A Russian-speaking photo dealer walked into BUiLDiNG CHARACTER and the rest is history



Erin Waters, owner of Fotographiya, brings her fair share of originality to BC.

Fotographiya specializes in vintage photography including snapshots, portraits, tintypes, and cabinet cards. You could spend hours rummaging through the vintage and beautifully preserved fotographs in her shop.  Her photos range from cute-and-quirky family photos to vintage postcards to down right creepy portraits. Waters’ shop has a timeless aura about it. Even if collecting photography isn’t your thing, checking out her vintage collection is certainly a must while at BC.


How long have you been with BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Since August 2013

What type of items do you sell at your booth?

I am a professional photography dealer, so I primarily sell vintage photographs. I try to stock a variety of images like snapshots, cabinet cards, and tintypes at reasonable prices. I also have framed images ready to hang in a home, both in their original frames and in new ones. I also sell a line of new gift items created from vintage mug shots — coasters, cards, journals, and magnets. Also in my shop are photo albums, both empty and full of snapshots. I also have a selection of ephemera like advertising cards and Victorian scrap. Lately I’ve been making note cards made from vintage photographs as well as collages on larger canvases. My goal is to have something for everyone — decorators, artists, collectors, and people who just need a gift for a friend.

Your favorite thing about being a vendor/seller at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Being part of a great store!

What made you want to start your craft/hobby/collection?

I’ve been living with vintage photos since I was a kid. My dad has collected daguerreotypes for nearly 30 years and while it took me a while to decide to join him and my brother as a dealer, it was pretty much inevitable. I’ve collected photographs since I was a little kid and until 6 years ago, I always was a dealer, just not full-time. I have a museum studies degree from NYU but while studying, I realized that what I really wanted to do was be a professional photography dealer.

 What other hobbies do you have?

I am an avid reader and co-run the Second Sunday Book Club here in Lancaster. I love to travel and take photos when I do.  I probably watch a bit too much TV. I love to swim. One of my favorite things to do is search for photos. Luckily, that’s what I do for a living.

Three interesting facts about you? 

I speak fluent Russian and lived in Yaroslavl, Russia for 2 years.

My favorite sport to play is water polo although I haven’t done that in years.

I am on the board of the Daguerreian Society.

If you could transport yourself to back to any time era, what year would it be? (or what is your favorite era of items to collect?)

Mid to Late Victorian. Of course, that’s when photography was invented. Whenever there is indoor plumbing, actually. Anything else is a deal breaker.



Hello spring, we’ve been waiting for you


Oh spring,

the warm air, the bright lovely colors, flowers blossoming, animals awakening, birds chirping, what’s not to love after this long cold bitter winter? I’m not sure about you guys but this spring could not come fast enough!

The great news is… while winter was bitterly cold and dragging on, vendors at BC spent their time indoors wisely. We are so excited about the new bright inventory arriving to go with this weather.

Don’t forget to stop in the shop for more exciting spring must-haves!

Here are some of our favorites for SPRING 2014.


Featuring: Style Archeology, VintageLancaster, Cairtree,Night Owl Tiles, BeeBee’s All Natural


Featured (left to right)Evolution Handmade by Handmade Mama- State of Gay Equality Pillows (Texas), sandraCycled (green left and far right), VintageLancaster (Holly Lessey Original Camera Design), The Sassy Tassel (7 book)


The Perfect Mason


ImageMason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars, Kerr Jars, they’re all the rage these days. Thanks to Pinterest and other popular D.I.Y sites. While rummaging through vintage and antique stores, you are sure to come across a few dozen of these little canning jars, in different sizes, colors, shapes, and prices. I have noticed  looking at different jars, the price ranges anywhere from $3-and higher. The price all depends on age, condition, and rarity. To the average customer who just wants these jars for fun projects the prices can cause a little sticker shock, so heres some background information and ideas for the infamous Ball Mason Jars.

A brief history 

The mason jar was invented and patented in 1858 Philadelphia by a local tinsmith named John Landis Mason. The jars were originally made and still used to can and preserve food. Most of the antique jars are colorless or they have a faint aqua tint, which was originally called the “Blue Ball.” The aqua tint jars became increasingly popular because the tint allowed for less light exposure, making the food last longer and keep its nutritional value.

The most common jars you’ll see while thrifting and antiquing are the clear and aqua. You may get really lucky and come across a rare cobalt blue,clear with light green tint, black, or even milk-glass jars. Unfortunately, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for gems (the black reproductions are going for as high as $95, the green are going for $118!).

Over the past couple years ball jars have become novelty items and are being used in a vast amount of craft projects. Some companies have even turned the design into drinking cups with handles, (I own my fair share of these adorable glasses,) wine glasses, soap dispensers,light fixtures, etc.

How to tell the difference


Thanks to Pinterest this handy lil’ chart will be your guide to ball jar collecting/pricing.

You can also tell the age by whether or not the jar has rings on the bottom of it which indicates it was probably made before 1858, or if the jars have seems along the side it indicates it was machine made probably after 1915.

The majority  of the jars are embossed with the Mason patent date, you always check this for age. If you find a jar with unique embossing designs or misspelled words the value of the jar increases dramatically.



-A variety of styles and handmade Reclaimed Art mason holders available at BC

mason jar br pinterest ball jarmason jar paintedterrariu,

(photo credit:Pinterest)