Tag Archives: bakelite

MerriWeather on Etsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

il_570xN.917334796_tvpp

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

Craftspeople offering wonderful reproduction Bakelite/Lucite-esque reproductions in modern plastics have been popping up with shops on Etsy in the past few years and the offerings are fantastic.  MerriWeather is another of these shops, honing in on some signature WWII costume jewelry items, such as the V for Victory and the MacArthur heart design.

From the shop’s About page: “Specifically with the MacArthur Heart Brooch, with prices continuing to climb it became harder and harder to collect bakelite. So, one day I thought – I should try to make one myself, I can’t be the only one that would like to have a MacArthur heart. So I started to carve from clay the original pieces that would be the foundation of my collection.

I carve all of my pieces from scratch, and then create my own molds of my original parts. This is the only way to have a truly unique piece. Each piece is poured and cast by hand. Each piece is then sanded for hours to get a polished finish. Then each is assembled with great care to give them an original and authentic vintage look. My first MacArthur Heart was finished in September 2013.”

MerriWeather is based in Austin, Texas, which begs the question as to whether MerriWeather is a swing dancer.  If anyone knows, please chime in!  In the meantime, here are some of my favorites from the shop.

il_570xN.898732819_qhbf

The elusive MacArthur heart.

il_570xN.926794947_bvjr

Good luck!

il_570xN.734165284_dk1j

Queen of Hearts necklace

Advertisements

Field Trip: Vintage Shopping in St. Louis

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

IMG_3713

St. Louis has legs!

A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit St. Louis, Missouri and perform at the Nevermore Jazz Ball with Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders.  I was particularly eager to visit St. Louis because there are some very dear dance friends in my life who moved there after living with or near me in North Carolina and I heard there was amazing vintage clothing there – knowing that St. Louis had a lot of money/industry during my sought-after clothing periods and seeing the amazing wardrobe of Miss Jubilee in photographs online, I was beyond excited to take my first trip to this Midwest city.

IMG_3714

I picked Saturday of Nevermore to embark on my shopping adventure, meeting up with Athena Moon and Lian Tarhay for a quick stop at The Vintage Haberdashery and then brunch at Rooster.  The Vintage Haberdashery is part vintage store, part costume shop and had a small, but respectable selection of pre-WWII clothing and some great 1920’s reproduction beaded gowns glistening from the rafters.  The store was well-organized with lots of quality items, and a particularly nice display of shoes and hats.  I spotted a bunch of great 40’s day and cocktail dresses, some 1940’s oxfords, and a nice selection of menswear, both dress and sportswear items.  Definitely worth a stop!

IMG_3743

After brunch, we went to Cherokee Street to take in the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, which happened to include a vintage shop as a venue and be down the street from another vintage shop – bliss!  Imagine shopping in a stacked vintage clothing store with a live hot jazz band playing just outside on the back patio, and you could take a break, dance, shop, dance, shop – that was my experience at Retro 101.  Seriously, a luxury!  Retro 101 had so many special pieces, I can’t even articulate everything, delicious sheer 1930’s dresses, beautiful rayon print 1940’s dresses, wonderful gowns, hats, gloves, leather, and a case of amazing bakelite!  Feathers!  Beading!  I didn’t even get to the menswear, but I spotted some usual suspects with great garments and accessories in hand, so I know there was good stuff!

IMG_3731

Finally, we visited Ruth’s Vintage Clothing, a little shop on the corner just a few blocks from Retro 101.  Almost as soon as we stepped into the store, we heard the second line start up outside and ran back out to see the parade.  At this point I’m thinking St. Louis and this event definitely have really unique offerings for the dance community – dancers joined in, people were drawn out of shops and restaurants to watch, adding to the magnetic and magical SOMETHING in the air that made this event distinctive, local, and inviting.  We went back into Ruth’s, which had a few 1940’s dresses and some great accessories, including an Art Deco belt buckle and brooch set that combined distinctive rhinestone angled shapes with early plastic (bakelite or celluloid, not sure) flowers blooming from the stones – VERY tempting, can we create a dress or gown around this?

We followed the second line back down to Retro 101, took another gander (so much to take in!), then ended up at Melt for a cider and to hear Mike Faltesek and Chloe Feoranzo play their last set of the day.  An all around very satisfying day of shopping in a wonderful city!

IMG_3715

1940’s heels with potential at The Vintage Haberdashery – those waves!

IMG_3716

Adorable!  All the details!  At The Vintage Haberdashery.

