Thrifting

Antique hunting in Japan

June 12th, 2015

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For those of you that follow us on Instagram, you probably know we just got back from a short but sweet trip to Japan.

This was our first trip outside of the country in almost 2 years, so as you might expect we had our share of business meetings and visits with suppliers as well as artisans to interview for the book and also to secure some future exhibitions. Having said that, there were some really beautiful moments visiting our friends, meeting new ones, sharing meals and the reinvigorating inspiration that comes from traveling.

On our last day in Tokyo just before our flight left in the late afternoon we went with our friends Ian and Kimberly to one of their favorite Sunday antique markets. This was where all of the restraint we showed not buying things during the first portion of our trip had worn off and we had some yen left over in our pockets ready to be spent before we got on our flight.

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It’s kind of embarrassing to say, but in all of our visits to Japan we never made a point to visit an open air antique market. We have been to a lot of antique shops, but we never really did enough research to find out where and when the markets were on. Luckily our friends formerly from Toronto, now living in Tokyo, had been to many of the markets around the city and took us to this one.

Needless to say, we walked away with some very nice work.

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Although not specifically from this antique market, we found the Mei Ping vase above at Antique-Coffee located in Kumamoto.
I originally thought the vase was ceramic, but after picking it up I was shocked to find it weighed almost nothing. The vase is made from copper, and then finished with black urushi. It is from Korea and around 200 years old, the urushi has been slowly peeling away and underneath the exposed copper has turned a blue-green colour. The vase was originally used to fill with sake to be offered to the gods.

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From here on these are all the antique market finds. This one I especially love because I knew absolutely nothing about it, even after I bought it I came back to ask some more information. It’s an old Korean copper or brass bowl, around 1000 years old. It seems we are naturally attracted to Korean work, some of the best metal and pottery we saw on our trip was from Korea. Now these pieces are even more significant since the government has banned Korean antiques from leaving Korea. If you go to a shop or market there and legitimately buy something, they will apparently confiscate it from you at the airport.

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Copper has been a reoccurring material obsession for us.

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From the same dealer where we bought the Korean bowl we also saw this small shrine, which is actually one used for traveling.

It is from the 1600s, and coated with a rich black Japanese lacquer.

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What is really spectacular is when the doors are opened, beautiful gold leaf lined doors and back panel with three intricately carved figures are revealed. There has been some speculation about who these figures are, so if anyone knows anything about them please write us.

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Another object we had no idea about, is this pair of wooden sticks on a rope. I just really liked the form, weight and shape especially where the rope was tied. Bringing them back home we found out these are knockers used during the Kabuki theater to get people to sit down and get ready for the show.

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This is maybe more of a touristy thing, but I wanted to find a nice gong to hang on our wall. The problem was finding a really nice old copper one, not a new one made of brass or one made from iron. It also had to be simple. There were a couple of gongs at the market but this one was the nicest, and the sound is really nice.

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These wooden molds to make Tea Ceremony sweets are beautiful and sculptural.

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What made this mold special to us is its shape. There were a lot of other molds we saw, but none of them had a handle.
We loved how the carvings just peak out through the openings.

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Red snapper is a special fish used to symbolize celebrations, crane and turtle are for long life and wisdom.

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Another beautiful object that caught Juli’s eye was this antique watering can in copper. Its smaller scale makes it ideal for watering bonsai and other small plants.
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The form is incredible.

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Finally, always one to attempt to find a piece of artwork during our travels Juli found this lovely print of a dancer. In a way it has a Japanese quality, but is in fact, to our surprise made by a French print maker in the 1960s. It’s being framed now, so we’ll share another photo once it’s up on our wall.

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Stockholm finds

February 17th, 2014

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We just returned from a trip to Oslo and Stockholm for design week. It was a super busy time, meeting up with friends and seeing what was going on. I didn’t really take many photos of the cities themselves because we’ve been so many times I find it hard to capture (that and the nonstop overhead clouds and dreary weather made for not the best lighting scenario).

Although most of our shopping seemed to revolve around Elodie, we did manage a few fun purchases. Above is a Höganäs Keramik pot. We saw it at the Red Cross shop that’s located directly across the street from the Claesson Koivisto Rune office. We didn’t buy right away but then ran over minutes before closing on our last evening in town. It’s currently freshening up our front entryway, which still has a way to go in resolving the space aesthetically and practically.

 

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These little owls are from Japanese boutique Kiki. They reminded us of Elodie because just before we left she was obsessed with the book Little Owl Lost, asking me to read it like 20 times a night.

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Another last minute find at the Red Cross. I had been looking for some mid century Scandinavian art and the colours and simplicity in this piece stood out.

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One of Elodie’s favourite peek spots. Also, she chooses her own socks.

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We saw this book at designer Eva Schildt’s home. It’s a sort of I spy in Stockholm book, perfect for us non-Swedish speakers. I was going to get her a book to learn Swedish but we figured it wouldn’t be a good idea since we are clueless how to pronounce anything!

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Elodie loves helping daddy water the plants, so we got her a Moomin watering can. Of course she tends to water the floor but I am sure it will improve in time. Skill building! Also, I can’t believe she chose matching socks!

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Tall toddler = belly shirts!

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They bloomed already! I’m liking where we moved this painting. The three items together make a nice grouping.

