Category Archives: Not so new

Speaking of necks, and other body parts

This is an old one, but I’d like to share a wonderful 1967 short film by Danish director Jørgen Leth.

Not a lot to say really, except that I found it beautiful and strangely touching. And inspiring in a retro kind of way. And of course, I thought some of you may like the boots…

:: Reuben ::


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“Not more minä perhonen” I hear you cry. “Didn’t you blog enough on that guy already?”

Well, yes, perhaps I did.


But this is not what you think.

For, despite all appearances,  these beautiful patterns are not Japanese textile designs. Not textile designs at all in fact.


No, what we have here are details of book covers, by the wonderful American graphic designer Alvin Lustig.


Oh, I should also mention that these designs are from the 1940s.


The 1940s! Oh how I wish I could come up with such beautiful designs today. These covers are taken from the new directions  : new classics series from 1944 to 1953, yet I wouldn’t have even questioned it if someone told me they were designed last week by Penguin UK’s latest hot young thing.


Much has been written about the incredibly influential Lustig (though he was unknown to me until very recently), far more (are far more eloquently ) than I can re-blog here. If you’d like to know more this website is a great start.

:: Reuben ::

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Rosebud, me hearties

More finds from various op shops in Rosebud over the weekend – above, sparrow salt and pepper shakers; below, melamine cups and an original Decor water jug. Hot damn, Rosebud is a treasure trove of great op shops. And the op shops are treasure troves of great stuff. In truth, there is much treasure to be found – but there is no map. I feel I should put in some kind of piratey interjection here, what with all this mention of treasure, but I’m not channelling Captain Jack Sparrow very well this evening.

Brotherhood of St Lawrence
Shop 1a, Rosebud Central
Nepean Highway
Ph: (03) 5981 1201


Vision Op Shop
2279 Nepean Highway
Phone: (03) 5985-2289

are two of the many.

:: Arwen ::


Filed under Home sweet home decor, Not so new, Uncategorized

Retro literature


Last Friday I took a whole bunch of books that I no longer wanted down to the Searchers on Smith Street, and while I was there trying to discard books, I acquired yet more. But how could I not?! Look at these beautiful old hardcovers I found – a set published by the Reprint Society ‘by arrangement with Chatto and Windus’, 1955. This lovely edition of Under the Net, above, has a dedication to Raymond Queneau (author of the very funny Zazie in the Metro, about a prepubescent French delinquent and her cross-dressing uncle) and a beautifully quaint quote on the inside jacket. Talking about damning with faint praise:

Miss Murdoch means us to be entertained. She means us also – at least some of us – to peer into the whirlpool of events and to laugh, sometimes, on the other side of our faces. Whatever her intention and whatever the amount of her success in achieving it, this novel is certainly the most original work of fiction published in the past twelve months.

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Above and below are the other hardbacks that sat on the shelf with Iris Murdoch, also belonging to the Reprint Society series. I’ve never heard of any of these authors, though – has anyone? Or are they lost in the mists of literature? With catchy titles like The Enormous Shadow and Four Guineas, it seems incredible that these books didn’t become instant classics. Or at least make it onto the Year 8 English syllabus.

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The Searchers
Secondhand books and records
Top end of Smith Street (near Gertrude, same side as the Commie Bank)
Fitzroy VIC 3065

:: Arwen ::

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Nanna’s kitchen

My dear grandmama has just moved into assisted living (it’s not quite a nursing home! She just needs someone to remind her to take her meds) and my cousin and mother helped her clean out her little house before the move. What delights Nanna had tucked away in her cupboards, which have made their way to me as the retro/kitsch kitchenware aficionado of the family. I am now the proud owner of a matching milk jug, butter keeper and sugar bowl set (above), not to mention small and large serving plates (below) in beautiful melamine.

Such plates deserve more than just a normal recipe – these plates call for a Retro Recipe. Kate gave me Afternoon Tea for my birthday and I’ve subsequently made a number of very old-school recipes (often involving condensed milk, dessicated coconut and gelatine) from its humble pages. I hear very good things about the lemon hazelnut syrup loaf (page 67) from my lovely colleague A, whose mother is responsible for this particular inclusion.

:: Arwen ::


Filed under Home sweet home decor, Not so new

good price, here you get

There has been a trend for a while now in cafes, restaurants, apartments around Melbourne (and I imagine, many other cities in the world) towards a certain kind vintage-sign nostalgia. Old Coca-Cola advertisements, hand-painted signs advertising long-forgotten cleaning products, metallic menu boards. Hand painted is the key factor here. I must admit that I am a bit of a victim of this myself – my new apartment boasts a large painted metal “4” which I “borrowed” from the local service station back when I was 17.

You can only imagine my excitement last month trekking through the Himalayas and discovering a plethora of absolutely beautiful, old, hand-painted signs scattered through the mountain villages of Nepal. 



There were clear thematic similarities here – brightly coloured metal, high contrast, large lettering. Punctuation, spelling and grammar corrections added at later dates. Occasional animals and mountain references. And of course, lovely, unique, hand-drawn typography. Each one by a different artist (or artist), each with its own creative flourishes.




Of course, any nostalgia imbued in the signage here is entirely mine. These signs are not nostalgic, or ironic, they are intensely practical. This is essential international communication, this is art and commerce together at work.



Lacking the ability to take any of these beautiful signs home, I decided photographs would have to do, and began obsessively photographing every one that I saw – I have posted here a small collection that I hope is representative. One day soon a few of my favourites will be printed life size and will take pride of place beside my old service-station “4”.


:: Reuben ::

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Market finds


On Sunday, which seems long ago in my heat-addled brain, I headed to the Camberwell Market, and despite my self-imposed shopping hiatus, I ended up buying a few lovely things. At least the market is relatively cheap, so I left with a nearly full wallet and a slightly smug feeling. The Norwegian 1960s eggcups (above) are in perfect nick and will come in handy if the weather ever cools down and I can cook anything hot again. The buttons (below) were bought for no specific purpose, but will be added to my button stash for future use. And my best find of the day is chronicled at the bottom – a set of six flower tumblers for $5. Bargain!

The internet informs me that the temperature outside is now 43.4 degrees Celsius, or 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Time for a cool drink.



Camberwell Market
Behind the Burke Road shops
Camberwell VIC 3124
Almost every Sunday of the year

:: Arwen ::

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