Bygone Theatre Rentals – Office Furniture

We recently did a production of His Girl Friday, which meant acquiring a LARGE volume of vintage office furniture and supplies; here’s some of the furniture pieces we now have available to rent.

 

  1. Vintage Wood Office Chairs: see individual pictures for details
    Rental Price: $20.00 each/wk
  2. Burgundy Faux Leather Executive Chair: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $30.00/wk
  3. Small Telephone Desk: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $15.00/wk
  4. Wood Arts & Crafts and Mid Century Modern Desks: see individual pictures for details
    Rental Price: $40.00 each/wk
  5. Metal Cabinet: see individual picture for details
    Rental Price: $15.00/wk

The styles we have available would be suitable for someone looking for something from the 1920s-60s, or something modern day with a vintage twist. Discounts available when renting multiple pieces at once, prices listed are for a single item, before HST.

Stay tuned to see some of the smaller set dressing items we have as well.

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His Girl Friday Costume Designs: Finding Vintage Fabric

As any of you who have seen one of our past shows knows, I care a lot about having costumes that are as authentic looking as possible. I’ve done past posts on how to fake a vintage style with more recent clothes or patterns, and on what types of fabric were common to a certain era – but where do you go to find that fabric? As I’ve been scouring the web looking for answers to that very question, I thought I’d share my best finds here.

Reproduction Fabrics

Don’t be dissuaded by their dated looking website, reproductionfabrics.com is an amazing resource if you’re looking for vintage or antique styled patterned fabric. From the late 1700s through to the 1950s, they have a selection of fabric that covers nearly every style and colour, and for very reasonable prices. Some are actual reproductions of old patterns and some appear to be “in the style of”, either way, this should be one of your first stops if you need vintage, patterned, fabric.

American Folk and Fabric

Another good source for reproduction designs in americanfolkandfabric.com. I found they had “frillier” fabrics than Reproduction Fabrics – lots of florals in pink, that sort of thing – so depending on what you’re looking for this could be perfect, or may miss the boat.

Antique Fabric

Depending on the project, you may prefer actual vintage or antique fabric to a reproduction. In this case, you’re likely going to find smaller amounts and a higher price, and remember, the condition won’t compare to what you get from a reproduction. While for costumes I’d always opt for a modern-made fabric, I certainly see the appeal of the real thing. If you’re looking for variety, check out antiquefabric.com. Well indexed and with a wide-variety of fabrics from periods ranging from the 1800 through to the 1960s, you’re very likely to find something you’ll want. Sadly, most of the pieces I found drool-worthy were not big enough to make what I’d like. But if you want some authentic pillows or accessories, even a blouse that takes only a yard or two, this is your spot.

Spoonflower

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you can try creating your own design and printing it through spoonflower.com. This site allows you to upload designs that you can print for yourself on a number of types of fabric (plus wallpaper and wrapping paper), and has the additional option of allowing you to sell your designs to others through the site (you get a commission). Try searching through what others have made, or upload your own!

Most quilting sites also offer a selection of vintage & antique styles, though I’ve found it isn’t necessarily as accurate as some of these other sites. But if you know what you’re looking for and have a particular style in mind, Equilter and Hancocks-Paducah can be great resources.

Happy searching!

-E.

Retro Christmas Countdown – Gifts For The Guys

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on finding the perfect gift for the vintage-loving ladies in your life, we thought we’d do one for the boys.

For The Host

Does your man love to play host? Help him up his vintage game with a gift like this masculine travel bar set from Etsy, or check out Toronto’s BYOB for a similar one-of-a-kind find. Not much of a drinker? Why not help add to the ambiance with a retro-inspired radio or mp3 player, like the funky ones by Crosley.

For The Film Buff

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An easy gift for you film-loving friend is of course, a movie or movie box set. Already know his favourite vintage flick? Why not buy him a gift set by the same director or starring the same actor? If you really want to leave an impression, you can even give him this ridiculous (but very cool) vintage-style Crosley tv.

For The Business Man

If he has an office or dedicated workspace, there is a wide range of gorgeous office accessories out there sure to make any vintage lover squeal with delight. Restoration Hardware has spectacular pieces and while most are pricey enough to be options for the very wealthy (few of us have upwards of $3000 for a desk) some of their desk accessories are relatively accessible, like the 19th Century Belgian Deed Boxes (doubt he already has one!). Or go for something with a more personal touch and find an antique card holder from your local vintage shop and take it in to be engraved.

For The Greaser

If he’s more of a 50s bad boy type lots of vintage and rockabilly stores have some wicked shirts, like these from Tatyana’s boutique. And if he spends more time doing his hair than you do, maybe throw in some good old fashioned hair pomade as well and help keep those Elivis-esq coifs looking fine.

