Collections

my collection of flower frogs

Collections – Flower Frogs

my collection of flower frogs

What is it about collections that bring us so much joy? Is the hunt for the next piece? Is it the thrill of finding that rare piece that you have been searching for forever? Or is it the appreciation for the collection itself? For me, it’s all these things. As a dealer, I have to admit that the hunt is exciting. The rarer the piece, the more exhilarating it is to find it, but I also love displaying them and using them.

I have a few collections (ok, maybe more than a few).  Truth is I have a quite a few collections. I collect vintage Madonna’s and rosaries.  I also collect vintage trophies, vintage Christmas cards, Santa’s, vintage coral, decorating books and my prized flower frog collection.

purple dahlia flower frog
metal japanese flower frog

Having been a florist for many years, flower frogs have always spoken to me. I still consider myself a florist and use my flower frogs all the time in the arrangements I make for my home. Of all my collections, the flower frog collection has probably been the easiest to build. As with all things, the passage of time makes things harder to find, but because most flower frogs are made of metal, they seem to weather the years gracefully. They get better with each year that passes.

In case you don’t know what a flower frog is. Let me explain.  A flower frog is a type of mechanics used to stabilize the stems of flowers in a vase or container.  

Nobody is certain as to why they are called frogs.  Except that they the do sit in water like frog do.

Flower frogs were used by flower lovers for centuries and were made in different sizes and shapes to accommodate various vessels and flower types. Until the 1950s, when floral foam was invented, and designers stopped using frogs for mechanics. Flash forward to today, people are starting to realize the environmental impact of the foam (which is essential plastic that does not break down), and they are beginning to turn back to frogs and cages for floral mechanics. So much so that they are even being manufactured again because of the high demand for an eco-friendly tool.

I thought I would go over the different categories of flower frogs and, along the way, show you my collection within each category. They range in materials from metal, glass, ceramic, lead, and plastic. Some are very practical in form and material, but older Victorian frogs can be very elaborate and sometimes whimsical.


What are the different types of flower frogs?

stacked vintage flower frogs

Metal Pin Flower Frogs

I think these are the easiest to find. If you go to enough estate sales or yard sales, you will find them pretty easily and often inexpensively. Often you will find round and oval frogs. It’s always fun to find the leaf-shaped and flower-shaped frogs.

Pin frogs are better suited for architectural designs. They are used in the ikebana style of floral design because they are rigid and help achieve the strong lines in ikebana. 

This is a close-up of the Dazey leaf-shaped flower frog. Made by Dazey Mfg. Co.

vintage flower frogs

The round metal frogs look great stacked, and I usually sell them in sets. I prefer to display them stacked. I love how each one has its unique patina, and stacking that patina all together makes them even more irresistible look.

Because they provide a weighted bottom and do not damage the cards like tape, I often use them to display my holiday cards.

group of metal pin flower frogs

 

Glass Flower Frogs

Glass flower frogs are the frogs that I get the most question about. Made of glass, they have wider holes and are almost always round in shape. People often struggle to see how they are used for floral design because the holes are so big. 

They come in different sizes and colors but are generally round, some are flatter, some are more domed in shape.  Sometimes people use them as pen holders, scissor holders or brush holders (makeup or art). I get asked about them so often that I created a tutorial on how I use them in an arrangement, you can find it here. I love using glass flower frogs for bulkier stems; they create a great structure for heavy and or thicker stems, like sunflowers or tulips.

The thick glass makes them virtually bullet proof.  They can withstand a lot of wear and tear.  While I do find them with chips, most of the time they are in perfect condition.

 

Hairpin Flower Frogs

Hairpin flower frogs are made of bent metal. Bringing the best of both worlds, this style of flower frog provides rigidness of the pin frogs and allows spacing for thicker stems like the glass frog. Created by Ida Sinclair one afternoon after listening to the frustrations of designers at her garden club meeting. Her first prototype was made in her kitchen, consisting of a lead base and hairpins. She patented her Blue Ribbon Flower Holder in 1936.

This frog became very popular until the 50’s when the floral foam was introduced. This frog allows you to achieve a fuller and more dynamic design. For some reason, these are not easy for me to come by. Only recently did I find a couple, and I have collected flower frogs for a while now.

metal hairpin flower frog
Vintage Hairpin Frog
holding vintage flower frog

Vintage Cage Flower Frogs  

Cage flower frogs are again made of metal with a wider, stiffer opening  compared to the Hairpin Flower Frog. The whole/spaces are not as wide as the glass but they are stiffer than the hairpin frogs. As a designer, I like to design with cages. Today they make reusable plastic ones, but I prefer metal. I think because of the weight. It does a better job of holding the overall arrangement in place and it’s better for the environment.

