Sunday, 14 September 2014

Two Orange Acquisitions...

Carrots in loooooove...

...right down to their toes. Organic carrots from the Bentum Family Farm, found every Saturday morning at the Woodstock Farmer's Market. Yesterday at the market I treated myself to a Philly Cheese Steak hamburger from the Butcher's Blend (I'll report back on that later when I cook it) and a couple of Chives & Cheddar mini quiches from Sweet Revelations. I've been a serious quiche aficionado since forever, and trust me, these are excellent.

And... I got myself a little present from Lianne the Vintage Lady to remake into something spectacular (no-brainer alert -- likely involving turquoise): some really old, really cool hand-carved graduated carnelian beads, each one a tiny world of craftsman's art and mystery ...

Both yummy. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cree Snowshoes, Turquoise Skull Beads & Indian/Buffalo Head Nickel Button Covers...

Whooeee, what fun. I've been learning all about snowshoes these days. I had no idea of the range of styles and lengths, design driven by purpose and place/terrain and, of course, the type and depth of snow. Given the weather in Calgary yesterday where they got about 4 inches of snow, maybe I should send them out there. Looks like someone could use a pair.

These are Cree snowshoes, 33.5 inches in length, characterised by densely woven rows of babiche -- note the distinctive bound round bits where the boot lacing/harness would go -- and from my research these date from the 1870s-1920s. Those red bits are the remains of pompoms, dyed tufts of possibly caribou fur, the red colour indicating the Cree Nation. The purpose of the pompoms is that animal fur would mask human scent, and ideally one would craft the pompoms using fur of the game animal one was primarily hunting. You can see an almost identical pair on the Vintage Winter site, where I found (okay, swiped) this information.

These snowshoes are in remarkably good condition, except for one bit of damage as shown here:

The snowshoes are currently on a wall in Booth 800/801/847 at the One of a Kind Antique Mall, along with a pile of new goodies, including a large Arkansas stone in a custom wooden box with screw holes so the bottom part of the box can be securely fastened to a workbench, as well as the items that were in the picture from the other day.

My new turquoise skull beads that I scoured the Internet looking for landed in my mailbox yesterday, but I was typing all day (yay!!) so couldn't pick them up until today. The three small ones are just over 3/4 of an inch high and the light green one at the top is 7/8 inch high, and the matrix patterns and the colours are beautiful. They all have flat backs. My dilemma is do I try to sell these now or hang onto them for The Gem Expo coming up in November. They're all so cute.

I have only ever heard of Indian head nickels, never seen any. These have been glued onto heavy-duty covered button thingies, but the dates are clearly and somewhat visible, respectively: 1926 and 1925. I just had a look-see online to see what these years were worth undomed and unglued and, well, not very much: a couple of bucks. BUT... I did discover that these have a buffalo on the other side (of course hidden by the button thingies), that three to four Native men were used to produce the portrait, and that the buffalo was named Black Diamond (or maybe Bronx), lived at either the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo and 1.2 billion coins were produced between 1913 and 1938. The things you can learn on Wikipedia.

I have registered for the November Gem Expo and booked my hotel, so mark your calendars: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 21, 22 and 23. See you there.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 5 September 2014

My Favourite Newsletter from Robert and Sara Genn...

Ostensibly for visual artists/painters, but good for any creative endeavour, as well as just plain living and looking in the moment:

I found today's newsletter to be particularly relevant. It's been a topic of conversation recently around here with pals. For me, getting up early in the morning (usually 5:00 to 6:00 a.m.) is made infinitely more desirable than extended bed-lolling by good Italian cappuccino (Lavazza Crema e Gusto) made Italian home style in a cafetiere with filtered water, plus about a 4-inch chunk of Ace Bakery baguette sliced into three pieces horizontally, toasted golden and slathered in butter and homemade-by-me-with-almost-no-sugar jam. Sundays are devoted to breakfast with friends (or by myself with an interesting book) at the Chuckwagon, preferably after an early morning look-see at that day's estate sale and/or at the very least followed by going to the Antique Mall around 10:00 or so and cleaning up and rearranging the booth and showcase. 

