Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am working on another lovely table at the moment, in a gorgeous Plummy purple colour. I just have to do a bit of sewing, to complete the ensemble. My bloody sewing machine has decided to be a bit stroppy. Why is it when you have no money that everything goes wrong. I mean it's not just the sewing machine it's the Lawn mower, the Strimmer, the spa ($700 no less) and I just had to replace the iron. Bloody marvelous! Whats all that about, eh?
Ah well luckily I have my thrifty hobby to keep me happy, maybe I should just try and sell some of them.
I have got a lovely turquoise table virtually ready, but, just trying to get a few finishing touches together, so that I can get the photos done. keep watching. The yellow is nearly there too, and I am going to put a Christmas table on here real soon. Jo

Friday, November 20, 2009

The pink table

Hi there fellow op-shoppers! Or lunatics who just love seeing me make a complete fool of myself on here! I am happy to report that even though I had recently written that I am working on a yellow table, (which I am) I have managed to finish another one in a gorgeous pink.
Now sit down because I am about to educate you on how to achieve such an unbelievably fabulous table. Have you got your cuppa tea? (a prerequisite for any reading on here) if you have read any thing on here you will know I can go on a bit! And why not? it's my blog! so blog off and start reading..
It all started when someone gave me some plain pink fabric. I don't know why! it was ages ago, long before I became a nut for op-shop china. They obviously just thought I was the sort of person who would give a home to a piece of plain, fairly boring fabric that wasn't big enough to do anything with. I guess it saved them from having to throw it away and use valuable room in their garbage bag. AND YES I am obsessive and YES I do hoard everything, so I guess I would be a good bet as to who to chose when re homing such a remnant! With my massive act of appreciative excitement I thanked them and gave it pride of place in my remnant basket.
Actually I jest, I really am a complete hoarder and keep everything. Can you imagine the cost of our container when emigrating? My only justification is that my husband is even worse than me so I can get way with murder. In fact all my family is worse than me. My son is totally incapable of throwing anything away. We should all be on one of those documentaries about lunatics who keep the whole counties rubbish in their front room with the intention of one day building the Empire State Building with all the empty cereal packets which are stacked in one corner.
But, enough of that! Back to the table, you probably didn't come on here to look at my ramblings did you?????? HUM!!!! Well!!!!!! Actually you probably did! So on with the story anyway.
As I said the first thing was the pink remnant, then came the beige and pink check fabric which I bought in a sale. Not just any old sale but a silly one which sold stuff at ridiculously low prices. (my kind of sale). Can you believe the excitement? (yes I know I keep saying that but I really do jump about when a bargain comes my way.) when I found out it was only $1 a metre. Bloody hell, bargain or what? I mean this is New Zealand, nothing is ever that cheap! so I bought all 6 metres of it. It did help that I really liked it. So I got home and made myself a cup of tea (obligatory when experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the afore mentioned excitement) and thought "what shall I do with it". After finishing the said tea, and making another, (I really do have too much time on my hands) I couldn't think of a flippin thing. So up it went to the fabric basket. Destined to be a remnant forever, even if it was one of considerable size. I hear it's quite important to have size on your side when in the remnant basket, I mean otherwise surely you would just become a cleaning cloth or something equally as meaningless. Come on if you were a remnant would you want someone to come and ruin what little bit of dignity you had by cutting you into strips and turning you into one of those hideous woven bath mats.... NO I THINK NOT! Sorry if you have one of those, "I really like them!" (gotta keep the tasteless sweet ).
Well anyway several months, if not years had passed and I had done nothing with this fabric even though I had had several ideas over that period, just not enough time to put any of them into action. But, as luck would have it along came this project. So out it came along with the pink remnant and on to my table. Destined for great things. Not a woven bath mat. No surreeyy! A table runner, Not something to be sniffed at in the world of table linens and not just one runner but THREE!! yes readers THREE.

So with the base taken care of all I needed was... well everything else actually. I had found some of my favourite cheap plastic napkin rings, (hideous but loads of potential) and some pink napkins all from the op-shops. So I set about finding some suitable crockery.

