Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thrift Share Monday: Oregon Kitchmas

I thrifted many Christmas items during my stay in Oregon, it being January and all.
I got this stash of ornaments at an Estate sale for $1:

 Then I had some really amazing luck at the Goodwill by the pound in Vancouver:

These are fabulous ornaments crafted from clothes pins and felt.
 I wish I could have found the third wise man.

I really love these handmade embroidered ornaments.

I also love these 50's/60's vintage guys from Japan.

Check out these kitschy Hurricane Bubble Lamps!
I found the one on the left at the Goodwill by the pound. It still had a Bubble Light, but the stem was broken.
I found the intact one at an Old Town Antiques for $10. I thought, why not have a pair?
I just need another Bubble Light and the hurricane glass, which should be easy enough.


I also got my hands on these two foil ball ornaments for $1 in the same booth as the lamp.
I've been wanting some of these to replace some old ones. Mission accomplished!

And the icing on the (Christmas) cake is this macrame reindeer.
I paid the low, low price of $1 at the Estate Sale.

It looks like I'm going to have to make more of an effort to put out some Christmas decorations next year. I'm thinking part of my reluctance to decorate was because I didn't own  any decorations that I was really  excited about. I have a few things from childhood, but not very much. Now I'm finally at the age that I'm building my own Christmas decorating traditions. Hopefully, when next December rolls around I'll be able to find the time to decorate!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The White Double Nine Patch and Other Textiles

As promised, a post devoted to the vintage quilt I recently found at a by the pound Goodwill in SE Portland ,Oregon. My guess is that it cost me about $1.50.

It is a double nine patch quilt. Meaning nine blocks...

Within nine blocks...

The double nine blocks are alternated with unpieced blocks of plain white fabric.

While the fabric on the block is plain, the stitch detail is not.
You can even see some of the pencil lines where the pattern was traced.

The quilt had two hand sized stains that looked like either tea or coffee. I say had because I spent some time this weekend getting the stains out. I used what I like to call the Magic Cream of Tartar Solution.  Then, I put the quilt in the washing machine in cool water. (Oh calm yourself, it's fine!) I let it soak in a bit of Woolite and a cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Gently agitated it, and gave it a low spin. I hung it to dry overnight and then gave it a quick fluff in the dryer on no heat with a couple of dryer balls.
It came out beautifly! Only traces of the stains are left and the quilting has a nice loft to it.

I also picked up this quilt at the Vancouer by the pound Goodwill.
It appears to be made out of vintage 60's bedspreads or pre-quilted fabric,
and backed with a poly/cotton sheet.

This embroidered linen tablecloth was also lurking in the Portland Bins.
The embroidery is pretty amazing...

A Winter Not-So-Wonderland

Just to keep the freinds and family updated, New England got hit by another whallop of a snowstorm. New Haven got another 12" and Yale never sleeps. I managed to stay downtown last night so I did not have to drive home in the blizzard and can easily walk to work today.  BIG thanks to my friend Denise for letting me crash with her.

Here are some pictures just so you can see how crazy it is...

That thing in the middle of the snow?  A parking meter.

The problem is not so much the 12" of new snow as the multitude of old snow that has yet to melt from the Christmas Blizzard.
The intersection of York and Chapel Streets.

The back porch of the theater...

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Costume Designer: Thrift Share Monday

It has been a crazy day so I'm a little late to the thrift share party. It seems like every time I sat down at the computer to load up my photos one fire or another needed to be put out, and another email needed to be answered, and another thing needed to be found.
Sometimes it's actually my job to go to a thrift store. Seriously! As a costume designer you have to go thrifting to make your budget work. Sunday I hit a few thrifts in search of sexy dresses for my girls in The Lover . My goal was to find a simple, classic, sexy dress for the leading lady as well as her at home casual look. I also was on a quest for a jersey knit wrap dress for one of our dancers. Here is what I bought:

For Lisa who plays Sarah, the lead.  
She is eagerly awaiting her lover for her afternoon tryst. 
Option 1: A knit jersey dress from Savers for $8.99 (I believe this hails from Forever 21.)  I love the twisted keyhole back and all the crossing seam lines. It represents for me how bound up Sarah is in her role playing. It constricts her rather than frees her. 

