Tag Archives: plastic

Convenience Store Treasures: Suburban Edition

3 Jul

The key hitting the old toy conienience store goldmine is to find a store that has been open for a long time, and which has not been renovated or sold between too many different owners, as these provide opportunities to rid the shelves of old, dusty merchandise.  Usually these types of stores are to be found in the city, where the neighbourhoods and commercial areas have been established much earlier than in the suburbs.  But sometimes, the suburban convenience store should not be discounted, as its presence in cultural hell can virtually guarantee that anything cool that they may have put on their shelves will still be there when you happen upon the store.  And with that in mind, I ventured into a Mississauga (a suburb of Toronto, Ontario) variety store looking for treasures, and I was not disappointed.  Here’s what I found:

Show Off Barrettes

There were a few different kinds of these” Show Offs” barrettes, each of which I purchased.  I love the ‘funky’ early 90s font used for the brand name.  This was the only type of barrette that was packaged in a way where you could see both the girls printed on the cardboard, showing off their barrette overkill hairdos.  In all the other packages, the white girl gets the shaft, her face obscured by the moulded plastic.  These were awesome barrettes too, they are like baby barrettes, but they have metal backings which make them much easier to use than the more common, all plastic baby barrettes, which only hold, like 5 hairs.  All the riot grrls out there know what I’m talking about.  But alas, despite the awesomeness of all of the Show Offs barrettes I bought, I cannot bring myself to open any of the packages, and ruin what I see as installative, readymade pieces of art.  And, due to the short-sighted thoughtlessness of the designers, the moulded plastic tray that holds the barrettes to the cardboard is glued across the innocent face of the little blond girl on the other packages, making the opening of the package fraught with anxiety and guilt, as the barrettes can only be accessed by tearing through her tiny, barrette decorated head.  But seriously though, it would toatally ruin the package.

Are you insane enough to rip the cardboard right through this girl’s face?

These are the other packages, where the blond girl has plastic glued to her face.  The barrettes are pretty sweet though.  Good colours.

Little plastic “‘jaw” clips with heart shaped grips.  And see?  Little blond girl: denied.

More heart gripped jaw clips. Note how the glue is so old it’s turned yellow.  This hasn’t happened on the above package, where both girls’ faces are visible.  Isn’t that facinating?  It could be…I guess if you…are a boring person or something.

There was also a couple of other sets of barrettes that I thought were cool, but lacked the flair and dramatic tension of the Show Offs.

Red and white bows

Colourful Flowers

I guess these are actually hair elastics with little plastic things glued to them.  The one on the left has the same jazzy-party-confetti early 90s look of the Show Offs barrettes, while the flowered elastics try for a more refined, fancy script logo look, an aspiration further hinted at, yet also confused by its brand name “Choice & Toy” a pairing of words that both fail to describe the quality and category of item contained within.  So close though.

And speaking of hair, they also had a number of hair nets, all of which I bought, which came in these great envelopes.  I loved the bold colours and the image of the woman, but the shape of the envelope, including the familiar back flaps, and the clear window in the front which could reveal an address, make them totally usable as mailing envelopes, plus they give the sender the added option to include the two old, totally useless hair nets already enclosed within!

Mirage Stretch Fashioned Hair Nets. You can see the hair net through the window in the centre.  Pretty gross eh?

The back of the hair net envelopes; just like a regular mailing envelope.

Despite the wonderful aesthetic of these hair net envelopes, I must say they are a tad misleading.  The woman on the package is meant to represent the invisible control of the hair net, and the confidence and poise that come with it, but there’s no way she’s wearing one of these hair nets over that hairdo.  When I tried one on all it did was flatten whatever volume I had while leaving the elastic fully visible around the hairline.  Plus, the hairnets are not even big enough to be lightly fitting around hair as long as hers, nor would they allow her hair retain that volume or shape.  This is what would really happen if she wore one of the hairnets:

I also picked out these things, which are apparently called “Balloon Squawkers”.  I’m not really sure what that means, but they appear to be plastic straws with feathers at one end.  I mostly just got them because I’m a sucker for things that are installed/packaged under clear plastic, not to mention easily pleased by pretty colours.

The pretty pretty colours of the Balloon Squawkers

Plus, I was also into this little guy, who appears on top of the “Fun Fair” logo:

Seems like a pretty chill guy overall.

The store had a few cute little pins.  The yellow rabbit kind of reminded me of the above balloon.  The stick pins were really tiny, like an inch long with animals on them not much larger than an apple seed.

