Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thrifty Acres - vintage Christmas and more

Hello! Was happy earlier in the week when I found a couple of decorative items for the house at a thrift store - but was even happier yesterday when I found some vintage Christmas stuff!

I'll show the decorative items first:

I loved the colors in this sampler, and it was very well-stitched too. The frame isn't anything special, but considering that I paid only $1.00 for this, I'm not complaining. On the back, someone had written "Dec. 1964", so perhaps it was a Christmas present for someone that year. Given that date, the sampler is in very good shape. 

I found this plate at the same thrift store and paid 80 cents for it. I think the thrift store would have charged more if they'd been able to read the faded lettering on the back, which states that this plate was a special item awarded to Avon sales representatives. It was made by Wedgewood and depicts the Bicentennial of Independence Hall. As I spent seven years in the Philadelphia area and thus went on the tour of this historic building several times, I was happy to pick up this collectible. 

Now on to the Christmas goodies! I never tire of finding vintage Christmas items, no matter what time of year it is. Went to an estate sale yesterday, where the first thing I spotted was a large box labeled "Christmas - all for $2.00". That's a price I can handle, so a quick rummage through the contents showed that there were at least a few vintage things in there. 

Most of it wasn't vintage, so once I got home I quickly sorted through the jumble and bagged up a bunch of stuff to take to Goodwill. I did keep a handful of craft supplies, but the main attraction, of course, was these oldies-but-goodies:

Shown are three never-used Walco iron-on felt appliques, a boxful of gift tags, two spools of ribbon, several small honeycomb tissue shapes (these appear to have been made to stick on top of gift packages), three rolls of printed gift tape in metal dispensers, and two packages labeled "Artistic Christmas Trims". None of these items, including the tapes, were ever used; packaging is intact. I'm guessing that they all date from the 1950's or 1960's. Here's a close-up of two of my favorite items from above:

Tape dispenser

Trims, which were made in Japan and originally sold for 10c. They are really charming.

It made my day to find these gems buried in that box of so-so Christmas knick-knacks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Made It - Yard Art

Hello! I've been in a creative mood over the past few days, so what follows are the results of my efforts.

This is a painted rock; the project is from the aptly-named Painting Flowers On Rocks by Lin Wellford. (I ordered the book from Edward R. Hamilton, which is a remaindered books catalogue). Not too bad for a first effort, I felt. I asked my husband and daughter what flower I had painted and they both replied daisies, which is what I had, indeed, attempted to do. The directions were easy and step-by-step. Although the rocks themselves were from our yard and thus free, the DecoArts Patio Paints, alas, were not. Still, I now have these paints left over to use in other rock painting projects.

Awhile back I had rediscovered the creative reuse store Learning From Scratch, and had bought a few things there for the express purpose of making decorative art for our garage. Why for the garage? Because it's very old and very decrepit, but because we live in a historic district, we can't just tear it down willy-nilly. So, until the day comes when we get it fixed up, I hang art on it in an attempt to detract from its aged appearance. 

Case in point is above - a fabric sample stamped with azure StazOn ink. Besides the bird and border images, I also stamped the words "summer days" on it, then glued on various white vintage buttons. For a hanger, all I did was put a stick through the grommets and tied some garden twine to the stick. 

I had also purchased three small painted wood samples at Learning From Scratch. From an old book, I had saved images from medieval art; the images are a series of illustrations that depict each month of the year. I chose June, July and August for the three wood pieces. I photocopied the images onto white cardstock, decoupaged them onto the wood pieces, then rubberstamped each one with the appropriate month using brown StazOn ink. I used more decoupage after that on the entire surface to make these waterproof. The final touch was to glue a bronze-colored vintage button onto each piece. Here's a close-up of July:

Now, I could have easily have designed the fabric piece and wood pieces to look far more elaborate than they do, but chose to go the easy route. For one thing, I don't know how well any of these items will hold up to the elements, and two - I just didn't feel like a lot of fussing around! I like how these projects turned out anyway - and anything to help our poor old garage!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thrifty Acres - Handmade for the Holidays

