Thursday, October 10, 2013

Current Obsessions - Paint by Number Art

via TheDooWopShop on Etsy
Yep.  I love 'em.  No, I mean really.  Cheery little canvases with simple animal scenes or landscapes made out in brilliant, chunky blocks of color.  There's nothing better.  I am currently in search of an old kit after a recent search found a sad, modern offering of Thomas Kinkade-esque compositions that look nothing like their ancestors.

On Pinterest via Rosehilde on Etsy
Via The Paint By Number Museum
Developed in 1950 by engineer Max S. Klein, these kits contained an outlined composition, with each space numbered.  The number corresponded to a paint color to be used for that area.  Suddenly, everyone could be Rembrandt.  In fact, the paint kit box tops themselves decreed it so!

By 1954, Max Klein's company, Palmer Paint (under the Craft Master label) had sold over 12 million kits.  Of course, the pop culture phenomenon was panned by art critics, who pooh-poohed the trend as an uncreative wave of mindless consumerism.  Especially since trade-show demonstrators promised to reveal how easy art could be, for absolutely anyone.

The hobby continued to explode, and seemingly everyone, from every walk of life, had their home walls adorned with their own paint-by-number creations.  Businessmen - even U.S. presidents - were getting in on the action, feeling a sense of bewildered pride toward their new creations.

In the end, the kitschy paint-by-number art movement of the 1950's came to represent a calmer, more prosperous, postwar America, content to explore the leisure life had to offer.  Today, contemporary artists, like Jenn Jarnot or Trey Speegle, utilize the innocent simplicity of these works to make modern statements.

Additionally, these "original" creations are now being coveted as wonderful expressions of mid-century Americana.  Since the 1990's, they have been popping up again, either discovered in a relative's attic or more recently sold on Ebay and Etsy.  And they are not just paintings anymore.  They are being re-purposed and re-imagined as new creations, used to lovingly remember a simpler time in history.  Buntings, fabrics, and phone covers adorned with the vibrant works, often incomplete to partially reveal the numbered composition beneath, are now being seen.  A new revival of the amateur genre has come to 21st century pop culture.

So come on!  Because this bandwagon promises to be a fun ride...

Via Pinterest

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Man Up: Modern Vintage with a Masculine Edge

For many college students, it's time to head back to campus.  They pile crap into dorms or share rooms or rent off-campus.  Between classes, they rarely take the time to recognize the need for a little aesthetic order to their mayhem.  Males are the worst offenders.  Back in college I saw more beer bottles used as home decor accessories than I care to remember.  One kid had his grandma's China and treated it like Chinet, but if you knocked his bong over, you were asked to leave.

Then comes that first real job.  Maybe you're living in a new city.  Wearing a tie and occasionally shopping at Banana Republic.  Moving up in the world.  Congratulations!  Unfortunately, you're still stuck with some of that crappy college furniture and fond memories of the time you reigned supreme at the Beer Pong Championships.  Things need to change, starting with your domicile.

Come on guys!  Class it up!  You appreciate a nice Port wine?  Awesome, but try drinking it out of something you didn't create in your 7th grade ceramics class.  I get that you like Pink Floyd, but your blacklight poster - alright Buddy, I won't mess with the poster, but you get my drift.  Want to REALLY impress the ladies?  Man UP!

Numero Uno - Get yourself a Chesterfield.  The classic leather tufted sofa makes a great centerpiece for your room.  Something you can smoke a cigar on and not look like a douche.  It may even class up your Playboy collection.

If you must, you can even try a more modern version...

Think industrial.  If it looks like it belongs in a factory it might as well belong to you.  You're manly and rugged too, aren't you, Skip?  A big drafting table makes a great desk.

Want a bar set-up?  Try it on an antique steamer trunk with a simple accent lamp or an industrial cart.

Large-scale art, a darker color scheme, and pretty soon the females will think they've just wandered into Batman's lair.  Good for you.

Let's be honest.  It may be tempting, but we can't all raid Restoration Hardware for all our furniture and accessories needs, nor should we.  So take some time to find some truly vintage, one-of-a-kind items for a fraction of the cost of the modern versions.

And remember.  No matter how much Port, Whiskey, or Bud Light you drink, you're not this guy.

And that's a good thing.

For more masculine decor inspiration, see my Pinterest board, Vintspiration: Pour l'Homme.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Look at Books - Let's Bring Back...

Welcome to the past.  Where men used to handle their issues with swords, and women rocked white gloves.  Birthday parties could be celebrated lavishly at midnight, and one's penmanship meant something.  Sigh...I love this book.  It's like pulling back the curtain on a world I'd love to have been able to be a part of (until I had to deal with my period or getting dental work done).  In short, it is a candid reference book of things, people, and concepts that the author, Lesley M. M. Blume, feels should be brought back to popular culture.  I couldn't agree more.  Here are just a few entries from the book:

The Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York City.  Opened in 1927, it served as a safe haven/charm school/dormitory for young women (and many a young Hollywood starlet) traveling to The Big Apple alone.  Ooh la la...

