Vintage Inspiration: Copper Watering Can

My new studio has large windows with plenty of sun exposure, and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to finally have a space where plants can grow (in case you haven’t heard me gripe about it a million times already, my apartment is basically a dark cave). Some of my earliest purchases for the space: pots, ferns, succulents and this vintage watering can, which I purchased from the Etsy shop The Art of Salvage.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s a bit small to be practical for watering a sizeable collection of plants. But in my mind, its beauty far outweighs this functional flaw. I feel like I’ve purchased a small sculpture that just happens to transport and disperse water. You have no idea how long I spend staring at this thing: the flow of the curve from the handle to the spout is full of unlimited strangeness and interest to me.

I wish I knew something, anything, about the creator of this watering pot. Alas, like so many vintage objects, its origins will forever be a mystery. Inspired by the organic geometry of this unusual little object, I tried to choose products that share the same attention to form. These would all fit nicely into my dream studio or home, ideally a spare, open space where the furniture and objects could sit comfortably alone or in couples, like a series of islands in a big open sea. I know some of these items will always be out of my reach, but I don’t really expect them to be cheap. Every one of them is a piece of art, humming with an organic energy, their shapes and surfaces hinting at the hands that made them. — Kate

Clockwise from top left: Vintage Ben Seibel Brass Bookends, $400 (These are often available on eBay, as well.); Alma Allen Wood Stool, $1800; Stan Bitters Cylinder Hanging Lantern, $645; Pulp Pendant II, $615; Sisu Nightstand, $998; “Squares” Handprinted Dinner Napkins by Knife in the Water, $18 for the pair; 3 x 5 Chunky Woven Jute Rug, $120

See the full post after the jump . . .

Clockwise from top left: Exclamation Point Lamp Base, $228; Della Lana Handfelted “Sheepscape” Rug, $985; Gartheli Antique Welsh Blanket, $198; Tunisian Stoneware Jug, Bottle and Bowl, $15–$97; Leon Interchangeable Side Tablecontact for priceDiamond Mirror by Piet Houtenbos, $3500; Nyth Fruitbowls by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, $145–$175; Naida Chair, $998; SyuRo Round Brass Can, $60

  1. Such craftsmanship! I wish this much care was put into modern “everyday” items.

  2. JSKF says:

    My husband and I own two Alma Allen stools and a giant coffee table/stool. They are amazing pieces of work- the craftsmanship is breathtaking. They are very functional as well- babies, cats, and feet all make their way to the pieces and not a scratch can be found. Worth every penny.

  3. Estelle says:

    I believe your little watering can is actually an oil container. I have one similar, only very tarnished and with a hole in the bottom.

  4. Kate Pruitt says:

    Estelle – Really?? That is so interesting – it kind of makes me love it even more, to think someone would put such elegant details into an oil container. Although mine does not have a hole in the bottom, it’s a solid copper pot. I’d love to see a pic of yours, just for fun :) Thanks for letting me know!

  5. Annie says:

    That watering can is so much like one my mom always used to use–it reminds me of childhood.

  6. Beverly says:

    I vote for watering can versus oil can…

  7. My apartment is a dark cave too! I complain all the time about not being able to grow a few plants… I love that beautiful watering can. The shape is so elegant and flawlessly curved. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. dana says:

    I have one and I got it years ago in Portugal….maybe that is where yours came from as well?
    Very lovely stuff you’ve chosen there!

  9. Holly says:

    What an interesting piece and the shape and curves are really neat. I was drawn to something similar recently and had to pick it up (I think it was $7 or something at a local consignment store). Although my doesn’t have quite an interesting curve to it, it still makes me so happy every time I look at it and wonder where it has been. I also think my piece is a watering can, but I could be wrong. I show it in this post that I did recently:

  10. Jacquie says:

    Whatever yours is … it is gorgeous! Wish I’d seen it first! Those curves with a few elegant green plants in some interesting pots… it must really add to your decor.

  11. Eileen 2 says:

    I am so picky about light fixtures. I’d rather leave my outdated ones in place than replace them with anything that isn’t awesome. The Stan Bitters Hanging Lantern is amaZING. My kitchen would need 4 or 6, and even if they were reduced to $400 each, I couldn’t buy.

    Still much fun to see all of this, though.

  12. In my opinion, the mystery is one of the biggest draws of vintage pieces. It’s fun to imagine what life that the item might have led. And then AHA, it’s an oil can, not a watering can! So gratifying to solve the mystery, right? One of the many reasons I love my job. :)


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