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Posts Tagged ‘vintage’

This is my small business. My flea market booth. I call it Bee’s Miscellany.

Bee’s Miscellany has been a bug in my mind for more than a decade now. I’ve always had a fascination with old things, cast-off objects, forgotten treasures that rust half away before they are seen and appreciated once again. These things have stories that may or may not ever be known, or may be reinvented in our imaginations, if we so choose. The thrill of finding something with an unknown history and helping to give it new life is what drives collectors to the hunt on a regular basis, spending hours perusing dusty basements, elbowing through estate sales, stopping for broken curbside freebies, and maybe even delicately sorting through the trash (just a little bit.) These “pickers,” as they are known, have no shame when it comes to the potential for an interesting score. At least, the succesful ones have no shame. I’m still working on overcoming my self-consciousness in order to assert myself in favor of finding new weird and wonderful treasures. It’s a learning process, certainly.

Less than two years ago I got caught up in a new-to-me pasttime: visiting flea markets. This is something I had done in the past and had enjoyed, but I had always thought of it as something too eccentric to do on a regular basis. At last, I realized that the weirdness of the pursuit is half the fun, and that there is an entire community of people out there who devote major portions of their lives to collecting, researching, repurposing, and re-selling the objects they find. There is a very specialized kind of expertise that comes with training your eye to pick out what is valuable (to you or to others) and what is not, and I very humbly admit that I have only begun to scratch the surface of what there is to learn about it all.

So, over the course of about a year, I visited and revisited every antique mall and flea market and salvage store I could find within easy driving distance. Thrifting has always been a thing for me, but I began to head back to those Goodwills and Salvation Army outlets with new eyes, and a piqued curiosity. I began to realize how much joy I felt when overwhelming my senses with booth after booth at the flea markets. I began to think to myself, “Who are these people creating these booths? Are they very successful, or is it just a hobby? How does one go about getting involved in this? Is this really something I could think about doing myself, some day???”

Being somewhat timid by nature, it took me many months to muster the courage to simply start asking these questions. Fortunately, I overheard a coworker mention something about pricing items for her booth, and I proceeded to ask her a bunch of hungry questions about her experiences. She was pretty tight-lipped about her sources for items to resell, but I gained enough information to inspire me to (eventually) move forward with my inquiries. When I finally did speak up one day at my favorite flea market, asking if they had any information about renting a booth space, I was disappointed to learn that they were going to be closing that location within a month and weren’t taking any new vendors. But lo and behold, they ended up moving into a bright and shiny new facility, and suddenly had ample space for newbies like me. I was in!

Even so, the thought of undertaking any new endeavor will always make me nervous, and so it was with a great deal of anxiety that I almost didn’t follow through with showing up and signing the rental contract on my tiny little space. The woman who helped get me signed up didn’t have very helpful answers to the many questions I had about the process of operating a flea market booth, and the internet and library had virtually no information to give out either, so I decided to just learn it all as I went along. Which is what I have been doing for the past six months. And I have a lot more learning to do!

The one thing that surprised me most about my new adventure was how eagerly people came to my support. Many people seemed excited for me, and thankfully, many people generously supplied me with the initial items with which to set up my booth for opening day! Some people that I hadn’t talked to in years came out of the woodwork to offer items to me, or simply to inquire about when and where the booth would be opening, so they could check it out. I hadn’t expected that my new endeavor would spark so much interest among my network of acquaintances, and I was touched to see how many of them rallied behind the idea. It gave me the courage to follow through with something that may not seem terribly difficult, objectively speaking, but was a new and scary thing for me.

In the past six months, I have reaped a wealth of benefit from Bee’s Miscellany. My monetary profits aren’t anything to shout about, but I have kept my expectations low in that regard. The experience of starting my own little business had the power to pull me out of a dark place in the early months of this year, and that has been the most valuable part of all. The support and interest shown by my friends and loved ones has been an enormous bonus that I had never anticipated when I started out! I have a hobby that makes a little cash. I get to dig through other peoples’ cast-off items and figure out what they are and clean them up, give them new life, and find them new homes. I get to be creative. I get to make discoveries of quirky items and share their stories with my friends. Sometimes I find items that find a permanent home with me, and that’s great too. I can operate this entire process behind the scenes and at my own pace, which is a perfect situation for me. There really isn’t anything about this endeavor that is not totally awesome, and I am so glad that I decided to give it a try.

Feel free to follow along with my journey on social media, or stop by Emporium 40E if you are ever in the area! No purchase necessary, and I will be forever grateful.

Bee’s Miscellany on Facebook

Bee’s Miscellany on Instagram

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I really enjoy the way you tend to meet some really absurd and interesting people at garage sales. Sounds crazy coming from me, I know. But the fact that in most cases you don’t even know the person’s name, and don’t know anything about them except what they choose to reveal, is intriguing. Some people choose to share the most obscure and personal information, as if they had known you their whole life. One lady shopping at our garage sale told me that her doctor advises her to stay away from her own 28 year old daughter, and that she has to take medication to keep her daughter from affecting her health too much. She also seemed to think I was a really great person, but I’m wondering if perhaps this is only relative to how she feels about her daughter.

