Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wibbly Wobbly Time & Mastering It All

I just read an article on Yahoo news about how time is subjective. Police officers can see bullets in slow motion when their adrenaline is running high. I believe this. I know that time goes all wibbly wobbly around the holidays, planning a wedding and when children are around. Apparently Dr Who was right. 

The biggest contributors to wibbily wobbly time! My 3 girls. 

I'm pregnant with our fourth child at the moment. It honestly feels like each day is 32 hours long. I don't think my due date is ever going to arrive! And then on the flip side, we just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary and it seems like college wasn't that long ago. Time isn't static. 

I swear this is at its worst! Add this to the goal list: clean office

On that note, I have some major goals before the new baby presents itself. Like many vintage sellers/collectors, I have more inventory than I can quickly manage. So this summer I've decided to get it all listed, come baby or high water. So far I feel confident: this past month my assistant Hannah and I have added 310 items to our Etsy shop. Now only 2500 items to go!! 

Organizing aprons and assessing condition is easy with the right tools

This vast buildup of inventory sounds dramatic I know. You're likely picturing one of those hoarder houses from the Discovery Channel. So far, it hasn't affected the house too much. The biggest item in our home is the many bookshelves that are overflowing but I don't see those as a problem. To me books are as necessary as oxygen! But my garage is a different story. Wander into it and you could be seriously delayed by antique oil paintings, 1920s coffee grinders, old tin wind up toys, more books, and tons of more estate finds. You wouldn't starve though-my freezer out there is full and the pantry is full of summer canning. 

How I tend to negotiate with myself to get things done! 

The biggest hurdles that I've had to argue with, climb up and conquer have been motivation & consistency. Researching, describing & listing 3 similar items for sale is fine. But when faced with 40 like items, the fun seems to evaporate. I keep trying to remember this when I'm out buying from an estate. All that red & white 1940s enamelware looked so cool-but hauling home 12 boxes and inventoring it all wasn't much fun at all. Funny how our minds work! 

So tempting at the estate sale, but harder to deal back at the office

So now I'm opening a box and not stopping for any reason until it's cleaned, researched, photographed, listed on Etsy and put away in inventory. This has been a challenge, but for the last month I've been sticking to it and look at the progress! 310 items is nothing to sneeze at. If I can get it all listed by October, I'll be tickled pink. 

How do you deal with the fluctuations in time and all those tasks you've set aside? Or are you already basking in the glow of accomplishment having tackled your goals? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Auction Junkie in the 1930s

Have you been to auctions? If you're into vintage, I suspect you have. It's the best place to find things you've never seen before. Now I'm being shown an entirely new perspective on auctions: the view of an auction junkie from the 30's and 40's.

She was the mother of the estate heir I'm helping. She had quite an eye. She loved attending auctions held and would often drive for miles to find them. Walking through the long ranch style home in the California hills, I can pick out immediately which pieces were hers.

The large Mexican metal bird swaying in the foyer is signed by famed artist Sergio Bustamante. Inside the main living room, I spot gorgeous antique lamps, cranberry pink couches and a large inlaid coffee table from the 19th century.

Books overflow the shelves, pile on the floor and sit on every table. Rare limited edition publications so popular in the 1940s, all bound in fine leather and gilt pages. Oil paintings hung across the fronts of the bookcases, giving it a Victorian air. English Sterling pieces were tucked around here and there.

The bedroom jewelry boxes were amazing. An early 19th century handpainted Madonna and China pin, an antique solid sterling belt from Thailand, a timeless Zuni Sterling & Turquoise squash blossom necklace, and hundreds of more pieces.

I cherish the brief glimpses my job affords me. I get to walk back in time and enter another persons life. What an experience.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Lushy Decorated Halloween Party

Found these fabulous Halloween photos on the ScarletBegonia blog and had to share. I love the idea of combining true vintage with the new vintage look, as well as incorporating some newer looking items. Electic Halloween is such a natural look. Isn't Halloween supposed to be a bit wild and over the top? 

Why not throw an outdoor dinner party?

Overloading the table gives a charming eccentric look

Dress up! Adults look fabulous dressed up!

Transform an everyday object: galvanized steel tubs add a delightful farm feel

Little pieces can often complete a room

Stack up games, puzzles, tins, & boxes for a homey fun look

It's a Halloween party! Everyone is invited!

Empty your shelves of everyday objects. Transform them with Vintage Halloween!

Nothing is cheerier than a Jack O Lantern! 

