Tuesday, 17. August 2010

some explanations for me being too busy to blog

First I want to apologize for my lack of blogging this past two and a half months... wow, only now realizing how long it has actually been! I have been more than busy with co-organizing a festival. Where I had a stall with Mr Buttons stuff. Where I also had a photo exhibition. Where I also was the lead in a play. Where I also was a supporting character in an operetta. So I hope this is partly an explanation for this total lack of posts, but it has been ages since I slept a decent amount of hours. Except this week, which is mostly because I am lying in bed with a stomach flu. So much for a nice stressless life, but I will stop complaining this instance.

So let me tell you about that festival I have been organizing. It's called the Städtischen Dionysien, reminiscent of a festivity in Ancient Greece to honour Dionysus the Greek god of wine and theatre. What we did is organize a festival of four days with a political discussions, theatre productions, readings, exhibitions, concerts and much, much more. And I was also allowed to have a little stall of Mr Buttons merchandise:

(so this is the only picture of me and the stall where I don't smile like a psycho killer into the camera - probably because I am busy reading)

The stall went alright (there was generally low attendance at the festival), but I realized that I will need price tags in the future. Most people were reluctant to ask for prices, probably thinking they are a lot higher. Sadly it was the same as last time: I sold many ear rings and brooches, but neither dolls nor customized gloves.. they were admired though... still, it'd be nice to sell some actual sewing art... I mean those two things are the most fun to make, button and other earrings are kinda simple and quick in comparison and don't require too much skill. I still had a lot of fun and got a nice request that I managed to make on Saturday morning, because, well, setting up the stall and having rehearsals apparently wasn't enough to do. But then you get a happy customer smile and it's all worth it:

(She didn't have pierced ears, but really loved the earrings that I made from shellac record shards, so I custom made her a pair with clip-ons!!)

And then I had this little photo exhibition, which all started with my friend, director of my play and operetta and main organisor of the festival telling people that I will have a photo exhibition at the Dionysien this year - which at that point I had never actually confirmed. Since we didn't really have many artists to exhibit, I quickly agreed and almost instantly had an idea: I would make a little boy from a suitcase and then take pictures of him in typical little boy situations. We had a streak of bad luck with weather and scheduling conflicts, so I ended up only doing a percentage of the shoots I wanted to do - so there will be more, but here are a few shots of my exhibition which got quite some lovely feedback, so I decided it was all worth it. Meet Nutcase, my little boy.

The name, concept & design of Nutcase and his story are the property of Sandro. These images are © Martin Oberst. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The last picture shows the photoalbum I made with all the images (due to cost and room I only had a couple enlarged), each accompanied by a little four-line-poem. The idea was to make it all a bit sad, since he looks like a little boy, but he doesn't really have arms or a heart and his mouth is just painted on. Soon the whole shoot will be online and then I will link to it, and there will be all the pictures and all the poems and the dedication and all that lovely stuff, but for the moment these images must suffice.

So will only say a couple of words about the play and operetta, mainly because I am getting tired again, seems I haven't really kicked the flu yet. The play went phenomenal, we all were really happy with ourselves and I actually had a blind date that came and saw it and he didn't leave right after. Which is quite nice considering what an annoying moron I had to play on stage. So that was quite a good night for me all in all. The operetta went....okay... I made some mistakes in my lines which is annoying since I had learned the text meticulously... but they didn't show too much I think, since my character was supposed to be all weird and nervous... so it all went more or less well.

So I will leave you with this for now and promise to blog some more soonish!

Monday, 31. May 2010

How to thrift a Saturday away

Last Saturday I went thrifting with C, probably my only friend in Switzerland that is as vintage-obsessed as me. He's from Basel and apparently their charity shops are not so great and dirty and not cheap either. So I showed him a couple of my favourites here in Berne.

