WWII’s reenactors pushed me to the deep end.

I love old things. I love the way they look. I love their textures, their smells (sometimes), and the stories that have seeped into the cracks and patina finishes. I guess I’m talking specifically about the WWII era and older. If I was born in 1879 rather than 1979 I’d like to imagine myself at the forefront of the development of moving-pictures. Maybe I’d be cranking one of these for Buster Keaton or working as a gag-man for Harold Lloyd. for  I can’t say that I hate all modern things though because modernity is allowing me to have something called a ‘web~site’ through which I am communicating to you right now. I enjoy putting a pile of clothes in a metal box and having them come out clean. I will say though that it’s the look of modernity I can do without. If I “let myself go” so to speak , I would doubtlessly live a lifestyle pretty close to this woman’s lifestyle or perhaps Edna’s lifestyle. You have no idea how appealing that sounds to me. I’d still use Colgate and but can’t I have it in a simple, old-timey tube that looks more like oil paint than toothpaste?

Then I had an epiphany and with it, I’m inching more and more towards Edna’s part of town. WWII Reenactors. Yes, those boys love authenticity and I figured there’s got to be great modern reproductions of old ephemera & daily use items that soldiers would’ve had during wartime made specifically for niche market. A little bit of internet sleuthing and bing~O:

Motherload! There’s all sorts of everyday 1940’s era reproductions of toiletries and other household products out there made for WWII Reenactors that I will have to legally commandeer with currency. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, here’s a link to a WWII Supply website.

I’m coming, Edna. I’ll hand ink you a letter or better yet, send ya a telegram to tell you that it seems that I’ll be seeing you soon on those grassy plains of off-the-deepend-ness!

 

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Ideas are Free. Take this one.

I have an affinity for teeny tiny delicate things so the small purple flowers blossoming on some weeds in our front lawn caught my attention. I thought I’d snip a small sprig (and a single flower from our accidental Bougainvillea) and give a weed a new identity by having it decorate our bathroom…our teeny tiny bathroom (though it’s blossoms fell before I decided to snap a picture).

For vases I used the glass lids of some vintage oil & vinegar bottles my wife got at an antique store a while back for use as a bathroom decorations (the bottles themselves are seen in the photo above on the left and right sides). She had the clever idea to use the bottles as oil vases to put scented oil sticks in. To enhance our bathroom enhances , my wife found oil sticks with pretty decorative flowers on the end of them which you can sort of almost see at the top right corner.

Does this idea work for your space? Do you have some throwaway flowers and an eensy vase? Try it, photograph it, and send it my way and I’ll post it here.

Thriftscore! vintage late 1800’s Ice Box

Vintage White Clad Ice Box

This is better than a thriftscore. This is another one of my favorite ways to procure neat antique items: picking them up from the side of the road for free.

Our neighbors just moved out. They were taking care of their elderly grandmother and sadly, I believe she passed away. What’s even more gloomy is that it looks like the lot of grandmother’s things were put in the front yard with a sign that said “FREE”. The kids in our neighborhood are particularly savage and within hours they were using this woman’s crutches like stilts, racing around in her wheelchair and were literally smashing the rest of the items with a hammer simply because the stuff said “FREE” and they felt they were free to destroy it. It’s true, we asked them and that was their response.

I love the past simply for it’s own sake and I treasure the stories behind old things so I was glad to have rescued at least one item laid out in the yard to be given away and good care will be given to at least one item that belonged to this elderly woman. A “vintage” White Clad ice box from the late 1800’s. I put quotations around vintage because it’s most certainly a reproduction. I don’t mind that. In researching it a bit, even the repros of this go for around Truth be told, I may’ve just glossed over it if it weren’t for it’s unique hardware. I love the latch and the manufacturer’s plate on the front. From what I can tell it’s real brass.

The door opens and there’s a small bit of storage inside. I thought perhaps to use it as a night stand or and end table. Uninspired reuses, I know. Do any of you have any more clever ideas on a possible use for this neat little thing?

PS – my readership has spiked alot in the last few days. Where are all you coming from?!

PPS – please notice my fantastic Queen poster in the background of the first pic.

A Piano Stool Rescue. Part I

If you recall, a few weeks ago I posted a picture of the Christmas present I bought for my wife last month. Now with a great item like this, we need two things: great seating and great lighting. Three things if you count great prices

We’ve had our eye out for all of these and we solved out seating problem by finding a late 1800’s/early 1900’s era ball & claw piano stool at one of our favorite antique stores in Simi Valley. We already figured we’d likely end up with a piano stool because we wanted to be able to push in our seating to keep it out of the way and the leg space beneath the vanity is very small. A piano stool would be one of the few things that would fit the bill. It also had to be functional. The stool would not be just for decoration but for actual everyday use.

The stool was in unfortunately bad shape when we took a closer look in it at the shop and the shop owner dropped the price down from $65 to $25.  Twenty-five was still a lot for an old stool that we weren’t sure we could fix. The cast iron piece that was holding the seat to the swiveling rod (which didn’t turn) was completely shattered and the seat itself was broken in two pieces. We decided to go for it and I had to enlist my dad’s help to fix it.

