Image Archives

I recently came across a really great online archive of public domain vintage and antique images... not sure how I hadn't stumbled onto this site until now. The site is called Vintage Printable. They have an amazing collection of antique botanical drawings and nature studies, scientific charts, book covers, and vintage photography. Great for reference and collage. Another great website to find antique and vintage imagery is the New York Public Library Digital Gallery (they have everything -- from antique textile pattern books, vintage hotel menus to antique images of ocean flower cyanotypes). Below are a few of my favorites from Vintage Printable.







Felted Coat Color Block Tote

I've been in love with the Graf & Lantz color block wool totes since I first saw them on Terrain's website. I've never sewn felt or leather before but I decided to give it a go and see if my little sewing machine could handle it. Luckily, there's a thrift store outlet in my area where you can buy unwanted wool coats and bags for $1/ea which makes experimenting basically cost-free. I found an oversized 80's wool herringbone coat, a white wool blazer and a maroon leather brief case for under $5 total. Just look for 100% wool items, the more material, the better. This project is fine for even a beginner at sewing-- I have little to no experience with sewing beyond a blind hem stitch and I was able to figure this out as I went along. The key is going slowly with the leather, especially if you chose a thicker top grain leather like I did.

(disassembling the leather brief case into panels)-- basically just tear it apart at the seams.

(remove all buttons and lining before felting your wool items)

To shrink the fibers of the wool and make the material more durable and thicker you need to felt it. Felting is easy-- stick the garment in the washer on hot water, followed by the dryer on a high heat setting. Warning-- this process is a little messy. I had tiny fuzzballs everywhere so it would help if you had a large mesh garment bag to eliminate the fuzzies in the washer. Don't forget to clean out your lint trap in the dryer after using as it will probably be full of fuzzies when you are done and you don't want your house to burn down next time someone uses the dryer.

My Version:


I left the side seams rough because I liked that look and so far I've been using the bag pretty regularly and the wool has not begun to unravel at all which I think is due to the felting process. Making the leather handles was easy -- just fold a 2" leather strap in half vertically and sew along the edge, leaving a section at the top and bottom unsewn (this will be where it attaches to the bag).


Zig Zag Pottery

So my latest completely nerdy thing this year is going to the pottery painting place (with a friend...of course) and painting salad plates. I also made a butter dish that I'm quite fond of. Hopefully in October I'll be able to enroll in some community pottery classes and make my own pieces. I never conquered centering when wheel throwing so I've always had some hang ups with ceramics but I'm working on some ideas for slab / hand built pieces.

Here's my salad plate from last week:


Chairs and more Chairs

Went to the Monday auction today. We're currently stripping the wallpaper from the 12 foot ceilings in the second living room/dining room which has proven to be a nightmare. So, meanwhile I'm trying to focus my positive thoughts on the dining area. I managed to grab a set of antique ice cream parlor chairs for $20. I also found a great table/2 bench set of iron hairpin legs at the auction today for $22 (not bad since a new set of legs is between $65-$80 and now I have three sets to mess around with). Unfortunately they came attached to a weirdly patriotic picnic table from the 60's that must have come straight out of the VFW rec room. I thought I would take the legs off and discard the heinous table tops at the auction-- but as life would have it the screws were rusted so badly they couldn't be loosened. Once I got home and pulled the dirty benches out of my now soiled car, I realized that the wood of the tables was so badly rotted that all you had to do was put your weight on the legs and the screws just ripped out of the rotted wood-- fabulous. The entire experience made me seriously reconsider the idea of any type of reclaimed wood, specifically watching all the varieties of termites and wood-eating insects that crawled out of the joints of this ugly table.


The world's tackiest picnic table? Possibly. Not gonna lie, I SORT OF liked the benches but they were too rotted to save.


Last week I bought two vintage school chairs from a church basement for almost nothing and spray painted (I liked the original patina but they were too rusty to be used regularly)... all better now. I'd like to distress them a bit but I've never done that to metal before.




"Wednesday" and Thursday.

Alright, I missed a day already. Consistency is not my strong suit so I'll do another later today. I did manage to covertly swipe an unattended and probably long forgotten Delaware Sea Life Marine Mammal newsprint guide from a library table (no it was not library property). Here's my crazy whale lady for Thursday.

