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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thingy Thursday: Stan Williams

In May of 2009 I posted a blog about a new book I had heard about called The Find.  A few days later, I received an email from the author, Stan Williams, thanking me for the write up, sharing further that he had a dear friend that lived here in Austin and he would love to see her and make an opportunity to travel from NYC to meet me.  Well, the rest, as they say, is history.  Stan is fond of giving me the compliment of saying that we are "kindred spirits" - I'm more of the belief that he is a long lost, amputated limb that I wasn't aware I was missing.  This darlin' creature and dear friend, also known as The Elegant Thrifter , the blogger/writer of Busy Day Skilett and the maker of the marvelous Hooch Bags, holds a very special place in my heart.

I knew very little of ephemera before meeting Stan.  My educated guess as to the meaning of the word fell between one of two definitions. My initial thought was that maybe it was some sort of urban slang for the little dip just above a woman's collar bone.  But, then I also thought it sounded possibly like what hookers charge extra for.  Turns out neither was correct. After some research I found that ephemera can be described as items designed to be useful or important for only a short time, for example pamphlets, postcards, tickets, etc.  This research triggered a kind of greedy madness in me.  And, I use the word greedy because to any observer it would seem like I already have more than enough collections.  So, to take on another would be like fantasizing about being in love with Robert Downey, Jr. while you're making out with Hugh Jackman, it just seems unbecoming and a little ungrateful.  Frankly, the fact that I even considered adding ephemera to the long list of things a collect (clearly a hoarding-obsessive-compulsive tendency) suggests that I am technically beyond help.  But, with Stan as my mentor, I have learned the value of collecting only what you truly love and not being greedy.  Leaving some for the next treasure-hunter is full of karmic benefits and is only one of the many marvelous traits that I love and admire about this man.

So, without further delay, in today's Thingy Thursday, I would like to introduce you to Stan and his collections and celebrate his undying passion for nostalgia, thrifting, and all things vintage.  Below are his answers to a few nosey questions I posed:

What was your first collection?

Dolly Parton memorabilia. I probably started when I was 12. I do not display this collection, but I do haul it out on occasion to have a "Dolly" moment

How did this collections come about?

I saw Dolly Parton perform in 1977 at the American Royal rodeo promoting her "Here Your Come Again" album. I had seen her on TV and listened to her music, but this was when I officially became hooked. I still have the program. Funny enough, my mom was an original member of the Porter Wagoner fan club and has many of the original materials.

What's the history or story of your collection - is it reminiscent of items or times from your childhood - did you inherit a collection from your grandmother, aunt, mother, etc.?  What's the draw - do emotions, design or function or something else make these items appealing?

Did I answer above?

How much Dolly ephemera do you have?

Hundreds...I have every album she recorded on RCA (and with Porter Wagoner), as well as her albums with Monument. I am only missing a couple of early, early pieces.

Do you use, display or store them?

No. Like I said, I'll pull a piece out here and there. A couple of years ago I through a party that I called Dolly-Rama, celebrating the launch of Dolly's Backwoods Barbie album, and made it all things Dolly.  I do, however, have a signed print of  the cast of "9 to 5" that Veli found at a junk shop in Waxaw, NC and gave me as a Christmas gift, but that's about it.

What is the most you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

I really don't remember. Probably $100.

What is the least you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

10 cents...for old publicity photos from the '70s
What is your favorite piece of Dolly ephemera?

The "9 to 5" Print

What other collections are you building?

None. If I find something I like, I pick it up. I don't buy a lot. I do like items with a sense of humor, filled with color and charm.

Would you sell or pass on your collections?

Yes, I would pass on my collections, provided anyone wanted them.  I probably should have mentioned that I do, on occasion, pick up a vintage handbag to make a Hooch Bag with. I make hostess gifts out of vintage bags, fill them with funny money, a vintage surprise, a pack of candy cigarettes and a nip of booze..sort of a naughty but nice little gift that is popular for Mother's Day, wedding parties, special birthdays, or any time gals get together to have fun!  I also like to pick up old pieces of china that I use to give people to take home goodies after a party, or use to give baked goods as gifts, and just let the recipient keep the plate.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Pardon My French

Photos courtesy Villa Antiques and Object D' Art,, Pariscope Design, 1stdibs and Ebay

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thingy Thursday: Lynn Goldfinger-Abram

