Weekend Kitsch

Usually, I’m not one for kitsch. Oh sure, I love a good paint by numbers painting or some humorously sexist vintage advertising, but I’m talking about hardcore kitsch—plastic flamingoes, life-size ceramic animals, plastic owls with googly eyes—pretty much anything you could have bought in a truck stop in the 1960s and 70s. Try as I might to resist the lure of the plastic fantastic, sometimes it just gets the better of me. This weekend, I found these:

Boot_PoodlesI know, right? There were no words when Angela and I came across these boot trees at a garage sale this weekend. No words, just snickering that grew into uncontrollable laughter. My hands stuck to these hot pink plastic poodles like magnets. How could anyone say no to those ridiculous faces? Especially for only a buck. I had a dollar’s worth of fun just walking up and down the street with them in my hands.



I’m not 100% sure that these were all that necessary for keeping boots from becoming deformed. I really think their sole purpose (heh, heh, “sole” purpose, get it?) in life was just to poke out of the tops of boots and be hilarious. Mission accomplished, boot poodles. Mission accomplished.

Big_EyesYears before Anne Geddes started making people uncomfortable with her photographs of babies stuck in flower pots, people had these prints of big-eyed girls in various harlequin costumes to feel uneasy around. I found these at a thrift store and found myself unable to eject them from my cart. The colors are great, the stylization is fantastic, but… those eyes.

Big-Eyes_CloseThey’re not innocent eyes. She may have that bluebird fooled, but she’s peering right into the depths of your soul and probably making note of your deepest, darkest fears. I think it’s that contrast of innocence and evil that makes these prints so appealing—not so much the razor thin plastic frames.

LightbulbThis find was perhaps my favorite of the entire weekend. As I was wrapping up my garage sale rounds and driving home through neighborhoods much too new to offer vintage goodness, I decided to take a chance on one last sign before calling it a day. The sale was located on a cul-de-sac and traffic was such a nightmare I was about to drive off, but as I drove past I spotted a vintage coat rack. It’s the only thing that stopped me and it turned out to be nothing. But, at the back of the garage, this was waiting for me. This 1960s, 40-inch inflatable GE lightbulb had somehow gone unnoticed by the day’s sale goers. The owners said it had hung in their family’s hardware store for over 40 years. Technically this is an advertising piece so it would classify as a legitimate collectible rather than kitsch, but as an inflatable it’s walking a fine line. Kitsch or not, for just three bucks it not only satisfies my Claes Oldenburg-fueled desire for giant everyday objects, but also symbolizes my curmudgeonly refusal to adopt the sick glow of CFLs. I salute you, General. Shine on.

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