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Thingy Thursday: Stan Williams

LeAnn Stephenson


In May of 2009 I posted a blog about a new book I had heard about called The Find.  A few days later, I received an email from the author, Stan Williams, thanking me for the write up, sharing further that he had a dear friend that lived here in Austin and he would love to see her and make an opportunity to travel from NYC to meet me.  Well, the rest, as they say, is history.  Stan is fond of giving me the compliment of saying that we are "kindred spirits" - I'm more of the belief that he is a long lost, amputated limb that I wasn't aware I was missing.  This darlin' creature and dear friend, also known as The Elegant Thrifter , the blogger/writer of Busy Day Skilett and the maker of the marvelous Hooch Bags, holds a very special place in my heart.

I knew very little of ephemera before meeting Stan.  My educated guess as to the meaning of the word fell between one of two definitions. My initial thought was that maybe it was some sort of urban slang for the little dip just above a woman's collar bone.  But, then I also thought it sounded possibly like what hookers charge extra for.  Turns out neither was correct. After some research I found that ephemera can be described as items designed to be useful or important for only a short time, for example pamphlets, postcards, tickets, etc.  This research triggered a kind of greedy madness in me.  And, I use the word greedy because to any observer it would seem like I already have more than enough collections.  So, to take on another would be like fantasizing about being in love with Robert Downey, Jr. while you're making out with Hugh Jackman, it just seems unbecoming and a little ungrateful.  Frankly, the fact that I even considered adding ephemera to the long list of things a collect (clearly a hoarding-obsessive-compulsive tendency) suggests that I am technically beyond help.  But, with Stan as my mentor, I have learned the value of collecting only what you truly love and not being greedy.  Leaving some for the next treasure-hunter is full of karmic benefits and is only one of the many marvelous traits that I love and admire about this man.

So, without further delay, in today's Thingy Thursday, I would like to introduce you to Stan and his collections and celebrate his undying passion for nostalgia, thrifting, and all things vintage.  Below are his answers to a few nosey questions I posed:



What was your first collection?

Dolly Parton memorabilia. I probably started when I was 12. I do not display this collection, but I do haul it out on occasion to have a "Dolly" moment



How did this collections come about?

I saw Dolly Parton perform in 1977 at the American Royal rodeo promoting her "Here Your Come Again" album. I had seen her on TV and listened to her music, but this was when I officially became hooked. I still have the program. Funny enough, my mom was an original member of the Porter Wagoner fan club and has many of the original materials.



What's the history or story of your collection - is it reminiscent of items or times from your childhood - did you inherit a collection from your grandmother, aunt, mother, etc.?  What's the draw - do emotions, design or function or something else make these items appealing?

Did I answer above?



How much Dolly ephemera do you have?

Hundreds...I have every album she recorded on RCA (and with Porter Wagoner), as well as her albums with Monument. I am only missing a couple of early, early pieces.



Do you use, display or store them?

No. Like I said, I'll pull a piece out here and there. A couple of years ago I through a party that I called Dolly-Rama, celebrating the launch of Dolly's Backwoods Barbie album, and made it all things Dolly.  I do, however, have a signed print of  the cast of "9 to 5" that Veli found at a junk shop in Waxaw, NC and gave me as a Christmas gift, but that's about it.



What is the most you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

I really don't remember. Probably $100.


What is the least you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

10 cents...for old publicity photos from the '70s
What is your favorite piece of Dolly ephemera?

The "9 to 5" Print




What other collections are you building?

None. If I find something I like, I pick it up. I don't buy a lot. I do like items with a sense of humor, filled with color and charm.

Would you sell or pass on your collections?

Yes, I would pass on my collections, provided anyone wanted them.  I probably should have mentioned that I do, on occasion, pick up a vintage handbag to make a Hooch Bag with. I make hostess gifts out of vintage bags, fill them with funny money, a vintage surprise, a pack of candy cigarettes and a nip of booze..sort of a naughty but nice little gift that is popular for Mother's Day, wedding parties, special birthdays, or any time gals get together to have fun!  I also like to pick up old pieces of china that I use to give people to take home goodies after a party, or use to give baked goods as gifts, and just let the recipient keep the plate.

