Thursday 31 May 2018

Pain Stops Play - The Festival That Never Was

Acoustic Festival, 2017

You're probably thinking, Shouldn't they be away trading at a festival? and you'd be right, we should. Normally on the last Thursday of May, just like the past four years, we'd have been at the Acoustic Festival of Britain in Uttoxeter, our pitch would be up and we'd probably be on our second can, I'd be hanging the stock on the rails and Jon would be up a ladder sorting out the lighting but on Saturday, while I was ironing my way through a mountain of summer stock, Jon came crawling into the house, his back had given way and he couldn't walk. While he does suffer with back problems this was the worst we'd seen.

Acoustic Festival pitch, 2016

Hopeful that Jon's back would right itself in a couple of days, I got the stock sorted, priced and ready for sale. I did a dummy set-up in the garden, packed everything up and even found the time to make some crazy festival jewellery, too. Yesterday, when we realised Jon wasn't getting any better I got in touch with the festival organisers to cancel and made an appointment with the osteopath around the corner. We've lost our pitch fee but even with the kind offer of help from friends and fellow traders, getting there, setting up and working three 12 hour shifts would have been impossible.Yes, the freedom self-employment gives you is brilliant but it's not so great when you're ill and there's no sick pay. Oh well, onwards and upwards!

Aside to playing nurse I've been reduced to making my own entertainment. Here's Liv and Rasmus having a domestic over the amount of vintage dolls' house stuff she bought at the car boot sale for £1 last Thursday (no Bank Holiday car boot sales for us).

With my official blog photographer off his feet I've had to resort to taking selfies.
Bank Holiday Monday, after Walsall's horrific storm that tragically claimed a man's life on Sunday evening (HERE), it was warm enough for me to wear this gingham and daisy print maxi Curtise gave me a couple of years ago. Oops, that mirror really is scratched to buggery! 

As always, when I feel like life is spiraling out of control I take comfort in making stuff. I've turned every scrap of wool I could lay my hands on into massive granny squares. Tuesday was all about crochet, sunshine and a free roaming tortoise. 

As I haven't been out, getting dressed to go anywhere is quite an occasion. This was my outfit for walking Jon round to the osteopathy clinic on Wednesday. The dress is a vintage beach dress (no fastenings, quick drying fabric, reinforced bust) and the jacket something I pimped up myself with some panels I made in a batik making workshop.

Earlier today I walked into town to fetch supplies. I wore this Alfredo Bouret for Mexicana midi dress and some Lotta of Stockholm clogs. In addition to the essentials (pain killers, jelly sweets* and the Lonely Planet guide to The Greek Islands) I popped into the chazzas and scored a pair of 1960s French-made sunglasses, three '70s dagger collar blouses and a vintage cowboy you do!

*Not for me, I hasten to add, I'm a sweet-shunning vegetarian!

For the first time in months the mending pile is no more so I've been messing around with my fabric stash. Using a pair of 1960s Scandinavian curtains I made a new plastic bag dispenser for our trade tent and invented this hang-up organiser to keep our toiletries and essentials handy in the van. I'd show you the jewellery I've made but I've learnt from bitter experience not to share pictures of stuff I've made to sell as it gets copied by other traders and it's hard enough to earn a living without my ideas being plagiarised. My fab regulars at next month's Cornbury Festival will be the first to see my crazy creations!

Did I mention how much I like the people I've sold The Cottage to? When they were insulating the loft they found some of dolls that Dad must have stashed away after I left home in 1986. The ash blonde fashion doll with the off-the-shoulder pink dress and lace-up wedges was by Mary Quant. The standard sized version is pretty common but this larger sized one, Daisy Long Legs, was quite a rarity and the only one I found on eBay recently sold for £88 which could go some way in helping recoup our losses from the weekend!

H & D also found a sack containing every greeting card my family ever received during the 1960s. There's Mum's 21st birthday cards from 1963, cards from 1966 marking my parents' engagement, their wedding and my subsequent birth and my brother Marcus's birth in 1968. There were hundreds but I only kept the grooviest. It was a poignant few hours sorting through all this lot - only Marcus and me are still alive.

Trying on the stock - back in the days when Jon could stand up straight

The patient is still in a terrible way although the osteopath (who, by weird coincidence is also a regular at the Moseley Vintage Fair) says there's no serious damage and with plenty of rest, pain killers and gentle stretching exercises he should be back on his feet in a couple of weeks.

Wish us luck!

Linking to Judith, the Style Crone and her Hat Attack link up.

