At the exact time same you find yourself endlessly scrolling through Instagram, wondering why you are wasting your time in the bottomless pit that is Social Media….every once in a while, you stumble upon something that makes all those mindless hours worth it. That, my friends, is how I stumbled upon the incomparable Queen of Repurposed Vintage Christmas, Magpie Ethel.
The Amazing Magpie Ethel
I have an affinity for vintage anything….as you know from this post. My ultimate weakness is vintage Christmas, and I really enjoy admiring Instagram accounts highlighting my self-identified addiction. But, when I found the GOLD MINE of whimsey and creativity offered up by Magpie Ethel….I thought I had died and gone to Vintage Heaven!
Magpie Ethel’s real name is Laurie, and she began her journey as a stay-at-home-mom who volunteered at her kid’s school as often as possible. Clearly there was an artist deep inside, and Laurie began to gain an audience of admirers.
She created highly whimsical Christmas wreaths, which she began selling at a holiday boutique at the elementary school. Laurie told me in an interview, that as a child, she took many art classes, which I’m sure developed the keen design aesthetic of Magpie Ethel…but today, rather than using a paint brush, her favorite tool is her glue gun.
Crafting, and repurposing old and seemingly useless items, or upcycling, became a bigger and bigger part of her life, and so a Blog was the next natural progression, enabling Laurie to share all of her tricks, techniques, and even make some sales.
The Blogging community recognized a genius (my word, not hers…because I think she is) and today, Magpie Ethel is a brand that has, literally, thousands of people following on Instagram (36,000 as of today’s post)…as well as fans who fly across the country to attend a craft show where Magpie Ethel has a booth. She even has two stores on Etsy: E is for Ethel and also Magpie Ethel.
I started following Magpie Ethel on Instagram a couple of years ago, and felt as though I was getting to know a creative soul, who truly takes delight in imagining new uses for old things. Her home, and her Someday Beach House, are frequently documented in her Instagram account, along with her latest creations. Laurie clearly lives among the things she loves. I do too, and feel instantly connected to others who surround themselves with what they collect.
During our interview, we laughed about our mutual love of Christmas, and I asked if she even bothered decorating for the holidays. Her answer: a solid yes.
No matter how many hours she spends in her studio dreaming upcycling ideas and making the most darling decorations you have EVER seen, she still decorates for every holiday. Laurie changes up her window and yard displays each year, so that she can enjoy her entire personal collection. Laurie said it really makes her day when people stop her, and share how they grew up enjoying her whimsically decorated home, an important part of their holiday memories and experiences. I’d call that a high compliment.
Magpie Ethel is a part of many families’ holiday traditions, and Laurie regularly has shoppers, year-after-year, attend the craft shows where she is a vendor, adding to their collection, and sending her pictures of their mantles or table-tops, festively decorated with Magpie Ethel originals.
And, since The Curious Cowgirl is primarily a travel blog….I can ASSURE you that traveling to one (or more) of her shows is on my must-do travel list.
Holiday Craft Shows
Magpie Ethel is typically a vendor at Plucky Maidens. This Holiday Craft Show, held in mid-November in Portland, Oregon is curated…meaning that every vendor is hand-selected by the organizers, and every item for sale must be Vintage or Handmade.
My heart rate sped up just typing that….Nirvana, y’all. I’ve never been to Portland….anyone want to go with me? I’m totally down for organizing a trip!
Magpie Ethel is also a Holiday Craft Show regular at Crafty Wonderland in Portland in early December. This is a HUGE show, with over 18,000 people in attendance over three days.
So here’s the thing for me….It’s not that I’m such a huge fan of crafty…it’s that I’m a huge fan of VINTAGE…and I truly love the idea of repurposing vintage.
Some vintage can stand alone….but what about a sack of plastic curlers from the 1960’s. Or mini tin jello molds. What about ceramic owls from the 1970’s? Alone, those items might end up in a land-fill somewhere….but when Laurie hits her Friday estate sales, she sees magic in the mundane. As far as I am concerned, that’s the hallmark of an artist.
I told Laurie that one of the aspects I truly love about filling my home with Vintage Christmas, is that I believe I am bringing together Christmas Love, and Memories, and Jolliness from every family who enjoyed those decorations before me. Not only is my home (and my garage….and a storage unit….) bursting with Vintage Christmas, but I think the very air in my home is too.
She agreed. And then y’all….she invited me to visit her. At her HOME. I swear it was like getting an invitation from Elvis to visit Graceland. She invited me, even though I broke ALL the rules of asking a total stranger for an interview by beginning my introductory email with “Hi Magpie Ethel! You don’t know me, but I am The Curious Cowgirl and I stalk you on Instagram.”
So, dear readers, next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling away on Instagram, take a minute to follow Magpie Ethel! I can assure you, a delightful experience awaits!!!!
All photos credited to Magpie Ethel.
Laurie is the best! My daughter lives in Portland & they met at Estate Sales. I live in Florida but have been reading her blog & what a surprise when I was picked up at the airport & my daughter, Kim @notionsick, tells me we’re going to visit Laurie & her studio. What an adventure! It’s a must see in Portland! You did an excellent job in writing too! Very well written.
Lena, thank you so much for your kind compliment!!! Have the BEST time when you meet her….it’s kind of like meeting royalty, don’t you think???
This is such a cute post, I will have to remember for the next time I am in Portland, thanks for sharing!
Awwww…thank you so much! She’s amazing!!!!
So sweet! You make me want christmas to come!!
OMG what fun! Mary, you must be in hog heaven!!
I have not seen her “workshop” or shows in person yet….but sure hope to in 2020!!!