Sunday, October 21, 2012


This week I was on a thrifting mission. I had a list and a plan to stick to it. I needed a large aluminium dye pot, a steamer and a glass measuring jug that could  be used in my studio for mixing up stuff you don't want near the kitchen. I set forth and in the very first oppie I was utterly unsuccessful - no glass jugs and teeny tiny saucepans. However, I did find some intriguing plastic bags full of stuff ...

They were stuffed full of goodies - vintage belt buckles, buttons, brass curtain rings - even some old coins. I purchased them as consolation that the things I needed were not to be had - well who wouldn't right? I was feeling pretty optomistic as I trundled off to the next thrift store - surely the saucepan of my dreams awaited inside? And there was a great pot there - but I was sure someone had made a mistake pricing it - fifteen bucks?! I don't think so! As I was leaving and muttering about the unrealistic expectations of some thrift stores, I happened to see a 50 cent rack out of the corner of my eye - ah - far more my style and price range. I had a flick through checking out the shirts for their buttons and textile potential. I found this ...

It is 100% cotton - perfect for India Flint style dyeing - and has this intriguing beadwork. The shirt was made in Africa (the label was "Viva Afrika"- can you believe it?!) and is a lovely sage green - although it looks a bit grey in the photo. I recognised this style of beadwork from a project I did a few years ago about non-verbal communication. I researched Zulu beadwork which traditionally has been used as a form of communication and is full of codes and symbolism. The beadwork also encapsulates certain moral and social mores and follows certain guidlines :
  • Beadwork communicates between unrelated males and females, avoiding the discomfort of direct initial discourse on the sensitive subject of personal relations.
  • Beadwork flows from females, the designers and manufactures, to males - their traditional clients.
  • Men wear beadwork to show involvement with women they may marry, incestuous implications preclude beaded gifts from mothers, sisters and daugters.
  • Beadwork symbolism is encoded within a limited number of colours and geometric figures.
  • Colour symbols have alternative values but those assigned to geometric figures are constant.
  • Values assigned to colours are in groups of positive and negative alternatives, excepting white, which has no negative connotation.
  • Symbolic coding is influenced by a number of factors
    1. The combination and arrangement of colours.
    2. The use and nature of an object.
    3. The deliberate breaking of rules by which these factors operate
(I nabbed this info from here because it is so succinct!)

The beadwork on the shirt reminded me of the Zulu work I had seen - of course it is highly unlikley (zero chance really) to be actual factual traditional Zulu work (there is plenty of touristy stuff made in this vein) but I thought it was pretty cool to score this lovely work and a cotton shirt to cut up for 50 cents. Kinda made up for the overpriced pot really. Buoyed by this purchase and with true indomitable op shoppers spirit I headed to the next thrift store on my list. I had hope in my heart ... alas, the best the next shop had to offer in the jug department was a really sorry-arse plastic number and all the pots were swish stainless steel jobs.  By now the weight of disappointment was bearing heavily upon me but as a veteran op shopper I carried on - bearing my load as best I could. I sought solace with a perusal of  the rest of the shop ...

Score! Scrummy orange floral tin.

Score! Printed tin full of vintage girls.

Bugger the self imposed "Tin Moratorium" these babies had to come home with me! By the time I got to the carpark the adrenalin rush of finding these tins had worn off and like any junkie I was heading for the crash - this op shopping is not for the fainthearted folks .. it is a slippery slope I tell ya. So there I was, alone in a grungy carpark, my quest unfulfilled and my funds rapidly disappearing ... I was close to despair ...  There was just one op shop left to visit and although I wasn't sure if I could bear the disappointment of not achieving my aim, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and set forth. I entered the thrift store with some trepidation although I was cheered by the lovely greetings from the staff. Cautiously and desperate to avoid the disappointment that might just send me into a tailspin of despair I sidled off to the area where all the kitcheny stuff is kept. Would I find what I was looking for? Would Lady Luck and the Op Shop Faeries be kind to me? Would the thrift shop come through for me? These were some of the questions whirling around my brain, tormenting me as I picked my way through miscellaneous Tupperware lids, mis-matched cutlery and old jam jars. But wait - could it be? My heart leapt with joy when my eyes lit upon a table simply burgeoning with aluminium saucepans and such. Hoorah!

The op shop ladies were a little startled by my "sqeeeeeeeee" of delight but were far too polite to remark on it. One of them did explain that "most people don't want to use aluminium pots any more dear - it makes them a bit mental - you know like the hatters ..." - I think she was concerned for my mental health after the "squeeeeee" but was still happy to take my five dollars ... Success at last. I returned home exhausted but triumphant. All of which just goes to show that perseverance in the face of adversity (and op shops with a lack of what you need) can be overcome with a "can-do" attitude. I hope you had some op shop adventures this week. Won't you share them with us? Go on - you just need to click on the linky do-dad below ...


Melissa said...

Love your adventure and I'm glad you found your treasures, I dont get why stuff is so expensive, it's all donated. Some of the antique shops are cheaper!

Enchanted Moments said...

I agree Melissa, I hang out at the vintage collectable now as the oppies near me dont have anything that appeals to me lately....and if it does, its too expensive..!!!
Ill join in your linky as soon as I get my goods up in a post this week...I found some rusty, crusty , old and musty treasures....

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