Thursday, September 1, 2016

BAKELITE - GET IT RIGHT

I have become increasingly miffed at what is up on the Internet being sold as Bakelite. Recently, it has come to a head.
Well not that one, but you know what I mean.

A while back I saw someone selling all kinds of plastic, none of which was real Bakelite and saying it was. I wrote to them and explained what Bakelite is and how it's made and why their products cannot be Bakelite. They wrote back to me telling me that they've heard that before and that NO ONE knows what they are talking about!!

Shame on me.  Myself and all the experts who wrote all those books I have on Bakelite as well as all the sites on the Internet that define it clearly, and NO ONE knows what they are talking about.
Just this one  person. 
Alone in the big wide world.

Well, here's the scoop:

What?  Hey, it's vintage and the handle is Bakelite!
..........................OK, I'll behave........(not).

Bakelite is cast, like iron is cast.  When it's manufactured it looks like this:
or this:
or this:
Then it is carved, either by hand (most-sought-after) or by machine.
It's easy to tell hand-carving because the carvings are not an exact match.  Example in mind, these earrings in my shop:
Look closely and see that they are meant to be a matched set but the carvings are not exactly the same.
Also, a lot of the time the carved-out section is a bit more "matte" and not as shiny as the rest of the piece.

IT....CANNOT....BE....MOLDED!!!!!!!!!

...like most plastics.  I wish I could hire one of those blimps to advertise that to the world.

When unsure, a good thing to look for is mold marks, like on this piece.  See the line going through the center?   That's a mold mark and that means it's NOT Bakelite:


It's not Celluloid.  Celluloid looks like this:
and this:
....and it CAN be molded
THIS is often thought to be Bakelite, but it's celluloid:

THIS is NOT Bakelite:
Here's an insert from a very popular piece of vintage jewelry that is being sold everywhere on the Internet (it must have been very common in its day).
It's being offered as Bakelite but it is MOLDED.  Plus this piece is actually warped, so there's another reason why it can't be Bakelite.
Bakelite must be tested for authenticity.  There are a LOT of sites on the Internet to help you with this, however, I do not recommend the "hot water/smell" test.  Everyone seems to have a different idea of what the smell should be like.  
Buyers of Bakelite: Don't be fooled!  Learn as much as you can about it and soon you will be able to tell if its really Bakelite just by looking at the photo!
Here's some Bakelite in all it's glory:
Tell me we've got that straight so I can sleep at night.

~~~~~~~Shameless Self-Promotion~~~~~~~
I have some vintage Bakelite pieces in my shop but I used to design and create jewelry from broken vintage, and I had a serious Bakelite phase back in the early 2000's.Many of the one-of-a-kind leftover samples are being offered in my shop under the section called "OOAK Jewels", at slightly above original wholesale prices.











Saturday, February 13, 2016

We Are Baby Boomers

…and as usual, we have something to say (per the Monkees).
 
This is not so much about vintage clothing (I did throw a little in).  This is about my generation.
 
There were many different kinds of us back then: 
“Rah-Rah’s” known later as “Preppies”, aka: “Jocks”
“Hippies”
“Greasers” (we called them “Nicky Newarks”)
“Dorks” 

WE ARE SO LUCKY.  

We had the Beatles in every incarnation WITH John and George




The Moody Blues, the Animals, the Zombies (a great group that had no clue their name would be a household word in the 2000’s)

They did not look very "Zombie-like"

 The Grateful Dead

The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger

No…..THIS Mick Jagger

                                                          *sigh* wasn’t he adorable?

We had real Psychedelia. Yes, that’s a word: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelia

We had Timothy Leary, Bob Dylan, Haight-Ashbury, The Mamas and the Papas and THIS:


Think what you want about this generation, but we were about AWARENESS.  One example in mind:  Special parking for the Handicapped.  AWARENESS of the handicapped. THAT was us.

  
We got to wear stuff like this:

…and this:
 (oh yes, and we had Jimmie)

(...and Janis too)

…and this:

Whoa.  Flashback.



There was never a generation quite like ours.  There are still young people out there who imitate what we had, try to re-live those times.

(Ha.  Eat your heart out.)

Yes, there were drugs.  A lot of us were doing them because we thought we would learn something important about ourselves, transcend the times, the people.  Be better, somehow. 
It didn’t work, but we were too young and idealistic to admit it. And we kept on truckin’:

…and then there were those who did drugs just to get high….


Nowadays?  Allow me to use the vernacular we used back then:

We are freaking out.

Grandchildren are the biggest mind-blowers.
  
Far out?  Yes, but TOO far out.

Age spots?  No way, Man. That's hellacious.

White hair?  Hallucinating. Just cool it.

Arthritis?  WHAT??!!  You’re trippin’.

Social Security?  Not enough bread, Man.

We fall-out before 10PM  (hedacious!)

Where are we supposed groove? The old folks home?

That's outrageous, Man.

My Old Man is really my old man?!

Not cool.

We forgot your name because of all the pot we smoked back then, not because of our ages.

Right?

We never for a minute thought about the 60s coming back, except they did, only in a different way…

…as in our ages.

Hey, do NOT be surprised if some of us freely drop an "F-Bomb" every now and then....   

Hey, I’ve said this before:  We are NOT and never will be your mothers “old folks next door”.  We will continue to blow your mind no matter what our ages are.

So there you have it.  We are now TWICE the age of those we said never to trust…
me 1971


PS:  my apologies to internationals who read this and cannot get through all the American slang used here….


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Price Vintage?

This is going to be a long one, because it's about pricing vintage.  It pertains to buyers/wearers of vintage as well as sellers of vintage.
 
One very popular question on just about every forum about vintage selling is “How should I price this?”.

Just to get it out of the way, I’ll tell you how I price the items I sell.  I check of similar items online and see how they are priced.  I have to be honest with myself when doing this, (because don’t we all think our vintage item is just the MOST FABULOUS thing?).  I have to admit it when some items are just better than what I have.  Item in mind, is this red chiffon dress from the 50s, which I consider one of the best dresses in my shop.  

I was not letting it go cheaply, so I checked other red 50s party dresses on Etsy.  I always click on “highest price” and go from there.  The first dress to come up was an Oleg Cassini for over 700.00.

…utterly breath-taking.
 
All of a sudden, mine was not looking so fabulous.

  
So as I scanned the rest, I found a lot of designer dresses.  Mine has no labels at all, so that took it down a notch or two.  But that’s what you have to do. Be honest with yourself about what you want to sell after comparing it to similar items up there.

UNDER-PRICED VINTAGE

I have said this a zillion times:

“If we don’t value our vintage, no one else will.”

Under-priced vintage makes me a little crazy.  

Do you know what usually happens when a flawless vintage dress from the 1940s is priced at 38.00?
Usually another seller comes along, buys it, and then sells it for four times that much.  Yes, it’s true, under-priced vintage usually winds up with a seller who knows its value.
I admit that this doesn’t happen ALL the time, but often that’s what happens.

On the other hand, I had a sale section in my shop that other vintage sellers were welcome to.  Dresses, gowns, jewelry accessories, low-end prices.  I thought everything would sell overnight. 
It didn’t.


I sold two pieces from that section. 

This just goes to show that sometimes, items don't sell if the price is too low!


All right.  Buyers, wearers, and lovers of vintage, how do YOU buy your vintage?  

When a seller states the condition of the item, are they saying “good vintage condition” without stating any flaws?

HEADS-UP people! Red flags should be going off in your head! 

Their “good” may be your “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  

Sellers should state every flaw, even the smallest, and if the flaws show up in a photo, (some don't) they should show flaws in photos. 

There’s a process here:
--Seller drives around hunting for treasure.
--Seller selects the best items and pays for them.
--Items must be cataloged or inventoried.
--Items must be carefully stored. 
--Items get repaired, restored, laundered/drycleaned, steamed or ironed.  
--Hours could be spent on stain-removal!
--Items must be researched (this could take anywhere from  10 minutes to more than an hour).