For a fascinating look at the history of the Barbizon Hotel, see this Vanity Fair article.

The famous building has now been converted to million-dollar condos and goes by the moniker Barbizon/63.  Sigh...

Dunce Caps.  Let's face it.  If you don't know why we need to bring these back, you need one yourself. The End.

Nécessaires.  Back in the day when travel was often unpredictable, many wealthy folk carried with them cases containing things like silver cutlery, gold scissors, and toilette accessories.  If you do a Google search for "necessaires" today, you will find this has evolved into to the lowly cosmetic bag.  Not quite the same at all.  Oh, how I wish to whip one of these out at Applebee's after being supplied with a poorly washed fork.  "Don't worry," I'd say in my best Joan Crawford voice, "I've brought my own."  Then POW!  Voila...

The Palmer Method of Penmanship.  Handwriting used to mean something.  The care and execution of a beautifully written note or letter spoke volumes about one's demeanor and upbringing.  A beautiful cursive form was like sex on paper.  No more.  It's all text fonts in weird acronym lingoes and emoticons.  Not to mention the outright (yet ridiculously convenient) travesty that is the e-vite.  Now, am I a total hypocrite?  Well, yes!  LOL - I haven't sent a paper product via US Mail since the 90's, and I was a little late the party as it was!  BUT!  I still think we need to stop the chicken scratch and busy typing and go back to the simple, carefully choreographed bliss that was proper cursive penmanship.  Because I truly believe that a capital 'Q' should look like a giant fancy '2'.  

By the way, if you don't agree, check this out, and then go here and practice already...:)  Let's do this.

Serious loveliness...

Tangee Lipstick.  Still in production after seventy years, this is that inexpensive orange lipstick that goes on clear and changes color until it becomes the perfect shade for you.  I don't know - sounds like cosmetic perfection to me, and the reviews on the Vermont Country Store website where it is still sold seem pretty solid.  Done and done.  I don't see how any lipstick manufacturers could even compete with this...

Hmm...I'll keep you posted.

Again, I can't say enough as to how entertaining this book was, as well as educational.  I will be ordering her other editions as well, which include:

What would you bring back? :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

BSV Trend Report - Panoramic Group Portraits

I am currently obsessed with antique and vintage framed panoramic group portraits!  I want to create a gallery wall full of them...

I love the fun geometry of the long rectangle of the frame coupled with the contrast of the vertical lines of the subjects' staged black-and-white or sepia-toned poses.  They make such an interesting statement on a wall.

I love this arrangement on an otherwise awkwardly-shaped wall, alternated with smaller conventional portraits. (via - CAMPstyle)
Mix military, scholastic, professional, or club portraits.  Thematically, they may be different, but the compositions are all similar.

A lovely focal point!  (via Decor Allure)

I also love the size range of these photographs.  Typically, they are about 6-9 inches high by anywhere from 20-40 inches long.  Price-wise, be prepared to spend anywhere from $100-$125 each for a vintage panoramic group portrait.  Many of them date from the 1910's - 1930's, so you may want to re-frame or mat them. 

They will also make great conversation pieces for your next gathering as your guests gaze over the hundreds of faces represented in the portraits.  Instant charm, guaranteed!

So my collection begins...

Link Love:  Inspiration Exchange + Homework Wednesday + Dagmar's Home Vintage and Thrifty Finds + Domestic Superhero

Friday, July 5, 2013

Free Font First Friday!

Oh wonder of wonders, what have I got this month?  Amazing beauties...but please note:  most of these fonts are for personal use only, so enjoy responsibly...

 My Underwood {} Southern Aire (Personal Use Only) {} Intaglio (Personal Use Only) {} Castro Script (Personal Use Only) {} Risque {} wmthe50s (Personal Use Only) {} Vintage One (Personal Use Only) {} Shipped Goods 2 (Personal Use Only) {} Foglihten No. 1

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nostalgic Decor - Vintage Summer Camp

For a short time, I lived in northern Idaho.  Green mountains and amazing blue lakes, it was spectacularly beautiful.  Especially the summers.  When it gets into the hundreds here in Fahrenheit, my mind often wanders away from southern Arizona and back to Idaho.  Anyway, one summer there, I went to camp.

Camp Neewahlu was across Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Me and my Camp Fire Girl-friends took a ferry over.  It looked like a camp where Jason Voorhees would be hiding in the bushes.  THAT is just how camp-perfect it was.

I loved my time there.  I made a lot of great friends.  Although campers stuck to a strict schedule, the multitude of activities were engaging and fun - there was always something to do.  Swimming, hiking, canoeing, archery, crafts, singing...I remember the nights in the cabins.  Writing letters home by flashlight.  Despite the busyness of it all, it was relaxing.  It was peaceful.  And nary a psychopathic serial killer in sight...

