Thursday, November 28, 2013

Photo Thursday: Vintage Thanksgiving Edition

Good morning!

You know I couldn't let a holiday pass without wishing you and yours a good one-- in this case, instead of wacked out vintage postcards, I found as many old photos of families gathered for Thanksgiving as flickr would cough up! I hope you have a great turkey day...I need to get started on the vegan mac n "cheeze" we're bringing to my folks get together and a little chicken pot pie type thing that is mashed potatoes and rice and veggies and no meat. Just because we don't eat a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving fare DOES NOT MEAN I am not going to pig out as is my American right and duty on this day.

Have a good weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday! Til then.




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekend Finds: Black is the New Black

Good morning!

I'm a little late on posting today, but that's because I got to sleep past seven AM omfg what does that even mean. I told you earlier in the week that I drew the freakin' Powerball lotto ticket odds of a Wednesday through Sunday OFF WORK sweep, due to the government holiday on Thursday and Friday and my already in place weekend off. Sure, I've been to work seven of the past seven days, but I also have a five day spree! I intend to spend most of it in the bathtub catching up on my drinking habit and about fourteen books I've been too busy to read, but in the event that I did wear clothes and leave the house, this might be the outfit you would catch me skulking around your local Goodwill in:

I picked up this 1940's dress and 1950's handbag at the flea market last week! The dress is one of those Joanie-shoulder padded numbers, complete with a long, I don't know what you call it...sash? It's a draped piece of fabric that hangs from one hip to the hem, adding fullness and swish to an otherwise structured, straight up and down gown. I was digging through a large cardboard box in the Antiques shed at the flea when I came across the dress under a pair of heavy sixties' curtains. It's always hilarious to ask clothing advice from my dad, but we discussed a peacock blue, similar evening dress in faded/poor condition versus this black, perfect condition (it needs drycleaning and to be pressed, pretty much, but no damage whatsoever), and both of us went for the more wearable piece. I was even more pleased to see it fit when I got it home! A tad bit tight in the hips, but I hadn't even noticed the ruching on the bodice to make one's waist look slim and bust I'm totally ok with that.

For the true hour glass effect of the dress, I strike a pose in the space between eating area and living room in my house.

It occurred to me while I was shopping this weekend that I have turned to black, black, and more black in my old age with regard to wardrobe selection. Pretty much the only thing I've been enjoying about my much-looked-forward-to third season of American Horror Story is Jessica Lange --well, in general, but specifically, her jet black, chic as a Parisian ensembles. Fiona Goode's seventies' style shifts with sheer long sleeves, capes, tight fitting, peplum-over a pencil skirt outfits make me want to join a coven myself (that, and seeing Stevie Nicks make a guest appearance this season, are the only things keeping me watching...ugh! Why is the narrative so bad this year?! After last year's sophomore triumph! But I digress). I'll never give up my neon mod explosion dresses, but I feel like lately, it's either wild-pattern-plus-black (a polyester pattern shirt tucked into a black highwaisted skirt, worn with a black jacket, like this), or black-plus-black, and everything very polished looking, or I'm going to throw a fit in front of my closet (odds of the former vs the latter, about 80/20, in all honesty). Dress? $5. Purse? $5. Five bucks was my magic number on Saturday!!

I'll admit it, I just want to be Jessica Lange....but if I can't be Jessica Lange,
at least I can dress like her!
The other pieces I picked up at the flea market were in keeping with this minimalist design aesthetic-- more black, please, and make it pre 1960 if you can.This Persian Lamb shortie coat had been marked $20, but I ended up getting this, a couple of sixties' shirts, and a bed jacket all for that price, which was great! The texture of the jacket's pile makes it look ultra luxe, and all the buttons/closure hooks are intact. Hallelujah!

Inside, the former owner had their unusual initials stitched into the lining. I bet this was a helpful trick when it was 1955, you were pretty well bombed on Brandy Alexanders at a friend's cocktail party, and you were trying to find the mink or stole you brought, which would probably look very similar to your fellow party goers wraps in the dark, on a guest bed, in a pile. The monogrammed customization reminded me of Mick's blog post about having his friend's letters stitched into the lining of a birthday mink  (the best kind of present, if you ask me)...I should find somewhere in town that still does this, and have mine under the others!

Even more interesting than the monogram was this maker's label. "Haute Fourrures" is French for "fine furs"(you may be aware from the term haute couture, "high fashion", high in the sense of high quality, or "fine", in this case). And then the manufacturer's name, "Halifax S.D.", and then the city of origin....which is Athens? I think what we're dealing with here is a Francophone furrier in a Canadian town called Athens? I was able to find a city called Athens, Ontario, but it was tiny and had 1% French speaking population. Maybe it was a French Canadian furrier in Athens, Greece? Also sounds like a longshot (you'd be more likely to need a persian lamb coat in North America than the sunny Mediterranean), but anything's possible! If you can shed any light on this lining mystery, let a girl know.

Last but not least in this parade en noire, you've got this heavily beaded black cardigan from the fifties'. I passed up one a lot like this in Gallatin at the Goodwill, even though it fit, even though I liked it, because I thought it looked too much like all those early 2000's copies of the sweater that were briefly in vogue and cluttering department store racks in various successful or unsuccessful iterations. I think I myself had a white one with sequins and seed pearls in early high school. At any rate, I have been kicking myself ever since, so when I saw this one, I snagged it up. Lining? Intact. Beadwork? Perfect condition. Moth holes/snags? ASTONISHINGLY ENOUGH, none. And plus it's in black, which, as previously stated, is exactly the color I'm interested in at present. Five bucks, again! Not bad at all.

