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24 Dec

The Blush & Panic Raid, December 2013

By / on Blog Me, Draw Me
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The Event Poster designed by Adolf

The Blush & Panic Raid for December 2013, aka “An illustrated day of dress” was great fun. We got to experience how it feels to run a boutique on a busy day, and whilst it can get extremely busy, the drinks & treats kept us going strong!

For this event, we drew 5 illustrations based on the current stock of ‘Blush & Panic’ boutique. I was amazed at how different each illustration looked, depending of course, on the style of each particular artist.

Getting inspired:

Before we did the illustrations, we went to Blush & Panic and took a couple of pictures for reference, we then picked a couple of clothes for a fun photo shoot that would then promote the event!

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The photo shoot:

The photo shoot took place at Adolf’s & Samantha’s place.. the awesome poster & mustard walls were perfect for a group photo :) We took several shots, but ended up selecting one of the silliest.. we felt that this one represented us the most!

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Our illustrations that are available to buy as prints from Blush & Panic in Valletta:

From top to bottom: Mark Scicluna, Moira Zahra, Ruth Ancilleri (1 of 2 illustrations) & Sarah Maria Scicluna

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The launch was a lot of fun. Samantha & Ruth made homemade treats. Samantha’s dad took care of the wine & the customers also got their own sweet treats & a free gift voucher:

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And well.. what’s an illustrated day of dress without us actually buying anything for ourselves? I got myself beautiful faux fur scarf, a silk scarf & Ruth got me an awesome statement necklace for Christmas :)

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I also got this vibrant coral coat with a great cut..

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aaaand a form fitting stripy grey dress :)

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We got Sarah this *bling bling* necklace and he got a beautiful deep green shirt. Sarah said she felt like a king in these clothes, we concur that she looks majestic!

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And Ruth got a lovely green coat with a ribbon clasp on the front

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That’s all folks, until next time, Happy Christmas :)

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06 Dec

Blush & Panic Interview

By / on Blog Me, Draw Me

Our second ‘Blog Me, Draw Me” project will involve seasonal illustrations based on the beautiful stock of  the boutique ‘Blush & Panic’. This project will be called ‘The Blush & Panic Raid’ & we have already created our first awesome illustrations that will be showcased at Blush & Panic in Valletta from the 13th of December. Before we get to the Blush & Panic Raid however, we thought we should get the know the story behind this shop & its owners, what’s in the name? How did it come to be? Read on to find out :)

When Samantha first thought of opening a vintage boutique in Valletta, Malta, she was sure it was going to be shared between her sister and herself, however things didn’t go as planned when Roxanne (Samantha’s sister) moved to London to study abroad. So where did the name ‘Blush & Panic’ come from? “Basically after a lot of unsuccessful tries and cringe worthy ideas, and just like magic …Blush & Panic came to mind…. My sister tends to blush a little more than necessary and I seem to always have something to panic about…. and by panic I mean PANIC!” Samantha admits that the name has become quite a hit and it always seems to amuse passers by – in many different ways!

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Roxanne & Samantha

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Anna & Samantha

When asked how Blush & Panic came about, Anna, (Samantha’s mum) describes how when she was younger she had always liked fashion design, and this was probably due to seeing her own mother at the sewing machine, “sewing beautiful dresses and garments.” As her mother was sewing, Anna used to browse through fashion magazines, and as she grew older, she started to sketch her own designs, which then materialised through her mother’s skills.

 “Design and aesthetics always fascinated me – nowadays however I am more into interior design and wish I was younger to pursue a career in it. What I never imagined was that at 49 I would be helping my daughter make her dream come true at Blush & Panic.“

Samantha feels that the shop has become a big part of who she is. She confesses that it can sometimes get very tiring, however she still puts her heart and soul into it.

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Image via: http://www.devilwearspraduh.com/one-for-the-boys/

“I wake up thinking of Blush & Panic and sleep thinking about it and the different ways I could make it better.”

“It’s so time consuming that you learn to make your life such as hobbies, interests etc., revolve around it. Sharing what I love with others who show so much appreciation for what I’ve done makes me the happiest person ever and my interest is to continue to make Blush & Panic more stunning, innovative, diverse and special!!”

