Friday, October 26, 2012

A Chat with Wonder Diva

I have worked in a bookstore for a little over six years now. It's my nine to five, though it is more of a seven to three. I am surrounded by books five days a week and I think that is kind of awesome. One big change that I have encountered is the increase in people purchasing e-books versus physical books that have been printed on paper. You know, the ones you can actually hold and smell and get paper cuts from... Yes, I sniff books! There are worse vices to have and it's not like I run around huffing them all day, it is just something I find myself doing from time to time. Anyways, I'm getting off track. It's weird to think that one day, not any time soon, but one day physical books may not be as easy to come by as they once were. So many books are no longer in print, are print on demand books (don't get me started on those!), or are only being published as e-books. It's sad, but it's a fact. What's even more strange is that books I once read as a child are now considered antiques and collectors items... and I'm not even thirty yet! Have you ever tried to find a a kids book from the 80's that was about Masters of the Universe, or Fraggle Rock? No, well if you try you will find they are now antiques. Rainbow Brite - vintage. Cabbage Patch Kids - vintage. That Little Gold Book called Turn on the Dark - vintage. I knew at some point this was destined to happen.

I never realized how soon my childhood would become filled with memories of toys, clothes, furniture, and books that would become antiques and vintage. It feels like this came out of no where. However, now that I am at the age where this is happening, I completely understand why people freak out over antiques and vintage items. When I think of all the good times I had playing with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures I would go ape shit if I ever found April O'Neil action figure I would always play with (I was one of the few girls in my neighborhood growing up and the boys made me be April).

I recently met a girl through Etsy that has a shop that is all antiques and vintage items. If anyone knows what it is like to find something that was once new and brought joy into someone's life and thirty years later have that same item, now older and worn from love, bring that same joy to another person, it's this lady. Her name is Jeanne and she is the proud owner of Wonder Diva on Etsy. I was able to ask Jeanne a few questions and got to know her a bit better and now I am going to share with you what I have learned about this awesome lady. Enjoy!

My name is Jeanne and I've been working around politics for years, but my head is also really into the arts and humanities, and most lunch hours you'll find me at a boho coffee house, reading and regaining my sanity. I'm married with a houseful of animals (3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 birds.) That alone is enough to keep me busy and amused!

1. What is it that appeals to you about antiques and vintage items?

Antiques and vintage are really soothing to me. They have a texture and quality that one can't find in modern merchandise (unless it is handmade,) and I'm really all about reusing things as much as possible. I love the patina and wear found on old things, it is so beautiful, but if you find a beautifully-kept old item, you then have to marvel at the care and appreciation given to it by past generations.

2. Do you have a favorite type of item to look for over the others? Books? Clothing? Home goods?

I mainly look for vintage illustrated books, but if something catches my eye, I am probably going to get it. I love quirky things & goofy things that start to spin a story in your head the moment you look at them. I also love vintage industrial style items, the kind of things you find in the garage at estate sales. My current personal weakness is vintage restaurant ware dishes and cups -- I don't sell them in my shop because I usually keep them for myself. I am convinced everything tastes better when it's served from restaurant ware.

3. What do you think the hardest part about selling vintage items and antiques and why?

I think the hardest part is trying to give a really good description so people truly understand what is is you're selling. I want to try to give buyers as much of an idea as possible on what things look like, feel like, and even smell like. Right now there are also a lot of people selling vintage because of all the TV shows about being pickers, ect, so there's a lot of competition in the vintage market.

4. I've heard the expression that the hunt is sometimes more fun than the kill. Do you think you have more fun looking for antiques and vintage items than you do knowing that you have that special item?

LOL. I love this question! I love the hunt because it's honestly very relaxing for me. I never know what I'm going to find and I go into it with an open mind -- so often I've discovered something that is new to me, something I never expected to find appealing. The other fun part of the process is doing research on the items and sometimes getting into a back story about an author or illustrator that leads me down other avenues of interest.

5. I noticed that you have a section for Edward Gorey in your shop. Is he a person favorite? What is it about his work that you enjoy?

I love Gorey's work and I know a lot of people enjoy it, so I try to keep his books in my shop when I can find them. I love his sense of humor and his illustrating style is a bit of a throwback to the early 20th century, with the very detailed pen-and-ink drawings. And this quote by Gorey may be the best excuse as to why I can't precisely describe why I enjoy him: "Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable."

6. Do you have a specific decade that you tend to favor as far as style, artists, literature, or fashion goes? Why?

I'm in love with Art Nouveau, the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Deco styles, so basically the movements from the early 1900's to the 1930's. I really can't pick a favorite of those three styles. I love the 1920's in particular, and the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris" is naturally one of my favorite movies, because I'd love to wander back into that decade. It's an interesting question to contemplate as to why eras in the past resonate so strongly with some people, but I've loved the 1920's since I was old enough to understand what that era was all about.

7. I also noticed that you have a pulp, sci fi, horror section in your shop. Which of those is your favorite to read?

I have pulp in my shop because it is so bad it is good, and the cover art is often hilarious. I have sci fi in the shop because I think there are some very notable midcentury sci fi illustrators that need appreciation, but I've never been a sci fi reader. I love HP Lovecraft and I'm increasingly enjoying Clark Ashton Smith -- again, I love the fantasy-horror writing from the early 20th century.

8. Since it is October, what is your favorite part about Halloween and why?

I love all the Halloween symbols that originate with the Celtic festival of Samhain, and my idea of a great Halloween would be to get a big bonfire going and stay up all night watching it while eating and drinking with a group of people. However, what I love more than even Samhain is the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations and imagery -- some year I am going to drag my spouse out to L.A. to get a taste of that culture in person.

9. What are your top five, must watch horror films for Halloween?

Honestly, I tend to go for humor around Halloween, and thus I must watch "Young Frankenstein" and "Beetlejuice." "American Werewolf in London" is a bit scarier, but still funny in places, and the werewolf transformation scene is still a favorite of mine. And because I love silent movies (naturally,) I will watch any silent horror movie, and the Louise Brooks classic "Pandoras Box" is not a horror movie, but it's dark, twisted and foreboding and is great to have running at Halloween. And this movie has nothing directly to do with Dia De Los Muertos, but "Like Water For Chocolate" is such a great Mexican magical realism movie that I like to watch it this time of year.

If you would like to see more of what Jeanne has in store, please check out her shop: Wonder Diva! You can also Follow Wonder Diva on Twitter!

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