Sunday, January 19, 2014

Daniel Schmidt

Hello friends!

Welcome to the next installment of our staff/vendor interview series. Today we would like to introduce you to one of our newer staff members and vendors, Daniel Schmidt. Daniel has a keen eye, a scholarly knowledge of antiques and a love of the organic. Here is our interview with Daniel where he discusses his first childhood collection, his favorite item in his space and what keeps him collecting.

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Daniel, can you tell our readers how long you've been at Uncommon Objects, and what it was that sparked your interest in antiques?

I started working at Uncommon about a year and half ago and I've been a dealer for about eight or nine months. I think my interest in art history drove me towards antiques. I went to graduate school for art history and have worked behind the scenes in museums so I've spent much of my life surrounded by old objects.

It's a given that most of the staff and vendors at Uncommon Objects are collectors. Do you actively collect anything? Were you a collector as a child? Do you remember your first collection?

I collect far too much. My first collection was of bones collected from road kill or from the beach. I was probably five or six when I first threw a carcass on a fire ant pile to clean it so I could get a nice skull. Now I still collect skulls as well as Renaissance prints, coral, and shells that have been used for producing mother of pearl buttons, amongst many other things.

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Your space at Uncommon Objects has such a thoughtful flow to it. Can you give us some insight into how you curate your space and what goes through your mind as you're out finding objects? Is there a particular item that is your "holy grail" or a special piece that got away?

Thank you first of all. My goal is for my space to be as close to a 16th/17th century cabinet of curiosity as possible and I try to stay fairly true to what was prized and collected then, hence a focus on natural objects - big shells, coral, skulls, taxidermy, etc. I don't personally collect taxidermy or human bones so I keep all of that in my space. I'm also very interested in the history of animal and plant taxonomy so anything involved with that - 16th century natural history engravings, old medical charts, etc - I absolutely love. I have countless holy grails. I've managed to obtain a few of them like my sawfish bill and Jacob ram skulls. A few I'll probably eventually get like a nice big coco de mer, truly antique coconut shell or ostrich shell goblets, and taxidermy stingrays. Probably my number one holy grail item that I'll almost definitely never obtain would be a Mixtec skull - a 16th/17th century Mexican ceremonial skull that was encrusted with turquoise, obsidian and shell. I worked with one hands-on a few years ago at a museum I was at but there are very few in private hands and they are exceedingly expensive. The best though are the unexpectedly amazing items that you don't even know exist like the taxidermy ostrich feet I recently acquired.

You were asked to pick your favorite item in your space. Can you tell us about it and why it's so special?

My favorite item would be my sawfish bill. It's just such a classic piece to be included in a cabinet of curiosities. You'd be hard pressed to find an engraving of a 17th century cabinet that didn't include at least one. They're beautiful and bizarre and increasingly hard to find.

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Thanks Daniel and thanks to everyone for reading!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays

Hello friends!

We hope that this post finds all of our readers happy and healthy during this special time of year. All of your kind words and support are such a treat. We love what we do and are thrilled that you all recognize that and enjoy it. From our Uncommon Objects family to yours, we wish you all the most joyous of holidays and a bright new year!

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See you all next year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Justin Dent

Hello friends!

Welcome to the next installment of our Uncommon Objects staff/vendor interview series. Today, we would like to introduce you all to staff member, Justin Dent. Justin is a recent addition to the Uncommon Objects team, but has made himself an essential part of what makes the shop work. Here is our interview with Justin, along with some of his current favorite vignettes/items in the shop.

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Justin, can you tell our readers how long you've been at Uncommon Objects, and what it was that sparked your interest in antiques?

I've been at Uncommon Objects for just over one year now. Some of my earliest memories are of shopping for antiques with my Mom and Grandmother, or rooting around in my Grandfather's house in Arkansas for all of the bizarre artifacts he had tucked away. My Dad, a retired Federal Postal Inspector, now spends his days working at a small antique shop outside of Little Rock. Collecting and appreciating the memories of our heritage have always been very important in my family.

