Friday, 30 March 2012

Friday Postcards - Signs of Spring

I thought this week's postcards should reflect the feeling of Spring that we're enjoying here in Britain at the moment. Of course, in Dollyland, it's Spring all the time. The sky is always blue, the grass is green and sprinkled with flowers, and animals are always young and cute. 

Having said that, the dollies in the postcards below are haymaking which is more of a late summer activity, I believe. But the lambs look Spring-like, so I don't know... Well the weather's always good in Dollyland, whatever the season.
Thought I would just share the message of sisterly love on the back of one of the cards, written in a child's hand-

Dear caroline
I hope you are alright
in everdon
I like it without you.
I rode my scooter down
to the Town
I liked it this afternoon
Love From

Thursday, 29 March 2012

All Laced Up

Look closely at the photo above.  It's an advert from 'Pins and Needles' magazine 1968. But what is it advertising? A lovely lace dress? Or is it something to do with that chic dining table?

It's both!! Send off for a fashionable lace tablecloth, and it comes with a pattern (pattern?) to turn it into a dress. Just drag it off the table, cut a hole for your head, and away you go. So groovy!
Just be warned - it's probably best not to wear it to any dinner parties. Imagine the embarassment of wearing the same thing as the hostess's dining table!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Cat that Squeaks

You're probably familiar with the Japanese Lucky Cat or Maneki Neko, but I think this one is unusual as it's a rubber squeaky toy. It's also the only one I've seen holding a fish with money coming out of its mouth. They often hold coins, and sometimes fish, but not together. And did I mention IT SQUEAKS?! Brilliant.

I used to think these cats were Chinese, as you see them in Chinese takeaways everywhere. But apparently they have just been adopted by Chinese communities, and their origin is Japanese. Lucky Cats have become quite a popular symbol, with kawaii versions popping up all over the place. I even have a T-shirt with a Hello Kitty version.
Not appropriate clothing for a woman my age, I daresay, but who makes these boring rules, anyway?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Japanese Pose Doll

Have you ever heard of pose dolls? They are one of the kitschest types of doll around and definitely curious too. I wrote a blog a few years ago about how I started to get interested in them. They were usually made in Japan, and I think that probably explains their weirdness. (If you want to see some of the different kinds there are lots of collectors putting their photos on Flickr.)

To me, this is one of the weirder ones (although to collectors she's very cute and lovely, believe it or not). I find the arrangment of her features... well... disturbing, quite frankly. To start with, her mouth is on the same level as her eyes, and she has no discernible nose. Then there are her eyebrows - green dots more than halfway up her forehead. She also has no hands or feet, poor stumpy thing. And given that she's black, her yellow wool hair is not exactly natural, but really that's the least of her problems.
However, there's a happy ending to her story. After she left me, she went to Canada and took up a career in modelling. It's true!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Party Time!

 I think a small celebration is in order today, as this is my 150th post on this blog! (Slight pause while I sip a small glass of sparkling Vimto, nibble on a celebratory cheesy wotsit and put Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart's Pop Party on the record player..) Ah, those memories of 'Junior Choice'...
And what a groovy time we're all having at the party! I've prepared the gingerbread men and a rabbit-shaped jelly with marshmallows in it, I've ordered in plenty of bottles of Corona (if you're my age, you'll know that means fizzy orangeade and cherryade and not Mexican beer), and we have some super fun games to play while we listen to a bizarre mixture of children singing 'Oranges and Lemons' followed by T.Rex with 'Ride a White Swan' and 'Hot Love'. It's an unexpected DJ mash-up from Stewpot, I have to say.
Look how much fun all the children with the weird nasal complaint are having. What is with their noses? Never mind.
Of course, fun was A LOT simpler then. Just look at the list of things you need for the party games -
- Plastic washing up bowl
- Pack of playing cards
- Tin plate for spinning on the floor
- 12 sheets of paper
- A potato wrapped in silver foil
- Box of wrapped sweets
- Tin to hold sweets
- Small prizes - bag of balloons, pencil sharpener, coloured chalks, box of gums, etc.
- Book to balance on head
- Combs and paper
Would that kind of fun satisfy the Wii generation?