IMG_3719

This wonderful confection of a hat, at The Vintage Haberdashery.

IMG_3721

A menswear display at The Vintage Haberdashery.

IMG_3723

The serious goods hanging from the ceiling at Retro 101.

IMG_3722

The bakelite case in all its glory, at Retro 101.

IMG_3725

This purple plaid 1930’s dress at Retro 101 is EVERYTHING.

IMG_3726

Beaded detail on sleeve of 1930’s dress at Retro 101.

IMG_3727

A snapshot of the men’s section at Retro 101.

IMG_3728

A carousel of accessories at Retro 101.

IMG_3738

A lovely neckline on this 1940’s dress at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

IMG_3740

A wall of accessories at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

IMG_3739

A closeup of a 1940’s floral rayon dress with these interesting ruched scallops down the seam, at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

IMG_3737

Following the second line down Cherokee Street.

 

Crimson Gardenia

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am always so happy when one of our own embarks on a business venture that is an outgrowth of the love of Lindy Hop and vintage culture. Australian dancer Denise Cox has just launched an online store selling 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s-inspired clothing called Crimson Gardenia, with distribution in Australia for the moment, and plans of expanding to other corners of the globe and possibly a brick-and-mortar store. I met Denise two years ago at the Balboa Experiment, who traveled with a contingent of well-dressed Aussies, and I have been delighted to follow her process of getting this business off the ground via Facebook. I believe I participated in a survey at some point (market research!) and it is so exciting to see the final product launch!

The Grable Top – I need this top in every color for work, for dancing, for everything…

It looks like Denise is off to a fine start, with some great coats, tops, and that awesome Retrolite jewelry from Classic Hardware. Definitely keep your eye on this website – Denise blogs about the creation of her business and an amazing government program that helped her realize her dream on her Crimson Gardenia blog and it’s a great story! I wonder if we have comparable programs like this in the U.S….? My hat’s off to you, Denise, keep me posted on your endeavors!

Field Trip: Hunting for Vintage in Iowa City, Iowa

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Death by milkshake - the chocolate bourbon pecan pie shake

This past weekend, I attended the Hawkeye Swing Festival in Iowa City, Iowa. As far as dance events go, the University of Iowa has an ideal setup to run a weekend of dances and workshops, with a student union that has both a giant ballroom with a stage and an attached student-run hotel, where the event attendees can stay. Everything you need is within walking distance of the venue/hotel – shops, restaurants, bars, fro-yo, pie shakes…mmmmm, pie shakes. Ahem. Needless to say, I had a fantastic time dancing, meeting new people, and listening to some sweet music over the weekend provided by the all-star bands headed up by Bria Skonberg, Solomon Douglas, Chase Garrett, and those Seattle darlings, The Careless Lovers.

But what about the vintage? While Iowa City did not turn out to be the vintage Mecca I had hoped, it was certainly a lesson in vintage hunting, which is that vintage can be found just about anywhere, you just have to look for it. I photographed just about every swing-era item I could find, and some 1950’s dresses – my partner in crime, Beccy Aldrich, and I had a fun time scouring these stores and I am proud of our efforts. What is waiting to be unearthed in your corner of the world?

Waiting outside for a table because all the people waiting for shakes took up the waiting area inside

Our first stop, after sleeping in, was for brunch at the Hamburg Inn No. 2, which was recommended to my by Andy Nishida (foodie, dancer, alum). On the outside and inside it looks benign, a typical local, greasy spoon, but then you look closer at the menu and see tons of good eats, then there’s a chalkboard listing 20 different delicious pies, THEN you see in the menu that any pie on that delicious list can become a shake! The line at Hamburg Inn No. 2 was not to dine in, it was full of college students waiting for their shakes. And rightly so, it’s a fantastic way to have two desserts in one and, with it only available in size large, is an ample meal replacement. Beccy, my husband Lucian Cobb, and I split a chocolate bourbon pecan pie milkshake and it was divine.

We sent Lucian to the hotel for a nap and headed to our first stop, the White Rabbit, a wonderful little eclectic boutique with a selection of gifts, handcrafted items, and new and vintage clothing. In the back of the store were a few racks of vintage clothing and Beccy and I each found wonderful plaid 1950’s dresses (both of which were too small for our respective waists, meh). That was the extent of danceable vintage, so we ventured out to locate the next shop…

…which was a consignment shop called Revival. As far as consignment shops go, Revival is very hip and was packed with shoppers. They carry consignment and new clothing, as well as a couple of racks of vintage clothing, new and old accessories, gifts, and some other lovelies, knick knacks, and a cake plate of cupcakes for sale. Beccy found the only pre-1960’s item, which was a cheerful yellow 1950’s dress, which also ended up being tiny. They had some fantastic sunglasses, reminiscent of 1930’s sunglasses, and a lovely umbrella, but little else that would interest Lindy Shopper. Onward!