Having written the above extolling getting up early, I have been known to go back to bed around 9:00 for a 20-minute nap. And naps around 3:00 or 4:00 are not unheard of, even when I'm working. It's that pesky brain fog that rolls in regardless of my state of mind or any inclination otherwise. Everything shuts down. Twenty minutes eyes closed and horizontal, I'm good to go. 

Actually settling down and doing artwork/making jewellery? Well... after a lifetime of devoted creative procrastination and bed-lolling 'til noon or until I'm guaranteed to be late yet again somewhere usually involving a job I loathe, I'm still working on that, but I'm getting better. The trick there has been to find work of as equally sustainable interest and intrigue as getting up for the above-mentioned coffee, toast and jam/diner breakfast.

My latest trip to Toronto and checking out stores (Lavish & Squalor, Queen between McCaul and University, ab-fabulous) has added another theme to my fairly scattered buying (lack of) focus. Expect more targeted Gothish/Edwardian/steampunkish finds/looks. These latest goodies will be arriving in Booth 800/801/847 at the One of a Kind around 1:00 p.m. this afternoon:

For those who are interested, I am still waiting for my Roman glass shipment to arrive. Should be any day now. More goodies for the November Gem Expo in Toronto are landing in my mailbox weekly, so mark your calendar and see you there. My hotel is booked -- whew! Even now, in early September, rooms are hard to come by for late November. Another habit I need to develop is "book room for next show while checking out of current stay". 

Thanks for looking -- and get yourself motorvating!

Thursday, 28 August 2014


No, not Standard and Poors, but Salt & Peppers. I have to admit to a fondness for them and have restrained myself from collecting them... again. But then I found these and fell in love.

The ghostly duo...

...who love each other.

Love to jive...

Once I've stopped playing with them, they're destined for the One of a Kind Antique Mall, Showcase 800, some time in the next few days. If you're quick, you can email me here if you're interested in acquiring them.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sneak Peek of New Bracelets, A Trip to Toth's & A Stunning Turquoise Score...

It was a really busy weekend. No Saturday market at least for the craft vendors, bread-sellers and meat guys because of the fair... and here I thought I could sleep in. Silly bobo. Somebody forgot to inform my internal clock, because, yeppers, I was wide awake at 3:30 a.m.

First, it was off to breakfast at 9:00 a.m. at the Chuckwagon with Brenda (a pal at the One of a Kind Antique Mall: Vendor 861 with crazy good prices on semi-precious and sterling silver jewellery, watches and doodads) and her brother Richard to fuel what became a four-hour marathon of oohing and aahing at Toth's Fossils and Minerals in Ingersoll. Even after four hours, we still didn't see everything.

You can see great pictures of the store itself on Geza's website, but here are pictures of our exploration of the backyard.

I didn't buy a lot... "only" some killer turquoise. Now, this is what really interests me: it was labelled as Pakistan Turquoise. Okay... I didn't know turquoise came from Pakistan and assumed that these beads may have been Chinese turquoise originally acquired in Pakistan, hence the label. On coming home, I did some research, and it turns out there are vast copper deposits in parts of Pakistan being fairly recently developed (also in Mongolia there huge copper and other mineral deposits being mined, with turquoise being found, as well), and some websites do mention turquoise along with the other semi-precious stones for which Pakistan is well-known, but no information is readily available on the exact location(s) of any producing turquoise deposits.

Flattish puff oval turquoise beads, some with 1mm-2mm holes:

Quartz geode in the back, two pieces of chrysocolla rough, and the most spectacular (to me, anyway) of the turquoise beads:

More puff oval turquoise beads.

Is this Pakistani turquoise or Chinese turquoise from a Pakistani dealer (in Tucson, actually) who originally acquired it in Pakistan? No idea. It bears a strong resemblance to Hubei turquoise from China, but this looks older and cruder (i.e. more "tribal", which is always a good thing!) than anything I've ever seen in my admittedly very limited experience. If anyone out there has any information, I would love for you to get back to me. I'll group, price and photograph the rest of the beads soon.

Meanwhile, on more domestic fronts, I made strawberry peach jam late on Sunday afternoon. Guess who in the background? Couldn't resist at one of the estate sales.

