Tag Archives: salvage

Shop Stalking

13 Jun

I can’t help myself.  I peeked in the windows Wednesday.  I know what goodies are being held captive inside.  I want to rescue them.  I want to rescue them NOW.  Therefore, I’ve become … Shop Stalker. 

So I used to buy junk — serious junk — from this woman.  Suddenly she disappears, cutting me off cold turkey without an explanation. Then I hear she’s opening her own shop.  I could feel my heart revving.  Then I find out she’s selling already, but she’s only there in the evenings… random evenings.  Well…I’mnever there in the evenings and can’t even come up with a decent excuse to BE there in the evenings.  So, today, I have an excuse to “just drop by.”  I had taken my son over to a friend’s house in the same general — okay, within 5 miles — area.  So I just happened to be in the neighborhood.  I dropped by the woman’s old shop.  “Just have some linens for you to see,”  I told the shop owner, who I knew would salivate at the sight of my tub o’ goodies.  She makes pillows from old linens and had told me recently she’s in desperate need.  “So, hey, is the new shop open today?” I ask so very casually, only to discover I had missed the mystery woman by half an hour.  Bummer.  Once again I find myself baking in the 100-degree oven just to get a glimpse of the locked-up goods, completely in love with every single piece of junk I could see through the security bars.  Lots of wrought iron.  Lots of broken statues.  A beautiful bed.  An old, old cabinet with a barely-recognizable mirror.   

Luckily, my shop owner friend still has the mystery woman’s phone numbers, and she calls to find out if the new shop will be open again later in the day.  Unluckily, the new shop — unnamed as far as I can tell — won’t be “officially” opening ’til next Saturday.  Say it isn’t so!  Alas, I must wait an entire week to free all those fabulous finds calling to me from behind those burglar bars.  I’ll “just drop by” next week, however, on Wednesday or Thursday.  Take only a quick peek and maybe snap a picture, if at all possible, before gathering my linen leftovers from my shop owner friend and driving home an empty-handed and broken-hearted woman. 

But Saturday will be a different story.  That junk will be mine.  Oh, yes…it will be mine.


While the cat’s away…

20 May

…the mouse will create:

a shop 001

Found the turn-of-the-20th-century art books at the flea market last weekend.  Confession:  I have a giant weakness for ephemera.  Have I said that before?  Even so…it’s worth repeating.  I wanted to keep every single one of the 13 books because they were all different.  I want them to sell, but won’t be disappointed if I MUST hold on to a few of them — especially the ones focusing on body parts.   I left them at the shop today, paired with the art brushes in a silverplate tray alongside a French bust which reads “La Paix.”  I don’t have a photo of the bust, but I do have a story!  I got her at auction last night, thinking she was cast bronze.  She’s not.  I’m hoping she’s really old, and I think she is.  I’m hoping she’s NOT from China via crate from France.  She’ll be priced like the real thing, since I bid thinking she was bronze!  Duh!! *Always preview auction items before bidding!*

I have the run of the house until 1:55 Saturday, so I’m taking complete advantage of spreading out projects and accomplishing quite a lot.  It helps that a new commercial is being filmed for the shop, and my space may be in it.  Needless to say, that means a lot of fluffing since stuff keeps selling whether there’s a commercial pending or not!  I have lots of holes I’m trying to fill on the walls.  Here’s what I’ll be haging tomorrow:

a shop 011

My son was all, “Why are you doing wedding stuff?”  Well, it is getting close to June, is it not?  Am I too early?  Am I too late?  My girls (dress forms, that is) all got their pearls in anticipation of the big month…I’ll be breaking out the cake topper collection soon!  I’ve amassed a number of them this year.

Another creation that will be hung tomorrow:

a shop 008

I’ve always loved how people were so serious in all those old photos.  This assemblage speaks to that very issue.  Next I’ll be digging out the wedding photos.  A friend gave me a really cute trellis that I’ll be using for my wedding pic display this year.  Can’t wait.  I love doing wedding, even though I usually don’t sell much of it. 

