Friday, March 8, 2013

The Skinny -- Spider Lady

Erte's Spider Lady Flapper
Today I thought it would be fun to look at a character from a myth or legend and see how it has been translated visually (since you know by now, I'm sure, that we Blackbird girls are very visual).  We're always interested in how people twist and turn classic imagery to fit different styles and times.  So, this post is about the Spider Lady.

The Spider Woman is revered among many Native American tribes as the:
 "creation goddess who spun the world out of her web and sang all things to life.  Her creative powers were given to the Navajo through the art of weaving -- a skill the Navajo passed on through generations along with the tale of the first great weaver, Spider Woman."*

However, more, shall we say, modern, interpretations of the Spider Woman became popular, from circus sideshow freaks to comic book characters.  Here's a quick visual slideshow for your enjoyment!

Vintage Circus Sideshow Poster

Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

Vintage Postcard

Fashion plate Spider Lady...

1950s Housewife Spider Woman...


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On the Radar -- Spring Scarves

Dolce & Gabbana, Spring 2013
If there is one accessory we Blackbird girls can't live without, it's a scarf.  Of course, as you lovely readers know, I collect scarves designed by Vera Neumann.  But you may not know that the other Blackbird collects all different kinds of scarves -- and she specializes in red, white, and blue ones.  We also always have lots on hand in the Etsy shop and in our boutique in Brightside Gallery.  They are very affordable, fun, and easy to wear, and they can really change an outfit.  Plus, they make for a great collection -- I use my Veras as a changeable wall display in my bedroom by using two small decorative towel bars from Ikea, and the other Blackbird has a multi-hook rack on her wall piled up with all of her red/white/blue scarves. We love to see the different patterns and prints!

So imagine how excited we were to see all the scarves popping up on the runways!  Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, and Marc Jacobs all used scarves to accent their collections, and brands that always have lots of scarves in their lines, like Hermes and Burberry, added even more options. 

D&G, Spring 2013
Hermes scarf
Hermes, Spring 2013
Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Recreating this designer look is easy -- we have tons of scarves in our Etsy shop and our boutique, starting at $3. Like this 1970s giraffe design for $6:

Available here.
And if you want a real designer scarf, you can still go vintage for much less than new!  Like this vintage red and white silk Diane Von Furstenberg scarf, also in our Etsy shop!

Available here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Junk Love Monday: The Blackbird 100

The other day, I realized that today would mark our 100th blog post, so I decided that the post should have something to do with that number. I mulled over a few ideas, and then it came to me: what 100 items can the Blackbird girls not live without?

So, I proudly proposed my idea to the other Blackbird. We need to make a list of our 100 favorite vintage things, said I. This is how it went:

Me: Wouldn't it be awesome to make a list of our top 100 favorite vintage things?

Her: (horrified expression) Why would we do that?

Me: Well, for the 100th blog post we could list the 100 things that we would have to have, if we couldn't have anything else.

Her: (really horrified expression, not using a reasonable "indoor voice") Why would we do that?

Me: Well, if we had to move, and could only take 100 things with us...

Her: (nearly hyperventilating) WHY WOULD WE DO THAT?

Me: (anxiety setting in) Well, say Robert Downey Jr. called us and said "Hey, I'm filming a movie in the desert and I need you to come with me, and I know it gives you anxiety to think of leaving your junk behind, but really, there isn't much room in a Bedouin tent, so you're only going to be able to bring 100 things. But the rest of your stuff will be taken care of at home, and will all still be there when you get back."

Her: (eyebrow raised) A Bedouin tent. Really.

Me: Exactly!

And so began the Blackbird 100 project, three days of discussion interwoven with mild anxiety attacks, hard bargaining, and the satisfaction that we get from talking about our junk. We did lay down some ground rules, though: 1. No furniture. (Otherwise, I'd have been explaining just how a camel could carry my bed through the desert. Plus, it's a pain in the rear to disassemble.); 2. No sets, unless it's a pair of salt and pepper shakers, or something like nesting bowls. (This is primarily to stop me from pleading a case for all of the Perry Mason books to go in the suitcase, or my set of hibiscus dishes. A camel can only carry so much!); and 3. It has to be vintage. (I wouldn't trust the Pizio on a camel anyway.)

It was hard. We have so many things! And we love them all! How do you narrow down a 50-piece collection to just one favorite? What if one of us vetoes an item? Will we ever speak to each other again? Do light fixtures count, if furniture doesn't? If we allow that set of 3 nesting bowls, can't we just bend the rule a smidge to put in that set of 4 glasses? Plus, just how practical is it to take a glass punch bowl on a camel? Oh, the drama! Oh, the tears! And yes, there were very serious discussions about the practicality of a camel-based transport system through a sandy wasteland with no electricity.

The list is finally complete. Without trying, we actually got a pretty equal amount of suggestions on the list. How very democratic we are! But now that the list is full, I sit here squirming under the accusatory glares from items that didn't make the cut. I have re-evaluated the list twice in an effort to justify taking something off in order to put something else on. My only recourse is to demand that Robert do a hypothetical sequel, so that we can make a second list of favorites to take to the hypothetical movie set someday. (But I'd suggest somewhere very un-desert like, with hotels or cabins instead of tents. I'm not much for camping....)

