Once again, I attempted to promise my better half that I would cease entering op shops and antique stores, after I just HAD to adopt my 1906 singer treadle sewing machine and table. My partner was concerned, as this little pastime of mine was becoming a rather expensive addiction. I think that particular attempt, actually lasted about a week until I found myself succumbing to the overwhelming temptation to see what was inside every vintage goods store that I passed.
In the very short time that has since elapsed, I have adopted; another singer sewing machine and table, a variety of depression glassware, a hundred year old piano, an assortment of 40s and 50s hats, many shoes and a Hanimex slide photo viewer. I have also brought home numerous suitcases, a Bakelite handled iron, a circa 1930s musical jewelry box, a 1940s one, another 40s dressing table and a laminex kitchen table complete with six matching chairs. This is just a few of my little vintage acquisitions. Well, maybe big in the case of the piano!
Yes, I confess, I am a vintage junkie. I am also an op shop addict. Luckily for me, there are no op shop anonymous therapy groups, otherwise I may be coerced to attend.
Now if there happens to be therapy groups for op shop addicts like myself, I simply do not want to know. Be warned, that if you attempt to tell me, I will immaturely cover my ears with my hands and scream ‘La la LAAA!’ Put simply, ignorance is bliss.
The longest I have gone without entering the opportunity shop was apparently three months… Well, that was only one particular store. Minor details. Then one day, there was a vacant car park out the front when I had to get some groceries. I just couldn’t resist having a sneaky peak. Instead of going into the grocers, I went into the op shop. And boy I am glad that I did! I managed to score a pair of high-waist shorts (that I pretty much haven’t taken off since) and a beautiful Huon pine Art Deco dressing table too! Although it is the third mirrored dressing table that I own, I am looking forward to using it in a photo shoot in my studio with its stunning yellowish burl timber. Don’t you think it is such a glamorous prop?
Sometimes, the fact that the proceeds from my op shop purchases are ‘going to charity’ and therefore ‘I’m being charitable’ isn’t always a good enough excuse to convince my better half that I NEED to adopt this precious vintage find. Of course, usually he has to be somewhat involved in either buying it for me or transporting some large bulky antique furniture in his truck, or sometimes trailer too!
Since I can’t fit very much in my modern HSV Clubsport sedan, I have realised that I really must hurry up and get my classic 1979 HZ ute restored and back onto the road, pronto! Therefore I will be self-sufficient at smuggling large bulky items into the household and studio. Plus, I will have a tow-bar in case I need the trailer, which I probably will.
Conveniently, events such as Christmases and birthdays have been invented to excuse the introduction of vintage furniture into the household via forming ‘reasons’ for purchasing. However, I might need to work on inventing a few more of these little gift-giving events. Any tips Coca-Cola?
As a general rule of thumb, op shops are usually safer to visit than antique dealers for two reasons. The first being that in theory, prices shouldn’t be as high. However, that isn’t always the case. At some op shops, my budget definitely doesn’t go very far on ‘vintage’ items. Some have a rather strange pricing system. For example, for the non-vintage stuff, once I saw a particular op shop selling a used Kmart cheese grater for triple the amount that Kmart actually charges for a brand new one. But then again, maybe they were including that moldy bit of cheese still smooshed in the side. The older the cheese, the more expensive right?
I also saw an op shop offering scuffed knock-off Louis Vuitton shoes for $400. Hence, you can imagine the price tag on anything ‘vintage’ at some op shops, even if it is a broken Wembly Ware ash tray, a very shabby side table or a split Nelly Ware canister with a shattered lid. Usually, these items are so ridiculously beyond retail price of an antique dealer, that I can let them go and walk out the store laughing.
However, other times you can pick up very good scores. Usually the local church opportunity shops can produce depression glassware, Ranleigh stainless steel trays, bullet bras, old cameras, telephones, shoes old suitcases and other glorious items (and delightful props for my photography studio) for only a couple of dollars. Occasionally I do score vintage patterns for 20 cents each, although most of the patterns are baggy 1980s styles with their oversized shoulder pads and puffy sleeves.
There are still the occasional bargains at the larger charity op shops, so I make time to visit them regularly. With the exception of a couple of op shops that have rather odd pricing systems (like adding a couple of zeros on what would be reasonable kinda pricing), usually op shops are less hazardous for me to browse in than antique stores.