Tomorrow I may take a much-needed break from painting and creating.  I was hoping for some estate sales, but haven’t heard of any happening tomorrow.  Guess I’ll check the paper early in the morning.  In the meantime, there’s a pillow with my name on it somewhere in this mess of a nest.  I’ll be dreaming of good junk…

Cute or scary…I can’t decide

13 May

During the movie Almost Famous, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, a music critic, talks about how he used to stay up late, writing and writing in a drug-induced frenzy.  The next day he’d look at what he’d written — nothing but drivel.  That’s how I felt last night…only no drugs were involved!  I just couldn’t put my brain to rest so I began sorting through all my piles and attempting to bring some order to one small corner of my house.  So the things I created, and I use the term loosely, don’t quite have that adrenaline-infused shine today.  I see the stripes.  But…I’m sharing them anyway and you can decide if they’re shaping up to be cute, or just plain scary.

First, I’ll show you the very old and loved doll.  Celluloid eyes.  Extremely cracked.  One hand missing.  I dressed her in a stained baby dress and a fur hat.  Yes, I know it’s summer.  But even a bikini wax wouldn’t make her bathing-suit material.  So I winterized her.  Hey, maybe I should put her on one of the four sleds I’ve purchased recently and have Christmas in July!  Here she is, in all her glory:

scary doll 002

I changed my mind on the hat and added a  “lost doll” tag that I cut out of an old primer.  Here’s the close-up:

scary doll 004

Last weekend my neighbor across the street had a garage sale.  She had an antiques shop at one time, so it was a rather cool garage sale.  I picked up a bunch of old empty seed packets.  I’ve taken a few of them to the shop, but decided to create this little “collage” with some more of them:

scary doll 003

Unfortunately, at 2 a.m. I was unable to find my lace, so I’ll have to finish it tonight.  Plus I stamped the D in “garden” backward.  Think anyone will notice?  Looks more folksy that way, I say.  Hahahaha.

I ran across this old book cover and took it to the shop today to add some color to an old Victrola horn:

book cover

Tomorrow I’ll try to snap a pic of the dog show ribbon display I put up today in the shop.  I’ll also be carting a bench and a headboard to my space, since a couple of things have sold.  Oh, yeah, the doll will go tomorrow, too…cute OR scary!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

27 Apr

Even though that Magic Kingdom ride included the word wild in the title, we still didn’t clue in.  So off we went… me in my prego state, my husband and our not quite three-year-old son.  Dude.  It twisted and turned and truly was a much wilder ride than we expected.  And that’s the ride I seemed to be on today, a day that included four– count ’em — trips to the shop, two trips to an estate sale, a trip across town to pick up from the Craigslister and a junk haul for a friend of mine whose car is entirely too small for her day’s booty o’ junk.  Oh, I also managed to pick up the boys from school.  And did I mention it actually rained today?  The one day it rains, I decide to move furniture.  Go figure.

The new shop space is shaping up nicely, I think.  I covered the blue carpet with my signature oilcloth today, so it’s starting to feel like home.  I also draped some cheeseclothish fabric over the rafters to soften things up a bit.  I can’t decide if it looks soothing or if it looks a bit Halloweenish.  We’ll see how it goes. 

The estate sale this morning was a small gold mind.  A junking friend met me there.  I was off to a good start when they offered me a Krispy Kreme donut, which I devoured instantly — after washing all the vintage off my hands, of course.  You never know where those Swine flu germs might be lurking.  My big buys today included an old iron patio set, an iron table that needs a top, a vintage chandelier, and the coolest and most complete set of dishes from the 50s.  Those dishes were calling my name, and I was completely sold when I learned that the set included salt and pepper shakers, a covered butter dish, sugar and creamer, two serving bowls and a big platter. 

I had to make my second trip to the shop to drop off my friend’s ladder, wheelbarrow and butcher block before heading east to meet the Craigslister.