For The Dandy

 

If your gentleman prefers tweed jackets and bow ties to jeans and bowling shirts, you may want to look for something a little more upscale and help him complete his “dandy” image. New York’s Fine & Dandy would be my first choice here as they carry everything you could need for this look – even spats and sock garters! If that’s a little much check out their wide range of neckwear, sure to impress the most particular of tastes.

Vintage Halloween Masks – DIY Printables!

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d share some fun vintage masks that you can print out at home! Check out these great sites for more, and be sure to follow our pinterest board for all the updates.

Wings of Whimsey is a great source for free printables and one I visit often. You can find things like this vintage cat mask;

VintageHalloween.com is an obvious choice if you’re looking for something specific and don’t mind spending some money. They have a wide array of vintage reproduction so you can make your Halloween party as authentic as you’d like (I’m swooning over some of this stuff).

This is sort of a random one that I stumbled across while browsing pinterest. 50’s Ben Cooper Box Art Detail is how the flickr album is labeled and it seems to be a high-res scan of an old costume box. Pretty nifty.

The Monster Masks Blog is a spectacular find – you really can get anything on the internet. Check out an amazing assortment of high-quality rubber and latex masks and download some cool paper ones for yourself!

 

Prefer pretty over creepy? Check out Mamelok Papercraft for some beautiful Victorian reproduction masks like these;

Got some more resource you think we should share? Send them our way! Tweet them to @BygoneTheatre.

  • E.D.

Vintage Labels: Creating Authentic Props with Public Domain Images

When dressing a period set, one of the first problems you may encounter is how to have vintage items that don’t look old. While your show may be set in 1920, you of course don’t want a can of beans that looks like it has actually been around since the 20s – rusted, peeling label, dents etc. And of course, to buy a mint condition vintage item you’re likely looking at spending far too much. Still, the importance of period-specific props shouldn’t be overlooked, so here are some handy hints on creating your own authentic looking props:

grapenuts1

  1. Research The Food and Packaging Materials Used In The Period: Foods come in and out of fashion, just like anything else. Start off researching what was popular during your period: The Food Timeline is a great resource for this. They even have a section on popular brands advertised during the decade. From there, look up how your items were packaged; looking at a show in the 1920s or earlier? You’re not going to see plastic. Go for cans, glass bottle and boxes. War-time also had an effect on the materials used, and women were encouraged to make their own preserves. If you’re setting something during one of the World Wars, try have some homemade items on hand.
  2. Think About What Your Characters Would Use: A play about a bachelor doesn’t need a jar of baby food, and a family-centered drama may have more crowded cupboards than one about a single man. You can of course go much more in-depth with this; read though carefully to see if there’s any references to food and think about what types of things make sense for your show when you consider cultural and ethnic background, socioeconomic status, trends etc. This can be a fun exercise to do with your actors too. Sometimes the more details you think of (ie. my character loves pickles but can’t stand mustard) the more nuances you come up with.
  3. Use Authentic Vintage Labels: Finally, nothing will help make an authentic prop more than a real vintage label. See below for my list of favourite sites to score great graphics.

My Favourite Sites for Free Printable Labels: 4964821_orig

  1. The Old Design Shop:  Not only do they have a section on labels, they have just about every category you could think of if you’re looking for some general inspiration. Check out the Food & Drink section and you can see what kind of bottle or can you should affix your label to.
  2. The Graphics Fairy: Beautiful vintage labels and other graphics, many of them turn-of-the-century French. Not as many food labels, but there are beautiful stock images of things like vegetables, if you were interested in designing your own.
  3. The Candy Wrapper Museum: If you’re looking for some authentic candy wrappers, look no further! This well organized site has everything you could need from just about any time period. The only issue is they are scans of old (often crumpled) labels, so I would suggest using them as a guide and photoshopping them to clean them up a bit.

Of course, if you’re handy with photoshop, you can always google vintage labels and try to replicate one yourself. There are lots of free fonts and filigrees to help  you out, and that way you can customize your prop exactly how you want.

6a00d83451ccbc69e201a3fced05fe970bRelated Sites:
If you’re looking for vintage posters, say to decorate a store front or to put in a replica magazine or newspaper, check out Free Vintage Posters. They also have some great WWII ads.

Another good resource is Free Vintage Art, again, not for labels, but for some other beautiful, free vintage stock photos.

And finally, if you’re finding the whole concept of “public domain” a little daunting, check out Public Domain Treasure Hunter; they spell it out for you 🙂

 

For this post, I focused simply on creating canned and boxed goods, bu you can make things like cookies and sandwiches as well. Stay tuned for another post on authentic, non-packaged period foods.

-E.

Set Design Inspiration – Mid Century Modern

When dressing a period set it is important to have not only a good grasp of what was actually popular and available during the period, but also an idea of what most audiences will associate with it. “Mid Century Modern” is a huge decor trend right now, and so those looking to set a show in the 1950s or 60s are in luck – there are lots of vintage and new pieces available that fit the style, for a range of costs.

