Sunday, 28 September 2014

Jade, Serpentine & Mouthwatering Watermelon Tourmaline Necklace... & I've Moved Showcases...

Yes, I'm starving -- and typing "mouthwatering watermelon tourmaline" hasn't helped -- I just spent FOUR hours at the AntMall aka One of a Kind Antique Mall tidying up the booth, as well as moving from the old showcase at the main floor entry to a great spot around the corner and a few steps down the aisle.

First things first:

I had originally discovered this bead combination as I was getting ready for the July Gem Expo, but only yesterday got around to stringing them together. Wow, yes, the photo really does show up the fact that one lotus flower is quite noticeably larger than the other! Honestly, in real life, one looks a bit larger, but not to this degree. Take-home being, if you can't decide how something looks, take a photo. If you still can't figure out what's bugging you, flop the photo. Works every time.

Faceted matte Afghanistan jade, (probably dyed) green serpentine lotus flowers, watermelon tourmaline slices, with pewter bead caps and spacers and silver-plated zinc(?) flower clasp. This is about 19-1/2" to 20". I'm going to restring it, though. If anyone is interested, the blog price just for you is $95 plus shipping. Please email me to confirm that it's still available and what the shipping cost will be. I take PayPal and Square, and if you're in Canada I can accept an Interac email bank transfer (or whatever they call it now).

Okay, that's the purty stuff. On to the work part of my day. The AntMall has added another cash register so it's getting really crowded up at the front of the store with people lined up to pay for bulky goods and friends are standing around waiting. The dim lighting wasn't helping me, either. Last week, I was asked if I minded moving around the corner and down the aisle a bit. If nothing else, the new showcase is very well-lit. Bonus is it's across the aisle within laughing distance of my pal Brenda who sells high end semi-precious, silver and gold jewellery for incredibly decent prices in Booth 861. You really need to check her out. In particular she has lots and lots and lots of sterling rings for both men and women -- men's watches, too.

Buh-bye little showcase. From here...

...around the corner... here...

Another angle, from Brenda's booth:

Took a good three hours to empty the old showcase and get this one loaded up. Tried putting Nancy's blue breakfast set on the glass "island" tray. Nah... don't think so...

Works for me for now:

I will be loading up the showcase with lots of new goodies in the next few weeks, PLUS -- sneak advance notice:

Nancy (Vendor 847) and I (Vendor 800
are having a 
for the entire month of October

That's everything in this showcase, as well as any items with our vendor numbers in the booth -- that's the booth with the blue walls directly across from the ladies washroom on the main floor just down from the cash desk.  

Thanks for looking!

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 originally Chinese turquoise subsequently 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!