One time I bought something from Craigslist, and met this man at a gate on a back road in the middle of who-knows-where.  He said I needed to follow him down a dirt road to get to his place.  Once we were inside the gate, he stopped and locked the gate behind us.  Hmmm.  That’s when I first realized that I can’t go off by myself to meet strangers without taking some precautions.  So I called a friend and told her where I had gone, just in case I came up missing.  Turned out the man was a gem.  And the buy was worth the few minutes of unfounded stress I put myself through.  Today the meeting was in the rain at a warehouse in a business park.  I went it alone.  His voice was very nice on the phone.  No red flags.  My instinct was correct.  He was there waiting for me, and  was as strong as he was nice, man-handling that bench right into the back of the minivan without a problem.  Then I ran into him later at the convenience store across the street.  He was buying gas.  I was buying funyuns and a coke — the lunch of champion junkers.  Then we ended up next to each other at a light.  When I looked over, he rolled his window down.  Okay.  That seemed a bit strange.  I just waved and looked ahead, wondering what more we could possibly have to say and why he would want to stalk me in my vintage state.  Turns out I was in the wrong lane and needed over quickly to get onto the highway.  That’s all he wanted:  to let me cut in front of him.  What a nice guy.  Note to self:  must keep paranoia in check.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch … I got that bench unloaded, wiped down and straight into the new space, covered it with pillows and was off to pick up my table and two chairs from the estate sale before fetching child number 1.  Mission accomplished.  Back to the shop one last time to drop off table and chairs. 

Things are really starting to shape up.  Tomorrow I’ll head back to the estate sale for a final time to pick up the rest of today’s haul.

Tonight’s been a mixture of buying the wrong size light bulbs for my chandeliers and then replacing them with the right size, but in retina-burning wattage.  Tomorrow’s a new day, right?  It’ll feel something like that Groundhog Daymovie, where they keep reliving the same day over and over.  Stepping in the same mud puddle.  Running into the same annoying acquaintances.   It’ll be all that and more.  So I ended my day on a pretty note, redesigning our sales tag, with a little altered photo:


The queen hath spoken…’tis bedtime.  May all your dreams — and mine —  come true…

The junk in my trunk

27 Apr

Yeah, I do know the meaning of the phrase, but I’m being literal here — as in the minivan hatch.  Let me show you:


That wicker thing is a shabby old garden cart.  Those metal pieces to the left are the bottoms of two birdcage stands.  There are frames and screen guards under the cart, along with a phone stand that must’ve been ripped right out of someone’s house.  Bad bird cage that was on one of the stands is to the right.  It’ll be replaced with a better birdcage before heading to the shop.

Here’s another view:


That blue thing is a very shabby bentwood “chair.”  It has no back and the caning in the seat has a huge hole, which only enhanced its appeal, naturally.  Under that is a bicycle basket, and you can spot a decent birdcage to the left.

Here’s the recap of the Saturday Junking Emergency…Neighborhood sale was nothing but a waste of gas.  I spent a couple of hours and $20 and came away with only a seashell, a scrabble game, a little bookshelf that was begging to be painted, a stool that will be cute once it’s painted and recovered, and I can’t even remember what else.  But there must be more because that doesn’t even add to $20.  Is it possible I spent less?  On the visit to the 50% off estate sale, I picked up the two bird cages on stands, the garden cart and an old framed photo that I was so surprised to find.  I thought for sure it would have been sold already.  I also snagged some other framed art and a christening outfit.  You can make out the old framed photo in the stack of junk pictured below:


After grabbing a couple of tacos — San Antonio’s choice for any meal — I headed to another estate sale that was on its 25% off day.  I almost skipped this sale because I don’t usually junk in new neighborhoods, especially taupevilles that grew after clear-cutting my beloved hill country (but that’s another post).  I’m glad I broke my rule on this sale.  I picked up a dozen or so wedding cake toppers for a song.  I’m not sure they’re all that old, but a little tea staining goes a long way, right?  I found a beautiful satin baby bed coverlet that was aching to join the goods earmarked for my new shop space.  Got a few books.  All-in-all it was well worth the visit to taupeville.

