Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday....to me!

Yup, today is my birthday and I was lucky enough to be taken out to dinner last night by my husband to a fabulous nearby restaurant right on the river (there are so many great restaurants here in Providence, it can be hard to choose!).  We had Sangria, each a great seafood dish and chocolate cake for dessert so it doesn't get much better than that!  I snapped this pic before we left as I wanted to capture my outfit.  (I am not so great at this as my friends Eyeliah and Alli both with their thrifted outfits-a-day but I will, on rare occasions, give it a try!)
My outfit is only partially thrifted.  The dress is from Ann Taylor Loft  (I can't help it - I love the place and their sales!) Found on the sale rack marked down from over $100 to $39.99 then another 40% off - who can resist?  It has hung, unworn in my closet for two years so this was its debut!  What I really want to talk about are the shoes.
These shoes are one of my best Thrift Scores ever!  I recall the day I found them I could  not believe they were just sitting there on the rack for about $6.99!   Blue Suede cut-out peep-toe wedges with red leather trim, tiny red metal enameled stars and killer ankle straps.  IN MY SIZE!  I would guess mid-1940's for sure.  No, you cannot touch them!
I should also mention the jewelry.  The neckline of the dress is very elaborate with those giant swirling flower-form things, so, a necklace seemed excessive.  I instead went with some rhinestone jewels.  A circa 1930's Bird of Paradise pave brooch that I found somewhere in my travels recently and kept for myself along with a pair of likely unmarked Coro dangle earrings that I also recently purchased with the intention of selling until I tried them on and realized how fabulous they were...for me!  The woman who had consigned them had worked for Coro years ago.  Some of her pieces were marked and others not which leads me to think they may have been en experimental piece.  They certainly work for me!
Ok, I'm off to enjoy a birthday breakfast with a friend and then, well, sort of mundane errands for the rest of the day!  What do you do to celebrate YOUR birthday?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blogging from the Bedroom

This afternoon it is 92 degrees with out-of-this-world stifling humidity in the non-air-conditioned room I typically work in.  I have therefore moved into the air-conditioned bedroom and am blogging from my lap - a task I suppose appropriate to my tool; a "laptop" - nonetheless not a typical workplace for me.  It is indeed far more comfortable, however, and, I no longer wish to lie down on the carpet beside the cat to pass out.  The downside, however, is that I now cannot bring myself to leave the room.  I will need to find away to both prepare and eat dinner in here which will be quite a feat as it is my turn to cook and I doubt my hubby will volunteer in this heat. (He cooked all last week.)

I wanted to talk a bit today about pandering.  That is, pandering to Etsy.  People often ask me how to generate sales on Etsy. There are many strategies and people have various things that work (foremost, offer a good product, provide good customer service and take really great photos!) but pandering a bit to trends and seasons can certainly help.  Next weekend is July 4th.  That means that all sorts of Etsians are looking for items to include in clever July 4th themed treasuries right now.  In fact, my red white and blue belt buckle was included in this charming arrangement just this past week:

If a seller is lucky enough to be selected for the treasury, and, the treasury is good enough to be selected for the front page, you have hit the jackpot for advertising!

Of course, Etsy also creates its own Front Page treasuries, so you could be lucky enough to be selected for that bit-o-press, or, if you are really, REALLY lucky, you might be selected for an Etsy Storque article like the one below from a few days ago:

So pandering, although often seen as a negative thing, can actually be a very, very smart thing to do around holidays, seasons (not just seasons like fall or spring, but, think wedding and baseball!), special events (from movie openings, season premieres, and awards ceremonies to Earth Day!) and trends (what are people saying?, doing?, reading? blogging about? wearing?)    Etsy actually has a great resource for this right on the site.  In the "How To" section of the Etsy blog look for the heading "From Etsy's Merchandising desk." Click the links and you will be told exactly what trends are coming for the next month and Etsy's recommendations for playing right into those trends!  (Yes, sadly, I was not the first person to think of this.)   I have linked the image below for you to bring you to the latest article in the series:

And in case you think I am the only one who thinks this way; take a look around!  Everyone with an ounce of marketing savvy is playing right into the July 4th holiday this week, including me!  (click the two top images in this post, both active in my shop!)  And here are a few more clever goodies for you to check out:

From my mom's shop: Find Me a Memory

 From my West Coast friend Cindy's shop: PumpkinTruck

From my Etsy mentor: PetitPoullailler

From the talented hands of Bonnie at Bonnie's Knitting

Friday, June 25, 2010

OMG, it really IS vintage!

