Saturday, July 28, 2012

Art School

As promised, I would love to share some of my grandmother's art school work from the early 1940s.
While our family has more of her professional (actual ads), this is what resides on the walls of my apartment.

Two back stories: 

Story one: My grandma, Dorothy Steen (eventually Hedlund) attended art school in Minneapolis during the war, and afterwords returned to the West Coast. Being a serious badass woman and all, she worked her way up to the Art Director position at Cole & Webber advertising agency in downtown Seattle. She hustled it in the ad realm, and was living in the historic Biltmore Apartments, 2 blocks from my current apartment.
 She met my grandfather (who is another war-related badass post), and was wed in July of 1949. She ended up "retiring" to raise children, insert old timey affairs here. I know my grandmother truly loves her husband, her kids, and her life.... but I have a hunch she still plays coulda, woulda, shoulda in her mind, and misses working to this day (she is now 88). I think there is a reason I only own her clothes from the '40s. After that, she didn't care to keep them - what she kept, she paid for with her own well earned money. 
Get it, girl.

Story two: When I was about ten, my mom & I unearthed a mystery plastic garbage bag in the basement of my grandparent's house in Tacoma, WA. God only knows how long it was down in the deep, dark depths. Inside, we found a large amount of sketches & assignments from her art school days. Unfortunately, most of this was originally painted in gouache. Gouache is a lush, deeply beautiful format, but also contains natural fibers, which means it can mold over time. So gouache + musty basement for years + garbage bag encasing moisture = you do the math. At 18, my grandma officially told me I could have said moldy works. I spent hours... and hours.... and HOURS (days and days and days... and days?) meticulously trying to restore this stuff. I battled it with two tools: a toothbrush, and a straight razor when necessary. I scrubbed a lot of the surface mold off with the toothbrush, and then painstakingly scraped off a thin layer of the gouache when necessary, exposing the original pigment. None of it is perfect, but it's 100% better than it was!

But worth it.

She was over at my apartment recently, and was excited this was all up, and got to reinspect it for the first time in *yeaaaars*. It was an absolute JOY to show her, it made all those hours of effort vanish.

So here are my favs, which don't even begin to document the number I actually have. 

Pretty pretty pretty please with cherries on top, never ever ever EVER repost this without crediting my blog and her name. This is beyond intellectual property, I will cut throats. 


 This one is so morbid and ambiguous, I asked her about it. Psychosis in September??? She has no idea..... 
I loooooove it.

Phenomenal, AMIRIGHT?

Here are a few more images I had the privilege of scanning from a sketchbook in my aunt's possession:

Self Portrait time!!!

Also, in this sketchbook, I also discovered Captain James Stewart's address.... that's right...  

 I asked my grandmother about this very exciting discovery, and she told me her cousin was in this bomb squadron with Jimmy Stewart. She asked for a mailing address but never wrote him. Uhhhh.... maybe it's a generation gap, but I would make attempts to encounter him far, far beyond a letter. (Cut to my mug shot.)
OMG!!!!!! Can you even imagine?! 


Anyhow, I feel like this Jimmy Stewart swoon-fest is distracting from the fact of the matter: 
My grandmother is amazing. So, soooooo amazing. 

Insert an impossible level of love and admiration in my heart here.

Interestingly enough, the art school she went to wasn't accredited til a few years later. BUT! In the past year, they have contacted all their living graduates from before that time, and honored them bachelor degrees. So as of recently, my grandmother *just* earned her college degree. She didn't feel comfortable traveling to Minneapolis at 88, but she is still quite excited... even braggy... about it.

Are you dying of adorable awesomeness right now? Because I know I am.

I hope more than anything in the world that she follows in her mother's footsteps and lives another 20 years. (Yes, my family is that resilient, hoping it's genetic....)


On another note, I was just interviewed by Seattle Met Magazine for their monthly "Blog Spot" article! Mega thanks to Laura Cassidy & Ray Onzuka for the opportunity! Check it out here!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bring On The Dancing Horses

I once read somewhere that "Seattle is like a really hot girlfriend who is always sick."
This stuck with me - and I repeat it often - because it's so, so true.

