Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thrifts of Terror: Hand of God

I think? Hand of something spiritual anyway.

Even Dan is enraptured.

Seen at the Trenton, NJ Goodwill

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Very Thrifty Birthday

My best friend, one half of the Vinyl Whores, has his birthday today. I made the trek from Connecticut to NYC with thrifty presents in the back of Scooter Subaru this morning to take him and his partner to the beach for the day.

Of course I gave him some records. Just a short stack. Mostly they came from Goodwill.

Some serious, some silly, some truly weird-but hey, that's what the guy likes. I can't wait to hear "Zingers from The Hollywood Squares"

"Captain and Tennille"-a classic.

And he may pee himself when he sees the Bonnie Tyler album. (I hope he doesn't have it already!)

He has been looking for one of these old school Dymo label makers for years. It even came with several extra rolls of tape and this cool metal box. I bought it at a rummage barn in Essex.

He know's he's getting one of my extra humidifiers, and this gravy boat I picked up a while back.

But he doesn't know about these:

Butterfly Gold Glasses! I have a cross post at the Pyrex Collective II about them if you want more info. I just bought these at Goodwill on Wednesday when I was out shopping for pants for Measure for Measure. 

The Vintage Kistch'n will be back next week. I'm taking a little R&R this weekend to celebrate the Vinyl Whore's birthday and another friend's Wacky Wedding in Central Park as part of the Pop Up Chapel event.  It's going to be a blast!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design Part II: The Sketch

Last week I showed you my research process, now I will show you how that research becomes a design  sketch. I mentioned that I consolidate my research for each character onto one single sheet of paper. This makes my sketching process much more streamlined.  For today's example I'm going to use the sketches for the characters I am referring to as the clowns, lower class characters that provide the comic relief.

Step One: The Gathering of the Tools
I don't use anything too fancy, just a mechanical pencil and an eraser. My preferred sketch pad is whatever I've got floating around in my art supplies. I have this theory that paper gets toothier as it gets older. So I will buy a sketch pad once or twice a year and then I let it "age." When I go to do a little drawing I just pull out whatever I have that has a nice rough surface. I have a preference for Borden's Penny Bond, when I can get it. For coloring I have my trusty Le Pen and Prismacolor art markers.

Step Two: Put on an audio book or pop in a DVD. Preferably one I've seen or heard one hundred times already. If either of these options involve Harry Potter, so much the better.

Step Three: Chose a pose from the research or a photo, figure out the proportion and start sketchin'. I use the eight-head method of figure drawing. (Click on the link for an in depth tutorial.) I mark out my guidelines....

...and  layout my figures. The trick to really successful figure drawing is remembering that there are rules to the human body. Such as your shoulder line and hip line will always be either at opposing angles or parallel to each other. Or that you can only stand with your weight either evenly distributed on both feet or if your weight is mostly on one foot, then that foot will be always be directly under your chin. (Go ahead, try standing off balance, you may rejoin the class when you've picked yourself up off the floor.) 

Step Four: Draw The Clothes, picking and choosing from the research to figure out what the costume will be. I just keep drawing (and erasing) until I have a completed pencil sketch. Because I'm drawing from images of real clothes it's easier to figure out where the wrinkles and drape lines actually go. 

Step Five: Shading. Now, while I have drawn in wrinkles in the clothing, the drawings are still very two dimensional. Instead of sketching in the light and shadow, I prefer to paint it in. I take a Marvy Le Pen, this time I used brown, and ink the drawing like a cartoon. Then I take a wet brush and start "painting." Because the Le Pen is water soluble, the ink bleeds and creates the shadow and depth. It is also going to give my finished color drawings an overall "tint." Which in the case of the Steampunk element, is helpful in understanding the finished designs. 

If you are lucky, you have a helper...

Put down that brush and PET ME!!!
Step Six: Choose a Color Palette. The fun part for me is deciding what the color palette of the show will be. This takes clothes from the realm of the ordinary into the theatrical.  Shakespeare's plays usually have two or three different worlds of people and I like to choose a different palette for each world, sometimes unified, sometimes opposing.  In this case I used two different images from one artist, photographer Annie Leibovitz. 

Specifically this one from her Romeo and Juliet Series for the upper class world I am calling The Establishment.

And this one from her series with Queen Elizabeth II. These colors are a more traditional, warmer l Steampunk palette and will represent the lower class characters I am calling the Underground, which the Clowns are part of. 

