Category Archives: “I Spy” Saturdays

“I Spy” Saturday, #11

Welcome Back! How were your holidays? Alex and I relaxed as much as possible and we’re slowly but surely settling into Louisville.

My current thrift obsession is Bakelite, an early plastic used for everything from radio and telephone casings to kitchenware, jewelry and toys. There’s a trick to Bakelite identification (I use Semichrome polish) and the thrill of finding a piece at a thrift store fills me with a naughty sort of glee since I am a bargain hunter as well as a vintage one. If you are learning how to identify Bakelite through trial and error as I am, the thrift scene is more forgiving of your budget than an antique store is likely to be and you don’t beat yourself up as badly when you make a mistake. Sadly, Louisville’s thrift scene is rather spartan compared to what I became used to in Denver and the pickings have been slim – Bakelite or otherwise. That said, if you’re from Louisville and think there are any thrift or vintage stores I should check out, please let me know via comment or email. I will happily give you credit for your recommendations!

So, have you put together what today’s “I Spy” is about? If you guessed “Vintage Plastic” you are correct. Specifically, “Vintage Plastic Jewelry”. I thought I was becoming a fairly savvy vintage plastic jewelry shopper, but this Instagram post from Anne (@jarekwastaken) gave me pause:

can we talk about this #leastein for a minute? #shortmoney #celluloid #vintagejewelry #vintagebracelets #plasticruleseverythingaroundme #rideitlikeyoustoleit

can we talk about this #leastein for a minute? #shortmoney #celluloid #vintagejewelry #vintagebracelets #plasticruleseverythingaroundme #rideitlikeyoustoleit

Did you know about Lea Stein? I sure didn’t. A quick Wikipedia search taught me that Ms. Stein (1931-) “is a French artist and accessories maker.” Around 1965, her interests turned to plastic and she partnered with her husband, a chemist, to create a unique process of layering thin sheets of plastic, baking them and then cutting them into shapes. This description of Ms. Stein’s process reminds me of how croissant dough is “laminated”. To make croissant dough, layers of dough and butter are alternated, formed into shapes, baked and cooled – a difficult process that can take several days. In Ms. Stein’s case, the thin sheets of plastic can be thought of as the dough and the colors, textures and fabrics can be thought of as the butter. Instead of a few days, Ms. Stein’s process can take as long as six months.

Many of Ms. Stein’s works were created between two periods: The first being 1969 to 1981. This initial grouping is considered to be “vintage” and pieces created from 1991 to the present are considered to be “modern”. Bakelite is among the types of plastic Ms. Stein worked with in the vintage grouping. I don’t know about you, but thinking I might come across a piece that is a Lea Stein and also Bakelite makes it twice as much fun to hunt for these goodies. So, keep an eye out! Ms. Stein’s brooches are named (for example, “Ric the Airedale Terrier”), feature an inscribed clasp and each named design was usually created in more than one variety of color and/or pattern. Lea Stein brooches and bracelets are highly collectible and often sell for hundreds of dollars. Do you own a Lea Stein?

Image via Cynthia

Image via Cynthia

“I Spy” Saturday, #10

I apologize for the long break between posts.  March saw me working every day (sometimes at both of my jobs) and following that I had surgery.  What’s a girl to do?  (Not post, is what I’m guessing.) Let’s take a look at what I’ve found over the past month!

Image courtesy of The Plaid Thermos

Michelle at Thrift Obsessed posted about The Plaid Thermos‘ “Fake or Bake” Bakelite testing kits and I think they are simply brilliant.  As Rebecca of The Plaid Thermos states on her blog, “No more wondering if a piece of jewelry etc. is Bakelite or not while standing in a thrift or antique store (or going through existing jewelry at home). Now you can easily take with you a “Fake or Bake” kit! It fits easily in your purse &/or pocket!”  I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve purchased a piece of jewelry thinking it was Bakelite only to get home, test it and find that it was not.  “Fake or Bake” kits run about $11.00 and can be purchased from The Plaid Thermos’ Etsy shop here.

Wondering what to do with all those lovely vintage hankies you’ve got stashed around?  Pattern Patter posted an idea I’m absolutely envious of from Lake and Garden.  Turn them into a hankie quilt!

Image courtesy of Lake and Garden

Have you ever seen anything more lovely?  Imagine that quilt in a guest or child’s bedroom. Suzanne of Lake and Garden shares the process of making the above quilt here.

