Thursday, September 11, 2014

Creepy, Spooky, Unexpected : Vintage Halloween

Halloween is a most sacred of holidays at our house. Maybe it's the cooler weather. Maybe it's all the fall goodness. Maybe it's the time of year we met. Maybe we both have a dark side. Either way, it's our absolute favorite and we do it up right!

Vintage items just lend themselves to great Halloween decor. A darker time gone by, a sense of decay, a hidden history...all these things and more make them perfect for your festive fall furnishings. What I also love is using items that do double duty around the house and throughout the year. Many folks don't want to put a lot of money out for what they see as a lesser holiday. So make your money go far! Here are some ways I use vintage to decorate for my favorite month of the year.

First, let's start with the basic things I use to compile my Halloween vignettes.

Bell Jars or cloches make wonderful places to keep creepy things, whether for ambiance or to keep them from a certain mischievous cat. The rest of the year, they make great displays or terrariums.

Spanish moss is a great bed for all your spooky items. It goes forever. I bought this bag three years ago and it is still half full. Also works great for fall and spring decor.

Every year, I look forward to the Dollar Tree's Halloween stock coming out. It's like a national holiday. They have amazing stuff, all for $1; skeletons, pumpkins, organs, body parts, insects, and more! Never ceases to amaze and delight for next to nothing. It may look cheesy in the store but once mixed with the authenticity of your vintage stuff, it's legit.

Last, my stock of vintage goodies to add to the mix. As you will see, I love a theme and vintage offers a variety of directions to go.

Mirror, mirror : I know that Disney has made the story of Snow White seem cute but The Brothers Grimm actually wrote some dark stuff! This simple vignette alludes to the story of that wicked queen and her poison apples. Just in time for apple season!

Mad Mixologist : Create a spooky vintage bar with these vintage decanters, mid century glasses, a mirrored tray, and some creepy dollar store goodies. Add some vintage poison labels to the decanters and fill with red colored water or liquor!

Wicked Writing Nook : Create a dark and disturbed writing space befitting the likes of Edgar Allen Poe. His chilling tale, The Raven, was the inspiration for this grouping. And you know you want an excuse to buy a fabulous vintage typewriter!

Set a Spooky Table : Create a Hannibal inspired spread. Lots of gross things to eat and a great way to use your vintage silver! Use your imagination. Lots of fun to be had. Great place to use old bottles and china!

Dark Doctor : Compile a ghastly collection reminiscent of Dr Moreau's laboratory. Apothecary jars holding potions, canisters of body parts, and vintage medical books complete the display.

Cabin in the Woods : It doesn't have to be obviously Halloween. This vignette has nary a skull. Different things are disturbing to different people. Look to your favorite horror movie for inspiration! This grouping was conjured from ideas from Cabin in the Woods and Saw. Rusty old tools, a vintage hikers map, and woodsy charm turn ominous!

So, have some fun this Halloween! Look around at what you have and think of how you could use it. Add some vintage pieces that can be used all year round. Check out the Halloween section of the shop for all your decor needs. From vintage china, silver, tools, and dolls to creepy art, tin types, and festive banners, there is lots to browse for purchase or inspiration!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rust and Ruin...On the Road! : A Guide To Shows and Markets

Whew! June has passed us by with only one little blog post. Here's why...we're freakin' busy! In the online retail world, summer is a bit of a dud. Everybody's out and doing. No one is inside shopping. So to compensate, I highly recommend getting involved in any and every show you can get your hands on.

After a couple months of doing shows every weekend, here are my tips for those of you thinking about doing one yourself or for anyone interested in a behind the scenes sneak peek of what we put ourselves through!

  • Places : Finding venues. First thing we gotta do is find where we're going to haul this stuff to sell. 

    • First, obvi, Google is your friend. This will not tell you if shows are any good. Check out reviews. The smaller ones might not be online but if they're not, do you want to be in them? 
    • Check out your local area tourism sites. They are usually going to have their finger on the pulse of the larger and more established shows.
    • Network with other artists. Find out what shows they are doing. This is the best way to not only find shows but also get first hand information on how they have gone in the past.
    • If you are on Etsy, explore there. You should be part of local teams. They all will have a thread for people to list local show info. Check out where you will find shows that other Etsy users in your area are participating in.

