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Vintage Canisters in the Modern Kitchen


Vintage canisters: Laura and I share a love of them. We don’t want the shiny new, reproduction ones however; we want the dinged-up, scratched and used ones with their gorgeous patina of age that really once sat in somebody’s 1930’s or 1940’s kitchen. One day when I was rhapsodizing about their cool retro colors and shapes, Laura asked me an interesting question. She said,

“What is it you really want when you want those old things?” It took me a while. Then I thought. The time my Grandma Selma mixed up her canister of scouring powder with the one containing baking soda and served us all mandlebrot cookies that tasted like soap. The way the canisters seemed to float on the counter in the afternoon sun, casting saucer-like shadows as my grandmothers baked, a delicate apron bow tied at their waists. I painted them once, and now that painting is our logo for Antique Recipe Roadshow.

I don’t want to be back in the 1940’s. I know that life wasn’t better, or simpler, or more meaningful then.

What I really want when I want those old things, I realized, is my grandmothers back, alive again. I can’t have that of course. But I can run my fingers over the dents in my vintage ones where maybe someone’s fingers from back then also lingered. These days, my Rubbermaid containers do a better job of keeping my flour air-tight and fresh, but I organize my kitchen counters with an old canister that Laura bought me for my birthday one year, pictured above, by keeping unsightly junk drawer cords and coins in it.

If you’d like a cool old canister to keep your cell phone charger in too, here’s a link to an ebay page where they have some really great ones.

see also: To paint a canister

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What a delightful post! I think you’ve managed to capture why I’m so drawn to antiques, especially in my kitchen. And it isn’t just Grandma I’m missing either--it is the art of lovin’ from the oven that was lost by the women of my mom’s generation, who thought that baking meant enslavement, and raised us on prepackaged convenience foods as a result.

I’m really into the old bread boxes, too--been finding a lot of really great ones on Etsy, and enjoying keeping my bread, rolls, and muffins inside!

    – TheMuffinMom (February 23 2010 at 9:53)

What a beautiful post and heartfelt thoughts. Oh if only we could conjure up our loved ones and happy times with these relics!

    – ciaochowlinda (February 24 2010 at 6:25)

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