23 January 2014

Special Announcement!

Visit me! I will not terrorize your dog.  Well only a bit. 

For everyone who has missed him, on Saturday 25 January 2014 Caleb will be making a Special Guest Appearance at Oople, the nice little shop a few doors down from our old shop in Eumundi.

Oople's address is Shop 7, 77 Memorial Drive, Eumundi (Queensland).

Caleb will be there to meet and greet, be admired and terrorize passing mutts from 8am to about 9am.  If I let him stay for longer he’ll run amok and start being naughty – never a good idea in someone else’s shop.  

English Aesthetic Era ceramic jardiniere.
So if you have a chance, do come by to say hello.  You’ll be amazed at how he’s grown.  He’s a big, beautiful boy, that’s for sure, and he's grown up to be real sweetie.

As for us, we will again be at the Caloundra Street Fair, in Bulcock Street, on Sunday 26 January.   

We had a seriously good time during our first outing at Caloundra – banjo buskers notwithstanding (see my last post for details).  This time we shall have our tables level so more nice Art Deco glass can come out, and we’ll see how it goes.  

Pate Pots are not just for pate.
Last time at Caloundra we sold a great deal of our French vintage copper, wooden boards, enameled kitchenware, vintage dominos sets, and some nice ceramics.  

In fact, we’re now down to one giant Jamie Oliver board and one round wooden board.  I thought I had bought enough of these boards to last us the year, but it looks like we're not going to last until the end of January.  We have only four antique glass pate pots left - and I bought 34 of them!  It's interesting what people have been using the pate pots for - some for actual pate, but many people put tea candles in the bottom, some use them as vases (including us, as you can see), pencil holders, and I even saw that a food stylist in a magazine had used them to serve stylish entrees - I'm stealing that idea.

A romantic picture I'll be offering soon. 
We have sold so much of our vintage kitchenware that we are currently doing our sums and seeing what money we can scrape together for a possible buying trip in March/April.   

We still have plenty of lovely glass and ceramics, mostly because I haven’t opened those boxes yet.  We’ve been getting through the kitchenware so fast I’ve been flat out getting those pieces ready for presentation and have neglected the other boxes.  So this would be a quickie trip, designed purely to stock up on kitchenware. 

Thank goodness we have an understanding builder, who is used to us not spending our money on him.  But we will!  We’ll get there with the house, just more slowly than originally planned.

More on a possible buying trip soon, but in the meantime come by on Saturday 25 January, if you can, to say hello to Mr Purry Puss.

Caleb in a Cosmo Centrefold pose.  He's put on a bit of weight since this photo (alas, haven't we all?) but there is no doubt about his general gorgeousness.

15 January 2014

I hear banjos - paddle faster.

American 'Sphinx' Octopus brooch.

Is there any tune that sounds good on the banjo?  And before the banjo-lovers of the world harangue me, first tell me any tune that sounds good on the banjo.  Ha! 

Don’t get me wrong, some tunes probably have the potential to possibly be somewhat entertaining on the banjo.  This is a discussion I had in desperation with the very nice banjo busker a few steps away from our stand at the Caloundra Street Fair.  In my defence, I only did this after Doug dared me to stage an intervention.  Our busker had tried Cocaine (JJ Cale) – didn’t work for us at double the usual beat.  Doug didn’t even realize this was the tune until I identified it for him.  He had tried The Wall (Pink Floyd) – so didn’t work.  He told me he was working on a perky version of Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin).  Let me just say in advance – no, no, no.

French Lea Stein Fox brooch.
But because I’m a nice gel, and because the Caloundra Street Fair got off to a slow start – and okay because I value my sanity and was only a few steps away from a banjo busker for the next few hours – I had some suggestions for tunes he could play.

Given that he had an acoustic guitarist accompanying him, I asked if they had tried Dueling Banjos, the classic Redneck Banjo Anthem from the movie Deliverance.  Yes I acknowledged it could be a challenge to duel with only one banjo, but thought perhaps the guitarist could hold his own.  

One small problem – he had never heard of Dueling Banjos or Deliverance.  Come on!  Over the howls of banjo-lovers everywhere, I assert that there are precious few tunes a banjo can perform well, but Duelling Banjos has to be right up there.  So how could a dude who makes his living playing the banjo not know it?    

English sponge coral necklace.
But then I got all inspired and suggested Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner if you’re into Opera, the Apocalypse Now helicopter scene if you’re into movies).  Before you scoff, hear me out:  do your best banjo impersonation.  It probably involves a lot of dang-dang-dang-ing, right?  Now try your dang-dang-danging to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries – it totally works.

One small problem – he hadn’t heard of Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries or Apocalypse Now. 

I offered the hopeful suggestion of Toreador from Carmen, my favourite Opera.  You have to try this as part of your banjo impersonation – it so works.  One small problem - he’d heard of Carmen but didn’t know Toreador, and my expert humming was to no avail.

French goldtone star fish brooch.
Still, I was undaunted.  Consider this:  what is the one song that sounds okay on the bagpipes?  Scotland the Brave, you’ve all cried.  Of course you did.  Every single time my sister and I hear mention of Scotland we are obliged to launch into a rousing, top-of-our-lungs, la-la-la-ing rendition of the first chorus of Scotland the Brave.  In an amazing coincidence, we sound uncannily like a couple of badly tuned banjos.  But when played by an actual (tuned) banjo, you should be on a winner.

One small problem – he hadn’t heard of Scotland the Brave.

English mother-of-pearl cross pendant.
But I had more - swapping Scottish nationalism for English patriotism, I suggested Rule Brittania.  Try a quick dang-dang-dang again yourself – don’t be shy, it doesn’t matter if someone is sitting next to you, they’ll just think Boy that person must really love England.  So - it works, right?  I could become a professional banjo-tune-suggesting-person at this rate.

One small problem – and you’ve guessed it.

Okay, now I was daunted.  I had run out of make-the-banjo-sound-half-decent suggestions.  Fortunately for me, just then the crowds turned up en masse and do you know I barely heard the banjo butchering tunes right next to me for the rest of the day.

English Celtic Dragon brooch.
As for our stand at the Caloundra Street Fair, yay it was great!  It was yet another hot day, and even though things were slow for the first hour, suddenly the crowds turned out in force.  At times we had so many people in our stand that I couldn’t get through and had to nip around the side to talk to customers waiting at the front. 

We focused mainly on vintage French kitchenware, because the steep curbs in Bulcock Street caused our tables to tilt alarmingly and several pieces of glass started to slide south.  So the glass was put away until next time, when we shall bring chocks to even up the table legs.  In the meantime, we had plenty of great vintage kitchenware and sold loads.  So that was judged to be a success, and we shall apply to take another stand on 26 January.  I’ll let you know if we get a spot.

French Aurora Borealis expanding bracelet.
In the meantime, we’re back at the Peregian Beach Market on Sunday 19 January.  We sold so much vintage French copper at Caloundra that we’ve had to do a good deal of cleaning in order to present new things at Peregian.  And yet more enamelware has to be unpacked – it’s looking like we’re going to run out of this stock well ahead of schedule.  The giant Jamie Oliver and round wooden boards rescued from the clutches of the irradiation company (see my last blog) have already sold so well that we only have a few left.  But they’ll come out at Peregian, plus some wooden dough troughs, plus new offerings of Art Deco glass and ceramics – whatever is in the next box I unpack.

Gorgeous Matisse necklace
We’re not allowed to sell jewellery at Caloundra but at Peregian I’ll offer a nice selection, some of which I've featured here, including a beautiful Matisse enamel-on-copper necklace that I am sacrificing - because I have a similar piece in my own collection and can’t justify having two.  Matisse is one of my favourite mid-20th century jewellery brands.  It sounds French but is actually American.  It’s eye-catching and very beautiful, but difficult to buy in Paris because French girls like it very much, so you’ve got to be quick to snap it up. 

Prices for Matisse and its sister-brands Monet and Renoir have shot up in recent years, so I am buying less because I need to find bargains.  Bargains are out there, but it’s become challenging to find them.  

American Monet brooch in original box. 

Scandinavian enameled jewellery prices have also rocketed up in the last few years, which on the one hand is a pity because it’s harder to buy, but on the other hand it’s great because I already own some lovely pieces.  Doug says I can’t have it both ways, but I say pishtosh to that.  Yes I can, just you watch.

If you plan to visit the Peregian Beach Market on Sunday 19 January, be sure to come by to say hello.  But unless you can play Ride of the Valkyries, please leave your banjo in the car.

Mischka has been photobombing my attempts to photograph new stock lately, but here is Calypso, going one better in a giant pudding bowl.  Baked Bengal, mmmmm.

11 January 2014

Disaster Averted

Grumpy Italian Cat repro image.

It’s been a zig-zag week of down, up, down, up.

It’s annoying to realize how much you are at the mercy of bureaucrats and petty officials.  If they’re not very competent what does it matter to them?  They still get their pay on time, don’t they?  There is no impact on them if you don’t get all your stock in time for Christmas.  They don’t have to explain to customers why planned-on Christmas gifts haven’t arrived.  They don’t miss out on sales during the vital December/January period.

Long story short, the wooden items from our new shipment languished at the irradiation company until 8 January, even though they had been treated on 23 December, because the irradiation company forgot to send the clearance paperwork to Quarantine.  Not happy, Jan.