Our next stop was Ragstock, which I was warned is a chain store and we were not likely to find anything early 20th century here. They were right, however, Ragstock had a huge selection of generic Keds in every color and the sales clerk gave us a great tip on another place to try, so we ventured…

…to Artifacts, which was an antique store with some vintage clothing and a lot of cool other stuff. If I had larger luggage I would have come home with two Art Deco era cake carriers. This is the only store where we found swing era garments, one gorgeous 1930’s velvet suit/dress and a faille late 30’s/early 40’s dress in crimson with rhinestones. Deflated that the red dress was too small, I consoled myself with cheap bakelite bangles, which I purchased at a fraction of the cost of bakelite at other vintage/antique stores. They even had a collection of bakelite scottie dog pencil sharpeners which were, oddly, more expensive than the bangles. Rare? I have no idea, but the bangles were more useful to me anyway.

And that, my friends, is a wrap! Thanks so much to Beccy for being a wonderful companion for the afternoon’s adventures and to Joe Smith and the rest of the Hawkeye Swing Festival organizers for putting together such a wonderful event!

Love the color on this plaid dress at White Rabbit

The adorable plaid dress Beccy found at White Rabbit

Cheeky ties - Victrola tie for the DJs and cat-with-laser-beam-eyes tie for...?

The cheerful yellow dress Beccy discovered at Revival

LOVE these sunglasses at Revival

A rainbow wall of faux Keds at Ragstock

Gorgeous 1930's velvet dress/suit, but so fragile - at Artifacts

Gorgeous red faille dress at Artifacts *sigh*

Hi, bakelite!

Adorable bakelite scottie dog pencil sharpeners at Artifacts

Cheap Bakelite

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Ah, bakelite…beads, bangles, earrings and many other items made from “the world’s first synthetic plastic” are a hallmark of the swing era, and rose to popularity during the 1930’s because of bakelite’s affordability (as compared to fine jewelry). If only this were the case today – when I encounter bakelite in most antique or vintage stores, the price is usually heavily inflated, with bangles selling for over $100 each. Why do these sellers think they’ve found a gold mine? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t pay that much for any piece of plastic. It’s not THAT rare.

I began to grow frustrated with the prices in these stores, wanting some bakelite pieces to complete certain outfits, then I remembered my old friend eBay. eBay has sellers offering bakelite in abundance, at all price points, including some really great and affordable bakelite pieces. Here’s a sampling of what you may find in bakelite for under $15.00 on eBay:

Carved ivory bakelite bracelet, starting price $0.25!

This little bakelite horseshoe pendant just needs a chain - starting bid $0.99

Set of three bakelite bangles, bidding at $5.50

Swirled bakelite ring, starting bid $6.00

Interesting red bakelite brooch, starting bid $9.99

Green bakelite earrings, starting bid $9.50

Black Art Deco bakelite clamp bracelet, bidding at $12.50

Orange carved bakelite bracelet, starting bid $9.99

Field Trip: Trashy Diva, New Orleans, LA

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

This past weekend was my first trip to New Orleans, LA, which meant I was going to get a double dose of nerdy obsessive bliss – trad jazz and Trashy Diva. The occasion was to celebrate, bachelorette style, the upcoming nuptials of my dear friend Danielle McQueen, who also loves good music and beautiful dresses. On our Saturday in New Orleans the bride and bridesmaids headed over to Chartres Street to shop…

I blubbered like a blithering idiot when I got into the store, I was so excited to be there. The shop attendant was skeptical as I introduced myself as a blogger and asked if I could take photographs of the shop, but I probably sounded like a lunatic. The store was beautiful, so quintessentially French Quarter (but without all the Mardi Gras beads), and, most importantly, it was stocked full of every lovely Trashy Diva dress you can see on their website.

Dani and her gorgeous Natasha dress!

I’m pretty adventurous about buying clothing online, but it was so nice to be able to try on the dresses in the store. Candice Gwinn‘s designs are even more fetching in person. We all leaped in with gusto, each of us hitting either the jewelry counter, the dressing room, or both to take in all the wonderful things we spotted that wanted to come home with us. Danielle left with the dress of the day, the gorgeous deep red velvet Natasha dress, with beading at the shoulders and all around the waistband. The photo on the website doesn’t begin to do this gorgeous dress justice – it’s simply to die for – and it’s perfect for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve cocktail party or a winter dance opportunity.

