Monday, 31 January 2011

Elgin America meets American Beauty

With JJ being in America, it means my American compact collecting is increasing in a huge way but I love having the variation of English and American vintage powder compacts together. American compacts seem to offer a variation in shapes and colouring that sometimes their English counterparts are missing. Perhaps this is because the key era of the late 1930s and 1940s in which compacts were designed in used occurred at a time when England was at war and supplies were limited, beautiful compacts weren't the key necessity of that time.

I have been more then lucky to have been given two Elgin powder compacts from Joe in the last couple of months. As a company Elgin began manufacturing compacts in the 1930s under the name of the Illinois Watch Company of Elgin. Moving into cosmetics, Elgin often designed cases for fashion houses; even commissioning Dali in 1950 to create a compact. Named the "bird in hand" Dali's compact designed in three finishes of satin, bronze and silver with a 14 carrot overlay on the birds wings;  features a powder, pill box and lipstick compartment. However company disputes in the 1960s, lead the company to move to Japan.

The first compact was produced around 1945 under the subdivision American Beauty;

The gold toned American Beauty vintage powder compact is bell shaped in design; edged with a Geek Key pattern.
I love the shape of this compact, it makes it very tactile and neatly fits into the palm of your hand through its sleek long design. Intact with it's original powder puff its still in amazingly good condition.

The second powder compact given to me as a gorgeous present for Christmas, is a chamelon effect covered compact.

This effect of gold and silver topping embedded with a pattern is really pretty and is "the result of light reflections created by lacquer, interacting glossy and brushed finished, or gold with silver tones. the design depends on highlights in surface texture to bring the design to life" (featured in L. M. Mueller Compacts).

The inside to the compact showing the flapping lid engraved with a curving line pattern locked in place
A similar compact is dated in a reference book of 1945. Nevertheless extra care has to be given towards compacts with this patterning as its noted it makes the compact surface tarnish easier then say your normal  conventional compacts. 

Pretty though, either way. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Vintage crochet wedding gloves. a do or a don't?

Being a gal that crochets its only fitting to add my favourite past time into the whole wedding thing. I did start making a shawl (see below) I saw in the crochet magazine Crochet Today, I started it and hated the yarn, then brought some cotton based wool and restarted but haven't got very far with it. I really should - it would be easier to just take the shawl rather then four balls of yarn. 

The first crochet shawl version before it got frogged for a few reasons - one that it wasn't feeling soft secondly it wasn't crocheting up neatly at all, there was gaps and it just wasn't looking nice. However lovely the pattern was working out.
One of  my favourite places to find old vintage crochet patterns is the flea market in Pickering, there's normally a stand with a huge basket mixture of vintage knitting and crochet patterns in all kinds of conditions and the crochet patterns are normally old little booklets of doilys. There's always too many to pick between.

The wheat ear booklet is just as normal as its other counterparts, filled with a mixture of table runners, large and small single doily and sets for a vintage girls dresser or edging to towels or chair runners. Yet this booklet in particular by Coats (publication no 773 originally published in 1968, reprinted in 1980) has a pattern for some crocheted gloves. I've seen some before in vintage shops and they always look so feminine and delicate. 

The gloves fit snugly to the length of your fingers with and elasticated band fastening around the wrist. The wheat ear pattern designed as a trimming to be sewn at the end onto the backs of the gloves.
I love just how pretty they are, but maybe it would be all to over the top with a crocheted shawl too, maybe it would get all confused with wearing them, then taking them off and then with rings on. But oh i'm so tempted. Any ideas, should I make them?

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Gah, I want that tattoo

 I hope your all having a lovely weekend, I spent today shopping - i've totally fallen in love with Zara. I'll admitt its taken me years to even step inside that shop, but i'm so pleased I did. I have a new favourite. But the main part of the day as been spent daydreaming about more ink. 

