Monday, November 22, 2010

Bakelite, Baby!

About a year ago, when I told my sister how much I adore Bakelite, she said: "Wait? Isn't that just plastic?" Well, yes, it is an early plastic but it is also so much, much more. Bakelite has su
ch a delicious heaviness to it and is always smooth and cool to the touch. It is made of formaldehyde and, when rubbed or warmed up, it let's off that tell-tale pungent smell, something which gives it just a touch of the creepy which I love. I made a treasury of Bakelite items on etsy which you can view here. Below are some lovely items that are still fabulous but didn't make the cut.

Vintage 1950s West German Rührfix handmixer with ox blood Bakelite top. This piece is actually for sale in my vintage German housewares, toys and home decor shop, Schaufenster, though I've been tempted for a while now to just quietly put it on the shelf in my kitchen...

This handmade ring is made of vintage 1940s tortoise shell Bakelite and a vintage button. It was made by little old me (told you I love Bakelite!) and is for sale in Curious Knopf.

At nearly 300 dollars, this vintage art deco Bakelite horse brooch is pricey, but look at how gorgeous he is. Such details, such a cute little eye. Wowza! Available at Aging Gracefully.

I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of vintage earrings. Clips on really are murderous. Ouch! But these sweet vintage orange carved Bakelite earrings are screwbacks which is much more comfortable. And they are such a lovely color, aren't they? Available at Vested Bee Vintage.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if, instead of saying "Could you pass the salt, dear?" you could say "Dear, could you pass the vintage depression ear delphite blue glass salt shaker with black Bakelite top?" You can soon if you take a little jaunt over to Art Sincerely.

Oh my God, this is a vintage Bakelite wiener dog in marblelized green. Folks, it just doesn't get cooler than this. Available at The Vintage Junkie.

I've bought several things already from Heather at Petit Oiseau and I loved all of them (the ring featured in the first photograph is from her shop.) All of her jewelry is handmade from vintage Bakelite, though she does also carry some strictly vintage pieces. Really you should rush over to her shop and go on a Bakelite binge, pronto, ASAP. I featured a green and red ensemble here to get you in the vintage lover's holiday spirit. ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Singing, Vintage, Photography, Oh My!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this on my blog before, but besides running my vintage clothing store, Curious Knopf, I also am a hobby photographer with my brand new spanking shop, Augenblick Photo where I sell prints of my work. I don't really expect the shop to be a big success (actually, I would be happy to sell just one photograph) but it's nice to have a place where I can gather some of the images that moved me.

I also am a classically trained singer, but my heart really lies in jazz. For the past 6 months I've been working together with a Brazilian guitarist in a duo where we perform some jazz standards, bossa nova, German cabaret and even a bit of Mexican mariachi. We recorded a few songs about six weeks ago, one of which is in the video below with photographs from my shop as well as some personal shots. The recording isn't the absolute best because the tracks were laid down separately and it's actually important we perform together. Plus I get a tiny bit off key a few times. Yikes! But modest disclaimers are for the birds. Take a look and listen for yourself and see what you think. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Vintage Home

Maybe it's because I opened the new shop, Schaufensterbabe (son of my former shop, Schaufenster) but I've been lusting after vintage housewares a lot recently. Schaufensterbabe has had a pretty slow start so far. Only a handful of hearts and 1 sale (of the mask pictured here) since I opened it a couple of weeks ago. The prices are also a little high right now because the dollar is currently abysmally low against the Euro, something that definitely hurts me in both of my shops....I'm hopeful that things will look up both in sales and the strength of the dollar. When they do, I would love to buy myself each of these little vintage goodies below.

I love the colors and shapes of these 4 milk glass mugs. Just the thing to brighten up the dull gray (and long...) winter in Berlin. Available at Modish Vintage.

This melamine sugar bowl is so cute and only five dollars. Too bad the seller Retro Pops only has U.S. and Australia shipping prices (I know I can contact the sellers, but it actually kind of annoys me when they leave Europe out (how hard is it to figure out shipping prices for the EU?), so I never do...)

These mid-century hairpin stools would be just the thing for my daughter's new art table in the living room. Viva la vintage childhood! ;) Available at Hauteseatdesign.

It could be that I like the photograph here even better than the actual vintage stacking canisters, but they are pretty darn cute. Available at Tipple and Snack.

My husband would kill me if I got these because he's really not into the kitsch thing at all. But my heart will always beat for kitsch, or at least thump a little in the left ventricle. Plus these little guys are from a shop based in Guatemala which is somehow very cool. Available at Salcaja.

