05 Nov2012

Orrefors crystal single stem or large bud vase, in perfect condition, PHP600 or $15, I kid you not. That’s what happens when you start trolling upscale surplus stores with goods shipped in from Japan. This shop was in Cebu, across from the main branch of Mandaue Foam in Mandaue City. They have a lot of stuff that’s quite “kruk-kruk” — my mom’s term for “baduy” or “gauche” but there were some gems over the last couple of months. Japanese are well known for giving each other tasteful and extravagant gifts, but with such small living spaces, somehow a lot of stuff must get chucked, sold to thrift shops or otherwise find their way to places like Cebu… I have been shopping at these types of stores because I want to have a several dozen piece collection of unusual pottery for the table (to use, and for photos for the blog), but lately there have been some nice vases made out of both clay and crystal…

The photos don’t do the vase justice, but it is beautiful, elegant, weighty lead crystal that is very well balanced and bottom heavy so it avoids tipping over. A single stem of white lilies (that broke unexpectedly in a larger arrangement) was happily at home in the tall vase. Lilies have a rather strong fragrance and you wouldn’t typically put such a vase/flower on a bedside table, so this is just for the photo’s sake. Besides, if I reach over to find my glasses in the dark or turn off an alarm clock, I could easily knock the vase over and gone is my PHP600… :)

In this photo, a couple of the bud vases that we use frequently. To the left a small but hefty Baccarat crystal vase that Mrs. MM received as a birthday gift from Sister. And to the right, an early 20th century cut glass vase in red that I inherited from my grandmother. And in case you were wondering about the busy wallpaper in the background, as I am almost certain Footloose or other regular commenters are likely to do, let me head you off at the pass… We are not wallpaper folk. White walls are more our thing… but a good friend who owns a rather snazzy fabric and interiors store kind of encouraged us to try a single wall of wall paper in an otherwise starkly white walled room. I, and yes, I take responsibility, kinda liked the masculine colors of brown and blue in this pattern called Tortuga by Manuel Canovas (it looked really cool in a small swatch) and Mrs. MM seemed to concur, so we took the plunge and had it installed on one small wall. It was to complement the small Chinese side tables, the dark brown drapes and a brown and blue-ish rug. The wallpaper is beautiful and that should be that. But there’s more to it. After a year or so, it’s beginning to creep me out. The reason? A bunch of Chinamen (is it more PC to say Chinese men?) who are drying and/or dealing tea leaves (I think) are actually staring off the paper, almost like they are looking down on me while I am in bed. I am half expecting some beady eyes to glow in the dark someday soon… :) Hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, I think this wallpaper thing has its merits…however… can you imagine if it was on all four walls?! :)



  1. Mari of NY says:

    The vases are beautiful and so is that broken lily that is in it! It’s true that it’s difficult to find single bud vases these days. I still have to have some luck in finding bargains as you do.

    I can see your vision of the China men staring at you while you are in bed. Yes, it’s good that it’s only on a small wall. I would think it might be too much traffic if you had it on 4 walls… funny how it was a fad in the 80’s to have wallpaper all over.

    Nov 5, 2012 | 8:19 am


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  3. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    LOL…the wallpaper does distract from the topic at hand.

    Nov 5, 2012 | 8:47 am

  4. Footloose says:

    I came across somewhere that pious Eastern Europeans turn icons in their bedrooms around before they engage in family expanding intimacies to avoid precisely what you feel with your printed chinamen.

    Wall papers, specially the traditional designs, usually depict chinese themes because the bulk of them were manufactured, hand painted for the most part and for the longest time, in China, either on paper or silk.

    I’m interested mostly in Chinese classical furniture.

    Nov 5, 2012 | 8:50 am

  5. ami says:

    That wallpaper design was very popular in Europe some centuries ago. There is a room or two inside the Schonbrunn palace in Austria that had wallpapers depicting scenes from China similarly to yours. I guess at the time nothing says wealth and power more than having exotic things from the far east. Fast forward to the 21st century and everything is made in China. hehe

    Nov 5, 2012 | 9:16 am

  6. Papa Ethan says:

    MM, just a tip when photographing crystal (or similar reflective surfaces in the round): have a reflector on one side of the object that is opposite your light source. Cardboard or styrofoam usually work best. But for simple improvised set-ups, having a person wearing a white t-shirt to stand-in as the reflector works just as well. The idea is to have a band or a streak of soft highlight on one side of the photo subject to give it more depth. Take care though that your own reflection as the photographer doesn’t appear as a distorted shadow on the subject. =)

    Nov 5, 2012 | 9:27 am

  7. max says:

    the wall paper is dainty, like it

    Nov 5, 2012 | 9:28 am

  8. Josephine says:

    The Chinamen – happily – appear to be looking away. However, I still wouldn’t choose to put them right there! Papa Ethan’s right too, as he often is. I think, because I kind of averted my eyes…

    Nov 5, 2012 | 10:57 am

  9. wendy darling says:

    Never mind the wall paper – I need to get to Cebu (to shop upscale surplus stores AND binge on Zubuchon. of course)

    Nov 5, 2012 | 11:13 am

  10. NidaFe says:

    Your varied topics, never exclusively foodcentric but ALWAYS interesting, make your Market Manila all the more a worthwhile read! Keep them coming :-)

    Nov 5, 2012 | 11:43 am

  11. jannah says:

    Super like- the vase and the wall paper

    Nov 5, 2012 | 12:10 pm

  12. Lissa says:

    Oh shucks. I was just in Mandaue Foam’s main branch last Friday!