Yesterday I had a few people, during the course of casual garage sale conversation, ask me if I were still taking photographs and making art. I’m happy to say that I could answer with an emphatic yes. The ability to have the time to design and create has been a really wonderful thing in my life lately. I consider my blog to be my prominent means of creative self-expression this summer, and it has been a motivation to keep producing more in order to keep my readers thoroughly engrossed, as I’m sure they all are. (right?) Creativity is something that takes practice. The more I create and dabble and write about my intentions, the more ideas come flooding into my brain. There simply is not enough time for it all.

I’m currently working on a little project, but it is not yet ready to be shared. Instead, I’d like to show you an inspiration board that I have made which helps me to put together designs and ideas in a way that appeals to me visually. It might be boring to you, but perhaps when I reveal my finished product you will appreciate having seen the building blocks in process…

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I’m far from completing my task to repurpose all the vintage “containers” I’ve found lately, but I have come up with a few good ideas.

I snatched up a few old cage lights, which are all the rage in vintage industrial lighting these days. But I have so many lights around the house already, and I wanted to come up with something different to use them for. In my quest for container gardening ideas, I came across this lovely little blog called augury, and found my solution. I ordered three air plants from the self-described southern lass’s etsy site, and eagerly awaited their arrival. When they came, I gave them a good soaking per the enclosed instructions and set them on the windowsill to dry. They are so pretty!

I salvaged some cords from broken appliances and plan to make a sort of mobile that will hang in a sunny window and display the cage light air plants, something similar to this arrangement:

The front of the cages open on a hinge so I will be able to take the plants out every week or so for a good soaking. I’m pretty excited to see what the finished product will look like!

I found another light fixture to turn to the dark side. I couldn’t resist these cute little musicians sitting at the base of this broken lamp…

So I cut the cord, replaced the ugly light fixture with a pretty little milk glass shade, and came up with a new addition to my vintage container garden!

I chose ivy because I wanted a dark green to complement the tarnishing copper base, and because I think it will look really neat when the ivy drapes down over the sides of the globe.

I didn’t realize I had hit upon such a good thing with the light-fixture-turned-plant-container idea. I also found these flat bottomed glass light covers, flipped them upside down, and viola! Instant vase. These were prettier before the water inside got couldy from the roots of the plants, but I was too lazy to replace the water before taking my photo. 🙂

They will work great for establishing new roots on plant cuttings.

I also have a few enameled washbasin-type containers that I want to use for larger houseplants. This yellow one makes for a happy hosta.

Not all my containers turned into plant containers, however. I brought home some more manly specimens, and Jeff found good uses for them. An old Sawzall toolbox now houses some of his guitar supplies…

And this lidless ammo can is usefully repurposed for those, um, heavy artillery bathroom breaks.

It’s been great fun collecting broken unwanted pieces and trying to find a good home for them. My work here, however, is far from over. I still have a good stockpile of items just waiting for inspiration to strike at any moment…

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I’m been coming across some pretty cool old stuff recently. More on that another day.

But the whole experience has gotten me into thinking about how to put some really old, really useless stuff to good use.

I’ve grown up around people who appreciate old crap. Thus, I’ve developed an eye and a soft spot for the chipped, the rusted, the molded and cast-off, the burdensomely-heavy-but-made-of-RealWood objects that just can’t be thrown away.

It may have something to do with the Japanese notion of wabi sabi, which is an aesthetic based on the beauty in things that change with time. It may also have something to do with plain old nostalgia, remembering and longing for the simpler days gone by.

I’ve never been much of an interior designer, but I do know that antiques can be really cool when used well. I’m not at all into that whole “my house is just like an antique store!” look, but I do appreciate a well-placed vintage item. Today I thought I coined a new term—vintage industrial—but it turns out the design world is way ahead of me on that one.

The trick is to use antiques sparingly. Most people don’t, but I know how easy it is to get sucked into the idea of treasuring old things to excess. I’ve been seeing a lot of it lately, in fact. And I’ve begun hoarding a few rusted and battered items myself.

I need to find a use for them, quick.

Naturally, my thoughts lately are crowded with growing green things. So what better way to utilize my hoard than to make a cute little vintage container garden? I’ve done some mighty googling and come up with some inspiration.

I’ve decided, due to the questionable nature of antique materials, that my container garden will be strictly for decorative purposes. A nice mix of annuals and houseplants should make for a colorful and quirky set of greenery. Deciding where to put my container garden to maximize our enjoyment of it will be a different set of decisions altogether. The possibilities are endless.

As always, stay tuned for updates on my capricious whims.

Or don’t. (though I know you will)  🙂

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