My only trepidation is that it may be a little too small and a little too short. So we search for Option 2. I found two little black dresses, because a little black dress is always sexy. The one on the left is from  Goodwill for $7.99. (Designer Boutique price.) But this week blue tags are half off so I got it for $4. Score! The dress on the right is a generic brand knit dress. It is not low cut enough for our purposes, but I can fix that. I know that Lisa will like the cut of the dress and the thickness of the fabric. It was $4.50 at Savers.

So the complication with this design is that this casual at home look has to fit over the sexy dress. Because Lisa has to make a costume change from one scene to another by herself in like 3 nanoseconds. Alvin, our director, suggested an exotic mu mu....

That statement made me think of Mrs. Roper from Three's Company: hmmm...too 70's

Then I thought of Ulie from Project Runway: hmmm.... too Miami.

Then I thought: Damn, I wish I could afford some fabulous Tory Burch dress
Oh wait, I actually own something similar to that!
Thanks Liberty of London for Target.
And then I picked up this at Savers for $4.50, another Forever 21 Special!
It certainly fits the "exotic" bill!

All of these day dresses will fit over any of the three sexy dresses. I think they all have a loungy, exotic quality without being too over the top.So on to the next girl...

For Steph who opens the show with a sexy dance for her man. 
The choreography dictates that this be a wrap dress. It has to be sexy but it has to cover sexy lingerie and needs to be quickly removed by the dancer during the dance.  The dancers are physical representations of our actors, so if I go with an exotic print for Lisa, I should do the same for Steph.  I found this BCBG Max Azria at Goodwill for $12.99. Good deal, especially for the exotic quality to the print and the swing of the skirt. I also grabbed the utilitarian black wrap dress below it  at the Goodwill for 4.99, just in case the other one doesn't work out.

Next step is to try them on the girls and see if they fit and work with the choreography and blocking. I also need to find some shoes, the thrifts were a bust in that department. I had a lot of right thing-wrong size  moments. 

I hope you all enjoyed your trip through a costume designers brain, but of course I took a quickie perusal through the house wares, just in case...

Georges Briard Fire King Casserole for $4.99
 California Pottery Dish for $1.00
Three vintage wise men made in Italy for $.49 ea.

The wise men are similar to my mothers set which is early mid-century.  According to her, Woolworth's would put out bins of Nativity Figures at Christmas so you could mix and match your creche. The figurines were either from Japan or Italy. I recognized them immediately as being vintage and snatched them up. There was also an Italian Mary and Baby Jesus that were slightly larger in scale, but that slack-ass Joseph was no where to be found so I left them to their fate.

Once again I'm linking up to Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just little bits of history repeating...

Now that I have started collecting these trays in earnest I have wondered about their history.  But where to begin? On my first tray post The History of the 13 Colonies Hunting Tigress left a comment that she had purchased some trays in their original packaging "Decorator Styled Souvenir Tray or Wall Plaque, Meldrum's Inc. Made in America." Recently I purchased CT/RI still in it's packaging from Goodwill. The package only said "Decorator Styled Tray" no maker or country of origin. 

I did a little reconnaissance on Etsy for more photographs of packaging. I found the folowing images on Etsy courtesy of jaystreasures. Obviously they are vintage from the price and the packaging style. Again "Decorator Styled, Meldrum's Mfg Co." etc. (Love how the back indicates there are tumblers too. Great, more to be on the lookout for!)

