October 20, 2014

Back in Business!

Our Etsy shop hiatus lasted a bit longer than planned.  It's been almost a year and a half since it was last stocked.  In my defense, you know I crammed a lot of living into that time.  I defended my PhD, sold the townhouse, moved 1500km, bought the lakehouse, and started sprucing it up.  We also added a bull to our China Shop ;)  Yep, I have a litany of truly fabulous excuses but we're open again, and I'm sure you'd really rather just see the goods, right? 

With three people picking (myself, my Mummu and my Mom), our Minden Shop has a pretty eclectic vintage offering.  Looking through the shop, it says a lot about our aesthetics - one day we should play a game of who found what.  Someone clearly has a secret love for gold and gleaming brass...  I can't help it!  (We also have a set of gold chevron glasses that are so pretty).

Solid Brass Butterfly Box; Hand Blown Polka Dot Glasses; Solid Brass Tray with Wood Handles

Our Finnish lineage is evident in our inventory.  That Arabia strawberry jam jar and my Riihimaen Lasi Oy score are such fabulous pieces that it was hard to put them up for sale.  But Hubs and I downsized to a much smaller home in the townhouse to lakehouse transition and I just can't keep everything.  These beautiful things need homes where they will be used and loved, not hoarded and boxed up.  Really, I'm ready to say good-bye, I swear.

Arabia Jam Pot; Riihimaen Vase; Arabia Sotka Coffee Set, Iittala Kasthelmi Cups, Saucers, Cream & Sugar

We've been even more selective stocking the shop this time around, looking for timeless design and unusual finds (Iittala! Rosenthal! Dansk! Howard Pierce! Figgjo! W German Pottery!)...

Rosenthal "Balance" Vase; Howard Pierce Vase; Figgjo Lotte; West German Pottery

But, as always, we've got some fun pieces that I'll categorize as cheap & cheerful.  We've got lots of goodies for under $10 and $20:

Bakelite Cake Serving Set; Dansk Warming Pot; Orange Coaster Set; Iittala Niva Shot Glasses; Stainless Steel Egg Cups; Bakelite Glo-Hill Bar Tools; Copper Bowl; Escargot Forks; Teak Ice Bucket

We've decided to start to curate our offerings in a more seasonally-aware way.  We've stashed boxes of really spring-y things for now (aren't you curious??), and we've stream-lined our current offerings largely to entertaining, cooking, and barware - plus some really special gift ideas.  We're also mindful of the cold hard winter some folks (like us) are facing and so, hello YELLOW (to heat things up):

West German Vase; Dansk Bowl; Swedish Figurine; Dansk Fish Trivet

Weirdly, many of my favorite items are such a departure from the look I'm aspiring to in the lakehouse (bright + colourful).  The very cool 1970s glasses, designed by Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok, might just have the top spot, but the Pyrex wine decanters with cork stoppers are a close second  Also, that faux horn bakelite cutlery set...

Inuit Glasses; Bakelite Cutlery Set; Pyrex Decanters with Cork Stopper; European Table Runner

Can't you see these things in a space like this (earthy but minimal):

That's why we named the shop "Minden" (which means "everything" in Hungarian):  our shop consists of nothing we don't love!

Because Thunder Bay is so close to the Minnesota border, right now I'm shipping domestically to Canadian and US buyers - so no international shipping fees!  I'm not sure how long I can offer this service, but for now it's awesome because the savings are huge.  If anything does catch your eye, contact me for a customized shipping quote and you might save even more. 

Now that the shop is open we have no plans to close, and I'll be adding new goodies every week.  I'll give sneak peeks on Instagram, and occasionally here on the blog, so you can get first dibs!  I'll also be holding more Instagram sales (a Pyrex/Fire King/Hazel Atlas sale is coming up a week from today).  Before I sign off to package my first two sales for shipping (yay!), I wanted to say thanks.  Thanks so much for all of your support over the years - especially to those of you who encouraged me to open the shop in the first place.  It's been fun to work on this with my Grandma and Mom, and it's made all the better by being able to share it with you.  So thank you.

October 17, 2014

Rubbing and Buffing Vintage Hardware

We had a new furnace installed yesterday and today a giant boom truck is arriving with an eyesore of a propane tank.  After a year of outrageous heating bills, we're finally converting from electric forced air to propane.  Our new propane supplier made a poor first impression by offering to dig the 25 foot trench required, and then, once our account was created and things were rolling along, reneged.  Lovely.  Tasked with digging our own 16 inch deep trench, I decided I best look busy on other projects (I have a slipped disk, but I sure hauled ass hauling wood despite it, so it's perfectly excusable that I wriggled out of this job).  While Hubby worked his magic with a spade, I was ridiculously productive.  It's amazing how much work I can accomplish when I'm avoiding other, even less desirable tasks.  Among the many jobs and projects checked off my summer (ahem) to-do list, I finally got my rub'n buff on!  I've been wanting to try this stuff for so long, but it's not easy to come by here (I had to order it from Amazon).

In my weird twisted mind I decided that I needed a worthwhile project to try it out on.  Well, I finally found one!  Hubs and I built something kinda cool a while back and it needed hardware.  I couldn't find anything I liked that wasn't $15 a knob (agate pulls, I'm looking at you).  On a whim, I checked out my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found two viable options.  I loved the circles but, alas, there were only four and I needed five.  A little more rummaging, however, and I produced two smaller circles and decided that I could mix up the sizes.  Once I got them home, I realize they were made in Austria (you know I'm such a snob about European-made things), so that made me smile.  The colours, however, weren't right.     