Rather marvellously, Stewpot's Pop Party album even comes with invitations. And I'm going to follow his lead, and issue invitations to you all to join in my Curous Objects fun, and submit one (or more) of your own curious objects for inclusion on the blog. Ideally, it will be something that you own yourself, and can provide a good photo of, but so long as I'm allowed to use the photo on the blog, anything will be considered. Send me an email with a photo or link to a photo and tell me more about it, if you'd like to. The best (i.e weirdest, kitschest, most curious) in the next two weeks will win a prize, and in future, I hope to have a regular slot for 'readers' submissions', so may end up publishing them all. Look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Friday Postcards - Spanish Embroidered Cards

 I've been indulging my postcard collecting habit recently, and where I just used to have a few embroidered cards, I now have several. But you have to admit, a bit of embroidery (or lace, or fabric) adds a wonderful element of kitsch to any card. The first group are the ones that start as kitsch big-eyed illustrations. Could these be any kitschier? These cards generally come from Spain, but there's one French one in there, bottom right.

The next bunch are also based on illustrations, but rather more traditional. Top left is from Madeira, top right from Attica (Greece). These two have very basic embroidery.
But the bottom two are a lot more fancy...
I love the tambourine with the bullfighter on it.

The last group is where the embroidery and frilly fabric has been added to photos. I love the seriousness of the dancers' faces. I don't suppose they knew they were going to have frills and glitter added to them in such a clunky fashion.

I've seen a few different versions of that card bottom right, each one with a different colour dress.

And this last one has been layered, with lace behind, and in front of, a cut-out face. How brilliant is that?
So yes, I now have quite a few, and no, this isn't quite all of them...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Glass Menagerie

I suppose at some point, someone, somewhere has made a really lovely glass animal, but I'm blessed if I've ever seen one. Instead, I've found a parade of weird misshapen little effigies with eyes that protrude in a most disturbing manner. Just look at these 'cute' deer. And what's with the chains? There was a phase for attaching animal ornaments together with chains - deer, poodles, horses, you name it.

These other creatures are no better - freakish boneless limbs, eyes on stalks, stumps instead of wings. Quite frankly, the only saving grace of glass animals is that they break easily...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

"An ugly baby is a very nasty object...

"...and the prettiest is frightful." So said Queen Victoria. I don't know if today's object is Victorian, but it looks pretty frighful.

This little china pot is just a few inches tall, and I have no idea what it is. The slightly disturbing baby picture makes me wonder if it might have been a christening gift. But what is it? Is it meant to be purely ornamental? Let me re-phrase that. Is it meant to be ornamental at all? I suppose so. 

A little vase with a baby on it, to sit on your shelf, and remind you of the giver, old Auntie Vi, who you always thought was going to cough up the cash for a silver teaspoon at least, the miserable old skinflint.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mmmm, Bacon...

Great vintage leaflet from The Bacon Information Council. I like the sound of a Council about bacon. I wonder if I could get a job there. I'm imagining a gathering of venerable men and women in robes (a bit like the Jedi High Council, but with more cured meat).
"Let us hold a Bacon Party!" they decree.
"And at the bacon party, let there be bacon burgers, bacon dip, bacon croquettes, cheese and bacon deckers, hawaiian risotto (with bacon), bacon wrapped round breadsticks, bacon and fish rolls, and scalloped hadddock (with bacon on top)!"

Monday, 19 March 2012

Musical Chinese Dragon

I love his fluffy ears wiggling!
(Special appearance by Mr Kitsch's hands, as my able assistant. Apologies for my shaky camera work!)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Friday Postcard - Inside the Glacier!

OK, I know, when you read 'Inside the Glacier', you were probably expecting something a bit more thrilling and adventurous than a group of jolly German tourists, clutching handbags.

But this passageway carved inside a glacier is just a tourist attraction, where you can walk about in your summer frock and lightweight sensible shoes. Quite how this photo was chosen for a postcard, I cannot imagine, but I love its snapshot quality.

Who are these people caught for posterity on a card? I shall enlighten you.
Right to left, we have Udo, a greengrocer from Mannheim, who was way ahead of the metrosexual game, with his bright red man-bag. Then his wife Lotte, who was a ballroom dancing champion, but could never get Udo to dance with her, so she worked her way through a string of younger partners. Next, in the glasses, we have Gisela, a librarian from Stuttgart, who was something of an intellectual, and finally, her husband, Oskar, who was a bit of a wag, and liked to tell risque stories to shock his wife's relatives.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Shell Sculpture

Haven't you always wanted a crinoline lady made from shells? I was rather pleased to see that Peter Blake had loads of these shell ladies and other shell sculptures in his exhibition 'A Museum for Myself', which I saw last year. I managed to take a quick photo before the museum attendants changed their mind about whether I was allowed.
Shells are natural souvenirs of the seaside, of course. Who hasn't picked up a pretty shell off the beach and taken it home? And yes, you could just display your shells in their natural state and enjoy the subtle colours and organic shapes.

