(UPDATE) blast of steam from the past: the ironrite ironer

UPDATE: The iron I write about in this post has been SOLD.

My mom is starting the process of downsizing from her home of 60+ years, and one of the items that she’ll be parting with is something a lot of you have probably never heard of: the Ironrite Ironer. It’s an ironing machine consisting of of a big metal box with a huge roller in the middle that you move up and down with a knee pedals and hand controls. The actual name of it is the “Ironrite Mangle Ironer” — sounds like your clothes wouldn’t make it through, right? But actually, if you knew how to use it, you could get dry cleaner-perfect results. Of course, the Ironrite does take up a bit of space, and as such they were discontinued in 1961.

I well remember playing nearby as my mom fed slacks, pillowcases, and shirt sleeves into the machine, and the resulting smell of steam and heated cotton. My mom was a whiz with that thing, and in fact, until very recently, she was still using it! She inherited her Ironrite from her father, who actually won an ironing contest with it in the late 1940s (the image of my big, scary grandfather winning an ironing contest still amuses me, especially during that era). Though you can’t find them new, lots of people still use them — here’s a woman who uses an Ironrite to iron the silk that she uses to make scarves.

The “Health Chair” that came with the machine is itself a design classic — it even has a place in MoMA. I’m pretty sure we used to have that, too, unrecognizable under about 15 layers of duct tape (sometimes that’s good on a chair, sometimes it isn’t); it went into the garbage far before I was interested in decor, I’m sure.

If you’re just curious to learn more, visit this interesting site by Ironrite enthusiast George Edmonson. –Mary T.

NOTE: My mom’s Ironrite has been sold. But check the comments for more Ironrite enthusiasts.

Photos via George Edmonson’s Ironrite page at hubpages.com

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steal this idea: artful collection cabinetry

You know our hearts go aflutter with when we see a gorgeous butterfly display, so you can imagine the palpitations caused when we spotted this collection in the Cabinet of Curiosities of Bonnier de la Mosson in Paris (via Morbid Anatomy via Boing Boing). Leave it to French aristocrats to take preserving their treasures to a new level. The original cabinet was created in the 17th Century, what you see here is a painstaking restoration in the current museum. Makes you look at that china cabinet in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Do you have a interesting way of displaying your collections? Show them here! Send us an email at letters at shelterffic dotcom.

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turn your paperbacks into art

Do you have a favorite book from childhood? Why not turn it into a piece of art (and protect it) with a Picturebook frame by SuckUK. These specially designed wooden frames allow you to display your favorite book covers without having to tear off the jacket. Plus, if you feel like rereading, the book is easily removed. The frames can be hung on the wall or left freestanding. Pick one up for $19.89 here at delight.com. — Erica P.

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five things we learned last week


1. Metal bistro chairs may look cool, but they’re not very comfortable. Tiffany S wrote with experience: “I have metal chairs and, let me tell you, you freeze your *ss off in the winter! But they’re cute!” See the chairs and decide for yourself here.

2. Toy storage is a conundrum we have yet to solve. As Aris says: “I wish all kids rooms had furniture bolted onto the wall with floors that opened like trap doors! (warning: make sure to remove children before activating stow function).” See one solution we like, here.

3. With a little know how, almost any stain will come out.
Leeners82 recommends: “Mix dish soap with hydrogen peroxide and pour on the stains. rub it in a little and let sit. the stain will disappear. also amazing on red wine stains.” Got any more advice? Leave it here.

4. There’s an easier way to cut up butternut squash. Leah suggests: “Prick the squash all over with a fork and microwave it for about 2-3 minutes. It just softens it a little and makes it so much easier to cut into.” See a couple of easy things to cook with squash once you cut it here.

5. We celebrated inauguration night with chili and cupcakes.
See these Obama-riffic ones here! Thanks Rachel from One Pretty Thing and Alpha Mom.

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worth a visit: the charles m. schulz museum

A recent artlcle on an exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Reseplace Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., reminded me of just what a fun spot this is. If you find yourself in Sonoma County, and even if you only have a glancing appreciation of the venerable Peanuts comic strip, it’s worth a visit. Designed by architect C. David Robinson, the museum opened in 2002, the year I paid my first visit. I confess I’m a Peanuts fan, but I was surprised by just how cool the museum is. It’s surprisingly modern. There are Bertoia chairs on the deck. There’s a wonderful labyrinth outside that you wouldn’t know immediately is in the shape of Snoopy’s head, and in the backyard is an actual “kite-eating tree.”

But the inside is really what counts. From the huge wall tiled with Peanuts strips that from a distance form the famous tableau of Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football, to an actual nursery wall that Schulz painted for his children before Peanuts was even born, to rotating exhibitions featuring the themes in Schulz’s work, the museum is engaging. And it’s small enough that you can see everything even if you only have an hour or two. Once you’re done, walk across the street to enjoy the delightfully tacky/kitschy Redwood Empire Ice Arena (and large gift shop), “Snoopy’s Home Ice,” where Schulz ate two meals a day at the Warm Puppy Cafe. –Mary T.

Many thanks to Tomas N. Romero for the photos.

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