Friday 25 May 2018

I Can't Stand The Rain

Waking up to torrential rain and grey skies this morning after the glorious sunshine of the last two weeks sure put a damper on our mood. Our first Oriental poppy of the Summer finally burst forth only to be battered into submission hours later, the cats dashed outside to explore what had happened in the garden overnight and immediately sought shelter under the van, balefully looking at us as if the inclement weather was of our making and the silk jumpsuit and fabric boots I'd intended to wear for my stroll into town were put aside in favour of something less flimsy and more watertight.

WEARING: Vintage Van Allen maxi (eBay, 2006) , birdcage umbrella (inherited from Mum) , psychedelic bag (Vintage Village at Stockport market hall), gold space boots (retail)

Out came one of my beloved Van Allen corded cotton maxis (I've also got one in green). I bought them from eBay over a decade ago. The seller had enclosed a note in the parcel, telling me how, in the late Sixties when she'd been a sixth former she got a Saturday job in Van Allen and had bought the dresses using her staff discount. She'd worn one of her dresses to see Jimi Hendrix perform at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Every Summer I get them down from the suitcase on top of the wardrobe and fall in love with them all over again. The early '70s birdcage umbrella was my Mum's. I've got quite a collection of vintage brollies and for some reason I've never used this one - until today. What was I thinking? It's the best umbrella ever, it covers my shoulders, I can see out of it and it can withstand wind, unlike modern umbrellas than turn inside out if you sneeze at them.

Walsall is getting more and more depressing, we made the national news last night because of the huge problems we have with fly tipping and the number of boarded up shops in the town centre is horrendous - made even worse by yesterday's news that Marks and Spencer, which has stood in our high street for 84 years, is set to close down. I got what I needed to from Wilko and Beauty Queen Cosmetics (their Ardell eyelashes are half the price of Superdrug, there's a Bollywood soundtrack and the extremely helpful all-male staff are super friendly and, unlike every other shop I go in, always smile and ask how I am rather than bark "wanna carrier bag?" at me without even making eye contact). The remaining four chazzas, which unless you're a fan of Primark & George at Asda, are usually pretty grim but today I managed to snaffle a few vintage gems - a 1970s French-made gingham and lace-trimmed midi dress, a ditsy print cotton maxi, an early 1960s cotton shift labelled "Wynne - A quality product of the British Empire" and a 1930s silk bed jacket from Woollands Ltd of Knightsbridge, a lingerie company founded in 1869 which served the aristocracy, including Edward VII's mistress, Alice Keppel.

Talking of labels thanks to my friend Sarah, I'm now the proud owner of a rather slinky vintage silk dress by Travilla, the designer behind Marilyn Monroe's iconic white dress in the Seven Year Itch. Despite us never having met she has a knack of finding clothes that fit me perfectly, this dress being no exception.

WEARING: Travilla silk dress with panelled skirt (present), vintage Ted Lapidus sunglasses, 1960s chain belt and TopShop platforms (all charity shopped)

Look at that sunshine. It's hard to believe this photo was only taken a couple of days ago although the BBC reckon we're getting Summer back tomorrow. Hooray!

Away from the misery of a wet Friday in the Black Country lets see what's going on in Gothenburg, shall we?

Here's Liv and Axel. As it's a bank holiday on Monday they're making the most of their weekend and they're off out on the town tonight. Liv's beauty routine - like mine - includes a glass of wine while she's getting ready and Axel, ever the obliging partner is happy to keep her topped up.

Excited that the World Cup is less than a month away Axel's resplendent in the colours of his national side. Being the proud Swede all of the furniture in this room (including the bearskin rug, '70s sewing machine and lamp) is vintage Lundby.

If like Liv and I you dress almost exclusively in vintage clothes it's a good idea to keep a sewing machine close at hand as you never know when you might need to make an emergency repair.

Liv's hem needed urgent attention this evening.

Liv & Axel's bedroom is papered in one of Josef Frank's classic prints, Catleya, created in 1930 and based on an orchid grown in the rain forests of South America. The cushions were handmade from vintage fabric scraps, the reading lamp flexes are knicker elastic and the suitcase is made from a matchbox. As you can tell from her bedside reading, like all the best people, Liv is obsessed with doll's houses.

The religious picture is taken from a devotional pendant - also from Sarah. The centre light is a ping pong ball, Linda's brilliant idea.

Liv, Axel & I say Cheers, all! Have a fabulous weekend whether or not it's a long one.