Hello! Although I can and do make a variety of holiday decorations, nevertheless I'm always delighted when I find well-crafted, handmade holiday decorations at a thrift store. Case in point:

I love this Halloween witch! The head is painted fabric and the face is neatly painted on. Five different black vintage buttons are glued onto the bodice. The pointy part of the hat is stitched onto the brim with very neat, even stitches. In short, someone did a fantastic job on this. And the price? A mere $3.00! The fabric alone would have probably cost about that much plus a pattern may have been purchased as well. Then there's the time spent crafting this item, no small consideration. (She's nearly three feet tall.)

I know that if this item was sold at a craft show, it'd go for more than $3.00. You can never tell about thrift store pricing; it often seems to follow no rhyme or reason. For instance, it's not unusual to find a dollar store item at a thrift store - with a price tag of more than a dollar on it!

Item #2 is smaller but I still like it:

This sweet Christmas stocking ornament was made with good-quality felt, not the cheap stuff that is practically see-through. The decorative stitching on the cuff and on the stocking itself adds a sweet touch. I don't care for the silver pipe cleaner hanger, but I can just take it off and add a prettier cord if I want. I paid 25c for this. Can't go wrong at that price!

Of course, now I'll have to wait to display these decorations at the appropriate times, but it'll be fun to set them out then.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Made It - Vintage Shoe Stretcher Lady

Hello! A couple of years ago I drove with some excitement to a sale run by some area antique dealers,for they advertised "28 hay wagons" of estate sale treasures. However, when I got there I learned that most of it was too junky even for me! But I did pick up a shoebox full of vintage shoe stretchers. In case you don't know what they look like, here is an example:

These were sold in pairs and would be placed inside shoes to keep the shoes stretched in between wearings. I paid $4.00 for 46; a quick check on eBay showed some sellers listing two pairs (ie, a total of four) for more than what I paid for my pile. One seller described them as metal and wood and as being from the 1950's/1960's. Some of mine still have the original price tag of 49 cents on the back. 

(No, I didn't want that many vintage shoe stretchers, but that's how they were sold.)

The above shoe stretcher is a pastel blue but there are also other shades of blues, pinks, greens and beige in my bundle. With those cute colors, I envisioned some sort of garden decor-type "person", and that is what I made:

I cut the smaller end of the shoe stretcher off with a bolt cutter so that it'd go into the ground easier, but I could have eliminated this step and just have dug a small hole first to accommodate that end before sticking it in the soil. 

I cut out a woman's face from a 1948 Woman's Day magazine and decoupaged it onto the large end. When the decoupage was dry I added a coat of varnish for waterproofing. 

I then found a vintage handkerchief that matched the color of the shoe stretcher, folded it into quarters (folded it on the diagonal to start) and snipped a small piece out of the folded edge. This became the neckline, which allowed me to slip the handkerchief on up to the "head". 

For arms, I used a stick and attached it tightly to the "body"  (the skinny part of the shoe stretcher) with floral wire. 

Then I tied a piece of vintage rickrack around the handkerchief to make a "waist", attached a vintage clip-on earring to the "neckline" and used waterproof glue to add a straw hat. From start to finish this was a quick project.

And here's the lady outside:

I don't know how weatherproof vintage handkerchiefs are, so I  put it in a shaded area of my garden and will bring it inside for the winter. I made my first one a couple of years ago and it's held up pretty well - the colors are faded a bit, but the handkerchief hasn't even frayed. 

I just happened to use what I had on hand - everything had come from estate sales or thrift shops. I also made one a couple of years ago for my sister-in-law using a vintage handkerchief she had given me that had once belonged to her now-deceased mother. But I could have used fabrics, bits of ribbons, etc instead.

I do like the use of the vintage woman's head cut-out. The two earlier versions I mentioned above had faces and hair drawn on with Sharpie markers, but I like the head cut-out better! Adds to the vintage look.

So, if you happen to find some vintages shoe stretchers of your own, you now know one potential use for them (besides the intended purpose, that is)!