Thursday, May 30, 2013

Collecting vintage motel chairs: Motel Chair Love

    I'm not sure when the attraction began but I have had a love affair with old metal chairs for many years now. I can't help it, they're just so darn cute in their funky styles and fun colors. Maybe it's because they remind me of the whacky & whimsical world of Dr. Seuss (they look like something that would have come from his imagination!).
    Maybe I love them for the nostalgic feeling that occurs each time I sit in one; always taking me back to those days of sitting in a red one beneath the shade of the apple tree in my Grandma's front yard. She also had a green tandem glider which I remember  sitting with my Mom and waiting for the school bus to take me to my first day of kindergarten in the fall of 1970.  
    Commonly referred to as "Motel" chairs, these bouncy and portable chairs made their debut just as WWII was ending and our G.I.'s were coming home. By the 50's and 60's, they could be spotted in front of motels, at poolsides, on front porches and in front yards making up the American landscape.  
   I know this may sound like a shocker, but my first purchase was actually a pair of new reproductions on sale at Target in 1999. They were the perfect shade of aqua! I loved them so much I actually kept them inside of our home(s) for many years until I sacrificed them to the elements when we moved to our current home. 
    My first vintage set was practically hidden in a back yard covered in ivy and overgrown brush and weren't even for sale. I spotted them from afar and offered $10 for the pair to a man who was having a yard sale. He looked at me like I was crazy and gladly took my money. They were diamonds in the rough; covered in rust and layers of peeling paint, but once they were cleaned up and painted (yellow and green above) they were gorgeous!  Soon I began dragging home every rusty motel chair I could get my hands on - within my budget, of course.  
   I now have more chairs than I know what to do with (eighteen chairs and two gliders to be exact). The pretty ones are sitting on my front porch and the rest are out back in the garden, around the firepit and in the bushes (known as my chair graveyard) patiently waiting their turn for a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.
    To restore these old beauties, I find it easiest to first use a high powered pressure washer to remove the layers of dirt and surface rust - make sure they sit in the sun to dry thoroughly because the water gets inside of the tubes. Next, use steel wool to knock the rest of the rust off, then prime with a quality spray primer made exclusively for metal (I use Rustoleum brand). Finish the job with two coats of spray paint. If your chair has a special design you want to highlight, don't forget to use painter's tape! To keep the chairs from leaving rust marks on our porch floor, my husband bought some clear tubing in the hardware store's plumbing department and cut them in small pieces to wrap snuggly around the bottom.   
    Although these chairs are absolutely adorable, they are NOT made to sit in for long periods of time (sitting on a sheet of metal is never comfy). I highly recommend a pillow or pad of some type if you will be sitting for any duration of time. Also, be aware that because these chairs are made of metal, they get REALLY HOT when the sun beats down on them. It's also no fun to sit on them when the weather is cool - it's like sitting on a block of ice. In the fall, when we sit out at the firepit, we each take two blankets - one to wrap up in and another to sit on.   

      Honestly, I think the reason that I REALLY love these old chairs is because I have a lot in common with them - 
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretched chair like me.
I once was rusty, stained and worn
was purchased, loved, made clean.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Collecting vintage soda pop crates

