Off The Shelf.

I wish I could go to a store and find the pieces I wanted and just pull them ‘off the shelf’.  But part of the appeal of each item I find is that they are not found in stores or on shelves, but through word of mouth, or online or most often, estate auctions.  And while the auctions are the greatest and most reliable source of new stock, they are also tricky ground.  I have written before over on my Facebook page about buying in auctions and the amazing things that can be found, but yesterday was a tough day over in auction land.

Each week I scour the upcoming auctions and identify the pieces I like.  I note them down, get condition reports and work out how much I can afford to pay taking into account buyers premium and the freight back to the farm and what I think is a fair price to then sell it for.  These notes and calculations form the basis of my buying strategy either live in the auction or over the internet.

With all this in hand, the auction begins and most of the time, I have a good run, winning some lots and missing out on others.  I have a couple of auction nemesis’ or foes, who I know are likely to be bidding on the same items as me which always means I will have to fight harder and closer to the top end of my budget if I want to secure them, and that’s okay, it’s part of the fun.  But yesterday, I really struggled to place the winning bid on any of the items I had marked down and seeing piece after piece, sail quickly past where my budget ended, wasn’t much fun.

But not all is lost!  I did have the opportunity to secure one lot that I’ll post about later in the week, which was really quite special.

And there will still be plenty of new pieces going up this week and the hunting continues….!


I always wanted a Barbie.  But my mother was very particular about us having practical wooden toys and Lego.  And blocks.  And a cubby.  They matched better with our short hair, brown corduroy knicker-bockers, desert boots and green skivvies.

Eventually my grandmother thought it time to step in and delivered me my first Barbie.  Her name was Peaches and Cream Barbie she had a apricot coloured polyester dress with see through bits, little orange shoes and a very bad hair do that was a sort of mousy brown but with what I can only assume was meant to be blonde highlights.  They would have been done in the style of the 80’s with one of those horrible rubber hats with tiny holes in it.

Anyway, despite the woeful hair and highly flammable outfit I thought she was the most beautiful thing ever.  This love affair was short lived however after a visit from my older male cousins who cut her hair off and told me it would grow back and then melted her boobs off with a cigarette lighter.  Needless to say, she was much more Sigorney Weaver in Alien after their visit and she had lost some of her appeal.

I pined for her previous Dallas style appearance but have to say I was a shallow child and without that mane of dual toned locks and massive set of boobs, she was quickly relegated to the bottom of the toy box.  I had periodic Barbie sessions at friends houses and a particularly fabulous afternoon at an old relatives house when we discovered a vintage Barbie pool in the cellar complete with ladder and little Li-lo, but on the whole I completed my childhood sans Barbie caravan and sans Ken.

So why is this even remotely relevant on this vintage furniture blog?

Well, in quiet moments, I think about how if I was a young girl now, my Barbie would have the most amazing house.  She would fill it with great and unusual things and be totally original and fabulous.  One such quiet moment came as I photographed the huge copper pan now available on the website.  In my Barbie house, she would have this huge round copper pool that would sparkle in the sun and she would float around sun baking (in factor 50…) and drinking mojitos that would be prepared by Ken, who would of course wait on her hand and foot, in his little tight plastic undies.

So there it is, the first item I have offered for sale that won’t just be the talking point of your coffee table, or hall table, or kitchen table, but your daughter will have the most fabulous Barbie pool of all time and her friends will remember it and she will remember that for the rest of her life.  No pressure.

I Love Maps.

I get a lot of questions about art and there is no hiding that it is a huge passion for me. I am drawn to lots of different types and often look at things that aren’t typically considered ‘art’. That’s not uncommon though with lots of people at the moment choosing to decorate with typographical prints which can look really effective.

Another version of this style is maps and old, vintage maps and city plans are really quite beautiful. This framed print of a drawing by Colonel Light is effective from a distance but really fascinating close up. I know, I know, it’s essentially a map, but stick with me.

Adelaide Print 1

The fine line work, the buff coloured paper and the simple black frame means it will fit in with most decor and can hang on its own or in amongst other pieces. From a distance it can be hard to determine what it is, which means something like this often draws people in.

So I would make sure that it’s somewhere where you can actually get up close to it and see the individual pen strokes and read the comments. The artistry and detail are so delicate and cool, that you really only appreciate it when you do that geeky art thing of walking back and then leaning in and then walking back again. While squinting.

In this drawing, reading Colonel Light’s comments about his work planning Adelaide and the ‘fine plains’ and ‘the hill from whence I took bearings for this sketch’ and ‘ships of large burthen’ makes me think about not only how much our language has changed, lol (irony intended) but also how pretty it all must have been and what it must have been like to sit on the ranges and look towards the sea and then get out a jolly big bit of paper and plan a city.

So, if you’re looking for interesting ‘art’ for your walls, don’t knock old maps and plans, they can be pretty special.

And! This print will be available for sale on the website soon.

Get Your Togs On.

When you see how ridiculously amazing the sprinkler (yes, sprinkler) is that I found hiding in an auction you will literally want to get your togs on and run around on the lawn like its a hot summer afternoon and you’ve had two jugs of Pimms.  No really.  If you don’t believe me, head to The Dovetail Trader page on instagram and have a look at the video, because some clever person has turned copper pipe and a hose fitting into the most magical lawn sprinkler you’ll see.

And if the running around on the lawn in your bathers is too much of stretch, think about how relaxing it will be to watch your children do the running around for you, while you enjoy your (third) jug of Pimms while idly watching the meditating stream of water.  Actually, it’s really more like a water feature.

Anyway, I never thought when I started doing this that I would have a sprinkler on here, but trust me – it’s beautiful.

Available for sale now on the Trading page.



First Date.

First blog posts are like first dates.  And it’s been a while since I had one of those (and I had some shockers), so typing this I’m feeling a bit shy and awkward, but I have no doubt that will change as I get used to it all.

For those who’ve arrived here after being part of the start of The Dovetail Trader over on facebook, thank you for the support so far and I can’t wait to show you what I have planned now the website is up and running.

And for those who are new to the whole thing, The Dovetail Trader is based around my love of finding unique and individual pieces of furniture and homewares.  I am drawn to the things that visibly show the signs of their age.  Almost everything I sell has marks and scratches and dents, not the sort you can fake in a factory, but the sort that are born from years and years of love and use.

The Dovetail Trader is also an opportunity for me to indulge in my need to move and rearrange furniture almost constantly.  Spending a day switching the dining room and the sitting room and swapping everyone’s bedroom is my idea of heaven, but for those returning from work and school to this new layout, it is pretty annoying.  And disorienting.

So there we are, perfect first date territory, I shared a little bit of basic information while also giving a small glimpse at a an annoying habit…


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