy Scout, can always be prepared.

On the ‘Goliath’ side we have this GIANT can of Gluten-Free Black Bean Burger Mix by Augason Farms. Like C Rations, Augason food is sealed in cans needing a can opener. Unlike C-Rations (and MREs) which have a shelf-life of 3-4 years, Augason foods are shelf-stable 5-25 years! This is because foods in C-Rations and MREs are wet, i.e. gravy-soaked stews. Augason Farms’ food is freeze-dried before being hermetically sealed. And QBO sells them at less than retail, so they are popular!

Augason Farms is a family-run business out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Augason family are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) whose faith mandates that they store months’ worth of emergency food for both themselves, and to help neighbors. In the past this meant home-canned food in basements, but in 1972 the leap to commercially-made, shelf-stable food was a natural. The first product by founder Phil Augason was “Morning Moo”, a low-fat milk alternative still in demand today. Now his son Mark is President and Augason Farms also offers shelf-stable baking mixes, beans, grains, beverages, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, meats, veggie proteins, soups, entrees, water and emergency preparedness kits.

The last 3 years have been Augason’s finest and their most trying. During lockdown there was a run on shelf-stable food that forced the company to stop selling to individual customers in order to meet demand from long-time business partners like Walmart. To sell direct to the public via the internet again they have to re-register in all 50 states, a lengthy process. But, in the spirit of loving thy neighbor, Augason Farms also donated over one million servings of emergency food to relief efforts in Ukraine. Over a million! Hankering to slay a great, huge can of food with a teeny-tiny can opener? Visit QBO!

Gyotaku Fish Print

A stamp made of real fish

This original work of art from a recent Beehive sale was created by Oregonian Timothy D. Buehler, who signed it in pencil. If you guessed that it’s a print, you’re right. And, if you guessed that it’s a painting, you’d also be right – the original print is finished with hand-painted elements. Its edition number is 1/1, so it’s a monoprint – the only one ever made.

This kind of printing is known as Gyotaku (魚 拓), a portmanteau word combining Gyo “fish” and Taku meaning “stone impression” or “print”. That’s right, this “Fish-Print” was made by printing directly on the paper with an ACTUAL DEAD FISH, not a carved print block.

The origins of Gyotaku are prosaic – the technique was invented in Japan in the late 19th century, (before cellphones put a camera in every pocket) when fishermen needed a quick, accurate way to document catches. Someone thought to rub one side of the fish with sumi ink, a traditional soot-based ink made by grinding burnt pine branches. Soft rice paper is then gently laid on the inked fish and rubbed. When the paper is lifted off, the life-size fish impression is easily identifiable. Last, the non-toxic, water-soluble ink is rinsed off the fish, which is then ready to be sold and eaten. The oldest known Gyotaku was made in 1862. It was of a red seabream, a culturally and culinarily important fish. The auspicious bream is eaten at New Years, weddings and on other grand occasions, so that fish was definitely not thrown away after printing!

In this modern work, the printer may have used the same fish three times to make this ‘school’. He created a life-like appearance with multiple inks on the fish and later painted in realistic eyes. The work is finished with hand-painted seaweed strands. It is possible to do leaf-prints of seaweed but bulbous float bladders on this type could make it difficult.

The fish is identified as a Rockfish, also known as rockcod, snapper, or sea bass. There are over 38 species in Oregon’s coastal waters including Black Rockfish, Blue, Bocaccio, Canary, Chilipepper, China, Copper, Deacon, Greenstriped, Redstripe, Silvergray, Quillback, Vermilion, Widow, and Yellowtail; many of which are hard to tell apart. Rockfish are good eating, but anglers must beware of their sharp, spiny fins. You should also know that Yelloweye rockfish is prohibited to keep and must immediately be thrown back, so, no printing the Yelloweyes!

Gyotaku has become fine art and three different methods are now used: Direct, (previously described), Indirect, in which silk fabric is adhered to the fish with rice paste and then ink is gently applied to the silk with tampos, small, stuffed cloth tampers. The most prominent features of the fish pick up the most ink, creating a highly detailed print. The last method, Transfer, is rare but allows a real fish print to be applied to a rigid surface such as wood. The fish is inked, then a polyethylene film is patted onto it and lifted off while the ink is still wet. The polyethylene is then immediately pressed onto the wood, transferring the print.

But fine art is not Gyotaku’s only use. The process takes careful observation and results in an accurate record so it’s become a fun way to teach fish identification at museums, universities and aquariums. The OSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club sometimes offers classes, and in 2021 The Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport hosted a year-long exhibition. And Gyotaku is still used to record catches in Okinawa and Japan, where prints can sometimes be seen in tackle shops. Want to catch your own Gyotaku? Visit QBO!