Need something to listen to while you sew?  Maybe a little punkabilly?  The Koffin Kats shared recently via Facebook that they are part of a new punkabilly compilation titled ‘Punkabilly Shakes The World’.  I’m always up for finding new bands to listen to.  I discovered The Koffin Kats through a similar compilation.  As its title suggests, ‘Punkabilly Shakes The World’ features punkabilly bands from all over the world.


After you sew your quilt, you can cuddle up and celebrate the 24th anniversary (25th if you’re going by the year the show is set in, 1989) of Twin Peaks.  Instagrammer @dollymaevintage  posted about these fabulous Twin Peaks travel posters created by Jazzberry Blue.  Prints from Jazzberry Blue’s Etsy shop run as low as $22.00 and feature several mid-century modern inspired prints that are nothing short of stunning.

Once you purchase and frame your Jazzberry Blue prints, you can use the following tips posted by Black Dog Architectural Salvage (the same shop featured on Salvage Dawgs via the DIY Network) to hang them.  The tips come from Driven by Decor and are a popular Pinterest pin.

Image courtesy of Driven by Decor

“I Spy” Saturday, #9

I don’t know if The Simpsons qualifies as “vintage” per se, but it is the longest-running American sitcom.  Now in its 25th season, the creators recently did a couch gag I absolutely had to share.  For those of you who don’t know the show, the opening sequence almost always ends a little differently and the difference always revolves around the characters’ couch; hence, the name “couch gag”.

If you know me, I have a soft spot for French.  I studied French in high school and I love what I know of French culture and films.  In 2003, when The Triplets of Belleville came out, I was hooked.  Triplets is easily one of my favorite animated films.  Eleven years later, I still recommend it to anyone who will listen.  It is a fabulous little film about the adventures of a woman whose grandson goes missing during the Tour de France.  I don’t want to give anything away, but if Vaudeville and 1920’s/1930’s performers are your thing, you should definitely check Triplets out.  The soundtrack alone makes it worth it.

What does this have to do with The Simpsons?  Well, Sylvain Chomet, animator of The Triplets of Belleville, was the one to create their latest couch gag!  Look for the subtle French details of Homer eating snails, Bart discovering a DIY foie gras kit (“For Kids!”) beside the couch, Lisa playing an accordion and Marge shouting, “Ou est, Maggie?” as she looks for their ever-endangered, but always resilient youngest.

Fermer la porte avant!

“I Spy” Saturday, #8

As I was going through some odds and ends in our living room this week, I found a craft project flyer I’d picked up a while back at Hobby Lobby.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been on a 1920’s kick lately and this craft fits right in.  It’s called, ‘A Case for Creativity’ because you use pillowcases to craft these items:Here is a link to a printable pdf of the flyer, which has more projects included than just the two above, or you can read and follow the instructions as I’ve typed them out below.*  I think the bloomers are a “must” the next time I get the craft room organized!

*This craft, its photos and all directions are courtesy of Hobby Lobby.  The directions I have typed out come directly from the pdf link above and all credit goes to Hobby Lobby.

en-cased in glamour (refers to the picture of the flapper-style dress):

Cut a band of fabric from the closed end of a simple white pillowcase before stitching up rows of fluffy fringe.  Then, use the hemmed end of a second case to make straps.  Some beaded trim…and baby, you’re in!

lacy linens (refers to the picture of the, as I call them, “bloomers”):

A single pillowcase provided the fabric for these simple shorts, an easy sew using SImplicity #3696! Grab some lace trim and some coordinating ribbon, and then follow the step-by-step instructions below.

  1. Place pillowcase on flat surface.  Measure up 16″ from the hemmed edge and draw a line from left to right.  Cut on this line and discard upper half of pillowcase.
  2. Cut remaining piece in half vertically.  Each piece will be 10″ wide.  Open the two pieces and lay flat with right sides together.
  3. To create inseam, measure up 6″ from hemmed edge and 1″ from the left side.  Mark this area with a fabric pen, curving the corner slightly.  Cut on this line.
  4. Now measure up 6″ from the hemmed edge and 2″ from the right side.  Mark and cut as in Step 3.
  5. Sew horizontal rows of lace to the right side of each piece.  Use the same spacing on each piece so lace will match up at center front and center back.
  6. Pin the two pieces with right sides together and stitch the sides with 5/8″ seam allowance.  Press open.  These will become the center front and center back seams of your shorts.
  7. Match center front seam to center back seam, aligning inseams.  Stitch inseams with right sides together, using 5/8″ seam allowance.  Press open.
  8. To make casing, press under 1/4″ on top edge of shorts.  Turn the pressed edge to the inside 1″ and pin in place.  Stitch along this edge, leaving an opening to insert ribbon at center front seam.
  9. Insert ribbon through casing, using a safety pin to thread through.

