Fake it til you make it!

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie. 

I love mid century decor and heaven knows my house borders on being a museum, but sometimes the price sticker for an original piece can quickly put something out of reach (and straight onto my wish list!).

I’ve wanted a vintage starburst mirror for ages, but I’ve never found one that I loved enough to spend the big bucks on. So when I saw this rusty, beat up, department store effort on a local swap and sell site (FOR FREE!), I knew I could make it (aka fake it) into something that scratched my Mid Century Starburst itch…well, for now anyway!

Before. A little bit tacky and way too bedazzling

Before I continue, I need to confess – this thing sat in my garage for months before I touched it. In fact, I avoided it….refusing to even look at it. I’m not sure why exactly, but now that it’s done, I wonder why I was so intimidated by a piece of metal. Anyhoo, I digress. This mirror was rusty and grimy. The smaller mirrors were either falling off or gone, which was ok because I hated them. And that was the first step – after removing the large center mirror for safety, I used pliers and pushed/popped the smaller mirrors off. This was not too hard as many of the joins had rusted.

Mangled baby mirrors

I worked my way around the frame until all the small mirrors were gone. As bad as the rust looks in the photos, thankfully it was only surface deep, and none of the rods had rusted through.

Is it seven years bad luck if you break a mirror deliberately?

Once I had removed all the small mirrors, I wiped the whole thing down with a wet rag. This is where it got a little messy. A lot of the paint starting flaking off in chunks where the rust had lifted it. These chips of paint stuck to everything – the rag, my hands, the drop cloth, you name it. After removing as many of the obvious paint flakes as I could, I went over the whole thing thoroughly with 200 grit sandpaper to remove peeling paint and rust. This part was laborious, mostly because every time I thought I was done, I’d see another patch I had missed. I’d say I spent about an hour sanding. Not my favourite thing to do, but necessary.

Almost there!

Once I had gotten as much of the rust and paint off as possible, I sprayed the whole thing with a coat of Killz primer with rust protection. I then followed up with 3 coats of my ever trusty Rustoleum Metallic Gold. It is by far my favourite gold spray paint, I love the final colour and tone.

And there you have it! A modern day starburst mirror, with a mid century vibe. Love it!

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Starburst in the Afternoon Sunshine….Fabulous!

Handy hint #1 – Classy & brassy, removing paint from Brass. 

Here at Atomic Magpie, we spend as much of our time cleaning and restoring vintage items as we do sourcing them. Pieces that are 40+ years old come in all conditions. From pristine and barely used to well loved, thrashed and modified.

Looking past decades of paint, grime and use can be challenging. That said, seeing good bones underneath 1980’s seafoam green paint and then restoring the item to its original glory is extremely satisfying.

Along the way I have picked up many handy hints and tricks for restoring items, and this post is going to talk about one of them.

Before. These Danish modern candlesticks covered in paint, have seen better days

This gorgeous pair mid century Danish modern candlesticks had been gold spraypainted (badly). Maybe the original owner didn’t feel like polishing them? Or wanted a matte finish? One can only guess, but they were covered in an uneven, drippy coat of paint and looked miserable.

A close up of the sadness

Here’s where the fun starts! After doing some research, I learned that brass expands when heated. Meaning that heating it would almost force the paint to come off. I’m no scientist, but this sounded legit, so onwards to heating the candlesticks.

After filling an old pot (that wasn’t going to be used for food again) with water and a shake or two of baking soda (I’m not big on measuring), I boiled the candlesticks for about 90 minutes.

The film of old paint appeared very quickly

The paint started to come off almost immediately – and stuck to the pot, which is why you should use an old one you don’t plan on using again for food prep. It should also be noted that it’s probably a good idea to do this in a well ventilated area, with the window open or an exhaust fan on. While the smell wasn’t terrible, it was present and, like all things old paint, you are never quite sure what you’re dealing with unless you’re the one that first painted it (lead anyone?)

Bubble , bubble, toil and trouble!

After removing the pieces from the pot, they were scrubbed gently with a regular kitchen sponge/scourer to get the remaining paint residue off. An engineer friend mentioned afterwards that it’s probably not a wise idea to put heated metal directly under cold water, as it can crack with the sudden heating and cooling/expanding and contracting. Brass is a softer metal so that doesn’t typically happen, but if you’re not 100% sure what type of metal you’re dealing with, take care with that step.

Last up, a quick polish with one of my faves – the ever trusty “Barkeepers Friend”. This stuff is amazing, and polished the brass in an instant.  Pretty flash I think!

Shiny, shiny!

Do you know the way to San Jose? (an Eichler pictorial)

By Sarah from Atomic Magpie

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the Fairglen tract, just outside of downtown San Jose, home to one of the iconic Eichler neighborhoods. Inspired by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, Joseph Eichler was a prominent property developer in the late 1940’s-1960’s, and was responsible for these very unique neighborhoods.

Eichler Homes sidewalk stamp
 
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Gorgeous streamlined frontage & flat roof
I did a short walking tour through the tree-lined streets, and imagined life way back when, in this Mid Century time capsule. It is a design and architecture lovers dream.