As you can see, because they are both by the same artist, there are underlying tones that unify the photos.  There is also the use of the colors red and blue as an accent and unifying concept, especially in the R&J series. If all goes according to plan,  these elements will unify my costumes as well. (Funny side note, the subjects of the photos are the opposites of the worlds represented in my design. Amazeballs.)

Step Seven: Coloring the Sketch. I use Prismacolor art markers to lay in the color and enhance the shadows and highlights created by the Le Pen. (Note the giant cup of coffee, very important to the process.)

And Voila! A finished rendering. (The Director loved it BTW.)

Here is the research for reference:

I was able to share my designs with the company on Monday and everyone seems really excited. My favorite moment was listening to the set designer explain how he had created a multi story set that is white and smooth at the top level and rusty and textured at the ground, I realized my costume designs have simpler, streamlined shapes  and clean colors for the upper class. While the characters who are lower in society are "rusty and textured". We are inadvertently, on the same page.  Flippin' sweet!
Now it's on to the details of finding the clothes. Check back next week to see how these drawings become a thrifty reality. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thrift Share (of Terror) Monday: Like a Barbie Cake Gone Wrong

I have nothing to Thrift Share today, with all my Measure for Measure preparations I had no time for any thrifting this week. And besides-it was too damn hot to leave the house. Fear not, I will begin costume shopping soon and I will have plenty to share in the next month.

I leave you with this gem. It's like a Barbie cake, but a it's lamp, but it's not really a Barbie, and...yeah.

Seen at the Red, White, and Blue Store Mercerville, NJ
(What is up with that price tag? $7.99?!!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vintage Kitsch'n: Corn Stuffed Zucchini

Todays Vintage Kitsch'n recipe hails from BC's Cooking Calendar from the September chapter and was  prepared with one of the many zucchini from my CSA. Corn is not quite in season yet. (I should be picking up my first ears tomorrow) However there was so much sweet corn last year that I still have some lurking in the freezer. 

After heating up the oven to 350 degrees I prepped the zucchini. (Because there is nothing like making lunch in the oven on an afternoon when it is 95 degrees outside.) According to the recipe, one should boil the zucchini whole for 5-7 minutes before cutting in half and scraping out the center. Hmmm... this seems like I will end up with a mushy, overcooked, nutrient-drained zucchini, and no one likes that.  So I  just cut the squash in half and scraped out the centers with a sharp spoon, leaving a 1/2" rim because I like squash, and reserved the scrapings for the filling.

I did not use either fresh or canned corn, but frozen. I thawed the corn in hot water and drained it well in a colander and then squeezed the kernels between paper towels. While the corn was draining I chopped the zucchini filling, along with a small onion, and the chives. 

At this point I added an extra step. In avoidance of mush, I pan browned the corn in my cast iron skillet. With only a thin layer of grapeseed oil on the bottom, I kept the pan as dry as possible to dry out the corn and increase the flavor. I cooked the corn on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until corn was brown and starting to blacken, giving the pan a shake and a stir two or three times during the process.

After the corn was finished I added it to the stuffing mixture and added my seasonings. Instead of seasoned salt (which usually has MSG) I combined sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and celery salt and added it to the mixture. It looked and smelled quite tasty, a good sign.

Next I added the stuffing to the zucchini shells. Thanks for the help, Cinderella bowl!

The full shells rest comfortably in my Spring Blossom divided casserole dish.

Next step: cheese. Mmmm...cheese.

And then I baked the dish for 30 minutes. I added an extra 10 minutes on to the time, because my oven takes a little longer and the zucchini shell was not quite done after 30 minutes. 

This was a very successful vintage recipe.  It's yummy, inexpensive, and relatively healthy. It would be even more healthy if you remove the cheese, which I don't think would reduce the flavor.

Summer squashes are kind of tricky, they can go from done to mushy real quick. Which is the usual complaint when people tell me they don't like summer squash, that it's mushy. Well, no you shouldn't like it, mushy squash is disgusting. Another complaint I hear is that it's so bland, again this is usually due to overcooking.  So in addition to seasoning salt, here are a couple of my favorite ways to season  summer squash:
  • Salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Always go light on the salt, because of the amount of water in a summer squash, over salting will up the mush factor considerably.
  • Salt, pepper, and savory.
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh garlic.
Any of these combinations can be grilled, baked, or sauteed with either green zucchini or yellow crookneck. 