Tattoos are a part of me that always hides in the back of my mind. I wish i'd of got more done when I was up in Newcastle at university and had a smashing tattooists up there. I don't know why I didn't. Sometimes I just have days dreaming up ideas, patterns, places to get them done. Then I remember I need to save money for moving, and a wedding, and a honeymoon and bus tickets.

The above love bird image is one I found on one of them endless google image searches. I love the tones of the blues and the wispy grey shading which adds to the sense of flight in the design. I've been debating the idea of getting a love bird for a while, going back and forth over the idea of the retro punky vivid colour look. 

I think i'll have a pair flying towards each other across the bottom of my back (beware tramp stamp territory) with something linking them between. My backs a work in progress, so are my designs. But the daydreams keep me happy at work and I love being the gal people always think would never have tattoos.

I love surprising people like that. 

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Vintage meets marks and sparks

I may be late jumping on this band wagon but Marks & Sparks seem to have some rather pretty vintage inspired ditsy kind of things. Think vivid flowers, cute cake stands and cotton napkins and your half way there. They're terming it "fashion vintage" which I guess is just another reflection on the increasing consumer interest of vintage apparel, whatever it may be.

Left to right, top row; 3D Multi Flower cushion £45, Elizabeth Cup & Saucer £7.50; Vintage Floral Cushion £19:50, second row - Kirstie Allsopp Sewing Basket £19:50, Love Texture Cushion £29:50, Kirstie Allsopp Cake Stand £19:50. 

I hadn't even known Kirstie Allsopp was doing a range for Marks and Spencer's - there isn't much, a cake stand, a teacup and saucer and odd other little things but I do like the sewing box. Its rather quirky and very pretty and looks a brilliant size to keep everything together.

Being a crochet gal, how could I not post their crocheted items?! There seem to be more in their catalogue then there is on their website - or I'm just being blind and I can't find them. So there's only three to show here, and they don't look as impressive as they do in the books but it gives you an idea at least. Either way it's rather refreshing to see crocheted items on sale, knowing you could make something pretty much the same for a faction of the price - the crochet rug below being a case in point.

Left to right - Fashion vintage crochet rug £250, Crochet runner quilt £75

But anything that gets crochet back into the eyes of the public can only be a good thing right?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A reintroduction to vintage powder compacts

I realised, well I looked back into the old blogging history and apparently I haven't blogged about anything compact related since last May (maybe I did and just didn't tag them properly). How bizarre. I use to post about them all the time. And its not like I haven't had any new ones since May. Far from it.So probably over the next few weeks i'll be updating the blog on all the latest additions.

We'll start with the biggest compact related addition. When you start "displaying" what you collect that's when it starts getting serious. First I started with cheapo plastic little plate stands, ones that flap open and you balance them upon. Then we got more serious and dedicated a SHELF of all things to my compacts. 

This blog started pretty much a few months before I got my first compact - rescued from my gran's house after she died. The collection is now up to about 20, the latter additions have been brought by my guy. He has a brilliant eye. Being over in America he finds ones that aren't overly available over here, ones that are a lot more based in providing that vintage lady with not only a gorgeous and feminine compact for her powder, but additionally her rogue or blusher.

There's a quick sneak preview of some of my new ones. As you can see, standing up on their little plate stands you can just see how varied and different compacts can be from one another. I have started to find that the non English compacts do tend to be a bit more varied in their shapes rather then merely round or square. But there are some very exciting new additions, including a self cleaning mirror mechanism, hidden rouge compartments, state maps and intact Jergens foundation.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

PROJECTS: Pressing Flowers

There was a reason why I had all the dried and press rose petals I posted about in my last post. They started when I got a flower press for Christmas. Here's the background;

One of the items I saw a lot over the run up to Christmas in crafty based outlets were presses for pressing flowers. I think I tried once or twice when I was little with huge heavy books (my mam's Golden Hands craft books from the 1970s if i remember rightly). But I never had the patience or the idea about really doing it properly. 

