Monday, October 29, 2012

Too Weird For Cosplay

Well, it's almost Halloween... the time of year when everyone's thinking about costumes.

Well, for some people it's a time of year.  For me, costuming is a year-round occupation.  I haven't talked much about costuming on this blog, but I should probably mention at some point that I am a hardcore competitive cosplayer.  I attend eight to ten conventions a year, and model between two and five costumes at each of them.  (If you do the math, that means I make a LOT of costumes).  Many of them are made entirely from scratch, but some costumes (the ones I wear just for fun, as opposed to for competition) are assembled from found items.

Usually these found items come from thrift stores; they start as normal clothing, and I alter them to work for my costume.  Every once in a while, I get lucky and find exactly the piece I'm looking for to complete my outfit.  Other times, I find an interesting piece of clothing at the thrift store and look for a costume that I can build around that unique item.

And then there are the times when NONE of the above happens -- when I find a piece of clothing so weird that even I, with my closets full of costumes and dozens of occasions to dress up like a superhero/video game character/historical replica/etc., can't think of a way to use.

This is one of them:

It's... shiny.

I can tell it's a skirt... but beyond that, I have no idea why it exists.  It's made of that cheap shiny stretch fabric that doesn't actually stretch (the silver spots are where the color has rubbed off the fabric).  It has a lace-trimmed tulle petticoat that hangs down (unevenly) below the hem.  The front panel is foam-reinforced.  The belt is more-or-less attached to the skirt.  It has a commercial tag sew into the back, so it wasn't homemade for a play or dance recital or something.  This was a retail product that someone paid money for.

From the godawful construction, the only thing I can think is that this is a remnant of one of those cheap prefab Halloween costumes (the kind that come in a bag for $24.99 in seasonal stores).  But seriously, I can't even make this work as part of a Halloween costume.  What costume would it be?  Lolita Supergirl?  Chambermaid Cheerleader?  Sexy Hipster In Short Blue Skirt With Lace?

And the even more mind-boggling question is... why did I buy it and bring it home to add to my random box of costume supplies?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Censored Clarinetist

I am an artist.  I understand that sometimes artists run out of storage space or just don't have any use for pieces, so they end up donating them.  Several of my own ceramics pieces have ended up at Goodwill, because they were just things I had made for class assignments and wasn't really attached to.  So I can't be too critical of the craftsmanship in this obviously-handmade piece, because I don't know why the piece was made or what the sculptor was aiming for.

After all, it's entirely possible that the artist was good friends with a clarinet player from the local nudist colony, and made this shelf-sitter as a gift for him.  That's really the only explanation I can think of for why there would be a naked and anatomically-correct clarinetist sitting on the shelf.

Picture has been censored for your protection. Sorry, you'll have to get your nude-clarinetist kicks elsewhere.

Is this a thing?  Naked musician shelf-sitters?  I have not encountered them before... but if there are more of them out there, somebody please forewarn me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't Eat the Yellow Snow

Normally I don't have too much trouble identifying figurines, but when I passed this one on the shelf, I had to stare at it for a while (which, as you can imagine, was a trying experience).  It inspires a plethora of questions:  Is it meant to be the ghost of a demented clown, or a small snowman that the neighbor's dog hiked his leg on? Are those things on its cheeks faded rosy spots, or tears of anguish?  Why is it so severely pigeon-toed? And I'm not sure what the protrusion on the right side of its head is -- a hollowed-out turkey leg worn as a hat, perhaps?

Be careful.  It wants to give you a hug.
But the biggest question of all:  How did somebody live with this thing staring at them in the first place?

Friday, October 19, 2012

About Thrifty Terrors

Welcome to Thrifty Terrors!

This is the requisite introductory post, which will explain what this blog is about. I fully expect that no one will read it (you all want to get to the funny stuff, right?), but it's here for those dedicated few who are completists.

Why thrift stores?

For years, I have been a hardcore thrift-store shopper.  The majority of my clothing and home furnishings are from secondhand stores. I'm basically a cheap person (why spend $50 on a new pair of jeans when I can buy a hardly-worn pair for $5, and they're even pre-shrunk?), and I'll confess that I enjoy the challenge of finding unique and interesting items for a fraction of retail price.  I've gotten so good at it that I even take requests, now; my family calls my ability to find things at thrift stores a superpower.

Why terrors?

However, there's a darker side to thrift stores:  The grayware that wouldn't sell at regular stores.  The weird items of clothing that you can't imagine anyone putting on their body on purpose.  The gifts, still in original packaging, that were so awful they couldn't be re-gifted. The bizarre trinkets from someone's midcentury kitsch collection, donated en masse after a relative passed away.

Mind you, I have nothing against kitsch.  In fact, I have a great appreciation for the humorously bizarre:  My family once took a summer vacation to drive down every extant mile of Route 66, stopping into each remaining tourist trap.  I have played mini-golf among concrete dinosaurs.  I have paid money to visit "mystery spots" along old highways.  I have ugly ceramic figurines and old plastic toys and weird family memorabilia in my house, so I understand that emotional attachment has nothing to do with the attractiveness or usefulness of such items.

I also understand that people have different tastes, and what looks silly to one person might inspire a strong emotion in another.  For example, this sort of thing is not to my taste, but I recognize that somebody somewhere probably thinks it's cute:

Cutesy cherub thing falling on its head. Meh.

On the other hand, there are things in this world that any rational person, no matter how emotionally attached, must admit are a little bit strange:

"Peeeeekaboooo... I seeeeeeeee you!"

Over the years of my thrift-storing, I had occasionally taken photos of weird items to share with friends and laugh, but what pushed me over the edge to start this blog was a set of ceramic kitchen containers at the local Goodwill store.  These containers were special -- they didn't say Flour or Sugar, like normal canisters.  Instead, each one was imprinted with a terrible three-dimensional transfer of The Last Supper, turning Christ and his disciples into amorphous blobs of glazed clay that someone, somewhere, had once lined up in a row on their kitchen counter.  And looked at.  And possibly eaten food from.

Sadly, I didn't take a photo then -- but the longer I thought about this travesty (did we really need to replicate da Vinci -- badly -- on made-in-China kitchenware?), the more convinced I was that someone needed to share such amazingly tasteless things with the world.

And that, dear reader, is what I intend to highlight in this blog.  The bizarre; the disturbing; the oh-dear-goodness-what-were-they-thinking sort of kitsch.  The accessories that would have looked out of place even in the wildest eras of fashion.  The merchandise that never should have been produced for the consumer market in the first place.

And most importantly...

It's all in good fun.  Yes, I'm snarking about things that once belonged to real people; I recognize that there is probably a risk of offending someone.  My goal is not to make fun of the people who owned (or invented, or marketed) these items; it's just to point out the inherent humor of the silly things we become attached to (particularly when taken out of context).

And bear in mind that I am just as ready to mock myself and my own weird collections as anyone else's.  Just to prove that, here's a picture of me being stomped on by a dragon: