Weekend Finds: Beauty of a Bar Cart

I don’t typically buy furniture at garage sales. It’s not because I don’t have the space. I pay no attention to my husband saying, “but we don’t have the space.” Rather, I find it can be challenging to find pieces I like. This weekend with a tip from a friend I found this adorable bar cart at a garage sale. I couldn’t believe it was only priced at $5.00! I love the shape and the fact that it’s full of little details. The twisted metal on the handle, the over-sized wheels and the wood running up the sides. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. IMG_0801IMG_0806IMG_0804IMG_0800

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How-To: Vintage Looking Frames for Posters

A long time ago, I picked up a poster designed by Charles Spencer Anderson at a paper fair that I promptly stashed away, waiting to find the perfect place to hang it. Finally I’ve found a place that is in my kids’ nursery, but how to frame it and another vintage poster? I thought about getting a custom frame made, but that would be expensive. I thought about making a custom frame, but the time needed overwhelmed my four-hour-of-sleep-a-night self. So during a 2 a.m. feeding I browsed Pinterest and found something I liked over on another blog and vowed to make something similar, but a little more crisp and modern.

Here’s the supplies:

Vintage Frame Materials

1. Sweet vintage posters. Mine were free and $0.50.
2. Two pieces of lattice cut to 1″ longer than your poster’s width. I purchased mine from Home Depot for $0.39 a foot for a total of about $2.00 per poster. You can stain and polyurethane yours, but that’s optional. I kind of wish I hadn’t. Oh well.
3. #6 x 3/8″ screws. About $2.00.
4. Felt pads. The thinner and cheaper the better. About $2.00.
5. Baker’s twine. Mine was from the Target dollar bin. $1.00.
Total: About $10.00 for two posters!

I kind of want to shout that total from the rooftops. Keep in mind this isn’t archival quality. But I’m ok with that because one day I’ll probably find something more permanent when child #2 sleeps through the night and I’m not a zombie.

Here’s the process:

1. Drill four holes through each lattice strip that will be on the back of your frame. Place them .5″ from the sides and two in the middle towards the top. Use a bit that’s the same size as the shaft of your screw.Frame Screws

2. Adhere some felt pads to the middle of your lattice strip. Without these, your posters will probably slip out and you will curse.

Frame Pads3. Screw together your lattice strips. You should clamp the two strips together to ensure they line up nicely. I didn’t because I was too lazy to find the box that contained our clamps. You will need to apply some pressure to get the screw to bite into the lattice strip without the pilot hole. Twist until the head of the screw is tight and the strips are held tightly together.

Frame Screws4. Staple in baker’s twine (or whatever you want to hang the frames with) towards the top of the lattice strip. I used a staple gun and 1/4″ staples.

Frame String5. Hang on the wall and admire how quickly and cheaply you finally got artwork up in your room instead of having it curled up in a box.

Frame Final

Frames After

Seeing her and her paint by number hairdo makes my day.

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Charles, Ray and the Elephants in the Room

If I haven’t said this before, I’m very grateful to have great people in my life. People who send me emails that say something like, “I have a friend who is selling these. Do you know anything about them and would you be interested?” with attached photos that look something like:

IMG_5659UM, YES and YES. Perhaps one of the most iconic mid-century designs, these fiberglass shell chairs are the brainchild of Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller. They’re famous, but that fame makes them a potential pitfall for buyers who don’t know what they’re buying. Why? Because these were not only produced for decades with several production variations, but they’ve also been extensively copied. Pieces from the early years can be highly sought after, while more common “institutional” examples from later years usually aren’t. To be sure what I might be getting into, I had to do a little research.


The biggest clues to the age of shell chairs lie underneath the seat. Herman Miller used various labels and markings over the years that are often helpful for dating chairs, but unfortunately these were unmarked. The bases and shock mounts are also big clues. The first two generations of shell chairs featured an “x” base made of solid steel that crosses under the seat. Later examples used hollow tubular steel legs with bracing that forms an “h” under the seat. The first two generations of production also featured larger rubber shock mounts, often called “pucks” due to their resemblance to hockey pucks. Later iterations had smaller mounts.


H-Base used in third generation on. Image via AdoreModern

H-Base used in third generation on. Image via AdoreModern

So now that I knew these were mostly likely produced in the first two generations of Eames shell chairs, were these first generation or second generation? This clue also lies under the chair. The first two generations of shells were both made by Zenith Plastics, but only the first generation featured rope embedded into the rolled edge of the fiberglass seat. These are often fittingly referred to as “rope edge” shells. These chairs did not, thus they are second generation. Wary of my own crash internet research, I confirmed this with a very helpful friend who has much more experience with shell chairs. They’re indeed second generation.

First generation shell chairs have rope edges. Image via 1stDibs

First generation shell chairs have rope edges. Image via 1stDibs

Although I would have been over the moon about finding first generation shells, I wasn’t disappointed with these at all. Two of the chairs, my favorites, happen to be a very desirable color among collectors, Elephant Hide Gray. The other two are Ochre Light.

Elephant Hide Gray

Elephant Hide Gray

The original standard and contract colors. Image via Eames Office.

The original standard and contract colors. Image via Eames Office.

So there it is, my first time buying Eames fiberglass shell chairs. What I love most about buying and collecting is learning all of the details that make these pieces so special. When it comes to furniture like this, with high profile designers and unfathomable production numbers, the minutia of those details can make a huge impact on the importance or desirability of the piece. There’s so much to learn about such a simple chair and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I guess I’ll just have to buy more and justify it as an educational expense.


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Weekend Finds: Odds, Ends and the Answer to Your Culinary Woes

I wasn’t in a shopping mood this past weekend but, of course, it didn’t stop me from squeezing a couple tag sales in on Saturday. Sometimes I go just because I know that if I don’t I’ll sleep in until after I would have been home anyway. When you look at it that way, it just doesn’t make sense not to go. Right? Anyway, I didn’t bring home a big haul but I was happy with my finds.


My first purchase was a bit of an unsure one at the time I grabbed the tag. This American of Martinsville etagere has kind of a honey-colored Mediterranean vibe, not really the modern look I go for. But what drew me to it was the amount of display space it provides while taking up a tiny amount of space—and the glass shelves make it appear even smaller. My bedroom is pretty eclectic anyway and color-wise, this should fit right in.  Now I just have to decide what to put on it.


At the same sale I found this great chain mail wrapped vintage seltzer bottle. This is one of those iconic things that I always saw in every old movie I ever watched growing up and I couldn’t resist. I love how detailed it is, including a red pinstripe on the bottle barely visible through the chain.


At another estate sale I picked up this festive little guy. Although I admit it’s a little hard to take a tiger with sapphire rhinestone eyes seriously. He’s fierce, but it’s a different kind of fierce.


These 1960s old world globe bookends were another fun find. I think globes and globe-related things are basically just bug zappers for people who like vintage things. They get me every time.


At first I thought this was a magazine rack but after pondering that the giant, floppy magazines of the 1950s would never stay put in such a contraption, I realized it is a record holder. And a pretty sweet one at that. Does it make your albums take up 300% more space than if you had them stacked or in a cabinet? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.


For just a buck I was not leaving without this plastic dracaena plant. It’s set in concrete in a “lovely” gold burnished plastic pot. I’m hoping a few good whacks with a hammer will take care of both so that I can relocate this faux flora to my 1950s bullet planter.

IMG_5647I’m a sucker for a vintage blender, especially a classy little devil like this. What I really love most about it is the accompanying booklet that touts it as the “cookbook blender.” Odd wording, especially in reference to an appliance exclusively used for smoothies and daiquiris. But once you read the book you’ll understand that it’s so much more than that. In fact, you’ll wonder why you don’t use a blender each and every day.  From soups to pastries, there’s apparently nothing this modern marvel can’t help you in the preparation of. Then again, most of those tasks could also be accomplished by a large spoon or a knife. Still, the ambition is something to be admired.

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Weekend Finds: A Run of Fun Garage Sales

Garage sales can often feel like a waste of time, but when you do hit a good one you seem to forget all about the bad sales. Last Friday and Saturday seemed to be my weekend for finding things. I found items from a vintage 1960′s fire extinguisher to antique Christmas tree decorations. Get ready for lots of pictures.

Up first is a Presto soda-acid fire extinguisher dating from 1960. I couldn’t pass it up after seeing the $2.00 price tag on it.


At the same sale I also snagged this collection of antique cast iron lasts with stands. These where used by cobblers in the making and repairing of shoes.

IMG_4077The children’s sizes are so darn cute!


Friday morning I snagged two pairs of spun silver jewelry. Each set includes a pendant and pair of clip-on earrings.


At another sale I spotted a ribbon covered in a collection of pins mostly dating from the 1970′s like Garfield and Holly Hobby. As I was putting it down I noticed this antique portrait pin on the bottom. I asked if I could just buy the one pin and was told they all needed to go as a set, so I didn’t argue and paid the $0.50 for the whole ribbon. The pin is about the size of a nickel.



I also found a bunch of vintage and antique Christmas tree decorations, clips and reflectors.


Along the back are colorful foil Christmas tree light reflectors. I found two different sets of clip-on tree candle holders that where first patented in 1882. The colored blue, red and yellow clip-ons are embossed tin painted with colored lacquer which easily fades and losses its color. A small metal basket with fruit ornaments will look darling hanging on my tree. But my favorite are the pre-1900′s counter-weight clay-ball candle holders, produced starting around 1867. I’ve wanted to find some of these counter-weight candle holders for a while now but never thought I would find them at a garage sale. Oh, the fire hazards they must have been.


Antique counter-weight clay-ball candle holders. So cool!

This next find I just liked and so I bought it and luckily when I got home my husband was just as excited about it. It’s an old blade switch fuse panel. Now to figure out what to do with it.



What is better than an old jar? How about one with a cute galvanized lid like this one.


A set of dinner trays with a flower and line design.


This next snag was for my boys. It was priced $1.00 and labeled Indian artifact. Of course I had to ask the elderly gentleman where it had come from. He said he had dug it out of an Iowa river bed. I asked him if he had repaired it and he said the crack was in it when he found it. I loved that he had found it himself so I told him, “Sold”. My oldest son completely loves it. It will be a great “show and tell” item.


I picked up two vintage cameras. The first one is a 1950-1960′s Brownie Holiday Flash. Its body is Bakelite and is a great dark brown color. Have I mentioned brown is my favorite color! The other camera is an early 1950′s Pickwik Candid Type. It also is made of Bakelite and comes with the original box and instructions. I really like the design around the lens.


Lastly, is an old Bissell carpet sweeper. I couldn’t believe its condition and it is in working order, although I have no plans of using it.




The instructions are still on the bottom of the sweeper.

What a fun, fun weekend of garage sales.

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