    Nov 5, 2012 | 12:48 pm

  13. Betchay says:

    You may not had any prepared evil tricks last Halloween but your wild imagination played tricks on you!….ha!ha!ha!…the Chinamen! when I was small I love collecting dolls displayed on open shelves in my bedroom but as I got older, the dolls creeped me out too and had to store them in boxes and later donated them.
    I go to surplus stores too…half may be junk but you do find gems once in a while.

    Nov 5, 2012 | 1:04 pm

  14. millet says:

    love the toile wallpaper, so unusual

    Nov 5, 2012 | 1:27 pm

  15. Susie says:

    Hmmm…love the wallpaper! If I’m correct about your source, all her stuff is too die for! The vase is great, too. Drove past that Japanese surplus place this afternoon and thought that I should stop. I love those places…you are right about the bowls and serving pieces!

    Nov 5, 2012 | 6:07 pm

  16. ConnieC says:

    At first glance at the top picture, I was already saying to myself, wow! “toile de jouy” in a boudoir in MM’s household. Besides feeling the “chinamen” looking down from over your head, having the paper on four walls would feel overwhelming, but I like the brown and blue color combination and chinoiserie decor. With the beautiful bud vases….so elegant!

    Nov 5, 2012 | 7:06 pm

  17. Pink Carnations says:

    Simply elegant…

    Nov 5, 2012 | 10:35 pm

  18. corrine says:

    Thanks for the tip, MM. Will check it out next time I’m in Cebu. We have a slightly upscale Japanese surplus store in our area but the goods are still too expensive. This vase is a steal. Over here, their vases cost P500 up and some can have chipped edge.

    Nov 5, 2012 | 10:45 pm

  19. TheDrunkenPig says:

    The Vases are simply stunning and I love the oriental design in the wallpaper behind. Very nice.

    Nov 6, 2012 | 12:00 am

  20. EbbaBlue says:

    I had to click page-up to give a second look (and third) to the wallpaper mentioned… hahahha… it does trick the eye.

    Ako rin when we were living in a military town in North Carolina, I visit the thrift shops, and lucky to find unusual items na ipinagbibili ng mga marines na-destino sa Japan, Korea, etc. plus pa yung mga items na tira-tira sa mga state auction sale, sometimes ceramics of 17th century. Hindi nga lang ako magaling sa pag-decorate ng mga ito, kaya most are still in boxes.

    Nov 6, 2012 | 5:53 am

  21. Daphne says:

    Im obsessing over your bud vase. What a great find!

    The Japanese surplus stores around me here are crappy. Wish it had little gems like that.

    Nov 6, 2012 | 8:34 am

  22. Ragamuffin girl says:

    I’m loving the red vase MM. With the amount of water I consume I could use that as a glass. :) as always, a witty and interesting read.

    Nov 6, 2012 | 9:16 am

  23. wendy says:

    Hi MM hope you read The Philippine Star yesterday (11/5/12) Entertainment page (p5). I bet you got it all correct !!! I missed 1 ha ha ha ha.

    Nov 6, 2012 | 11:29 am

  24. Marketman says:

    wendy, didn’t see the Philippine Star yesterday… :(

    Nov 6, 2012 | 12:33 pm

  25. wendy says:

    It’s 20 questions on how well you know Mr. Bond knowing you are a bond fanatic!

    Nov 6, 2012 | 12:41 pm

  26. bakerwannabe says:

    $15 for an Orrefors is unheard of. Good buy MM. It looks very elegant with just that one single stem.

    Nov 7, 2012 | 1:48 am

  27. odessa says:

    sorry MM, not a fan of the wall paper, the flowers and vases were nice and great find! Japanese and Korean surplus shops are great especially if you are looking for a cheap and unique items for display. Their ceramic,glass and porcelain items are great as well. Although i already had one at home ( easily tip over when you put heavy object on one side), I bought a glass cake stand (very nice, heavy and thick) last week for just P200 ,really cheap bargain( originally priced at P280 and it’s dual purpose! you can turn it over and I can use it as a serving dish for candies and nuts etc.) just don’t forget to bring wet tissue paper or anything to clean your hands afterwards. Their stores are usually open-air and quite dusty (not so sure though if the same in your place)…

    Nov 7, 2012 | 11:52 am

  28. hiddendragon says:

    I am a Chinaman, sorry, Chinese man. I don’t really take offense to that term, it’s more a caricature than a label. I even use it in some of my postings all over, referring usually to owners of hole-in-the wall eateries in Chinatown (think Dong Bei Dumplings) – the sando wearing cook serving great simple food in formica tabletops amidst white walls and hanging fluorescent bulbs with some loose, greasy wiring hanging on the edges.

    While some of my friends take offense to ‘Ints..” I don’t; I see it as just a colloquial term. But of course, in my effort to be sensitive to others, I don’t use it widely myself, only as a self-reference for some occasional self-deprecating humor.

    Having said that, yes, amazing bargains can be found in these surplus shops. We have a Korean surplus shop a few doors away and just two weeks ago, my cousin got a worn, slightly torn LV bag for P800, down form P1,200. She insists it’s genuine (she owns a couple). I don’t care one bit.

    Nov 8, 2012 | 7:21 am

  29. alicia says:

    Love all of it! I have a room with bare walls that I will one day cover in toile . Yum! Canovas or de Gournay :)

    Nov 11, 2012 | 1:41 pm

  30. atbnorway says:

    Thrift shops have mushroomed here in Norway over the last five years. Truly, these shops also abound with too many “anik-anik” (my family’s version of kruk-kruk). One could buy such Orrefors vase for NOK10 a piece or more, depending on the size, condition, etc. My last find was a gold plated Georg Jensen candle holder (to hang on a Christmas tree) for NOK40.

    Nov 13, 2012 | 4:53 pm


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