Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bonus: Yes, We Do Windows

You would think that our favorite part of working at an antique mall is all of the junk that we can buy and take home. Actually, the thing that we look forward to the most is working on the front window displays. We've been contributing to the windows for quite some time, but for the last two years we've allowed ourselves to branch out with our designs. Yes, there will be a display that mimics a Victorian sitting room, or a lady's boudoir, or an explorer/travel theme, but then you might walk up the sidewalk to discover an abstract, and very graphic, black, white, and blue display of vintage sign letters and glassware. We take inspiration from movies (our most recent Victorian display drew its inspiration from the new Sherlock Holmes movie), books, magazines, and other things that catch our attention. We like to make the window displays over the top, so that people stop on the sidewalk to take pictures, or even come inside just to tell us it's cool. That travel window? It had suitcases stacked ten feet high. And that pales in comparison to the "over the top" that we've been doing for the last year.

We, along with a co-worker who joined the top secret window team last summer, change the window displays 6 or 7 times a year. The longevity of a particular display depends on season, as well as the fact that feature items in our displays tend to sell. We replace them as quickly as we can, but there are only so many upholstered chairs or green vases to be had, and then it starts to look barren. We spend weeks, if not months, planning future displays. It is an obsession. We spend our own money; we do the windows off the clock; we start at night and stay until the wee hours of the morning, so that it seems like the work of little nocturnal elves. Sometimes, we spend hours upon hours at home preparing props, dyeing fabric, or engineering a new way to highlight a particular item.

Creativity is a requirement, because we are limited by what is in the store at any given time. You can't do a Mid-Century living room if there is no Mid-Century furniture in the store right now. If our vision is based on a wall of tightly packed portraits (which we did for Halloween one year--very creepy), then there had better be at least 30 portraits in the store. Some items are critical to the display, so we have to keep a Plan B handy in case one of those items sells. That bench is perfect! If somebody buys it, we had better know exactly what can replace it and still look cohesive with the rest of the display.

This post is intended to review the windows of the last twelve months, and our intention is to write a post for each new display from now on. So here is a recap, starting with late last July:

July/August 2011: Mid-Century Under the Sea window
A staggered, sculptural stack of Lane coffee tables in various sizes and shapes, covered with 1950s and 1960s pottery, & glassware. We covered the pegboard wall with strips of bubble wrap, painted on the reverse in different shades of blue, alternating in a random pattern. We dyed fabric in greens and blue-greens and made "seaweed" to hang from the ceiling (loosely based on an Anthropologie window that we had seen). We draped seaweed over and around the accessories, which were in blues and oranges. We made a Mid-Century style mobile with sleek orange fish and hung it from the ceiling. It was a huge hit. Unfortunately, no pictures survive.

September/October/early November 2011: Train Station window
We found a piece of brick-patterned paneling in the attic, and used it on the floor. We stacked two painted wooden tool boxes (six feet long) to make a bench. We rigged an old door across the nook with a vintage "tickets" sign, and put a small stack of suitcases beside it. A bonus discovery of a vintage painted "Pay Here" sign hung above the door.  Train lanterns and railroad signal lights hung on the walls, along with a beautiful vintage Railroad Crossing sign.

Christmas 2011: Country Christmas Kitchen window
Big tree, lots of ornaments, pine cones, berries, etc. A 1930s enamel gas stove, with red and green mixing bowls and spice containers on a shelf above. A rocking chair with a bowl of popcorn/cranberry garland spilling out. 1930s toys under the tree. Platters of cookies and bowls of cookie cutters.  But no pictures of it!

January 2012: The Alice Window
Without a doubt, the most famous window that the mall has ever had. We cut panels off of a big roll of white paper, and transcribed the Mad Hatter's tea party story in different sized letters, using different fonts, in black ink. We attached these to the pegboard wall. We put black and white tiles on the floor. A red velvet drapery hid the corner nook, and we made a 14" high golden-yellow door to put at the bottom. In front of this went a tiny dollhouse-sized table with a small key and a tiny glass bottle. The center of the window held a glass and chrome table covered with teacups and teapots. A yellow shelving unit held more cups, etc. Funky chairs surrounded the table, including a large gold wing chair. We sold the wing chair five days later, and replaced it with a cream one. That one sold less than a week later, and we replaced it again. That one sold within ten days, and marked the end of Alice's reign, as we didn't have any more chairs to put there. People still ask about this one. Pictures do survive of this window. Here's a sample, and the rest can be found on the Collector's Antique Mall Facebook page.

February/March 2012: A Photographer's Living Room
We gathered every panoramic photograph in the store and clustered them on the walls, and used a large Mid-Century hutch to hold more photos and vintage camera gear. A locally-made lamp using a vintage tripod and camera lit the display from the corner.

March/April/early May 2012: Is There A Doctor In the House?
Vintage medical posters, a doctor's cabinet, various medical tools and signage.

Doctor's window

late May/June/July 2012: the ROY window
Nothing but red, orange, and yellow from top to bottom. The unique feature was the orange fridge.  Definitely an eye-catcher.

August 2012: Asian Fusion window
We once again pulled out the giant roll of paper, cut it into panels, and painted Asian-style fish onto it. Parasols, fans, some figurines, a bamboo ladder, a Henredon silver chest, and various green and amber jars and accessories filled in around a bamboo-patterned Windsor chair. We used a bank of vintage post office boxes to mimic the feel of a Chinese apothecary cabinet. The Henredon chest sold fairly quickly, and has been replaced by a small Arts and Crafts style tapered bookcase.

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