So what made Samantha want to open particularly, a vintage boutique in Malta? Like her mother, Anna, Sam expresses that she was always very passionate about clothes and fashion. As she grew older, she noticed that there was something missing in local boutiques, and that something was indeed a boutique like Blush & Panic!.

The main reason I decided to open Blush & Panic was simply that nobody else in Malta was doing anything similar.”

“I wanted to provide customers (people like me who longed for something a bit special to the usual things offered) with something different and new creating a personal shopping experience that would focus on making the customer feel at ease, relaxed, and simply try to make their every visit a memorable, enjoyable and innovative one.”

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Blush and Panic boutique is designed in such a way that customers can find beautiful surprises in every corner

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Details never disappoint

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The green & cream scarf on the left caught my eye as soon as we went to Blush & Panic to take photos for the post, it came home with me :)

I have been to Blush and Panic a couple of times, and let me tell you, even though they sell vintage clothes, they look brand new, so I asked Sam and Anna, what steps do they take to ensure that the clothes are clean and look this good, and how should the customer take care of the items? Sam answered that when she was thinking of opening the boutique, her main worry was that people would be hesitant to buy previously-worn items. She also states that there are a couple of clients who are still not comfortable with this idea, and she wonders whether this could be a Maltese mentality due to the vintage items being more popular with their foreign clientele.

 “I aim to handpick mostly excellent to mint condition pieces, sometimes never worn pieces (dead stock)”

“…to make our vintage more appealing to the Maltese clientele. We hand wash or dry clean almost all of our pieces and this is very time consuming. Some pieces are difficult to care for and I am very lucky to have a mother with near excellent housewife skills! We try our best to present a neat, clean and comfortable environment to shop in, as stated in ‘’Lonely Planet’’ – ‘’there’s no musty second – hand feel here…’’

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Luxurious fabrics and art books? Yes please!

Here, as suggested by Blush and Panic, are the measures that one should take in order to keep (vintage or new) clothes in mint condish!

1. Leave them to dry naturally on a hanger

2. Dry clean wool, or hand wash

3. Hot water and most detergents damage wool so baby shampoo is the best alternative

4. With silk, the best way is a gently hand wash in cool water without rubbing, and dry on a hanger or flat

5. To avoid discolourations, dry the clothes inside out when it’s very sunny

6. Steam ironing is the best way to iron your clothes, or always iron with a cool iron setting, inside out, and with a cloth over the garment.

7. Hanging items in a steamy bathroom does miracles

Due to the fact that Samantha buys clothing items from many different sources, she says that she only buys items that she would want to own, and also what she thinks her clients would love. Luckily Samantha is an excellent fashion source to rely on, and she likes a variety of styles, so the stock is always a varied mix (There’s really something for every shape, and even stock for men).

“Focusing on quality rather than quantity is our aim and we are very aware that the supply is steadily dropping, resulting in steadily rising prices even for pieces which are not even worth half the price! Having connections is important. By going to vintage fashion fairs I made contacts, so if you find a good source to buy vintage from you can most likely buy from that source multiple times, but this is not always possible either.”

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One of my favourite pieces in the shop, a chunky necklace in an understated pastel colour

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And when it comes to bling, B&P doesn’t disappoint!

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“Sourcing vintage (good quality vintage) is time consuming, and not as easy and fun as one might actually make it out to be.”

“Imagine having in mind all the lovely pieces you would want to sell in your shop and when you find that particular something it would be too expensive to even buy for yourself let alone sell it – that’s a big time letdown”

Samantha says that her aim is to have a well curated, aesthetically pleasing and mouth watering vintage section yet still at reasonable prices. When buying, she tries to balance out the collection with prices ranging from 15 euros to 100 euros, “so that everyone could indulge in some vintage retail therapy!”

And how does one buy ‘trendy’ vintage, I wondered, do runway trends affect what vintage stock you bring in for the season? Samantha expresses that she used to buy all the fashion magazines religiously every season, and scanning every page to study runway trends but despite this, she says that everyone should follow the rule of dressing for one’s shape.