As a craft it was the Victorians that gave it's popularity through preserving a gift, a memory associated with the flowers with ribbons. You can still often find old flowers especially grasses and heathers pressed in the family bible or similar thick and weighty books of that era and later - we have some heathery like flowers still within what's seen as the family bible - we don't know how long they've been there but the bible with my great great grans (or could be aunt - I forget) name inside.

The pressed heather flowers kept inside the "family" bible, no idea how old they are or why they were originally pressed, but they've stood the test of time all the same

Nevertheless pressing flowers is a craft with a much later history dating as far back to the 1600s in Japan whereby a leaf or flower was designed into a painting, embellished into becoming a mountain in an abstract manner.

So for Christmas the parents brought me a little - I will admit, children's kit to pressing flowers, complete with a mini press, some paints and a selection of materials to display and present your final items. Hinting gets you everywhere at times.

So, you select your flower(s) and/or foliage laying them out gently and as little of them touching each other as possible pressing them between two pieces of blotting paper. Then the laying the sandwiched flowers at the bottom of the press, it's filled up with sheets of cardboard topped with the top wooden layer to the press. Tighten with bolts you're suggested to leave the press for two weeks to work its magic, however if your not feeling as patient the process can be quickened by up to one week through leaving the press in a place such as an airing cupboard. Once they are "cooked" as I term it, I've been mounting them with a scrapbook, writing the odd little note of where the flowers came from, what they are, etc. Just a little way to mark them all together.

I'm not sure if i'm either pressing them for two long (although the leaflet does suggest two weeks) or maybe too tightly within the press. They just don't seem to maintain the richness of tones in their colour compared to some images you find of pressed flowers. Maybe it's all just trail and error, these are just the second attempt and honestly, there's a lack of flowers available at the moment to press. The ones "cooking" at the moment are just some fir tree leaves of various kinds and some more orchid flowers.

Just have to wait another two weeks to see how they turn out!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Piling up the petals

I've been collecting and drying out rose petals, these were part of a table centre we made for Christmas  I have no idea what i'm planning to do with them, I just love all the shades and tones dying them, brings out in them, oranges, pinks, reds and purples.

I have no plans for them, maybe if I was feeling inventive enough we'd use them in our wedding invites although i'm not sure how, or even table place names. Or maybe i'll just flutter them into and let them fall as they will into pages of our photograph/scrapbook.I tried sticking them into a book but, there was no way of making them look as pretty as they were in the above image.

Hope you've all got an exciting week ahead, mines just a different week, same rubbish. I long to stop feeling so drained and wish I could get excited about work.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The ten british pounds wedding dress hunt

I missed this on BBC's breakfast news this today (22nd January) because of the joys of working but I made show to check it out on their website. The principle of the task was to find challenge Mary Jane Baxter into finding three wedding dresses for £10 each from three different sources - the market, charity shop and home made in order to fit with the notions of austerity in the UK at the moment and to tie into the whole William and Kate marriage thing. 

All in all, for any of the dresses things could be added, taken away, worked with, sewn up and changed as long as they stuck to the budget.You can watch the video here, or read the Guardian article, there's probably a way of embedded external video links into blogger but I don't know how.

The results were rather rather impressive (left to right - the charity shop dress, the home made dress and the market dress). 
 My personal favourites the middle one - the made at home. There's something quirky about it, knowing that's the only dress there is like it, personalising it any way you could ever want.

Friday, 21 January 2011

So what, my relationship isn't normal?

I keep coming up against people that seem to have some kind of issue with my relationship. It's nothing they say up front but you can tell they have a problem with it. Or even if they don't know my totally circumstances, they have stances and viewpoints which knock down and flatten my known way of being and living. 

None of the issues/stances are things I believe in myself. Every relationship is totally different, their circumstances and what's taken two people to that point is always different and can't be so easily defined as, well they've been together x number of years so they have to be at this point in their relationship, anything further is too risky and anything less is obviously frigid.

Me and JJ fall into the former point, so we're obviously risking everything and acting like love sick teenagers. Yeah but we're 24/25 - not really teenagers.