Next week's CSA box will begin the corn onslaught. Last year I had so much corn that in addition to freezing the corn I canned some corn relish and gave it away for Christmas.  If this year is the same, I will definitely be canning some more. I'll be getting pickling cukes this week as well, perhaps I will have to expand my canning recipes! 

In an attempt to emulate the fantastically bad cookbook photos of yesteryear, I will be taking my Vintage Kistch'n  photos with my iPhone's Hipstamatic App from now on. I will post details on the App's settings at the end of  each post. 

Hipstamatic settings:
Film: Ina's 1969
Lens: Libatique 73
Flash: Off 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design Part I: The Research Process

As I've mentioned before in my other life away from this blog I am a freelance Costume Designer. I thought I would share a bit of my design process in the coming months because it is really the foundation of my thrifty vintage existence. You see, the major challenge of being a costume designer is that you frequently have to produce a large quantity of amazing period garments with little or no money or resources. 

Step One: Read the play and discuss a design concept with the Director. 
This year we are presenting Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (This link will take you to the SparkNotes page.) The Director's initial idea was to set this world in a stylized comic book world a la Frank Miller's Sin City. I thought about it for a few weeks and then, keeping in the comic book vein,  bounced him the idea of Steam Punk a la Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I gravitated to the idea of Duke Angelo trying to impart his repressed Victorian notions on a vibrantly sexual Steam Punk world. I also felt it would be a better fit  for our audience who are mostly families. Steam Punk is still sexy without being vulgar.  I sent The Director a few Google images via email, he enthusiastically jumped on board, and we were on our way. 

Step Two: Research.
The fantastic part of designing a Steam Punk show, is that most of your research can be found on the Internet. Though the alarming trend of viruses embedded in Google Image Search images is making that difficult. (Even for us Mac folks!) Regardless, I was able to find the majority of my research on the Internet and have taken to storing it on Pinterest. Pinterest, for those who don't know, is a virtual pin board! Instead of copying, filing and printing every image I want to use, I "pin it" to a specific pin board within my Pinterest account which I can access anywhere I have internet access. As a designer, it has become a very useful tool, I can't praise it enough. Here is a screen grab of part of my Measure for Measure Board:

After I felt I had a good number of Steam Punk images to draw from I dove into looking at the Victorian foundation Steam Punk is based on. Fortunately, I have a fair amount of research books on Victorian clothing and art. (I'm defining Victorian for my purposes as anything between 1860-1900.)  I looked at my books, flagged the relevant images with post-its, and dragged everything to the scanner and started creating .pdf files. 

Then it was back to the interwebs! More and more museums are putting their collections online. Which is brilliant. Now, some quality time with a museum's internal search engine yields fantastic research results. And where do we clip the images? Pinterest! Here is more from my Measure for Measure board: 

Now that all my research was centrally located, either on my Pinterest pin board or in a .pdf file, it was time to start dividing the research up by character. I opened a MS Word blank document for each character in the play and started combing through images, copying, and pasting pictures into the word files. I know the choice of Word seems weird, but I find I can alter the orientation and scale of the images faster and easier since I don't know Adobe that well. Also, I can usually fit a couple small images onto one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. (I like to save paper when I can.) After I felt I had all my research images assigned, I printed out the Word documents and started to cut and paste for real. 

Step 3: Creating Research Plates
This is a little trick I started utilizing in Grad School. I take the images I've printed and arrange them on a 9 x 12 piece of black paper. I cut and trim the copies as necessary and glue them to the black background. (Like scrap booking.) This creates one single sheet for each character with which I can reference all my design choices back to. It is one piece of paper I can hand to The Director and say "I'm thinking of this." He can look at it and know exactly where I'm headed without being confused by a pile of books and paper. (Or getting distracted by an irrelevant image. Wink, wink.)  It is one piece of paper which I can look at while I draw my sketch so I'm not digging through a pile of paper and pictures. "Where is that damn striped corset? I know it's here somewhere!" This one piece of paper focuses my thoughts.

As you can see, the black background makes the images pop. I keep the images in black and white because it's important to think about the shapes and details of the clothes right now, color will come later.
(You are seing a photograph of the research plate with a superimposed watermark. I can't have anyone stealing my work and trying to pass it off as their homework, now can I?) The plates include a mash up of Steam Punk, Victorian, and modern fashion which will guide me to my final sketches. Next week I will show you how this research becomes a costume design and sketch.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thrift Share Monday: Most Productive Weekend Ever

OK well, maybe not ever. But damn close!