--Items must be measured.
--Items must be ironed or steamed to perfection.  
--Items must be modeled or presented in the most   interesting and eye-catching way possible.
--In many cases, those photos go through intense photo-shopping.

That's not all:

Does a seller tell you how they date things, what makes it 50s?  60s? newer?  older?  Do they give measurements?  (I have seen item descriptions without them *gasp!*)  Is the product ironed?  Well photographed? Shown at important angles with good close-ups? You want to know the history, right? You want to know the fabric? You want background information? Does the seller give enough information to justify the value of the item and make you feel like you’ll get your money’s worth?  With enough information from the seller, the more you know about what you will be getting but also what to look for in the future.  Best of all, you’d know how to identify items that aren’t what they are said to be. 
So the more information you get about the item, the more time the seller put into listing it.   It’s all time-consuming, so consider that you are paying for that time.
 
I would advise you to accept nothing less from any seller.
 
Yet another thing:  if you ever DO see a fabulous and flawless vintage item that is under-priced, you’d know enough to grab it while you can!

....I’ll admit there are times when a bargain is a bargain is a bargain.

All that being said, keep in mind that VINTAGE IS VALUABLE!  Plus if you take really good care of it and you get tired of it, you can always re-sell it!

So maybe you don’t care about how old it really is. Maybe you just love the dress/hat/skirt/blouse whatever.  That’s different.

I’ve seen item descriptions that say “Blue 70s blouse”, size M”, and THAT IS ALL IT SAYS! 
I’m not kidding.  That’s all some descriptions say. 
..and these items sell…
*sigh*


Monday, August 10, 2015

The "Fedora"-Thing



Greetings.

It’s been a while.  Did you think I was done blogging? No way!  I still have a zillion things to complain about.

(Moving into a new home took up my time)

So I am back to complain about the whole “Fedora”- thing.

We’re going to get this straight right here and right now.
THEY ARE NOT ALL FEDORA’S!!!!!!!

So if you are a seller of vintage, you would need to know these things and if you are a buyer of vintage, it’s good to stay informed (and NOT be fooled by any seller).

THIS IS A FEDORA:


THIS IS A TRILBY:

Plus, I love this blog,  Check it out:

THIS IS A STINGY BRIM (a type of fedora):


THIS IS A PORK PIE:

(do you notice the crown of the hat is flat and round or oval or teardrop shaped?  There’s your biggest clue.

Here’s the one that really gets on my nerves.  Today I saw another vintage shop selling one of these as a “fedora” and I did one of these

-------------------------------------------------------------
We interrupt this blog with some SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION
You will be finding this in my shop in the near future)
-------------------------------------------------------------
THIS…

…is a “BUCKET”.

This is also a bucket, but it’s not a hat.



I hope we are clear on that.  Now don’t go making me angry now, OK?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wearing Damaged Vintage (Oh Yes You can!)

I have been a very naughty blogger.
 
I have an excuse:  I am currently packing up our whole lives and all my stock for a move to another state.  So yeah, it’s been crazy here.

As promised, I am discussing the wearing of damaged vintage here. 
And YES, you can.

First:  have you ever gotten a stain on the clothing you were wearing in a situation, (like work) where you are unable to go home and change the offending blouse, pants, skirt, jacket, sweater?  For the whole day you walk around feeling like there’s a big spotlight on that stain and everyone sees it, right? 

Self-conscious much?

How about “stain conscious”?

Well many can feel that way, wearing a vintage jacket with a moth hole or fading. 

I’m telling you to forget about it.

Example in mind:  

This is my fabulous swing jacket from the late 40's to early

50's.  I call it my “Lauren Bacall jacket”.

It is SO divine.  
It is an obvious vintage plaid.
It is lined in navy crepe.
It has front pockets on the front pockets!

It has moth holes.

Do I care? 

What do you think?
 
I wear it all the time (in the right weather, of course) and really, all people see when I’m coming is a fabulous vintage jacket that is unlike anything that’s around nowadays.  Unless you’re standing behind me at the bank (who does THAT anymore?) you just don’t notice. I completely forget about the little bit of damage when I wear it...

…which helps a lot.
 
It’s really about presence.  In recent-day vernacular, I say “WORK IT!”  If you have a fabulous vintage item with some slight damage, it certainly can be worn, as long as you ACT like it’s perfect.
 
Convince yourself first, then you can convince everyone else.

A lot of this goes best for young people with eclectic styles, who can get away with a lot.

But if I were younger:
I would wear this damaged cocktail dress as a casual dress with a motorcycle jacket, big scarf and clunky boots:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/177297415/60s-vintage-yellow-beaded-cocktail?ref=shop_home_active_23&ga_search_query=cocktail

I would wear this coat with a few moth holes just the way I styled it, grunged up, like the coolest bag lady ever.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/174763599/vintage-1950s-winter-coat-with-mink?ref=shop_home_active_1&ga_search_query=grunge

I would wear this faded dress (if it fit me) with much the same treatment as the cocktail dress above.  Maybe add a heavy cardigan and sweater tights and lots of knit scarves in the fall and winter but with a military jacket and lighter fringed scarves in warmer weather. (Oh yes, and those great clunky boots too)


https://www.etsy.com/listing/241457184/vintage-emo-casual-dress-alternative?ref=shop_home_active_4&ga_search_query=grunge
I would wear this fabulous but faded purple cocktail dress with faded purple gloves, faded purple fabric heels and a fringed Gypsy shawl.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/183107254/vintage-purple-cocktail-dress-60s-1960s?ref=shop_home_active_5&ga_search_query=purple

Guys who have a cool sense of casual would wear this rare 40s vintage Masland safari or hunting jacket with turtleneck and scarf and think nothing about the damage on the leather:


Last but not least, this jacket from the 40s is to-die-for vintage!  It’s a gabardine with HUGE shoulder pads, nipped waist and embroidery on the shoulders.

It’s a mess.
 
Of COURSE I wear it.  It has fray holes in the sleeves (I roll them up), it had some metal beading in the embroidered area and they rusted and faded onto the fabric.  I don’t care.  I love this and wear it casually.

OK, so maybe this is not for everyone.  This is all about wearing the clothes and not allowing them to wear YOU! There are too many amazing pieces of damaged vintage out there and selling for “as is” prices.  Go get one and then WORK it.