Tuesday October 26, 2010
Hi everyone! Just a really quick note that we've (finally) switched out the sale for A La Modern.
We're featuring selected vintage items in "Fall Colors" and they'll be discounted between 15% and 25%. This is a mini-sale and is first come, first served. We'll be adding items to the sale over the next couple of weeks.
OK, if we don't have another post before the day - Happy Halloween!
Tuesday October 19, 2010
I know what you're thinking - why would we keep buying ashtrays?
I have this theory that the recent cloudy haze of "coolness" surrounding ashtrays can be atrributed almost entirely to Mad Men. They're everywhere in the show. Their popularity can't possibly be because more people have decided that smoking is cool - because it isn't. (And I wish our smoking neighbors, who have young children, would also realize it's doubly not cool.)
The right ashtray on a midmod coffee table can certainly set the mood if you're looking for that perfect, straight-outta-the-60s look for an office. That said, we've seriously cut down on the number of cool ashtrays in the shop. We usually only get them if they look unusual and they're from more well-known designers or companies. We've started to stay away from the pink and blue, gold-speckled beauties that are definitely period, but a bit too flamboyant for our current tastes.
Our favorite ashtray to find at thrift stores is the Heath Ceramics safety ashtray. These things were one the most popular items from Heath in the 60s, and the distinctive notches and shape were endlessly copied by other companies. Unfortunately, the little mustard colored one in the group photo at top that we found recently has a crack - so we'll probably just use it as a prop.
This Cleminsons ashtray was a nice little find. The snowflake starbursts are very distinctive, though other companies like Jaru had very similar patterns on ceramics from the same time period. We usually see Cleminsons pieces with this pattern in white or black instead of brown.
This Hyalyn ashtray is a good example of an ashtray that we'll pick up any day, even if it's not in the best shape. The shape was just so unusual (from Hyalyn's Shibui line of the 1960s) and the company is a desirable one, so we had to get it for the shop.
This Leif Wessmann Associates ashtray from Norway was new discovery for us. Its minimal look just oozes cool, so I guess it wasn't a surprise to learn that they were distributed through Knoll International, the famous furniture company known for their modern designs.
We probably will continue to pick up ashtrays, but only if they really fit a certain modern vibe. Not that we're ashtray snobs, but there's a sort of limited audience for these objects - even with Mad Men "fueling the fire"...
Friday October 15, 2010
Ever have one of those thrifting days when nothing seems to go your way? That was pretty much today in a nutshell.
This probably isn't the case for many people, but thrifting sort of falls into the category of "job" for me. Granted, most of the time it's a fun experience. But at the end of the day - like American Pickers has said - we need to buy things so we can make money.
Still, I certainly don't expect every day to be Find Curtis Jere Day.
Anyhow, it started out with waiting in the rain for two estate sales in the morning that didn't open on time, and both of those had pretty much nothing but yuck. Mood (and head) dampened, I embarked on the usual 7-store-Friday-thrift run but came up against piece after piece of damaged ceramics and glass. I'm not even going to show the pics because it's depressing.
I bought some pieces, like a small Heath Ceramics ashtray, without even realizing it was cracked almost in half. I picked up a Matthew Adams ashtray that had a chip on it - but I felt like I HAD to buy it, because I simply wasn't finding anything. We usually avoid ashtrays that are damaged.
I bought a 3 tiered Laurel Pottery tidbit tray, only to realize it didn't include the hardware for the bottom plate - so it's pretty much a 2 tiered Laurel tidbit tray with a piece of metal sticking out of the end and an extra plate. Great.
I just wasn't on my game today, and because of that, I figured I'd just think of it as just getting exercise. Oh, and also, to cheer myself up I bought a bacon avocado burger for lunch.
Positive thinking indeed.
Immediately afterwards, I picked up this Nino Parrucca vase.
These are handpainted by him and his family at a workshop in Palermo, Sicily. He's been making ceramics like this since the 1960s. I have to admit that I know next to nothing about this Italian artist - Italian ceramics are still an area I need to work on. There's a website for the company which is still producing ceramics.
But it was still a nice find, and its bright colors sort of brightened my mood. I know that every thrift run isn't going to be rewarding, but I was glad to at least find something. Thanks Nino Parrucca for saving this otherwise bleah thrifting day.
Thursday October 14, 2010
I've decided to start posting more of the interesting thrift and flea market finds we've had up here on the blog, even if it's a single item and not a large group of finds. In the past, we'd just upload the pics to Flickr and just talk about them there. But I've been thinking - tell me again why it is I'm giving free relevant textual content to Flickr when no one really clicks through into the blog?
We'll still post the pics on Flickr, but just put more of the discussion here.
Anyhow, this was an interesting find. It's a yellow mixing bowl by Hammarplast. I'd originally thought this was a Rosti (from Denmark) item, because the plastic has the same heft and it's nearly the same color.
It's actually marked on the bottom as made in New York. That's interesting, because I'd read that it was a Swedish company.
I believe it originally may have come with a cover. One of the interesting things is that researching this bowl online, I came across quite a few "bread-making" blogs that all seemed to say that this was a great bowl for letting dough rise in. The thing is, so many blogs mentioned Hammarplast, and yet very few seemed to have a picture of the bowl. That seems a little strange to me - why would you wax all poetic about a bowl that you don't even have a picture of? Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.