  • Promote :  Do not assume that the venue will do all the promoting for the event. Create your own buzz! If they do great promoting, share their promotions and promote other vendors.

  • Product : Have enough product. Have more than enough product. People like selection and you can't sell what you don't have.

  • Practice : One thing I did the first several shows is practice. I set my whole booth up in my garage. This helped me gauge how much product I needed to fill the space. It helped me decide how I wanted to set things up so I wasn't trying to do it that day on the fly. And I had pictures to post for social media. If you are using a tent, you will absolutely want to try it out before the day of. Those things are fun anyway but I opened my brand new tent to find it was missing some pieces. Better to find out a couple days early than the day of the show!

  • Price : While you have everything out, price it. I am bad about this so this is to myself. It is the last thing I do. Not everyone feels comfortable asking about a price or you might be too busy the day of to catch everyone with a question.

  • Prepare : Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. (Thanks Dad) I am all for positive thinking but while you're thinking positively, plan for everything, including the worst.
    • Office Type Supplies : Tape, paper, pens, scissors, bags, packing supplies for delicate items.
    • Tools : A few small tools doesn't hurt. Assess what tools your tent might need, including a mallet for anchoring those tent spikes really well.
    • Promotional Materials : Whether it be business cards or flyers, make sure you have plenty of it.
    • Outdoor Shows : Sunscreen, bug spray, and water. And the big outdoor buzz kill, rain. If you don't have one of those fancy tents with the sides, Home Depot sells these super cheap clear plastic drop cloths that are great for keeping in your emergency show preparedness kit to throw over a table or clip on the sides of your tent.

  • Pack : The danger of doing shows is that every time an item leaves the safety of your home, it is at risk for being ruined. Take the time to pack everything carefully. Also, pack in things that can do double duty. I pack everything in vintage suitcases which I can then sell or use in my displays.

  • Performance : Here it is. The day you've been working so hard towards. You're probably so tired, you're over it. Don't mess it up. No pressure...
    • Smile, have fun. Smiling should be your favorite and fun is contagious. Not everyone will smile back. Ain't nothin but a thang.
    • Engage everyone that comes in your booth. Most of us appreciate being noticed and like to know who we're buying from. Some people don't and may even go so far as to pretend they didn't hear you. Gaze in silent amusement. Customer interaction is the best part of doing a show. I promise, they will remind you why you are doing what you do.
    • Make sure everyone takes a business card. Put one in every bag, in every hand. Make it rain a business card confetti on that mofo.
    • Steel yourself for that inevitable delightful person that walks into your booth and says "Do people really buy this junk?". Every. Show. Maybe it's because I actually sell stuff that might be considered junk but you know what I mean. Someone will say something less than nice. And when they do smile, take a moment to imagine yourself doing some amazing ninja move culminating in a drop kick to their head, and simply say, "Yes, they do". 
    • Stay positive. I hope every show you do is amazing. But chances are, there may be some you would consider duds. Turn your downsides into upsides. Show day is not just about that day's sales, it's about future sales. It's about building relationships, networking, and promoting.
  • Post show : Pat yourself on the back, you did it! Once you get over the exhaustion, take some time to reflect. Would you do the show again? What would you do differently? What product did you need more of? What could you have used but didn't have? You now have great insight to make your next show even better!
So there you have it. It's draining just writing it down. Now you know why I am looking forward to Fall! Just kidding. I truly love getting the opportunity to do these shows. Nothing compares to a day of sharing the passion of what you do with other people and hearing what they're passionate about! 

This in no way is an exhaustive list and I am in no way an expert. And sometimes, I don't even follow my own advice. So naughty. I welcome additional tips in the comments!