[Background - we're in a huge Long Distance Relationship (LDR) with me in the UK, my Joe in America, we got engaged after a year of being together, and we hoping to get married autumn this year.] 

Apparently we fail in a number of ways; 
  • Long distance relationships are always seen and watched from afar with judgement. I always get asked how do I know he's not cheating on me? How can I trust him? Why can I be bothered when I rarely seem him? Apparently people forget what love is all about, just because you can't be with that person in person, it doesn't mean you love them any less. 
  • Getting engaged after a year - how can you know someone that well to know you want to marry them after that amount of tine. When you're with the one, you just know. Back in the day people got married yet alone engaged after months. 
  • By having a small wedding - apparently goes against the grain and you should know invite a million and five people to your wedding, just because. We're having 20 people there, deal with it we're not getting married for the sake of having a big do, we're getting married because we love each other. We're both shy people we'd hate all the attention of a big thing, we just want our closest, most important people to be there to spend the day with.
  • Oh yeah and not even having a wedding on a budget, apparently you can't have "proper" weddings on anything less then £15,000, we're doing ours on £2000 maximum, because we refuse to get into loads of debt. 
  • But how can we afford to get married when we can't even live together? Yet along getting married before we've even lived together. So because I haven't lived with JJ that means I know NOTHING about him, or his habits, or his quirks. 
  • Not wanting a traditionally all white dress causes issues too.
Sometimes it feels like your always hitting a brick wall. It's not that I want to meet or match everyone's expectations of what a relationship or wedding should be. Just wanting a little more respect. Relationships should be welcomed and enjoyed whatever way they appear. 

    Thursday, 20 January 2011

    My old doll and a crochet hook

    The parents were clearing out the loft at the weekend to stick more of that fleecy insulation thing down. This results in my room becoming covered and piled in all my boxes of old university things - odd matching plates, random knifes and forks, two study lamps, a mouldy box, then lego, plastic toys, teddy's and my former dolly. Somehow in the process of her migrating to the loft she'd lost all her clothes.

    I'll be honest, I wasn't really a doll playing kid. I loved my Lego and my toy cars so much more. 

    Would she move to the charity shop or go back into the loft for that one day situation where maybe me and Joe have a baby girl and said doll gets passed down to her. For that reason alone, I couldn't part with her, however many years will go by before that occurs. 

    But give a girl the raverly website and a hook - I got slightly carried away with making her some new outfits.

    But at least if she does go back into the loft for the short term future - at least she'll be the most stylishly dressed one up there.

    Wednesday, 19 January 2011

    How i'd love to be a cat

    And spend the day sleeping and lazying ...

    INSPIRATION: Ribbon roses

    Etsy always emails things to tempt me, some funky wooden vintage shelves to carved ornate mirrors. To ribbon roses from Frippelous's Etsy store. I've fallen in love with them. they are so gorgeously pretty and quirky.

    I still things like this and my head automatically thinks weddings; wedding bouquets, table centers, gifts, corsages and additions to a fascinator.They are perfectly sweet and whimsical. 

    Pretty huh?

    Tuesday, 18 January 2011

    The non conventional wedding dress

    I get increasing disaffected and uninterested in the contemporary and traditional kind of wedding dress shops and websites want to offer today's brides. I think half my problem is that I'm not very normal, I'm somewhat quirky in my outlook and attitude. I wouldn't know what a princess dress if it came and slapped me in the face I'm afraid, or what a diamanté tiara might be or how long a train a girl would want.

    It's not me and for a time it was getting at me, feeling like a wedding had to be like that. But a wedding's about what me and Joe want, right? It's just a another visual way of reflecting who we are as not only a couple but individuals just as much.

    I keep opting for a 1930s dress, of which it doesn't even have to be white/ivory/egg shell whatever "white" is termed under (its like searching for paint colours). That era offers something that's timeless, something that's elegant, feminine and beautiful. It'd reflect my favourite era and be more "us" then any conception of a modern wedding ever could achieve. 

    1930s inspired dress and red shoes - perfect.

    What do you think? Should a wedding dress always be white?