The super tiny stick pins; from left: a butterfly, a seagull and two bunnies

And lastly, I found these awesome puffy glitter stickers that were very much like the “Happy Sticker” robot sets that I wrote about in my post “Convenience Store Treasures: Stickers”.  But these sets were even better, not just because they were glittery and had a better cardboard package tops, but also because the robots were even cooler!

I love the cardboard tops; the black background with the word “Glitter” in rainbow letters is just so great.

These sets had a mix of some of the same stickers as in the “Happy Sticker” sets, and some different ones.

Here’s the glitter version of an odd pink jester-like robot face, which I highlighted in my previous post:

Pictured here is the glitter pink jester-bot. He is next to his best friend.

This was my favorite from the set; its a big flying, pink and purple dragon kazoo. With a sparkly yellow belly.

The colours and geometric shapes of these robots make them very enjoyable. I like that this one has a green sword and a bent pipe or hockey stick or something.

I feel this spaceship is pretty cool.

I was pretty happy with my haul.  It was a good, colourful assortment of things, and I’m satisfied I got everything cool they had.  Yes, it was a good day in suburbia.  So be on the lookout for convenience store treasures when you are out in the middle of nowhere, it might be the only thing to do out there anyways.

All items purchased at Southdown Convenience, 1375 Southdown Road, Suite 7. Mississauga, Ontario

Thrift Store Finds: Vintage Earrings

22 May

As I boasted in a previous column, I have an amazing talent for picking the best costume jewelry at Value Village, a local second-hand chain store.  And so, to drive this point home I would like to present to my dear readers and followers, a selection of some of the best colourful 80s earrings I have purchased in the last little while.  These are only a few of my favorites, I will have to show the best rhinestone earrings in another post.  All were found at Value Village unless otherwise noted, and some, if pictured so, do not have mates.

And now, without further ado, here are my best costume jewelry earrings, a collection that must only be rivaled by that of the Golden Girls’.

These are all plastic clip-ons, except the pink circles, which have posts, all from Value Village

A close-up of an unusual pink pair. I’ve never seen anything quite like these, which were made of two independent layers of soft plastic spiky circles, attached in the middle with a pink rhinestone. Very sea creature like

The biggies; all were clip-ons. The red and black and white striped pairs were plastic, the ones on the top right were large pinkish rhinestones bordered by small white stones, the purple ones in the bottom right were suede, and to give you an idea of the scale of all these earrings, the purple ones were about two inches in diameter! All from Value Village

This pair had a lovely pink stripe in the centre of the stone with dusty gray sides, an effect I’ve never seen in a rhinestone before

More colourful plastic: The pink and blue circular pairs on the left I found tucked away in a hard to reach box at Odds and Ends junk shop, the box also contained a few mood rings from the 1970s and some vintage band pins. The yellow pair are actually enameled metal.

This si one of my most favorite earrings ever, but alas it has no mate. I love the gradient of lavender separated by white. I use this as a tack to hang some photo-booth pictures on a lampshade.

This green flower clip-on is also missing its mate, but i feel that its climbing vine like appearance makes it more suitable to be worn as a solo accessory, higher up on the ear.

The Red pair in the back are clip-ons, as are the green daisies, the lone blue enameled circle (has a mate which is temporarily misplaced) and the black diamond shaped pair.   I love the Indian princess feel of the purple and gold pair. All purchased at Value Village

All of these earrings are from a lot of costume jewelry I purchased on eBay. I bought the lot to use for scraps to embed in acrylic bowls, but these were to good to be encased in plastic.

The details of these earrings give them that extra something.This awesome red pair is not just flat with printed stripes, the red lines are recessed areas in the surface.

Well, there you have it, proof positive that I am the best Value Village costume jewelry picker there is.  Now if only there were some way to turn this into a career…  I know, if anyone wants to hire me as a thrift store picker, contact me at helloladyheart@gmail.com, but remember, if  I find anything good, its mine.

Pink striped and blue checked circular earrings found at Odds and Ends, 703 Queen St. W., Toronto

All other earrings found at Value Village, 1319 Bloor St. W., and others, Toronto

Random Collections: Princess Lovely’s Doctor Beautiful Dream Bride Pretty Set

13 May

I collect little cardboard-backed dress-up sets that are aimed at little girls.  I am usually drawn towards vintage sets, but occasionally I will buy a new set if it has those elusive qualities that I’m looking for.  What makes them so appealing to me are the graphics and names, but also, as a sculpture/installation based artist, I enjoy the box-art installative aspect of the sets, with the small arrangement of plastic fun composed under molded plastic.  I usually keep the set intact, but sometimes what is featured is so enticing that I try to find a second one so that I can open one of them and wear the accessories.  Here are a few of my favorite ones.

