Butler County Times Gazette
  • Through the Front Door: Henny Penny, come live with me!

  • My new, can’t-get-enough-of fascination is “hen on nest” glassware
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  • Good morning, my lovely Saturday readers!
    Every once in a while I become completely obsessed about something. Usually, it’s a decorative object that strikes my fancy. I really don’t know what makes these things pop into my ding-a-ling-decorator brain, but they do. For years I’ve had a passion for English Toby Jugs. Before that I was in constant pursuit of Staffordshire dogs, which I will still pick up on occasion depending on the price. My new, can’t-get-enough-of fascination is “hen on nest” glassware.
    Perhaps it’s the character of this house, which features a bit of Connecticut flavor and a delightful dose of small town charm. Hmm, sounds like I’m describing an apple pie recipe! But having these lovely hens reside in my kitchen, and as well as nesting here and there throughout the house, just seems fitting. I’ve admired them for many years- my Mom had a couple (whose whereabouts are sadly unknown).
    Chick appeal
    I’m sure a good many of you remember my recent column on chickens. I’ve always had a fondness for chickens, and I’m not alone. Many people find chickens enchanting, maybe because they blend into various interiors, including French, English, cottage and shabby chic. A sleek and stylized chicken might work in a contemporary home and, of course, chickens are suited to the classic God Bless America home! If you live in the city limits and can’t have the real thing, you can substitute decorative chickens. (Bonus: No chicken coop to clean!)
    If you’ve been looking for an object to collect, this might be just the little kick in the tush you need to get started. Hen on nest glassware, also known as hen in a basket, animal dish and even trinket box, is readily available in many places close to home. I’ve picked up several at the Pigeon’s Roost and Paramount Antique Mall, where several booths offer these charmers at a modest price. Gizmo’s Flea Market in El Dorado is always a terrific adventure with plenty of one-of-a-kind treasures.
    Spring fling
    If you’re in that lackluster lull between rich holiday finery and spring fling, our homes can appear a bit naked. Easing that sad situation with a new passion and some new sparkle can do so much for the winter blues! Starting a new collection or adding pieces to an already developed infatuation is just what the doctor ordered. And don’t forget, they open. Inside your handy hen on nest you can store rarely used keys for safekeeping.
    You know what a fussbudget I am about what resides above kitchen cabinets, bookcases and other high furniture. A hen on nest is just the perfect size, and it can add such a flash of a happy hue. Maybe elevate several in groupings on boxes or baskets above the kitchen cabinets or tuck them into kitchen cabinets with glass doors to lend a decorative touch to your everyday dinnerware. Try stacking cookbooks in a kitchen bookcase and letting a hen on nest roost there for an enjoyable touch.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hen on nests are ideal for seasonal décor as well. When you start designing a lovely pastel tablescape for a spring luncheon, display a few about the table with a collection of similar posy hues. Let one nest on a bed of raffia, excelsior packing grass or even Easter grass on the top plate of your petit fours stand and display your lovely pastries below—love it! I’ve seen these adorable hens displayed on a shelf directly in front of a window, where they catch the sunshine and bounce the color about the room—amazing!
    When the hen on nest hatched
    A bit of background is always nice to know when something piques your interest. According to my research, the Westmoreland Glass Company coined the term “hen on a nest” (later abbreviated to “hen on nest”) in the 1930s. To make these lovely glass pieces, a plunger presses molten glass into molds that range from plain to very intricate with rich carvings and fine feather detailing. The pressed glass process started in England, but made its way to the United States shortly thereafter.
    At one time, more than 100 companies made the hen on nest in some 250 variations. That is probably why so many are available at very acceptable price points. The sizes range from a tiny 2” to a nice 8” in length. You’ll find them molded from a variety of glass types, pastel hues of Depression glass, slag glass, carnival glass, milk glass, clear glass and even crystal. I own a painted ceramic (rather than relief) one produced in England during the Staffordshire period. Some of the earlier pieces were actually created to advertise things like mustard. If we only knew then what we know now, my darlings! (Of course then the fun of a weekend treasure hunt would not happen. And don’t you just love tracking down that perfect piece for the perfect place in your home! Then sitting down to a leisurely lunch and reviewing all your divine purchases? Now that is the most ideal day ever!) I hope I have produced a few hen hunters out of some of you!
    Until next Saturday, have a wonderful week!

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