While hunting for stuff (not stuff for this table to be exact) I had come across a Crown lynne pink and pale blue dinner service. It was quite nice, fairly plain but nice. It is not all that common to find a service with pink on it so I had to have it. It wasn't complete but I got it anyway. As luck would have it I soon found another crown lynne set in a slightly different pattern, but near enough to make a set. I mean Serve your meal in a bad light (which I always do, you should see my food) and you could always pull it off. It was a plan coming together.

Next I needed a beautiful centre piece. I found a round vase, and a really unusual pink glass jug with some gold, guilding on it. It knew it would make both a great vase or just leave it as the maker intended, a water jug. I know! throw caution to wind that's me. The Devil may care, is my attitude and yes sometimes I do just do leave stuff alone. Where's the fun in that though?

I did finally decide that the table looked better without the jug on it, even though I really like it.
There are some things I always buy when I see them. Silk flowers, Candles and assorted paraphernalia like ribbons, rafia, lengths of assorted haberdashery etc etc. I can always find a use for them and often the price of stuff like this new, can really whack up the price of the table setting. And let's remember we are trying to keep the price down as much as possible . I buy these things when ever I see them even if I am working on a table of a different colour. In fact it often inspires me to start another colour. Apart from the silk flowers which I was going to put in this vase, I had found some lovely decorative apple and pear decorations. I put these with the flowers and Bob's your uncle, A fabulous centre piece. Now, whereas, there is nothing like real flowers, when you entertain as much as me and like to lay the table each time it can really add up, cost wise. The selection of synthetic (such a naff expression) or faux (such a pretentious one) flowers are very good these days. For all those who are old enough to remember Plastic ones, and who categorise all unreal flowers in the same bracket, either get out more or believe me when I say they are in some cases very realistic and very re-usable. I have, on more than one occasion had people coming and asking me "are those real" and then they nearly always touch them, probably just to confirm my answer of "yes they are!" Bloody unbelievers!! still proves my point though. It is quite OK to mix real and synthetic together and in fact makes real flowers go a long way in decorative arrangements. I added some cut crystal glasses, as I hadn't been able to find any pink glass. I will keep looking though.
The napkin rings were made by wrapping lengths of glossy, pink transparent, ribbon around plain plastic rings. Which gives a lovely glimmer, I can't help it I do like a little bit of bling, probably because of my tacky working class roots on my Mothers side. (just kidding Mum) and then adding some more decorative ribbon and some small flowers to add a little touch of elegance and just bring in another hint of colour. I also use the little flowers for adding a little detail to my gift wrapping. Now here's a funny thing! I have never found anywhere, any cutlery worth buying at an op-shop. So, I tend to use the same set, or an old antique set I own to illustrate the tables. Obviously these are not so cheap so just buy what you like from where ever you want. I give you my full permission and if you manage to find a lovely set of cutlery in an op-shop, then know this, I am coming after you. I have never found a single set worth buying. But I guess once you have a set of any description that is all you need. I do still look around the antique shops though just in case the bargain of the year comes up. After all I don't want to miss it do I?

So there it is the pink table!

I know these photo's don't always do the tables justice, I'm afraid I lack the talent for great photography and I am saving my styling techniques for another project. But, it just gives you an idea of what can be achieved with this particular method of shopping.

hope you like it!

I'll be back rambling again soon so please keep looking, and leave me a message of great complement.
Jo x

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New beginnings, a new table in the making

I have been out already today in hot pursuit of stuff for a lovely bright yellow table. Why I hear you ask? well why not I say! The summer is on its way and we will all be eating outside very soon. Knowing us the house will soon be filled with the happy sounds of teenagers arguing and shouting indignantly that, "it's not fair that you always have your friends round" "we never get to have ours. " Its quite strange really when you think that my house was full of teenage girls last night having a sleepover only to be followed by my sons friends coming round today. What platform of reality do you think they live on that makes them loose sight of how often their friends come come round. AH well! not that I care I love having peole over and the outdoor season will be upon us before too long.

