Vintage finds and retro handmade--a sweet mix I know you'll love.

This is my blog. To visit my stores, click the Etsy or Artfire links above, or the product images on the right column of the screen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oldies but Goodies: Vintage (1800s) Edition

I've been gone a lot these past few weekends, mostly for work, but this weekend I traveled across my home state with friends to see the Honey Creek battlefield, the site of a major Civil War conflict that decided my home state's position as a Union-held territory in the war.  Most of the photos I took of the place are the "you had to be there" kind, but I had one I thought I'd share.

This was a group of Civil War reenactors who fired a cannon and marched around us into the parking lot at the dedication ceremony for the museum that is being built. I failed to get a picture of the cannon going off, but it is an experience you should have at least once in your life.

The important take-away from that place is a tangible connection to the past. I walked where soldiers stood 151 years ago and I saw where the battle lines were once drawn. It is a part of this world that we shouldn't forget.

That's what vintage collecting is all about---keeping a connection to the past.

Everything I have curated in my stores is a connection like that.  I don't have anything from the era of the Civil War (I imagine artifacts like that rarely end up in estate sales, anyway), but I have a couple that are much older than the rest. 
This rose gold stamped brooch actually did come to me from an estate sale. I picked it out because the pin back just looked old to me and the color was unusual. After consulting with some vintage jewelry experts, I now know it dates to approximately the 1880s or 1890s. I sometimes find myself wondering what dress this pin once accessorized.

This miniature dry sink may also date to the very late 1800s, but I've conservatively dated it to the 1910s or 1920s. It hearkens back to the time when there was no indoor running water and all "washing up" had to be done in a washbasin with water that had been brought indoors. Of course, this is the tiny version of a normal American dry sink. It either served as a salesman's sample or as a "mommy and me" child's toy.

I've only had one other true Victorian piece in my store, although it has since sold. If you want to know the story of the doll chamber pot, here is the link to my earlier blog post:

Do you have something in your home or family that connects you to the distant past? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Oldies but Goodies: Handmade Edition

For the past month I've been working on a major reorganization of my stores, my store room, and even my personal bookshelves. It's been such a huge project that I haven't been able to post about the major holidays over the past few weeks. I really hope if you haven't finished your gift purchasing (say, for Father's Day or a birthday) that you'll pay me a visit with enough time to allow for shipping!

 It has occurred to me that the "visual clutter" I have recently removed from my stores may have been keeping you from seeing some of the great things I have. I thought I'd pop in today and show you some of the things you might have forgotten about, and tell you their stories.
A few years ago, I used my printmaking knowledge to carve and hand-print two designs of bookmarks. The first one is the first part of a Victor Hugo quotation I happen to like: "To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." It was a way of uniting my two loves--writing (and by extension, reading), and fine art. I invented my own smoke and flames inspired script for this bookmark.
My other bookmark design depicts a type of grass in an Art Nouveau style. I found a lovely tile motif in an old book on the New York Museum of Art website and decided to copy the lines of it. It was almost too delicate to cut out! These two bookmarks share the same plate, incidentally, and have to be cut apart after I ink them and apply the paper in the Japanese style.
I printed them in four color/paper combinations (three of which I still have). Unfortunately, there are few people in the world who appreciate a handmade bookmark when commercial ones are so easy to come by. If you are interested in something really special, they are all in the "Books and Bookmarks" section of my Artfire store.
Speaking of printmaking, I made this aquatic themed print in college. Yes, it does reflect my early interest in Art Nouveau and jellyfish. This was made using a technique called Monotype, which involved painting ink on smooth plates, removing layers of ink with tools, inking the plate again to layer the colors, drawing with colored pencil, etc. It can only be printed once per composition, unlike the bookmarks above, so whoever comes to own this one, called "The Reef After Dark," will have an exclusive piece of art.
Here is another early handmade item from my stores. I have a Japanese flowering plum in my front yard, and I think it's gorgeous in the spring. I decided to draw and hand-stitch a cluster of flowers on the end of a branch, using satin stitches, back stitching, French knots, and more. It took forever! If you like this one-of-a-kind piece, you can buy it here.
 I also have recently moved this little piece of rustic-style felt art to Ebay. It is all hand-stitched and dates to my junior high days. I was using a pattern, but I must say my success with it may be an origin for my pom pom animal line, which you may be very familiar with.

Yesterday, I posted on my Facebook fanpage about a decoupage project I made with friends over the weekend, just to get out of a crafting rut. I used a cardboard box I had purchased nearly a decade before to decorate, and layered on magazine clippings about Hawaii, circulated stamps from Micronesia, and a few vintage crate label prints from an old calendar. I'm not really serious about opening a decoupage line of products in my store (unless you ask, lol) but I plan to post a picture of my project over there if you'd like to stop by and leave a comment.

I am considering drawing some iron-on embroidery transfers and selling them as kits, because doing it myself would require me to charge pretty high prices for my time. Would any of my readers be interested?

What sort of things do you like to craft? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Showers, Bright Flowers

There are spring flowers and new leaves are gleaming in the bright sunshine around here. It makes me want to wear and decorate with bright colors, and throw open the windows to let in the sunshine. Mother's Day in the US is right around the corner, it's the peak of wedding season, and it's May birthday season, too. It's easy to find a good excuse to break out the flowers!

Here are a few of my favorite floral things from what I have on hand; I am preparing to list more in coming days: This vintage Vera Neumann scarf is fabulous! It is from the late 60s, and has never been worn (it still has the store tag on it).  The print looks like peach pink and red Azaeleas with turquoise leaves.
This 70s era ceramic citrus floral wall plaque is the perfect way to brighten up a narrow strip of wall, perhaps in a kitchen. It has a hanger already attached to the back. I believe if this is not Lefton, it is a quality imitator.
This silk scarf has a more neutral color palette, but that light blue still feels like spring to me--in the winter, it seems like the sky is always gray.
This men's Hardy Amies necktie has bright colors that remind me of flowers, but the pattern still has a masculine edge to it. A daring man could totally pull this off with a gray suit and a coordinating shirt.
These hair chopsticks, still tied in their original packaging, make a nice gift...maybe just to yourself. ;)
 This selection of 50s-70s era birthday cards will help you get prepared for Mom's birthday this year. Some of them can be used for other people's birthdays, as well. They don't all mention mother in the messages on them, and only one has some writing on it.

I am only scratching the surface of what I have in stock. Floral themes are eternally popular and I don't think they ever go out of style. Many flowers also carry a special symbolic meaning (rooted in Victorian and ancient traditions), which makes them great gifts.  Hope you'll stop by!

Curious about the traditional meanings of certain types of flowers? Here's an interesting link you can explore:
The Language of Flowers

Friday, April 18, 2014

Here's Some Tax Relief You Can Use...a Coupon!

Last week, I worked on taxes any time I had a break from my other obligations, and now, at last...

I'm finished!

I'm celebrating by offering a 20% off coupon in my Artfire and Etsy stores. Just use coupon code:


It's good through the end of April, and works on anything over $7!

If you have your eye on something in my eCrater store and would like the discount, you'll have to write to me, because that store doesn't have coupon capability. I'll have to mark it down manually for you...but I'd be happy to do that!
So, after shaking off the bookkeeping brain-stupor, I have started photographing and listing things again. My plan is to try to get something new into the store on a daily basis, so stay tuned!

Here is my newest listing, from today. This scarf has a minimalist, modern art kind of print, with primary color blocks and boxes on a tan  background. Follow the link to see it flat. If you like it, it's eligible for the coupon code. Just sayin'...