Monday, 26 March 2012

Interview with Christine from Meanglean

Image - Meanglean
It was a tiny little chicken that led me to discover the fabulous Meanglean Etsy store.  I blogged about this fabulous little toy and how much it made me smile. (Check out the smile chicken post). Christine who is the fabulous owner of Meanglean very kindly agreed to do an interview and let us know more about how she finds, curates and relates to the items in her magnificent emporium.

You say you tend to gravitate towards small shiny things do you have a particular favourite type of a vintage item?

Yes, anything that will fire up my imagination, either because I have no idea what it is and find it curious, or when I see it I can sense that there is a story within, with any luck a piece of history. Also I love miniatures, particularly if they have the potential to be used for any other creative endeavour, like altered arts, jewellery assemblage and so forth. Mostly, I'll look at something and think: Somebody somewhere needs this precise little weird thing.

Image - Meanglean
One of the things I found so appealing about your vintage store was the vast range of items 1970s nylon pants to a hand carved south American donkey. Are there certain things you look for when choosing pieces? Colour, origin, back story, etc?

One of the exciting aspects of the search for items is the randomness of it all. I have to keep an open mind because I never know what I am going to stumble upon. I am immediately attracted to certain materials; bone, wood, brass, enamels and mother of pearl just to mention a few. Of course the main factor is charm and the more specific these things are the better, when I find something that had a function I didn't even know existed, that's like hitting the jackpot. There is a lot of learning in this process of rummaging through old stuff that is endlessly satisfying.

Images - Meanglean

It's mean to ask but...! Can you pick three favourite items currently in your shop and tell us why you like them so much?

Uhh, that is a tough one. I have these colourful paper ephemera packs:

Image - Meanglean

They are prize cards from Horticultural shows, mostly poultry from the 1930s in England, I find them absolutely stunning and it is such fun to imagine all the buzzing and bidding that went on.

Another item I love is this little badge from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing:

Image - Meanglean

The badge depicts the Three Graces who in ancient Greek mythology represent the personifications of charm, beauty and creativity. The ISTD's chief objective is "to educate the public in the art of dancing in all its forms" What it represents is so beautiful. I have become a great lover of society badges like this, they are such great story tellers and, sometimes, quite funny because they can take themselves so seriously.

And I also choose this silver filigree ring with turquoise stones that I picked up from a flea market in Lisbon:

Image - Meanglean

I have my own collection of these that I have accumulated over the years, all from the same place.
Other than their evident beauty, what fascinates me about them is that each one is a love story, possibly of heartbreak since they have been disposed of. I don't know if this tradition was more universal, but in Portugal these rings were gifts of woe, if a girl agreed to become a young man's girlfriend then she would wear a ring like this as a sign of commitment. A pre engagement ring if you like. When I was a teenager this tradition still existed, although the rings had been reduced to very simple and thin bands very similar to the standard wedding ring, difference being they were worn on the right hand.

Tell us about some of the things you have crafted with your vintage finds.

Most of the objects I craft end up as gifts. It is too hard to be objective and put a value on them so, this way, I can still think that they are within reach. However, there are these two I can share with you, both are entirely made of things I have found and both were made when I was feeling quite lonely and isolated, which can happen very easily when working from home and, I guess, anyone can relate to:

Starry Night Necklace - Meanglean

I wish I was Outside necklace - Meanglean

Name three major influence on your collections.

I'll start big, with Space the Universe and Everything in it.
I am a bit of a sci fi geek as well as a lover of science and philosophy audio books. Often I will be working to the sound of Carl Sagan or Allan Watts expanding on the great mysteries, of course this seeps into my crafty works and also, on how I perceive the delicate existence of my vintage finds.  To me, it is no small miracle that they have survived till today and are up there for anyone who wants them.

There is also film. Cinema is always on my mind.
Old objects usually strike me as potential great props, or perfect Mcguffins. Lately I have been finding myself more and more drawn to stop motion animation and video art, so anything that has wire inside or any movable parts or is see through can lend it self to these genres.

Last but not least, I am very much influenced by the people in my life, most of them related to the arts one way or another.  Through them I become aware of stuff I have never considered before, and this opens up all sorts of possibilities and new ways of expression.

One example is street artist Donk:

I find his work so very beautiful and inspiring, I love all the quasi religious quality to his iconography and his use of words always make me smile. This form of free art is something that only recently entered my consciousness. Donk has influenced me to venture out of my comfort zone. To go out there and stick up some things of my own. For that I am so very grateful, it's an amazing gift.

If you were to put together a treasury collection inspired by your background in film and theatre, which play or movie would you choose and which items would you include?