The idea of assembling a yellow table came from the fact that I found a lovely yellow table cloth/throw in a discount store. I guess it was there because noone else wanted it. I love its brightness and can see its potential when laid out with all the other items. I must confess I did find a gorgeous jug today in an op-shop which will make a fabulous centre piece. I can imagine it with huge sunflowers in it. something which symbolises the ongoing balmy days of summer in the Mediteranean. I love the image of Italian summers. Huge swathes of open fields, with poppies dancing amongst crops swaying gently in the breeze. Doesn't that image just make you want to lie down and fall asleep. Well, it does me!

The table cloth is quite big so should look really good on the outside furniture. I am hunting down some other yellow items now to complete my latest ensemble. Watch this space, and I'll tell you how im getting on. hopefully it won't be too long before I can post another photo. You will all be able to see just how easy it is to create something beautiful on a shoestring budget.

While watching the tv this morning there was an article on there about new Christmas decorations. I just couldnt believe the price that the presenter was quoting, the cost of things here in this country is madness!!! Madness, do you hear? how can anyone justify the prices asked for by the manufacturers. Some of the articles were no more than bits of felt stuck together. They weren't even sewn and stupid lady just kept going on about how they are going to be heir looms. (well not made with glue lady, they ain't). The point is why would anyone pay those prices?

Last week I went hunting in my some of my usual haunts and was amazed to find all the op-shops filled to the brim with Christmas decorations. You name it and it was available, I purchased a big, bag full of gorgeous bauballs in the shape of little ornamental drums. They are simply stunning and i'm so glad to have got them. The whole bag was just $3. Infact they were still in their bag on the sofa when my girlfriend came round and saw them she couldn't believe the price of them. The op-shops are full of stuff like this at the moment, go and have a look, you can afford to buy it and get it wrong, you can always give them back you know. I mean it is charity shop shopping and all the money goes to a good cause. Please don't forget this. It is a way of giving as well as getting great bargains. Not to mention that it is also recycling at its best with no cost or chemical processing to reinvent the product. Just a straight transfer of ownership.

Well lecture over I must be off to find some more sunshine crockery for the bright, bright summer table. Keep watching this Blog for some great ideas. If anyone has any suggestions about new op-shops, particularly in the North Shore of Auckland area then please let me know about it. (bet I know about it already) after all i am an addict! jo xx

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Glass Evening Table

Hi everyone, I have just been to the osteopath to try and sort out my seized up neck, so I cant sit on here for hours.......... OK! who am I kidding? Why is it though that when you have an injury it always has to get worse before it gets better? Seriously, I would just be happy with the get better bit, and not worry about the get worst first.
Well anyway, I am going to try to down load some more pics, (yea right!) of a table setting that I made, that I fell in love with. It consists of a glass dinner service, (yes glass, sounds naff doesn't it?) but is the sort of thing that most people would walk passed in a second hand store. Many things in Op-shops don't look very good just piled up one on top of the other. However with my super eye for a bargain, and strange talent for looking beyond the obvious, I can see how something might look when displayed appropriately. In fact, I love to take the proverbial sows ear and turn it into a silk purse. It's a strange addiction isn't it? but, it keeps me out of mischief! Anyway, as I said the glass dinner service, it wasn't complete, which was fine as I thought that I would be able to add some more pieces to it, even if they weren't the same. When I did though the differences showed up a little to much. The differences in the glass colour and clarity were very obvious when I put them all together. So I decide to settle for this particular set being a 4 person set instead of 6.

Now can you imagine my delight (try its worth it) when going into another op-shop a few weeks later only to find the same set, laid out on a table and consisting of an 8 piece setting. Raptures or what??? ( yes I know its sad but its what I have become). I couldn't believe it, I really didn't think I would be able to match the set with even a few pieces let alone another complete one, and one with 8 settings. Oh the excitement!!! This meant I would have enough for 12 people. Not as extravagant as you might think, I often have my friends over for Sunday lunch and they bring their kids and the numbers often add up to 10 or 12. So not so silly as you might think! If you are the sort of person who is totally intimidated by entertaining large numbers, and would never think of cooking for 12 then just tell yourself "it's OK," because it just means that you can afford to break some and still have enough to put together an intimate dinner for 6 or more.

