vintage bellefonte

Monday, March 29, 2010

My New Yorker friend, Maria, was in town this weekend for an impromptu visit. She loves vintage as much as I do. Finally! An excuse to skip the laundry and pay a visit the town of Bellefonte in northeast Wilmington and try out my new Pentax K-7 DSLR camera (happy birthday to me!).
Bellefonte is a neighborhood of old bungalows and four-squares in varied states of repair, but oh so charming. Brandywine Boulevard, the main drag, has a bakery, a quirky cafe, a fire house, and a handful of vintage and consignment shops all within 2 or 3 blocks.
candlesticks- Finders Keepers
We started at Finders Keepers, 901 Brandywine Blvd. It's a classic, choc-full, dusty sort of place, ripe for the digging.
bells, etc.- Finders Keepers
throws- Finders Keepers
Next we stopped in to JPT Caning at 803 Brandywind Blvd.
stools and doilies- JPT Caning
salvaged table legs- JPT Caning
chairs awaiting repair- JPT Caning
 JPT Caning
I'm going here if I ever need any caning done.They also carry depression glass.
Blueberry Hill
You can't come to Bellefonte and not go to Blueberry Hill, 1015 Brandywine Blvd.
knobs and pulls- Blueberry Hill
kitchen kitsch- Blueberry Hill

mmmmm...textiles- Blueberry Hill
Bellefonte Cafe
We stopped for cappucino at the Bellfonte Cafe, 804 Brandywine Blvd., and unexpectedly got to hear some live rockabilly by Betty and the Bullets. Who'd-a-thought on a Sunday afternoon? Our food never came, but it was a fun time.

The bakery, Sweets to You, is across the street. We'll definitely have to come back.

a message board for gramma

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I don't know about you, but I find it especially hard to think of gifts for elderly people, especially those in a nursing home. How many pairs of slippers or boxes of candy can one person use? So the other day when I was paying a visit to Gramma at the nursing home and she was fumbling around in a drawer looking for some loose pictures she wanted to show me, I had an idea... a padded message board! She was all over the idea of a place to display these things on the wall, so I vowed to come back with one later that week.

My first instinct was to run over to Target and pick one up tout suite, but then I remembered... I've taken the handmade pledge! Oy, but I'm so busy! I checked the garage for a scrap of 1/4" plywood and actually had one already cut to message boardish size, just shy of 18x24". Sold! I'll make it myself. This project is as old as the hills, but I'm doing a tutorial anyway.

To make this project you will need:
-a piece of 1/4" plywood, you decide the exact size
-2 medium triangle ring hangers
-see-through ruler or L-square ruler
-staple gun
-disappearing fabric pen
-package of upholstery tacks (they come in packs of 24, I only used 17)
-remnant of fabric big enough to cover the board + 2" all around
-remnant of  quilt batting just big enough to cover the board
-3+ yds of or 5/8" ribbon (I used exactly 3, for a bigger board, get more)

I attached the hanging hardware first. I thought it would be safer than doing it after the fabric and ribbons were on.
It's a good idea to mock up your ribbon placement on a piece of paper first. Fold it in half horizontally & vertically to find the center and plan for a ribbon criss-cross there. I think it looks best not to have 45 degree diamonds. Make sure whatever angle you choose, that you mirror it on the other side. Add parallel lines, repeating every 5" or so.
I'm channeling my inner 94 year-old and have chosen an ivory brocade upholstery fabric. She's gonna love it! Trim the fabric with 2" of extra all around. Trim batting to the board size.
Now layer the batting between the board and the fabric and staple. Staple one side, then the opposite side, pulling tightly.
Be careful at the corners...
Now use your mock up to mark the ribbon placement. Make holes with pins and stick the tip of the fabric pen through.
Lay on ribbons and cut allowing  for 2" overhang, so you can staplegun the ends to the back. Now you can pound in the tacks, but FYI, the tacks I used came through the back. If you care about your table, put a scrap piece of wood underneath. Turn over the board and flatten the points with the hammer.
And there you are Gramma!

end of an era

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a gloomy day here in Wilmington and not just because we are on our 4th day of rain. This morning I decided to make a trip over to the only true art supply store in town, Wilmington Blue Print, for a roll of tracing paper only to find that they are CLOSED. CLOSED. As in out of business. I guess with the slump in construction, their architectural printing business must have just suffered too much? Maybe they didn't keep up with the times? Certainly the local big box Michael's store outdid them on price... I think the root of it is that most of us are willing to sacrifice the experience of good service for cheaper prices. It's very sad to me since Wilmington Blue was an institution since 1934. Now I will have to buy online instead.