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Prototype of the Float candlestick by Anderssen & Voll (their website never seems to be working lately so this links to Muuto) for Muuto. It doesn’t seem they went with this colour for production, lucky us!

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We managed to pop by Blås & Knåda, a ceramics and glass store in Södermalm where we picked up four pieces by Hisako Mizuno Jonsson. Funny enough, our friend Alissa Coe told us about these pieces a few days prior and we ended up buying them!

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So we ended up being pack mules on the way home, carrying a lot of breakables. Thankfully everything arrived home safely. We were reluctant to put anything in our luggage because on the way there the airline lost our suitcase with ALL the Sucabaruca prototypes!!! And the bag didn’t make it back to us for over 3 days, with no updates. But it all worked out as you can see in the previous post.

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Antique Scrolls

November 22nd, 2013

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Well, winter looming outside our doors and we’re all spending a lot more time around the house and finally getting around to framing art and finding places to hang them. We have a couple of interesting antique Japanese *correction – Chinese scrolls (I bought these from a shop in Japan)* that we thought we should share with you. One is finding its home in a narrow wall in our bathroom to the right of the sink.

It is the popular motif of the plum blossom, but this one is the lucky double plum blossom *peach blossom?* ensuring a good spring. It’s a nice reminder during winter, the promise of the spring to come. Also, the artist used their finger print to make all of the little dots – I think that little bit of charm was what encouraged me to buy it.

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A closeup detail of the finger prints used for the blossoms.

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The other is just a fun piece that I bought for Elodie. When I saw the cats, bamboo and flowers I thought it would look great in her future bedroom. Plus one of the cats looks just like Isha! Elodie really likes this piece, she likes counting the cats.

Filed under: Home Reno,Thrifting | 11 comments

Max Papart lithograph

October 30th, 2013

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I’m not going to lie, it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to blog properly.  A mixture of travel, sickness and everyday life getting in the way. Things are happening over here but there’s no time to report on it! Who knew, kids need attention. A lot of it.

The last Junction Flea happened earlier in the month (sniffle) and it was a great run while it lasted! We thank Micah and Paul for putting it all together and wish them all the best for their future plans.

At the second to last flea (which I thought was the last flea) there was a piece of art that caught my eye, but price and mood got in the way. When I chanced upon it again at the actual last flea and found out the price was now $80, I just had to go for it. We had recently swapped out our sofa–it was time to let the 1960s sofa go – don’t worry, we replaced it with the same one, in natural–and found that our living room acquired a new vibe in the process.

I find it so hard to acquire art. On the one hand I want contemporary work but cannot necessarily afford to acquire it quickly. On the other hand I think it’s nice to balance the contemporary out with some older work. But striking a balance, and not going too kitchy is always a concern. I think this piece plays well with the contemporary piece it’s placed beside, as well as the natural leather and oak in the room.

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A detail.

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Max Papart (1911-1994), France.
Lithograph on Arches with Embossing, Signed and numbered in pencil.

Just needs a frame to finish it off!

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HOPEA at Mjölk

November 19th, 2011

Recently I discovered HOPEA, an online shop that sells vintage modern Scandinavian and Canadian jewelry. Coveting was immediate. Although I’m generally a no fuss kind of person who rarely remembers to put jewelry on, I’ve been trying to dress it up a bit more. Modernist jewelry is my happy medium. Simple, clean with interesting form.

Honestly, it was hard to pick just two pieces. Cosima has an amazingly curated selection of necklaces, bracelets and rings, everything from clean minimalist to brutalist.

Erik Granit “Spheres” Bracelet, silver, 1974.
Maker mark, “E. Granit & Co.”, “925″, “V7″, ”Made in Finland”

Designed by Jorma Laine and produced by Kultateollisuus Ky in Finland, c. 1970.

We got to chatting, and in no time we realized that it would be nice for people to come and see some pieces in person. So we’ve curated a small selection at Mjölk.

So, if you’re in Toronto, you should come by the shop to see these pieces in person! If you’re out of town, definitely have a browse on HOPEA‘s fantastic website.

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Mjölk

March 28th, 2011

For my birthday John surprised me with this artist piece by UK designer Kathleen Hills. Milkii is a double-spouted jug made of gorgeous bone china that can be used for milk, or when it’s off duty, as a vase.

The red tops are for when you want to reseal the jug when it’s in use. The foil tops are for changing up the display.

Continuing with our milk theme…some adorable Japanese milk bottles that we picked up during our layover in Narita. We quickly realized that spending 8 hours in the airport was a bad idea, so we headed over to Narita town, about 2 trains stops before the airport. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have a long layover! We fell for these  bottles–the green is milk, the black was for a really thick yogurt.

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What’s this! At Kitanosumai Sekkeisha, located out in the countryside of Hokkaido, we found this bag. The shop was clearly Scandinavian inspired and I quickly grabbed this bag as soon as I saw it. Our shop name is actually inspired by the Arla Swedish milk packaging, which has won design awards, so whenever we see it, we think of our shop. Funny that another shop has used it for inspiration too!

This post needs some kitkas to go with the milk. Our friends over at Upside Dive gave us a lovely wedding gift – an awesome vintage cat tea towel and beautiful Dansk flamestone  pot, perfect for heating up hot chocolate. Thanks guys!

Filed under: General,Mjölk,Thrifting | 6 comments