Monday, July 21, 2008

Quiz of the week

This is an easy one: Guess where I'm going on vacation. Wish I could take you all...I'll bring back some photos (though I think I'll be fighting my son for the camera the whole time).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Loving my readers

As anyone who has been here more than once knows, I'm not a regular blogger, not always an interesting blogger (maybe sometimes?), certainly a rambling blogger. So I am so impressed when the same people show up here again and again to see if there's anything new. Thanks to you all (as well as to those who stop by once and decide, meh, not for me).

Yesterday I created the above Etsy treasury to show my blog reader appreciation. (Note: I know I have some regular non-Etsy readers [hi guys], but they do a lot of lurking, rarely if ever leave comments, and really couldn't be included in an Etsy treasury. But I appreciate them too!) The most fun thing was visiting all these wonderful shops, which I'll admit I don't do often enough. So please visit the treasury and click around to see some fantastic art, vintage, and other items. I'll be switching out some of the photos throughout the next day, but still I know I'll miss some of you. Nevertheless, I appreciate you all! Thanks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My history in smoking

There was a time, I can't remember if it was high school or early college, when I smoked cigars. I mean, how cool was that, a girl smoking cigars. Wow, the people I must have impressed. I can still taste the nasty things, dainty little cherry-flavored chick cigars, the smoking equivalent of Boone's Farm wine. Then later, sometime after college, I took up the pipe. That was somewhat more refined, and I had (still have) some feminine pipes, a little metal cloisonne one and a purple painted wooden one. Neither worked worth a damn, and I remember the amusement of my uncle, who smoked a pipe for real, trying to teach me how to keep the stupid things going.

Neither of these habits was long-lived, fortunately, but I thought of them the other day when I was doing research on a new garage sale purchase--a beautiful antique cigar humidor. I was attracted to it because it's a beautiful box, a dark oak with a tin lining and a removable filter that could be wetted to keep the cigars moist. When I started looking around, trying to discover its age (1890s to early 1900s), I was reminded of the subculture that has grown up around different smoking options.

One of the most interesting websites I discovered was one that sells new humidors but also refurbishes antique ones to modern standards of cigar preservation. They take beautiful boxes like the one I'm selling (and, of course, ones much fanicer, made out of beautiful, rare woods with inlays and metal adornments and fanciful shapes), remove the lining; clean and refinish the wood if necessary; reline it with Spanish cedar; and fit it with modern moisture control devices (a humidifier and hygrometer).

Perfect for people who buy $10 cigars. (For those smoking cherry-flavored, girly cigars, a different receptacle will do.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

The vintage seller's alter ego

Vintage sellers are a creative lot. Even if they aren't directly involved in arts and crafts, they have "the eye." They have a finely honed aesthetic sense, able to pick out the wonderful lost in a sea of the mediocre and just awful.

Many of them, however, are also artist and artisans in their own right. I've found that a number of vintage sellers on Etsy have another shop where they sell hand-made items (often made with vintage components), or they carry a mixture of handmade and vintage within one shop. Here are just a few of the secret lives revealed (I'll highlight more in a later blog post).

AmbrosianBeads is run by Carol Holmes, the owner of RetroThreads. (You can see an interview with Carol on the Etsy Vintage Street Team blog.)

HerRoyalMajestyBags and SurrenderDorothy are products of the same creative mind.

backhomeagain is the crafty counterpart to 300nmulberry.

artsfarm combines vintage items with hand-crafted accessories, jewelry, and art in one shop.

Finally, AuntiePrincess moonlights as lamplighter, creator of extraordinary Victorian lampshades.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What's going on

I've been in a neglect-the-blog mode again, so here's my quick remedy: five things that happened lately (hope I don't have to pad the list):

  1. I got a request from a writer to include a photo of my vintage California Pottery bells in an upcoming issue of an Israeli home styling magazine.
  2. I won a pound of coffee from Vintage Indie for a photo I took of a coffee cup (one of my lovely Russel Wright chartreuse mugs, sitting on a napkin that I intend to list in my shop if I can ever find where I put the other three of them).
  3. I became a contributing writer to the Etsy Vintage Street Team blog (my first interview is in the works). Just what I need, right? Another blog?
  4. I found a photo of one of my necklaces on Gothic News, a website that is too cool for me.
  5. I had my 6-month Etsy anniversary. The stats: 76 sales, 156 items currently listed in my shop, 1119 hearts, 2965 forum posts, almost 8000 Flickr views, and 2263 blog visitors. (There's something wrong with these figures--I talk way more than I sell.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Etsy Pledge

Etsy, whose tagline is "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade," is also host to a thriving community of vintage and supply sellers, including some wonderful shops that make the online experience like a comfortable trip to the very finest antique mall.

And then there are the others.

The ones who have cheap cameo bracelets they bought last week at Walmart. Or the sugar bowl that's not too bad, except it was made in 1994 (and thus not considered vintage by Etsy's 20-years-old standard). Or the skirts that were made in a factory in Southeast Asia.

What happens to these rulebreakers, these cheats--who contribute to the impression that Etsy is "an online flea market" (as one online columnist called it)? Some of them eventually get shut down (sometimes to reopen under another name). One of them I know of has made more than 100 sales in 4 months of business; maybe the boom will be lowered some day, but it does seem to take forever.

The community at Etsy is starting to fight back. This past week, the shop owner of Keys and Memories set up the Etsy Pledge Blog to highlight vintage and handmade sellers who publicly affirm that they "don't mistag or resell new items under the guise of being vintage or handmade." The blog already has 34 so-called Seal of Approval Shops (mostly vintage) listed and is adding more daily.

It's tempting, of course, to give you a link to those shops selling Walmart jewelry or brand new accessories. But maybe, if Etsy does its policing job right, by the time you read this they'll be gone.

Or maybe not--and there'll always be someone new to take their place. Caveat emptor indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The weekend haul

Saturday I found some marvelous garage sales, including this one house of wonder that was packed, just packed with stuff--most of it good, some of it overpriced but some of it a great deal. There were two stories and a basement, and every single room was jammed full. The sad part: my older son was with me (he sells computers on e-bay, so he was making the rounds with me), and he was bored stiff and constantly on my heels, wondering why I was looking through a stack of old hats or rummaging on a table of pottery.

So I didn't get as much as I might have otherwise, but still found quite a few treasures. My son's just turned 17, and I don't see too much of him these days, so it was worth the foregone booty. But I'm still thinking about that house...wonder if they'll be open next weekend too (surely they couldn't have sold everything!).