Don't forget, things happen in life and all the best laid plans go astray. I have often found my dinner party has ended up with an odd number of guests. Dinner sets are usually sold in even numbers so you either have too many pieces or not enough. Having too many will always get my vote. So it makes sense to buy from op-shops because the price means you can afford to have the extra crockery sitting around waiting for its day.
Anyway back to the afore mentioned set, there it was sitting, all laid out on the table, with two middle eastern ladies looking at it and discussing whether it would suit their purposes or not. I could feel my heart start to pump, it was going to be a race between us, ( I am the sort of person who always chooses the wrong queue at the check out, and sees every other bugger go through before them and to make matters worst the person in front of me always causes the efptos machine to crash. So, the point I am trying to make is, I knew I had to get too the till first. No looking around the shop for me, ( a challenge in itself) I was on a mission!!!!! I walked straight up to the check out and all assertive like, shouted "I want that dinner service." Actually I didn't shout in case the middle eastern lady and her mother came over and bothered me. I mean it was worth fighting for, but, my English heritage stops me from behaving in such an undignified manner in public. Yes I know I can be a mouthy bitch from time to time, but, only with those who know me. HONEST!!!! So I paid my money, got the OLD ladies to wrap it up for me and carry it to the car. (WELL MY HANDS HURT AND MY HEART WAS STILL PUMPING FROM EXCITEMENT), leaving the other two ladies with their bottom jaws gaping. You see "he who hesitates comes last, ha ha!!" So that is the story of the glass dinner service. I really do love it it just sparkles at night and looks good with any setting and colour I put with it.
The rest of the table consists of two black sheets which I have always used as table cloths, Some lovely, silvery grey, embroidered place mats and napkins, which, were brand new in an op-shop, complete with labels still attached ( it's best to remove the labels before using as they look ugly and scratch your chin when wiping your face) and two silver candlesticks. The napkin rings were pretty ugly, black plastic rings with nothing going for them except their simplicity. I come across this style very often and buy them when ever I see them, in every different colour. Pretty ugly on their own, in fact the lady who sold them to me said "oh, I have just put them out and thought no-one will ever buy them. However, me being me, nothing ever stays the same. I doctored the rings with 3 hair bands I bought form the two dollar shop. They consisted of black roses and black feathers with a hint of black glitter. It was my intention to rip the hair bands apart and make six out of them but, when I got them home and wrapped them around the napkin rings, I like them so much, I decided to leave them whole and get three more I mean why make more work for yourself if you don't have to. They really gave the table a feeling of glamour.

Although this dinner service could cover 12 this table setting is only for 6 as the linens prevent me seating any more.

So far this has become one of my favourites, but then they all become my favourite when I lay them out! I almost don't want to eat off them. I wonder what a psychotherapist would make of my newest hobby? Who cares! Everyone knows I'm mad anyway! xx

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The ramblings of an Op-shop addict

Well here it is folks, at last me on the computor blogging. Anyone who knows me knows just how much I have fought technology and have resisted all badgering and bullying from family and friends to get with the 21st century. However, in the last few weeks I have found Face book and now consider myself an expert in networking sites. (oh my God i can hear my family cry who's she kidding?) ok they have got a point, but, I do have so much great stuff to say so sit back and watch this blog. Having an oportunity to ramble on about anything that takes my fancy is my idea of heaven and has led me to start my own blog. Actually it's not just the ramblings of a sad old bird, (well not all the time) I decided to share with you my passion for beautiful table settings. Not just any table settings, but, those born from the addictive purchases of a woman who spends far too much time wandering through the charity thrift shops or oportunity (op) shops (depending on which part of the world you inhabit.)

I love to entertain my friends and family and take great delight in setting the table in a way which always complements the meal. There is nothing like seeing the faces of your guests light up when they spot the table laid out in all its glory, fully colour co-ordinated with flowers and candles and napkins and napkin rings and anything which brings the table to life. The visual feast which the well laid table brings to bear is simply the start of what delight the rest of the occasion has to offer.