I'd love to go back and visit.  Every time I see vintage camp gear or paraphernalia, I smile. One day, I would like to have a small-ish cabin by a lake.  And when I do, I'm going to deck out with the thought of my beloved Camp Neewahlu in mind...

Where to begin?  In terms of design theme, I'm thinking of things like heavy materials (like wool, canvas or sailcloth), lots of wood, the outdoors-in, and emphasis on bold color and stripes...colorful stripes.  Let's start with the camp arrival.  Kids showed up with rucksacks, backpacks, suitcases, and even some trunks....

Assorted vintage luggage via FCLO Music Theatre

Stacked vintage suitcases make great bedside tables, and most trunks are big enough to serve as coffee tables.  Stack or bundle gorgeous wool camp blankets at the foot of the bed.  Decorate with enlarged vintage camp photos or advertisements.  Secure old canoe oars or archery arrows to the wall, or frame an archery target and place it over a headboard.  Outfit game room walls with old badminton or tennis rackets.  Throw old shuttlecocks in a large jar and put it on a shelf.  Combine vintage with purpose - have vintage electric fans (be sure to re-wire them as necessary and keep them away from small children) in each room, and keep old lanterns on hand.  There's always the four B's - buckets, bins, baskets, and boxes - corral shoes or boots in vintage wood crates, or keep umbrellas handy in a minnow bucket.  Use fishing baskets to display old archery arrows, or keep crafting materials in vintage locker baskets.

Wool camp blankets via alamodeus
Vintage archery photo via TimeSpent
Framed archery flag - via
Vintage badminton rackets via Poetry of Objects
Vintage electric fan via
Vintage minnow bucket via Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage

Collect, collect, collect!  I love displaying collections, and a cabin or lake house would be a great place for so many vintage collections.  Display trophy collections, vintage cameras, or flashlights.  For color, arrange displays of fishing lures, scout patches, or compasses in shadow boxes, or buoys and old fishing reels out on a boat house wall.  And books!!  Well, I'd have books in just about every room.  Vintage scout guides and handbooks, camping cookbooks, and worn classic novels.

Vintage trophy collection via The Lazy Peacock
Vintage cameras via
Fishing reels via
Compass collection via
Vintage recipe book via Beca Runs

If you really want to get into it, repurpose vintage items!  Turn an old tennis racket or life preserver into a mirror.  Group vintage flashlights into a chandelier.  Make an old suitcase become a medicine cabinet.  Create throw pillows from camp blankets.  Give new and different lives to old things.

via Dee Puddy
Created by Dolan Geiman via
via IndianvsIndian on Etsy via

Lastly, consider durable granite ware or enamelware in the kitchen, and large and small mason jars for glasses.  Maybe faux-horn knives or silverware.  Vintage or retro Camp Fire Girl mugs are another great addition.  Keep the togetherness of mealtime, but skip the formality!  Keep silverware organized cafeteria style with a twist.  Keep forks, knives, and spoons in their own oversized vintage tomato cans and display wildflower arrangements on the tables in vintage tea cans or fruit canning jars. 

via Accent on Vintage
via Mercy, Maude!

More idea photos available at my Pinterest board, Vintspiration: Summer Camp.

Need more inspiration?  Learn from Tereasa Surratt.  Together with her family, this woman bought and renovated her husband's childhood summer camp, Camp Wandawega, in Wisconsin.  Their work and the discoveries they made along the way are truly amazing...I recommend her book: Found, Free & Flea: Creating Collections from Vintage Treasures.

On Pinterest:
Her website (where you'll also find links to a multitude of her other social media outlets) :

I shared this post on the following linky parties:  Time Travel Thursday @ Brambleberry Cottage

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Color of Vintage

It's a shame that so many images of mid-century American life are depicted in black and white.  I love the pastel candy colors of the time.  Perfect hues for the long, hot summer Arizona is famous for...

(See end of post for image credits)

Ah, yes.  In my Capris, got my cat eye sunglasses, and the lemonade's ready.  Just need to wrap my bouffant in a scarf, pop a valium, and put my feet in the plastic baby pool...mmm...lemonade.

Yellow Bel Air:  Photogen Inc.
1956 Ford Thunderbird Color Palette:
Three Radios:
Appliances Ad:
House Plan:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Movie Monday Giveaway: The 1920's!!

Here are rent-worthy titles that take place (at least in part) in a bygone era for your viewing pleasure.  Theme tonight?  The 1920's.  Get your popcorn and settle in...

Oh!  And first one to correctly identify all eight gets a FREE Bold Sparrow Vintage mug!!  (Double click image for a larger view!)

 Leave your answers in the comments with your email address - and have fun!!  I know I did...:)

What are your 1920's movie favorites?