Or.... could let your imagination run amok and create something like this little monstrosity. I've looked at him quite a lot in taking these photos, and I'm still not entirely sure what he's supposed to be. A frog's head, on an un-froglike body, with a shell on his arm which makes me think of a warrior's shield. All hail, the frog warrior!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Split Personality Matchbook

A matchbook is just a small, ephemeral object, but somehow this one has stayed complete, and found its way from Cortland, New York to me, via a car boot sale in Filton, Bristol. And for my own strange reasons, I now find myself pondering its odd design.

Rocci's is still a restaurant, I believe, as it appears on restaurant listing sites, but I can't find anything more. So I can't tell you what sort of restaurant it is, or was. But if we look at the front of the matchbook, it looks pretty traditional, and they have even gone for an 'olde worlde' gothic font for the address.
I'm not sure what message gold cover and 'sophisticated' black matches with white heads give out. 
 But, in a literal about-face, the back of the matchbook suddenly reveals a futuristic side. Just look at that 'computer' font!
Ironically, that font looks far more dated than the more classic styles on the front. Still, I love their list of attractions - 'ultrasonic sound system' AND 'super sandwiches'! Wow!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Modern Household Encyclopedia

A good Modern Household Encyclopedia is a boon to any housewife. It will tell her the best way to do all those essential household tasks, that might otherwise be confusing or irksome. Jessie de Both, Internationally Known Lecturer and Consultant, has all the answers in one handy volume, and I shall now present a selection...

Did you know you needed to stand on one leg to shake water out of your ear? Or the best way to hang up hats in the car?
Learn some new hints and wrinkles for old corn plasters. Or try interesting and dainty crafts, such as making slippers from old hats, or a fireside seat from an old bobsled.
And if you're feeling very fancy, you can wrap a bucket of oatmeal with a ribbon. Won't that impress your guests?

And whatever you do, don't forget the parraffin wax! So many uses around the home! 
Happy Homemaking!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Not Chopsticks

When I went to New York, several years ago, I was more than a little excited to visit Chinatown. Can you imagine? A trip to the local Chinese supermarket in Bristol has me skipping like a child, so a whole NY district full of the most amazing shops was enough to give me heart palpitations! If I'd had the money, I would have bought SO MUCH STUFF. As it was, I had to limit myself to the portable and affordable.
So, in the window of one shop I see these rather cute little sticks with funny figures on the top. They appeal to me, and they are very cheap. I go in and ask
'Please could I have a pack of those... um? Stick... things? And please could you tell me what they are?'
The assistant is evidently amused that I have no idea what they are, and tells me they are for your ears.
'For your ears?'
She gestures, to make it clear to the British idiot.
'They're ear cleaners? Ohhhh....'
The assistant naturally assumes that I no longer want them.
'Oh no, I'll take them, anyway!'
So I find myself the owner of a pack of cutely ornamental Chinese ear cleaners, with a scary-looking hooked scraper on one stick, and a very soft, fluffy piece of down on the other.
And since you ask -no, I have never been tempted to use them.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday Postcards - Doggies!

Crufts is on this week, so I decided to find some dog-themed cards in my collection. I must say that I rather enjoy watching Crufts on the telly. Ever since seeing the marvellous Christopher Guest film 'Best in Show', I have viewed dog shows in a completely different light. There is, of course, a fair amount of kitschness and curious goings-on involved, so naturally, it's right up my street. And some of the dog breeds are just completely bonkers, with more hair than dog. And there's commentary by Peter Purves, for goodness sake! What's not to like?

Anyhow, here is my small tribute to the whole proceeding. Up top, we have a great old card of a naughty doggie spilling the paint. Not sure how he managed to brush paint all the way up the ladder.

Next, we have a card mysteriously numbered 'No. 37', with a printed description, 'Sally the Jack Russell Playing Patience. September 1988.' This really is bizarre, isn't it? In what way did Sally 'play' Patience? Has she got a card glued to her paw? And why have they made a postcard from a ropey old snapshot taken in front of the velour 3-piece suite?
At least Sally looks like she might be enjoying herself. The two dogs in this last postcard look more than a little pissed off. As well they might, given their situation. There are loads of photos of cats and dogs like this, and I must admit they make me laugh more than they should. For all you dog-lovers out there, I think all they've done is put the dogs' heads through a screen and their 'paws' are just fake ones, attached to the dummy bodies. So apart from some humiliation, I don't think there's any harm done. And you have to admire the bizarre genius who thinks of getting a real dog to take a toy dog for a walk! Woof, woof!!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Polvo Magico

Mexican Magic Powder.
I can't remember where I got this (I wish I could say it was Mexico, but sadly I've never been there).  I think it was from a shop that sold genuine Mexican imports, but looking at it again, it looks like it's been packaged by a sticker-mad 8-year-old girl, so it's making me wonder. However, I have other genuine Mexican stuff that looks joyfully rather like this, so I'll assume it's authentic. As authentic as 'Magic Powder' can be, of course...