 “Shape, fit, material, cut, colour, texture etc is what I tend to focus on as well as buying ‘’feel good’’ pieces for the women who want an instant confidence boost”

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Each piece of clothing is treated extremely well, vintage or not

“– Having said this, with every new vintage collection, I try to look at some upcoming trends for the season and select a few vintage pieces that will fit in nicely within the season’s popular trends. Fashion always goes back to yesteryear’s archives, thus it’s not that difficult stumbling on some vintage pieces that happen to go hand in hand with this season’s trends!”

When Blush and Panic opened, it solely stocked vintage clothing, handmade, and other unique pieces. Eventually Samantha started to introduce specialised brands due to authentic vintage not selling as much as she had hoped. “I started searching and booked tickets to fashion fairs. The main concern and what is of utmost importance is the quality. Nowadays many things are so poorly made and you still get to spend quite a lot of money, so quality was our top priority. I also wanted something different and unique.”

Samantha decided to start selling three particular brands that she had already bought from for personal use, and that offer an affordable luxury product with an emphasis on quality and attention to detail.

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B&P also have a range of amazing lingerie!

 ”Many of our clients keep coming back as apart from loving the collections they also love the quality. I am not saying that our brands are perfect, however one can notice and feel the difference..even the simplest of things, like lining in garments!”

How does it feel to be surrounded by all these beautiful garments every day, I asked Sam and Anna, don’t you ever find yourself forming a special bond with particular items?

“I remember when we first started stocking our brands, I was like a total maniac, drooling over and trying on every single piece from every collection of all 3 brands. ‘’This I will keep, this too, this I love…’’ and so on. My father would just sit and stare at me, without saying a word yet his facial expression would say it all. I adored everything!”

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Sam bonding with the clothes :) There seems to be a special connection with this one

All stock was carefully hand picked with love by myself…every single piece, so obviously I was bound to feel a little bit attached to all the beauties that surrounded me.”

Well, that is definitely understandable, however as time went by, Samantha reveals that it got easier. “More time went by and more seasons too and I can say I am now in my right state of mind (or maybe not!!)” When asked which vintage-inspired brand she prefers, Sam says that she has a lot of ‘Fever’ pieces in her wardrobe, but she does have a soft spot for ‘Darling’s’ delicate and feminine side, and this season she’s particularly fond of Bielle’s AW13 collection, which is a brand she doesn’t usually go for.

“The collection is inspired by word travelers, having a relaxed and comfortable feel to it, yet designed for those jet setters who still want to pursue utter style and chicness. It has an androgynous feel to it which is what won me over and am in fact dying to get my hands on Bielle’s straight – cut over coats (I might have already done!) Also this year Fever’s collection is simply amazing. Fever literally returned to true elegance capturing with great vigour the graceful 40s, glamorous 50s and groovy 60s perfectly. Darling has some beautiful party dresses ad funky coats too.”

Anna and Samantha know their stock inside out, and this is evident when one asks for a particular piece that they’ve seen on Facebook for instance.. “Our attention to our customers is what I think has made us unique and sought after. We know our stock so well, so we can often suggest pieces for clients, showing them different ways on how they could make an outfit more versatile and it’s so much fun when you have open minded clients who allow you to show them things and make them try on things they normally wouldn’t….”

“Sometimes I get too over excited, so much so that I end up selling a dress that I would have wanted to buy for myself that same evening!!”

What is the difference between vintage and second-hand?

 “Strictly speaking a piece of clothing is considered to be ‘’Vintage’’ if it’s at least 20 to 25 years old.”

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The vintage section!

“Just a few years ago ‘’Vintage’’ was just another word for ‘’second-hand’’, however the definition of ‘’Vintage’’ today varies all around the world. Perhaps not everyone would agree, but I feel that “vintage” is a little more upscale and unique than “secondhand.” Second hand refers to mass produced clothing found in thrift stores, garage sales etc”. ‘’Secondhand’’ basically means that it has been worn before, but is not necessarily old or valuable. It’s true that vintage can be a lot more expensive, but in most cases it will retain its value.”

When one visits Blush and Panic, it is obvious that it is more than just a boutique. Blush and Panic also sells beautiful vintage/vintage inspired home items, which also makes it verge a bit towards being a concept store. Samantha stresses that Blush and Panic is indeed a concept store, or ” at the crossroads of a shop and a place where anyone could discover and unearth a treasure in his or her own personal way”

Blush and Panic was designed to look like a cozy, welcoming house, where one can find anything from books, jewellery, homeware, novelty gifts, jewellery and accessories to frilly knickers and ultimately a wardrobe full of clothes.