The other reason why op shops are safer for me to visit, of course, is that usually there is a whole heap of new or newish stuff in an op shop that does not interest me. On the other hand, when I go to the antique dealers, there is old stuff everywhere and I am in heaven.
I live less than ten minutes away from the majority of the antique stores in my state. I pass them, almost every day and I am interested in and want almost everything that I see. When I do lose all self control and end up in one, it’s like letting a magpie loose in a room of shiny things. The only problem is that everything I see I cannot afford or shouldn’t buy because I need that money for things such as boring bills, fuel for my thirsty cars and food. I am often faced with the dilemma that if I don’t purchase a newfound vintage item then and there, it may end up being sold to the next person that walks in. Other times there is this wonderful thing called ‘lay buy’, but I usually prefer to prioritise my needs of vintage things over things I don’t need as much, such as food or saving for the future.
When I saw a circa 1910 leopard print couch at the local antique dealers, the world would have ended if I didn’t ‘adopt’ it. And trust me, it almost did. And I almost had to sell my kidneys. You see, anyone who knows me will know that I am completely obsessed with leopard print and therefore this piece of elaborately hand carved Victorian masterpiece that an interior designer allegedly spent five thousand dollars reupholstering in LEOPARD PRINT of all fabrics, was an omen. It is also a fabulous prop and super comfortable too! Fabulous does however come at a price and henceforth reiterates my point that my visits to antique dealers can be dangerous, although very well worth it. No regrets there!
Again, I can make great use of my vintage acquisitions in my photography studio. In a recent shoot, our beautiful pin-up model for the day, Samantha, simply could not resist posing on this lovely leopard lounge in a luxurious lace overly spider print satin dress from Vivien of Holloway Australia and Bordello shoes from Shoe Me Gorgeous. Could you really blame her?
Samantha also did a 1920s inspired flapper photo shoot with the enchanting Victorian style piano that I had to have to compliment my leopard lounge. Since the shoot was the day after my birthday, I managed to accessorise the photo set with two of my lovely birthday presents from Denise Moretti, a stunning brass dial telephone and a bright bunch of beautiful blooms. Denise, of course did our model’s flawless makeup. Check out how gorgeous Samantha looks in the shots!
Since the idea to do a flapper inspired shoot was a rather spontaneous one, I quickly whipped up a not-so-vintage headpiece for the beautiful Samantha to wear out of a few feathers, and a sparkly headband and scores of bobby pins. I matched her headpiece to a pair of my retro style Pin-Up Couture ‘Bombshell -03’ heels from Shoe Me Gorgeous, which I have in the studio because red pointed toe heels is a staple item to any pinup wardrobe, whether vintage or reproduction. I find that these red satin shoes photograph beautifully and are a great asset to have handy in the studio, as well as a fabulous antique piano.
I already have plans to use this century old piano for another shoot. This time, an engagement one, with the lady draped over the beautiful chestnut burl timber and the gentlemen playing a merry tune on the ivory keys. Of course, the image would not be complete without the romantic light cast from a tall tasseled lampshade (another vintage acquisition) with a lush velvety curtain draped behind. Oh my Victorian piano really is a majestic prop for my photography studio. In order to compliment this antique beauty, I will have to keep an eye out for a matching Victorian style piano stool, so this little vintage junkie has another excuse to go op shopping! Yay!
I might be an op shop addict, but at least all the fabulous finds that I bring home make the perfect props for my photography studio. My excuse is flawless! What’s yours?
♥ Mallory xoxox
P.S. If you just have to have the gorgeous gown that Samantha is wearing, you can order your own from Vivien of Holloway Australia, for only $225! This 1950s reproduction dress is fashioned from high quality satin with an overlay of delicate lace featuring spiders, and is available in sizes 10-24 UK (which are equivalent to sizes 6-20 here in Australia). You also have the choice of either red, (like Samantha wore in her shoot with me) or purple. To order, you can simply email Christine Bitomsky on email@example.com or call her on 0417 144 169. This dress is another limited edition, therefore once Christine has sold out, it will no longer be available.
I believe that the spakly ‘Bordello Teeze -27’ mini gold glitter and red rhinestone heels from Shoe Me Gorgeous really compliment the elegant evening style of this dress, especially worn with seamed stockings (available from our studio).
P.P.S. Here is a close up of my not-so-vintgage but just as adorable flowers that the beautiful Denise gave me for my birthday. Aren’t I a lucky girl?!