We've all seen gels like this on the bike path, right?
We had already utilized the polite slap technique to see off the earlier nonsense from Quarantine and Customs about our kitchenware (see my blog of 23 December), but we ramped up the correspondence to a full face slap over this delay.  That resulted in an immediate clearance of our stock, and we skipped down to pick it up.  So while the delay sucked, at least we now had all of our goods.

Or so we thought.

I think this girl will sell well.
As we unpacked the boxes we realized we were missing one box.  A vital box.  The Jamie Oliver boards box.  I was deeply suspicious that one of the most high-value boxes in the entire shipment was the one that had gone missing.  Doug was less prone to leap to conclusions and stomp about the house, ranting.  He should try it though – it’s quite therapeutic.  So while I suspected theft and immediately commenced plotting horrible and bloody retribution to all wrong-doers, Doug put it down to the more prosaic issue of incompetence by some official.  Either way, it was a disaster to lose this box.

So began the process of tracking back through the transportation chain, to the other side of the planet.  Our UK packers made enquiries from their end, only to be fobbed off by their Australian counterparts and airily told that there wasn’t a problem and nothing from our shipment was missing.  I begged to differ.  Now my correspondence moved on to become a closed fist clobber on the nose, and boy that had people scurrying in all directions.  And what do you know – the box that the irradiation company said wasn’t missing turned up in their warehouse.  So yay, disaster averted.

Vespa ads are always stylish.
Or so we thought.

We jumped in the car and headed straight to the irradiation company, to collect our goods.  Just as we got to the carpark, as we were literally stepping out of the car and heading for the office, we were called by a woman from the freight forwarding company.   

Don’t go in to the irradiation company! she cried.  Our company is having a stand-up, smack-down, stand-back-up-and-shriek-abuse fight with them over you.  Okay she didn’t say those exact words, but she was quite agitated and said that a very animated argument was currently underway between the two companies, over us.

It turns out that the irradiation company, having forgotten to send our paperwork to Quarantine, leading to a three week delay in the collection of our wooden goods, and then having lost a box while denying any knowledge of it, now wanted to charge a fee for the collection of the box.  There was a heated debate over who exactly had removed the box from the rest of our shipment in the first place, with each company blaming the other.  And yes, it was clear that one – and probably both - of them had been incompetent in the handling of our shipment.  But as for us paying another fee to collect it, I think not, mon chers. 

I'm not normally a big fan of Banksy, but I like this.
We decided to leave the safety of our car to enter the fray.  With my left eyebrow in a permanent state of Arch, I informed the irradiation company manager that no further funds would be forthcoming from us and we had better see our goods right now.

While the brawl went on without us – they were doing a perfectly good job themselves without any help from my left eyebrow - we went off to inspect the missing box.  It was indeed ours, and full of even more good things than we remembered.  So in addition to the Jamie Oliver boards, we now we have a couple more of the beautiful French wooden dough troughs, which look gorgeous when they’re all waxed and glowing, and one extra of the round wooden boards traditionally used in French villages for maturing cheese.

This is one of our classic movie posters.
We arranged for the box to be put in our car and then returned to the office.  Well bye then, we said, as we backed quietly out of the room.  We were entirely ignored, so while the opportunity presented we walked briskly to the car, leaving all other parties screaming and tearing at each other’s hair.  Bellows of You’re a very rude woman!, Yeah well you’re a pig of a man!, and There’s no cause for language like that! drifted out across the carpark.  I wonder when they stopped for a breath and realized that we were gone?

Forgive my naivety, but when service providers make big mistakes that have an adverse impact on you, is it unreasonable to expect an apology?  Apparently it is.  At least there was some seriously raised blood pressure in the irradiation company yesterday.

So anyway, the disaster of the lost box has been averted, and we now have all stock in our possession.  And it’s just in time for our first stand at the Caloundra Street Fair.

A large original poster we'll offer at Peregian.
Yes, the good news is that we have a spot at the Caloundra Street Fair, and will be there on Sunday 12 January 2014.  I don’t know exactly where we’ll be because casual stands are put wherever there is a gap.  But it’s located on Bulcock Street in Caloundra, which is a nice wide street with lovely big trees.  If you plan to visit us, it’s as simple as walking up one side of the street and back down the other, and at some point you’ll find us. 

We’ve been busy unpacking more stock this week, so at Caloundra there will be a new selection of the lovely French enamel kitchenware that has been selling so well at Peregian, a few of the dough troughs and Jamie Oliver boards we collected yesterday, more Deco glass and ceramics, and some really fabulous French reproduction vintage images that I’ll be offering for the first time.  They’re great pictures, some of which I've featured here, that I hope will be well received.

So after a week of down, then up, then back down, we’re now firmly in the Up position.  Fingers crossed that things go well at Caloundra.  I shall report to you first, naturally.

Klaatu was deeply suspicious of the little concrete piggie we brought back from our buying trip.