Finding Vintage / vintage goods

Finding Vintage with Ryan Townsend: Artist, Maker, Explorer, Visual Arts Educator

Finding Vintage with Ryan Townsend: Artist, Maker, Explorer, Visual Arts Educator

Ryan Townsend is an art maker and art educator, based North of Boston. With a B.A. in Studio Art & Anthropology and a Masters in Art Education, his art explorations involve practices and materials such as clay, watercolors, acrylics, sculpture and installation. Ryan's work aesthetic is often a mix of minimal and organic, and he is influenced by a combination of traditional and contemporary approaches. His art as well as his art education practices incorporate various references to culture, traditions, and cultural meaning-making through artful objects.

There's the bio now meet Ryan IRL (in real life if you're new to the world).  Ryan and I met many years ago in of all places Anthropology.  I was shopping and he was employed there.  I picked up a hand crafted crab from a display table and asked Ryan the price. He responded with something to the effect of - those actually aren't for sale. I made them for the display but I'm happy to tell you how to do it. What's not unusual is the fact that I picked up a piece of a display and wanted to buy it.  What is unusual is that Ryan was so forthcoming about wanting to share his idea and creativity. At that point in time Ryan had graduated with a college degree, was getting his masters in art and was working at Anthropology as a side gig.  A couple of years ago I reached back out to Ryan to see what he was up to and found that along with teaching he was still creating. Since then Ryan and I have worked together on several projects and I have been lucky to be able to represent some of his work at Water and Main.

My conversation with Ryan:

I know from being creative myself sometimes it's hard for me to stay with one thing.  For you, how did you choose ceramics.  Were there other mediums that you were also interested in?

My appreciation for clay and ceramics first emerged in my high school art classes. When first deciding on what to concentrate on during undergrad, my mind was focused on painting & drawing actually and not ceramics at all. I took a bunch of 2-dimensional based studio courses-- Painting with acrylics, painting with oils, printmaking, letterpress, drawing. It was only in the last 2 years of college that I picked up ceramics again (after some time away studying abroad) which probably speaks to the fact that it really is also hard for me to stick with one thing. However, there are so many contemporary artists now who incorporate such variety and mixtures of mediums into their work, so overall I'm seeing it as a wonderful thing.  I love playing with different mediums, materials and techniques and often like to overlap/incorporate mixed media into what I make. With ceramics, I started to realize that you can transfer those 2-D skills into the 3-D surface treatments, with glazes and underglazes, and so it is a really satisfying way to combine those dimensions of art making. 

You teach high schoolers. Why teaching? Is it hard to get kids excited about art and art forms or do you find kids are excited to learn?  

I teach at a public high school. This year, I teach all of the 3D Studio Art, Ceramics, and Photography classes. So, in this sense it's lucky to not be able to focus on just one thing in my art practice! I went to Massachusetts College of Art & Design for my Masters in Teaching Art between 2017 and 2018, but really have been interested in being a teacher since high school, partly because I was inspired by my own art teacher who was so nurturing and loving, and partly because it's often just so fun to be in a classroom facilitating art-making. I love to see young adults having artistic revelations or suddenly finding joy and excitement in making because I know what it means to me and how much it can help you look into yourself, promote self-growth, and see things differently than before. The challenge of the art teacher is to help every one of your students find access points for making art and finding their own artistic direction/style. Some students are always going to be more willing than others to get in to it. The craft of teaching often lies in the tailoring of your curriculum to the needs and interests of your students at any given point in the year, so that you can maximize that excitement within them. 

What are you excited about in the world of creating right now. Not about trends or what people in the industry are saying, I mean what do you want to create next or want to learn?

Though I have taught photography for the last two years, transparently, I don't actually have much of a background in it so my biggest goal right now is to keep gathering knowledge and mastering the art of photo. I got back into the darkroom process last year and that turned out to be more enjoyable than I anticipated. I hadn't done any darkroom since high school so I loved relearning about the technical aspects of it. With digital photography, I have been experimenting a bit with color play, multiple exposure layering, and post shoot editing and I am excited about those explorations. On the horizon I also am looking forward to pushing my ceramic forms in new directions, bringing back more of my 2-d painting process, and hopefully getting into UX design as well.

Is there someone in the world of art that inspired you to focus on art or was it just something you fell into? 

