I went thrifting with a friend yesterday. One of our stops was the Salvation Army, which features a peculiar assortment of thrift items and a fascinating array of bric-a-brac. I find bric-a-brac intriguing because it represents items that were once valued by someone–either purchased as a gift, on the assumption that a friend or acquaintance would like it, or loved and valued by its owner. Here are some highlights:
Though there are the blue plates in the shot as well, it was the shell boxes that fascinated me. They seem somehow evocative of a time in the past, when I believe these were very popular, fashionable and well-loved. Though the picture doesn’t show this, these two boxes were now almost repulsively dusty–with the dust and grime of the years clinging to the ridged contours of the shells. I imagine they are difficult to clean, short of hosing them down or dunking them in water, as wiping them with a damp cloth would probably just rip the cloth up on all the sharp portions of the shells.
Nonetheless, for all that they were filthy and a bit offputting, I somehow found them deeply evocative of an era in the early 20th century, and I spent some time scrutinizing them as I tried to imagine their early owners and what kinds of uses they may have been put to, through the years, before being left to accumulate dust, in all sorts of difficult to clean places.
While this was not technically bric-a-brac, they had a massive supply of these “littel romance” tights for girls. Leaving aside the potential creepiness of the romance evocation, looking at the stack of them, I kept wondering where–in what hidden enclave–these might have been stored all these years. The photo and outfit–with the clashing patterns–seems to be from the early 80s (perhaps?). It’s difficult to say, since I don’t know that I can ever remember this particular type of outfit being fashionable in the arena of girls’ outfits. Maybe it was a regional look? But it somehow fascinated me that a shop would be selling these items, in large amounts, from some 30+ year old stash of girls’ tights, recently plumbed and now put out for sale.
I loved the slightly apologetic expression on this creature’s face. This was the item I came the closest to purchasing, because it was so oddly random, and peculiarly absurd. I didn’t really know what to make of this small, jaggedly shaped receptacle, with a handle on top that had a little face drawn into it. But I didn’t buy it, because I knew I’d just bring it home and it would gather dust here, instead of there. I still kind of love it, though.
This, I found disturbing. It was what appeared to be a large infant, but with teeth, and wearing red, mis-applied lipstick and some kind of nautical uniform. The hat read “Pori” and “ugal”, with the two halves of the word separated by an anchor that presumably represented the “t”. I don’t know why there was an “I” after Por”, though (Poritugal). Anyway, it was hideous, blatantly plastic (not even ceramic), and I found it impossible to comprehend who would have manufactured such an oddity (what would they have been thinking? Surely not that this was in any way attractive, or appealing?), leave alone who would have bought it, unless it was as a joke (the joke being that the recipient would then be stuck with this hideous piece and have to put it somewhere, at least until such time as they could get rid of it).
The truly best for last. A little muppet-like creature made of glazed shells–not to my taste, but possibly of some appeal. Other than the googly eyes, it’s all natural products. And then, someone saw fit to glue a plastic 7-up cup to one of its little shell hands. One of the most peculiar items I’ve seen in a while.