Feb 28, 2009

Vintage for Vintage Sake and For Inspiration For Handmade: An Interview with Sandra of ReBop Shop™

Sandra, vintage lover and candle maker, has recently merged two separate shops into one wonderful ReBop Shop™; a combination of her homemade candles using vintage kitchen and dinnerware and an cohesive assortment of vintage goods for many uses. Good finds abound from barware and glassware to vintage neckties...

I know that you recently combined separate vintage and handmade shops into one...(from scentimentsbysandra.etsy.com and vintagedaze.etsy.com to rebopshop.etsy.com)...Do you care to share what it's like to have a shop with
both vintage and handmade items to having two separate shops?

I opened the candle shop on Etsy in July 2006, and the vintage shop in January 2008. The primary reason I’ve combined them this year is that I’m launching my own website with the name ReBop Shop™, and I wanted to minimize buyer confusion while remaining involved with Etsy, which I love. The vast majority of my candles are sold at craft shows, so the online segment of the business could realistically be folded into the vintage shop.

It may be a little early for me to tell, as this new combined shop is just getting established. To be honest, combining them simplifies my life…in 2008 my goal was to diversify all over the internet. My 2009 goal is to focus and try to create an identity than encompasses all my efforts.

I love that you've combined a love of handcrafting with your love of vintage in your handmade soy candles...
I'm curious which inspires which? Do you find a teacup you love and go from there, or is it the other way around?

The teacup (or sugar bowl or creamer or juice glass, etc.) definitely inspires the candle. I try to create a harmony between the china piece, the candle color and scent. Each one is created individually, which takes more time, but it’s more fun that way.

Do you have a driving vision for the vintage items you choose? i see that you have a Kitschy Kitchen section in your shop...are you primarily interested in kitsch, or are there other styles that you're drawn to?

Since you’ve made me reflect with this question, I am just now realizing that my tastes in vintage have changed over the years. At first I was mad for art deco and all things streamlined. More recently, I was drawn to midcentury kitsch. But since we purchased our 1925 Chicago brick bungalow, I have to say I’m now drawn to Arts and Crafts era pottery and décor.

My vision for ReBop Shop is definitely midcentury modern, but I consider myself a personal shopper for people seeking that perfect piece. So I try to offer a variety of styles covering roughly 1930s-1970s. I do offer clothing and accessories on my website, but my specialty is housewares, barware and home décor.

Your commitment to the environment is obvious between your love of vintage and your repurposing of vintage items into new objects, like your handmade fridge magnets to your use of soy wax in your candles...Can you share some of the benefits of using soy candles?

Well, soy wax is essential for my vintage china candles. Because it cleans up with soap-and-water, the china is not harmed and remains perfect and perfectly usable when the candle is gone. The benefits go beyond that, of course. Besides the longer and cleaner burning with soy, paraffin is a petroleum product while soy is a renewable resource.

When you buy vintage, it’s something recycled, obviously. I also believe vintage pieces have a spirit to them, something created when things weren’t so disposable. When I see the gold worn from a 1930s teacup handle, for example, I imagine the ladies who held that cup over the decades. How can you compare that to the cup-o-soup in a plastic container you’re going to throw away 5 minutes after you use it? To me that’s just obscene. I think we all need to examine how we live our lives, especially when it comes to consumption.

What do you collect for yourself? Did a collection inspire you to sell vintage?

Like many of us, I would have to admit collecting inspired me to start selling vintage almost nine years ago. Oh boy, I am just mad about vintage china. I’ll buy a partial set, and hunt relentlessly for a couple of years to fill it in. Then, as soon as I’ve got a beautiful set, I want to move on to another…I tell my husband it’s an investment, because all that work creates a set that’s more valuable than the individual pieces. So far I’ve been right, but he never knows what’s for sale and what’s for eating on!

My other major collection at the moment is jumping fish ashtrays. These are hilariously kitschy souvenirs, made in Japan in the 1950s. Colorful ceramic ashtrays with the base being the water and a true representation of a game fish--rainbow trout, small mouth bass, etc.--attached above. They’re difficult to find in flawless condition, because of the easily breakable pieces.

Do you have any plans for the future or exciting news that you'd like to share?

Well, my website is up to 200 items right now. I hope to double that this year, and build the new shop on Etsy with select goods of most interest to Etsy shoppers. And I hope to help the Etsy Vintage Street Team grow to be a popular source for vintage shoppers. I am amazed at the knowledge and dedication of the member dealers.

And I love to blog! I’ve just launched monthly Blog Giveaways, and hope to create a fun and interesting place to stop in with my new blog at

Thanks so much Sandra!!


Hopeful said...

The candle cups are sweet!

Callooh Callay said...

Wonderful interview! I love seeing what inspires people--environmentalism, the thrill of the hunt, a particular aesthetic. Good luck with the new shop!

NODtoMOD said...

LOVE this! what a great interview and idea of turing ordinary kitchen items into candles!! reuse...in the most perfect way! xoxo

ReBop Shop said...

Thanks, everyone! Great scores this morning for candles, including a 1910s lustreware sugar bowl, a souvenir from Ireland (made in Japan). I think the scent will be Heather...

It means a lot to mingle with sympatico sisters.


Miss Ruby Cube said...

I love old random tea cups and the idea of turning them into candles is brilliant!

artsfarm said...

Wonderful interview and what beautiful photos! Sandra's candles are some of the best I've seen, and it's great that the holders can be used when the candle's gone.