Category Archives: Thrift Shopping

Thrift Shopping – Paint by Number

Paint by number art has been around since the 1920’s but the was all the rage as a hobby in the 1950-60s. Talk about colouring inside the lines! And of course the instructions never encouraged you to ever sign your painting. So these paintings remain anonymous.

In 1953 alone the paint-by-number craze reached $80 million in sales.

I find mostly finished ones at estate and yard sales. Rarely do I find an actual unused or unfinished kit. Vintage paint by numbers can be purchased online and are popular for cottage decor and that kitschy look.

The ubiquitous still life, marinescapes, hunting scenes, forests were all standard fare for the paint-by-number artist.

In his book, Paint By Number, William L Bird, Jr. “takes us on an unbelievable journey where art meets kitsch and popular and high cultures collide in a collage of home economics, leisure time fun, and art education, Bird revisits the hobby from the vantage point of the artists and entrepreneurs who created the popular paint kits, the critics who reviled them, and the consumers who enthusiastically filled them in and hung them in their homes.”

Marine scene

One can only make up a story of the hobbyist or detailed person who took hours to paint these, opening the tiny little plastic pots of colour with the numbered lids.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 2.52.42 PMAt least the paint by number craze got a paint brush into millions of hands of people who wouldn’t have otherwise tried painting.

Let’s hope that after painting for hours, the person was liberated to try painting on their own with the leftover paint at least. And maybe buy some canvas and tubes of paint and break out of the lines.


Thrift Shopping – Embrace the Polarities

Oh yah, did I mention that I love thrift shopping?  It’s not so much for the buying. It’s the hunting! And the thrill of the find is a bit of an adrenaline rush. As an artist I’m bombarded by ideas of what I could be doing with up-cycling just about anything that’s cast off.

But nothing like this!!!!

Seventeen Evergreen – Polarity Song from Lucky Number Music on Vimeo.

Major use of old afghans here!

Thrift Shopping – Weird Sunhat Ring Dish Souvenir

Two little people under a blue straw sunhat. Where’s the rest of their bodies? The proportions are totally out of whack. It’s so comical that it had to come home with me!IMG_6567One cutie is lying face up and the other facedown.
IMG_6562This little treasure has a souvenir sticker on it from Toronto, Ontario.IMG_6561Typical of the 1940’s and 50s ceramics like this could have been of any theme, just slap a sticker on it and voila, a souvenir from anywhere. The sunhat looks more like a sombrero. IMG_6565

Definitely not made in TO. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Thrift Shopping – Punkinhead

Thrift shopping is one of my passions, right up there with eating bacon and beachcombing.

A Punkinhead Tote is my latest thrift store find. I had one identical to this as a child. I actually didn’t really like Punkinhead, found him kinda scary actually.


Note the tag “Pumpkin Head Doll Tote”, clearly this dealer was under 50!

I also had a Punkinhead rockerScreen Shot 2013-02-21 at 9.44.51 AM.

Punkinhead, the teddy bear with the thick woolly tuft of hair, was launched by Eatons department store for the Christmas season of 1948. It was one of the early brand gimmicks. A brand which was supported by books, 45RPMs, toys and a mascot which joined the Santa Claus parade.

For $65 I was happy to just take a picture of this nostalgic piece and leave it behind.