Thursday, April 29, 2010

Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale, part one

These gals look pretty happy don' t they?

Anita, left, is with the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club and she's at the April 24, 2010 TVCJ Club Show & Sale at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens in Toronto.

With her is my new pal and fashion friend Genny, and both are wearing gloves bought at the sale - Anita was selling; Genny was buying.

This post is previewing some of the neat items available at the sale, and subsequent posts will be more informative and tell you a bit about some of the more collectible names. Natch, I'll also show you what I bought.

Love these retro straw purses in Spring-like hues. So chic!

Ditto for these necklaces - they're just like yummy little Popsicles lined up in a row.

I almost bought the orange multi-tiered choker in the far left corner, but what I did and didn't buy is a story for another post.

A very Spring-like shadow box type display full of floral pins and other baubles. Florals are very big this season, so why not spruce up last year's trench with a flower power pin like the one in the right corner here?

The great thing about the sale was that there was a real range of items, from the vanity items you see here to 1980s costume jewellery, highly collectible pieces, fun retro bling and inexpensive yet highly original pieces.

Prices varied too. Some tables had $5 bins - the deal hound in me appreciated that - and one woman admitted to finding some pieces in the thrift shops like me, meaning some weren't uber collectible nor were they expensive.

Others had highly collectible pieces for several hundred dollars.

Or if you were like me, you could take the middle road and spend under $100 and walk away with a few really neat pieces.

So stay tuned!

Oh, speaking of jewellery I received an email from someone at the Toronto Bead Society about a sale they group is having in Toronto this weekend. Check out the email below:

This weekend (May 1-2) at the CNIB building on Bayview just above Eglinton (Bayview #11 bus takes you right there from the Davisville subway station).

Details, including a $2 off admission coupon (makes admission $3) and listings for cheap classes, e.g. making earrings, are at:

Toronto Bead Society

Some expensive, some not so expensive finished pieces as well as gorgeous beads and components. Make sure to wear some spectacular piece of costume jewellery and everyone will stop you to talk.

You would love the vendors that sell vintage and vintage-style beads look especially for Black Tulip Beads and Juicy Beads.

Love your blog!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vintage hat from Poland

My last name is Polish - did you know?

The editorial team at work had a 'field trip' last Friday on the rooftop of The Pilot in Yorkville last Friday - a fun morale-boosting event, let me tell you! - and our editor asked us to wear a 'crazy hat.'

Lacking a crazy hat I donned a glam one - a feathered felt hat I thrifted at Goodwill for $4.99 that says "Made in Poland" inside.

I wuv it. In between the beer and the laughs, my hat was unofficially voted most fashionable of the day.

Turns out the hats were a great idea as we were sitting and drinking in the sun for hours!

You can see my latest thrift acquisition on the lapel of my boyfriend jacket, a Pierre Bex Art Deco style pin picked up at Value Village for $2.99.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

El Toro leather tote, $2.99

I love bags. Big bags. The bigger, the better.

I couldn't get over it when I saw this red leather tote in my local thrift store, Stretch Thrift, for a whopping $2.99.

Sure it was beat up as hell - that was exactly the point.

I could just see some hunky Demi-God of a mannie lugging this baby all over the world. What scents and remnants of stories must be lurking in its semi-musty depths?

I couldn't believe it was $2.99.

The leather tag says "El Toro S.A. " and then "Cuero Genuino", Spanish?, I think, for "genuine leather." I couldn't find any info on the internet, but no matter: I know the bag is steeped in history.

I can truly fit all my junk in it, and best part is I can strap it over my shoulder when the going gets tough.

Just look at that. Ain't she a beauty??

It'll match my thrifted burgundy booties from Value Village, yah!

Thanks to my pal Chris Reynolds for snapping pics of moi.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 Toronto Bottle Show and Sale

Well all I can say is, who thought a vintage bottle sale would be so darn interesting - even sexy?