I have to go get cracking on some housework that sorely needs attending, but let me know what you think about my finds! And how about you? Do you shy way from solid colors that aren't black, or are you a color warrior, wearing pastels and patterns and whatever strikes your fancy with aplomb? Have you been watching JL in AmHoSto this season? What do you think about the show? What did you find at the flea if you went? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow for a holiday-themed post! Have a great Wednesday, and I'll talk to you then. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rock n Roll Exes: Axl Rose's Stuff for Sale

Good morning!

Today's post comes to you courtesy of Yahoo news's main page... I secretly hate having an email account with them because of that 90 slide long news ticker that features on the Yahoo page and always sucks me in with  tantalizing bylines. Nothing makes me feel more like a ninety year old than reading "Two Guys, One Angry Snake" or " Vatican Unveils St Peter's Bones" and being compelled to click through to the accompanying video. So when I saw "Axl on the Auction Block", of course I clicked through to see what kind of stuff we're talking about here.
Clockwise: A video of Axl Rose's 1990 wedding, a pair of his own tie-dyed stirrup pants, and
Axl's all access passes from back in the day. Juice up the credit card, let' s shop this closet!
Yep, these are genuine, bonafide artifacts from when Guns 'N Roses ruled the world, circa year of our Lord 1988. It may seem a distant memory now, but twenty five years ago, Appetite for Destruction spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, spawning the hit singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "November Rain" (FAIL, that was from Use Your Illusion I...I know even less about GnR than I thought I did!), and everyone's favorite late night karaoke selection "Sweet Child O' Mine". The latter song was written for Axl's girlfriend and later wife, Erin Everly. I know, you thought it was your eyes that were of the bluest skies and  your hair that reminded Axl of a warm safe place where as a child he'd hide, but you were mistaken. Daughter of Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers ("Wake Up Little Susie", "Bye Bye Love") and a model in her own right, Erin and Axl started dating in 1986, before the GNR train had quite left the station toward superstardom, and married in 1990 at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Both the marriage certificate AND a video of the ceremony are up on the auction block in EE's Julien's sale items.

According to Wikipedia:
Rose and Everly were married on April 28, 1990 in Las Vegas. Everly later claimed that Rose showed up at her house the previous day with a gun in his car and told her that he would kill himself if she did not marry him. Less than a month later, Rose first filed for divorce. The couple later reconciled, during which Everly became pregnant. She suffered a miscarriage in October 1990, which deeply affected Rose, who had wanted to start a family. Everly left Rose the following November; they annulled their marriage in January 1991. After their break-up, Rose allegedly tried to contact Everly for more than a year, sending her flowers, letters, and even caged birds
The course of true rock n roll love never did run smooth-- a few months after their breakup, Axl started seeing supermodel Stephanie Seymour, and Erin went on to marry an Atlanta businessman and start a family of her own. Seeing all these ultra personal items (clothes, scribbled apologetic notes, Polaroids) up for auction made me think on other celebrity tell-alls where former wives and girlfriends cash in on a love affair long gone cold...not that I blame her for selling a bunch of her ex's old clothes and knickknacks, but isn't it strange to think of how you'd feel if you were Axl Rose. " that's where my Mickey Mouse watch went! What the heck! I would kind of like that back!"

Axl's sorry yo' birthday sucked, Erin.
Looking at this auction, I thought back to when I first read (act like I haven't read this book like nineteen times) Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac by ex-girlfriend Carol Ann Harris, or ex wife Jo Wood's recent book on her thirty year union to Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. Or when Angie Bowie famously shared the story of finding her ex husband and Mick Jagger in bed togethe while promoting Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie (which, for the interested, is way more about Angie Bowie than her famous husband). And don't even get me started on the mother of all I-knew-him-when memoirs, Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley. You could fill several bookshelves with the number of "rock star or celebrity I used to date" books I've read over the years-- morbid curiosity compels me to see what kinds of secrets are revealed about larger-than-life entertainment icons. How does one go about securing a celebrity boyfriend/girlfriend? What did they like to eat for breakfast? What did they really think about xyz other celebrity? The associative power of these memoirs, or, indeed, these souvenirs from Axl Roses's long extinguished love affair, make me think on the idea of exes using that association to make money-- should we be glad they release these items and stories to the public? A little embarrassed about how eager we are to "sneak a peek" into a celebrity's private life? How would you feel if you were Axl seeing childhood photos and letters-your-dead-dad-wrote-you auctioned off to the highest bidder?

Lindsey Buckingham and Carol Ann Harris
I have to say while reading Storms, for example, I kept thinking about two things-- one, how I would feel about say, my freshman year college boyfriend writing a tell all about dumb, eighteen year old me running around Knoxville, TN as if it were Caligula's Rome (and I didn't even have a best-selling record to help fuel the bacchanal!); two, how weird the last couple chapters of the book reads. And how it has that in common with 90% of celebrity ex memoirs. That twilight period of a relationship when you were together longer than you were broken up, and you might still reconcile. Remember Charlotte from Sex and the City's advice that you need half the total time together to get over a breakup? What if you lived and breathed, for example, Fleetwood Mac on tour for five years, 24 hours a day, and suddenly that was out, gone? You're in some apartment in the valley. How do you rebuild an identity for yourself? How do you look back on that period without feeling like it was some kind of pinnacle?  In some of these cases, thirty plus years have passed and the subjects don't seem quite over their moment in the celebrity firmament. There's that one chapter where you're like, maybe they'll get back together! It could happen! And of course, it doesn't. Which makes for a fascinating, if skewed, narrative.