When trying to capture the essence of an era, I usually focus on a few key things:

  1. Silhouette: What sort of general styles and silhouettes were common, and where can we find those in both vintage and modern pieces?
  2. Colour: What colours were popular at the time? And in particular, what colour schemes would have been used then that are rarely used today?
  3. Accents: Are there any accent pieces (lamps, phones, statues, vases etc.) that are frequently associated with the decade?

I then research a bunch of photos and hit the thrift shops. While it is always fun to go to vintage and antique stores, I generally find that, for one, the costs there can be high and two, since those pieces are actually old they frequently look too worn to be used in a set that is meant to be of that time. Often times, the best solution is to go through thrift stores and see what more recent pieces can be recycled and reworked to fit the desired decade. But before I get to the little details, I start with the first thing the audience will spot: the colour.

The Mid Century Palette: 1950s and 1960s Colour Schemes

While many of the colours popular during the 50s and 60s are seen in homes today, the big difference is in how they weren’t afraid to mix lots of bold, contrasting colours, whereas we tend to tone them down with neutrals. Let your colours speak to the tone of your show; doing a drama? Why not try for a deep, forest green with red and golden accents? Have a cheerier, lighter mood in mind? Pastels were popular and can look stunning onstage. Don’t be afraid to play with unique colour combinations, and when in doubt, a quick google search will come up with some mid century colour palettes you can choose from. If you have the opportunity, one of the best ways to get a real retro look is to incorporate the bold carpet colours of the decade (though of course we don’t all have the resources to cover our stage floor).

 

The Mid Century Silhouette: 1950s and 60s Furniture

One of the most easily recognized features of the mid century furniture silhouette is the thin, tapered wooden legs. Often stained to look like teak, they sometimes had a metal cap at the bottom, and are relatively easy to replicate should you not be able to find an actual vintage piece. Eames-styled chairs, with thin wooden arms and legs and tailored, boxy cushions were also popular. I often find pieces from the 1980s that, from a distance, can work in a mid century set.

The Mid Century Vibe: 1950s and 60s Accent Pieces

The fun part of dressing a mid century set is hunting for little accent pieces that can really bring the whole thing together. Try to think of things that, not only have the right look for the decade, but that can be usable onstage. People in the 1950s and 60s smoked and drank more than most of us do today, so investing in a bar, some ashtrays and some retro glassware may be worth the while. A vintage lamp will instantly stand out as something not-of-this-decade and so can be a good choice as well. And of course, who doesn’t like to add a few vases or some kitschy ceramics? They are fun, often cheap, and help the overall vintage vibe of your set.

Bygone’s Mid Century Set: Dial m For Murder

In August of 2013, Bygone Theatre produced Frederick Knott’s “Dial M For Murder”, setting the show in 1956. While the set was simple, some vintage elements (along with some new, “vintage styled” elements) quickly conveyed a retro vibe.

DSC_0752In this shot you can see several key pieces:

1. The Bar – this vintage find cost us $100 and is currently in our living room. It was worth the splurge as it was a key piece in the show an a great spot for stage business.

2. The “Vintage” Couch – while this is actually our old living room couch (bought new at a futon store in downtown Toronto a few years before) the boxy, tailored style fit it in perfectly to our 50s living room. A couple bright accent pillows were added to bring it into our whole “martini” colour scheme

3. The “Vintage” Coffee Table – I suspect this table is actually from the 80s, because unlike a true mid century one from he 50s or 60s, it is made of particle board and plastic, not teak. I found it for $20 on kijiji and it is currently our living room table

4. The 1950s Lamp with Fibreglass Shade – another splurge at $100, but one I think was completely worth it. This lamp is so perfectly 50s, and that fibreglass shade stands out beautifully onstage. We used it a lot for practical lighting, so that was good as well. This too has made its way into our regular living room furniture.

When dressing a period set on the cheap, it is important to think about what the audience will really see. Yes, you can likely find a beautiful vintage Eames-styled chair, but at what cost? Our used couch had the right shape and colour, and worked great. Lots of 1980s furniture has the look of mid century modern from a distance, but is much cheaper as it is made of plastic or metal, rather than solid wood. Again, great onstage. If you keep your colour scheme retro and throw in a couple well-picked vintage knick knacks (we used quite a bit of Blue Mountain Pottery, cheap, and made it look like something Margot collected), you can avoid having to purchase too many things. Try to think of pieces that could be used in other shows, or other periods as well. Remember, just because something is set in the 1950s, doesn’t mean the character’s can’t have a few older “inherited” pieces as well. It’s all about balance. In this show, we paid particular attention to the costumes, which also allowed us to go a bit simpler on the set. In dressing a period show on the cheap, remember that, while you may put in the time researching exactly what is accurate for the year (I know I did!) most audiences won’t know the difference between something from 1950 and 1960. Play with what you can find and you’ll realize that a period set can be a lot of fun, and a lot simpler than it may initially appear.

E.