Monday 21 May 2018

Bell Bottom Blues

Jeans? Even Jon was surprised. Back in the late '90s through until the early 2000s I lived in them - possibly as a reaction against the corporate suits I was forced to wear for work. Back then I'd wear them skinny (always Topshop Baxters) with vintage knee high boots and either pussy bow blouses or skinny band tees and waistcoats but, after quitting the drudgery of paid employment, I could wear whatever I wanted all the time so the need to dress down became obsolete. Trying my old skinnies after a long break I noticed how they accentuated my mismatched hips, the replaced left hip doesn't curve like my unoperated right side, and whilst I wasn't bothered about looking lopsided (it sure beats being in constant pain) I didn't particularly want to advertise the fact. The jeans were sold on eBay and I moved on.

I've flirted with jeans in the nine years since I started blogging, I've had a couple of pairs of vintage flares but ended up selling them as the fit wasn't quite right. I've always kept my eyes peeled for a decent, well-fitting pair to wear with my collection of vintage hippy tunic tops and blouses but to no avail. That was until yesterday when helping a couple of mates set up their new venture as vintage traders I spotted these original deadstock 1970s Lois bell bottoms hanging on their rails.

How cool are the original tags? It seemed a shame to remove them!

I'm not sure if many non-Europeans will be familiar with Lois denim but to us Brits they were the epitome of cool. My Mum was an avid Lois jeans wearer which was pretty outrageous for a mother of two back in the 1970s when all the other mothers at the school gates dressed exclusively in Marks & Spencer dresses.

Abba publicity photo from 1973 (SOURCE)

Endorsed by hip European celebrities like Johan Cruyff & Bjorn Borg (and the not quite as cool, Abba), Spanish-made Lois jeans were massive. You'd be hard pressed to open a magazine or to pass an advertising hoarding without seeing the famous Lois bull back in the 1970s.

The gorgeous Bjorn Borg advertising Lois Jeans in 1979 (SOURCE)

So how did a family business from a tiny village in Spain become one of the big players in the world of denim? It started with two brothers, Joaquin and Manuel Saez Merino, who started selling anything they could get their hands on. The brothers started making their own work wear, based on craft production by the women in their village. Travelling around the country selling their products on the back of a donkey, they picked up on the growing popularity of denim in Europe amongst the younger generation.

Advert from 1962 (SOURCE)

After experimenting with different styles they discovered that jeans were not difficult to make but the challenge was to find similar fabrics that were used by the popular American brands in Spain. After attempting to import denim from America, the Saez Merino brothers decided to invest in their own looms so that they could manufacture denim to the highest quality themselves. At this point, the name Lois Jeans didn't yet exist as the brothers were keen to learn their craft inside out and establish themselves in the market first.

From 1967 (SOURCE)


1965 advert (SOURCE)

Confident that their jeans were now of the highest quality as well as being comfortable and good-looking in 1962 Lois Jeans was finally born

Lois advert from 1977 (SOURCE)

The Lois ideology fitted in perfectly with the mood of the time – with the youth movement of the seventies in Europe revolving around both student protest and hippy culture, jeans became the uniform of the nonconformist. It was also the first time that the flare appeared, leading to the massive popularity of Lois’ iconic GAUCHO jeans.

1977 campaign poster (SOURCE)

Ad from 1975 (SOURCE)
Up the workers! Ad campaign from 1977 SOURCE

From 1976 (SOURCE)

Although Lois jeans are still made to this day the brothers' manufacturing company, Saez Merino, S.A., went into liquidation a couple of years ago and the denim is now manufactured by the Dutch.

Early jeans label (SOURCE)

WEARING: Vintage Lois bell bottoms in indigo blue, 1970s Indian block printed cotton top by Rhode Island Exports, New York ; Jeffrey Campbell Woodies; 1970s tooled leather belt; Moroccan -made leather clutch with a tassel trim (all charity shopped), vintage sunglasses (car boot sale)

I'm wondering if I should do a jeans week like Sheila did recently and wear them every day? It could be the wrong week to try what with glorious sunshine and temperatures set to hit the balmy heights of 22 degrees.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday 18 May 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole - More Mini Adventures

I found this miniature making book at the car boot sale & the introduction by author, Christaine Berridge, could have been written by me. When I discovered dolls' houses it was as though a locked door had been opened. Here was a hobby that united many of my existing interests and I could be creative with a purpose, indulging my love of social history, architecture, painting, making and sewing along the way.  Six years (or, in my case, six weeks) on from that initial discovery I am as excited by the subject as ever. What I love about dolls' houses and miniatures is that they are so accessible. You can buy or make, or mix and match. This is a passion that is open to all and can comfortably span the generations and my head is full of ideas that I only wish I had the time to develop.