 Lynn Goldfinger-Abram, the woman behind the marvelous online store the Paris Hotel Boutique, is legendary in my brain. I have admired and coveted her business concept and collections of hotel silver and other paraphernalia ever since I saw an article in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine back in 2003. Little did I know at that time, that 7 years later, I would have the privilege of calling her my friend. I realize that sounds kinda "name-droppy" and smug, but, it's really just through bewildered appreciation that our paths ever had the opportunity to cross. Her beautiful shop carries more than just hotel silver though, her well-edited collections of vintage jewelry, books and furniture are well-curated and trigger an unbecoming drooling problem in me. Lynn prides herself on finding items that can't be seen everywhere, "the unique find" is her specialty. In today's Thingy Thursday, I would like to introduce you to Lynn and her collections and celebrate her undying passion for the glitz and glamour of bygone eras.

So, without further delay, I'd like you to meet Lynn and read her answers to a few nosey questions I posed:

What was your first collection?

My first collection(s) began when I was a young girl; everything including stationary (we had limited to choose from back in the day), stickers, beads, food-shaped candles, blown glass animals, happy face pinback buttons (yes, this was the 1960's/'70's), and much more than I can remember!

The latter years I was living the single life and not much into collecting.  Once I was in my 30's, I resumed my collecting. The first collection were some wacky 50's inspired lamps made by the Moss Lamp Company. Crazy figurines on lucite bases that moved, with funky lampshades. Then other
collections followed such as antique French crowns, Bakelite jewelry, lady portraits, mannequins and more. The one that "stuck" and still remains a fixture in my home is my hotel silver collection.

How did this collections come about?

I was perusing this fabulous shop in San Francisco and saw a vignette of hotel silver. I had never seen it before and was drawn to its fancy logos of grand hotels, fine craftsmanship & design, and the patina of these old pieces, once used by white-gloved waiters serving the hotel patrons.

I purchased my first piece that day. A large old handled serving dome with the name "Ernie's" engraved in script across the front. Ernie's was an old well-known restaurant in San Francisco.

What's the history or story of your collection?  What's the draw - do emotions, design or function or something else make these items appealing?

There was no history or connection when I initially purchased my first piece of hotel silver, but it quickly followed. I found myself seeking out any hotel silver I could find. Pieces from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco where several members of my family were married. Soon, many of my pieces of silver had memories of places that I had visited or knew the history of. And yes, the design makes these pieces so very appealing as well.

How many pieces of hotel silver do you own?

I have probably over 200 pieces of hotel silver in my collection.

Do you use, display or store them?

Fortunately we live in a 1930s home with a breakfast nook that has built-in open-face cabinets. I keep the silver mainly concentrated in this room. I do store some of it, as it needs frequent polishing, and when natural light hits the silver it tarnishes quickly. Not fun!

What is the most you've paid for a piece of hotel silver?

I don't really remember, but I'm guessing around $500-600.

What is the least you've paid for a piece of hotel silver?

I have paid as little as $20.

What is your favorite piece of hotel silver?

A large Victorian water pitcher from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.  It's quite ornate and extremely rare.

Any tips for collecting hotel silver?

Mix and match – All of my silver is assorted. I buy pieces that I like, so most of the teapots, creamers and pitchers in my collection are strictly decorative, not for serving purposes.

Some collectors strictly want hotels that have personal meaning, others go for design alone, and some just want to use pieces for serving and want the hotel quality and grade. Go for what you like and what strikes a cord.  Raised crests, cute shapes, monograms are always popular.

Look for manufacturers such as Reed and Barton, Gorham and International Silver Company. They produced most of the hotel silver in the USA.

Where do you find hotel silver?

Scour antique shops, flea markets, auctions and online.

What other collections are you building?

Hmmm...I am trying not to, as I have no more space and hate living in a cramped and crowded environment! But, I have a small collection of vintage oil paintings of San Francisco that I add to once and awhile.

Would you sell or pass on your collections?

Actually, I do sell selected pieces from my collection on my website. I found that it grew so much that I had to start selling some of it. It's difficult to part with, but I just can't have it all!

Photos courtesy, Lynn Goldfinger-Abram, Paris Hotel Boutique, Kate Sears, Home Companion, and Parisian Events

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Contain Yourself

Photos courtesy, Hacienda, Lauren Stanley Silver, 1stdibs, Buy Golly Miss Molly and Etsy

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Juanita Steve: Part Hannibal Lecter, Part Scarlett O'Hara

A couple of Februarys ago I informed da Hubbs and my babes, Olivia and Noah, that I enjoyed writing.  "I am going to write a book," I declared, one evening.  I was going to become an author.