Todd Rundgren Bebe Buell, and Alice Cooper-- BB is also Liv Tyler's mom (long story)
Guiltily or no, it's of significant more interest to me than the Trudie Styler-Sting, multi-decade union, or Robert de Niro and Grace Hightower's successful marriage, to see or intimately read about disunions of celebrity couples like Bebe Buell and Todd Rundgren, or Cyrinda Foxe and Steven Tyler. Relationships in which the non-celebrity ex lost a lot of the luster of being an A lister post-breakup as most if not all of that status was conferred onto them by said relationship. Also, imagine if the only personal account of your life and especially your life with said ex, was written years after any fondness they might have harbored for you at one time had completely evaporated. As exhilarating as the first half of all these books are, the tone ALWAYS turns acidic by the midway mark. But! Why couldn't you work things out with Keith Richards!! I unreasonably ask of the former girlfriend. Was George Harrison that hard to live with? How can we trust the memoirist to be fair in reporting back what said breakup was like when you know the only account you're going to get is colored by probably years to think up all the ways you, the celebrity, probably could have treated them better? I don't have a single nice word to say about any of my exes, and imagine how many times magnified that feel would be if the status of being my ex's girlfriend previously afforded me luxuries like hotel stays in the Georges V, ordering caviar as room service, walk on roles in music videos, etc, etc?
A proto Gwen Stefani looking Cyrinda Foxe with Bowie in "Jean Genie"
I've gone far enough off on my tangent...I need to make a list of these kind of books to revisit! Where do you weigh in on this? Is there a celebrity memoir you were just dying to read, and felt the teeniest bit guilty/excited reading laundry lists of their trespasses against their exes? Is there a celebrity you wish someone would write a tell all about? What is it about these glimpses into "how the other half lives", either on in an auction lot or between the covers of a bestseller, that make them so addictive? Which of Axl Rose's personal effects would you bid on? Let's talk!

That's all for today, I gotta get back to work! Have a great Tuesday, and I'll see you tomorrow. Til then!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Finds: Victorian Chalk Portrait

Good morning!

I'm trying to shake dreams from my hair this morning-- getting up in time to get to work by 7:30 is for the birds! I'm only working Monday and Tuesday of this week, but ye gods, I'm about half a person at this too, too early hour of the morning. Once upon a time, I had to be in place, in my classroom, ready to greet the dawn at 6:30, but I must have been made of tougher stuff then. An 8:30 report time has made me lazy. At any rate, I hit the flea market not once but twice this weekend, and while I have some clothes to show you later in the week, take a gander at my biggest and best find, this 1880's mother-and-child-portrait in a crazy gold frame:

Is the hauntedness rubbing off on me by holding it? I hope not.
I was walking through the main sheds on Saturday when I was drawn to a purple belted coat with a large fur collar, hanging against a chainlink fence, which I'm still kind of kicking myself about passing up. By the time I'd raised a convincing interior monologue outlining exactly why I didn't need another coat, how I was being good about conserving closet space, etc, etc, I caught a glimpse of this portrait out of the corner of my eye, and sallied forth to peep the price tag as an act of sheer consolation. Antique store setting, this thing would be aroooound $125. Good estate sale setting, maybe $50. The price tag on this picture at the flea market? $25. And she took twenty for it! The combination of eerie subject and bargain basement price was too good to pass up. I spent the next twenty minutes hauling this thing under my arm through another three or four booths, like a young painter with his portfolio, before the howling weekend winds finally sent me home.

That eerie little hand!

The mother is wearing a top knot and a high collared blouse and jacket, the elfin blond child an enormous collar-ruff. From the styling, I'm guessing this picture is from the late 1800's, maybe 1880-1890? What wigs me out about either is how the picture is a drawing based-on-a-photograph. I spent a good chunk of this morning, bleary-eyed though I may be, trying to figure out what this type of portrait is called. The closest I was able to get was possibly "chalk portrait" or "pastel portrait" as a search term to give me the kinds of things I was looking for. We talked about hand tinted photographs on Friday...these are along the same lines. In this medium, photographs are enhanced with either chalk or pastel to give the picture that strange, almost three dimensional effect of portraiture versus flat photography. And you thought it was just the ghosts making the eyes travel with you as you look at the subjects! 

I've been working on a "creepy kooky" gallery wall for my office, which so far includes the following pictures:

You may recognize

  • Smiley the skeleton marionette, from this post.
  • The curly-hair baby portrait, from this post.
  • The creepy carved mask from this post.
  • The Hemingway marlin catcher photograph, from this post.
  • The flapper mourning photo, from this post.
  • And a black fifties' hat and 1900's kitten lithograph from no post, I can't document everything I ever buy, apparently, though it is my wish!
WHAT BETTER TO ADD TO THE WALL THAN THIS CHALK PORTRAIT? I couldn't have selected more felicitous find if I'd dreamed it up myself. I think it will hang to the right of these other pieces, though I still need to get some picture wire to replace the broken twine on the back of the current frame. I'll have to take a less blurry, more comprehensive photo of the office when I get done with this wall. Here's hoping it looks more "magician's toyshop" and less "TGIFriday's" in its completion.