Well, Two films that came to mind when I thought of this were; Disney's Fantasia and Barbarella.
Both are a feast to the eyes and the more I thought about it the less I was able to choose, so here they are:

'Fantasia - Music, Magic and Glitter' by Meanglean

Celebrating films I love

Glitter Fall Fallin...
SALE Dramatic Party...
south storm & full ...
Valentine Headband,...
Purple Glitter 0 ga...
Original 5-frame 35...
POW Glitter Fascina...
Mickey Mouse in Fan...
White, Silver or Bl...
The Light Before Th...
Labradorite Necklac...
Be In Luv w/Music 6...
Summer Storm (100x7...
Angel Dreamy Misty ...
The Etude Music Mag...
Hot Pink Elephants ...

'Barbarella's Quarters' by Meanglean

Celebrating films I love

Supernova Aurora Bo...
Space City vinyl wa...
Space Case - Metall...
Electric Space Heat...
Glass Lampwork Retr...
Lost in Space Leggi...
Vintage 60s Translu...
Vintage French 60s ...
60s Clear Space Age...
1970s Space Age Sil...
Size 6 Vintage 60s ...
Space Shuttle Atlan...
Hubble Deep Field P...
Wings money clip
New Age MitLits for...
Mixed Metal Quartz ...

How do you keep on top of your compulsive hoarding? Is it hard to let go of pieces you have found?

It all takes a lot of negotiating.
All the things you see in the shop are there because I fell in love with them, right from the moment I picked them up. They live with me for a while, I photograph them, process the images, do a bit of research and then try to verbalize why I find them so awesome. So there is a whole relationship I have with these items. Sometimes I will sell something I quite like very quickly and that can make me feel like I haven't had enough time with them. I am learning to be more strategic about it. Now I tend to put off posting items till I am satisfied they have told me all their secrets.

 On the other hand, I have come to make peace with and appreciate the fact that my surroundings are always changing. I am constantly redecorating and my favourites are where I can see them. This is an opportunity to reorganize all the stuff, because it can get quite mad, and reassess some of the things that don't feel right for the shop. I am getting better at disposing of them.

Also, one of the many reasons why I am on Etsy, is that the people there tend to be incredibly generous and open. Often buyers will write to me explaining what they are going to do with something they have bought. That is always surprising.

As an example, I had these novelty Key rings shaped like a toilet, they were so naff, their only saving grace was being so perfect in their minuteness and so colourful:

Image - Meanglean

A french lady got in touch explaining that she was a teacher for children with special needs and she wanted a few of these to make it easier for the kids to express when they needed to go to the loo. She bought the whole lot.

Without revealing your trade secrets are there particular places you go hunting for your vintage treasures?

I travel a fair bit through European cities and the first thing I will research before going there, are their flea markets. It is something I have always done, it is a great way to get to know the place because quite often they will be off the beaten track. Also, It is curious to see how different people get rid of different stuff, so you never know what curiosities you might find.
 One of my favourite such experiences was when my previous job took me to Moscow, on one of my outings I managed to get lost and, totally serendipitously, came upon a huge market.
 The front section was loads of neat and charming stalls selling mostly souvenirs, but hidden at the far back was a field where people had blankets on the floor, these were all old people making an extra something out of junk, none of which spoke any English and I only know how to say thank you in Russian, so there was a lot of writing numbers down on pieces of paper, gesticulating and laughter. It was great, I love haggling and being challenged in this way, providing it is all in good spirits. I came away with some pretty good treasures
 Here in England, there are a few auctions, markets and charity shops I return to time and again, but I am constantly searching for new car boot sales, the further away from the main cities the better.

Image - Meanglean

Vintage means different things to different people. We value it for different reasons. What is the value of vintage for you?

Well, The charming factor I mentioned before, comes mostly from the fact that something about an object has become obsolete. Either their function is better served now if made from new materials and with a new design, or it has ceased to exist altogether. Also if something was manufactured in European countries, especially Western Europe, they have that vintage value. We don't manufacture things here anymore. I am very partial to old toys that have stamped :Made in France/England/Germany/Spain and of course Japan. That makes them very very special.

Image - Meanglean

 What can we look forward to seeing in Meanglean in the coming months?

Travelling back in time. The more I search and learn, the more attuned I am to finding older things and all the stories they have to tell. The big plan for this summer is a road trip through Eastern Europe, I expect to find all sorts of exciting stuff!

Check out video’s from Meanglean here

Visit the fabulous Meanglean Etsy shop here:

New items are added all the time like this one!:

extendable opening for a clutch purse - meanglean

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