“I Spy” Saturday, #7

The 1920’s are hot again for the first time since 1974, Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Therefore, it was no surprise to “spy” the following on a friend’s Facebook page. Admittedly, I am a Guns N’ Roses fan and would typically mock modern reinventions of the things I remember from my youth. However, this interpretation of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is far from modern unless by “modern” you mean “Thoroughly” and “Millie”. Congratulations to Postmodern Jukebox and Miche Braden!

Ayun Halliday at Open Culture wrote a fantastic article featuring this video and its creators. It is worth the read and can be found here.

“I Spy” Saturday, #6

In Denver, we had snow yesterday morning (yes, in October!).  Happily, the ground is still too warm for it to stick much and within a few hours it had melted. Snow 10182013_400

I am not a fan of winter weather and snow reminds me that the holidays are not far away…a time when I like to knit.Stitchcraft1_400

I met my husband while knitting.  It was winter then too. The best decision of my life was visiting the girls in my knitting group that day.

I digress…

I consider myself to be a novice knitter.  I finished a tube sock once and that has been my singular knitting accomplishment claim to fame.  That doesn’t stop me from daydreaming about becoming a better knitter and there are plenty of vintage knitting patterns out there to drool over. For example:1940s fedora hat 400

This crocheted 1940’s fedora pattern is available for sale on several sites around the internet. At around $3.00, it’s very tempting.

Or, you could go the free route:Knitting Book_400

Several years ago, I found the above J&P Coats – Clark’s knitting pattern leaflet, Everyone Wears Sweaters at a garage sale and fell in love with the patterns and art.  Oh, the art…coats291_400

Some lovely person has posted the art and patterns from this leaflet on their site, Free Vintage Knitting. There is even a link so that you can download a digitally restored, public domain pdf of the whole leaflet. There are a lot of advertising links in the margins of the Free Vintage Knitting site, so I urge you to be careful what you click on, but I think most everything else about it is legitimate.Punichello_400

When Coats & Clark say “Everyone”, they mean Everyone. The leaflet also contains the above dog sweater pattern. Couldn’t you just die from cuteness? Free Vintage Knitting has loads of downloadable public domain knitting pattern books besides mine, so, if you’re in the mood to knit up something vintage-y, I urge you to check it out.

Grumbling that you don’t have a size 0 waist with a large bust like the gal in the above pattern?  That’s okay, neither do I. Don’t stress! Plus size vintage knitting patterns -do- exist as evidenced by this pretty 1940’s pattern:Plus Size_400

It takes a bit of searching, but vintage knitting patterns are out there in all shapes and sizes.

Still not inspired? Maybe an afghan is more your thing. This one is pretty and it shouldn’t be too difficult to knit a big rectangle, right?afghans289_c125

What do you like to craft during the holidays?

“I Spy” Saturday, #5: Spooktacular Edition!

I love Halloween. It’s been my favorite holiday ever since I was a kid. To that measure, I wrote this week’s “I Spy” in favor of the creeptastic. Continue – if you dare!

1.James Dean_400

September 30th marked the 58th anniversary of the death of actor, James Dean. In 1960, the car Dean was driving at the time of his death (nicknamed “Little Bastard”) mysteriously disappeared on its tour around the country. Reportedly, “Little Bastard” is cursed, several claims of which have been corroborated. In 2005, the Volo Auto Museum of Volo, Illinois and George Barris (who purchased “Little Bastard” after Dean’s death), offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could prove they owned the remains of “Little Bastard’.  To date, no one has come forward to claim the money.


Image found here.

Image found here.

Last year, Wil Wheaton (Yes, *that* Wil Wheaton) posted links to some absolutely fantastic Halloween tunes. Like me, Wil remembers being a kid and hearing songs sung and stories told by people like Boris Karloff and Vincent Price this time of year. His recommendations bring back a lot of memories for me. Download these bone rattlers for yourself here.