The old birdcage fits perfectly in with the fall theme

Hanging from the ceiling is such a great look

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vintage is Green

While I've always been aware of the environment, I never really thought I could do much about it. When I had my first daughter 8 years ago I became aware of the importance of eating organically, watching where things were made, and what materials items were made from. 

I never thought my Estate Liquidation business could help the environment in any way. Boy was I wrong!! If we as consumers buy vintage items for our household and fashion needs, we aren't contributing to the endless cycle of Oil-Middle East-China-USA-Box store-You & Me. What an impact all the vintage lovers could have. 

New Ad from the Etsy Vintage Team! Click HERE to see our shops.

I'm a proud member of the Etsy Vintage Team, an electic group of vintage shops which offer anything from 1930's kitchen canisters to 1970's platform heels. If it's vintage & it's cool, we all offer it! The team produced this ad recently and I wanted to share it with you. What a great way to communicate the Vintage is Green message! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Learning to Be an Auctioneer

Two weeks ago I hopped into my minivan and headed East. My nerves were all afire, dreading what was ahead of me. I was on my way to Auctioneering School at the World Wide College of Auctioneering, ready to give chanting a try.

Nevada was the longest part of the drive and very beautiful

I was attempting it because I'm opening an Auction House, Barn Owl Auctions,  in Northern California. My uncle John came along at my request. He's from outside London and has the most charming accent. What a great voice for an auctioneer! 

Working Mechanical Sign in Wyoming

The school is located in Mason City, Iowa, but we attended their Denver class. It was held at a very nice hotel near the airport. We checked in the night before and just crashed. Two days of driving had tired us out. We had made the decision to drive because John had never seen that part of the county. It was so beautiful-but as John pointed out: "there's too much scenery!" Which cracked me up.

The class at auction school consisted of 35 students, a myriad of people from around the country. All ages were present, from 17-72. My favorite group was all the cowboys. They arrived in jeans, giant belt buckles & cowboy hats, nice as pie and all great auction chanters. 

This young auctioneer is from Nebraska

Every day was started with fast tongue twister drills. The drills were supposed to loosen up our mouths and teach us to enunciate. Got started at 8am with dozens of different confounding chants, including 40 repeats of: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Huh? Did I mention class wrapped up at 9:30 every evening? We were zombie chanters. Happy zombies, chanting away! 

Paul, our award winning instructor with John from Kansas

We started auction chanting on the second day. Imagine standing in front a group of relative strangers and trying to sound like the teacher. (Paul C Behr, who has won 3 International championships!) Pride had to be tucked safely away and courage embraced tightly. Slowly, practice after practice, day after day, we got better. Still nervous as a deer in front of a lion, but better.

This is Lisa & my Uncle John, enjoying some R&R after class
Besides learning how to be an Auctioneer, the other amazing part of the trip was the friendships we made. The whole class became a tight knit support group, cheering one another on and rooting for each others success. One woman I met, Lisa, is launching a Vintage Event company up in Seattle. Others are joining auction companies. Many are planning on becoming contract auctioneers. 

Class being taught by Ronnie Wood, one of the best livestock auctioneers ever

By the time Friday rolled around we were sounding like we knew a little bit about auctioneering. Friday night was a live auction held for the public where each of us was to auction off 3 items. Saturday was even more nerve wracking. In the afternoon we took the written exam, followed closely by the oral exam. We had to auction off an item to a silent room. No one was allowed to bid-we just had to make it up in our heads. It was so weird to be auctioning in a dead silent space with everyone staring at me! I forgot a bunch, but I got through it. Phew! 

Jacquelyn, a high school senior, auctioning off live!
Trey, owner of a Safari Park in Oklahoma

Sunday was Graduation. We all happily graduated and are now licensed auctioneers!! It was such an amazing experience: total immersion, tons of practice, great friendships made & new skills developed. What a perfect week of learning.

Here's my diploma! I definetly earned this!! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Face of Vintage

One aspect I enjoy the most about my job is the hidden views I get. If you go to an average sale, it's being held by the grandkids or a dealer. When I go in a week before the sale, I meet the woman who lived a life surrounded by the vintage beauty we all now adore. 

Here's one of my charming clients, Irma. She's 87. She lost her husband a year and a half ago. Now she's moving out of her house to be closer to her children and needs to pare down. She was referred to me via her friend who happens to be one of my clients. It's been so much fun to teach her about the values her items have. To see her face light up in surprise is such a blast. I love this part of my job.

Antique telephone exchange box! Click here to see more photos. 