I didn’t get around to taking a before picture of the crumbled cast iron but here’s all of the problems it had and the solutions that we came up with.

Granted the stool is not all back to it’s original pieces so it’s not a pure restoration. In order to make this seat sturdy enough for daily use we had to add to it somewhat. The X-shaped cast iron piece couldn’t be welded of course so it was brazed from the inside and then a metal plate was made to go in between the wood seat and the piece. The pieces were both painted with a glossy black coat to make the cast iron and the plate look uniform.

Putting the seat back it, we discovered it was lopsided so my dad even it out using washers as shims and then put wood dough (which I plan to use a mahogany stain on) in the excess space.

These photos don’t tell the story very well but here’s the now-sturdy stool which is in dire need of a deep cleaning. There’s a hundred years worth of dust gathered in the grooves of the ball & claw feet. But right now the wood needs some serious attention:

Tho’ it’s hard to tell in the photographs, one treatment with Howard’s Feed-n-Wax made a considerable difference in the wood (see the picture on the right). Howard’s is my favorite wood cleaning product I’ve used so far in my venture into restoring/refinishing. It really keeps the wood from drying out, replenishes the moisture, and gives it a nice shine. For best results, leave it on for 20 minutes before wiping off, just as the bottle suggests.

So that’s where I am now…in mid-clean. I cleaned the ball & claw feet as best I could but it still needs a great deal of attention. I’m going to need to figure out the best way to properly clean those feet.

More pictures to come as the project continues! Not bad for a $25 piece of turn-of-the-century furniture that might’ve been thrown away otherwise!

Sew sweet.

This weekend my wife and I were at one of our favorite antique shops in Simi Valley and she spotted this lovely piece of turn-of-the-century sewing machinery.

The Sewing Machine with the machine tucked away inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been semi-hunting for a unique looking table or even a stack of vintage suitcases to rest our tele~vison on. Once we saw this beautifully engraved piece we thought it’d be perfect. We envisioned that we could put our TV on top and our radio would hopefully fit underneath , on top of the foot pedal. And at $50 for a sewing machine table without the sewing machine? Usually we’d pass it up but the table was so lovely and a bit of what we were looking for so….”we’ll take it”.  Then, upon clearing it off, it turns out the machine was inside after all! We and the dealer missed that upon first inspection (as it was covered in other merch) but the dealer was kind enough to give it to us at the price she originally quoted us! What a gem, right?

So now it sits in our little blue living room ~ and certainly commands the attention of the room! Our radio is just a hair too big to fit underneath so for the time being, we’ve decided to keep the radio up top and store the records underneath and alas…our television is still homeless.

New Vanity

 

This is our newest edition to the house: a Sligh Furniture Co. 1920’s/30’s era vanity for my wife for Christmas.
I have to confess that this came from an antique store. I’ve never strayed from thrift stores and good old fashioned hand-me-downs/garbage rescues in all my years but in 2010 my loyalties was a little loose. This piece was so beautiful, desperately needed and was priced so good (and my wife bargains so well) that we practically stole it. It needed just a small bit of structural repair (all on the back, thank goodness) and wa-la.

 

PS – this yellow color on the walls was picked by my wife and it’s my favorite color in the entire house.

IKEA philosophy circa de 1912

I’ve two wonderful friends who bought a lovely 1912 Craftsman style home last year in Pomona. They’ve spent this last year removing, scraping, smashing, and sanding the hideous elements and additions that many previous owners disgraced this beautiful home with over the last ninety-nine years. There is still loads to do to the house as almost every room has a work to be done.

They’ve been collecting and filling their home with lovely Craftsman style decor and furnishings to match the home (note: these push button light switches are among my favorite additions). Clean straight lines, mixed material elements, very comely woodwork – it’s easy to see the seedlings of Art Deco hiding in every breakfast nook & cranny. It’s all extremely handsome. Initially, the whole American Craftsman style was a reaction to the garish and ostentatiously overdone style of the Victorian era.  Just like today, furniture from the top designers of the day was expensive and out of reach for all but the well-to-do’s. However, also like today, there was also mass-produced furniture from competitive companies, moderately priced, ennobling the home of the growing middle-class in America. In essence it became the IKEA of the time. Mass-produced affordable furniture with simplicity of form .

To-day, 99 years later, purchasing an original Craftsman era large furniture piece in good condition, even a piece from a lesser-know mass producer of the day, will run you into the thousands. If you’re not in the upper echelon of tax brackets, furnishing a Craftsman home with Craftsman furnishings now, you’ll like have to rely more on modern reproductions or modern furnishings with a Craftsman feel. Seems like the bourgeoisie can only afford to be purists.

It’s inescapable in these modern times to not have at least one IKEA item in your home.  Next time use a coaster underneath your cup before you set it on your $69 IKEA coffee table. Wrap your $4 IKEA cylindrical toothbrush holder in bubble wrap and put that in a safety deposit box. Your great-grandchildren will thank you for this and will save them a mint as they restore their twenty-eleven era apartment in twenty-one-ten. Save the toothbrush too while you’re at it. Maybe a clever wit will have figured out how to clone you from it by then. Forget mosquitoes petrified in amber.

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