Tis the season for sunshine though, and it's a great reminder that Seattle can be spectacularly gorgeous when she's not... uh, under the weather. So here is an outfit for sunshine, taken in the side "yard" of my apartment....

I adore this dress. I bought it in the heart of winter, on quite possibly the gloomiest evening possible. 
I felt like I was purchasing a sliver of sunlight.

While the lightweight war-era rayon makes my heart go pitter-pat, it's the embroidered details that seal the deal.

And then there's the bakelite...

One day, I was at my grandma's house, and just happened to be reading this book on bakelite. 
I showed her some pictures, yadee yada, and she disappeared into her room.
...Out she came with a horse pin! Ahhh! She ducked out again, and came back with an even bigger horse!! I almost had a glee-related heart attack. (Thanks, grandma! You're the best!)

I could talk forever about how awesome my grandmother is. 
Don't worry, she will be her own post, for her WWII art school assignments will blow your mind.
In brief, she is amazingly talented.

Getting back on track here... More accessories.

Comfy & cute '40s shoes, unworn when I met them! Inexplicably inexpensive, kind of baffling.

After these photos were taken, I encountered a pleasant surprise: A New York Creation tag!

Hooray!! While I have a million NYC hats, the dresses seem to be particularly difficult to find. The only other dress I have is... sad. It was $3. Let's just say, I would not wear it in front of my mom, for the damage would simply annoy her to death. 

In other news, I am going back to my restaurant job tomorrow! Thank the universe, because I miss shopping! Oh yeah... and I should pay some bills, sigh.

1940s dress & shoes: Red Light
1950s purse: Lucky Vintage
Bakelite: grandma!

All photos courtesy of Irene Wang (of Heirloom Attire)


This dress deserves a real post (especially because I recently acquired a lovely matching hat!)

...But I couldn't wait.

My mending pile is always incredibly daunting, but out of boredom (aka immobility) I just made a dress! It's the Ceylon, by Colette Patterns. I haven't made anything from scratch in at least 5 years, so this is huge!

I'm so happy about it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peplum Party

Hello, hello! 

Today, I'm going to share a bright '40s party ensemble, but first...
Three cheers for crutchless mobility!
I even danced last night... I can't say it wasn't hilarious, but oh so worth it!

Best thing about the walking boot?
It's pretty tall, so I actually have to wear heels with it. HA!
Makes me happy!

Other things that put a grin on my face...

Tah Duhhh! Sparkly purple '40s dress!

Sometimes, old things have problems. This dress' problem?
Light fade. Silly rayon!
In this case though, I'm actually super into it. Light damage tends to be in the usual places - shoulders, one side of the garment, sometimes just the hem.
Not this time! I think it's pretty.

Regardless, the details more than make up for the color variation.

Those sleeves! 
Sequined peplum insanity!
 Buttons down the back!


Fancy pants beaded '40s purse & my favorite '30s bangle.
A lot of people who see this bangle assume it's bakelite, so I feel like not specifying is tantamount to lying. It's carved wood! Perfect, because if it were bakelite... I probably couldn't afford it, haha.

Shoes = The best $10 I've ever spent. Omg, thanks etsy.

1940s dress: Red Light... I think?
1940s purse: Lucky Vintage
1940s heels: Etsy
1930s bangle: Rhinestone Rosie

Photos courtesy of Irene Wang (of Heirloom Attire)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oh, It's Such a Perfect Day

On Saturday, I had the honor of attending the wedding of Lucky Vintage owner, Caryn Cook.
All five Lucky employees, some presents, & my crutches piled into a Honda Civic, and cramped hilarity ensued.

The wedding took place in the shady oasis of her friends' backyard.
The ceremony was incredibly sweet, with paper lanterns, jewel tones & (my favorite part) a cello-guitar ensemble playing Nick Cave & Lou Reed covers.

 Caryn looked absolutely stunning. That dress! The colors! Her obvious glee!

First dance - so, so lovely.


I wish I had gotten more pictures of the ceremony, but I was... stuck in my chair.

Danitza & I - cheers to the happy couple!!!