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Slightly A-framed roof, still low profile
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Yard facing glass walls
There’s something special about warm wood paneled walls, interior atrium, window walls and flat roofs, and these stunning San Jose Eichler’s are a true piece of Mid century modernist architecture. The open plan and airy feel were considered futuristic by many, and have influenced many design trends since.

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Iconic original kitchen cabinetry & glass wall
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Exposed wood beam ceilings, and stunning wood paneled walls. Swoon!
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More fabulous wood paneling & radiant heated floors.
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Afternoon silhouettes, windows galore!
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A gorgeous Mid Century abode, appointed with a mixture of modern and vintage pieces. Perfection! (Vintage Lava Drip glaze lamp & Mirro Medallion candy dish courtesy of Atomic Magpie!)
Street after street of these gorgeous, well preserved and respected homes make this neighborhood a treat to wander. Original fixtures, gates & mailboxes, some updated, some preserved, all fabulous. Anyone with an interest in all things Mid Century, or even those who just appreciate classic architecture, should go take a stroll around one of these incredible neighborhoods. You wont regret it!

To check out our selection of Mid-Century treasures, click here

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese…

Chocolate & Cheese…the way to many peoples hearts (especially ours!) And what better way than a melty, gooey, scrum-didly-umptious fondue session? Heaven in a pot.

The Swiss, French & Italians blazed the way in the 1930’s with the ever delectable, traditional cheese fondue. It wasn’t long before North America jumped on board in the 1950’s & 60’s, making fondue a household favorite. And why wouldn’t they? Fondue is fantastic. In addition to the classic cheese fondue,  chocolate with fruit for dipping became a popular treat, as did “fondue bourguignonne“, in which pieces of meat were cooked in hot oil.

This vintage Danish Modern style fondue set, with fabulous dark wood accents, is perfect for any fondue favorite. Cheese…chocolate….makes us hungry just writing about it! Click on the photo to see this stunning piece in our store.

Fondue

Home, sweet home.

Every now and then we get an update from one of our customers about the piece they’ve purchased. Such is the case with this atomic-fabulous Mirro Medallion candy bowl. Mirro is well known for its vintage aluminum homewares, but the Medallion line was very short lived (1958-1960). Touted as high-end serving ware, it was largely cost prohibitive for most customers, with pieces ranging $8-$22 (think 1950’s dollars!) Due to this short production span, these amazing pieces are highly sought after, and very collectible. 

Absolutely appropriate that this sweet bowl ended up in a classic Mid Century Eichler designed home – and how incredible are those wood paneled walls?! Modernist architecture at its absolute finest. Swoon! 

For more amazing mid century pieces, please visit our store! 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/atomicmagpie

 

It’s Swank-tacular!

This super cool vintage “Swank” gents dresser valet looks like it was ripped right from the set of Mad Men. A fantastic piece of 1960’s mid century decor, it is the perfect caddy for catching cufflinks, watches and other man-cessories on a nightstand or vanity. So fabulous in fact, that it barely hit our store before it was snapped up, no doubt by some dapper young man-about-town. Featuring gorgeous dark walnut with brass fixtures, this valet is an elegant, swanky boudoir accoutrement.

Visit our store for many other amazing Mid Century pieces, and look out for more Swank valets, coming soon.

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Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama

Tropical ocean breezes, cocktails, warm moonlit beaches….this fabulous vintage cocktail tray was undoubtedly a souvenir from just such a paradise escape.

Featuring The Bahama Islands, as it was known before it became just “The Bahamas” (like there is ever “just” the Bahamas!) this tray is a fun and frolicky as an island getaway, depicting sailboats, swimming & fish in shades of pink, yellow and aqua.

This tray is perfect for serving up a Bahama Mama, Bahama Breeze or just about any other delicious cocktail that takes your fancy. Or you could just stare at it…and dream of being in the islands *sighhhh*

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Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood?

We ADORE anything Scandinavian, wooden & mid century modern. Now these beauties are California made, but they are mid century, they are wooden and they are pretty Scandanvian-esque. Made from stunning Black Walnut by Gladmark of Burbank, they are truly outstanding vintage pieces. 

Just recently we happened upon another Gladmark piece, a gorgeous carving board. We’ll be listing it soon, but we are definitely fans of this mid century (non Norwegian) wood company. 



Orange-ya glad you came?

We love a good pun (and bad ones too apparently!)

But seriously, how fantastic is this cookware? These Georges Briard saucepans, in the highly sought after Carousel design, are a merry-go-round of colour (yep, we went there). And when our favourite color orange is featured like this, what’s not to love?

Gorgeous!

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Holy Toledo!

How fun is the bright orange retro-ness of this design? Absolutely love this platter in the “Toledo” pattern. And boy, has it had a journey through time and across the globe.

JAJ (now Crown) is England’s version of Pyrex and is hard to find anywhere outside of the Commonwealth. This little 1960’s gem was Made in England, snapped up in Australia and ended up in America. Kinda reminds us of another little orange traveler…42 Wallaby Way, Sydney anyone?

Both practical and collectible, this vintage platter is a gem.

Click on the image to see this item in our store…

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