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It's a given that most of the staff and vendors at Uncommon Objects are collectors. Do you actively collect anything? Were you a collector as a child? Do you remember your first collection?

My first collection as a child was a cardboard box full of hundreds of sports cards I kept in my closet. I vividly remember climbing inside and literally bathing in TOPPS and Upper Deck cards, hoping to find a stray Dion Sanders or Jeff Bagwell card. I bred mice for a while, which I suppose is a weird little collection of its own. My Mom put a stop to that collection real fast. After that it was comics and fanzines, something that would take me to conventions and bring me in contact with a real array of creative, talented artists. I currently collect devil imagery, children's magic tricks and memorabilia, and anything with a goat on it.

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You are a musician, a writer, and illustrator. I'm curious as to what you feel the common thread between those endeavors and, say, your display work for the shop are. Is there a singular source of inspiration that feeds all these things?

I think the singular inspiration for all creative work is a sense of collective consciousness. Some people may call it the Muse or something lofty and esoteric like that, but I really believe that humanity has this inner spark of inspiration and instinct that's very difficult to put into words. Whether I'm writing, playing, working on our displays or just doodling a lonely Loch Ness monster on scrap paper, I think it's important to get the maximum effect with as few flourishes as possible. My drawing style is very loose and fluid, for instance, and I think it's a matter of focusing more on letting the viewer fill in the gaps themselves instead of focusing on small details. Working at the shop gives me a chance to "illustrate" in a three dimensional space. I try to use as few items as possible to really turn the shopper's focus onto the atmosphere of the display before letting them focus on specific items. They need to fall into the world of the object and be able to hear its story clearly. There's a lot of love and patience in that, and it never fails to make me smile when someone shopping at Uncommon Objects takes the time to tell us how much they enjoy the shop.

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You were asked to show us your favorite items or vignettes in the shop. What is it about these items that make them your favorite?

I really dig goats! They're right up there with raccoons as far as the most punk rock animals ever. They eat garbage and butt heads all the time, I mean what's not to like? That front window was so much fun to do. We got a chance to assemble it during the Halloween season this year, so I think everyone was excited to see something a little spooky. It's simultaneously sinister and welcoming, like an Edward Gorey illustration or the worlds we find in fairy tales. Also, the "Witch of Black Bird Pond" display is just killer. I think there are five objects making up the entire display, and its so atmospheric not in spite of, but because of this. The same goes for the stained glass display that Steve Wiman and I worked on together. Simple but effective color palette, dramatic lighting, and careful use of space make it stick out in my mind. Its all about using whatever you're provided with and making it into something beautiful.

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Thanks Justin! We look forward to seeing you all next time.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Uncommon Objects vlog #2

Hello friends!

Here's hoping that our newest blog post finds you all well...

So, tomorrow is Halloween, and you will find no tricks here, only treats. For your viewing pleasure, here is a little something to get you in the Halloween spirit, in the form of our second vlog! We hope that you enjoy watching as much as we had making it.



Till next time!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Janette Bibby

Hello friends!

Welcome to the next installment of our Uncommon Objects staff/vendor interview series. In this installment, we are sitting with staff member, vendor and manager Janette Bibby. If you've seen any of the staff members with extra huge grins on their faces, and a slightly glazed over look, nine times out of ten, it is because Janette has brought in some of her amazing baked goodies! Let's get to know one of Uncommon Objects most well loved fixtures...

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Janette, can you tell our readers what you do and how long have you been at Uncommon Objects?

Hello! I've been a vendor at Uncommon Objects for about 10 years. I joined the staff 6 years ago when I moved to Austin.

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If you can, please tell us how you got involved in the antiques world? What is it that keeps it fresh and exciting for you?