Check Maliasmark on Facebook for a list of where you can find me every weekend to see me in action!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

99 Bottles of Soda In My Garage : Some Vintage Bottle Cleaning Tips

Somehow, here recently, I keep coming across old soda bottles. And of course, I keep buying them. I have amassed a huge pile of bottles in a variety of sodas. Some I have never heard of and aren't even being made anymore. Some of the bottles just need a light cleaning but some needed a little elbow grease and a lot of love.

So this week, I set out to get all these beauties shining again! This isn't my first bottle cleaning rodeo and I have done research online, finding a million suggestions on how to do things. Since I was spending an entire day cleaning these things, I figured I would share a couple of the tips I find most useful. 
(*Please note that I am not an expert. Try these tips at your own risk.)

Let's get this spa treatment started! Let me tell you, it is soooooo tempting to pop these babies right in the dishwasher. But that is a major no no. You do not want to lose any part of these awesome graphics! So first, they take a swim in a bath of mild soap and hot water.

Then I clean the outside with a soft cloth. But how to clean the inside? I have yet to find a brush small enough to fit in these bottles. Here's a hint..

So a tip I found was to use rice and it really works! 

Put a little water, a little rice, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. The rice "scrubs" the inside of the bottle. It might not get everything but it's amazing how much it does get.

So, something I came across this time that was different than the amber and clear bottles I had cleaned before is these fantastic graphics. Typically I like rustic, dirty things but I want these graphics to pop. They were looking quite dingy thanks to this Carolina red clay. 

But I don't want to scrub them off so what to do, what to do.

One thing I keep plenty of around the house for cleaning is baking soda. I mean, it's a power house and much safer than all those chemicals out there. Wet the bottle, put some baking soda over the graphic, and rub with your thumb. Make sure there is baking soda under your thumb and rub in all directions along the graphic. Enough grit to scrub but fine enough not to damage. Here's the result of that Pepsi graphic pictured above after the baking soda treatment.

Here is a side by side of a 7up bottle I was working on. It's pretty obvious but the 7 has been scrubbed and the U and P are still awaiting their makeover.

So now I have a ton of beautiful bottles ready to hit the shop! Bottles are just great decor. Retro graphics, the way they catch the light, and they look great in a group. 

Whether you put them in a crate, set them on a shelf, or use them as vases, there's nothing like them! Perfect nostalgic pieces for summer entertaining and weddings.

Check out Maliasmark and browse our selection of vintage bottles and crates!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Farm Life : My Visit To The Farm At Rabon Creek in Simpsonville, SC

Whoa, I know. Three blog posts in a month. This is huge. I'll give you a moment.

So, today is cloudy. I thought it would be nice to think back to a beautiful day a couple weeks ago when me and Pappy went to meet Lisa of The Farm at Rabon Creek in Simpsonville, SC.

Such a beautiful location, tucked away right off Fairview Road. We were driving down the road and then boom, picturesque farm country and a feast for the eyes.

First thing I saw, was true love. Lot's of rustic junk, collected right here on the property from centuries gone by.

Then we step into wide open spaces and a rustic setting for great events!

And of course, animals!

So by now you're wondering, how can I get some farm time? I know! Who doesn't want to get out in this beautiful, peaceful setting? 

Lucky for you, The Farm at Rabon Creek hosts all kinds of great events. They have partnered with Tupelo Honey and Mill Village Farms to host The Tupelo Honey Farm Dinner. Eat great, fresh, local food and support a great cause!

They also host Farm Fresh Fair every year, hosting local, handmade, upcycled, and vintage treasures and farm fresh produce along with entertainment and food trucks for a wonderful day on the farm. Benefiting a great cause, you're not going to want to miss it!

If that's not enough, book them for your own event! You could not find a better setting for your next party or wedding. Great covered areas, lots of green space, easy to get to, and it has a fantastic fire pit. What more do you need? Keep up with them on their Facebook page!

So, I'm sure you can see why my mind is on such a place on a day like today. A place where the sun shines, time stands still, and good things are being done for the community. Amazing place. You're going to want to visit!

As always, follow Maliasmark on Instagram to get pics, tips, and sneak peeks immediately. That way you don't have to wait until I finally blog. ;)