My addiction to Op-shops started many years ago when as a young hair designer I became the main art director for a photographer who reguarly put together a shoot for a magazine. I was required to provide both hair and makeup styling. I spent hours trawling through the op shops for accesories and jewellery. I learnt that they were a source of many treasures.

After embarking on an interior designer course many years later I realised my interest lay in table ware. I was captivated by some of the fabulous creations put together by interior designers in magazines. Where as they are without a doubt stunning, they can be extremely expensive and someone like me who likes to vary or put together a different setting each time, had to find an alternative way of achieving my goal. Once again I headed back to the good old Op-Shops. My aim was to put together a dinner service made entirely of old English China from the early part of the 20th century. I didnt want it to match, I loved the idea of it being completely mismatched and looking as if it had always been hanging around in the cupboard for years. When I spoke to an Antique dealer friend of mine and told him I was on a mission to find enough mismatched china to put together a dinner service for 6 people he politely told me that it was known in the trade as "eclectic" or "Harlequin". I like that, a positive spin always get my vote. Anyway after spending weeks of hunting down all the op-shops in my locality I finally had enough china to put together a dinner for 12 not 6. I couldnt stop hunting. I had become hooked. My service consisted of Dinner plates, lunch or starter plates, side plates, soup and desert bowls. Large serving platters, gravy boats, and vegetable dishes. I wasnt going to get any cups and saucers because I already had loads for my exsisting dinner service and didnt want to find the space for them. However the bug had bitten and I had seen so many lovely old china cups and saucers that I ended up collecting them too, and let's be honest with the revival of afternoon tea in old china cups and saucers it would be stupid not to, dont you think? As I say my service now consisted of enough china to entertain 12 people to a sit down meal in an eclectic style. There was however some rules which I gave myself while hunting, all the china had to be English. It had to be either cream or off white base and had to have an amount of gold guilding on it. I didnt mind if it was wearing off, infact I quite liked that it added to the look of age. Absolutely, definately no chips or cracks and it had to be cheap. I turned down many plates because I felt they were to expensive. The purpose of the exercise was to keep the cost down while enjoying the hunt.

I already had some old Victoria lace place mats and one or two old white linen napkins, the new dinner service just cried out for some more to make the table complete, so the hunt started again. Soon I had enough of those to complete my fabulous old table. It was, and still is like something from a past era. I absolutely love it! I mean can you imagine all my girlie urges for shopping fulfilled, a fancy table for my guests to swoon at, (and they do) and all for a very small amount of money. I added some old china candlesticks and a couple of candles, an eclectic collection of silver napkin rings with a beautiful arrangement of flowers to complete the ensemble. It almost seemed a shame to put food on the table it looked so good, and lets be honest if you have a bunch of children round with the grown ups for lunch, you can still get the china out, because if something gets broken then you can just go right on out and replace it.

All my friends thought I was mad, (I had become a woman obsessed) but, I was surprised how many of them started to come hunting with me. Many of them now share my passion for Op-shops and phone regularly to share with me what their latest purchases are.

Be warned readers it is addictive if you really get the bug! And I'm afraid I have! With my table complete, I have been left in a state of loss. I mean can you imagine girls? The shopping has come to an end! I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!! The withdrawral is overwhelming. So I have decided to set myself a task. I am going put together the most amazing dinner tables, with linens, crockery, glass wear and allsorts of other paraphernalia from op-shops or discount or low end establishments. I hesitate to use the words "cheap" as it has very negative conatations, but lets be honest that is the order of the day. With the recession biting hard, anything which looks a million dollars but has cost very little has to be good, RIGHT?

So there it is! my challenge to myself, see how many different tables settings I can come up with, without spending very much money, (and I mean without spending very much money!) Follow my journey as I explain what purchases I have made to be able to compose my latest "symphony on a table". GOD, thats sounds sooo Naff, but, hey it does say up top,"The ramblings of an Op-Shop addict" so what do you expect, huh?