Monday, April 29, 2013

The Death of Some Teacups...

I love vintage teacups. Today I opened up my overstuffed china cabinet to retrieve a saucer and about 6 teacups fell to their death on the floor. I was particularly sad the one with the grapes and walnuts design broke. Just calm down, I told myself, its just "stuff" right? And you shouldn't have had them stacked so high anyways!

Well, what did I later do? I walked to a thrift store and looked in the teacup aisle---and found this wonderful fairytale castle teacup and saucer for 2 bucks!! 

I was mighty pleased how this incident turned out---not only did I make much-needed room in my china cabinet by accidently breaking 6 cups, ha ha,  I was also motivated to have another session of exercise by walking to the thrift store. AND, I found a cup and saucer set that was even cooler than the ones I broke! Well, almost---I really liked the walnut teacup and I ended up taking a pair of heavy duty shears to the broken piece and cutting out the walnut decoration to save for potential future use.

Sometimes things start out like a disaster---but then they are really a blessing in disguise :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thrift Store Therapy---More Cats!

vintage French "attention to the cat" sign

Man, I wish I could relax like my cat. I mean, just look at her! Melted into the sidewalk. No concerns whatsoever. Just the swivel of an ear now and again.

Well, in honor of Tiger Baby I'm showing you some more cat-related thrift finds:

a vintage cat mug

a ridiculously cute tote bag which I will enjoy in a NON-ironic way :)

And finally, a pair of vintage kitten paint by numbers pictures! I hardly ever see vintage paint by number pictures in the thrifts anymore and when I do, they are usually landscapes. These kittens are an amazing find indeed.

I'll lay off the cat stuff for awhile, I promise, ha ha!!
Have an excellent week!
Linking up with SirThriftALot

Friday, April 19, 2013

600--or, Do I Have A Problem?

Yesterday I cracked the 600 sales mark in my Etsy shop. Which is wonderful, couldn't be happier. However, when I stopped to actually think about that I realized: good gods, that means that at some time or other, I have had 600 pieces of vintage lying around the house! And that is not counting the stuff I collect for myself and the stuff I haven't sold.

I started my store because I have this compulsion to thrift and I live in a 700 sq ft house. I realized I was never going to stop thrifting (are you crazy?) so I had to find some way to make it manageable. But---has it become more of an excuse to comb the 18 or so thrift stores that I regularly frequent (yes, 18, this area is ridiculous with thrift stores)? I remember a friend of my husband's gently suggesting to me that I may have a "hoarding" problem. "But," I protested weakly "I sell a lot of it!"

I have found myself worrying that if I don't go and buy the stuff it is going to be all gone some day and all that will be left in the thrift stores is Wallmart castoffs. Its my duty to buy 50s ceramic knickknacks, they won't be around forever!

Last summer I freaked out and had a 2 day garage sale with all the stuff that wasn't moving in the store. I had it priced dead cheap and I was even giving stuff away. At the end of the sale I had an entire small pickup full of stuff which I then took to the St Vincent dePauls thrift. I took photos of all of it and got a tax receipt. It felt good. Because its just stuff right?

Wait, who am I kidding? I'm a chronic thrifter and there is no cure. As long as I can make room by utilizing the principle of the great "wheel of stuff" I can justify it. Now wait til you see what I got on my last trip....;)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Project:  Stone Stamping

It has been freezing cold here the last day or two, even hailing (darn it spring, you always fool me!) so I thought I would concentrate on an indoor project---stamping on stones and pebbles. This project will require a couple of specialized supplies, but then the stones are basically free, just pick suitable ones up as you see them. River stones are especially good for this project and I found these ones on my river walk the other day:

I do recommend that you choose stones with the smoothest surfaces you can find to facilitate easier stamping, and that you wash them first to remove any loose dirt.

Now, you will also need stamps and ink. I am using this ink here:

and this solvent to clean the stamps when I am done:

This ink is permanent. It's called "StazOn" because it will, indeed, stay on!

Now basically, you just ink up your stamp and stamp it onto the stone. There are a couple of tips to heed here when you do this. Make sure to press down evenly on the stamp when you are stamping. Otherwise, this will happen:

You can see that I didn't quite get all of the stamp down at the bottom. You may need to gently roll the stamp to accommodate the convex nature of the stone. Also, if you are just starting out, and you are going to use permanent ink, I recommend using a simple design, such as this one:

As for mistakes, if you make one when using the permanent ink, it is going to be very hard to remove it. I found the solvent did not take it off the stone, perhaps because the stone is slightly porous.  I had to use sandpaper to remove the design. Bad for mistakes, but good for knowing the design will stay on!

Here is one I made with a very elaborate stamp. It's a mermaid, but as you may be able to tell, not all of the design got transferred. It still looks ok however, and really, you can't expect perfection when working with this sort of medium.

If you are prone to mistakes, I would also suggest working with a water soluble ink that you can wash off when you mess up. You can always do your design with water soluble ink and then spray your stone with something like this, in a matte spray:

It would also be fun to try stamping on tumbled stones, where the surface is more even.

I haven't tried putting these outside yet, but I am going to leave a few of these outside to see how weather, UV rays, etc, affect the design. Otherwise, they make great accents for indoor displays like those little tabletop fountains, or in your planters, or just on your windowsill. Make some to give to friends! I plan on also leaving them around in public places as "guerilla art" for people to find and take home. See here and
here for some info on guerilla/found art. I'm going to detail this concept in some of my posts in the future.
Have a great week!

Friday, April 12, 2013

What I Saw On My Walk #4---Collecting Nettles

                                                            I smelled the river
                                                        It reminded me of how
                                                            It felt to be free

I composed the above haiku on a recent river walk. To me, the smell of the river reminds me of more carefree times. Today I felt like re-capturing some of that carefree feeling and rambling in the woods near the river so I could look at the birds and collect nettles. Stinging nettles are, of course, a beloved wild plant with a long history of use in folk remedies. I've been collecting them for some years now, being first inspired by my sister-in-law, who was in a botany program at the university. We experimented with nettle soups and pestos and steamed nettles in wraps. The internet has plenty of nettle recipes and recommendations on how to collect and cook them if you are interested in such things. A good general introductory book, with a nettle section, is Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide

Here is the nettle herself in all her glory---see the stinging spines on her stalk?

I've seen a ton of ladybugs this spring. A good sign indeed!

A sweet little robin next to a patch of nettles.

So many lovely flowers out today!

Ferns, glorious ferns :)

A mysterious cavern in a tree. The home of gnomes perhaps? At the very least, a squirrel hangout :)

There was an amazing amount of nettles and I took home quite a good haul. Some went into a soup, some in a pesto, and some will go in tea. It felt good to shake off winter and connect to the green, growing things. Happy spring to the northern hemisphere!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Gnomes Gknow

Good day, dear viewers, I thought I'd share this utterly delightful little antique Pfaff sewing machine tin with you. The important thing to me about it is the GNOMES! Or maybe they are Brownies? At any rate, its hard to find antique stuff with gnomes on it at the thrifts. In fact, I rarely, if ever, come across anything like this in a thrift store anymore. I picked this little prize up yesterday at, of all things, a gem and mineral show. One booth had a tiny little section of antiques amongst all the beads and crystals, and this tin jumped right out at me. I paid way more than I normally would for something like this, but looking at it makes me so happy!
Hope you have a wonderful day :)
Linking up with Sir Thrift-a-Lot