Courtesy of JaysTreasures on Etsy
Courtesy of JaysTreasures on Etsy

Here is another tray/coaster set via thewildstrawberries on Etsy. It is clearly a more recent set from the age and style of the packaging. This is also from Meldrum's and note that it is white instead of gold.
Google gives me no information about Meldrum's other than a phone number and address. Obviously they have not gotten on board the information superhighway just yet.

Courtesy of thewildstrawberries on Etsy

What I keep coming back to is the term "Decorator Styled" That indicates to me that the Meldrum's Trays are a knockoff of something else. After a little more digging around, Etsy and ebay led me to these.

These are now part of my personal collection. They were an inexpensive Christmas present to myself and the only trays thus far that I've purchased online. It's apparent to me that these are totally different from all the other trays I own. Look closely and see the difference.

First, these have a foil label on the back that reads: "Nashco Products New York, Hand Painted, Chip and Alcohol Resistant"

 You can see how this is painted using a stencil:

As opposed to this which is machine printed:

Hand painted flower...

Machine printed flower...

Cool, eh? So who are Nashco Products and what is their deal? According to Helaine Fendelman via an article on vintage serving trays at Country Living:

 "During the Colonial Revival trend of the early to mid 20th century, Nashco, of New York City, mass-produced decorative, stenciled serving trays.  Nashco trays were hand painted in Wedgwood blue, Chinese red, sage green, tan, and black. The Nashco Products Co. of New York City produced serving trays from the 1920s through the 1950s. They were used for serving drinks or appetizers to guests or as wall decorations. Trays of the 18th and 19th centuries were painted black with hand-painted or stenciled motifs; French-made pieces are known as Toleware. Nashco made circular, square, and rectangular trays, as well as bowls and vanity trays."

So it appears that in addition to their traditional Toleware models, Nashco also created these souvenir serving trays. The interest in Tole trays was so high that, according to this article by Julie Robinson Robards in the Pittsburgh Press Republican, "Nashco marketed "paint it yourself" kits during the 1950s. These came with pre-applied airbrush stencil borders and directions for painting using the one-stroke method."  Being hand painted, my Nashco RI an CT trays are definitely more of a "decorator brand" item and it seems that Meldrum's rode the wave of popularity and eventually started making knockoffs for the masses.

I would even go so far as to say their are different grades of the knockoffs as well. the "Decorator Styled" CT/RI definitely looks and feels cheaper than Utah, which was probably a Meldrum's.

And then there are the ones that have a hammered or pock marked finish. This is best illustrated by the comparison of the backs of my CT and AL coasters. I'm assuming these hammered ones are either from Meldrum's, but from a specific time period? Or are they are from another company altogether and this was how they got around copyright/patent infringement?

Of course the trajectory form Nashco to "Decorator Styled" is all just speculation. I am not a historian, an appraiser, or an antique expert. Though if anyone wants to pay me to be any of those things I will take you up on it! I just really enjoy these trays.  I think they are a spectacular representation of mid-century kitsch. I would like to know as much about them as I can, and while the internet is a fabulous resource, it can only get you so far.  I think all of us collectors and bloggers find their niche items they become passionate and informative about and these are clearly mine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tray Update Thursday

Despite my initial feelings that I haven't been finding any trays, it turns out that I have acquired a few since my last tray update a month ago.

Most important are the original Nashco trays I bought online. (Stay tuned, later in the week I will post my theories on the history of the Sate Souvenir Tray.)

The Rhode Island Nascho was purchased for $6.99 from mintseven on eBay.

The Connecticut Nashco was purchased on Etsy for $10.95 total from blueparlandhearts.

 I found Mexico (!?) at the Foxon Goodwill for .99.
I hope the only other tray beyond the 50 states is Canada, or else I'm in serious trouble.

I picked up Walt Disney World at the same time for .99 as well. This is a hot ticket online. Not because it's a State Souvenir Tray, but because it's considered Disneyana. I'm lucky I got it so cheap and in such good condition!

And Utah from the Milwauke, OR Goodwill for 1.99

I only need, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado to complete the American West!