First we went to the Salvation Army Charity Shop and it was a bit of a let down. Normally I like it, even though it is a bit shabby and you really have to dig through crap, much more than in other shops, but I most often end up with one or two gems and their prices are great. Or they used to be. I noticed that they quite went up with them since I last shopped there and the sales assistant was a bit rude too, but maybe that was due to the fact that it was Saturday, sunny and she had to work the till on her own. Nonetheless I managed to get two books on sewing, one from the 60s and one from the 70s with many helpful illustrations, a handful of buttons, a bunch of ties to upcycle and some trousers patterns. They are from the 80s, but with the right material and outfit to go with them, I will make them look 50s and I have been looking for highwaisted men's trousers in vain for ages, so I will just have to make my own!

I really liked this picture from the 60s sewing book and C suggested I should make these pillbox-headscarves and sell them. If the burka ban goes through in Switzerland, they might sell quite well, don't you think?

We went back to the city and into the charity shop I have a real love-and-hate relationship with. First of all, it is insanely stuffed and disorganized and comparisons with the Room of Requirement are more than legit. Also the guy that runs it usually makes up prices according to his mood. At the same time, I love the chaotic too, because you turn corners and get lost and then you look up and see something you love, so it is like a treasure hunt. Or playing in a stuffed attic. The shop doesn't have a website, but it's here and you really can't miss it, there is always furniture piled up outside. I know I probably just painted a bad picture, but do go by and you will love it, just because it is a little treasure cave! I only got five buttons and two bakelite belt buckles (for dresses, not for me), but it only cost me one franc, so that's a bargain. Oh on a note: this shop doesn't accept cards, so you will have to carry cash.

The last charity shop we hit is my absolute favourite, the staff is friendly, they have a good eye for choosing and displaying special pieces, often play Sinatra on vinyl and have great prices too. It's the HIOB Charity Shop in Breitenrain and just round the corner from the Room of Requirement. So naturally I always combine the two.

When we walked in, I spotted a lovely coat on a mannequin, but I didn't even dare to try it on in fear it might not fit. Luckily C insisted, because it fit like a glove! I put it back though, to have a look around first and we went upstairs, where C found three blazers in his size (probably belonged to the same person...) for three francs each! Bargain! There was also a big box with vintage sewing patterns from the sixties (loads of dresses in different sizes), but I finally managed to stop myself from buying something I don't need. So if you live in Bern and like the 60s, go have a look!

This lovely lady was probably photographed by her fiancé („engagement party at Sternen Muri on Easter Sunday 26th of April, 1951“ is written on the back) and sadly belongs to C now, because he found her first. Isn't her dress beautiful? And the hat and the little flower brooch she is wearing, how darling!

I also found a stack of these tiny colour pictures from the 60s, they're all just 4,5x4,5 cm each and will be made into brooches, I have decided. They feature a couple and their baby and you even get a glimpse at them in their bathing suits... will look forward to seeing people with those pinned to their coats. Hehe...

There was also a big box of letters that I could have spent hours reading, but the shop was about to close, so we went back downstairs. C carried all his stuff over to the till, while I went ahead and asked for the price of the coat. It was lower than I expected, but I still put on a little pout, so she said: „Put it on and if it fits you well enough, I will give you a discount.“ So I went, I put on and she approved! What a lucky guy I am indeed! So I paid for my coat that I will not be able to wear for another 5 months and she even threw in the tiny pictures for free! Told you it was my favourite shop!

At home I had another look at the coat and noticed that the pattern adds up at the seams, which is a sign for a well made, expensive garment, because they waste more material to do so. (You can kinda see it in this picture, it's one of the pocket flaps and it fits perfectly with the rest. Also, the colours are much truer to the original than in the other picture.) One draw back is the front, which I noticed used to be double-breasted... Now I am missing three buttons to make it so again. Will have to consider replacing all the buttons, but they are dark blue leather buttons... I probably won't be able to bring myself to take them off. Darn me and my good taste!

Saturday, 15. May 2010

Flappin' away...