We were running out of time, so we peeked into the Trashy Diva lingerie store next door to take in the wares. So many lovely, tiny, lacy things on racks! Of note, there are (what looked like) some excellent reproduction slips and nightgowns.

The bachelorette ladies flew out the next day, but I opted to stay an extra day so I could go dancing at d.b.a. to Tuba Skinny (so worth it! I even ran into Lindy Dandy!). This left me with most of Sunday to myself in New Orleans. Since the girls didn’t have time to visit the Trashy Diva shoe store the day before, I headed back to Chartres Street. The shoe shop is truly divine – an entire table is devoted to Re-mix shoes, a selection of the most adorable Aris Allens, and then there were even more fantastic and unfathomable shoes, as well as some more practical-yet-fabulous flats.

I struck up a less blubbery, but excited conversation with Rachel Scott, the keeper of the shoes, and managed to introduce myself like a human being, with coherent words and a Lindy Shopper business card. We proceeded to chat about so many wonderful things over the next hour and a half or so, shopping for shoes all the while, and the whole experience was delightful. After this conversation, I’m definitely looking forward to what Trashy Diva has in store for us in the future and have a greater appreciation for what Trashy Diva offers now in terms of products. Rachel also referred me to some other keen places in the French Quarter, where I could find bakelite, wigs and sparkly hair accessories, and some amazing pralines. To top it all off, the weather was perfect and sunny all day and I didn’t even need the sweater I packed in my bag.

If you ever make it to NOLA for ULHS, Jazz Fest, Girl Jam or what have you, you simply must go!

The view of the dress shop from the door - instant meltdown.

Knit dresses greet you at the door, with fantastic necklaces

Lovely pink and gray - dress from the new bridal collection

The beaded detail on the silk Sadie dress

The jewelry counter, with fantastic fakelite

Adorable flats!

Rachel and the domain of delectable shoes

A functional use of mantel space 🙂

Field Trip: Richmond Revisited

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It was another wonderful year at Richmond, Virginia’s Jammin’ on the James, both the dancing and the shopping. Some of my favorite vintage shoppers – Lily Matini, Elizabeth Aldrich, Bill Speidel, and, a new addition to my vintage cavalry, Josephine Stewart – made cameos at the event this year and it made Saturday an exciting and bustling day at the vintage shops in Richmond. I reported on my trips to Richmond’s two best vintage shops, Halcyon and Bygones, after last year’s Jammin’ on the James, but there’s always new inventory to scout.

Step into Halcyon!

Halcyon is my favorite Richmond store because it is so inviting – beautifully decorated, not too large/too small/too crowded, with a carefully chosen selection of garments that leaves you with the feeling that the entire store is filled with the “good stuff,” no filler. This year was no exception and I left with one beautiful 1930’s dress, but there were several other things I probably could have taken home if the budget had allowed. After we expressed interest in ties, Angelica from Halcyon pulled out the hidden rack of beautiful 1930’s ties, including one with circles and butterflies that Bill and I both claimed, but, ultimately, Bill won out because my husband wouldn’t answer his phone to tell me if he would wear the tie. Bill also scored a vintage Alexander Calder inspired tie by Carnival Jones, Elizabeth left with a lovely black faux fur jacket, and I left with a 1930’s silk dress. There were some really lovely pieces from a Richmond estate, including a 1920’s dress that must have had over 100 green bakelite buttons down the front and both sides.

Next stop was Bygones, which is famous for its window display and top of rack displays. This season’s display did not disappoint, with an Egyptian revival-themed window-dressing and an inside display of furs and faux animals that just begged for some taxidermy or, as Bill said, the barrel of a shotgun peeking out from between the furs. Josephine had great luck here, asking for tiny sized clothing and they definitely delivered. Favorite pieces included two 1940’s suits, one in light aqua velvet with quilting detail on the jacket and another in green silk velvet with amazing trim detail on the jacket.

Check out the goods from the photographs below!

A lovely coat from Halcyon

The dress of 100 buttons at Halcyon

Halcyon's bakelite offerings

Bill, the tie snatcher

A 1940's dress with shoulder pads fit for a linebacker...still a gorgeous dress!

The winner!

Step into Bygones...