 

green vintage cage flower frog top view
Vintage Cage Flower Frog
holding vintage cage flower frog

 Decorative Ceramic Flower Frogs

ceramic woman flower frog

Now come the decorative ceramic frogs.  They are typically more ornate and often whimsical. Modern-day ceramic frogs are more simple and utilitarian.  Of all the frog options, these are my least favorite. They are similar to glass frogs but lack the weight needed for arrangements.  For that reason, I find these to be the least useful.

fish and turtle flower frog
underside of flowerfrog

My other issue with these frogs is although beautiful, they take attention from the flowers.  Vintage frogs of this type are most often used decoratively to highlight a few glorious stems rather than a beautiful arrangement.  Perfect for your prized picks from your garden.  

naked women ceramic flower frog
Nude on rock with turtle. This would likely have had a matching dish.

Ceramic frogs became popular during the early 20th century, becoming more and more elaborate.  The book Flower Frogs For Collectors, by Bonnie Bull, is the most complete and comprehensive compilation of flower frogs.  If you are collecting frogs I recommend this book.  It is no longer in print, but you can still find copies on Amazon and eBay.  

Decorative ceramic flower frogs are harder to find because of their fragility. Of the three in my collection, 2 have chips. I find them often, but very rarely do I find them in perfect condition. 

Lead Flower Frogs

flowers in flower frog
lead dragon flower frog
dahlias lead flower frog
purple dahlias vintage flower frog

This frog is just one sheet of lead rolled into itself, providing space for stems that can be manipulated as needed.

collection of flower frogs

The most popular and most coveted for collections is the lead chrysanthemum shaped frog.  With the individual leaves easily manipulated, it is not only beautiful, but functional.

chrysanthemum lead flower frog
Lead Chrysanthemum Flower Frog

Metal Flower Frogs


This is another frog that is a little harder to find.  Both of the frogs above would have been silver plated,  They have lost a bit of their luster, but they are still beautiful in design and weight.  These are not the easiest frogs to use because you are fighting with the constrains of the shape, but unlike the ceramic frogs.  These frog are heavy and will hold your flowers beautifully.  They also look beautiful on there own and that’s why it’s special day when you find one.

metal flower frog with flowers

 

That sums up the different categories of flower frogs.  I am happy to have a least one from each category.  My flower frog collection has taken me years to compile.  I love to display and use these beauties, and urge folks to return back to frogs vs floral foam.  When using the right frog, you can have the same level of control as you do with foam.  There are also lots of new designs on the market today, which is exciting to see things changing in the floral design world. Happy hunting!

Collecting Vintage Christmas Ornaments

I have a list of things I always look for when I am out picking. And Christmas is number one on my list. My love for vintage Christmas is so big, vintage Santa’s and hand-made stockings, oh and vintage Christmas cards! It’s always a magical day when I find vintage Christmas, but what I love most are antique glass ornaments.

Germany is famous for its glass ornaments, and many consider it the birthplace of glass ornaments, but Poland and Japan also made beautiful coveted glass ornaments.

During the early 1900’s America became the biggest importer of glass ornaments. At least it was until WWII, which resulted in a ban on German goods. With necessity being the mother of invention, a German immigrant named Max Eckardt used the Cornings E-Machine technology (used to make glass light bulbs) and perfected the production of glass Christmas ornaments. They were able to mass-produce glass ornaments, and Shiney Brite was born.

I don’t have a preference. German, Japanese, American, I just love the fragileness of the glass, the muted colors, and the crackle in the paint. Even though the colors may be muted, there is still so much life in these ornaments.  And nothing says Christmas like a silver bowl full of vintage red glass ornaments. The various shades, shapes and sizes. It’s one of my favorite things—each one unique, with its own patina.

To me nothing says Christmas like a silver bowl full of vintage red glass ornaments. All different shapes and shades.  It’s one of my favorite things—each one unique, with its unique patina.  

Over the last few years, I have opted for a bare tree with just lights.  I have found that I prefer to enjoy my ornaments in bowls and jars.  I can group colors and styles together, and I feel like they have more of an impact.

how to clean Vintage christmas ornaments?

I learned to be VERY carful when cleaning the ornaments.  Be sure to spot test.  

My advice, don’t use soap or cleaners.  Only use water and use it sparingly.  In the past I have accidentally washed all off the paint with dish soap.  If you do end up removing the paint, the beautiful mercury glass underneath was pretty lovely as well so it’s not a total loss.  

Not as bad as dropping a 70 year old ornament on the floor.  Which has happened way to too many times!!!!

My score of the year, are these lovely glass ornaments in pastel yellow and green; they are just so delicate and sweet.   Not traditional Christmas colors, but really beautiful.  I bought these back in August!  And while I didn’t forget about them, when I opened the box last week,  it was just as lovely as the first time.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my collection.  Happy hunting!