I learned the business of selling vintage goods from two pros. First, Charity Cornelius, one of the original vendors at Uncommon Objects, who has been involved in the vintage world most of her life, took me under her wing and showed me how to look at things with a new, appreciative eye. She helped me set up a space in a mall in Dallas, where we were neighbors. It was there I learned how much work it really takes to keep a space fresh and interesting and profitable.
Then, for several years I had the great opportunity to work with Steve Wiman, helping him set up in Warrenton, Texas, the huge bi-annual antique flea market that takes over the countryside between Austin and Houston (which, incidentally, is happening again right now). Working with Steve was/is a continuing education. I've never met anyone so dedicated to consistently creating something artful and extraordinary with objects once loved and then discarded.
When Steve invited me to join Uncommon Objects, I was so happy! I eventually moved from Dallas so I could be here year round and concentrate on trying to make my space worthy of this amazing store. How can I not be inspired by all the hard work, remarkable objects and beautiful, sometimes literally breathtaking, display work going on around me all the time? It's contagious and frankly, it's just too much fun! I'm one of those lucky people who loves her work.

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You are also an amazing quilter. Your quilts have a delicious organic feel and beautiful color stories. What inspires your quilt making? Do you feel that your quilts and display work inspire each other?

Thank you! I've always been compelled to use my hands to create. I love to bake, garden, do needlework and make quilts...creating something pleasing from raw materials. Playing with colors and textures makes me happy. Quilting is a way of experimenting with those raw elements of texture and color. It's functional art. I suppose styling my space is an extension of that impulse to create something appealing and useful from the materials I have gathered.

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I'm sure you've seen some fantastic pieces come through the shop. Any particular ones (including your own) stick out in your mind?

Once we had a stuffed dog. I had never seen one before! I suppose someone loved their pet so much, they couldn't quite let it go out of their life. We got so many comments on that dog. Then, of course, there was the stuffed squirrel band! Rather mundane compared to those, my favorite personal find is a fine silver tea set I bought from another vendor at Uncommon Objects. All the pieces, teapot, sugar and creamer, are crafted out of silver to look like pumpkins on the vine. Combining my love of tea, tradition and autumn, it's one of my very, favorite things.

Thank you Janette!

Till next time friends...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hand colored photography

Hello friends!

Here's hoping that our newest blog post finds you all well.

Today's post covers the beautiful art of hand colored photography. Whether it's a touch of rose on the cheeks or a lavishly full colored portrait, hand coloring sought to bring life's sparkle to an, at that time, strictly black and white medium.

Hand coloring refers to any method of manually adding color to a black and white photograph, generally either to heighten the realism of the photograph or for artistic purposes.

Typically, watercolors, oils, crayons or pastels are applied to the image surface using brushes, fingers, cotton swabs or airbrushes. Hand colored photographs were most popular in the mid to late 19th century before the invention of color photography and some firms specialized in producing hand colored photographs.

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Although hand coloring photographs is not at the level of popularity it once was, there are still some who keep it alive and well. Please watch this wonderful video featuring the Ansari Photo Studio, in Afghanistan, where hand colored photography is still a cherished medium.



Till next time...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Take a peek inside

Hello friends!

Here's hoping our newest blog post finds you all well...

In our last post, we teased you with a short video announcing the arrival of our vlog. Well, here is the first, of hopefully many more vlogs to come!



We hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into our shop! We will be bringing more videos in the coming months. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of all Uncommon Objects news and all future vlog episodes.

In other news of note, the fantastic blog, Rock n' Roam visited our shop and sat down with Uncommon Objects owner, Steve Wiman for an interview. Loads of beautiful photos, interesting tidbits, and find out which celebrity was in the shop while the interview was taking place! You can find the interview here.

Steve and artist, Jill Bedgood will have an exhibition titled, "A Conversation: Piecemeal" on August 1, 2013 at UTSA's Satellite Space.

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As mentioned, the opening reception is August 1st from 6PM - 9PM, with the show running until August 18th. Please visit UTSA.edu or call 210-458-4391 for more information.

Till next time!