Tag Archives: readymade art

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

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

Thrift Store Finds: Betty Crocker’s Dreamy Dessert Portraits

4 May

I rarely look through the cookbook section of Value Village, (a local Salvation Army-type thrift store) although it is interesting as a sort of monument to the various food trends and failed weight loss ambitions of our over-satiated culture, (Scarsdale Diet Program, South Beach Cookbook) and it’s ripe with opportunity for an occasional laugh at food non-sequit0rs (for instance, a cookbook entitled Microwave Gourmet!)  But one day my tendency to towards zeroing in on brightly coloured plastic led me to notice a set of Betty Crocker recipe cards packaged in a little yellow box.  I love retro photographs of food as they are usually elaborately staged and often feature very ostentatious interior settings, plus, I love the  super-saturated colours that are characteristic of 60s and 70s photos.  My sweet tooth led me straight to the dessert section where my senses were so overwhelmed by the pastel loveliness of some of the photographs that I graciously ruined the set by taking the best cards so that I could present to you, dear reader, this curated photography exhibit of readymade art:

Neghiborhood Egg Dip

Princess Party

Filled Lemon Cookies

Cherry Berries on a Cloud

Are these not lovely?  They are like the postcards of art  masterpieces you can buy at the museum gift shop.  I mean, a white heart-shaped cake topped with cherries shown on a lace tablecloth?  Betty Crocker recipe cards, get out of my head!

More Frozen Desserts

Grasshopper Pie

I love the suggestion of a little tea party with two cakes, a turquoise one and a pink one.  Each card comes with a suggestion for a party or activity to go with the recipe.  The ones that are for children’s parties are especially sweet as the activities proposed, such as making paper-bag puppets or letting each child make their own candy apple, bring up fond memories of the kind of simple fun that used to make up children’s parties that you don’t really see anymore.

Cake n’ Ice Cream

This Cake and Ice Cream card has a collage like quality, wouldn’t you agree?  The creamy soft yellow cake with ice cream, which looks like it’s covered in tinsel for some reason, looks like it’s been decoupaged onto the background.  Just stunning.

Pink Bavarian Cream

And the Pink Bavarian Cream cake?  It’s like a beautiful sculpture, almost figural in a way.

Gay Nineties Ice Cream Party

Fabulous!  A gay ice cream party!  I love it!  And I love that these are all regular sounding desserts.  Everyone tries to be so fancy and unique with their cakes and stuff, they don’t make vanilla, it’s marzipan instead, or, you know the cheesecake has gooseberries or something gross on it.  Have you watched any of the shows on the Food Network lately?  It’s horrifying.  The host will start off making something good, like a chocolate cake.  They’ll bake it and put it on a plate and it’s looking all yummy, but then, in a misguided effort to seem sophisticated and unique they’re like “And now we’ll make the icing, which will be a mango chutney salsa spread,” or something equally as bad and I’m watching like “Noooooo! Stop you’re ruining it!”

Anyways, I hope you have enjoyed attending my readymade photography art show.  Stop by again soon to see more used goods that I have decided are now an “art”.

Dessert recipe cards purchased at Value Village, 3130 Dixie Rd, Toronto

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: Readymade Art

9 Apr

Sometimes while thrift store shopping or digging through garbage I find objects that are so beautiful and perfect that I believe they have achieved readymade art status.  For those who are not familiar with the term, according to the internet readymade art is defined as “an everyday object selected and designated as art”, a name that was coined by the French artist Marcel Duchamp.  The  notion of the art object as unique is destroyed in the act of declaring a mass produced commercial object as “art”.  And so, with that in mind, I present to you, dear reader, a selection of two recently found readymade art objects.

The first is a white ceramic piece, obviously the bottom half of a female figure.  I feel it is no mere coincidence that it shares it’s materiality with Duchamp’s famous “Fountain” urinal piece from 1917.  But, instead of having to perform the difficult labour of transformation Duchamp undertook in having to upend the urinal before declaring it art, (see wikipedia) I was spared this drudgery, as  someone else had already removed (i.e. stole) the top half of the figure by the time I got to it, leaving just the small but important step  of declaring the item “art” left to finish, which, I managed to find time to do.