So! Do you have any particularly creepy decor in your house? Any hundred-plus-year old relative paintings that do follow you around the room with their 1880's eyes? What did you find at the flea market this weekend? If you went to the one in Nashville, was it not fuh-ree-zing both Saturday and especially Sunday? I'll show you the clothes I got from the Antiques shed as soon as I get a moment to photograph them. Gotta get some coffee brewing, then it's time to get to work! Have a great Monday, and I'll see you back here tomorrow. Til then!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo Friday: Handtinted Photographs Edition

Good morning! 

 It's Friday! It's a rainy, yucky, gloomy Friday, but I'll take any end-of-work-week-day I can get! I'm sprung out of this joint at 1 today, and I'm telling you, I was ready to go about the time I stepped off the elevator to get here this morning. However! What kind of a Friday would it be without a photo retrospective? Let's dig in! 

As I was browsing through photo after photo of people who aren't related to me this morning, it crossed my mind that large number of the photo sets would have one photo, usually from the thirties', that was just over-saturated with watercolor like hues. I love them one, I love them all-- but here are a few that cropped up this morning that might be worth your while! Might, who I am kidding, ARE. Go look already!

Add caption
I had always thought that colored photographs were something you paid a professional photographer or someone that worked for him to do to your negatives, which were then processed as a regular development. Uh, shows that I know about photos. From the invention of photography in the nineteenth century and well up until about the fifties', you could hire a professional to tint your pictures by hand (electroplating was an early technique that produced good results), or you could break out a box of pastels, water colors, whatever art supplies you had in the house, and go at the photo yourself! As long as a photo was matte rather than glossy in its finish, you could draw in devil horns, add cascades of rainbow colors-- think about it as early, early, early Photoshop. I think I've told you before one of the things I remember from my F Scott Fitzgerald crush in high school was reading about Zelda going back through photo albums and carefully shading, with a lead pencil, all her maternity pictures so a more svelte, cheekboned girl appeared where a roundfaced expecting mother has been before. The above photo was possibly painted in by the woman's daughter (the user's mother) years after this was taken at a 1934 county fair.

WOW what color. Doesn't that blue just sock you in the kisser on first glance? Just the very basic blocking of color here-- the woman's dress, the man's tie, the green ivy in the background and the roof-- makes every object in the photo more distinct. We were talking about this the other day when I mentioned that clothes in black and white could be the most unpredictable shades under the rainbow-- besides racking my brain as to "what color would that dress be in 1935?", I wonder how many details I've missed in old photos because the grey looks like the grey looks like the medium grey. Do you know what I mean? Here, the woman's sepia skin would have been the same color as her sepia dress and I might never have noticed the belt. The house would be one wash of color and I wouldn't have noticed the ivy. Isn't that wild to think about?


I'm also partial to the Land of Oz like vibrancy of hand colored photographs. Here are some school girls poring over a magazine, in what would have been a "ah, nice, there's your grandma, I guess" photo. With a couple of brushstrokes, the pastels pop right out of the frame, and I'm remarking upon the polkadots on the center teen's dress, the barettes in the girl on the left's hair, and those enormous ruffles on both dresses. I'm not sure I would have noticed the girl on the right even has glasses on, without the bas relief effect the color has in making the non-color items stand out, as if in 3D, from the photo.

There's also something about the un-realness of the colors, like an acid trip of what 1936 must have looked like. The colors are so bright you could taste them, where the uncolored portions of the picture are muted to the point of being indistinguishable from other parts of the background. Here, the grass has been colored and the family, but with no attention to the background. Possibly the sky was a pale blue that faded back to a non-color, but isn't it weird how the family is so vibrant against the oatmeal colored sky and fence? I love how they're stairsteps in terms of height and how well dressed is each member of the family.


Last but not least, a pretty teenager in another photo booth, this one in Montreal in 1938. Didn't the tinter (maybe the girl herself?) do a good job on the flowers and on creating a realistic lip, cheek, and face color? Being sans background kind of puts this photo in a context-less space, where, if it weren't for the photo stock and the hairstyle, this photo could have been taken in 1960, 1990...anytime! I love her pretty, open face and high forehead (not to mention the dress...I'll take one in my size, thanks).

Do you have any hand tinted photos like this in your collection or in your family photo album? We have a few that were professionally tinted (like studio shots), but I don't think any enterprising member of my family took to the paintbox to make our pictures REALLY pop. If you're interested in the art of hand tinting, there's a link here to a simple "here's how it's done" procedural, as well as several books on Amazon (or, cough cough, IN YOUR LIBRARY) that could help you get started! Check 'em out.

I have to skedaddle off to the nonfiction desk, but I will see you guys with bells on Monday! Have a great weekend, pray for no rain at the flea market tomorrow, and I'll catch you on the other side! Til then.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Real Talk: "Designer" Vintage (Comparison Vintage Shopping)

Good morning!