Since I often shop for items for my shop at local consignment shops, I find myself looking at a lot of retro-inspired stuff from The Gap, Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and so on.  I like to think I have a good "eye", meaning, I can spot vintage textiles and materials in among the newer items and "pluck" them out with ease.  At times, this is true.  The fabric, textures, shape and wear is often a clue, even with only a sliver of an item visible, that something is vintage.  If I am being diligent, however, I need to double check some of the "new" stuff some of the times as many of these aforementioned brands are doing a good job of creating items with vintage looks, right down to the hardware.  After looking at seven Nine-West Bags, four Claiborne bags and three from Old Navy on the same rack, I start to wonder why I'm doing this.  Then I find a bag like this one.

As I looked at it I fully expected a high quality repro, instead, I was able to confirm vintage. How do you tell?  You may wonder...well, here are some things to look for.

1. No contemporary tags.  I know some of you girls have not been around as long as I have but please try to familiarize yourself with brands.  If something has a Merona tag (Target), Nine West, Old Navy or so forth, it is NOT vintage!  These brands have only been around for the past ten to 15 years.

2. Where is it made?  These are not hard and fast rules, but, if a bag has a "Made in China" tag it likely dates to the past ten years.  Made in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, likely 10 - 15 years.  Made in Hong Kong?; likely dates to the 1970's.  Made in Japan?; likely dates post-second World War to the 1950's and 1960's.  Items made in the USA vary. If it is handmade or by a specialty company it could be new.  If mass-produced, items made in the USA likely date to the 1960's or earlier. 

3. Hardware.  Hardware is a really good clue to age of bags.  If something needs to buckle with a metal buckle, zip with a metal zipper or clasp with a metal clasp it always gets my attention.  These are signs of quality construction and are also often indicators of a vintage bag.  Yes, contemporary bags do buckle and some have metal zippers, but, most are designed for ease of use and even if they have these details there are usually hidden modern details to clue you in to the fact that they are more recently made. 

4. Materials.  Early handbags were most often fabric, beaded or leather.  Into the 1940's and 1950's they were also mostly fabric or leather with some hard plastics like lucite for bodies and handles.  It really is not until you get into the 1960's that you start to see soft synthetics used for handbags.  And unfortunately, many of these early synthetics were still new to the market and unstable.  Always check to make sure a faux leather 1960's bag is not "sticky" feeling or it may be an indication of deterioration. Likewise, if the interior lining is "dusting" (breaking down and creating "dust" when touched or moved) think long and hard about the investment.  Once in a while these bags are still too great to pass up, but, if they are falling apart, literally, at the seams, be wary.  In the 1970's synthetics were often used, and were more stable, but not nearly as convincing as those used in later years.  Once you are looking at a synthetic bag that really looks and feels like leather, you are usually into the 1980's and later.


So, how did I know this was vintage? First of all, there is NO tag.  A vintage tag would be useful for sure, but, the absence of a "Made in China" or similar tag on a bag in this good condition is a clue in itself.  Second, the hardware used to close it.  It is metal and requires twisting to clasp.  It is riveted through and visible on the inside as well.  You just don't see hardware used on bags like this anymore.  Anything made in the past 20 - 30 years would have either a plastic twist style clasp, or, more commonly now, a magnetic or large flat snap type clasp at the closure.  Third, the great oval shaped pads where the handles are attached.  You just don't see this type of attention to detail on contemporary, unmarked bags.  Finally, the feel of the materials.  This is hard to convey via the web, but, the construction of the bag, with solid inserts that can be felt beneath the vinyl surface, and, even the texture and color of the vinyl is a clue.  The bag is older, for sure.