Do you remember this doll and how I didn't like it? Well, I worked on it today and managed to make a decent imitation of a flapper dress from fringe trim. Or at least I think it's decent. It falls below the knee nonetheless, I do care about that kind of historical accuracy. And it flappers nicely. Flap. Flapflap.

The dress took eons to stitch by hand, should've just done it by machine... I do love hand stitching though and it turned out great. Also turns out the thread I used? Vintage silk thread. Maybe a bit fancy for a doll, but then again, the colour matched and I got a whole bag of thread for a fiver at the charity shop. I do care about a bargain. And the cute little wooden thread barrels. I do care about those too. I am not sure about what accessories to give her... I know she'll need something around her neck, maybe a string of pearls or a choker? I don't know yet... But I do have half a mind to make her a couple of flapper friends... I do like her that much. Whether she'll sell is the other question, but I am planning to go down in the price for the Dionysien. I mean that'll mean selling them under their value, but what can you do? You have to adjust the price, if demand is low... economy, what a tough b****...

Wednesday, 12. May 2010

Major haul!

So yesterday I went into one of my favourite junk shops in Berne (I hope I am not insulting owners here, but the store is actually called "Art & Kitsch", so I am guessing not.) Their store will be sadly closing at the end of July, economy is tough on all of us, isn't it?

So this store is amazing, especially since you have to reallyreallyreallyreally dig to find stuff. But you will. Sometimes you are met with dissapointments, such as when you stumble over a vintage transportable record player in it's case along with a whole bunch of singles and it has a tag on it saying: sold. Also the beautiful art déco lamp near the window: not for sale. But then you turn a corner and there are gems of your vintage bargain hunting career. For the first time ever I have found shellac records with something else on them than Swiss or German folk music. (Shellac predated vinyl and has two major disadvantages to it: one, it easily breaks, so handle them with care and don't ever drop them, two, they require 75 rpm so there is a lot of turning and starting over involved in playing these.) One of them is by Hazel Scott and whoever first owned it actually cut out picture from the newspaper and glued it on, how adorable is that?

There were also some old photographs which I collect. I was very proud of myself this time, because I managed to guess right from which decade they were, just by the clothes and hairstyles. (They had the dates written on the back.) I am getting quite good at that.

I like the vintage suit the woman wears in this one, I am guessing it is more late 40s (the picture is dated 1953) though, anyone disagreeing? I normally don't like assymetrical clothes that much, but the cut of this jacket I adore! Also the guy's suit on the left? I want one like that! And I the fact that the guy in the middle has his tie tucked into his pants made me smile :)

I also got these little things, by far the most expensive things in the bunch... I have always wanted a cut-throat razor, because you know, who doesn't. I found this on youtube and find it strangely appealing... don't ask me why. The little tin box originally held plasters and I am considering making it my little mobile first aid kit. Not sure yet, in any case it was too cute and I had to buy it. The brooch I adore and it is real silver too, I don't have that much 'real' jewelry. I just checked the web and the '800' on the back means an 80% silver content. Bargain!

I also got some things for my sewing, these fringe trims were marked down to 1 CHF per metre and will make excellent flapper dresses for my dolls! The vintage army badges I don't know what to do with yet, but I should make myself a fake boy scout shirt. I am embarrassed to admit I don't have one yet...

I also got some buttons which I have already cut from the cards and put in my button jars.... There were some small yellow flower buttons that I thought were cute, but only after I cut them from the card I realized what a gem they were. At the back you could see that they were actually shell! I have NEVER seen dyed mother-of-pearl buttons in my life before, so this made me very happy.

Sadly I can't find the store online, not even an adress, but if you live in Berne just walk down Rathausgasse and you will see it about halfway down on the left-hand side. The owners are very sweet, we had a long chat about crafting, thrifting and the economy and they even offered me a cup of coffee, which I sadly had to decline for some prior engagement I already had.

Wednesday, 5. May 2010

Shirt 2.0

About 8 months ago, I walked into a fabric store and fell in love with a piece of cherry patterend cotton. It was perfect, summery, fun, bright. Just what I wanted. So I bought tons of it and a shirt pattern to go with it. I was gonna make myself a cherry shirt.