I've also always wanted a Le Cruset pot, although I'd probably only ever burn things in it because I'm one of the world's worst cooks. Still, at least my barely edible stew would be ruined in these lovely little retro pot. Available from the Paris based Brik a Brak.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Thank You/Business Cards

I've been making my own business cards for my shop ever since I opened it, writing a personalized note to each customer thanking them for their purchase. I'm a hobby photographer anyway and with a little photoshop magic you can easily print words on the pictures. I get them printed at the same professional online photo lab where I have everything printed. They always have a matte finish and a vintage-esque white border. The first photograph I used was the one above (with Curious Knopf Vintage printed on it of course.) It is of a vintage cowgirl and was taken in the bathroom on the fabulous Plains Hotel in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I have relatives in Cheyenne so we stopped there for a night when we went to visit my grandma in Nebraska a little over a year ago. Cheyenne is a sort of rundown (so many empty store fronts, what a shame) but still charming old West town and the Plains is great if you're passing through (it was my second time staying there.) My second thank you/business card was also taken in the hallway of the Plains. The woman in the photograph is my sister. I ordered 30 copies, so I've been using it for a while, but I'm actually not all that crazy about the layout.

On a side note, I loved the problem-with-cowboys stories my 18 year old cousin who grew up in Cheyenne told us when we visited. Most Cheyenne teenagers grow up in suburban sprawl like the rest of the U.S., but there is a small percentage of real cowboys growing up on ranches. He said they tend to smell and spit tobacco during class which is annoying. There is also a very old law on the books that if they ride their horses to school, the school is required to give the horse shelter and brush it and feed it during lunch time, so some of them do this. What a hoot!

Anyway, my most current thank you/business card is the one pictured above. The photograph is the detail of a 1920s photograph of the German actress Lotte Lenya, most famous for her work in Kurt Weill pieces (she was also his lover for many years.) I wanted to maybe offer it as a print in my new photography shop Augenblick Photo, but it's a bit too out of focus for my taste (not that all photographs should be in focus, but if they aren't, there should be a reason...) It turned out fabulous, especially with the white border. I ordered 20 copies and the first one is going out in a package tomorrow, so if you order soon you'll have a lovely one all of your own. ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

No Light Equals No Posting

I really don't know what I'm going to do as far as lighting this fall and winter. Berlin's skies are dark and gray at least 6 months out of the year and those six months have just started. Our apartment also faces north (i.e. almost no direct sunlight) and is on the first floor so it's dark anyway.

I have this gorgeous vintage 1950s burgundy brocade dress I wanted to photograph today, but even in my old low-light standby, the stairwell of our building, the photographs were pretty blurry (though the color comes out beautifully....) The photograph below was taken in my "studio" in our bedroom. I could fix the crookedness easily with photoshop but restoring the color is a lost cause...

It makes me not even feel like posting things if I can't get a nice photograph. Then again, maybe I'm being too picky. My sister runs a vintage shop out of San Francisco and (she admits fully herself) can't take a photograph to save her life. And yet she totally outsells me. She's even sold things that were so blurry you could hardly even tell what they looked like. Then again, taking nice pictures and trying to create an ambiance is one of the things I love about having my shop. Sigh. Now only if the sun would come out....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shop Update: Lazy Fall Living

I don't know if it's the crisp fall weather, lingering jet lag or the fact that it's getting dark so darn early, but I've been finding it hard these days to motivate myself to get new items posted in my shop. I have lots of fab goodies from both California and Berlin including lots more post-Oktoberfest Trachten and a black dress from the 1930s with a proper little bow. I have managed to post some things in the past week or so, thank goodness. Click here to take a closer look at them and things to come.

Vintage 1980s Geometric Little Black Dress

(any one who reads my other blog Schaufensterbabe is well aware that I am no fan of this 80s revival business. Still, the 80s did geometry like no other decade and this is no doubt a great dress down to the satin covered buttons.)

Vintage 1970s Tori Richard Shirt Decorated With Cranes

(a men's shirt, this retro piece designed by Tori Richard of Honolulu also looks fab on the ladies up to a 2x)

Chocolate Knot Ring Handmade From Two Vintage Stacked Buttons

(Curious Knopf has been making stuff with buttons again because Knopf=button in German. ;) Lots o' rings to come.)

Vintage Hand-Knit Cream Bolero Sweater

(words cannot even describe how plush, soft and warm this baby is!)

Vintage 1960s Cream Clutch

(Still has the original Capwell's tag before they became Emporium Capwell's and well before they eventually went out of business....)

Vintage 1960s French Angora and Lambswool Blend Cardigan

(with faux pearls and a hand screen print. What more could a vintage loving lady ask for? ;) )