First, what you came for, the Thrift Share. In my last Vintage Kitsch'n post I mentioned my green 80's Tupperware grater/keeper. It was my mothers and she also had the matching celery keeper and lettuce crisp-it. Where the celery and lettuce keepers got off to, I don't know. I took the grater when I left for college and have toted it around ever since. While I was out selling my wares at the Crown Flaie this weekend I spied that faux jadeite green poking out of a fellow vendors box of junk. It was the celery keeper! It even still has the lid and the drainer. Rob sold it to me for $2.

Now, for my weekend progress report. I got into a discussion via the comments on Atomic Betties blog post about lists, and the making of lists, and getting caught up in a process and not doing much on the lists. I challenged myself, Flo, and anyone else to a Facebook update at the end of the weekend for accountability.  Then I sat down and thought long and hard about what I want to resell and what goals I want to accomplish over the next six months. I have been casting too wide of a net in the process of becoming a reseller and spending too much time getting to caught up in the process. I won't bore you with the nitty gritty details, but I really feel like I have a handle on things now.

After my I finished my deep thoughts, I got down to business. So Nerds, it is with great relief that I can finally, finally, FINALLY, announce the opening of my Etsy shop!

(Trumpets, Fanfare, Etc....)

It feels like it took forever and a day, but I have some vintage and upcycled handmade items up for sale. What upcycled items are these, then? Remember back in the day I made that quilt out of felted Pendleton wool? There are now pillows, yes pillows! Four of 'em for sale right now, inserts included, and comparably priced to other handmade pillows. Click on the photos below to visit their respective Etsy pages. You don't have to buy one, but I'd really appreciate the traffic. (I've already made someones treasury!)

You can also find a link to the Etsy shop on the sidebar here on the Blog and on my Facebook Page as well. As I mentioned earlier, I spent Sunday selling at the Crown Flaie market. Traffic was kind of meh, and I got seriously overheated. I'm going to reevaluate if that's something I want to continue to pursue.  I did make a visit to the English Market picked up my consignment earnings, and had a great chat with Carol about reselling that made my day. I accomplished  90% of my weekend "To Do" list, made a little bit of money, and learned tons. I even made it to the gym. Mission accomplished!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thrifts of Terror: Lobster Fest

Puzzle of a feast of Lobsters. Why not?

Note the photograph is by Jon Bonjour. 
Pseudonym? I think so.

Seen at the Red White and Blue Store Mercerville, NJ

Friday, July 15, 2011

Primary Pyrex

In addition to the Spring Blossom pattern, I also collect Primary Pyrex pieces.  I  have two complete fridgie sets. Most pieces I've scored from the Goodwill, with the exception of one red and one blue given to me for Christmas from my Mom last year. I also picked up one red from an antique mall in Roseville, CA last summer.

One set in great condition:

One set, a little dishwashered around the edges but still useful. The other red fridgie (which is in rougher shape) currently lives with my flea market items as a business card holder.

Then there is my one lone blue lidless fridgie.

Let me just note that all my blue fridgies have a completely different makers mark on them. I'm taking this to mean none of them are from the same year or mold. (By the way Pyrex, if you would publish an official guide with picture guides, numbers, and production history, it would sell like crazy. Just sayin'.)

I think this one must be the oldest because it mentions the US Patent Office. It is also the least raised.

The circle of "T"'s around the stamp is interesting.

My other primary pieces are from the Hostess Oven-and-Table set. I bought the 2.5 qt bowl at Savers for $4.99.

And I bought the 12oz Ramekins at the Stratford Antique Center for $2 each. They are practically new, and the perfect size for snacks.

I've added a new page tab with my Primary Collection and I've updated the Spring Blossom page with my finds from last weekend. Gemco's  Spring Blossom Salt and Pepper and Sugar and Creamer. Want to know more about Gemco? Check out the Gemco page on Corelle Corner, an extensive Corelle and Pyrex resource.

Due to the excellent adventure in New Jersey last weekend, I did not pick up my veggies last Saturday. Subsequently, Vintage Kitsch'n will return next week. My thrifting companions The Vinyl Whores put up a mega post of our journey, if you want more details on their $63 vintage stereo system.