I hope you find this little post helpful.  I will continue to find examples and create more comprehensive posts with regard to dating items in the future.  For now, you will need to just get out there; look, touch, and familiarize yourself!  And yes, this bag is already for sale in my shop.  I had to put it with the other mod items right away.

Oh, and that mod dress you saw peeking into one of the photos above?  I found this one-piece number today too.  The tag is long gone, but again, clearly (to me!) vintage.  I will post this one later in the summer with some other fab color-block mod dresses for the office...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just a moment of your time...

I found this wonderful old pottery Sessions kitchen clock today while on a lunch break with a girlfriend from work.  (Yes, I was revealing to her another of my haunts.  She is not so much into vintage as I so I feel safe!)

What a delight!  All pottery, in fantastic condition.  How a wall clock made of pottery survives 60+ years with no chips or cracks is beyond me!  I wish I knew more about it though, which is why I am posting it here.  Anyone have any info?

The pottery body and raised numbers are very reminiscent of the Russel Wright designed clocks produced by Harker Potteries and GE back in the early 1950's.   I know it is not RW though because it is way too figural for him!  The clocks (above) and decorated items (some below) are about as "cute" as he ever got! Teapots?, no way...
Images courtesy of Ann Kerr's Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright

So, despite the striking similarities in some areas (get it? "striking???") the piece remains a mystery.  Perhaps Sessions' answer to the popularity of the GE/RW clocks?  I was not aware that they were flying off the shelves so much.  Perhaps Harker approached Sessions after the RW clocks stopped?  Any thoughts or facts are much appreciated!  I've got all the time in the world.... (heh heh heh)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amaryllis Revisited

As you might recall, I posted a couple of times over the past few months about the two Amaryllis bulbs I received as Christmas gifts.  I lamented about the fact that they took about 5 months to bloom, and, were somewhat squat, although the flowers were brilliant!  Well,  being the not-so-diligent housekeeper that I am, after the blooms had passed I cut them back but had not really attended to them. Should I toss the bulbs, or, attempt to save them until next year?  As I debated, I left the cut bulbs in the pots.  Next thing I know, one of them had sent up a shoot.

Up and up and up it goes; bursting at the top into three more gorgeous blooms!  This time it topped out at 27" - quite a feat!  And a treat, as if to say, "Sorry for the delay with the first batch, take this second batch as my way of saying 'I'm Sorry.'"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A loaf of bread, a quart of milk and a Samuel Winston dress...

I recall a Sesame Street segment from my youth that depicted a young boy heading to the local store for his mother.  He keeps repeating the grocery list in his head; "A loaf of bread, a quart of milk and a stick of butter."; the repetition is to ensure he does not forget his purpose.  This morning I left on foot with much the same goal.  "Pick up prescriptions, buy dental floss and pick up some eggs" was my mantra.  As I neared the store however, I spied a brightly colored sign: "Yard Sale" it read.  It was a few blocks back on my return trip.   I made my purchases, then, set-out on foot in search of said yard sale.

This is one of the things I enjoy most about living in this city.  I have, on several occasions, set out on foot to run errands on a Saturday or Sunday morning only to return with completely unexpected great yard sale finds!  That was how, years ago, I found my Russel Wright Conant Ball Modern Mates "surfboard" coffee table for $5.  Just last week I returned with a $10 wool runner for the front hall to replace "cat pee" rug that my cat simply would NOT stop marking. (I like the "new" one better anyway!)  This morning it was this gorgeous Samuel Winston dress.  Just look at that delectable chiffon drape detail at the back! (it secures with hidden hooks and eyes at the waist after zipped.)  In remarkably good condition except for one spot to the skirt, but, with that pattern, who cares?