The glorious weather of the past couple of weeks has hindered my dolls' house progress as I've spent most of my free time outside but, with a few hours put aside in the evenings for play, I've finally completed the first room in my latest Lundby, which I'm calling the salon. It's a light and airy space filled with houseplants where one can enjoy civilised conversation, a cool drink and maybe play a tune or two on the grand piano (inherited from a wealthy aunt).

I wanted a real wood floor for this room, just like in our real-life house. The boards came in kit form from eBay for £1.99 and Jon fitted them for me. I didn't ask, he volunteered, probably anticipating the mess I'd get into, but I did manage to fit some skirting boards without too much swearing.

I'd been in love with the Martinique wallpaper forever, designed by Don Loper in 1942 for the Beverley Hills Hotel (HERE) and thought this print with the aqua background (in real life, a fabric design) would be a great alternative. I decided to leave the window curtain-less as the room wasn't overlooked by the neighbours and the leaded glass deserves to be seen.

Image taken from Scandinavian Design in the Doll's House, an essential if you're a fellow vintage Lundby obsessive
In sharp contrast to Lundby's more usual modernist style of furniture, the Royal lounge suite in the Neo-Gustavian style, common in Sweden at the beginning of the 20th Century, was produced in 1978. When new, the Royal came with a miniature gold framed portrait of the official engagement photograph of King Carl XVI and Miss Silvia Sommerlath and was taken by Lennart Nilsson in 1975.

 The suite originally consisted of a sofa, a coffee table and two armchairs. The set I won on an eBay auction had a single chair and a pair of sofas, one of which had been fitted with a replacement leg, but at a mere £7.50 (the joys of listings finishing on gloriously sunny Bank Holiday weekends!) I was more than happy. My friend Lisa made the groovy yellow floral cushion and the rest were made by me in the garden yesterday.

Mini cushion making is very addictive! The blue fabric is vintage braid, cut into lengths, stuffed with cotton wool and blanket stitched along the edges with embroidery silk (the joys of buying vintage sewing boxes, I've got endless notions to use up). 

This gilt decorated grand piano, in the Rococo style, was manufactured by Per-Hugo Bornfelt for Lundby between 1950 - 1970. The stool is a later piece from the 1970s as is the brass lamp.

Remember me showing you the haul of dolls' house accessories found at the car boot sale a couple of weeks ago? At 3 items for £1 I don't really know why I didn't buy the lot. The bellows, candelabra and miniature brass table and chairs were just some of my buys. The orchid in a jug came from a lady who makes mini pot plants and sells them on eBay so cheaply it's hardly worth attempting to make them myself. The wooden frame came from a set bought from Poundland and the mirror was prised out of an old eye shadow kit. 

A mini within a mini!

I made the plant bench from lollipop sticks, push pins, toothpicks and a gallon of glue.

Are you familiar with Josef Frank (1885 - 1967)? He was an Austrian-born architect, designer and artist who founded the Vienna School of Architecture. He fled the burgeoning Nazism of Austria in the late 1930s to settle in Sweden and had an enormous impact on the history of Swedish design. I adore his vibrant textiles and wanted to include some in my house. The screen, which I made from a cat food box, is adorned with his Anakreon design, produced in 1938 and based on a 3,500 year old fresco from the Palace of Knossos on Crete.

The print of the lampshade above Papa Lundby's head is another Josef Frank design, Celotocaulis. Produced in 1930 it comes from an Asian flower species characterised by a plume-like flower (caulis is Latin for flower stalk).

Our Swedish neighbours, The Lundbys, asked us to babysit their son, Sven, last night along with their rescue cat, Viggo. It was a late night as Sven insisted on staying up to watch the ice hockey quarter finals between Sweden and Latvia (Sweden won). 

Sven loves Viggo.

Papa Lundby needs a beer, he and his wife have been trying to find some new clothes for the summer but they can't see anything in the shops, it's either badly made, poorly fitting or in boring colours. Being the neighbourly sort I've offered to run them up something groovy if I find some cool fabric when I'm at the car boot sale over the weekend.

WEARING: Me-made maxi created from a pair of 1970s Grace Sullivan curtains and a vintage Kenzo dressmaking pattern, Jeffrey Campbell Woodies (charity shop), vintage sunglasses and a Moroccan tooled leather bag (car boot sale)
See you soon!