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"Sex and the City" Brunch

LeAnn Stephenson



I'm back and feeling like a lighter version of me only with a higher dosage of happy pills. I give credit not to my psycho-pharmacologist, but to my recent trip to New York. The alarmingly hectic, albeit wonderful, year of 2009 left me feeling a little spaz-tastic and weary, but my new year has begun with a renewed sense of excitement and lots of plans for the coming months.

In the next several posts I will be sharing photos and experiences from our trip as well as presenting plans I have for The Vintage Laundry, the blog, and other endeavors. But first, I'd like to share this:


2009 brought many opportunities, one of the most valuable being the chance to not only meet Stan Williams, but be given the gift of his friendship. The second day of 2010 was spent with Stan and Veli at their home in the NoHo neighborhood in Manhattan. Stan whipped up a very "Sex and the City" brunch - armed with relentless joie de vivre, his favorite vintage printed tablecloth, his 1970s mushroom tray from J.C. Penney, cheese, crackers, scones, muffins, coconut macaroons, and lots of tasty Prosecco champagne. Truly a master thesis on "effortless hospitality" - A "vintage glam" time was had by all!! Stan, you are one of the most clever, wickedly talented, dearest creatures on this planet - I'm so grateful that you are in my life and I hope 2010 has even more marvelous things headed your way!!



Photos courtesy Olivia Stephenson.
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Gardenhouse: Vintage With a Twist

LeAnn Stephenson



There are a finite number of times one can safely visit a website in a single day; after that point the whole exercise becomes kinda creepy and potentially stalker-esque. I have visited my new favorite online vintage furniture store, Gardenhouse, about five times . . . in the last 24 hours.

I believe the clinical term for what I suffer from is gluttony, because I want it all! Gardenhouse, located in Palm Beach, Florida, re-works vintage furnishings with crazy fun colors and fabrics. I find myself thinking things like . . . "I will take one of everything and . . . I’m going to have to give the deck a good power-washing and refresh the stain . . . Oh, and . . . which internal organ will I be selling to be able to afford all the pieces that I would like to purchase."

When I think of Palm Beach, its iconic 1960s prints and sun soaked living jump to mind. Gardenhouse Decor is keeping that heyday look and vibe alive and well. Owner, Cheryl Maeder, a fine art photographer, has gathered her vintage finds, and has given them new life with happy paint colors and modern fabrics. Visit her website the next time you are in need of some inspiration or a mood elevation.

Cheryl met her husband Gary Antonio, an artist, metal sculptor, and constant source of inspiration in San Francisco. She opened a successful advertising and photography studio and worked with some of the country's finest art directors there, and on weekends, she would search flea markets and antique stores, and meet dealers who shared her passion for vintage furnishing. After re-working these finds with her own signature style, she filled her home, studio, and her friends’ homes with these marvelous finds. After she and Gary bought a charming building in Northwood Village, they renovated it with the help of a grant from the CRA of West Palm Beach and they are now living out her dream of creating one of a kind home furnishings and contemporary fine art work. Their retro redo's have been published in several of the national magazines such as Coastal Living, Southern Living, and Architectural Digest to name just a few.

Since arriving in West Palm Beach, Cheryl has also been focusing on her fine art photography. Inspired by a trip to Spain several years ago along the coastal towns of the Costa Brava, she began photographing in an impressionistic style. Shortly after moving to Florida, she began her series entitled Dreamscapes. Cheryl's magnificent work is presently represented by galleries in New York, Paris, Miami, and Palm Beach. You can see more of her work here.

Cheryl believes, as I do, that our homes are our havens, our sanctuaries, our places to unwind and regenerate. Gardenhouse decor expresses a lifestyle of comfort, hospitality, and warm individuality that I strive for on a daily basis. Recycling and being green never looked so good!


Photos courtesy Gardenhouse Decor

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Our Man Stan

LeAnn Stephenson


Our man Stan, author of The Find, has been busy recently and I feel the need to share. Over the past weeks, Stan has been taping a piece that Open House ran about The Find this past Sunday morning, which can be found here. He's on his way to a television show of his very own, I'm certain of it! He features, among others, a Chelsea apartment that has been decorated by Mark Ciolli of Carl & Co. Stan proves again and again that, although we may be in a recession, that doesn't mean we can't redesign our homes. And ever generous, he shares his tips on how to scout flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales for show-stopping furniture, beautiful lighting and wall decor.

















All images courtesy of Open House NYC, LX.TV and NBC Local Media.

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