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The inner part of the shop

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One of the many shrines in the shop, this one is particularly beautiful

“Even though the shop has more clothes apart from anything else it doesn’t mean that we get less stock from homeware etc. We have plenty, and plenty of homeware items in our store but the only problem is that we have no space whatsoever in our shop to display everything. This is a bit of an issue especially when I seem to want more – meaning that I am constantly trying to source new, innovative brands that would make the shop more exciting and fun to be in. So…”

“…our aim is to make it more of a concept store. I guess we need a larger home (shop)!!”

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The homeware…

 

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More homeware!

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Blush and Panic is a vintage & vintage-inspired concept store / boutique in Valletta, Malta.

Address: Blush & Panic Boutique, 47A, Melita Street,, VLT1122 Valletta, Malta

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/blush-panic

 

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03 Dec

Patches Fair 2013

By / on Journal

Our second event was the awesome ‘Patches Fair’ last Sunday. ‘Patches’ is a hand-made seasonal market that happens in Malta. Have to say that this is one of the best things to ever happen to local DIY / craft / handmade / general art lovers. There are so many talented creators showcasing and selling everything from tailored clothes, handmade jewelry, hand poured candles, quirky toys, beautiful ceramics and much much more. Our stand was of course, based on illustrated material. For Patches, we created 3 greeting ‘cookie’ cards. Each card comes with a cookie (variations: Lavender, lemon & chocolate) and a pull-out recipe for that particular cookie. Each of us baked a different cookie and we worked together to create these cards. Ruth drew the dot-rendered cookies, I rendered them in Photoshop and helped Sarah with the Layout. Sarah finalised the layout and did her own additions to it, created patterns and motifs in the background, and of course, carefully silk screen printed all three cards and their recipes!

We are very happy that the cards have been a success and we have also been approached to sell them in a gift shop. We also had Ruth’s Mum’s ever popular pumpkin, raisin and cinnamon jam for sale, and a few other prints & illustrations.

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Our stand

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Individually wrapped ‘pack of 2′ cookies, each with their own illustrated sticker

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‘tester’ cookies for customers

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Ruth’s lavender card

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Sarah’s chocolate card

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Pull-out recipes inside the cards

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My lemon cookie :)

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26 Nov

New member on the Design Sorbet Team!

By / on Journal

I am very happy to announce that I have been invited to join the Design Sorbet team to contribute my tidbits of design goodies.

A brief snapshot of my past: I graduated from the University of Malta with an Anthropology degree and low hopes of getting a decent job until I somehow found myself sitting for an evening course in Computer networking. From here started a successful 4 year career in IT. The salary was high but the joy of living was low. After some soul searching I decided I had had enough and needed a fresh start. So I abandoned my career and became a self taught graphic designer, the plan was to work freelance and shuffle my time between making enough money to pay the bills and spend what was left of it on rediscovering my long lost passion for ceramics.

I had discovered ceramics by chance at the tender age of 9, through a tiny advert for pottery lessons on a local paper, and enthusiastically spent the next 6 years making things out of clay; pots, vases, teapots, mugs, plates and various other vessels. Unfortunately at 15, as one does, I rebelled and discarded all ties with my childhood. Who wanted to go to pottery on a Friday evening when you could go out with your friends instead? Fortunately however, at the age of 30, as one does, I rebelled again and decided that money wasn’t everything and fulfilment is what I should be seeking.

Fast forward 5 years and I am now a self fulfilled ceramist with my own studio, who would have thought! I will be contributing to Design Sorbet on a regular basis and hope to focus on 3D design and what it means to be a designer and a creative person. I will be sharing my thoughts on the things I love and the things that inspire me and throw in some interesting topics for discussion.

I hope to be a positive addition to this great team of people and I look forward to receiving any feedback to my contributions!

 

At work. Although I have my own studio I also borrow some glazing space at Rosella’s Space for Clay Studio. Her kilns are much larger so I am able to get more done at one go. Its also a good excuse to get some clay talk going.

