Thrift score: Vintage string art made by the guy who kicked off the fad

The picture doesn't do it justice but this string art mandala that I recently scored is really gorgeous. Plus, it has some cool history. When I saw it at the thrift store, it was just sitting on the floor. I immediately picked it up and flipped it over. That's when I saw this letter:

(Notice that it's addressed to "Rus," and that my name is Rusty!)

And this handwritten note by the artist:

I didn't recognize the artist's name and don't know much about string art but I liked the piece (and that terrific logo!), so I took it home. I soon discovered that the artist, John Eichinger, is the person who kicked off the string art fad in the late sixties with his String Mandalas. I also learned that he later designed patterns for mass-produced string art hobby kits.

String of the Art:

A popular hobby kit distributor at the time, Open Door Enterprises, first marketed his string art kits in the late 1960s. This is noted as one of the first times everyday people took interest in string art. It became widely popular in the 1970s with an uncountable amount of U.S. homes boasting home-made string art on their walls.

This was a real thrift score for me. I got this original Eichinger mandala for just $6.99.

Here's a closer look at the piece's details:

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Thrift store saves dirty donations for special adults-only sale

And by "dirty," I mean "NSFW."

There's a marketing mastermind at Granny's Attic thrift store on Vashon Island in Washington state. Instead of tossing out** all the risqué donations the store receives, they instead save the (good/sellable) items for a once-a-year sale for adults 18 and over. I vacation in Vashon and got to experience it for myself.

(**I'm assuming that's what thrift stores normally do.)

The preview for this "After Dark" sale was held on the island's popular First Friday evening:

"Find Out What Your Neighbors Have Been Up To":

Outside the shop's actual storefront was this large tent which held all the salacious secondhand goods:

Now, I've often thought that you can tell a lot about what a community is about by what ends up in their thrift stores, a sort of anthropological study. What would I learn about the denizens of Vashon? Only one way to find out...

(By the way, my 14-year-old was MORTIFIED that I was going to check the sale out and literally crossed the street and hid while I went inside.)

Walking past the "It's scandalous in here..." sign and into the tent, I immediately spotted racks of used (and presumably laundered) lingerie and books:

Turning around, I saw this table (click image to embiggen):

And this one (click image to embiggen): No comment on those pantyhose dolls.

Many artists live in Vashon, so it makes sense to me that a bunch of tasteful nude sketches ended up in the sale:

Oh, it's worth mentioning that everything was priced to move. Read the rest

Turn an ordinary dollhouse into an awesome haunted house

Turn a thrift-snore into a thrift-score by transforming a dollhouse into a haunted one! The "post-pop culture purveyors" at Soap Plant/Wacko in LA noticed the one pictured while poking around in the Thrift Stores Oddities Facebook group. They write: "If you should find a saccharine sweet, plastic doll house at the Goodwill, don't dismiss it. Repaint it as a gothic mansion suitable for dolls or Halloween decor." Yes, please do!

(RED)

images via Soap Plant/Wacko with thanks to Michelle Koby Read the rest

Goodwill is on track to be the world's largest provider of MOOCs

Goodwill Industries, purveyors of thrift-stores, are currently the second largest provider of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and on track to become the leader, through their GCF Global Online Portal, which provides free courses in English, Spanish and Portuguese with an emphasis on job skills: "reading, math and understanding money and personal finance to computer, email and Internet basics to digital skills and mastering widely-used tools such as Microsoft Office and QuickBooks," which then dovetail into a job-placement service the charity runs. (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Students pay $1.20 for 5 vintage NASA flight suits at thrift store

Talia Rappa and Skyler Ashworth spotted a nondescript box at a Florida thrift store's going-out-of-business sale. They found five NASA flight suits, worth tens of thousands of dollars, and paid just $1.20 for the lot. Read the rest

Have you seen this ugly clown sweater?

These clowns I know were having a yard sale Sunday, so I swung by. I picked up a sweet plumed marching band hat, a pair of tinted goggles for Burning Man, and a really cool long cloak, also for the desert. While shopping, I spotted this smiling clown face sweater in the rack of multi-colored clothes.

I recognized it immediately.

Wil Wheaton had once (famously) wore one just like it.

That's a friend of mine in the lead picture (who wanted to remain anonymous, for reasons). At the sale, she tried the 100% acrylic monstrosity on with little to no intention of actually buying it. In fact, as she was pulling it over her head, she mumbled a couple times, "I'm no clown. I'm no clown." I took a photo of her not being a clown, because.

When I got home, I posted the photo on Facebook and people wanted to know if I had bought it. I hadn't.

One friend wondered if anyone we knew was involved in The Clownsweater Project which has many photos of people wearing a clown sweater, just like the one at the yard sale. Another friend, Valerie, piped in, "Me!" and shared this photo of herself. In fact, the sweater that she's wearing is the exact same one that Wil wore:

I then started reading up on The Clownsweater Project. I was happy to discover that they've shared its entire history, including Wil Wheaton's part in it on their site:

In 2002 at another EFF Fundraiser at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, Barney (yes, the purple dinosaur) and Wil Wheaton were pitted against each other in a boxing match...

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Found at a thrift shop: the last record of a doomed Apple DRM effort from 1979

Redditor Vadermeer was in a local Goodwill Outlet and happened on a trove of files from Apple engineer Jack MacDonald from 1979-80, when he was manager of system software for the Apple II and ///. Read the rest

Here be dragons: Thrifted Ikea dresser remade with graphite paper and woodburning kit

Lorraine Andrusiak couldn't get a new Ikea Moppe dresser in Canada, but she found this one in a thrift store, marred by a thick, ugly coat of paint; so she stripped the paint, transferred vintage sea-monster art with graphite paper, and burned the decorations into the wood -- the result is gorgeous. Read the rest

Namibia's vintage guru on fashion, thrifting, and Namibian style

Loux the Vintage Guru's Tumblr is full of photos of snazzily dressed models clad in the vintage clothing Loux discovers in the markets of Namibia and the styles he creates based on them. In a revealing interview, Loux (a self-described "hipster") vividly describes the process of thrifting in Nambian markets, and the fashion potential he's unlocking by reimagining the clothes of his parents' generation. Read the rest