Question: where do you get your vintage clothes and knickknacks, for the most part? I get asked all the time where I got xyz I'm wearing to the library, and I answer, infallibly, again and again, "Pretty much Goodwill?"  "Oh, you don't go to [insert vintage/antique store in town]? They've got some cute stuff there. Don't you ever go there?" And the answer is no! I do Goodwill, I do the flea market, and I do estate sales, and that's it. Hardly ever buy anything online. Never, I mean once in 10 years maybe, at a "vintage store". Rarely at antique stores (sometimes, when I'm desperate and there are no sales, but rarely). With a collector's habit like mine, it's impossible to buy things retail in a curated, reseller's market...I'd be in over my ears in debt before I'd even know what hit me. That's not a boast or a brag...growing up with very little pocket money (heck, living my adult life with very little pocket money), I have never understood just walking in a store and buying something that cost more than $20. Estate sales have spoiled me too-- suddently, for $8, I should be getting Murano glass! Fifites' formals! My spending dollar commands a lot more power in these mutable settings than in a store with price tags that are firm.

How I feel about this turtle shell.
This attitude came to the forefront the other day when I was looking for large turtle shells online...I know I can't afford the real deal, on a pedestal, two foot high types I saw in a Hollywood producer's house in one of those seventies' AD's I was telling you about, but I just wanted to know how much one costs period, having never seen one for sale in real life. I came across a great example on One King's Lane, but had to join the designer deals site to gain full access to seeing it. Le sigh. It's to be expected in this modern age.

What shocked me on getting to the main page marked "VINTAGE"? While the items were all very cool, very interesting, very cleverly selected items (heck, I wanted a lot of them!)....the "slashed designer prices" you see were still about a 50% markup from a REGULAR retail setting. Let me show you some of the things I'm talking about.

1) Culver Pitcher and Glasses Set (1960's)

source, source
These are an identical pair of bar sets, both made by Culver in the sixties', both extremely attractive towards my intended purpose of drinking gin rickeys out of them and making small talk about how everything's been downhill since Eisenhower (it's alll part....of my Mad this tune). The only discernible differences I could find between the two? The one on left has a matching caddy thrown in (swank!)....and is  almost TWO. HUNDRED. DOLLARS. LESS. THAN THE ONE ON THE RIGHT. I am not kidding! Click on the sources in the captions to see the original listings for either one of these items, and again, you're going to have the sticker shock of your life. Me, I would personally not pay more than about $25 dollars for these in an estate sale setting, but I'm a confirmed cheapenstein. Two hundred dollar difference!

2) Brass cricket box
source, source
Now, these, maybe there's some difference my uneducated eyes are unable to detect. Was this cricket box blessed by a Hindu holyman? Does it belong to the Ottoman Empire and thus have some special historic value? The one on the left has a slightly hexagonal shape as opposed to the oval of the one on the right, and the handle seems to be splayed a little wider across the top. However-- the triangle shape openings, and the flower pattern seem to be the same. One King's Lane price, on the left, is $99. Box on the right, ebay listing, is $28 (with free shipping!). Also, did you know these things were for crickets? I've seen people talk about incense being burned inside one and the fragrant aroma of frangipani wafting out of the little cutouts, but I could be wrong.

Are we sensing a pattern in prices though?

3) David Hockney by David Hockney book
source, source
Now who would NOT want a copy of a memoir-ish retrospective of too-cool-for-school painter David Hockney with reproductions of pretty much his entire catalog to date? The cover of this book, published in 1977, looks as current as next month's Vogue. The Hockney book from King's Lane is $85...Amazon has the same book, same edition, same printing, starting at $6.90. Is the book signed by Hockney on 1KL? No. Is it mint condition, so fresh I could smell that new-book-pages smell as I opened the box from the antique dealer? No. Books may be the most perplexing thing on this site because besides condition, there's nothing to tell one apart from another in the same printing!

3) Celluloid Dresser Box Set:
source, source
Now, I will admit that the boxes on 1KL in this case were a little cuter than what I could find, but I think the ebay listing at top just suffers from poor lighting ("I know, let's photograph this on an overcast day on my deck, where the faded red paint looks vaguely like a bloodstain..." maybe they were pressed for time?). However, value wise, you're getting two dresser boxes, a mirror, a hairbrush, a file, and a button hook for $30.00. Two pink vanity boxes on the other site are $85. It bugs me that the second of the boxes is labelled only as "one with opening for cotton balls." That may be true, but this could also be described as a "hair receiver", a vanity box to keep loose strands of hair from your hairbrush to make rats for your 1910's/1920's Lady Mary hair style (see a fabulous video on both rats and said hair style here). You are getting twice as much stuff for half the price on the ebay auction!!

4)Native American-Motif Charm Bracelet

source, source
Now, in this case, this is the EXACT. SAME. PIECE. in each listing. The one on the top ships from Canada, has all six charms intact, and has an opening bid of $22.99. The one that sold on One King's Lane? Listed at $99! AND SOLD FOR $99. While you're going, but wait, who's to say the price won't go up higher by the end of the auction? Well, you can also Buy It Now another extremely similar bracelet for $25. Robbery! Highway robbery!

What do you think? Is it right to have a 1000% markup on items like this? The ebay sellers aren't selling those items out of the goodness of their hearts at these WAAAY lower prices....they're also making a profit, just not a million times more than what they paid for it. Do you sometimes pay what you know is an inflated price just in order to secure something you know you've wanted for a long time? I have a weird, almost  physical reaction to spending too much money on something, no joke-- I won't enjoy a set of dishes I would ostensibly buy for $500 because I'd worry, constantly, that I'd been "took" for more than it was worth, or that I would break a plate and not be able to replace it, etc, etc. A $700 credenza wouldn't bring me near as much joy as telling and retelling the story of "Remember when we talked that guy down to a hundred dollars for that thing, and his son helped us get it back to the house in one piece? I didn't think we could get it in the car, but we did!". The joy is in the bargain and the adventure of buying as much as it is in the buying itself, sometimes, and that's what I think you miss out on when you just get whatever the vintage dealers are selling. You've cheated yourself out of 90% of the fun! 