Yesterday I finally sat down and made a pile of seed bead bracelets and anklets for the market. For some reason this summer there was a run on all my seed bead and chip bracelets I'd made over the past three years.

I'm beginning to hate Blogger again: for some reason it wants to import photos in any view it wants to, so long as it's different from the way it was saved. This photo is upside down.

And this photo is sideways:

I'm preparing a little tutorial on how I do crimping which involves using two sizes of crimping pliers since a few of my pals have been asking. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Skull Beads, The OOAK booth & A Diner Breakfast...

Do you ever wonder what people do with the things they buy from you? I've been selling these little skull beads for several years and I've easily sold through 15 or 20 strings' worth in different sizes and styles.

Kids buy them, grownups buy them -- and I've made countless necklaces, bracelets and earrings with them and sold those, too -- but after all this time no one has ever come back to show me what they've done with their beads. That is, until this past Saturday.

Lianne Johnson (aka Vintage Lady) sells vintage & estate jewellery across the market from me and so I was kind of taken aback when she started buying these very modern and very-different-from-her-normal-stuff skulls. She said she was making things to sell at a biker camping weekend up north. She showed up this past Saturday with a couple of unsold creations utilising my skulls -- and a broken ankle. Something about building a fire, flipflops, wet grass... great way to ruin a great weekend, eh?

Anyway, these are what she made for and sold to her biker clientele: small dioramas featuring classic motorcycle models surrounded by foliage, tree bark, semi-precious stones, 40-million-year-old fossil shark teeth mounted on vintage lamp bases or stone coasters and, you'll note, coordinating skull and bike colours.









Lianne sells her vintage jewellery 7-12 pretty much every Saturday at the Woodstock Farmer's Market. Note that only the produce vendors will be elsewhere in the fairgrounds during the Fall Fair (August 21-24th). Interested in a commission or acquiring one of these cool dioramas? Email Lianne directly.

On other fronts, Nancy Mac and I have been busy stocking up Booth 800/801/847 at the One of a Kind Antique Mall. This is what the booth looked like at the beginning of July when we first moved into it...

...but because of the amazing turnover we've experienced over the past six weeks there's been an equally great amount of buying and restocking done, and now the booth looks like this:

Are you an aficionado of antique malls and big outdoor flea markets? Do you ever wonder where on earth all this stuff comes from and what's involved? Can one make any money at this? The truth? Uh, not really -- unless and until you really know your stuff, have been doing it for a long, long time, have a discerning eye, and through that build a reputation... It goes on and on. Pure luck plays a huge part -- which anyone can see from the myriad TV shows around the collecting, buying and selling of antiques and collectibles. There's also location. To make sales, you have to have bodies. The Antique Mall we're in just happens, at 80,000+ square feet, to be the biggest in Canada, and it's a destination. Buyers come from all over, including the States.

The reality is, after accounting for booth rent, commission fees and the upfront outlay of cash to buy items and pay for gas, not to mention the untold hours and hours of time it takes to run around buying stuff, it's not like we're raking in the big bucks. The brutal reality is you've got to sell a lot of little items every single month to make the booth rent and you have to constantly monitor the booth for general tidiness, restocking shelves regularly and changing the layout to make it look fresh to attract the repeat customers. Weather plays a huge part in traffic to the Antique Mall. Some months are just plain slooooow. But so far, we're still having fun putting in the time to make this work.

That's the whole point: that it IS a ton of fun, and it's educational because we have to look up most items to price them and/or learn about the history of the items, the factories, manufacturers and publishers, not just to find out what on earth this head-scratchingly bizarro gadget was for, but little things like why this particular item made in this particular year, for example, is far and away more valuable than its look-alike cousin despite being from the same manufacturer. Sometimes, it's the condition of -- or the very existence of -- the original box that confers the value. Talking to experts and looking at all the other similar images online is invaluable, developing all our senses in order to recognise the some day Big Score... There's matching wits, to somehow intuit what some unknown customer might be looking for and buy it, and, serendipitously here they come, strolling down the aisle and into our booth, and there IT is, what they've been looking for forever.