When Rob Campbell of the Toronto blog Dumpdiggers invited me to the 2010 Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Club Show and Sale, a.k.a. the Toronto Bottle Show, last Sunday, April 18, 2010, I was skeptical:

Who was this Dumpdigger guy (below left, in the green), and why the heck would I, Kelly Gadzala, a.k.a. the Grunge Queen chic-is-cheap gal, want to troll around with him looking at dusty old bottles on a sunny Sunday afternoon?

Natch, my curiosity got the better of me, so Rob and I ended up taking the long trek to Humber College's north campus to 'cess out the show.

Before I delve into my story, you'll notice one thing, below: the bottle show is full of men, mostly middle-age.

Mmm. I'll be writing soon about the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale that was yesterday, April 24, 2010 at the Leaside Memorial Gardens.

That club is full of women, largely middle-aged.

Maybe the two clubs should get together. If they combined their show and sales they'd attract a more diverse crowd (ie: both genders), and heck, throwing a bunch of male and female collectors in a room could make for some interesting chemistry, hee hee.

I won't deny that there wasn't some good junking Karma between Rob and I (you know my thoughts on romance and thrift). He's definitely a guy who is entranced by the thrill of the hunt.

I was entranced by this table of old poison bottles like a shopping addict to a credit card.

So ironic, considering the bright hues were meant to warn people that the bottles contained noxious liquids.

But as collector Dwight (below) explained to me, often the bright colours attracted children to the bottles. Oops.

According to Dwight, before the 1860s bottles with toxic cleaning fluids and such in them looked like all the other bottles. After the 1860s laws dictated that bottles containing poison be not only coloured, but also textured, so people rummaging around for their medicines in the cabinet, perhaps in the dark or in a dimly-lit Victorian room, wouldn't swallow the bad stuff thinking it was their medicine.

Speaking of textured bottles, I was crushing on this old Crush bottle from the 195os (?).

I'm too young to know this but that little dude on the top of the bottle was known as "Mr Crushie" or "Crushie."

Poor Mr. Crushie. He didn't make the grade, did he?

While we're on the topic of pop logos, pop bottle collector Bill explained to me that 7Up used to have a "Bubble Up" girl on the label of the bottle - apparently she was there in 1949 but not in 1950. Seems at odds with our contemporary philosophy regarding sex and marketing, but back then, it seems, pop was all about being wholesome and healthful, not sexy.

Don't believe me?

Check out this 1937 Pepsi-Cola bottle.

Yup, Pepsi was marketed as "A Sparkling Bracing Beverage" ... "Refreshing" and "Healthful."

But I don't think it was just spin - soda was indeed considered healthful back in the day (see below for more on link between soda and druggists).

I guess I'm tainted by my own sexed-up modern sensibility, 'cos when saw the "Penetrating Oil" bottle below I wasn't thinking it was made for industrial use ....

Bad Grunge Queen.

I liked this collector's stuff as he kept the original liquids in the bottles and they were more valuable to him that way - though perhaps not as valuable in the rest of the collecting world.

It just adds another layer of history to actually see and smell what's in the bottle - no drinking or ingesting though!

This collector, Jamie, also has a thing for brightly coloured labels with interesting names and neat graphics on them.

Some of the products at another table, and the slogans on them, were a hoot.

Take this sample of Turpo "Turpentine Ointment," made from, you guessed it, turpentine!

Kondon's "Nasal Jelly" sounded pretty freaky/disturbing too, and I had to wonder what Lykes' "Comfort Powder" was meant to minister to? Yikes.

While we're on the topic of mysteries, any idea what this glass chain is??

I wasn't sure, but I just think the idea of a glass chain is such a neat paradox - fragility vs. strength.

Apparently these chains were made by glass makers for their friends and family, according to collector Jamie. They were never available on the market and were used as decorative hanging pieces in windows.

Needless to say the jewellery junkie in me thought it would make a neat necklace!

You'd have to be really careful wearing it, though. No jostling, please.

It was $175 so I had to leave it these, alas.

This photo of moi is courtesy Rob Campbell of Dumpdiggers.

The "Then & Now" display was totally cool - all those brands that you know, love and still use have been around for years and years and were once made in glass bottles ... Pond's face cream, Palmolive soap, HP Sauce, and more.

