Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm sitting here enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, something I haven't done in about 4 or 5 years. Yes a new chapter has begun for me, I've left the Flea Market. It was time, because I saw weekend after weekend go by without my family and I missed them. I missed the long walks in the forest and the epic long bike rides hair blowing in the wind, the trips to "kids" beach, skipping stones, one two three four skips!!!.
One of the things I know about myself is that I can become very single pointed. When I commit to something I do it all the way or nothing but sometimes I can get carried away. So this is me carrying myself back to balance. I'm maintaining my online business and I'll still be at  the Twenty First Century flea/antique shows and the quarterly VFM shows but most weekends are now mine to share with family and friends. Of course I'll be hitting the odd garage sale, flea market from time to time, but I'll be the customer now, not the seller.
In honour of my days at the flea, I'll leave you with some of my favourite images of my time there a sort of farewell to the family I grew to know and love.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oh my, spring has really begun to turn to summer. The goslings are already half adult size and the air is thick with poplar fluff. You may have noticed I've been here less than frequently lately as I just can't bear to be inside these days. But I'm here now so I wanted to post some new items that have me squealing with excitement.

First up, this exquisite crystal stopper. Etched with a floral/leaf pattern, I believe it is likely a late 30s early 40s piece. There is so much spectacular detail in the carving on this one. I know you are probably thinking "what on earth does one do with a stopper?" but I can think of so many possibilities...It could be made into a doorknob, a centrepiece in a floral arrangement or even just as a decorative ornament, this beautiful piece of crystal will draw plenty of attention.

Next is this signed Kagami crystal sake glass. Kagame is Japan's royal brand, in existence since 1934.
They have crafted beautiful one of a kind pieces for Japanese Royalty, all their crystal is hand cut.
This glass is contemporary, I just love the shape and design.

Last is this gleaming silver plated alcohol burner for a chafing dish. I date it to the 40s since the knob is bakelite. The bottom is slightly dinged but the top is in good shape and the plate looks fabulous. 

Well that's it for today, the sunshine beckons... see you soon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

All Things Japanese

I've travelled to a lot of places in the world but the one place I haven't been yet is Japan.
Whether it's the bright lights of Tokyo or the calm of tea ceremonies, or the  image of vast hills of blooming ornamental cherry trees... I long to visit this land steeped in ritual and culture.
But for now the best I can do is dream and enjoy the many found things from Japan that I come across in my work. Top of the list for me has to be Kokeshi. Kokeshi are carved wooden dolls that come in all shapes and sizes. Uniquely shaped with no arms or legs and large heads.

 It is believed that kokeshi were "originally made during the middle of the Edo period (1600–1868) to be sold to people who were visiting the hot springs in the north-east of the country." (wikipedia) Traditional Kokeshi can be identified by their artist signatures or by their unique facial characters. 

Beware though, once you start collecting them it's impossible to stop!

Next on my Japan collectibles list is this enameled cigarette case.

These type in particular were popularized after WWII  as tourist gifts. Often they came in sets with a lighter and though they are not rare, they are a fun collectible and are fairly easy to find. Of course they can always be repurposed to hold things other than cigarettes.

 No collection of Japanese things is complete without at least a little paper, folded or otherwise.

I love 70's japanese postcards taken of course with film cameras, (those fuji greens!!) 
books of matches, always the most interesting, one of these has copies of block printed fish on it.
These post cards of a tea Ceremony are my favourite, not old but beautifully printed and frame worthy, and lastly folded paper dolls, the two on the far left are newer book marks.

This week as I was scouring the shelves of my local thrift store I found my final item, a beautiful Japanese laquer vase. I have seen lots of laquerware old, new and otherwise but this one is a first for me. By it's shape and style I'd say it's most likey sixties or seventies. It kind of jumped off the shelf at me and it is so bright and cheerful, I may have to hang on to it for a while.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stop Drop and Roll

As a hunter gatherer I know that some days are good and some are not so.. It only takes one good find to make a so so month turn into a WOW month but the good finds are getting increasingly harder to come by. A year ago I could shop one day a week and find enough to sell for several weeks. Now I'm lucky if I find enough to sell after shopping three or 4 days a week. But I'm not meaning to complain, just trying to set the stage for todays topic.

Earlier this week I set out on the hunt and left 3 or 4 places empty handed. I finally hit on what I thought was pay dirt when I found a Polaroid Pro Pack camera. (if you've been following along you know polaroid is a true love for me) I was thrilled, so thrilled in fact that I neglected to check the battery compartment, something I always do when buying pack cameras. Naturally after forking over 10 dollars I got home to discover that the batteries were left in the camera and had spewed their nasty acid. "No matter", I said to myself, "I will clean it up and it will be fine." It wasn't. Now you might be thinking "it's only 10 dollars", but to a hunter like me who's profit margin is very often thinner than a split hair, 10 dollars is a lot. Anyway, my point being that as buyers and re-sellers it behooves us to (as my good friend Perry would say)
Stop, Drop and Roll! 