At work. Although I have my own studio I also borrow some glazing space at Rosella’s Space for Clay Studio. Her kilns are much larger so I am able to get more done at one go. Its also a good excuse to get some clay talk going.

 

I have a fascination for Chinese brush painting and try and incorporate it in some of my work.

I have a fascination for Chinese brush painting and try and incorporate it in some of my work.

My work focuses mostly on functional ware as I am excited by the idea of the joy of use and personal objects.

My work focuses mostly on functional ware as I am excited by the idea of the joy of use and personal objects.

 

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19 Nov

Patches ‘Making-Of’

By / on Journal

Our second event as ‘Design Sorbet’ will happen on the 1st of December, at ‘Patches’ market, a hand-made Christmas Fair which will take place at the Magazino Hall in Valletta,Malta from 1pm-8pm. We have designed & illustrated the poster for Patches fair, and in this post you will find the process :) along with snippets from the material that we are currently working on, which will be for sale during ‘Patches’. The poster below was first illustrated in pencil / pen and then rendered and finished in Adobe Photoshop.

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This was one of my initial ideas, I just didn’t like the girl so much.. it looked a bit too cutesy

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I wanted to frame the illustration in a slightly distorted circle. I added a few textures and used colours that make it look ‘icy’

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I lowered down the opacity of the circle so I could see the sketch

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I started tracing the deer using a graphics tablet, and the lasso tool. I wanted a no-outline finish with a solid colour & some brush textures

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Slowly building the deer from a number of layers

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Playing around with the scarf colours

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Adding details such as a button for the eye

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The idea was to have a patched-up deer, so I added stitching marks here and there

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sparkles!!

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tried a black rough outline because I felt the deer needed some contrast, but it was looking a bit too grungy for my tastes

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It took a few back and forth emails between the Patches team & myself to get the right colour scheme, we decided to go for a bright/dark red (if that makes sense..)

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The background was looking a bit meh, so I created a few christmas decorations & accessories to generate a pattern

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I lightened the pattern so it wouldn’t get all the attention, and left the pattern around the hand-drawn text dark, so it looked like a banner

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Added another layer of hand-drawn text, so it popped out a bit more, and started adding extra info, now using a decorative font

 

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et voila :)

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Dot Rendering.. can you guess what this is? :)

And here are some snippets for what we’re preparing for Patches Market!

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Ruth’s ‘test batch’ of biscuits.. won’t tell you the recipe yet but they’re bloody delicious!

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And this is Sarah working on the silk screen prints!

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12 Nov

Why do we love vintage?

By / on Journal

Not another article showing off car boot sale finds! Well, yes, but it started from a single thought, why do people buy vintage and second-hand? Sure, vintage and retro is ‘in’ but it has been for quite a while now hasn’t it, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

1. Cost

The first great thing about buying vintage and second-hand are car boot sales & thrift stores. Although there are plenty of antique stores and vintage shops around, in car boot sales & thrift stores you can find great things for a low cost, and well, you might not. You might in fact, get ripped off if you’re not careful. Car boot sales are very much a hit or miss, and trying to decipher whether an item is actually vintage or bought from China can be a bit of a wild guess, although usually the material, weight and general quality can tell you a lot about it. The bad smells also don’t help, in fact, I personally prefer to buy home ware from car boots rather than items of clothing. However, when you DO get something truly vintage and of good quality, for a low price, you feel pleased with yourself don’t you?

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This is one of my latest finds.. it looked very kitschy when I saw it at the car boot, but then I tried to picture it in a different space, and I must say it has now become one of my favourite car boot items

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What you always find in car boot sales are vintage glass bottles. I always think, ‘but why do I need this?’ when I see them, and then I remind myself that I need them because they look cool, and that’s a good enough reason

Car boot sales are also great for finding hip second-hand furniture. If you can’t afford new stuff, prepare to learn some DIY and head down to your nearest car boot. Unfortunately, I’m no DIY expert so this keeps me from buying certain things that can be fixed using just a bit of paint, or some sandpaper.  Let’s just say I’m a computer-kind of person. Nonetheless, when I’m broke but feel like I want to add something to the house, I head down to the car boot! There are of course, plenty of furniture stores that sell cheap vintage-looking things, and most people would rather go for this rather than rummaging through car boots, but once again, there is a certain sense of pride when you find something cool at a car boot, it’s a bit like hunting isn’t it? Except you’re hunting for material objects rather than for food, unnecessary, but worth it!

