Monday, 28 March 2011

Manchester Deco

This post is dedicated to Miss Matilda, as it features her combined loves of Manchester, art deco and Carole Lombard!

Some friends and I have been taking swimming lessons at a Bannatyne's health club, which is situated inside Sunlight House on Quay St. in Manchester, next door to the opera house. The basement pool is absolutely gorgeous - all original deco railings and tiles, an unusual shape, and a stunning domed stained glass ceiling looking up to daylight between the four sides of the building which provides much inspiration whilst practising my backstroke!

Unfortunately I can't find a picture anywhere of the pool, but here is a dramatic one of the building, taken by remote_release on flickr.

On the stairs by the pool there are pictures of its opening in 1933! It was 'Christened' with Champagne by Carole Lombard and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

My photos here are a bit rubbish as the glass created flare, and I have just noticed that there are reflections of Natalie and Katherine who were standing behind me on the stairs, but there are some great vintage swimsuits and shoes to be seen! I especially love the diving man's swimwear in the last picture, with the swallow appliqué.

Sunlight house was completed in 1932 and was Manchester's tallest building at fourteen floors, it was originally intended to be forty storeys high but the city council blocked the plans. I imagine that if it had been built to the original plans, with soaring white towers and glittering glass, it would be regarded as a UK Art Deco landmark, rather than just a building of local interest.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Fabulous Fruits!

I wanted to make some shoe decorations for some wedges I've ordered, so a few evenings ago I got out the polymer clay and made some little fruits! After baking them I painted on some shade and highlights, then varnished them.

There are limes, oranges, bananas, cherries, mangoes, grapes, pineapples and peaches.

I love how they came out. I strung them on some thread to keep them safe until it's time to make the shoe clips, and have decided that I need a matching necklace, bracelet and hat to go with them, so more fruit making will ensue! I'll probably do a couple of hats with a little cluster of them to sell on Kalandra Jane Designs too!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Vintage Blouse Project: Bakelite Buttons Update

After the disaster that was my first bakelite buttons purchase for this project, I was somewhat disheartened. However, I've cheered up a bit after the replacements I ordered from OritDotan on Etsy arrived safe and sound. Here they are (there are actually six):

Not as nice as the bamboo effect of the first lot, but these are the right size and colour, and the cut grooves in the bakelite are a nice touch.

As soon as I have some spare time I'm going to draft a pattern for the blouse from a vintage dress bodice, and I think that for the first time ever I might bother to make a muslin, I don't want to cut up my fabric only to find the blouse is too small in the bust or has weird armholes.

I'd better get to it soon, Spring is most definitely upon us here, the crocus have been out for weeks and the blossom is budding on the trees... here is where I planned to put a picture of myself being Spring-like, but it appears that there exist no outdoor photos of me, so instead here are some Spring rolls I made last week (and sushi and stuff). Yum.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Exfoliating: Part One

My skin is annoying. I get spots around my chin, it's very sensitive, and I have dry patches on my cheeks and forehead that stop me from being able to wear foundation because they absorb it and show up the true flaky horror.

This week I picked up Boots No.7 'Total Renewal Micro-Dermabrasion Exfoliator'. Normally I would not pay £11 for a facial scrub, but at the moment Boots are running one of their spend £5, get a £5 No.7 voucher promotions so I got it for £6. I like to take as much advantage as possible of these offers, and can usually manage to stock up my makeup bag for a few months until they next run the promotion.

I used it for the first time tonight. I've never found an exfoliator I liked before - usually they've either not got enough bits so there's not enough scrubbing action, or the bits are made from crushed fruit stones which are just too big and scratchy. However, I like this product so far; a pea-sized amount did the whole face, and because the exfoliating particles are aluminium oxide crystals they are nice and fine, you can really work them over the skin. According to the box, 100% of testers saw an improvement after using it twice a week for two weeks, so we shall see how it goes.

My face was a bit pink and tingly afterwards, so I smoothed on some Full of Grace facial serum from Lush, I love this stuff. It's like a waxy bar which you melt by stroking it onto the face at night, and when you wake up your skin is beautifully soft and soothed. Flakes, be gone!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Vintage Sewing: Two New Patterns and Bakelite Horror

Here are a couple of new vintage patterns I have purchased! One is a lovely dress with classically 1950s sleeve and collar styling, and the other is a rare playsuit and overskirt pattern. I'm hoping that as well as creating these gorgeous garments, I can also trace off and modify the bodice of one of them to create my planned Summer blouse.

From Miss Betty's Attic on etsy.

From NewVintageLady on etsy, you should also check out her marvellous blog!

Also in preparation for the blouse project, I ordered these gorgeous bakelite buttons from BecaliJewels on etsy, thinking the bamboo-like pattern would go wonderfully with the tiki-ish print of my fabric.

However, when I opened the package... BAKELITE HORROR!!!

I was so upset. The seller's packaging was faultless, each button wrapped in foam, taped up then placed in a padded bag, some callous bastard somewhere in the postal service must have literally stamped on the package to cause this damage. She was so lovely about it, gave me a refund right away and she is going to make a claim with the US postal service. Still, it's saddening that these vintage treasures did not survive. Three are still intact to use on another project, and I'm hoping to fix the least broken one with some epoxy. Unfortunately, my blouse is going to need at least five buttons. I've ordered some more, not quite as nice but hopefully they'll look good.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A Stash of 78s!

On Monday I had to go to Burnley for a dental check-up. I hate going there by bus - the only reason I usually go back there is to visit my mum and stepdad, when we go by car and I don't have to be exposed to the rest of the town. But - there is one upside. If you know where to look, there are cheap vintage gems to be had.

I got these 78RPM records from the open market. The stallholder had lots of old books, antique and vintage tools and product packaging, DVDs including some great old movies, and a selection of records. I first spotted this Little Richard record below - my favourite rock 'n' roll musician. I asked the price expecting it to be close to the £10 mark, and was told "two or three pounds each". Well, being the cheeky chapette that I am, I took away six of these beauties for my £10.

Look at the great 1950s graphic on the sleeve of this one! The sleeve doesn't match the record, it's a Columbia one whereas the record inside was produced by Mercury - but these sleeves were usually added by the record shop anyway as the discs were delivered in plain packaging. Most of the sleeves are from local Lancashire record shops in the 1950s, and I was told that these are often bought by collectors of local history who frame them and don't care about the record inside - I wasn't having that, these are going to be played and enjoyed.

The tracks are:

Fats Domino: Blueberry Hill/I Can't Go On
The Platters: You'll Never Never Know/It Isn't Right
Bill Haley: Rock Around The Clock/Thirteen Women
Bill Haley: R-O-C-K/The Saints Rock 'n' Roll
Little Richard: Lucille/Send Me Some Lovin'
Everly Brothers: All I Have To Do Is Dream/Claudette

This is a lovely old deco safe that resides in my dentist's waiting room. I love the little painted square pattern around the door.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

RIP Jane

RIP Jane Russell, who died yesterday aged 89. Tonight I will be watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in which she arguably shone brighter than Marilyn - she was a wonderful actress who was never overshadowed in her roles.