Fashion Girl

Check her out!

This is one of the newer ones that I have, probably dating from the 90s.  I love that the sides are drawn to represent film perforations or sprocket holes, adding the dimension of “movie star” to this “fashion girl”.  The silhouetted girls to the left of the film girl have a very Bond Girl, or even Gem and the Holligrams-esque feel to them.  The jewelry is of course hideously ugly and tacky, but the overall effect is so great.  This is the type of thing that I frame, or just hang unframed, as a piece of pop culture art.  This set was purchased at Value Village, a local thrift store.

Fun-n-Games

Great colours on this one, called Fun-n-Games.  It’s a little green haired girl with red bows-mirror.  And, you can look in the mirror and brush your hair with a green comb.  The little pink nail polish bottle is hollow and doesn’t open but it has a cute little sticker that says “Bright Star” on it.  This probably dates from around the 1970s.

Pretty Set

Good name, good graphics!

I love the name of this one, Pretty Set.  It’s sweet and simple, but it also sounds like a state of mind; get this toy, and you’ll be pretty set.  This dates from the same period as the Fun-n-Games set and like the Fun-n-Games set it is a mirror backed by a face, in this case a lion, for some reason.  I love the drawing of the little girl, and the giant pink barrettes in the set, but as I could not find a second Pretty set, I could not open this package and wear the barrettes, leaving me less “set” than I thought I would be, despite assurances to the contrary implied by the name. This and the above set were purchased at Ontario Specialty, a local store that specializes in dead-stock vintage toys and fun.

Dream Bride

This set, Dream Bride, I found in a sad looking grocery store in New York City, and because I loved the giant heart necklace inside I bought three sets.  This necklace is probably the best thing I’ve seen in one of these sets.  About the size of a woman’s fist, the plastic heart has a clear plastic heart shaped bubble in the middle that has a little plastic flower inside, making this an installation within an installation.  It’s installation to the power of 2 for those who prefer mathematical terms.

The giant heart necklace

Princess Lovely

I love the name and the confused ideas presented here about what a princess is.  Instead of a crown or scepter, there are heart shaped sunglasses and comb and mirror.  This type of super pink-girly-princessy fluff is like being a drag queen for little girls, in that it represents and caricature of girlhood.  It’s interesting as an object that packages tropes of modern pop girlishness.  This set I also purchised in NYC, from a street vendor.

Doctor Beautiful(!)

This is the only brand new set in my collection, which I purchased at a dollar store close to my home.  I think this one is the funniest in terms of the confusion over what it is trying to be.  It seems that it is partly an aspirational type toy for girls, in the style of Barbie’s career dolls which put Barbie in such lofty positions of astronaut and travel agent, to teach girls that they too, can be professional working women.  But much as with the real Barbie brand career dolls, the precedence of looks over brains is still painfully evident in the styling, packaging and marketing of the toy.  Taking a closer look at the image of “Doctor Beautiful” on the top right of the package, we see just how many disparate elements this figure is cobbled together from:

What is this supposed to be, really?

Basically, they’ve put a off-brand Barbie like head onto an illustration of  Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s body, and then rudimentally added a doctor’s stethoscope onto the face.

Sleeping beauty in her pink gown, which she evidently later lent to Doctor Beautiful for her toy package photo shoot

And the final non-sequitur of this toy set comes in the form of this sticker, seen on the toy stethoscope:

The sticker on the stethiscope

Why is there a little manga/anime nurse girl sticker in this set?

Well, thanks for taking my guided tour through another of my random collections.  Hopefully, my enthusiasm has rubbed off on you, dear reader, and you will be convinced to start yet another Lady Heart approved, random collection!

Fashion Girl set purchaised at Value Village, 1319 Bloor St. W., Toronto

Fun-n-Games and Pretty Set purchaised at Ontario Specialty, 133 Curch St., Toronto

Doctor Beautiful Puchaised at Dollar Wise, 1901 Yonge St., Toronto

Street Art:More Newspaper Box Fun

27 Apr

Newspaper boxes seem to be a favorite spot for public art (see my last Street Art post “Street Art: Monster Box”).  Many boxes have simple (and sometimes poorly done) tags and printed stickers on them, but the newspaper reading public are often treated to awesome colourful,  handmade stickers with imaginative lettering.  Recently I spotted a really cool sticker on a NOW magazine  box ( a local weekly alternative paper) which I was so compelled to share with you that, finding myself without my camera, I unscrewed the bolts holding the plastic sheet that the sticker was affixed to and took it with me.  Though it’s probably bad art karma to take public art and hoard it for oneself, I will bravely accept the consequences so that we may all bask in the glory of this sticker:

The sticker was on the plastic sheet that displays a paper against the box window, which I was able to remove with my trusty 6-in-1 folding plier tool, something every self respecting artist and DIY-er should never be without.