Second thought...sometimes, when I see something I want for a million dollars, I don't feel that bad because I know, as you can see from the other listings, that all these items were mass produced in their day. A Renoir might be unique unto itself, but that Bakelite radio you're lusting after or the perfect midcentury dining room suite at a space-program like astronomical price...kid, they made literally millions of them back in the day. Now, if you find one for the right price and it's singing a siren song to your heart, by all means, POUNCE! But sometimes when I find myself going through the seven stages of grief over a dress that someone snatched up a sale before I could grab it, or a flea market trophy that the guy quoted a pie-in-the-sky price to me about... I'll just catch the next train, whenever it comes. And hopefully at a reduced fare.

Well, I've babbled on enough for today, gotta go grab myself some lunch and think about all the great stuff I'm going to see and buy or not buy at the flea market this weekend! Do chime in if you have a thought about any of this or if you've recently had any "oh my GOD HOW CAN THEY LIVE WITH THEMSELVES charging that much?" moments. Let's talk!

That's all for today, I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.

POSTSCRIPT: You will NOT believe this, but here's a photo I took in my cubicle like an hour after I posted this rant:

There's the handpainted vintage lamp I almost took to Goodwill (it came from Southern Thrift to begin with, for $4.99) and instead reprieved as cubicle decor. I put the little glass shade on it as it was missing the harp when I bought it, but it does work! I've scooted the lamp in question up next to the monitor where you can see two IDENTICAL LAMPS on the 1KL site.


NO WAY! How crazy!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Polyvoracious (Polyvore ModCloth Challenge)

Good morning!

Always a fan of getting blogger-related messages in my inbox (got vintage questions? Mail me, bro!), I was pleasantly surprised to see the words "ModCloth" and "challenge" in the subject line of one of my unopened emails last week. "Please, please, please be a free dress" was my initial reaction, and I found myself only a tiny bit disappointed when it turned out to be a "hey, you should try this blogger challenge thing we're doing with Polyvore!". Still, lightyears more exciting that the occasional "post about our Taiwanese contacts company for money" mails that I get in relation to the this blog. I hopped over via the link, and started nosing around to see what all you could do with Polyvore.

To Wear with Flair

Probably everyone and their mom already knows about this site-- at the advanced age of 28, I find I'm "discovering" things that folks have already been using for a decade with alarming frequency. Ain't I hep? Ain't I au courant? Well, in this case, the news was news on me. Polyvore allows you to create these clickable collages of curated goodies, and after a few initial hiccoughs (what happened to the belt I just put there? Why won't it be brought to forward? Yeuuugh!), I found myself trying to think of things I wanted to put together. The above collage was made with only items from the in-site search engine, which is why you have a ensemble that costs almost four thousand dollars. Good gracious! I bet you can't guess what the most expensive item is (hint: it is not the Rod Stewart concert shirt, which, though worth its weight in rubies, is oh-so-moderately priced at $250...I hope you understand that my love for Rod is real, but that sticker shock is killing me). See if you're right here. I could put this exact outfit together, with similar estate sale or Goodwill items, for about $40, bag and all. Polyvore, this is frustrating!

Date Night

This million dollar shopping put me off at first. Type in "mid century couch", for instance, and eighty search results appear with examples in the five digit price range. As much as I like looking at truly magnificent examples of what I would buy if I were married to an aging rock star or bank president, this is not relevant to my life. Who shops 1stdibs and the like? I mean, I wish I could, but not in this lifetime. In the two fashion collages you see above, I tried to use examples of things I would actually buy by importing them via the "clipper" pin tool, where you can choose items from any website in the world to realistically represent your tastes. For the sake of full disclosure, that is a $400 Egyptian-revival antique necklace, and that is an almost $1,400 Charlotte Olympia clutch, but the rest are things you could actually buy and wear without mortgaging your home. They were so similar to the things I would buy (ie cheap knockoffs of either), that I left 'em in anyway. I was startled by how much this actually looks like an outfit I would wear out, of a Friday, to paint the town red.

So how about this ModCloth challenge? Check it out:

Modcloth Challenge She Was a Bird

We were given the black dress with gold buttons you see here to work with, and allowed up to seven accessories, which in my case includes this stool and portable record player (have turntable, will travel). I wanted to make it look as much like something I would wear as possible, so I tricked the simple dress out with gold, gold, and more gold accents, and a hat after my own heart. These flats with their ankle straps would look really neat against black opaque tights, and that kitty cat purse is something I'm actually thinking about buying (falling in love was never part of the plan, but what can you do). Now I want to make all kinds of canvases on Polyvore-- what my house would look like underwater or as a traditional Zuni Indian I could dress up exactly like JC in Mildred Pierce....what a living room would look like entirely decorated by portraits of babies made with real human hair...THE SKY IS THE LIMIT. I don't think this is what Polyvore was originally intended for, but by golly, it's how I'm going to use it!