That was the uber neat thing about chatting with the collectors and looking at their bottles: so many of the bottles were tied to Toronto and Toronto-area companies. Hearing the stories behind the bottles uncovered pieces of Toronto's business history for me and made me hunger for more info.

I just had to show you this pic of Bill looking at a 1920s bottle of grape pop with the juice still in it - I loved it as all of his bottles still had the original pop inside.

He's looking for the date that's etched in the bottle. I really dug this bottle on sight for a few reasons: the funky bulbous top that is so uncharacteristic of the other pop bottles; the fact that it held purple (mon fave colour) liquid; the fact that Bill was such a good sport posing with it.

You may not know it but many of the druggists of the day also were, or eventually became, soda pop makers because soda pop was initially mixed and made at drug stores at the soda fountain - I'm a fountain of information aren't I?

Corny, I know.

This is my big purchase for the day, a teeny doll bottle with "A Reliable Doll" etched on it - for a buck.

I'm nothing if not a reliable doll.

A quick internet search reveals that the Reliable Doll Company was a Toronto-based company that existed from the 1920s-90s. This was obviously a bottle for a doll that dates way back.

I wonder if I should have given this to Mr. Dumpdigger, in memory of our day together? No, I like it too much ... and I'd like to think he needs no reminder of the Grunge Queen ....

But he did buy me a blue ribbed poison bottle with "Sulpholine" inscribed on it. Not sure what sulpholne was used for... hopefully I didn't make him think he wanted to poison me!!

All in all, fellow grungers, it was an intriguing day.

I learned a lot, met a new grunging pal, and I kept myself open to new possibilities and experiences I may not have otherwise tried or done - you only live once, right? I suppose I have Rob to thank for that.

Now I will always look at old bottles in a whole new way.

I'll be posting all my pics on Flickr soon so check 'em out.

You can read about the 2010 Toronto Bottle Show on Dumpdiggers too.

Jewellery Show & Sale post coming soon!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Costume jewellery a la Value Village

Vintage Costume Jewellery Sale tomorrow! If you're in the big smoke check out Leaside Memorial Community Gardens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission and parking and vintage costume bling from over 20 dealers - bring cash!

We've generated some great awareness about the sale out there in the blog-o-sphere and Twitter land, including a shout out from Toronto style blogger extrordinaire Geekigirl and a shout out the other day by Toronto's The Weekender, yay!!

I celebrated by popping into good 'old Value Village on my way home the other day. I found this fabulous 1970s gold-tone necklace for $12.99. I'm wearing it with a 1980s blazer and a bright yellow bag.

I love this pin I picked up for $2.99.

If what I've learned at the jewellery club is correct, this is an Art Deco style pin by French jewellery maker Pierre Bex.

Bex made Art Deco style pins and earrings from 1969 to the late 80s. Most are not signed and they are all enamelled. Not sure how much this one is worth but I'm so happy to have found it. The green enamel Art Deco style pin I showed you recently is also a Pierre Bex.

This stamped Coro brooch was a little more, $6.99. I don't think it's valuable per se - Coro developed a cheaper line of bling and also a more expensive one - but just thought it was funky.

Why? The roses turn - you can slowly spin them. And the clasp at the back is mounted so that the brooch wiggles a bit as you wear it.

Jiggly spinning roses? Well, why not?

Don't know why I keep buying brooches. I'll wear the necklaces but rarely the pins. I often give them away as gifts or sometimes I do put them on a lapel or use one to keep a scarf in place. They just make me happy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring streamlining

I'll give you a break from the bling and show you my mini-re-org in my pad, inspired by my recent lamp acquisitions - to those who have requested more decorating posts, thanks for your patience.

As you know from last week's post, I found this silver mirrored glass lamp and shade for $10 at a big sale at my fave lighting store in TO, Consumers Lighting & Lamps.

I decided to relocate the 'library' (ie: old brass retractable bookends with books in them) that was in my bedroom to the top of this vanity.

I cleaned up the Barrymore loveseat by putting a blue cover under the upholstered cushion.

