This photo is going old-school sepia. Why? Because what else is a gorgeous old workbench but an old-school classic. Strong, utilitarian, indestructible. A workbench like this transcends trends, it’s lasted this long and it’s not going anywhere. Sure, it might not be used as intended anymore (although, why not?, it’s still perfectly strong and perfectly capable). Maybe it becomes a television stand or bonus kitchen counter space; maybe it stands proud on one end of the dining room serving drinks or basks in a sunny corner covered with plants. Any job of any sort, this classic is up for it!
Look at this darling little wooden lifeboat! And the paddle! The bigger boat that it’s attached to is pretty handsome but its little baby on the deck is adorable. These little touches are one of the reason I love antiques.
Drop-front desks are a dime a dozen, right? Sure. Because there were so so many copies made of the originals. This is one of the originals. The real deal. An English Georgian bureau circa 1750-1780. Imagine the stories this desk has to tell, the secrets it’s held. The billets-doux, the mundane bills and notes, and the cherished treasures. Hundreds of years of history enduring in the form of oak and mahogany and brass.
Look at these lovely almost-twin sisters: similar functions and similar forms, but such different personalities! Both ladies are so stately and tall and both waiting to be filled to the brim with a collection of McCoy pottery or perhaps grandma's antique Ironstone. Meanwhile, all the less attractive crockery can be hidden behind the cabinet doors down below. (Not all of grandma's things were the prettiest but solid practicality can't be parted with: solid practicality, after all, is what many grandmas are best known for, mine included.) The whitewashed pine lady (most likely European) stands just above seven feet tall and proud of every inch- no bashful stooping from her. Why be shy when you're so pretty? And yet she conveniently separates into two pieces, so helpful in moving her from place to place. The darker beauty is all-American, serious but the white porcelain knobs add a light, pretty touch. And that darker sheen is all the better to highlight the white porcelain treasures within. Both are available in the shop now. :) UPDATE: The dark pine, American cupboard has SOLD. The whitewashed cupboard is still available.
Just when I'm thinking about how manic and crazy and stubborn my puppy is, she goes and does something so cute and so sweet that she becomes my sweet little fur-ball again. Her unbridled joy is all the apology I need for all the shredded paper towels, all the waking me up whenever she feels like it, all the interrupting me when I'm trying to focus. Oh, puppy attention-seeking!
I think my fellow puppy owners can relate!
Oh the memories conjured by antiques! Their uniqueness strengthens the reminiscence. Take, for example, this antique, 19th-century English porcelain wall pocket in the shape of a slipper orchid. I see it and off I go, tumbling back into memories.
In my early twenties I started growing orchids. Still living at home with my dad, my plants took over the dining room. Growing lights and humidity trays, my dad really didn't mind. The dining room had neither a recliner and TV nor a desk and his papers- his life dominated by his work or his relaxation in his comfy chair.
But orchid survival is rather incompatible with the wandering spirit of a twenty-something.
One fine day, bright and sunny, I packed up my car and moved to Boston. No forewarning for my dad or for myself- a whim that took me on another adventure. Had I been older, wiser, and more considerate I would have spared some effort for my orchids and tried to find them homes. Instead, I abandoned them to my father's care... I abandoned them to their fates.
A year and a half later and I was ready to come back home. I smiled when I saw the Minneapolis skyline, admiring its lovely, compact symmetry. After driving halfway across the country I was ready to rest and be home again. I gave my dad a call to tell him I was almost there- no more than twenty minutes. Wonderful, he said, and wait till you see them- your orchids! I was going to let it be a surprise, but your brother has been taking great care of them!
Hmmm.... I was puzzled.
My younger brother tending to my orchids?
My younger brother: orchid caregiver?
Here's the reveal: Me, standing in the doorway to the dining room, surveying the scene. An annihilation of orchids. Every orchid gone, long gone. Dried out, desiccated... ashes to ashes and leaves turned to dust. But in the midst of the Orchidaceae destruction, underneath the grow lights, was a massive, truly massive marijuana plant.
Oh, dad! There are days I miss you so much. I didn't quite appreciate your absentminded strangeness when I was younger. But how you make me smile and laugh when I see that porcelain orchid and think of you.
Every antique item that enters my life has pulled me to it... an inexplicable law of attraction. (Every now and then I'll look at something I've brought into the shop- puzzled- wondering what kind of strange mood I was in- or what kind of strange mood it was in. But I know it's okay because everyone needs a strange-mood antique every now and then!) The dominant attractions are always, always beauty and uniqueness. And occasionally a certain object of such beauty and such uniqueness will enter my life that I admire it more than superficially- it not only sits where it sits occupying a space- but enters my imagination completely, a strange magic. When that alchemy of imagination occurs I not only travel back in time- its time and its history- but I travel to new lands and dreamscapes.
The newest of these very special objects is a magical, amazing 1920s room divider. Three sections, each hand-painted with colorful birds on one side and a fairy-tale onion dome palace on the other. Purportedly it was once home in a house of ill-repute. I wonder if this is true or a story spun out of bygone fantasy. I wonder about the rooms it has occupied, the corners it has concealed. I wonder, too, about the occupiers of that onion-dome palace: the beautiful maidens and the mad kings. And the birds and their bird-songs...
Take a look: History and dreamscapes.
It's only been seven months since I've been in my new shop location and I already want to re-paint the entire store! I'm tired of the minty green and now that spring is almost here I'm yearning for a soft, sky-blue. A blue true dream of sky (to quote ee cummings). Most of my friends seem to think this is unnecessary. Someone dear to me even rolled his eyes- as if to say, this again? Because, you see, antiques dealers have restless spirits. We have no catalogs from which to order x lots of this item and x lots of that. We sell what we happen to come across, discovery to sale always a happy accident. Every item is one of a kind and once it's gone will (almost) never be re-found. Whether it is those born with restless spirits who become antique dealers or whether being an antique dealer engenders that restlessness, who knows? All I know is, I'm yearning for sky blue.
There have been so many pieces over the years of my antiquing that I've fallen madly, head-over-heels with and yet, I've let them go. I just can't keep everything. If I could, I wouldn't be an antique dealer- I'd be a collector on a massive scale! Now, another piece dear to me has sold. This beautiful, big fireplace mantle. The perfect shade of painted white, an ornate panel of hand-carved foliage. I'll never find another one like it. I'm heartbroken but glad- glad that it's going to a happy and joyful home. Goodbye dear antique fireplace mantle!
My birthday gift to myself this year? Buying a sketch pad so that- after a twenty year abeyance- I can take up sketching again (a passion I loved as a teenager). And why not find my inspiration in all of the beautiful vintage that surrounds me? For example, this beautiful, old chocolates box with a lovely image of a young woman in a quite fabulous hat! And please be forgiving! This is only my second sketch in twenty years!
Welcome to my brand new website! It's very much a work in progress so please be kind and forgiving! I kinda feel like a genius when I manage to successfully post a picture to social media so you can imagine how I'm feeling creating a whole brand-new website! (Meanwhile, the techies are shaking their heads in pity at that statement and three-year-olds with iPads are laughing at me!) Take a look around. Enjoy the pictures. Online sales will be coming soon!