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'...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Defiant, Persistent Spring!

This has possibly been one of the most brutal winters in several decades in the US. In fact, even as I write this, the air outside my window is below freezing, and there is snow on the ground. My area usually gets rain in March, and lots of wind, so what is with this weather?

Nevertheless, spring is coming! The robins are back in my neighborhood, the crocuses have sprouted, and I keep seeing flocks of geese flying north again. I am so ready for those warmer temperatures and greener landscapes!

I've been restocking my stores this week with bright and pastel colors, for those desperate for some sunshine and flowers. I know how you feel!

I listed this beautiful floral chiffon scarf a few weeks ago. It has already been favorited by 25 people on Etsy and pinned a few times on Pinterest--good signs I won't have it for long!
I recently acquired several solid colored chiffon scarves in spring colors. Chiffon is breezy for the warmer temps, and transitions well into the summer and fall. This light olive green scarf is very long and rectangular, with opaque stripes and sheer panels that virtually disappear against your skin! Makes me think of erin go bragh and St. Patrick's Day, as well.
This little  Royal Grafton demitasse cup and saucer will brighten your day! Could you believe it dates to the late 1950s? I love that orange color on the cup.
If you're still not cheered, maybe the little boy on this plaque can manage it (or his little mouse and bird friends).
Or perhaps the little boy on this plaque can brighten up your nursery room, when the spring rain comes.
This little duck figurine will put you in a good mood about spring rain, as well.
 With spring rains comes Easter, and new baby animals! I have some real wild bunnies living in my back yard, but this pink lead crystal one is pretty cute, too.
Of course, all of this spring talk makes me think of Bambi. Isn't this all-white Art Deco doe and fawn statue pretty? It is from Gallery Originals, which as it turns out, is a limited-edition division of Avon products.
If all of this spring talk has got you hankering for some green leaves and flowers, you could consider growing some, indoors, in a planter like this gorgeous Hull pheasant planter!

Well, that's enough for today. I need to get back to listing some more springtime beauties...after all, I hear another snowstorm is moving into my area today...

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm Writing Just to Say Hello...

Although social letter writing has declined in recent years, it is still a special thing to dig through a pile of envelopes addressed to "current resident" and find one personally written to you!  It is still a fairly inexpensive bit of fun in a world where cheap, clean fun is a rare commodity, and there is a certain rawness and genuineness to the handwritten note that you can't find in emails and texts.

If you are thinking of taking up letter writing in 2014, I have vintage stationery you can use, covering every topic from birthdays and special congratulations to thinking of you cards and get well soon notes.
Here are some cute cards, mostly birthday themed, for the girlie girls you might know. These are from the 60s or 70s.
This set has a lot more variety of messages, including "thinking of you" type cards. They aren't officially marked as such, but they definitely are inspired by the Holly Hobbie art style of the 70s and 80s. Find them here.
For the more grownup recipients, here are some backyard bird cards you might enjoy.
 The bird portrayed on this set of block print cards is a North American Loon, and these cards are blank inside, so you can figure out what you want to say with them. These are hand-printed cards by famous artist Gwen Frostic. They are still wrapped up in their original packaging, with matching envelopes.
Write home to wish Mama a happy birthday with this set of 5 floral birthday cards from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. They would also make a pretty cool shadow box display.

Finally, if you're really interested in letter writing the old-fashioned way, I have a cool set of 50s/60s era bamboo dip pens you can use. Just buy an inexpensive pot of ink at your local craft store and dip away. It's fun!

I have quite a few sets of vintage stationery not represented here, but you can find them by following the links throughout this post!


Here is an interesting link from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum about the history of letter writing in the United States.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

For the Thrifty Sewers Among Us

Many people these days have developed a taste for vintage fashions and perhaps enjoy mixing and matching the old with the new.  Some of the old fashions  are "current" again, like skinny jeans, bow-necked blouses, or sheath dresses. The casual observer might not even realize that an article of clothing is from another time!

The main difficulty I encounter when I look for vintage clothing is a problem with fit, and I think that's an issue for a whole lot of people. The sleeves are too loose, the bustline or chest is too full, the waist is too long, etc. We could alter the old garments, or we could sew something to measure, using a vintage sewing pattern!

I have recently acquired a number of vintage patterns and I've been adding them to my stores a few at a time, after I've gone through them to check for condition issues and missing pieces or instructions. Stay tuned for more, and don't forget to tell your friends if they like to sew! Meanwhile, here are a few to choose from.
This cool 70s pattern makes loose palazzo pants, a maxi dress, a jacket, a top, and a knee-length dress. Lots of options!
Like tunic length shirts, but the ones you find are always too long, or the sleeves bind under the arms? This blouse pattern from the 80s (actually borrowing from a late 40s design), can help you with both problems. Looks very comfortable! I really like views 2 and 3 on the front.
This fabulous top and skirt pattern from Vogue masquerades as a dress with a late 50s/early 60s style about it. I seriously love the view in yellow! a taste for vintage designer fashions? Here is a lovely and feminine dress designed by Albert Nipon for Vogue! It has some pleating on the bodice and a faux tie waist.

These designer patterns are selling quickly. I put a Calvin Klein pattern here on 1/25 and it sold immediately!
Here is a drape-neck dress pattern from supermodel Lauren Hutton's signature collection designs. You can put the shawl drape in the front or the back, and vary the length, depending on the level of drama you wish to achieve.
Maybe you are more interested in vintage sewing patterns for costume appeal. This Edwardian nightgown pattern will appeal to the Downton Abbey fans among us, because it was designed from clothing from that time period.  It has a very wide range of size options, and it has never been cut!
This blouson shirt pattern is more like the fashions from the current season of Downton Abbey, which takes place in the late 20s. The pattern itself dates to the 70s, but i see it regularly these days, often paired with skinny leg pants and flats!
For the teens, I do have some juniors patterns, like this sundress pattern from the 70s, drawing upon the country girl image. This one has never been cut!
I also have quite a few patterns for babies and toddlers, like this darling infant bib and overalls pattern. The pieces are so tiny!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my pattern collection. If you like a pattern but it isn't in your size, you might want to check out a pattern resizing tutorial like this one, for converting to plus-sizes, or read the discussions in this forum about how to convert vintage patterns for unusual body types and figure issues. I'm sure there are other useful links from around the web--I'd love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to follow me on Facebook, where I'll be posting links to more sewing related paraphernalia as I make it available.