Looking back at the trajectory, initially it was probably my mom, and other family members as a kid. Then, it was most definitely my art teachers in high school, followed by my professors and creative friends/peers in college. After that, it was my grandparents in a big way who helped me dive into clay a bit more intimately as an emerging adult trying to figure out how to really start life. Finally, there are all the random valuable humans who are so important in different ways that come in and go out of your life at certain points, even if just for a moment, who push you or make you feel special in just the right ways so that you keep making art. 

What's the real advice for makers who might be working at a store as a side hustle but are interested in pursuing a career in art?

It's hard work, and often so personal/emotional and I don't have a very clear answer. I do recall my ceramics professor saying to us that if we had the passion and desire to be artists in this world that we would need to get used to working double, and having 2 full-time jobs, at least for some period of time. You must have the energy and drive to make it happen, which is cliche and true. Simultaneously, you need to recognize that everyone's art journey is very different and each flows in organic, non-linear ways. Sometimes you might have many weeks or months of not creating. Be kind to yourself and respect yourself and pick back up as soon as you feel an ounce of inspiration. It really depends on what you need to prioritize in your life. For me right now, teaching is my full time priority and creating/making currently is very much a part-time side focus, and that's just the reality of it. Summer time flexibility will allow me to be more active in my making, and this is the cycle with many public school art educators. Just keep making whenever you can/however you can, network with other creatives and supporters of the arts, and promote yourself especially now through virtual means. Eventually, people will pick up on and appreciate your work and USE THAT as momentum to keep going. 



Tracy Foley
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Finding Vintage with Delaney Antique Clocks

Finding Vintage with Delaney Antique Clocks

"Clocks always tell a story because on a first period tall clock there were three hands at work.  A cabinet maker who made the case, an ornamental painter who made the dial and the clockmaker who made the movement and generally got all the credit for making the clock."

-- Sean Delaney, Delaney Antique Clocks

Sean and his brother John Delaney are at the top of their field. Delaney Clocks is the foremost clock expert in the U.S. which is why they have spent the last 15 years appearing on Antiques Roadshow appraising all kinds of clocks. Their showroom in West Townsend, Massachusetts, which by the way is a beautiful antique carriage house, has been housing clocks for over 50 years and they have the largest collection of tall clocks in the country.

Truth be told, I met Sean Delaney when my husband and I were first dating. They went to college together and we would go out to Seans amazing antique home in West Townsend and hang out in his renovated barn at Christmas time. He was already in the antique business and I had just started collecting.

Sean's parents started the clock business so naturally Sean and his brother were raised with knowledge of antique clocks that was instilled in them. It's a family business but you also have to love clocks, have a passion and have knowledge if you want to survive in this business and that he does.

Why are we talking clocks? Because they are back or they never left. I'm generally uninformed about clocks so I asked Sean a few questions so I know what to look for.

Me: These tall clocks are made so beautifully, do artists sign the clocks?

Sean : If a clock is signed on the dial by the maker it adds to the story significantly because now we know who made the clock, where the clockmaker worked and when. Most clockmakers are listed and important clockmakers have lots of information in their listings such as where they were born and died, their working dates, who they apprenticed with, etc.

Me: What do you look for when you're trying to date a clock?

Sean: You can tell where and when most cases were made from regional characteristics of the clock case and if you're really knowledgeable one can tell where and when the clock was made within a decade.  For example, in Boston, tall clock cases became highly inlaid circa 1800 vs a Boston tall clock that was made in 1780 generally would not have inlay because that wasn't the fashion.  Taste changed just like cars.  A Concord, NH tall clock would look very different from a Concord, Ma. tall clock. Dials also provide lots of clues as to when a clock was made. In general later clock dials provide less numerical markings than earlier clock dials.

Me: Are people still buying clocks? 

Sean: Yes! We are selling lots of tall case clocks and other clocks for that matter. Since Covid people are improving their homes and working from home so there has been a huge uptick in the antique market across the board. Antiques are affordable again and that creates interest but clocks are also a functional item.

Me: Where did the term Grandfather clock come from?

Sean: It came from the number one hit song in 1905 called " My grandfathers clock" written by Henry Clay Work 1876.  It topped the charts and the name stuck!

Tall clocks seem to be back in style. I personally love the look of a tall cased or grandfather clock in a room design. They work in a traditional setting but also look amazing mixed in a modern design because they add the warmth and tell a story. Tall clocks are like art, the details on the clock face, the wood inlay and the pleasing sound of a chime

In my early years in the business I remember having a conversation with Sean and he gave me some great advice.  He said "specialize in something and be the best at that" and that he has done, shipping clocks all over the world and being sought after for his expert knowledge on clocks.