I tried the Silver Leaf rub'n buff, hoping for a bright brushed silver finish.  The rub'n buff is strange, strange stuff.  It goes on smoothly and a little really does go a long way.  It does provide a more natural-looking, less "painted" finish, but wow - is it time consuming!  I toiled so long my hand started to cramp up.  Each time I buffed, I rubbed a little too much off but if I waited too long it dried past the point of buffing.  I think there's a trade off, when compared to something like spray paint.  This dries more quickly, but you spend more time working on it - although I'm sure with practice this could be a much quicker process.      

One perk is that you can control the finish so you can avoid getting it into the threads, for example, something which can be trickier with spray paint:

In the end, although I'd classify this as super piddly work, it did create a beautiful finish that looks smooth but with the natural texture the metal already had - it lets that peek through.  I'll keep you posted on how durable the finish is.  So far, I'd be inclined to use this again on a small makeover like hardware.  It seems pretty fool proof.

I tried using a cloth, a brush, and my fingers (all applications are recommended by the manufacturer).  I found that using my hands provided the best control, but then I buffed the finish was a soft cloth.  The only downside to this method was that it made a total mess, which came off with soap and a few skin-dehydrating hand washing sessions.  Hubby is constantly harping about protective eye wear, buying me a respirator, and wearing gloves - even if the product in question doesn't have a bony hand on the label.  When he caught me doing my best Tin Man impression (just covered in the stuff), he started to ramp up to a safety lecture.  He started with, "should you be doing that without gloves? Doesn't the tube say to wear gloves?"

Haha, NOPE, I informed him, " the tube says to apply with my fingers.  Now get back to diggin".

Today it's extra fume-y in the lakehouse thanks to the furnace business, so that's going to motivate me to get outside once again and wrap up more project lose ends.  Happy weekend!

October 13, 2014

Headboard Refresh

Before I actually got to witness my talented Papa weld our headboard, I thought that metal tubing came black.  Nearly every piece of furniture he's made is matte black, so how was I supposed to know?  When I went to buy the supplies and ended up with this gunmetal grey metal tubing, I was convinced I'd been sold the wrong stuff.  When it came time for me to pick a colour for the headboard - turns out that's just metal paint making it black, duh!! - I must have looked at my Papa like a deer in the headlights.  I'd planned on a black headboard and had already ordered black, cream and pink patterned bedding (shocking right? pink!).

"Just go get some matte black paint," he said, "Rusto-leum".

I did as I was told and Hubby, Papa and I brushed on the paint a few days before the headboard was loaded into the trailer for the big move out of our hometown.  The paint has held up incredibly well, especially considering that this headboard has been moved about 4,000 kilometers since it's creation.  When we set it up again in the lakehouse, I noticed that a few scuffed areas had finally begun to appear.  It also looked a little more faded than I remembered.  I decided last January to give it a makeover as soon as weather permitted - this time I wanted spray paint, to eliminate brush strokes.

I was totally preoccupied during the winter, spring, and summer with choosing a colour but could never decide definitively. 

White?  It would look really California Mid-Century but the design I dreamed up would be lost against the white walls.
Gold?  That would look awesome, but not my style.
Navy? Maybe, but it would clash with the black frames of the Hungarian posters.
Aqua? There's such a thing as too much of a good thing, plus it would clash with the new teal curtains.
Silver? Too industrial.
Orange? Hubby would love it but that would seem more appropriate for a child's bedroom.  I wanted sophisticated.

I spent three seasons terrorizing my loved ones with these (and more) colour choices.  In the end, with winter looming and spray painting season coming to a close, I decided there was an obvious choice that provided contrast against the white walls, complemented the graphic artwork, didn't compete with the curtains, highlighted the fun design...black!  Gloss black, for a bit of change? No, too 80s.  Matte black - the same colour and finish I chose more than seven years ago.

I hauled the headboard and side tables (sans glass) outside and marveled at how pretty the black metal looked against the forest backdrop - we definitely need a cool welded gate.  And fence, otherwise a gate is just silly.

I used our workbench to prop up the headboard and lightly sprayed on Rust-Oleum Universal paint and primer (in matte black).  I had dusted and cleaned the headboard before hauling it outside and didn't do any sanding or any other prep work - this paint really adheres well to metal.  I have finally learned to keep my cool spray painting: applying super thin coats, and patiently waiting in between each one.  I also start a pass before and after the paint reaches the thing I'm painting, because if it comes out in a spurt or spray, it's not spitting on my project. 

Also, not wimping out and actually shaking the can vigorously for the recommended time is key.  It's tragic I only now have a handle on this!  I'm just too impatient for my own good.  The dry time on Rust-Oleum spray paints these days is phenomenal and meant that I could switch where the headboard was lightly clamped and spray that area too, without damaging the freshly painted finish.  

 And...ta da!

LOL. I know it looks identical to you, but I can totally see a difference!  The black is richer (did it fade from the sun?) and and the scuffs and marks that make it look less fabulous are now a distant memory.  It looks like new and reaffirms black as the perfect choice.

Maybe someday I'll want to try a different colour, but for now I'm still happy with basic black.  One thing is certain: I'm really pleased with the quality of the paint, both the Rust-Oleum I applied more than seven years ago, and the refresher coat I just gave it.  One other thing is certain: don't spray paint into the wind:

So, maybe I didn't wow you with the colour (haha), but let's pretend there's a lesson in here, in addition to a couple fruitful spray painting tips: sometimes what you currently have is just right.  Does that sound deep and philosophical?  No? Okay, fair enough.  Well, I've got a gold project in the works that just might wow you...

Thanks to Rust-Oleum for providing the paint to refresh my headboard!  Rust-Oleum has been my go-to paint for metal long before home-ownership and the blog, so I'm so excited to be able to partner with them for projects around the lakehouse.
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