What I find fascinating is what she has and how it relates to her personally. She has a wicked sense of humor, is very down to earth, I'm selling her memories, her life momentos and the vintage beauty she's always surrounded herself with. The piece above was a memento her husband always kept on his desk to remind him how times change. 

Sift-Chine Sifter, well loved. Click here to see more photos. 

This sifter is from her kitchen when she was first married. She met her husband during the war and they married while he was on a brief leave. She remembers keeping her bedside light on all night long for months, somehow hoping the light was keeping him safe from harm. 

He returned to her in early 1945. Imagine the fun she must have had sifting flour for bread, knowing she was going to be feeding her husband at last! I so admire the grace and patience these war wives had in waiting for their mates to return.

1920s silk crepe de chine Wedding dress. Click here for more photos. 

This was her Mothers wedding dress. Her mother, Dorothy, was married in 1922. What a blast to experience the fashions of the roaring 1920's! Her Mother came from a well to do family, thus this silk layered creation with giant roses on the hems. I'm hoping to find a picture of her Mom wearing this! 

Early 1900's Gibson Girl photograph. Click here for more photos. 

This is her Mother, Dorothy. I love that she's wearing the trendy Gibson girl hairstyle so popular in the early 1900s. In this photo she's 17. Just imagine the life she led. Married in 1922, gave birth to her first daughter in 1924, then twin boys in 1926, then another daughter in 1928. By the time World War II rolled around she was a grandmother living in rural New Jersey. 

1950s Ladies Fascinator Hat with Veil. Click here for more photos. 

Irma remembers this was her favorite hat. She says that when she wore it people would always duck down to look into her eyes. It made her feel mysterious when she wore it. I think hats go a long way to adding mystique & intrique into relationships-let's help Kate Middleton bring them back into fashion! 

Keep in mind that Irma isn't sad to let her items go. She's tickled pink that people think her things are worth having!! 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vintage Church Sale Time!

I almost missed my favorite church sale! I've been so busy that it just missed my radar completely this year. Fortunately, my aunt couldn't pick up her weekly farm veggie box in the regular spot due to some church sale. That tipped me off. Let's hear it for farm boxes! 

Crowd gathering to get in. We started lining up around 7:30.

Boy am I glad I made it. For kicks I brought my husband along for the first time. He's very much NOT a vintage treasure hunter. He loves old things, but he wants to buy them once they're all repaired, cleaned and looking fabulous. This digging around I do just seems dirty to him. (Which is always great when he asks: where did THAT fantastic piece come from? and I remind him of the original condition that he laughed at.) 

The outdoor area held everything except vintage & books

At least 350 people were waiting to get in. I enjoy people watching and even more, people listening. I know, I shouldn't, but if they're to talk that loudly in a close crowd, how can I help it? Since I was standing behind all the old time dealers in my area, I got an earful about their sales, their scores and the best things they'd found. Right up my alley! 

Nobody ever thinks of Christmas & Halloween as special at these sales. 
Long yellow ribbons stretch across the parking lot, signalling not to go further. At 9am the ribbons were cut and the crowd started sprinting, running and toddling toward the various areas. The book dealers all ran to the right, into the church Sunday school. Thousands of donated books awaited them. The Moms with tots in strollers sprinted off the left to find clothes & toys. (Mine were home with the very accommodating baby sitter, who arrived at 7:30am) And by far the biggest group, the vintage hunters, aimed for the building straight in front. 

Crowds! I'm not used to this! I get into estates before the crowds, usually.

Long tables greeted us, filled to the brim with all manner of things. Hard to remember that vintage only means 20 years old. I still can't get my 39 year old brain around this fact!  It was everything from working 9-5 mugs from 1984 to 19th century teacups. Kitchen blenders mixed with mid century mats. Silver plate flatware sets next to modern collector dolls. Quite a random mixure. 

Inside the church community building. This is just a tiny portion-it was huge! 

I had fun and my husband did a great job of finding some cool pieces. Here's what we found: mid century mushroom trays, two industrial protractors, a 1950's Christmas tablecloth,  Christmas napkins & mats, a potato chip tin, a hand tooled antique leather purse, a late 19th century celluloid chicken wearing a top hat baby toy, an abacus, a ceramic silver Egyptian cat, a skirt measurer, a mid century decanter & glass set, a California pottery planter, mid century sterling cuff links, 1920's orange glass earrings, a large antique wood box, an old gold & white dish with roses, an old American flag AND a bulls skull! Cause who doesn't need a bovine skull?!!