And... it's really good exercise. Getting up at 5 or 6 to meet up, grab coffee, possibly driving to another town  to an estate sale as the sun comes up or the rain/snow/sleet comes down to get to a house to sit or stand on a bitter cold, damp front step for an hour to be first in line or at least in the first group let into the house, hiking up and down stairs carrying boxes and bags, plus meeting up with vendor pals from the Antique Mall and even swapping stuff outside before we drive away... yep, that rain/snow/sleet is a whole lot of fun.

After a couple of hours, the rushes of discovery over and blood sugar in freefall, our day is still nowhere near done. But -- there's the siren call of the ritual diner breakfast after the sale to heed before we go home to clean, research and price our stuff and hike it all down to our booth (AKA the more worky part of our fun).

After some experimentation and, yes, disappointment -- it still mystifies me to no end how anyone can ruin breakfast -- Nancy Mac and I have settled on the Chuckwagon at the west end of Woodstock where the road forks to go to Ingersoll as the best local place to go. Tons of parking, good plain food in a bright sunlit room and not outrageously priced at all, and -- increasingly rare these days -- really good bottomless coffee that never stops coming. Two big breakfasts come in at about $15. Sunday my breakfast was literally so pretty I took a picture and it's now my desktop wallpaper.

All gone!

Thanks for drooling... I mean, looking!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Winter's Pink Seed Bead, Skull & Druzy Necklace... Plus Some New Suncatchers...

I had a great day at the farmers market on Saturday, with a number of sales, plus orders from new customers. I'm meeting people new to the market every week now. That's so great.

This is Winter's latest necklace finally completed that she'd ordered before I left for the Gem Expo. I watched Bones and Suits on Netflix for three nights and wrapped my little brains out. It was fiddly work because I had to make sure that all the skulls were wrapped facing the same direction.

The light where I am in the market is pretty much non-existent, and yesterday I finally bought some small clamp lamps with extra long goose-necks. If nothing else, it was the unspoken subtext of Winter's text to me about the necklace after she'd got home that proved how bad the lighting is -- plus I love that she loves it:

"Ok, I got home and took a better look at the necklace in the mirror and up close while I wasn't wearing it. God, I [frickin'] love it. I think it might be my fave one to date. Which is weird because I love my raven one so much. This one is perfect. I love every single bead and the pendant is even cooler up close than I thought it was. Thanks, Barbara. I will show it off regularly and make sure everyone knows who made it for me."

Here are a few of my new suncatchers in progress. All have been window-tested for their rainbow-giving properties, and even that deeply, darkly elegant suncatcher on the right bounces rainbows all over the room.

A selection of suncatchers will be available for sale at the Woodstock Farmers Market on Saturday mornings 7:00 a.m. to noon, at Showcase 800 on your right just as you come through the doors at the One of a Kind Antique Mall 10:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m. seven days a week except stat holidays, and/or you can email me. These little ones run $15-$20 (plus shipping and handling if you order by email) and are made with jewellery-quality Chinese and Swarovski crystals. The suncatchers pictured are about 5 to 8 inches long, linked with copper wire and they all come with about 18" of brown leather cord to hang them with. I don't recommend hanging them with suction cups: being made of crystal they're kind of heavy. I can make them in specific colours, or longer for hanging outside on the deck/in the trees, for example, or, if you'd like me to incorporate semi-precious stones, that's doable, too.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Handmade Pure Copper & Mixed Metal Bracelets...

I'm now carrying these Fair Trade hammered pure copper and copper plus mixed metal bracelets made by the Bemba tribal people of the Katanga Province in the Congo.

Great for both men or women, they're $15 each, with a 10% discount if you buy two or more. These would make wonderful Christmas -- or just because -- gifts.

Shipping and handling extra (email me for a quote). I'll have them at the Woodstock Farmer's Market on Nellis St., Saturday mornings from 7 a.m. until noon from August 2nd on. An assortment are displayed at the One of a Kind Antique Mall, 97 Wilson Street, Woodstock, Showcase 800 on your right as you enter the first floor. The mall is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. seven days a week, except statutory holidays.

Thanks for looking!