3. Gorey Letter_400

My friend, Stacy, was at it again and discovered this post about never-before-seen letters and envelopes from Edward Gorey to his friend, Peter F. Neumeyer. I have enjoyed Edward Gorey’s dark humor and artwork ever since it first frightened me as a child watching Mystery! on PBS. Several years ago, I came across the website, Gorey Details. It’s a great website to shop for Gorey goods as well as other fun, creepy merchandise.


Large Marge 300

Photo courtesy of Google Images. Article courtesy of Inky Wine.

If you were scared of Large Marge as a kid, you will be happy to know she will not be able to send anyone to the Wheel Inn ever again. Sadly, the diner where Pee Wee found out he’d hitched a ride with an in charge spectre has closed. The nearby Claude Bell dinosaurs’ fate is still to be determined.

5. Frankenstein Pez_400

Vintage Toyz posted the above photo of Frankenstein and his matching 1960’s Frankenstein Pez dispenser and it reminded me of this photo:

Frankenstein Cookie 300

Image courtesy of this article featuring awesome behind the scenes photos from Frankenstein, 1931.

and several articles that were going around featuring behind the scenes photographs from horror movies.

6. Love Cats_400

This important reminder comes to you from Love Cats and Larisa of Scatterbugs Vintage. Please keep your black cat SAFE and INDOORS this time of year!


haunted dress 300

Image found here. Thanks to Larisa at Scatterbugs Vintage for the accompanying article!

Did you know that vintage dress you love might be infected by demons? Evidently, Pat Robertson does and urged followers of The 700 Club to pray over their thrift store purchases.  Hmm.  Could it be that those stains I soaked out were pea soup?

8. Cat Eyes_400I’ll leave you with this 1930’s “Cat Eyes” tutorial courtesy of World Pin-up and Very Sherri Vintage. Have a great weekend!

“I Spy” Saturday, #4

I’ll admit, this week’s “I Spy” is a bit phoned in (as evidenced by its lateness). but I’m not about excuses. I have only myself to blame.

That said, here we go!

I am a vintage kitchenwares nut and, as my knowledge of these items grows, it has been fun for me to notice some of the items I love in popular television shows and movies.

A few months back, I noticed Fire-King stackable mugs in the movie Dark Shadows (2012):

Dark Shadows

Picture courtesy of here.

Dark Shadows 2

Picture courtesy of here.

More recently, I have been watching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and noticed a solitary Fire-King Jade-ite D handle mug in several episodes. Finding one of these in real life is a thrift goal of mine, so it is kind of maddening and amusing to see this one over and over.

Giles 1

Giles 2

“Oh, you want one of these mugs?”

"What -does- disappointment taste like?"

“Good luck with that.”

Giles 4

Even the Scooby Gang gets to use the mug. I must confess, it gnaws at me when Cordelia uses the mug.

I am not the only one with a keen eye. Evidently, someone else noticed the mug on Buffy and started a quest for one. Here is their find:

Jadite Mug


“I Spy” Saturday, #3

  • Downton Abbey returned to British television screens on September 22nd, but folks in America will have to wait until January 2014. Until then, there are teaser trailers to get us through. Courtesy of Vintage Life Magazine and Hypable.Downton_400
  • On the subject of British goodies, my friend Stacy gave me the idea to search the web for photos of Princess Margaret’s trip to South Africa c. 1963 because “the clothes are simply to die for.” My search led me to a Flickr page full of vintage photos from the 40’s thru the 60’s of Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth. The photos are well-captioned and stunning. The page owner also has a website dedicated to the same. It’s an amazing collection.
Princess Margaret at 20

Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret at 20. Courtesy of romanbenedikhanson


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1954. Courtesy of romanbenedikhanson

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1954. Courtesy of romanbenedikhanson

  • September 22-28, 2013 is Banned Books Week. If you’ve never looked at the list, you should. “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson was a favorite of mine when I was young. What did you read this week? Courtesy of Random House, Inc. and Angelo Lagdameo.Bradbury_400
  • A recent trip to Urban Outfitters put me onto Crow Canyon Home, an enamelware company with a vintage line. I’m not a big fan of splatterware, but I do love vintage white enamelware with a black edge. Enamelware is experiencing a surge of popularity. Page 36 of the current issue (October 2013) of Country Living magazine offers some additional enamelware options.Country Living Scan