Accidental matching = the best kind of matching.

Paul is such a cutie... and that is definitely a '50s womens work jumpsuit
Reason #1,002 Paul is the best dressed man I know.

Anna's incredible '30s bakelite dress clip (worn as a pendant)

And LOOK at these sleeves!

I got this '30s dress at Red Light a year or so ago, but it's certifiably at least 8" too big for me in the waist, so I finally talked some sense into myself & sold it to Lucky. It's gigantic on Anna too, but with a belt she is working it! I still miss it.... I mean.... those sleeves! Ahhh!

 Oh-so-good novelty print on Caryn's friends '40s dress. Ropes + pretzels!

Awkward stance, meet '40s New York Creations tilt hat. Mmm, yes please.

After the wedding, we all took a trek up to Darrell's in Shoreline.

Darrell's is badass. It's been around a long, long time, but is now under new ownership. This place hasn't been remodeled at all since the late '60s - early '70s. The new owner hasn't changed a thing, and it's now a great venue for local (mostly rockabilly?) bands. I say that with a question mark, for I've only been there twice. The first time, there was a lineup of rockabilly bands. Saturday, there was a great '60s cover band, The Moon Spinners. This place is the perfect divey blend of regulars (read: old men) & a friendly younger crowd.

Babequake with a tambourine!

Not ironic!

Drink up!

Ready for a Honeymoon, Hawaiians in full force!

Congratulations, David & Caryn!!

Cute overload.

Since there were six Lucky Bitches in one place, there's an unsurprising amount of product from Lucky Vintage in this post! So here we go: My 1940s rayon wrap dress, Danitza's early 1950s lace dress & her 1950s hat, Anna's 1930s-40s dress (via Red Light) & 1930s bakelite dress clip... There is probably more! But those I was certain of;) Three cheers for the best dang vintage store in town!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day

Yesterday was going to be a day of picnics, parties & lakeside sangria...
Yay! Independence Day!

Unfortunately.... it was more of an Anti-Independence Day for me, because I broke my foot Tuesday morning! I was walking to work, twisted my ankle on a curb, and fell in some sort of *perfect storm* sort of fashion.... uuughhhh.

My good friend dragged me to the hospital, and they set me up with a temporary cast & some crutches. I find out tomorrow what my long-term situation is. Cross your fingers for me I get a walking cast!

Luckily, the last time Irene came over, we took several rounds of outfit post pics. I know this is kind of "cheating", but it turned out to be a blessing - I still have some back up posts for a bit!

This is what I planned on wearing yesterday, before life pushed me down & laughed in my face:

Instead, I hung out in pjs all day yesterday (well, a '30s nightgown, maybe that makes things better?)

I adore this '40s dress! It entered my life in a sad state of disrepair, and it has since become very close friends with my Bernina. Worth it, don't you think?

I bought this "purse" on my recent trip to Portland.
Ok, so it's actually a lunchbox;)
My mom kind of hates it, because it's "obviously a lunchbox", but I think it's just because she had a similar one as a child. The red part surrounds a tin bottom, and it came with a matching thermos.

I'm still afraid to use the thermos, and probably will always be, but I still love the set.

I got these '40s heels on etsy... for $10.
I used to think it was only on eBay where you can find hilariously low prices, but they exist on etsy too! They just require more digging. I got these, a pair of black '40s platforms, and a pair of '40s babydolls for $30, with free shipping. Know what they were tagged as? Vintage. Shoes. That's it. And a terrible iPhone pic. Ha!

Actually, now that I think about it & add things up... this entire outfit cost me about $25.  
*Thrifty dance*

Hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July!
I actually did too, even though I was still in a lot of pain, and was trapped at home. I watched a bunch of old movies, did some mending, and nerded out with a good friend.

I guess this is going to be my life for a bit, which is difficult for me to fathom. I'm the type that works too much, plays hard, is never home, and barely sleeps. Now I have all of this time all of a sudden? I think I'm going to focus on eliminating my mending pile, knitting a few '30s-'40s hats, and maybe making a dress, if I get that ambitious.

 All photos courtesy of Irene Wang (of Heirloom Attire)