To solidify it’s existence as a work of art, I shall give it this pretentious art title: Untitled (apparatus 3):

Untitled (apparatus 3), 2012
Approx 4"
readymade art object

 

 

The second readymade, or found art object I found was this fantastic set of lego-like blocks, each printed with a small image and some Chinese writing.  I loved the simple pop art line drawings and the colours, and it was convenient that it came in it’s own readymade frame; a plastic envelope that opened with snaps at the back!

Front of blocks set

Back of blocks set

 

Here are a few close-ups of my favorite blocks.  Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what the writing says!

The fish on the white block totally looks like it’s about to give a lecture, or make an announcement or something.  Actually, it seems kind of pissed, like it’s standing there with it’s hand on it’s hip about to totally deny some guy fish trying to pick it up in a bar. Am I right?  Come on ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

I have hung this plastic piece of goodness in a special place on my wall.  It is definitely a work of art, wouldn’t you agree?

Both of these objects d’art were found at Value Village, in Mississauga.

Value Village 3130 Dixie Rd. Mississauga, Ontario

Convenience Store Treasures: Stickers!

5 Apr

What is it about stickers that girls like so much?  Even as grown women my girlfriends and I still get excited when we acquire some new cool stickers.  One of the convenience stores near my home had a few packs of stickers from one of my favorite brands, “Happy Stickers”  which the company boasts “Sticks By Itself”!  These stickers are are super colourful, and the animals and things they depict can be quite humorous in their expressions.  Below I’ve posted some of my collection with an accompanying close up of the best sticker in the pack.

The first are one of two sets of donkeys with my favorite being the little yellow one that looks like a chihuahua:

The Happy Sticker Donkeys

The cute chihuahua-like donkey

The other Donkey set was also great.  the unnatural colours and expressions are what make them so appealing, especially the green one, which had a rather Scooby-Doo like air to it, wouldn’t you agree?

The second Happy Sticker Donkeys

The Scooby-Doo green donkey

There were also these odd transformer rip off space craft stickers that contained this pink horned jester like robot (?) face:

The Happy Sticker robots

The weird pink robot face

The flowered and polka dotted cows were fun,  and  trans-positive, with some sporting both bullhorns and udders.  The set features a cow with a big headed bird pecking it’s back, a bashful looking cow in a vest and tie, a suspicious cow, who seems unsure about the pink barrel that is part of her sticker, a cow wearing a lei with a birthday cake and present, and a striped cow with a bib, among others.

The trans-positive cow stickers.
You guys know you can click these images to see them larger, right? I didn't know that at first.

The bib-wearing striped cow

And lastly there were three sets of dog stickers which I thought had the funniest expressions of the animals in the Happy Stickers repertoire.

Here’s one that had this big jowly brown dog with it’s tongue out:

Happy Stickers, pack one of dog stickers

Is this snobby dog unhappy with the drumstick in it's bowl?

Conversely, the dog I’ve highlighted in the second dog set seems a pleased, if perhaps incontinent dog, as can be inferred by the odd brown forms that seem to be dropping from its hind quarters.

Happy Stickers, featuring the pleased dog

Are those supposed to be muddy paw prints, or just dog mud? Only time, will tell.

And lastly, my favorite set of dog stickers, as this set has quite a few hi-larious dogs on it.

The best of the Happy Sticker dogs

this wiener dog has an excellent dinner

This dog had none.

This dog looks like someone put hot sauce into it's water.

While this fancy, necklace-wearing poodle seems unsure about her cake.

I love these happy Stickers so much I cant bear to open them and use them.  To me they are like a readymade piece of art, suitable for framing just as is.  The colours and the expressions make these a treasured and valuable item to me.  I found these at a convenience store near my home called Sherwood Variety that is a total jackpot for old toys and stickers and things, more of which you can see here at the Miss Lady Heart Blog, so tune in next time dear reader, to see more convenience store gold!

Sherwood Variety, 2574 Yonge St, Toronto, at Yonge and Sherwood, (Yonge and Eglington area). An excellent place to find old toys and stickers.