If you're looking for more information on clocks or want to see them in person you can find Delaney Antique Clocks brick and mortar shop at 435 Main Street, West Townsend, Massachusetts located just 45 miles from Boston - a one hour drive.

Visit them online at where you can sign up to receive their newsletter, watch videos, connect to links for current shows and see portions of their inventory.




Tracy Foley
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Finding Vintage at Spring Hill Farm

Finding Vintage at Spring Hill Farm

I think I first met Emily on Instagram (it is 2021 you know) and then at Brimfield.  You meet lots of people at Brimfield but right away I knew Emily was authentic and is doing what she loves. A farm girl, raising chickens and running an antique business where she carries pieces that showcase her style of "clean country" antiques.  


In 2010 Emily started her business.  She had always been collecting, because her mom had and still has a passion for antiques. Emily grew up going to auctions and antiquing with her mother who has also been featured in Country Living.  So, it was inevitable that Emily would fall in love with the lifestyle. 

After joining forces with a friend who was hosting a garden sale in 2013, it was game on. They sold out of all of the pieces they had been collecting in only two hours. Lightbulb moment. As her business evolved she continued to host the annual garden sale at her barn and in 2019 moved on to exhibit at the Profound Market with great success.

It's a story many of us in the antique business are familiar with.  The part where you grow up with parents who love antiquing and the love of this life becomes ingrained.

What's different about Emily? She's not just a picker or a dealer.  She's a farm girl.

Let's go back a bit because this story evolved with a love of antiques but started in an awesome barn and everyone knows I love a barn story!

In 2007 Emily and her husband purchased their amazing property in Rhode Island. The history of their property "Spring Hill Farm" is large to say the least. The history of Spring Hill Farm goes deep in Rhode Island where she lives.  

Quick history of the farm:

Spring Hill Farm was originally called the Paul Spencer house. Spencer and his brother-in-law Lodowick U. Shippee first owned the farm together. Paul Spencer married Susan Bagley in 1829 and the renovations began. Additions to the house and work on the outside. In 1884 the house and property were purchased by Albert and Harriet Knight. They hired boss farmers to run it and milk, wool, cheese, fruit and lamb were produced. It was named Spring Hill Farm. Stones on the property were used to create walls, trees were sawed into lumber to create more buildings. After a 1938 hurricane the sheep barn and hen houses were destroyed.  The wagon house and original barn still remain today, along with apple trees and stone walls.  

Fast forward:

With a stunning dairy barn (the real deal, huge, beautiful barn), carriage house, charming Cape style main house, original root cellar, pear and apples trees and stone walls Emily and her husband were immediately smitten. This 1820's dairy farm needed lots of work. Lucky for Emily, her father is a builder and her husband an engineer so she didn't have to look far for support. They renovated the home, removing panelling, updating the country kitchen, painting, redoing bathrooms, etc. Over the years the barn and the carriage house have needed work and shoring up but the structures remain the same.

Emily always thought she would be a farm girl so she was destined for Spring Hill Farm but let's not forget about the chickens. Brahmin, Wyandotte, Easter Eggers.  The chickens are not just a charming part of the story. They are cared for, they provide eggs to her family and they are a part of this lifestyle. While I was there and we were talking chickens, how to raise them, what they need as far as care, how to keep them safe from coyotes, Emily let them out to stroll around the yard. They all have names and personalities. She called them back after a little bit and they came running for the coop like pets except for Violet who refused to come back in and hung around as we walked and talked. 

If this is giving you farm girl vibes it should but let's get back to the antiques. Emily's business has grown. She has appointments at her carriage house but because it's their family homestead it's not a shop with open hours.  If you're lucky enough to know her you might get a peek inside her awesome collection and like I did leave with a huge pine cabinet that wouldn't even fit in my car but I had to have.  (You know the feeling).  It's a pandemic but she's still selling and planning on more events in the future.  I left feeling inspired to raise chickens, jealous that her barn is three stories and gorgeous, and happy to have spent a couple of hours at Spring Hill farm getting to know her story. 

Visit her website:

Follow her on Instagram @springhillfarm1820 

Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen & Baths 2014

Featured in Country Home Summer 2020

Tracy Foley
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