Isn’t it great?  I am a sucker for bold colours.  At first I thought it said ‘ruler’ but know I’m really not sure. I am terrible at reading graffiti lettering.  Can anyone help me out here?

A Now Magazine paper box in Toronto

On another day, camera in hand I spotted this sticker, which I left so everyone could enjoy it, only to see that it had been removed by the next day.  As a fellow artist I would be sad to have something beautiful I put out into the world removed and discarded so quickly.  So maybe the right thing to do is remove the plastic sheet to save the sticker.  Maybe people could start collecting them like giant sports cards, trying to acquire all the local artists’ work, trading with other collectors and such, just like the pantyhose package collections I was advocating for! (see ‘Random Collections: Pantyhose!’)

This beautiful sticker has been lost to the ages

This one says “Ruin”, right? I think it’s great, the colours, the shape… it’s a shame that the newspapers move so fast to get rid of them.  So I’m going to get started on my ‘plastic news box sheets with stickers’ collection today!

Convenience Store Treasures: Barbie Party!

26 Apr

Here’s a couple of awesome party related items I found at a local variety store, Jusil Convenience.  The first is an old package of Barbie party invitations:

Barbie party invitations

Look at all that hair!  I love the colours, and the white halo around her.  I’m a bit confused as to what the blue thing on the right is in between the strands of her hair; it’s clear she has a blue shirt on, but does it have a giant puff at the front that protrudes all the way up to her chin?  Or is that supposed to be her shoulder?  Either way, it looks a tad akward.  Anyways, I love Barbie stuff from the 80s and early 90s.  Her hair and clothes were the best then, and also the font of the Barbie logo was much nicer than some modern versions I have seen.

Isn’t that preferable?  I love this these invitations, the bold, graphic illustration, free of text cluttering up the image, and the lavender barbie logo on the pink grid background.  I bought a couple of these, and I believe there are still more available, but if you want them, you’ll have to hurry before I go back and snatch them up!  Can you imagine the awesome little girl parties that must have been thrown and been well attended thanks to these enticing invitations?

Next on my imaginary-nostalgic-little-girl-birthday-party supply list  are these great clown loot-bags  Remember loot bags?  You would get like some little trinkets like sparkly pencils and penny candies, little reminders of the fun day.  Why don’t you get stuff like that at adult parties?  That’s what I’d like to know.

The clown loot bags. There’s even a space to write the recipient’s name!

I don’t really collect a lot of clown stuff because most of it is bad but not bad enough to be good, but I really liked this clown.  But as you can see from these pictures, these poor bags are not long for this world, as the plastic is so old it has dried out and is disintegrating into tiny pieces.  Kind of a sweet metaphor for fading recollections of childhood, all the super -girly-sparkle-sleep-over-pink party-penny-candy memories scattering, swirling behind us in the winds of time, like so many bits of plastic loot-bag.

Don’t these flaky bits of plastic make you feel all sad and nostalgic inside?

Both items purchaised at Jusil Convenience, 2305 Yonge St., Toronto

Thrift Store Finds: Jesus is my Sweetheart

4 Apr

I love to shop for costume jewelry at Value Village, and the cumulative evidence of this and future posts will prove that I’m awesome at it.

Value Village, 1319 Bloor St. W., Toronto

One of The things I found was this awesome Jesus pin that bears a striking resemblance to the sweetheart pins that boys would buy or have made for their girlfriend or mother to wear while they fought overseas.

The jesus pin from Value Village

A WWII sweetheart pin

AWWII sweetheart pin to give to one's mother

There are many variations on the sweetheart pin, but the heart outline with a name or the word sweetheart going diagonally across it is a more popular and  recognizable type.  That’s why I loved the Jesus pin right away,  the design implies that it’s not just for someone who loves jesus, it’s for someone who really Loves… jesus.

I also found a couple of pins of a type I hadn’t seen in a while, but I predict are going to come back.  Be the first of your friends to get in on the trend:

Does this pin bring back memories?

What was that plastic stuff called that is being used here?  It came in strips and you would boil it until it was soft and then you could shape and cut it.  I remember getting some in that same iridescent colour used on the first pin but I never made anything more complicated that a wobbly and warped plastic cuff.  I thought these were pretty rad and I think they are going to come back in style.  What do you think, dear reader?