Where this curious notion came from remains a mystery to me.  However, It might have something or another to do with my recent inability to maintain a stable body temperature or read anything written in a typeface smaller than billboard sized letters.  I guess, I figured, "I'm in my mid forties, it's time to be reflective and share some wisdom."  There's that, and the feeling that everyone in the world doesn't "get me," that my dear husband should just up and die out of sheer stupidity and that, though I hate to admit this, I may have lost my sense of humor for good.  I fear daily that I am transforming into a terrifying hybrid of Hannibal Lecter and Scarlett O'Hara.  I'll rip your heart out and eat it with some fava beans and a nice chianti, but I'll proceed with the back of my hand firmly pressed against my forehead like a full-blown diva. Presently, like Miss O'Hara, I'm trying to get through each day the best I can and remember that, "Tomorrow is another day."  Remembering where and what I came from and writing it down helps soothe my alternating brooding and surly temperament.

I thought I would share a little bit of what I've been working on.  I hope you enjoy this little excerpt.  I'm almost finished with the rough draft of the book and I welcome your thoughts and encouragement!

So, here goes . . . .

The Seminal Idea

This is a chronicle of one woman's life, the fat girl she never was, the hardships she never endured, the opportunities she wasted, the evil she never encountered.  Juanita Steve is the reluctant participant in a life that she wants to fall deeply in love with - unfortunately, it just wants to be "friends."


There is in the state of Texas, north of the Hill Country and east of Big Bend, a medium-sized town called Abilene. If you were to have looked in the white pages of a local phone book, one published around, say, the early to mid-seventies, you'd find a listing that shares a telephone number with two other listings.  A generation ago, the population of 1217 Beechwood St. consisted of one grandmother, three mothers, five daughters, two sons, two aunts, five sisters, one brother, five cousins, one flying Gold Fish, a squawky Budgie parakeet and one extremely anti-social alley cat.  And, if you've done the math, you are right in assuming that the true occupancy of said address, while still quite high, didn't quite equal twenty-four actual bodies. One person held many positions in the family - a mother whose adult daughters had children of their own, as well as sisters who were aunts to the others' children, for example.

I got to hold several positions in that family tree, I was a granddaughter slash daughter slash sister slash cousin slash niece. All of us came together shortly after the husband slash father slash son-in-law slash brother-in-law slash uncle slash sorry-son-of-a-bitch named Steve, took himself away.  The year was 1971, and the distance from 1217 Beechwood Street to our former, less populated house, was roughly the distance an Olympic athlete might have to fling himself to set the National Long Jump record.  But, it was far enough away to feel like a fresh start for my mom, Josie, my older sister, Avon, my brother, P.Q., my little sister, Jane and me.

At the end of Beechwood Street, which to my knowledge had no actual Beech trees growing on it, was Calvary Baptist Church.  This was our church and the place where my older sister and brother found Jesus.  To be honest, the only thing my little kid brain could do with that information was to ask, "Where had Jesus been? . . . . and wonder out loud, " Why hadn't he called someone to let them know he might be late or something?" . . . . because,  apparently people were worried and looking for him.  I was always misunderstanding the significance of phrases like that.  I also thought they were saying the Verg and Mary.  This spurred questions like, "Who's this Verg guy?  And what were his intentions concerning Mary?"  I remember thinking that maybe that was the name of the angel who came to tell Mary that she was going to carry the son of God.  My Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Edwards, was the first person to tell me the whole story from start to finish about the Virgin Mary and the day she got the news.  I remember telling Mrs. Ed, that I would have told that angel, 'No thank you, and walked off to find my mother as quickly as possible."   I had been taught that this was an appropriate response to strangers passing out candy, why wouldn't it have work on angels passing out babies?

My pastor, Jerry Poteet, continued the theme in my life of one person taking on many different roles. He and his wife Carolyn were not only the leaders of our congregation, they had their own histories with my mother and my aunt.   The result of these relationships, gave Jerry and Carolyn dual citizen ship in my world,  they were my own personal  "adult friends", while also being the parents to my own personal "kid friends." They had  three children Karen, Randy and Jennie.  Jennie, their youngest, was my age and we had been classmates at an Episcopal school in kindergarten.  She, my little sister, Jane and I were friends and played well together when her parents came together with our family at  each others homes, at church picnics, or at vacation Bible school in the summers.    My aunt, Audy, had been roommates with Carolyn at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas, just North of Dallas.  My mom was an alumnus of TWU as well, and was very fond of Carolyn, her mother, and her younger sister. 

