Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Thrift Store Find: Mata Ortiz Tejido textured bowl by Reynaldo Quezada, Mexico


Recently we were thrift shopping in Portland, and thinking we were done, we wandered down an aisle we'd already covered and headed toward the door. Something on the bottom shelf caught our eye. Looked like Oaxacan pottery. We almost missed it, but could it be what we thought it was?

Actually, it was better than that. It turned out to be a Mata Ortiz Tejido textured bowl, signed, by Reynaldo Quezada, Mexico. We learned a few things about it, most importantly the Quezada family had several prominent makers, and the piece had significant value. At first, we found a couple for sale online, then we found a sales record from 2016.

All signs seemed to point in the same direction, and now we have the piece available for sale in our Etsy shop. To learn more about it, click here.

Friday, August 11, 2023

more Christmas in August


In our last post, we talked about a wonderful set of vintage Riddell grumpy Santa mugs. We didn't intend to have "Christmas in August" as a blog theme this month, but the other day Linda discovered this wonderful set of 15 vintage plastic blow mold NOEL candles. That's something to crow about!

Each candle is about 10 & 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches diameter. We did a lot of searching and found very few examples like it. There are plenty of NOEL blow mold candles out there, but few with this simple block font. Each candle has an opening in the bottom, presumably where a light would go.

Such a rare find! We almost fell over when we found them. Good eye, Linda! The set of 15 is now available in our Etsy shop. To view the lot, click here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

1951 Riddell Grumpy Santa Mugs


We were driving around our neighborhood some time last year, and there was a sign for an estate sale. The house was just a few blocks away, and it was full of stuff, but still slim pickins for the types of things we would normally collect. 

We were on our way out, and Linda saw this set of 1951 Riddell grumpy Santa mugs near the exit. Eight of them! She did a quick Google search, discovered they were rare and very hard to find, and could sell for upwards of $50 apiece. So, we scooped them up, paid and made a quick exit.

The mugs are now available in our Etsy shop, along with over 500 other unique handmade and vintage items-- and this week we're running a 30% off sale! To visit our shop, click here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

mystery bowl


We found a mystery bowl the other day while we were out thrifting here in Oregon. Now we are trying to identify it.

The stoneware bowl has a glossy, raised drip glaze and exposed stoneware. The glaze appears to be cobalt with white, and the exposed stoneware looks like it has a very light, clear glaze.

There is a stamp on the bottom, which appears to be AG. We tried searching for it, and did not come up with any comparables.

Have you seen anything like it before? Do you know of a maker who used an AG stamp and produced this type of work? We are intrigued, and want to know more. Any clues from our readers would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, June 29, 2023

house quilts in the house

houses on quilts - it's a thing!

Our friend Julie Silber recently curated an exhibition of house quilts at the Iowa Quilt Museum. The exhibition, open June 20th to September 10th, is called "Welcome Home. A Celebration of House Quilts." We saw photos of the exhibition on Facebook, and there was a familiar quilt on display.

house quilts now on display at the Iowa Quilt Museum

The wonderfully graphic schoolhouse friendship quilt from New York State (far right in exhibit photo) was once part of our collection. In fact, it was one of the first quilts in the collection. I'd forgotten all about it. The quilt was sold to a friend and fellow collector years ago, before my wife Linda and I met, so she never got to see it. The quilt has wonderful inked signatures and dates, some with locations noted. 

Seeing the exhibition photos reminded us, we have a few house quilts of our own. One is a traditional house block quilt from the 1970s, very boldly made with solid multicolor fabrics. Our nickname for the quilt is "Levittown, Pennsylvania - after the big paint sale." 

The house block is a standard way of presenting houses on quilts, but there are plenty of other ways. A velvet Victorian period crazy quilt top (above) has a little red house in a field of crazy patchwork. Another quilt from around the same time period is made with hexagon shaped patches with buildings, presumably houses. Fancy houses, with lots of windows, large doorways and chimneys!

Quiltmakers are very resourceful. If they want to put a house on a quilt, they'll find dozens of ways to do it. Believe it or not, I made a quilt with a house on it. It was a small quilt, made for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Small Wonders challenge. I made the quilt because my Mom was planning to visit, and I wanted to surprise her by having a quilt on display. 

The quilt was called "House of Wonky" and it was loosely architectural, made with batiks, and irregularly shaped. And yes, Mom was very surprised! Most surprising of all, it had a blue ribbon for Viewer's Choice and a "sold" sticker on it. It was one of the first and only quilts I ever made.

One of our absolute favorite house quilts is a 1930s pictorial quilt from Ohio. It came to the collection several years ago from our friend Shelly Zegart, and it is truly iconic. There are so many ways to include houses in quilts. We look forward to seeing more photos from the exhibition in Iowa, and hope lots of people will go see it. For more info (Iowa Quilt Museum) click here.

Friday, June 16, 2023

mysteries - the Peruvian painting


vintage cubist painting, signed by "Flomi" - but who is Flomi?

Lately, it seems every trip to the thrift store produces a mystery. We love solving these mysteries, but a lot of the time we probably didn't nail it. 

Google Lens is a pretty good tool. It works using image recognition, so the search results are only as good as the "matching" images online. The tool is available on computer and on smart phones. We searched Google for the painter, Flomi, and found very little. No real matches. We searched in Google Lens using the image, and images of Peruvian paintings came up. That led us to believe the artist could be South American, or from Peru. 