This morning — or rather Sunday morning, as it’s already Monday — I hit the flea market as usual.  I got the most amazingly huge megaphone.  I LOVE it.  My favorite find, by far.  I also picked up an old radio horn (speaker), and lots of other regular stuff.  I later headed to the shop with a freshly painted and distressed table, since I had sold a bookshelf the day prior, so junk was overflowing in my space!  While I was at the shop, I noticed the occupants of my new May1 space had already moved out.  So since I happened to have a can of paint in the minivan, I spent the afternoon turning forest green rafters into cream rafters.  The change was amazing.  But after listening to country music on a radio for more than five hours, I was ready to shoot myself or leave.  I opted on the latter since my house is such a disaster… death would be the more embarrassing of the alternatives.  Mi casa is NOT your casa this week, thankyouverymuch.  After dinner this evening I had the pleasure of unloading my junkmobile.  My favorite activity!!  I’ve been invited to a private estate sale tomorrow and then have a garden bench to pick up from a Craigslister, so I had to make room for more JUNK!   Then THAT IS IT.  I must finish painting since move-in day is Friday!  NO MORE JUNKING this week … unless it’s an emergency, of course.

Goodwill Hunting

24 Apr

This week has been — to quote Hazel — a doozie!  So much junk, so little time.  I’m expanding into my big space a week from today, so the time crunch has begun!  I might be finished with all my projects if it weren’t for a week of thrifting, estate sales and space re-dos.  I really do need an extra 12 hours in a day.  I want to show you my back patio:





And that’s only about 1/3 of the patio.  There is a table that’s in the works and a bunch of chairs and frames that are taking up space that used to make for a pretty cute porch.  About 2/3 of the porch is currently storage and a work area.  And the natives are getting restless.  My husband mentioned how cluttered our TV room has become.  I assured him it was going to get worse before it gets better, but that come May 1, it’ll all be gone!  He’s under the impression that May 1 is a long way away.  If he were walking in my shoes, he’d see things differently, I’m sure (and vice versa…).

I really think, after this week, that Goodwill should be renamed Greatwill, because it was!!  I also found treasures at five other thrift shops this week and found a fantastic estate sale full of interesting finds.  In between thrifting, I’ve been chipping away at my projects little by little.  I also had to re-do my current space and a space I share with five other junkers.  I’ve painted and painted, but still have a few more things to finish up.  I’ve sanded and sanded and breathed in way too much paint dust, but I love every minute of it.  I’ve distressed so much furniture this week that I was driving down a street today and saw a new metal mailbox that I thought would look thismuch better if I simply took a piece of sandpaper to it.  I’m not kidding.  Junk has taken control of my brain. 

The same thing used to happen to me in my other lifetime when I used to edit copy.  After reading copy all day long, my dreams would be in dialogue, like I was reading a script:  “No,” she said as she pushed his hand away.  He mocked her, laughingly, as she turned away in a huff.

Those dreams used to drive me crazy, but I had them regularly while on deadline.  Now I’m wanting to age other people’s possessions.  Where does it end? Luckily I was sans sandpaper when I saw that mailbox today.

Tomorrow I’ll be hitting garage sales in a neighborhood near my house, then it’s back to Thursday’s estate sale for the half-off day.  Remember when I was talking about Saturday junking emergencies?  Tomorrow’s one of those days.  Then after hauling kids around early afternoon, I’ll be painting again, and the next day, and the next day…

Here are a few of the things that are shop-ready… hope you enjoy!


I got the mirror at auction. It’s from a pub in England.  I painted and did a wee bit distress work on the frame.


I think I’m taking her like she is, but I may end up painting her.


I live in a mid-century modern house — hence the lamp, and that’s a Russel Wright bowl off to the left.  I’ve stowed the mirror, urns and candlesticks on my buffet for now.  I do so love that mirror — $1 at an estate sale!


urns were from a neighborhood garage sale.


yet another urn — $1 at a garage sale.


And finally… a sweet little bird, tucked into its nest for the night…just like I’m about to be, as I’ll be an early bird in the morning.

The Good, the bad and the ugly

20 Apr

It’s all good with junking…mostly.  My big junking days are Thursday, Friday and Sunday.  I take Saturday off, unless I have special plans or a junking emergency arises.  What constitutes a junking emergency?  Well… I sometimes return to an estate sale that’s really good for the 50% off bargains on the last day.  Sometimes a community garage sale is only held on Saturday, that kind of thing.  But I’m up early — for me — all week, so I enjoy a lazy morning most Saturdays.  This past Saturday was no exception.  I stayed in my PJs past noon, just dawdling around the house. 