In any case, I'd be interested to hear if this really is the bread-making bowl they're talking about. The Hammarplast company still exists, and they still sell a similar mixing bowl though it's not exactly the same and in fact looks to be made of much cheaper plastic. I originally thought this was an item from the 70s, but maybe it's newer, considering that they still make similar ones.
Edit: We now have this Hammarplast bowl up in the store - just in case there are any bread makers out there who might be interested!
Tuesday October 12, 2010
Well, not really a hangover. But we're finding hard to get back into the mainland swing 'o things after a 2 week vacation on the Big Island. We expect it'll take a few weeks to fully recover. =)
There actually were quite a few thrift and antique stores that we visited on our trip in Hawaii. I know - why in the world would we bring "work" along on our island paradise vacation? Well, we were just interested to see the differences between thrift stores over there and over here in Los Angeles.
One thing we definitely noticed is the lack of furniture. We asked a few shop owners about this and they all noted that furniture is grabbed up extremely quickly. We're not even talking antiques, midcentury or nice looking vintage furniture. We're talking Walmart / Ikea style furniture. I think it's partially because people are feeling the economic pinch there (as everywhere), so they're looking for furniture in thrifts instead of buying new items. However - larger items like furniture are costly in Hawaii, and it's impossible to ship from the mainland. So the stock is limited to local population donations, resulting in a definite shortage.
Anyhow, we weren't looking for furniture. We were looking for a few "smalls" that would fit in the suitcase. The overall quality of vintage items in the stores was much better than I expected. One thing to note is that due to the humidity, clothes and fabric are often a bit damp or musty smelling. Also, expect more tarnish than usual on metal items. Also also - don't expect to find tons of older designer midcentury items, other than Hawaiiana style pieces.
These two bird candle holders or ramekins by >Dansk International were the most interesting finds of the trip.
I knew from the "GC" marking that they were Gunnar Cyren designs. However, I haven't been able to find out too much else about it. They were used as candleholders - the wax residue is still inside. The "pattern" on them is a well-known one called "Bayberry". I know that there are other Gunnar Cyren "bird" pieces out there that are similar, including a vase and a gravy boat. But I haven't seen any of them with the "Bayberry" pattern.
I guess we're not surprised that we didn't find too much at the Hawaii thrifts. It wasn't the focus of our vacation. But it was interesting to check them out nevertheless. And if we ever return, we'll be sure to visit them again.
Tuesday October 12, 2010
We've been concentrating so heavily keeping the A La Modern store and Etsy outlet humming along, that we haven't really focused on some of the other aspects of the biz. Yep, it's the dreaded "How Do You Get Customers To Come To Your Website".
We'll be the first to admit that publicity and "selling yourself" isn't really our strong suit. We've got the technology and design aspect covered completely, but getting press is definitely something we need to work on in the future. However, we've gotten a few mentions around the old interweb - totally unsolicited, which are the best kind in our opinion.
A La Modern was profiled in the Six Revisions blog on a post called "Top 5 Excellent E-Commerce Plugins for WordPress". Our shop is based on the excellent eShop Plugin.
This is actually the 2nd time we've been profiled for using eShop . My thought is that most folks setting it up don't have an inhouse designer and aren't selling vintage goodies. So, I think people just really like the design layout and functionality. We get people contacting us all of the time with questions on how we set up the shop plugin. It's also very strange, but we get "uncompleted" orders occasionally - we've discovered people interested in the eshop plugin are "testing" it out on our site! Uh, we'll take that as a compliment, I guess. =)
Ironically, we had to do a lot of customization to the theme and some behind the scenes programming to get eShop the way we wanted it. So, if you install it out-of-the-box, it's not really going to look like our store (although, we've noticed with amusement that a lot of the original technology bits we created for it seem to be incorporated recently in upgrades to the plugin). In any case, we'll take any publicity we can get - even if we've been having second thoughts about continuing to use the plugin. It's just tough to keep up with the frequent updates.
Our Etsy store has also been receiving a fair amount of attention. That's nice, since we originally created it as a social networking afterthought rather than a full fledged store.
Our Nordic Mint tray was featured on A Henny Penny's Etsy Picks (note: the $16 price tag was for a special sale earlier, but the tray does book at over $40).
We've also been picked for Etsy Treasuries TEN times so far! While having an item featured on an Etsy Treasury might not seem like a big deal, it's free publicity and nice sort of validation from your fellow vintage sellers. Some treasuries in which we were featured:
Vintage Wood Salt Pepper Shaker featured on "So Danish"
Arabia Egg Cups featured on "A Tribute to Sweden"
Vintage Folklore Tablecloth featured on "Folkloric Pleasures"
Orange and Red Napkin Rings featured on "The Modern Kitchen". I think these were actually featured in three different treasuries.
We hope to get more yummy press like this in the future. We're also looking into advertising opportunities on like-minded vintage modern websites (we've recently gotten ads going on H Is For Home and Dee9:14. Oh, if you run a vintage site, we'd love to exchange a link to your shop as well - just send us a note about it.