Anyway, come follow me if you're already on Polyvore, or check it out if you get a chance and tell me what you think! I'll be busy looking up how to set the back ground as "adobe hut" and pinning images of Hollywood Regency furniture. And keep your fingers crossed-- the winner of the Polyvore challenge has their work posted on ModCloth's front page with a link back to the blog! I don't know how the winner is determined and I'm too lazy to check the email again, but here's hopin!

How about you? Do you use Polyvore? What kinds of collages do you make if you do or would you if you don't? Have you made any neat online discoveries lately that are as time consuming as they are fun? What do you think of the outfits I put together? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but more reporting from the vintage front tomorrow. Have a great Wednesday, and I'll see you then!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekend Finds: School Blazer City! (Plus Bonus Finds!)

Good morning!

I told you yesterday I made out pretty well at a Hillwood sale on Friday last, and I am as good as my word on photographing the spoils of war this morning for your viewing pleasure. When I saw a triad of private school blazers in the preview photos for the sales, I was positive none would be left after 9:01 Friday morning. However, when I got to the sale, all three were hanging in the hallway, unclaimed-- I guess they were waiting for the right gal! Check out the two I chose, respectively from two of the crème de la crème institutions of all-girls education in Nashville, Harpeth Hall and St. Cecilia's:

Both private schools boast almost 150 years of history in Davidson County, and I was more than a little impressed I was able to snag these little pieces of memorabilia. I think they probably date to the fifties', as a lot of the clothes in the house were also for tweens and teens of that era. What a lot of clothes there were in the photos, too! I mentioned to Eartha earlier last week that if I went to this sale, I was probably going to have to go toe-to-toe with vintage retailers, as the house was stuffed to the gills with vieux vêtements. When I got there, one admittedly resourceful woman had completely filled four human-sized trash bags (yes, this is how I measure trash bag size) with 95% of the clothing in the house. She then repaired to the den on the west side of the house and began sorting through her bags, scrutinizing each piece for a keep versus discard pile. Matthew: "Oh look, did you see that green dress over there?" Me: ((covertly)) "That's that woman's stuff, we're acting like we're not interested, and waiting to see what she leaves behind." It's basic estate sale strategy that anything anyone else wants becomes 1,000,000 x more attractive to the person who was on the fence about buying it in the first place. Twenty minutes of sidelong glances later, I got tired of playing scavenger bird and just bought the things I found elsewhere in the house that she'd overlooked? Passed up? At any rate, I thought they were pretty grand. School blazers, for goodness sake!

This is the graduating Harpeth Hall class of 1957. How about those debutante dresses!
You can see this and several other of their yearbooks at the Internet Archive.
What might have turned the turbo-estate saler off from adding these to her cache of treasures? Each of the 100% wool garments have Freddy-Kruger like moth holes in one of the forearm parts of the sleeve. Mothballs are important, kids! I'm thinking of ways I could add material at the sleeved to cover them up, because in spite of the imperfection they are EXACTLY RIGHT in terms of under-sized fits. I like ultra tailored, zero extra fabric, actually might be too small dimensions in my tops, so these were exactly what I wanted. See a close up of the schools' ensignias here:

Another crumb that fell off the table--this circle skirt was hanging in the middle bedroom with a lot of other impossibly tiny clothes. I would peg its size as sporty junior's XXS in the fifties', as all the other clothes left on the rack boasted similarly waifish proportions. Most of the shoulders of the garments, which I almost never have trouble getting into (another story altogether with things that zip, haha), were far too teeny for me to squeeze my adult frame into. Booo. In spite of the fact that I doubt this would fit at the waist, I had to get the skirt based on its amazing colors and pattern.

A closeup of the design....Polynesian natives! Doing what you do in Polynesia! As if the enormous floral embellishments weren't enough to seal the deal, these tiny native people dot the lush landscape, engaged in their every day chores. Which are all the more glamorous for having taken place in the South Seas. I hardly ever see patterned, novelty skirts out and about in a real-life retail environment....with the bold exception of a cityscape themed, Mad Men era skirt I left at the Hendersonville Goodwill in a fit of self-righteousness that I was not going to buy any more clothes that didn't fit me. You see I've gotten over than and then some at this late stage in my career-- too many bitter tears shed over four dollars NOT spent on some dumb textile. So this one went home with me.

Last but not least, and in a similar vein, this also so-small-as-to-be-mannequin-fodder-alone vintage homecoming dress fairly leapt from its hanger and into my arms. I wish I had taken a better photo, but it consists of a tulle type net over a satin under-skirt, and a violently ruched bodice of the same material. I cannot get ENOUGH of these twenty-two inch waist dream dresses, even if I might have to have some bones removed to shimmy into them!

The show stopper part of the dress is, as said, the same ruffly fifties' bodice embellishment that Chacha wore to the senior prom in Grease. And that big satin bow in the center is a literal and figural cincher, in that its cheery detail made me want the dress even more. I think it used to be sky blue but age has turned the color of it a very pearlescent greyish perwinkle. I am on board with this. Maybe I will have a petite daughter someday who will wear this gorgeous dress to her own prom. For $8, I was like, yep, yep, and YEP.

How about you! Have any luck at the sales this weekend? Bought anything crazy just because you were worried you'd suffer remorse later on not taking the plunge? Do you only buy things you already know you can use or are you an aesthetics hoarder who will buy things that suit your magpie eye better than necessarily your lifestyle? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care! Til then.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shawnee Ceramic BLOWOUT in Hendersonville (1940's-50's)

Good morning!