I personally like to buy a bit of both (vintage & vintage-inspired) because generally my decision making involves – do I like this? When it comes to slightly more expensive stuff.. I don’t really like buying ‘fake car boot stuff’ that is very expensive from furniture stores.

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This is my vintage-inspired drawer chest. I actually saw it at a furniture store but it was so over priced and the material wasn’t great.. so I got a similar custom-made one.

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And on the vintage-inspired drawer chest, we find a real vintage clock (aren’t you sick of reading the word ‘vintage’ by now? :) ) This is one of those clocks that you have to wind manually, but it’s well worth it. I also really like its little ticking noises.

2. Identity & Story

Besides cost, I think the main sell point of car boots and vintage stores are that they sell items that are unique to the buyer. Now sure, after watching countless episodes of ‘Pawn Stars’ we start to learn that vintage doesn’t necessarily mean unique, or that it is worth anything, but it does mean that it can be hard to find. People love to have stuff that other people can’t get a hold of, so it does really boil down to a case of identity. We all want to be special in some way or another, we all want to be different.

This is also the case with vintage clothes. What’s worse than going to a wedding and seeing someone wearing the same dress as you? Oh the horror! But really, if you bought your dress from Topshop (or in Malta’s case, Zara is usually the more popular option) did you expect to be the only one? With vintage clothing, this can be avoided, and it’s nice to be wearing something that has a story behind it as well. It’s cooler to be wearing a vintage 70′s dress, and it’s even cooler to be wearing your mum’s vintage 70′s dress.

Once again, vintage clothes carry stories and special meanings that new clothes can never have. This is also noticeable in celebrity fashion, and it’s quite clear in Vogue’s ‘Today I’m wearing’ model journal, where top models are photographed everyday with a list of the brands that the model is wearing on that day. A lot of models would actually be wearing vintage labels and things that their designer friend made specifically for them. This makes it harder for the reader to be able to afford these things, because they don’t really have a price tag, so they become unreachable.

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An old x-rated film poster, and an old newspaper, 5 euros from the car boot, woo!

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The other ‘sexy’ poster

Nonetheless, the world of vintage intrigues me, and the other girls here at Design Sorbet, which is why we have decided to collaborate with Samantha Gatt, owner of ‘Blush and Panic’ a vintage and vintage-inspired boutique in Valletta, Malta’s capital city. Samantha let us nosey girls into her world of vintage, and told us all about taking care of vintage items, pricing them, and all the rest. Stay tuned!

More of my vintage finds:

vintage sun glasses

One of many sunglasses that I found for 50c each! More pics on this post: http://www.designsorbet.com/mid-season-wardrobe-therapy/

vintage oil lamp

This was a gift from Ruth :) I love it!

vintage comics

My partner is a fan of vintage comics and LPs, so these were bought from either thrift stores / comic stores and you’ve guessed it.. car boot markets

vintage toy vintage polaroid camera vintage luggage vintage lp vinyl vintage LP player illustrated table mats vintage bag

I have asked the girls to send me a selection of their car boot finds. Ruth has quite a range of items from the Birgu Car boot sale (Malta) probably because she is from Birgu, so she’s been visiting the market before it became saturated with hipsters and just general artsy people scavenging for vintage and second-hand!

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I’ve also asked for vintage-inspired items, and this frame has one of those distressed / shabby chic finishes that have become so popular in the past couple of years

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Sarah and Andrea (our newest Design Sorbet member and author) were kind enough to forward me a couple of pics from the Birgu car boot market, and Sarah also sent in snaps from the Berlin flea market… Have a look :)

Berlin

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Birgu, Malta

car boot sale vintage books vintage camera vintage typewriter 2

Below, Andrea’s car boot pics:

 

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“Some stalls could almost pass as installation art. you wonder if there is a message trying to be put across.”