We'd love to put pictures of every single thing, but it's not really feasible. Some list items might seem sort of vague, but we know which ones they are, which is all that really matters, right? So, even though you may not know what in the world we are talking about with some of these item descriptions (although you should take comfort in the fact that at some point, they will probably be featured in future blog posts), here is our list:

The Blackbird 100
1. Robinson Crusoe Needlepoint ("Only Robinson Crusoe could have everything done by Friday")
2. Asian boy jam pot
3. Giant nesting dolls
4. 1930s Holleb's tea tin
5. Vintage "The Cold Deck" advertisement (film or play)
6. Czech red & white polka dot creamer
7.  Captain Blood book, NC Wyeth dust jacket
8. Yellow framed sketch of a pencil
9. Vintage folky pin cushion
10. Monogram ring
11. 1960s oil portrait of a lady (We call her Grace.)
12. Marx Iron Man figure (We can't leave home without Iron Man!)
13. Amber lucite flower pin
14. Chinaman paint by number in red frame
15. Wooden wallpaper or fabric stamp
16. Buster Keaton post card
17. Vintage velvet necklace stand
18. Meerschaum pipe
19. Gypsy Fortune teller Valentine 
20. Amber bottle w/ stopper
21. Black tooled leather purse
22. Holt Howard cats S&P
23. Green GE fan (From the farm where the other Blackbird's family grew up.)
24. Blue Dansk pot (From the infamous NY trip, to be discussed later.)
25. Red ball seltzer bottle
26. Perry Mason "The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde"
27. Black binoculars
28. Pineapple Vera scarf
29. Eastman Kodak mini paper cutter
30. Chef-an-ette recipe box
31. Dean's Big Book of Fairy Tales (My favorite childhood book.)
32. German spinner globe (Practical for a desert trip, for navigation and game-playing needs!)
33. Don Quixote panel bracelet
34. Red Pendleton shirt jacket
35. Happy chef embroidered kitchen towel
36. Victorian match safe pendant
37. Cobalt horse planter
38. Optic glass punchbowl
39. Elvgren "Pick of the Crop" pinup
40. Tinsel ball Christmas ornament
41. Central Park Lake watercolor (With the Dakota building in the background.)
42. Devil girl swizzle stick
43. Aladdin poster (Advertising from a play.)
44. Peter Max inflatable pillow (Signed!)
45. Metal water carafe (The same type can be seen at Fallingwater.)
46. Pull-down kidney medical chart
47. Old Crow decanter (We can't leave behind a crow with a top hat.)
48. Metal Luzianne tea sign
49. Cast iron spiderweb trivet
50. Barbie, Queen of the Prom board game (There's not much else to do in the desert....)
51. Small accordion
52. Velvet apple pillow
53. Flag tin
54. Red nesting bowls
55. Georges Briard lemon tree platter
56. Mid-century Arabian tray
57. Dean's Mother Goose (From the other Blackbird's childhood....)
58. Sterling dachshund pin
59. Bifurcated Rivets tin (A tiny tin! And, because I like to say "bifurcated rivets"!)
60. Hudson Bay blanket
61. Blue German cat eye glasses
62. Teak salad bowl
63. Green/Orange/Black Art Deco typewriter ribbon tin
64. Napkin doll
65. Lucite/cream shaving brush with badger hair bristles
66. Mister Donut restaurantware mug
67. Aqua ball vase w/ flower frog top
68. 1930s Arabian Nights board book 
69. Elvgren "Indian Sign" blotter
70. Yellow fur poodle pin
71. Cork ball pencil holder
72. Brains Benton #5 The Case of the Waltzing Mouse (My first Brains Benton!)
73. Mohair tiger (Possibly Steiff. We call him Mr. Richard Parker.)
74. White matte large-leaf pattern vase
75. Fenton fortune telling owl
76. Leather cuff w/ glass eye
77. Monogram locket
78. Alice in Wonderland book (With Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee on the cover.)
79. Regent St. top hat
80. Iridescent Mr. John necktie
81. Chinois string tin (Another tiny tin!)
82. Gray striped curly lamb coat (Those desert nights can be cold.)
83. Framed Spanish bullfighting poster
84. Buddha Chinese checkerboard
85.Black and white deer planter
86. Vera apple placemats/napkins (Yes, it's technically a set, but they don't take up much room....)
87. String & Splinter cocktail mixer glass
88. Red camel glass (Will probably get its very own post someday....)
89. Art Nouveau candy tin w/ lady
90. Canister box (Ha! I circumvent the rules by selecting this box with drawers for sugar, flour, etc. Not a set!)
91. Chaving dish with giant green knob
92. Vintage Kojack t-shirt (Inherited from my great-grandmother. Who loves you, baby?)
93. Blackbirds bowl (Yes, it's cracked, but the birds are so cute!)
94. Green & white typewriter w./ houndstooth case
95. Happy Days Are Here Again shot glass (An FDR re-election souvenir.)
96. Red bull statue
97. The Bossy R (A vintage schoolroom grammar card.)
98. Pocketwatch case necklace
99. Pr. of restaurantware airplane bread plates (It's only two, so it doesn't break the rules....)
100. Deco orange ball cookie jar (Because it's cool, AND it holds cookies. Chocolate chip, perhaps?)