Well! We made it to Monday. How was everyone's weekend? I was pleased to find a couple of vintage skirts/blazers/dresses at a sale in Hillwood on Friday before hitting the sales in earnest on Saturday with my dad (more on those finds later!). You fellow estate sale addicts might have noticed that the trail has grown cold along with the season-- as fall and winter are legitimately upon us (in spite of pogo'ing temperatures here in the South), estate sales seem to be fewer and farther between. Which is why I was overjoyed to see three listings all within throwing distance of one another in Hendersonville. Two turned out to be B-U-S-T busts, but the third, in the affluent Bluegrass subdivision on the outskirts of town, before Gallatin, was pretty crazy! I stole some photos from the expired listing so you could see what I saw when I went in the half-MILLION dollar house in which the sale took place. ((cue my dad and I rolling up in this neighborhood with the requisite "GAW-LEE." expressions on our tender little faces))

The listing reads:
 A 350 piece+ Shawnee collection, many rare pieces all moderately priced to move. A 150+ milk bottle collection from early 1900's to the 60's, some fascinating items! 
Now, the way I work estate sales is usually to choose the sales that appeal to me, print out the first page of each listing, sans pictures/descriptions/etc, just the part with the address and times, and then staple that to a Google Maps plotted course of the most direct routes between sale and sale. Yes, this is what we people without smartphones do in lo, the year of our Lord 2013, when juggling the map and traffic and coffee is just more than one's nerves can take. Thus, a lot of the time I have no idea which sale we're exactly going to, as presented in the preview photos-- I just know that when I looked at it earlier in the week, it looked good, and I added it to the pile. Folks, I walked into this house like "why did I add this to my list? No rabbit's warren of early-fifties' bedrooms piled high with hats and newspapers? No stinky basement with original sixties' furniture wrapped in cellophane? No raggedy swing clothes hanging in a closet, moth-eaten but still sequined? What was I thinking? This is NOT my style". Some very nice contemporary furniture, a pair of six thousand dollar vases....pass, please. Then I got to the main living room, and table, upon table, UPON TABLE full of Shawnee, McCoy, and various unmarked ceramics.

I mean, LOOK!

I am rarely taken aback by the goods at an estate sale, but this was ridiculous. Ridic...ulously....AWESOME. By the time I arrived on Saturday morning, the sale had already been running all day Friday, and there were maybe half as many tchotchkes as you see here (a lot of the really spectacular ones had already sold, sadly). However! There were still so many individual items I would have flipped over at a less hysterically overstocked sale, that I didn't quite know where to focus my attentions. I kept walking back and forth between two rooms like, is this happening? Is this one of those dreams where I buy a ton of stuff I like and then wake up empty handed?

Any one of these little guys, at a regular sale, would have been enough to turn your head, but what do you when confronted with 300 pieces! The woman who lived in the house was moving, and one of the people working the sale mentioned that said homeowner had lived at that address for eight years, and never unpacked a single one of these from the initial move. She said the collector was surprised, unwrapping vase after planter after salt shaker after pitcher, at just how many pieces she had! I can imagine! A lot of the time, when I think, "Hm, how many vintage nightgowns and slips do I have?" or "How many thirties' dishes do I have?", there's such a naked lust for these items in my heart that it's rare I can pass any up if the price is right. And so the chifferobe gets stuffed, and there's more dishes in storage in the attic than I even know I have! Sometimes I think about how much worse of a hoarder I would be if the prices for these collectibles were pennies on the dollar, as they used to be in the pre-internet days when the world was plentiful with things-I-like-at-prices-I-would-love.

All these salt shakers except the square looking chefs with the hats were gone when I got there. Would that the lobster claw ones were still unpurchased, I would have taken them home in a heartbeat! I wish I'd pulled the trigger on that little Bostie planter in the upper middle of the photo, but I couldn't decide and ended up leaving it. Boooo.

That skunk! That bison! The green square vase with the deer on it! Ugh, I would have probably paid full price for any of those. Still, as my heartbeat moved back to normal, I had to make some sober decisions about what pieces I WOULD take home with me. Everything was half off the marked sticker price, which made this process even more arduous. I have low impulse control, folks! I paced the room once or twice more.

Now, I DID end up buying two little ceramics (act like I was going to leave the place empty handed). Can you guess which of this assemblage of pieces from my house are the two newest members of my collection?

Time's up! While the white Scottie had a twin at the Hendersonville house, he's from a Hermitage estate sale a year or two ago. All the rest are from my baker's rack in the kitchen; I like how cheery  the colors are against the aluminum wire of their pedestals. Saturday, I bought these:

Aaah! I love them even more looking at them. The glow-in-the-dark looking Bambi planter was so strange I couldn't decide if I needed it or not. When I got it home and set it in the middle of the table on top of this psychedelic looking straw trivet, I knew I'd made the right choice! The Antelope on the left looks like something that should be part of a larger piece and made into a tv lamp. How pretty are the colors? As it was half off day, I got both pieces for I think $17. SCORE. My only regret is that I didn't buy more!

So! What do you think? Spy any pieces you would have just died to see in person? Do you collect ceramics from the midcentury? What kinds? Have you been to a sale lately where someone had a straight up addiction to a certain kind of collectible? What's your worst estate sale vice? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but more treasures from the hunt tomorrow. Have a great Monday! Til then.


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