I had a slipcover over it before but it went to the floor, and I must admit I prefer a clean line that shows the legs of the sofa. The huge pillow was found at my fave decor consignment shop in TO, Around the Block, for $30. It's custom-made with Victorian floral fabric - such a find.

In the warmer months it just feels natural to streamline the clutter and keep surfaces sparse and crisp.

The vignette on this bureau (which was dug up in the trash) was pretty extreme for me - there's only one ornament on it! But I like the clean look. Here the wood lacquer mirror and the piece of folk art are my 'accessories'.

I did the same clean sweep with my dining room table, relocating the strip of Ralph Lauren wall paper that was on my desk to the table. A couple lamps and just a couple decorative pieces finish off the look.

It's always funny to see peoples' reactions to my space when they visit. Just when I think I've been the ultimate streamlining slut, someone says, "Gosh you have a lot of stuff", or "Wow you have a lot of healthy clutter." Guess it's all relative eh?

Here's a view of the new lamp looking over the bottle green Kroehler sofa.

I didn't change much here; just put the thrifted gilt mirror where a big print was. In the mirror you can see that I relocated the big floral print to my work space.

I'm calling this a mini-re-org as I didn't get down and dirty and move any furniture. All I did was add and then rotate some lamps, change up a few lampshades, and move some accessories and art/mirrors.

You can get a whole new look by changing up and rotating your accessories - just as you accessorize the basics in your wardrobe by donning different pieces of jewellery, handbags and scarves.

I often think that lamps are the bling of the decor world - they really function like jewellery to me.

Gee, I am still finding a way to bring it all back to jewellery, aren't I???

I added a dramatic punch to my teak hutch by swapping the large gilt mirror for this darker lacquered one. I took off the runner to show off the wood, kept the books but added the large base lamp with the red shade.

The lamp is so big I think it merits being on a large piece of furniture, for scale. Then I plopped on an orange Made in Canada glass vase, for extra oomph. On the subject of mirrors, I love placing them directly across from or kitty-corner to windows - they reflect the light, make a dark corner lighter, and enlarge the space.

Voila! Mini-re-org complete!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More 1970s bling

This is becoming unofficial vintage costume jewellery week.

Here's an urban-esque shot of me wearing my latest vintage costume jewelery acquisition, picked up at the 7th annual estate sale of Toronto vintage shops Gadabout and Eclectisaurus.

I bought this 1960s-70s? necklace from dealer Angela McCool.

It isn't signed but I just love it; it's a real statement piece necklace and it has purple glass beads and faceted pieces.

Here's a closer look.

There are also tiny purple faceted pieces at the end of the gold fringe on the bottom.

The trick with a statement piece necklace is you don't want it to compete with other elements of your outfit.

The scarf may have been pushing it, but I only wore it outside as it was cool-ish the other day.

I'm not so sure this piece is 'worth' a lot but it is quite distinctive and I really do love it (have been wearing it non-stop for a few days now).

Just remember that a piece doesn't have to be 'valuable' per se for it to have value for you.

I found a couple more vintage costume jewellery pieces yesterday during a Value Village dig on my way home, and I will share them this week along with my reason for buying them - I also almost picked up something marked 'Sherman' but decided it was a fake.

Remember: vintage bling sale in Toronto this Saturday, April 24 at Leaside Memorial Gardens.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Become your own vintage costume jewellery hunter

Got your eye on granny's brooch?

Sold all your gold at those trendy home parties an have some cash to burn?

Itching to create a spring style statement that will transcend the accessory du jour and pack a powerful fashion punch?

Then you simply must check out the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale this Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens, William Lea Room (free admission and parking; or take bus north from Donlands subway and you're there in a jiff).

As you probably know if you drop in to Grunge Queen regularly, I'm a vintage costume jewellery junkie and I normally find my bling at thrift shops, antique markets and church sales. I look for styles I like (mostly 1960s-80s), a good weight, a sturdy clasp and designer signatures or maker stamps.

But Patricia Gostick, long-time collector and seller and founder/president of the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club, recently gave me some pointers on how to find the good stuff.

I found all of these huge vintage cocktail rings at thrift shops or garage sales.