Can you believe these gorgeous colors?  The woman I purchased it from said it had belonged to a friend's grandmother.  Looks very early to mid 1950's to me.  The skirt is covered in what I believe would be called Passementerie?  Please drop me a note if you would use another term for this work.  Sadly, this dress is a wee bit small for me so will go into my shop.  I did also find a gorgeous pale green silk summer dress at the same place, however, that does fit me. Perhaps I will post that one once I have it cleaned and pressed.  For now, you can drool over this beauty (and drop me a note if you simply must own it.  I'll plan to list it in the fall.)

Guess my memory is not so good after all...seems it was a girl who went to the store, and, a container of milk she was after. (though others on the internet swear they recall "quart of milk" as well, hmn....)  Still cute and oh-so-1970's after all these years.  Click here to check it out!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome Back

My brother, born in 1970, turned 40 this week so I wanted to find him some fun, 70's nostalgic gifts from our childhood for fun.
Probably not practical for a 40 year old to "play" with is this nonetheless great Fisher Price Adventure People Rescue Helicopter from 1974.  As you may recall, Fisher Price introduced the "Adventure People" as the pose-able, more realistic replacements to the "little people" in the early 70's.  We thought they were great, and, with exciting jobs like rescue helicopter pilots and race car drivers, all the better!  Of course, being kids, we just put the "little people" right beside the new "adventure people" and they all had adventures together regardless of jointed bodies or not.
I recall this helicopter clearly as the button on the back tail allowed you to make the copter "fly" and also control the gripper arms at the bottom so that it could swoop in, grip and lift away in a dramatic rescue!  Unfortunately my brother recalled the Adventure people but not the helicopter.  Well, now he can play "rescue" in the privacy of his own home...

I was not sure if he would remember this but he did immediately!  Domino Sugar has been packaging the Cinnamon Sugar into kid-friendly packaging for years. Back when we were kids, this was the bottle design on our kitchen table.  I cleaned it out and filled it with fresh new Cinnamon Sugar for him to enjoy a healthy, well, tasty breakfast.

My brother is a record collector, dealer and DJ so this Super Heroes record player from 1978 seemed like a no-brainer, and he loved it!  It works great, and, the needle is still there, so, he plans to put it to use somewhere.  I was nervous this might be a *bit* over the top but he loved it so I'm happy.

My brother also collects Pulp Fiction so, this is actually a more "typical" gift for him at a birthday or at Christmas time.  This trio came from that box I mentioned in a previous flea market post.  I was thinking he may have had the Horace McCoy on top there, but, turns out he lost his copy so this is a timely replacement.

My family is all pretty shy and will likely hate that I posted these pics, but, we had such a great time out together at dinner the other night I wanted to share them here.  Oh, and, my husband and I did also get Mark a "nice" gift, something actually clean and shrink wrapped that no one else has previously owned.  He liked it, but, what fun is posting a photo of something as common as that?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chrysalis

Spied today on the shelf of that national retail consignment shop, was this strange sight.  It was surrounded by other objects painted in solid gold.  A drinking glass, some wine glasses, and, this.  I immediately saw right through the gold paint to the "golden" object beneath.

 Sure, it looks like it has a crack or two, but, no repairs, so, should withstand a chemical strip.

At the risk of sounding smug, I did not even look under the tag while at the store.  I know if it had a mark it would be this one.

...and voila!  The butterfly is revealed!  Butterfly pattern, that is, of Nelson McCoy Pottery.  I had no idea what color glaze this would be underneath and was just hoping it was not pink.  Not that I do not already own some McCoy pink, but, I was hoping for green & copper.  White is perfectly acceptable for $2.99 plus a half hour soak in gel paint stripper.

Came out pretty nice!  Yup, there are a couple of cracks but that will just make it feel right at home with the rest of my art pottery collection.  And if you have not seen an early Nelson McCoy mark, here it is.  Although one of the listings I share below dates the vase and mark to the 1940's, it is actually likely a 1930's mark, as explained here

Want one for yourself?  Here is a nice one from Just Art Pottery. (in pink, of course, LOL!)

...and a pretty blue version - in a slightly larger size and very good price! - from heritageheirlooms on Etsy.

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