(Sorry for the bad picture, it is quite late...)

Somehow the cherry shirt never happened until this Sunday I pulled out the pattern, pulled out the fabric and started working on it. And I couldn't stop. I spent most of the day stitching along while taking many breaks to cuddle the cats and eat something or make tea, even read. What I am trying to say: making a shirt isn't that darn complicated. And it doesn't even take forever. I am very happy with the way it turned out, I mean there are some minor flaws here and there, but considering this is the first item of clothing I have ever made, I did well. I changed a lot from the original pattern, I altered the collar, so that it is bigger and I did short sleeves. I also didn't do the pocket. I wanted to have a quick, simple summer shirt and I think it was a suceess indeed.

(delicous cherry pattern...)

Today I had some time on my hand and I pulled out one of many black long sleeve shirts I own. (I used to work in a place where I had to wear black all the time, so that's why I have that many. I am actually not too big on the colour.) I carefully cut the stitches between the collar and the shirt and took it off. Then I took out the collar pattern from my shirt pattern, adjusted the size and made a collar from a piece of blue and white gingham I had lying around. I actually am planning to do a video or step-by-step instruction post, so I won't go into detail right now. I did the same with the pocket, but here I actually copied it one by one, since I didn't want the stitches from the original pocket to show. I cut off the sleeves, to make it a short sleeve and replaced the black buttons with vintage orange ones, I just happened to have exactly enough. I love when that happens. And here is the shirt:

Doesn't it look great? (I had to add my Love From Hetty & Dave peach brooch, it was just too perfect a fit) I just love the way the collar turned out, because you know, normal collars are for normal people. I need something else:

I reallyreally love this shirt and can't wait to wear it, very probably this Saturday at the Akuma Station gig? Mr Buttons is also now considering doing a whole collection of these, to sell I mean. Any thoughts?

Saturday, 10. April 2010

moving, tea cozies and narrating circles

So sorry for being a bad blogger these past weeks. My flatmate very out of the blue told me to move out and that made living together VERY uncomfortable. Luckily I found something quickly and moved within 10 days. Good thing I don't have that much stuff.

So my new flatmate is quite cat obsessed, which I think is amazing, because there are two VERY cute kitties in the house and everything is covered with cat pictures, cups, figurines, etc. Obviously I won't complain, being the proud owner of three cat pictures myself. And as a result I am making a tea cozy that is covered with cats, you can have a little preview right now, because - you know - I like you all so much:

I made this very easy and quick, using an old and very ugly tea cozy (sunflowers anyone?) that I cut apart and then just used the lining. Fabric is from vintage bed linen I got at the charity shop and that used to be curtains, with the lining coming from IKEA. (It's the same fabric as the cats) And on the appliqués you can see how lazy I am: I glued the bits on with glue stick and am just stitching once around by hand, since I don't care about fraying really. Gluing it on is a good trick though for any kind of appliqué even machine stitched, because it holds the two pieces together much better that pins and my particular brand of glue washes out at 40°C. Obviously on a tea cozy it doesn't really matter, but on clothes it does.

And then yesterday evening I attended the first every monthly "Erzählkreis" (narrating circle) and it was a lot of fun. You might ask what the whole thing is, so I will tell you: we all sit together and everyone tells a story. It can be fictional or non-fictional, it doesn't matter as long as it is narrated freely, no reading out allowed. After everyone did the story they prepared, we did a couple of rounds of circle stories, where everyone only gets to say a word (which didn't work out that well) or a sentence (which worked out very well). So you don't really have to bring a story with you. But you will have to narrate sooner or later. (I don't think we would force someone though. But it's fun. And we are all just amateurs anyways. So it doesn't matter too much how good you are.) In case anyone is interested, the next Erzählkreis (and they are called "Phantastus' lustige Runde" btw) will be on the 27th of May, 8 o'clock p.m. at Piazza Bar, Hirschengraben, Bern. The more the merrier.