Two traffic lights up from our Beechwood house on a street called Mockingbird, was a little strip shopping center with an M System grocery store, and a TG&Y nickel and dime store.  On the West side of the street across from the shopping center sat a dress shop called Estes Fashions and to its left was my Episcopal school.  This little Bermuda triangle of retail and education was one of my most favorite places to be in the world.  Mostly because, anytime we were in that area we, my little sister, cousin and I,  would be given permission to buy anything we wanted provided we stayed within our given budget of 25 or 50 cents.  The dress shop held rack after rack of beautiful Easter-type dresses.  I got to own 2 of those dresses in my life - one of the frocks was a pastel-y number that had a floral sheath dress that came just above my knee that had a light weight, lilac linen coat of equal length that went with it.  The second dress had a navy and white geometric design on a full skirt that was attached to a crisp white cotton blouse that had ruffles down the middle and pouffy white sleeve that buttoned just above were my arm bent.  The best part of the dress was its extra wide crimson red sash that tied in the back in a huge "Snow-White-like bow"  - I felt like Jackie O in the first and like a fairly tale in the second - the first was my Easter dress and the second I wore to my aunt's wedding.  I held my Episcopal school in high regard, not because of the wonderful education that I received there, but because they supplied me with Graham crackers and cartons of chocolate milk 5 days a week.    

Taylor County was dry which meant that if a person wanted a drink he needed a club membership or had to travel to Coleman County to quench his thirst.  This was not much of a concern in my family, though, because from what I understood, drinking alcohol was evil and was to be avoided.

It seemed to me that everyone in Abilene believed in God.  They just disagreed on who he loved the most - Baptists, Church of Christs, Episcopals  or Methodists.  For its population, Abilene was overflowing with religious institutions, churches, and religiously affiliated colleges.  As I grew older and became more aware of how people interacted socially, I started noticing that evidently most of its citizens that I had met found comfort in the fact that anyone who held an opposing view of family, religion, or politics than they, were headed straight for hell.  I remember being fascinated and a little sick to my stomach by the way other adults interacted with my own personal adults.  It seemed to me that these people had perfected the art of saying nothing in a way that left practically nothing unsaid.  But, that didn't stop me from remembering Abilene and it's inhabitants as warm and friendly.

I will always love Abilene, some of my most favorite memories happened in those few years that we lived in that house at 1217 Beechwood Street.  So much so, that thirty-eight  years later, I still long for just a few more moments with my grandmother, aunt, cousin, mom, sisters and brother in that place.  This time, in retrospect, was probably looked upon as "the dark years" by my newly divorced mom and aunt, both of whom were responsible for caring and providing for their respective children and their mother on a couple of very small teacher's salaries, and both without the benefit of any child support from their ex spouses.  But, if that were their mind sets, I was blissfully unaware.

The stories that follow are about a little girl, who got to be born in 1965 into a family of exceptional women.  It's a memoir, a swell and an exhale of appreciativeness and a way of returning to those moments that formed who I am.  Some of my beloved family members are no longer living;   I cannot speak for how my siblings, cousin, aunt, grandmother or mom  felt about this town,  our house or our time together.   I'm not entirely sure if they would recall this particular time in our lives as a happy one.  I'm sure they have their own versions. 

This is mine.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thingy Thursday: My Collections

To kick off the first "Thingy Thursday" I will begin with my own personal collections.  If this is your first time to the Vintage Laundress blog, "Thingy Thursday"  is a new weekly post that will serve as a vehicle to showcase collectors and the "thingies" they collect.  The plan is to begin with my own personal collections today, followed by Lynn Goldfinger-Abram of Paris Hotel Bouique next Thursday, with many others to follow.

But before we begin, I would like to preface the following information by stating the fact that owning a vintage business is just slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.  And besides that, you can get the same physical appearance without all the drug use.  It is important to note that when I go thrifting for pieces to add to my collections, my attire and personal appearance makes the following statement, "When I'm not in prison, I enjoy a day of looking homeless."  This lack of attention to my appearance is not really integral to good treasure-hunting, so, I would just like to apologize in advance, in case you happen upon me at a thrift store, a garage sale or estate sale.  Also important to note is that the "wide-eyed-crazy-cat-lady-half-a-second-away-from-taking-hostages" look on my face is harmless - I will not hurt or maim you - it's just the adrenaline and excitement of the hunt.

Okay, so here we go . . . .

What was your first collection?