I decided later in the afternoon to check in with the shop.  Mistake number 1.  Though the shop was quiet for a Saturday when I arrived, my space looked like it had been through a drug raid — hey, I’ve seen movies!  A clasp on a 100+ year-old photo album had been broken off and laid on the floor.  A ninety-year-old doll head had gone missing, but I later discovered it on the floor behind the shelf that was its home.  My sales were crap.  So I’m going to vent, here, just a bit.  I can’t for the life of me understand why everything must be man-handled.  I re-arranged my scrabble letters to read: Fragile.  Show care — though I have no reason to believe anyone will.  I’ve seen people pick up an antique book and handle it as if it were a paperback published a month ago.  Why can’t customers understand that it’s pret’ near a miracle that something made of paper is still around 100 years later?!  Treat it with kid gloves.  So my temper surged a bit Saturday.  I wanted to scoop up all my antique pretties and shelter them.  Bring them home.  I’ve always found those “you break, you buy” signs tacky, but I really wanted one Saturday.  But I know that the people who pay for things they break are just good people and would pay with or without a sign.  And a sign would cause nothing but a smirk from the slacker customers who don’t care.    Venting complete.  Thankyouverymuch. 

Mistake number 2 was a visit to a store in my neighborhood that I’d sworn off for good.  But I was enticed by the 50% off signs that had been posted for months.  I caved.  Apparently they’re not going out of business.  They’ve just changed their marketing strategy to doubling the price on everything so they can reduce it by half.  Unfortunately it’s still too high.  Plus, the place is crammed with all kinds of merch, so you seriously have to climb over things to get around.  If there was much good stuff there, you’d be lucky to see any of it.  I’m sure ADA and fire codes are being shattered at this place.  Needless to say, I left there empty-handed, once again vowing never to return. 

Mistake number 3:  My favorite mistake.  Goodwill on a Saturday.  I know better.  Crowds, crowds, crowds. But I needed to shop.  I did find some things… a cute pair of bookends, some wire mesh chandelier shades, a darling little picket fence shelf, a piece of Mexican pottery, an overpriced urn. 

So now that the bad and the ugly are out of the way, I want to focus on the good.  Sunday morning’s flea market was fun, as always.  I ran into all my favorite flea folks.  I found an awesome piece of tin that had been painted a beautiful yellow with some grey.  I took it straight to the shop to go with all the yellow pottery I have that’s not selling.  It’s a perfect complement.  I bought a pair of cast iron candlestick/urns and a big resin angel that will be wonderful once they’re painted.  I bought this great recycled tin and glass display piece that was missing a piece of glass.  By the time I got it to the car I’d broken another pane.  Good thing it was only $5.  Now I have to do some work on it to salvage it!!  I picked up a chenille spread that just needs to be washed and it will be ready to go on the bed display May 1 with all the chenille and quilted pillows I’ve been hording.  Found a piece of McCoy pottery for myself for $3, a couple of floral platters that need a good washing, and a phone shelf that had at one time been built into someone’s hallway.  It was a fun morning, to say the least.  But probably the biggest find of my day was on one of the only blogs I follow regularly, Dream in Cream — on my blogroll.  A while ago I’d purchased a store display bust — no head — that my friend Su said was almost pornographic.  I knew I needed to cover it somehow before it went to the shop May 1.  I’d considered painting it, had seen one done as a mosaic.  But it hadn’t even occurred to me to decoupage it!  Duh!  While mine will most certainly be different that the one featured on Dream in Cream, I was certainly inspired by what I saw.  I immediately thought of a book I’ve had for ages.  It’s from 1910 and is called The perfect Woman.  I’ve used bits of it here and there, but thought it would make a perfect cover for my perky female bust.  But after thumbing through it, I’ve decided to go with sheet music or something instead, because who wants to read about women’s health issues on a regular basis?  Yuck!  But… the picture below came from that book and will be the centerpiece to the entire project:


I needed inspiration, and it was right under my nose!  So now it’s project after project so I can be ready for the May 1 expansion.  I’m excited, but since I’m not a finisher, I’m a little nervous about what lies ahead.  Wish me luck!