Gostick also recommends checking out antique malls and markets, consignment shops and even online - though she says to exercise caution online as there are lots of fakes and reproductions on the market. It's often better to touch and feel a piece in your hands to get a sense of what it is and its value.

The club is all about education, so the more you educate yourself the better you will be able to identify pieces. Gostick says to ask dealers questions, and read books on the subject. An internet search for books on "costume jewelry" (note spelling) will yield the best results, she says.

Buy what you like, she suggests, and start to develop a signature look with a few outstanding pieces, like huge cocktail rings, unique bracelets (worn all together) or piles of pearls.

My particular penchant: statement piece necklaces from the 70s, and cocktail rings from the same era.

Investing in a good jeweller's loupe (not the crappy magnifying glass I picked up at the dollar store) is another idea, she says, as it will help you to identify signed pieces.

It's good to look for signed pieces but they are not always an indicator of value, Gostick says.

Companies like Trifari and Coro developed higher-end and and lower end pieces, both of which are signed.

Canadian designer Gustave Sherman is said by some to have signed all his pieces, though there is a debate raging in the collectors world that he perhaps didn't sign everything.

Lastly, Gostick says you should patronize reputable dealers who specialize in vintage costume jewellery.

Some antique dealers are generalists and may not have the detailed knowledge a specialist may.

Gostick amazes me with her breadth of knowledge, as do the other ladies in the club. I sure do look forward to learning more in the months that come.

The sale this weekend, just so you know, will have collectible pieces for several hundred bucks, but there will be lots of affordable items in the $20-$30 range.

I will be there in a PR capacity (not selling), so if you're game for a shop and a gander, please drop by and introduce yourself!

If you're interested in the club, please contact me by emailing me here or email We don't have a web page yet but I am hoping to work on that soon enough.

Happy hunting!!!

For a recent newspaper article I wrote on Patricia Gostick, click here

PHOTOS BY Joey Cee taken at the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Toronto.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Church sale pals & booty

This is my garage sale bud and general friend Matthew. He's sitting in the foyer of a church in Riverdale on Saturday, anticipating the opening of its semi-annual rummage sale.

Matt and I go back a few years. We've trolled garage sales together. We've hauled a Kroehler loveseat down the sidewalk together, booty from a garage sale a few years ago. We're bosom junking buds, and we always have a hoot when we garage sale together.

Vital: we don't compete. He's an electronics man; I'm a jewellery and accessories gal.

While we were waiting for the doors to open, in walks my pal Diana (left) of A Touch of Vintage. I wrote about Diana recently (for the article, click here) after discovering her online Etsy shop and that she also sold locally from a small studio. We became pals. Another thrifting and vintage kindred spirit.

She's standing next to Sue, another Riverdaler who just happens to be a fellow jewellery junkie and fellow member of the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club I recently joined.

Alas, there was hardly any bling. I was pretty disappointed as two years ago there was a huge table of the stuff.

I did buy this granny locket for three bucks, after Sue graciously gave it up - Sue, you sure you don't want it??

It's a pretty big locket on a long gold-tone chain. Love it.

I also found this pendant and chain for three dollars. I thought initially that it was a perfume bottle but then noticed the hinge at the bottom.

Open it up - and it's a watch! Tres granny chic!

It says Caravelle on the top of the watch face - and from what I can tell Caravelle was an affordable line of jewellery and jewelled watches created by Bulova in the 1960s.

It doesn't work but I still have to look into getting a battery.

So for six bucks, I was pretty happy, though I was prepared to battle pushy ladies at the jewellery table and walk home with a pile of retro baubles.

Diana (below) totally scored by finding this retro metal wall hanging.

I can't tell you how much she paid for it 'cos then she'll have to kill me - oops just got a news flash from Diana, she's not selling it so I can divulge the deal: a fiver! Quelle deal. I've almost had cat fights in thrift shops over these things. Not easy to find.

This week:

An exciting trip to a vintage bottle show & sale with veteran collector Rob Campbell of Dump Diggers

More vintage bling from a weekend sale

More pics of moi wearing vintage costume jewellery - if you're local remember that the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale is this Saturday, April 24 a Leaside Memorial Community Gardens!