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“on a good day, with under €50 one can come home with a variety of treasures. 2 industrial toasters, a mannequin head, a lovely yellow Cisk tray, an oversized enamel kettle and an electric moka. “

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“This stool was actually brought by the stall owner to sit on until we convinced him to sell it to us!”

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“I have a love affair with old mirrors and typewriters and these 2 finds go perfectly together”

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You might also enjoy: Memoirs: stories behind vintage items, Paris: food, vintage clothes, toys & more, Why handmade became cool

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08 Nov

The Beauty of Imperfection

By / on Journal

This post is a little different from what we usually post here. It is about Wabi-Sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy which is derived from Zen Buddhism.

Wabi-Sabi is the philosophy of embracing imperfections, transient elements, and things which are incomplete. Instead of shunning them as unwanted objects, they are celebrated as truly reflecting nature and the passage of life. We are used to a world of mass production where objects are an exact perfect replica of each other, something which cannot be further away from that which is natural. No wonder so many people feel detached and isolated from the rest of the world, as it does not resemble anything that we know.

I find myself being naturally attracted to objects which are not refined to a factory finish. This probably explains my love and interest in things which are hand-made. It’s not just me, a lot of people nowadays are interested in buying items from flea markets or vintage items.

http://www.visualremodeling.com/2011/03/15/how-to-use-the-wabi-sabi-lifestyle-to-decorate-your-home/

http://www.visualremodeling.com/2011/03/15/how-to-use-the-wabi-sabi-lifestyle-to-decorate-your-home/

http://wabisabi-style.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

http://wabisabi-style.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

Imperfection is who we are, so it is natural that we surround ourselves with it. It is a sort of acceptance ritual, that your surroundings should reflect yourself. There is something incredibly honest found in Wabi-Sabi aesthetics, which reflects our own flaws and mirrors ourselves. It emulates nature in a manner while reminding us of our transient nature, becoming completely authentic.

Such beauty appreciated in imperfection is a direct contrast to the classical Western aesthetics which are perceived as perfect. It celebrates cracks and blemishes, rather than rendering something useless because of them. There is a certain freedom associated with the idea of abandoning the idea of perfection, to one which deliberately embraces the opposite of it. The world is flawed and imperfect, and I do not mind it reflected in the objects I own.

 

 

Additional reading here and here.

 

 

http://www.visualremodeling.com/2011/03/15/how-to-use-the-wabi-sabi-lifestyle-to-decorate-your-home/

http://www.visualremodeling.com/2011/03/15/how-to-use-the-wabi-sabi-lifestyle-to-decorate-your-home/

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food
02 Nov

Pumpkins, bats and witches!

By / on Food and Health , Journal

Every year, Halloween is becoming more and more popular here in Malta. Up to a few years ago I would never have imagined the children in my neighbourhood to dress up and trick ‘r treat, in fact I’ve been caught without any sweets (or should I say ‘candy’) quite a few times because I’m still not used to the idea.

For this Halloween I had a little party at my place. I was quite unlucky to fall sick the day before the party, which is the day I usually do all the cooking and baking, but thankfully I had chosen stress free recipes to work with, and in the evening of the party I was in high spirits, and feeling much better.  The menu included: savoury witches fingers ( served with dips, cheese & cold cut platters), pumpkin, caramelised onion and gorgonzola quiche, glazed ‘princess’ lemon biscuits, & bloody sangria! Scroll down for the recipes and more :)

glazed

Although not really a Halloween treat, I wanted to make these lemon bites because we will be selling them along with our illustrations at a Handmade fair in December, so obviously I wanted to test them on guests and see the reactions. I’m not a huge fan of the use of lemon in sweets, so in a way I was also trying to make something that would challenge my taste buds. I’m happy to say that I loved them, and so did everybody else.

I based my recipe on a “Princess Cookies” recipe that I found here and the glaze is made up of confectioner’s sugar (1 cup) and fresh lemon juice (add and stir until glaze is of a thick consistency).

biscuitsprocess

fingers

I found many recipes for sweet witches’ fingers, but I wanted mine to be savoury, so they can be served with dips. I found a great recipe on myhouseandgarden.com, unfortunately it has been taken down, but I managed to get a screenshot from the site cache, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

8 ounces plain flour

3 ounces unsalted butter

5 ounces of grated cheddar and parmesan cheese

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 egg

whole almonds for the finger nails.