    Several years ago I meandered into an antique shop near the Jockey Lot flea market in Anderson, South Carolina and happened on a great sale. The store, which had a GIANT rocking chair in the front yard, had stacks of vintage pop crates - all on sale for a mere $7 each! Just a month prior I had bought my first Coke crate for $22 at an antique mall, so you can imagine my excitement. I had no idea what I was going to use them for but at that price I knew that it would be wise to buy a few and figure it out later. At the time we were living in California, so after I picked through the stacks and made my choices, I had to store them in my parent's barn for a few years until we moved closer (oh the torture!). 
   Each time we move into a new home I enjoy doing something different with my pop crates - well not too different as there is only so much that can be done with a stack of crates! The challenge is getting around those little grid sections which some have on the inside that once kept a bottle of pop securely in place to prevent it from breaking en route from factory to store. Unless you remove the inner sections, (which I wouldn't recommend because you'll decrease the value), you're sort of stuck with working around them.  
   I've seen some clever things done with old pop crates, mostly as shadow boxes or used to organize and store items. In our last two homes I've used them as end tables near the sofa in the kids tv room, making two short stacks and filling the grids on the top crates with various eye candy to admire beneath a piece of glass.
   In our current home I keep my crates stacked high in the game room to add a tower of color. The top crate in my tower doesn't contain grids so it's a great way to display other fun collections too, (like my ever growing etch-a-sketch collection!). In the same room I keep a crate beneath the entertainment center which hides my son's collection of video games perfectly, (I tacked a piece of felt beneath it to allow it to slide freely like a drawer without scratching the floor).
   A few months ago my daughter and I hit The Old Factory Antique Mall in Verona, Virginia (which I highly recommend for a FULL day of fun!) and found a booth selling stacks of vintage pop crates for $12 each - still a good deal! From my shopping experience, the average cost of a pop crate is about $15 - $20; although some are higher depending on where you live and also on the condition, color and the bottling company. Often times you can find the date etched or stamped somewhere on the handle side inside of the crate.
      I'm from the Buckeye State of Ohio and grew up calling fizzy carbonated beverages "Pop." My husband grew up in the Tarheel State of North Carolina where every soda was referred to as a "Coke," regardless of the brand or flavor. Since living on the west coast for many years, we have both assimulated and now call our fizzy drinks "Soda." Just the other day my 15 year old son announced that he would start saying "Pop" from now on because it sounds fun to say! He's right, "Pop" is fun to say - so much that I think I'll go back to my roots and join him! Just curious - where are you from and what do YOU call your fizzy drinks?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Collecting vintage wooden yardsticks: Collecting by the Yard

   I'm not sure when I became enamored with yard sticks, I think it goes back to when my kids were preschoolers and learning to draw straight lines, trace their little hands, spell their names and figure out how to operate a pair of scissors. 
    I remember the difficulty I had in finding a wooden ruler for them, it seemed that retail stores only sold cheap plastic ones which kept breaking. I finally found a wooden ruler in a thrift shop and continued to buy extras each time I happened to run across one which eventually led to buying yard sticks as well.  
   The yard sticks caught my eye because, not only did they come in beautiful colors, they were also full of interesting lettering styles (Typography) which I am drawn to.

   Back in the day, yard sticks were often used as promotional give-aways because they were long enough to contain an address, phone number and a catchy slogan. Yard sticks advertised businesses, endorsed  political candidates and of course were an extremely useful tool to have around the house.
    I can't tell you when it was I stopped seeing yard sticks as trivial wooden measuring tools and began viewing them as fascinating pieces of Americana, but when I did, I was hooked! I often find vintage yard sticks when I go antiquing but they're easy to pass up when they are $10 - $45 (depending on the advertisement and size). I'm thrilled to find mine at flea markets, thrift shops, yard sales and estate sales, usually for under $2. 
    I enjoy showing my yard sticks off as some folks might group a collection of old walking sticks or umbrellas - on the floor and ready to use at a moment's notice. If I had the choice of receiving a long stem rose or a yard stick, I would definitely pick the yard stick! I can't help it. When they are bunched together they are just as lovely as a bouquet of flowers - but only better because they won't wilt or die; and as long as I keep them out of the sun, their colors will always be vibrant and eye-catching! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Tribute to Mom

    My dear mother came to live with us when my Dad passed away two years ago. I can't tell you how much this woman means to me and what a huge impact she has had, and continues to have in my life. She has taught me so much and continues to do so even now that I am grown. 
   She is quiet, reserved and unlike me, is a humble soul who prefers to go through life unnoticed. She is the kindest and most selfless person I have ever known on the planet; her greatest joy is found in helping others. She is genuine and does not get caught up in the stuff of this world.    
   She is and has always been my greatest supporter. I write and I draw with Mom on the sidelines cheering me on, encouraging me always to be who God created me to be. I can truly say that she is the wind beneath my wings.
   Her tiny frame cannot hide the greatness of her character. I've learned to be wife and mother through her godly example. She is a woman who walks with God, who knows Him tenderly and trusts Him completely.
   Many young girls want to be like their mommies when they grow up; I have not outgrown the desire. She is one of those rare beauties who is just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. Oh, that I could be such a woman! Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you with all my heart. 
   "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Gove her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  - Proverbs 31:30-31