The packet blurb roughly translates as -
'Composite Powder of the 7 Powers.
Gives strength, power and conquers all, use it by rubbing the hands and neck.'

Sounds nice and simple, doesn't it? I rather like the thought that anyone could consider this little paper packet to contain something magical. But then, superstition exists everywhere - do you 'touch wood' or avoid number 13? And, it turns out that this powder did have a magical effect - it succeeded in getting me to shell out a few quid for a small paper packet stapled onto a sticker-covered card!
That's magic!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Ugly Guitar-Playing Dog

Does what it says in the title.  Further words are unnecessary, I feel...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Secret of Gourmet Cuisine

This lovely little tin once contained 'Gourmet Powder'. I bought it in the hope that finally, the secret of gourmet cooking would be mine. It promises to make my favourite dishes 'surprisingly delicious'. Which is funny, because people often are surprised when my cooking turns out to be delicious... 
But surely the recipe for such an amazing ingredient must be a secret? Well, no, the ingredients list is short but precise.  'Monosodium Glutamate  - More than 92%. Salt - Less than 8%.'  (I suppose the clue was in the fact that the manufacturer is Ve Tsin Chemical Industries Ltd.)

So, next time you're eating the local takeaway's House Special Chow Mein straight from the plastic container, you will be secure in the knowledge that you are a true gourmet!

Monday, 5 March 2012

All Styles Are Wonderful

I got this in a pound shop, because it's a truly bonkers little set of a dolly and her accessories. Instead of going for the more descriptive title of 'Cheap Crap', the makers have opted for 'Temptation Collection'. That's just weird, isn't it? I think the 'temptation' would be to leave this where you found it. But not for me, of course.

However, I'm not sure any child should be tempted to play with this. I'm pretty sure whoever installed that water heater was not CORGI registered - that bottle of 'Coal Gas' looks pretty dangerous, for a start. And just look at the size of her razor! No wonder she looks so miserable.

And as for the slogan on the pack - 'Our Quality is Second to None' - seriously??!!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Friday Postcards - Welsh Wales

I really should have posted something Welsh yesterday, to mark St. David's Day, but I'll try to compensate with some Welsh postcards today. I am the only member of  my family to be born outside of Wales, and despite my mother's lifelong conviction that everything in Wales was better than anything in England, I've never lived there and don't really consider myself to be Welsh. It's lovely for holidays and I hanker for a nice bit of Welsh tweed occasionally, but that's about it.

However, Welsh costume is tied up with memories of kitsch souvenirs of childhood holidays, and also now with my fascination with costumes and costume dolls. So vintage Welsh lady postcards are pretty irresistible.

Here are a couple to enjoy. The poor gormless woman in the top picture has been told to look as though she might be doing something with that spinning wheel, despite there being no wool on it. 

And in the bottom picture, we have a bevy of Welsh children. Not just girls,mind. As if it wasn't humiliating enough for the girls to be shoved into tweed and lace and black hats, young Master Taffy has been forced to wear a ludicrous version of a 'traditional' costume. Is he wearing a kilt? We really shouldn't be looking. But the rest of it is like some 1960s wedding pageboy outfit, with the frilly-fronted shirt and bow tie. All topped off with a hat that looks more like a beefeaters or flamenco dancers. Ridiculous! As we all know, the traditional Welsh male attire should be a rugby shirt...
(You can look here if you want to see what the real traditional Welsh costume for boys should be.)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spoon Brooches

Some more bits of treasure that I unearthed from a box recently (see my Kitsch & Curious blog for more). I love unusual jewellery, especially brooches, but even I was surprised to find that I had two brooches in the shape of miniature spoons. What is it all about?

My brief researches have revealed nothing, so I am going to put forward my own theory, which may be a bit shocking for readers who have led a sheltered life. I think they were love tokens, with the message that the giver wanted to spoon with the recipient. Phew! Racy stuff, eh? And possibly... the front spoon held the message that someone wanted to spoon under a palm tree? Exotic and racy!