Method:

1. Sift flour into food processor

2. Add all other ingredients, turn on the machine and mix in short bursts. Keep going until pastry forms a ball, do not overwork it or the pastry with become tough

3. Wrap and place dough in the fridge for an hour (I left it for a bit more)

4. Shape into fingers, add almonds (I added food colouring using a toothpick) and bake for 9 – 10 minutes

5. Leave to cool on wire rack.

These fingers have a great texture and the cheese and cayenne pepper in the mixture really give them a kick.

sangria

For the bloody sangria, I followed this recipe here but also added a bit of orange juice, emitted some of the fruits, and served it with gummy eye balls instead! Have to say it was very tasty and fun to drink.

cooked pumpkin

Finally, I made a pumpkin quiche with caramelised onions and gorgonzola, following this recipe here This was delicious, although also quite sweet, I think next time I would add more gorgonzola to it.

And below is my only picture of a semi-eaten quiche:

quiche

 

 

Decorations and more:

mexican mask lamp food decor decor2 dracula

Us32

Last, but not least, here’s a picture of the three of us. As you can see we’re not dressed as zombies and witches because our theme was ’70′s porn stars’ an extremely difficult theme to find a costume for, but nonetheless, fun times! Happy Halloween :)

 

 

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21 Oct

Event Preparation – Making the Journals and the Candles

By / on DIY , Journal

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In preparation for the Birgufest 2013 we wanted to prepare something special. We had already prepared lots of material, which is direct material from the blog. However we wanted something else, something which is not just a simple by-product from our blog aticles, but something which will help us commemorate this event.

After several brain storming sessions of what would be the ideal main product for the stand, we came up with the idea of journals. Not just your average journal you find at the stationer’s, but gorgeous hand illustrated, hand stitched journals loving made by us. Upon this decision, a courageous one in fact as it was the most time consuming of all the options, we started designing until we had an illustration each to put on a journal.

The process involved a lot of preparation which can easily be overlooked, such as selecting the papers for the inside and outside. We wanted to make sure that the papers are thick enough so they can hold even a drawing well, but not too thick in order to allow for stitching. After the printing was done, we were counting papers and stacking them in the order they are to be stitched and making guidelines for folding. Then there was the noisy part, when holes had to be done in order to be stitched. Given the hand made attitude we adopt for all our projects, these holes were done with a nail and hammer. For stitching we used white thread and a sewing needle. Needless to say this took a very long time and countless blisters on our hands, but the result made it all worth it.

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Since the Birgufest is most renowned for the tradition of turning off all electricity and using only candle light, we obviously needed some candles. However we all felt that the candles shouldn’t be store bought especially since this is a creative blog promoting a hands-on attitude. Since I had quite some free time (at least more than Ruth and Moira), I volunteered to make them myself. I gathered as much used jars as I could from my mum’s and removed all their labels. I had a lot of candles which were not of any use and could be upcycled, thus I melted them and poured them in each of the jars, right after I inserted pieces of string to be used as a wick.

When they cooled down, I wrapped them in string as a decoration to make them look even better. I also decided to go a step further and print little Design Sorbet logos on sticker paper and stick them on the jars. And just like that, we had official Design Sorbet candles!

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14 Oct

Birgufest 2013

By / on DIY , Journal

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Last weekend was an extremely busy one, for a very good reason. We had been preparing for the Birgufest 2013, drawing, making material, preparing candles and other things. It was the first time that we were participating in an event representing the blog, making this event a new mile stone for us.

We had plenty of people coming to see the stand, and also a variety of hand made things for sale ranging from hand stitched and hand illustrated journals, homemade jam, screen printed artist books and prints, and a variety of illustrated post cards. We had a variety of candles which really lit up the stand; these were purposely made for the event and really caught the attention of passers by.

Setting up was really fun, as we all enjoyed playing around with things and doing our best to present them in a creative manner. We brought several things which aided in the presentation, making the stand look like a little creative hub.

I have never been to Birgufest before, but this was a great experience and I hope it won’t be my last. We also hope that there will be plenty of similar events for our blog in the near future =)

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