This comes on the heels of the local children's shoe store, Children's Shoe Boat, closing thanks to competition from Target, etc. Sure, the store was unglamorous and hadn't updated it's decor in 20 years, but they had a nice selection of quality shoes and very experienced shoe-fitters. Now I am forced to buy shoes in stores where I am on my own, pulling boxes of shoes off the wall, and hoping  I am measuring the kids feet right, no salesperson in sight. Sad.

So what is there to take away from this? Maybe the mom & pop shops need to do better at keeping up a spiffier, more stylish image. Hard, I know, when profits are low. Maybe they need to be more creative with marketing and play up the service aspect.

On a brighter note, my favorite sewing store in town is not a chain. Hayes Sewing machine Co. is doing a brisk business despite the economy. Established 40 years ago by Trevor and Mary Hayes, the whole family still works there. It's not a glamorously turned-out place, but you can barely walk 3 feet into the store before someone is helping you find that obscure notions item, or whatever. I asked Mr. Hayes one day (he is in the store everyday, personally repairing machines) what he attributes his success to and he said: SERVICE. They also do a good old-fashioned newsletter mailing quarterly or so, despite the expense, rather than mass emailings. "What good would emailing do if half you customers are elderly?" says Mr. Hayes. He's got a point- you have to tailor your marketing to your audience. They also have many, many classes expertly taught by the Hayes' daughters. I can attest that they are good, and I always wind up buying a gadget or two or three afterward without any pressure to do so. Now THAT'S marketing. It feels different buying something in a store where they recognize you from one visit to the next rather than someplace where they couldn't care less who you are. That feeling breeds loyalty. I hope.

Loyalty is probably why Fairfax Harware, the local mom and pop hardware store, stays in business despite being within 2 miles of a Lowes and a Home Depot. They can't compete on price, but their service is impeccable- no wandering up and down aisles looking for that random washer or screw. Everyone knows about them and says they love them, but do they put their money where their mouth is? I hope so!

Shop mom & pop!

the peeps are in!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's that time of year again. The snow is melted, bulbs are poking up out of the ground, Easter is around the corner...
The peeps are in! We Americans are champions at cheesifying our holidays, so in remembrance of the death and resurrection of our Lord, we celebrate with garishly colored, blobby marshmallow treats!
Appetizing right? That's not the point though. Peeps have many uses.

If you're lucky enough to live in the Washington DC area, you qualify to enter the Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest. It's been going on since 2007 and gets better every year. The rules are simply to use Peeps as characters in a diorama of a famous occurrence or scene. It can be a historic, current or future event, or it can be a nod to pop culture. I hear 30 other papers have contests now, so maybe you can enter one in your town...
 "Night Peeps" by Melissa Harvey
Last year's winner. A take on Edward Hopper's painting "Nighthawks". Just brilliant!
"Double Peep Strike" by Bradley Gordon, LeElaine Cormer, & Justin Donnely
Finalist  from last year. I sort of thought this one should have won on topicality alone. This flight 1549 image dominated the media.
 "Oh My Peeps, there's an 'H' in There!" by Gwen Jones
Another 2009 finalist. The other major media obsession of 2009: the "Octomom".
"Chinatown's Lucky Dragon Dancers Perform Goodbye Year of the Rat, Hello Year of the Peeples" by Betty Thompson
Another finalist. So realistic, right down to the sauce on the poultry. Can't wait to see what people come up with this year...
Retail store display is getting in on the action too. 70's style guru, Cathy of California, created this ingenious window display at the Yolk store on Silverlake Boulevard in LA. Fab use of Peeps!
What the... an actual Peeps store??? Yes indeed, just outside Washington DC in National Harbor, MD.
And of course there are culinary uses.