Another object we found recently is this polychrome decorated "sgraffito" or scratched surface pot, which appears to be Native American. We tried image searches, but with far less success than the painting. I guess we will list it using a physical description. Same for a copper bowl and wood carving we thrifted this month.

copper bowl, possibly from Northern Africa or the Middle East

primitive wood carving with fish, origins unknown

We could probably devote this entire blog to mysterious objects. Maybe it would help us identify them. If anyone out there knows anything about a Peruvian painter named "Flomi" or any of the other objects here, please leave a comment and share what you know.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Sauvie Island


We went to Sauvie Island today. Collins Beach, where the breeze is light and the clothing is optional. We didn't take too many pictures.

We packed a cooler with some smoked salmon, shrimp poke, fresh fruit, water and coffee drinks. On the way, we stopped at Mickey-D's for an Egg McMuffin and some coffee, then headed to our favorite spot. Collins Beach is on the Columbia River, and it is one of just two clothing optional beaches in Oregon. The beach is sandy and the whole island is a natural viewing area. We saw a trio of bald eagles and several osprey. 

Our Tommy Bahama umbrella from last season still worked well, and a new one we found recently at Costco. These umbrellas screw in to the ground and are very secure when it's breezy. They also tilt.

There is a view of Mt. St. Helens from where we were sitting. We could also see Mt. Hood on the drive.

After catching a few rays and light snack, we packed up and hit the road before rush hour. It was a nice day to go to the beach. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

island flair

dancing hula girl bobble figurines

We find a lot of items from the southern Pacific islands here in the greater Portland metro area. Several of our most recent finds are now available for sale at Vintage Vault PDX.

tapa cloth made by pounding tree bark and embellishing it

We love finding bowls and serving platters made with monkey pod wood. These objects are utilitarian, but  quite elegant.

monkey pod wood serving dish

We found a pair of carved wooden wall plaques recently at a thrift shop. They seem Hawaiian but were most likely made in the Philippines. 

A large piece of tapa cloth is also representative of Hawaiian culture, but it was more likely made in Fiji or Tonga.

If you are setting up a tiki bar in the breezeway or just love a little island flair, check out our shop -  Vintage Vault PDX at Etsy. To visit our shop, click here.

Monday, May 22, 2023

looking for a few forever homes


Space. It's the whole problem with being a "quilt magnet". We find so many wonderful quilts, we try to resist buying them, but they follow us home like stray cats. Perhaps we are simply fostering them. Now we are looking for a few forever homes. 

Our Etsy shop is called Vintage Vault PDX, and we have a growing selection of mostly antique and vintage quilts for sale, along with a few newer ones we picked up along the way. 
Some of the quilts were featured in magazine articles and books. The four block quilt in green and cheddar orange was in my first book (New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection), and the pastel rainbow Barn Raising Log Cabin was in my second book (Modern Roots). 

All the quilts are photographed and described in detail, in good condition unless otherwise noted, and each one is a masterpiece in its own way.

It's hard to part with these quilts, particularly the ones that appeared in books, but they served their purpose here, and now need to be released into the world to make others happy. 

If you're a collector or if you simply love wonderful, old quilts, we hope you'll visit our shop and peruse the available offerings. Click here to visit Vintage Vault PDX.

Monday, May 15, 2023


Sold! Mid-19th century appliqué quilt from South Carolina

When Linda and I first met, I was a vendor at Antique Alley in Portland. I maintained a booth and a case in the shop for several years, but there were very few months with enough sales to cover the rent. Toward the end, we had problems with the staff. So we pulled out.

Sold! vintage Murano glass ashtray, Italy

The bottom line was shocking. We lost about $10,000 over a four-year period. After weighing the options, we decided to liquidate some of the inventory with a big garage sale, and we opened an Etsy shop. In our first year, we made up for the whole loss. In our second year we started to make a profit. 

Sold! vintage 1979 Inuit stone carving 

Our Etsy shop is called Vintage Vault PDX, and with Etsy we shifted from sparse foot traffic to a global audience. It was a good move. We are selling more things, a wider variety and a number of bigger ticket items. 

Sold! NW Coast Native American carving

Sales were going like gangbusters, but in April everything stopped. Maybe it had something to do with the recent Silicon Valley bank issues, or maybe it was a new algorithm. Long story short, we did a few things to update our listings, and sales are picking up again. 

Sold! vintage watercolor painting

The Pacific Northwest is a thrifting dreamland, and we find new things all the time. We sell art, collectibles and handmade objects. We also have a large collection of quilts, and will eventually sell more of those. 

Sold! vintage mid-century modern patchwork quilt

Our Etsy shop, Vintage Vault PDX offers more than 500 items starting under $20. We have Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, oil paintings, hand painted pottery from Mexico, handmade quilts and fine glass from Italy. Click here to visit our shop

Sunday, May 14, 2023


About a month ago, we had one of those "Keep Portland Weird" moments. The" NW's Largest Garage Sale" takes place a couple times a year at the Clark County Event Center, and it's a huge event. Initially we did not know what to expect, but we wanted to leave before we set foot inside the exhibit hall. Parking was a free-for-all, it was a long walk to the venue, it was very crowded, and the pickings weren't all that great. Fortunately we did find one gem- a shiny, satin crazy quilt.

The event center was wall-to-wall people, and we felt like we were in one big line, which languished up and down the narrow aisles. The moment we realized we wanted nothing more than to immediately leave the building, there was the quilt. It was all folded up and didn't look like much, but I could tell it was something. The sellers had no idea. We settled up with a minimal amount of small talk and quickly left.

We didn't realize how large the quilt was at first. It is 78" x 104", but being relatively thin, it looks deceptively small when folded. It was probably intended as a bedspread or for other decorative purposes. It is mostly satin, possibly with some silk in the mix, and it has no batting. We didn't learn anything about who made it, but it came from someone here in the Pacific Northwest, and now we are offering it in our Etsy shop. In excellent condition, looks like it was rarely used, if ever. To learn more about it, click here.