My first true collection began about ten years ago with vintage printed textiles.  I began collecting printed tablecloths from the 40s, 50s and 60s because the graphic quality of the geometric designs and the simple classic beauty of the florals appealed to the graphic designer and illustrator in me.  For years , I've fooled myself into believing that I could quit collecting vintage textiles whenever I wanted. I promote the myth that I am in control. Even as my burgeoning collection of linens colonizes on the lounge, the dining table, my desk, and every inch of space in both my linen closet and coat closet, I refuse to admit I have a problem - it's for my business, I keep rationalizing. I feel a little bit like Markie Post or Meredith Baxter Birney in one of those Lifetime movies about the perils of addiction - "Unraveled: The LeAnn Stephenson Story"- in which I rob from the kids chore money fund and pawn my pancreas to get one more shopping fix.  I'm fortunate that my husband, Scott, went selectively blind and deaf approximately 24 hours after we said our "I dos." He has never complained about the piles of linens that litter our home and, as a matter of fact, he helps me add to them now.  Da Hubbs has also brainwashed our children, Olivia and Noah, into thinking that their mother is 'adorably eccentric', as he puts it.  I think that makes them all enablers - don'cha think?!

How did this collections come about?

When we first moved to Austin, we immediately discovered the City Wide Garage Sale.  It is a flea market slash antique show slash junker's haven held on a monthly basis.  Da Hubbs, the kids, and I began attending regularly as customers, until one month I decided to participate as a dealer.  Being held captive in a place with a that marvelous vintage stuff and da Hubbs there to sit my own personal booth made it very easy to quickly find a favorite booth.  My dear friend Michael, owner of Ahab Bowen, a marvelous vintage clothing shop in Dallas, Texas, comes and sets up at City Wide with tables and tables of vintage linens, scarves, clothing, aprons, etc.  This is where I discovered vintage printed tablecloths and the rest as they say, is history.

How many vintage printed tablecloths do you have?

Too many!  I'm seriously afraid to count.

Do you use, display or store them?

I use my linens everyday, especially the napkins. My collection of vintage white Damask tablecloths are used as curtain panels for my windows.  My damaged printed tablecloths are re-purposed into fabric for my line of Vintage Laundry Originals like aprons and pillows and such.

What is the most you've paid for a vintage printed tablecloth?

I'm extraordinarily cheap - I've probably never paid more than $8 or $10 dollars for a tablecloth.

What is the least you've paid for a vintage printed tablecloth?

There are times that I purchase large lots of linens, making each piece cost me only a few pennies.

What is your favorite vintage printed tablecloth?

This is akin to asking a mother which of her children is her favorite - I simply cannot choose, I'm afraid.

Any tips for collecting vintage printed tablecloth?

Don't let stains frighten you away from purchasing vintage textiles - holes, yes - stains, no.  I use a mixture of Oxy Clean and either Dawn dish soap or Era laundry detergent and let the linens soak to remove the stains.  There is a product called Wink Rust Remover that I have a lot of success with for rust - another thing that works on rust is lemon juice and salt on the rust and then place the cloth out in the sun.  Use peroxide for blood stains and hair spray for ink stains.

What other collections are you building?

It might make a shorter reply to cite the things that I don’t collect. However, I try to focus on vintage textiles.  I have a huge girl-crush on Vera Neumann, vintage chandeliers, vintage clothing and lingerie (1940s -1970s), vintage aprons, vintage handkerchiefs, and those great brightly-tinted Christmas ornaments.

Would you sell or pass on your collections?

Absolutely, I sell lots of my collections on my Etsy site.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Emerald City

Photos courtesy Shrimpton Couture, 1stdibs, 20th Century Interiors, Ebay and Camelot Glass and Collectibles

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Great Retro Redo Snafoo of 2010

I've been told by trained professionals that my digital point and shoot camera is about to be sucked into "old, crappy, on-their-last-leg camera hell."  "See that right there?" one of 'em said, pointing to the silver duct tape holding it together.  "That there's just tragic."

Evidently, duct tape is the international indicator that it's time for a new camera - Who knew?

My camera made a kinda wounded-R2D2 sound followed by what I swear was a backfire noise and crumbled out of my hand onto the floor.  So, in short, this event, "The Great Retro Redo Snafoo of 2010," kinda makes showing you my most recent redo photos completely impossible.

So, instead, I have decided to go with a shameless plug for my Etsy site and would like to show you some photos of the new stuff I listed yesterday.  Go check them out here and here and see what you think.

See you tomorrow with a new Want It Wednesdays.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Laundry List