Saturday, 27. March 2010

ginger cake and doll troubles.

This is the ginger cake, I made today, following this recipe. It is one of my most favourite things ever and one of those true hand-me-down recipes (all the really great ones are, I believe) that I got from my aunt inclosed in a letter years ago.

And here we have those doll troubles. No matter how long I look at it, I keep changing it, I can't get myself to like this hair. The curls are all wrong, too squished and don't get me started on the fact that it looks more like snakes in the first place. I tried to use the feathers as a kind of burlesque head dress and it helped a bit I think. Or I just messed it up for sure. One more doll for the bin. (Yes, there are ones that I have binned in the past. And many I started from scratch again. And even more I wish I would have started all over again. Fabric is forgiving that way. So is thread. So are buttons. Sigh... maybe I shouldn't have hot glued on the feathers. Stitching is better. Stitching is always better.)

This dress on the other hand I am happy with. More than happy with. It took ages to make, but it turned out EXACTLY the way I intended it too. It doesn't happen too often that I can say that. But the button question I am still not certain about. There are other buttons. I do have some really tiny white ones (those are actually for doll clothes!) and then there is a remarkable collection of clear glass buttons that I have tried to put on each doll I have made in the last year and somehow they have never fit.

So we'll see what I'll do about these dolls. I will keep you posted no matter what.

And yes, those are more or less the most sincere problems I have at the moment. Oh, apart from my dooming unemployment, but I hear they make a cream for that now.

Friday, 26. March 2010

what i have been up to lately and i'll slap my hand

I know, I know. No contents whatsoever for ages. Bad, bad Sandro. Well, on the one hand I have been busy and on the other the whole blogging thing kinda comes to a total halt once you don't really have anything to say. Especially since I want to move more towards crafts and vintage lifestyle content-wise. And then it's always one big thing with pictures and stuff. Gnarf.

Well, today I am off and the light happened to be ok. AND I don't feel too much like crafting. It's just one of those days. So I thought I could do a post here and show to whom it may concern what I am up to most of the time, when I am not out or sleeping or working.

So these are a couple of my dolls. I call them "voodoo dolls that don't like it, when you stick needle in them". So please don't. They were pricked by me many times already, believe me. Now the outer ones have hand-sewn bodies, while the middle one is machine-sewn, which I prefer a lot, I must say. You can't really tell from these two, because the one is felted cashmere (I got it for free) and the other one is jersey, both fabrics that hardly fray. But most of the time I am not that lucky and it ends up looking messy. Which I don't like. Plus it takes a lot longer and I am not known for my patience. Not really. So I make them a bit smaller (they are still circa 23 centimeters) and they look a lot neater. All good.

Here another batch of dolls, all in a more or less unfinished stage. Yes, even the one in the pink skirt isn't finished. It needs something more. And you can see part of the mess that happens on my crafts table whenever I am making dolls. There are buttons all over the place. I just need to have them all out. Then I can spend hours and hours cleaning them up again. Erm.

This is a close up of my latest. My favourite and least favourite kind of hair. Favourite, because it looks ace, if I may say so myself. Least favourite, because the yarn I used is a chance encounter I had. At a vintage stall, I picked up a bag with this yarn in it, twisted and fastened together the way embroidery floss usually is (If you don't know what it looks like, just google pictures of embroidery floss. It all looks the same.), and because it was old, it had started to felt together lighty, just enough to hold it together and be used in this way to make the most wonderful 50s curls. Oh and exactly the right amount for one doll, can you imagine? But it's all used up now. Gnarf. (And yes, I have tried to do it differently, but it just never turned out this way.)

So this is it for now. Soon all of these can be bought on www.das-automat.ch and on the 5th to 8th of August I will have my first ever stall at a festival, I am helping to organize! Will keep you posted, this is it for now.

Mr Buttons

fabric magics and vintage finds

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