The fur display at Bygones, complete with Mr. Fox

Bakelite at Bygones, including a set of strawberries, with necklace and earrings

The Bygones display cases

The pale aqua suit with quilted detail at Bygones

A lovely 1940's dress at Bygones - the photo doesn't do the color justice

Bygones carries reproductions, like the rack of Leluxe dresses shown here

The menswear section at Bygones

Which smoking jacket?

Josephine in a glorious green velvet suit at Bygones

Classic Hardware

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Classic rose pin

With the price of bakelite jewelry in the astronomical range, reproductions of this classic early plastic jewelry are a welcome commodity. I’ve found a few “fakelite” pieces via Forever 21 a few years ago and apparently Avon did some reproductions in the 1980’s, but both have been found in limited quantities. Classic Hardware was a sight for sore eyes, with a line of classic bakelite-style (called “Retrolite” on the website) pins, bracelets, necklaces, and rings that will give your vintage or reproduction dress the perfect finishing touch.

According to the website, “Karyn Cantor is the originator and driving force behind Classic Hardware and it is her personal vision that is reflected in every handcrafted piece. Her love of vintage fashions mixed with a strong post-industrial aesthetic is further influenced by art nouveau and dadaism. This striking amalgam of sensibilities, coupled with Karyn’s sense of humor has developed into her current line of accessories that reflect today’s sense of individuality, sophistication and spunk…Karyn’s tastes are eclectic and varied, running the gamut between rock ‘n’roll, punk rock, rockabilly and old timey music. She loves swing dancing, live music, travel, flea markets and playing the ukelele.”

She loves swing dancing! One can’t help but wonder if Karyn noticed all the unadorned lapels and necklines at dances and wanted to do something about it…

Here are some of my favorite “Retrolite” pieces from the Classic Hardware website:

Kissing swallows necklace

Butterscotch pin

Penguin pin

Scotty dog pin

Swan pin

Carved bangle in black, also available in brown

Strawberries bracelet, matching necklace and earrings also available

Deco ring, available in 7 colors

Raspberry bow barette

Field Trip: Sweet Lorain, Cleveland, OH


This post was written by Lindy Shopper.


Sweet Lorain
(formerly Suite Lorain, now under new ownership) is one of those rare places where there are entire racks devoted to 1930’s and 1940’s clothing, rather than being relegated to a few rare items on the wall or stuck in the middle of a mound of polyester. In fact, Sweet Lorain skirts the issue by focusing exclusively on “Deco to 1960’s.” It’s a huge store, with tons of furniture, housewares, knick-knacks, clothing and accessories, and maybe some random items from a past era you’ve never even thought about. The dresses, evening gowns, coats, and other swing era garments are comparably plentiful and in an array of sizes. There were so many things to see that my partner in crime, Elizabeth Tietgen, and I spent several hours there, long enough for the store owner to offer us each a bottle of water!

We were told that the store had been hoarding swing era items for the ABW participants and people were dropping off things to sell to the ABW’ers the morning of the day we went to Sweet Lorain, namely a pair of 1940’s low heeled sandals that Elizabeth took home and a green 1930’s raincoat that came home with me.

I have heard stories about Sweet Lorain for years from my vintage tailor/couturier, Laura Boyes, who grew up in Cleveland. She and her daughter have had great luck in this store during their visits and Laura has even seen buyers from Anthropologie using their corporate card to purchase items from Sweet Lorain to copy or as inspiration for their designs. Understandably, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this visit to Sweet Lorain and it did not disappoint.

Did I think to take photos of what we bought? No, of course not, but Elizabeth left with a bevy of blue and white items, including a 1950’s sundress, a 1930’s day dress with matching bolero, black 1940’s shoes, tap shoes, and an aqua velvet 1930’s gown, and I left with a gray 1920’s dress, a seersucker romper of unknown decade, the 1930’s raincoat, a tie for the Boy, and a Bakelite bangle. Quite possibly the best trip to a vintage store EVER. Did I mention the prices here are amazing? This store will be a must-do for all subsequent ABWs.

Here are some of the other goodies I found at Sweet Lorain (I apologize for posting photos from my phone, I forgot my real camera):

Read the signs, ladies - this is the place!

A wall of slips, with cheerful bloomers hanging above the dressing room area

Wonderful coral crepe print dress

Navy and red crepe dress

Purses under glass

The 1940's shoes we found for Elizabeth

Tie clips galore, including one from the 1933 World's Fair

Ties!

A selection of men's hats

Oh, the bakelite!