UPDATE: added my second collage from last night (below).





This one was frustrating. I finally just cut it in half. Much better. Pretty happy with my 2 part series.

Materials: polaroid photos from a 1973 trip to Rome, old postcard, vintage children's books, Korean school book, acrylic, gouache, back of an airline ticket.




A week of collage challenge.
Mixed media, acrylic, on puzzle box cutout.



Herbal Remedies

I was bored the other night and found a stockpile of terra-cotta pots in the basement. I hate dried herbs and I feel ridiculous buying bushels of herbs from the grocery store when my recipes call for a tablespoon. So I bought a few herb plants for my bay window sill. I used a 1940's lettering book that I picked up on vacation for reference with the type on the pots. It's just acrylic with a matte sealer on a basic terra-cotta pot. If I can keep these alive I think I'll try growing Thyme and Cilantro too.




Coffee Table Makeover


Here are some before/after pictures of my coffee table refinish job. I have a Lane Acclaim series 1960's coffee table that I love the shape of but the piece was stained brown and had accumulated a quarter inch of Pledge residue over its lifetime. I bought a matching end table at a flea market this summer for $5 that was being sold as a microwave stand, so I used that as the test subject before redoing my coffee table.


(Above is the table completely sanded). The first and worst step is stripping the varnish off. This is completely awful, no way around it. I started with all the environmentally friendly stuff and by the end I had goggles and ventilation masks on, using chemicals that started melting my rubber gloves. The end result is not very rewarding, it actually looks like you ruined your furniture but it made sanding easier. After I sanded the piece down, I used a tung oil finish. I did about two coats and sanded with steel wool between them.




As you can see I still need to paint the tips of the legs black like the original tables. I also found the perfect location for the red wire vintage basket I picked up for free at an auction.


Mendocino Vacation

(Left) Sunset from Mendocino Headlands (Right) Mendocino Masonic Hall, built 1866. Very quaint, tiny town located along the coast with strong roots as an artist community. No chain stores, lots of organic restaurants, groceries and artist galleries.

Atrium Bed and Breakfast, Fort Bragg. This was the cutest B&B, perfectly decorated Victorian cottages. Fort Bragg was definitely less "quaint" than Mendocino -- and by that I mean they had a CVS-- but it was also much more affordable and closer to MacKerricher State Park which had the best coastline. There's also a great art supply store with an amazing paper selection on North Franklin Street. The wooden pulp papers aren't available online but their printed papers are on their website.

Mendocino Botanical Gardens -- featured 47 acres of plants and coastline with great views of the ocean along the bluffs. We ended our trip with a visit to Cowlicks Handmade Ice Cream (so good!) at the cafe entrance to the gardens.

(Left) Botanical Garden Coastal Bluffs (Right) Succulent Gardens

Mendocino Botanical Gardens Branch Gates.

Succulent Gardens


Fort Bragg, Glass Beach -- This beach was used as a town dump until it was closed in the 1960's. Since then cleanup efforts were made to dispose of all trash, leaving behind tiny pieces of broken glass worn down by the tide.

(Left) Fox Glove (Right) Glass Beach

mendo13(Left) Dahlias, Mendocino Botanical Garden (Right) Russian Gulch State Park
Mendocino Headlands

(Left) Mendocino Headlands (Right) Van Damme State Park Fern Canyon-- We camped overnight at Van Damme State Park where it unfortunately rained the entire time but the scenery was beautiful.


Five under $5

Here are some finds from June:

1. 1950's Blue Suede Clutch with Green Alligator accent
2. 1960's White Metal Ice Bucket with Red lining / 3. 1970's Straw and Leather Purse
4. Rock collection from a 1959 Franklin Institute field Trip in Antique Frame
5. 1960's John Romain tweed and leather barrel purse / 6. 1960's Lux starburst clock ($15)


1962 House & Garden; Book of Interiors

Some images to inspire from 1962 copy of House & Garden; Book of Interiors.
I am loving that suspended boat.








Kentucky Derby Party

Here are some photos from a party I went to the first weekend in May. The gorgeous cake was hand-painted with food dye by one of the hosts!! (AMAZING!!) The hats we made -- the plaid dress is 1950's vintage from a local thrift store.