Yes, I did it again, I went to another thrift store during my tea break from work, and this time I found something wonderful – a Nootka (Northwest Native American) paint decorated twined cedar bark basket, as old as 1900. You can see a little bit of fabric on the outside surface, which may mean that this basket was made to be a head covering chapeau, which would have had an inner hat band sewn or woven into the top inside. In a recent auction at Cowan’s in the Midwest, they sold such a paint decorated basket – (theirs was in better condition, mine has a hole which is sizable at the back) – and Cowan’s is a little smaller, yet it has bands that seem to have been sewn on the outside – six of them – to affix the hat to the head. Mine shows something of fabric that has been affixed to the outside. Dare I hope I could be correct in my attribution? My fear is that since Northwest paint colors are red, blue, green and black, and all that remains of mine is black paint, I am not sure if I have the region of the world identified correctly. If there are any of my readers who know Northwest baskets, please offer your opinion because if I am right, I could be a lucky girl: Cowan’s basket sold for over $4,000. I paid $8 for this one a few weeks ago.
I have always coveted Northwest Coast material and am always on the lookout for those red and black painted whale designs, which were painted on boxes of cedar. I got lucky and found one at the Boys and Girls Thrift in Ventura lately, as well.
So what follows is a story of MANY things found in the greatest thrift stores in the world, those in Santa Barbara. I have lived and “thrifted” many places, and only Dallas, during the fall of the oil industry, compares with the thrift stores in Santa Barbara.
Top find: a 17th C. Chinese bronze mirror at Alpha Thrift on Hollister (note: these typically are not mirrors per se, as the polished brass on the flat side shows your reflection).
Second: an entire collection of Native American beadwork, about 8-pieces, including a papoose, at Random at Victoria Court.
Third: a Tibetan wool salmon colored area rug with black abstract design that had always been hung on the wall, early 20th C., at Destined for Grace on Hollister. (Note: Since the women who run Destined for Grace are so worthy of donations for their school in Haiti, the powerhouse team of Elaine and Christi who manage estate sales often give what they CAN NOT sell for their clients to Destined for Grace. What that means is that Destined for Grace usually has the oversized, the strange, and that which might have been overlooked at clearing house estate sales. Those things are RIGHT up my alley.)
Fourth: a pair of Japanese paper decorative screens, one in the style of Hokusai’s great WAVE, in cobalt blues and creamy whites. I found this at the OTHER Alpha Thrift on the other end of Hollister Ave.
Fifth: a Gucci leather suit carry bag circa 1960’s with shiny brass zippers and those nice green and red stripes. I found this for under $100 at a little consignment store on Milpas called “The Attic.” My hint to you is to look for non-furniture things in consignment furniture places.
Sixth: a back of the sofa Lucite long high table circa 1970 for under $300 from Habitat for Humanity. That place is the BOMB. I also once found a nice huge piece of glass to cover a few Robert Scott Bases I found at a thrift sort in ORCUTT, another great place for mid-century modern.
Seventh: a series of three paintings of apples in the process of being eaten, which look great over my 1962 circa Flair, stove top, from the Unity Shoppe on State.
Eighth: a fantastic Harley Davidson full-length women’s black leather trench coat for $25 for my Steampunk niece at NYU from Goodwill on Carrillo.
Ninth: an oil painting of a little waif with huge eyes for the same niece, framed in the style I like to call “early brothel’ French Rococo, for $15.
Tenth: Bear, my Chi-weenie, second hand, at the wonderful place we call DAWG here in the gifted and giving town we live in!
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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