In my profession excitement can be a job hazzard, I need to cultivate an attitude of calm when I'm out shopping so I don't end up with a cart full of "it's only x amount of dollars", purchases. Of course it's sometimes unavoidable and one can't be too hard on ones self, but it is a learned skill and I for one am determined to learn it. So next time I'm holding an object that makes my temperature rise I'll be sure to repeat my new mantra...

Stop, Drop and Roll!

And If that doesn't work I may be heading off  to the nearest ten step program, ;-).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fantastic Plastic

One of my favourite items to sell is bakelite. Especially jewelry. I don't quite know what it is about bakelite that intrigues me so but I know whenever I find it I do the happy dance. Perhaps it's just one of those reminders, a nostalgia for the past, or maybe it's that it isn't made any more and I feel so happy about preserving it? When it comes to bakelite jewelry though I'm almost sure it's the colour.
Gorgeous reds, greens, yellows, and blues and several colours in between, shiny or matte carved or smooth as a baby's.... you get the picture. It's stunning and whimsical and oh so easy to wear. And depending on where you live it's very plentiful. 

Okay so, a little history; Bakelite is an early plastic, the official nomenclature for it is unpronounceable so I'll use it's other official name: Thermosettting phenol formaldehyde resin. Developed in New York in 1907 by Belgiun born chemist Leo Baekeland. It was used initially as an insulator in electrical items as it was prized for it's heat resistance and non conductivity. Insulators, radio and telephone casings, toys and jewelry were just a few of the many uses for this versatile plastic often referred to as "the material of a 1000 uses."
The use of bakelite for jewelry became popular in the 1930's. Figural brooches, and carved bangles being among the most desirable for collectors but many many plane bangles were made and can be purchased relatively cheaply on the bakelite jewelry market.  

Being a Canadian I'm unfortunately in the land of the few, the bakelite market is not strong here but I do find pieces like these simple bangles occasionally. I'm hoping for the day when a fabulous figural brooch comes my way, and when it does, I'm keeping it!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Business of Customer Satisfaction

I have been selling vintage online now for about 4 years. That's a lot longer than I ever dreamed I'd be doing this and it seems (though of course are there are hard times too) that it is getting better and better. That's four years of building an online business, watching the ebb and flow. The one thing I've always been hesitant about in doing on-line sales is, I can't really deal with a live person. I often feel confused by things I read in email as I'm unable to gather the context of the words. (More than a few sales have gone awry because I misunderstood an email!) So I am always very appreciative when someone goes that extra mile to share a little of their joy after recieving an item.

Recently a woman from Hungary ordered gloves from me and was quite concerned whether she would get them in time for a special event. I was also on pins and needles because I believe, if my customers aren't happy, I'm not happy. Needless to say I was delighted when she wrote me this letter. 

Thank you so much! They arrived just in time, much sooner than I expected. Here are a few photos:

That is the best result I could hope for and makes me feel so happy to know that in some small way I made someone happy. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

a cuppa joe

Recently I've begun selling vintage and collectible coffee mugs so I though it might be interesting to look at  the evolution of the mug and find out a bit about the coffee-splosion that has enveloped us over the last 20 years or so.

 Though coffee has been around for centuries cafe culture is relatively new especially to North America. The earliest known cafes/coffee houses in Turkey date to the 14th century. They began as social hubs where artists and philosophers gathered to exchange ideas. Since then we have been gathering around the bean for everything from social chit chat and heated political debate to making it our own personal work spaces.

 Walk into any cafe today and you'll find no less than ten people busilly typing away on their laptops. We write papers, blog, process photos, surf the internet, sell real estate, buy stocks,  and make untold number of other business deals all while supping a warm cup of coffee in a very public place. In some respects nothings's changed, it's still a social gathering place where the dark brew is consumed but one thing that has definitely changed is the size of that cup of brew.

When Bogart ordered a cup a coffee in 1942, it came in a mug about this size.

An 8 oz mug.

Order a  regular coffee today and it comes in mug like this

A 12oz mug.

I don't suppose any of us ever dreamed we'd be paying almost 5 dollars for 1 cup of the stuff but here we are.
Guess it's a good thing then that the size increased  though if it's an exponential kind of thing is this what a coffee cup will look like in 2045? 

Hmmm... I think it's coffee time :-)