[New] Old Finds

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Today’s post features some of my recent acquisitions, which include a vintage American flag along with some old photographs, a seascape and more. Todd Farm Flea Market has reopened for the season, so I’m back on my game. Last weekend we stopped in as we usually do during the season, and let me tell ya, the place was crawling with hipsters. I’ve never seen so many skinny jeans, workboots, ironic facial hair, knit caps and tote bags featuring screenprinted owls gathered together (but then I don’t get around much).

Even though I have hipster sympathies, since I pretty much have the same taste, from typewriters to pickling (only my credentials for such things reach as far back as the last century), I confess to not being too excited about sharing my flea market with so many new buyers. But really, what am I complaining about? The uptick in interest in old stuff is good for all of us. If more vinyl records, film cameras, and molded plastic chairs populate one-bedroom apartments instead of landfills, we all win.

But I draw the line at auctions. If these young whippersnappers start showing up there, then all bets are off.

The Roving Home at Todd Farm

July 17th dawned bright and clear — and hot. My friend Carolyn came along with me for the fun — more on Carolyn later, as her vintage style deserves its own post — and we unloaded and set up our wares in no time. Lots of fascinating people stopped by, some we already know, some we just met that day. The usual suspects were there bright and early with the take-it-easy types coming around 10 am (which, in flea market time, is the equivalent of midnight). I confess to falling in the latter category, so I was happy to hang around with the late morning crowd and pass out the doughnuts, fresh from Marty’s Donut Land (yes, Donut Land does exist. You can find it in Ipswich, Massachusetts). Thanks to Linda for bringing the treats – they went great with the coffee and conversation. Check out the photos from the day and look for our next pop-up shop, brought to you in early November — and this one will be inside, out of the elements — I promise.

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Relevant Links:

Good Morning Gloucester

Marty’s Donut Land

Todd Farm

Heather Atwood’s blog

Colleen Kidder’s studio

Karen Tusinski’s gallery

Alicia’s store

Katy Elliott’s blog

Weekly Wrap-up: Art Openings & Exit Signs

Art History Revisited

Kurt Ankeny (whose wife’s store was featured in an earlier post) opened a new show at Alchemy in Gloucester this week, featuring his latest work. Kurt is a fantastic technician — I believe he could render anything — but more interestingly, he is a smart painter. I won’t say intellectual (though there is that, too) because the ideas found in his work resonate at an intuitive level. You don’t need a PhD in Art History to understand what is taking place. But should you happen to be in possession of a PhD in Art History you would have an even stronger context for what he is currently showing. His new work depicts Biblical stories, the subject of thousands of paintings since the dawn of Christianity. But Kurt illuminates these stories with a new kind of light — one every bit as timeless as the stories themselves, but somehow completely contemporary. His painting of Joseph, Mary and the baby at the Egyptian border crossing has burned itself into my retina and I will never think of the character of Joseph the same way again. Which is saying something, as if you’ve been around these stories a while, you begin to feel as though you’ve pretty much gained as much insight as you’re ever going to from encountering these same tales yet again.

The artist Kurt Ankeny with his family at his opening

Wine plus Samson & Delilah

Signs, EXIT & Otherwise

This week I painted the sign for the new store Scout Vintage Finds, also featured in a previous post (there’s a theme here). Karen, the owner of this new resource for old things, wanted me to use the image of an old pair of binoculars, the brass perfectly worn. Binoculars signifying scouting — get it? If not, you’re not allowed to shop in her store. No, just kidding. She welcomes everyone. I was a bit worried about creating a cartoonish sort of look if I tried to paint a picture of the vintage binoculars, thus undermining the symbolism of the hunt for items that will enhance your environment, when it occurred to me to photograph the binoculars, edit the image, print it out and adhere it to sign’s surface, incorporating a bit of painted overlay for a more cohesive, yet almost collage-like look. Check out the primitive photo I took of the binoculars and then head to Scout Vintage Finds online (find the link below) to see the finished sign — which is unsophisticated and fun, in the best sense.

Vintage binoculars: the inspiration for the Scout Vintage Finds sign

And this week’s Find of the Week? This vintage EXIT sign, modeled by our friends who, fittingly, are moving to New Mexico in a few weeks, in case you were wondering what their exaggerated sadness is all about. And really, what isn’t sad about Exiting? Unless you’re leaving a bad date or a fire, goodbyes are always hard.

Vintage EXIT sign modeled by our very sad friends

Relevant Links:

Kurt Ankeny showing at Alchemy Bistro

Scout Vintage Finds

p.s. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store at Todd Farm tomorrow for our pop-up shop. Hope to see you there if you’re a Massachusetts-ite!

The signage for the pop-up store: taken from the pages of an old book.

Current obsession: patina'd brass finishes. Oh and that fish vase is pretty cool too.

Projects & Events at The Roving Home

  • Projects: New Chinoiserie For A New Era

Sick of Chinoiserie yet? It may be everywhere these days, but if you are sick of it, brace yoursef, as it has been around for a long time and looks like it will be here longer still. When I read about interiors, I see the term chinoiserie applied to everything from lamps to wallpapers to decorative boxes. What gives? I ask myself, in the manner of someone who speaks in 1950s slang. Well, unlike someone from the 1950s, I have the great gift of looking for answers using Wikipedia. And here, my equally lazy and uneducated friends, is the answer to your chinoiserie puzzlement:

Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying “Chinese-esque”, refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences.It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquerlike materials and decoration. Chinoiserie is a mixture of Eastern and Western stylistic elements for both the decoration and shape.

I love certain aspects of east-west hybrid design. And chinoiserie panels and wallpapers are one of them. The ubiquitous Buddha heads? Not quite as much. Especially as they’re usually owned by materialistic high blood-pressure types. But that’s a post for another day (I feel a Trend Alert coming on…). Besides, I don’t think Western design is served by taking Asian motifs too literally, which is why the de Gournay-style decorative wallpapers are so timeless — they interpret the Asian stylized approach to nature through European sensibilities. The best of both worlds.

All this to say that I am taking chinoiserie one step further — or backwards, depending on your perspective — by a new item I’m adding to the shop this week. Chinoiserie chalkboard panels. I can practically hear your disgust. But really, interpreting the vaunted chinoiserie elements through the eyes of an ironic hipster (whose Chinese Mecca is Brooklyn, to mix my cultural references) seems just about right for this place and time, combining the current craze for the low-tech joys of drawing on a chalkboard with the ancient art of decorative painting.

Chinoiserie is goin' downtown when we get done with it! photo: whiteaisleweddings.com

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Flea Market Fashion Follow-up

The New England flea market season has commenced. Unlike our West Coast and southern kin, who trek to places like the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena or Scott Antique Market in Atlanta to pick up vintage picture frames and antique bureaus year-round, those of us who live in colder climes must suffer through a protracted winter free of deals and steals. Unless you consider going to an indoor flea market appealing — and we do have a few of these around here, held in one of those post-bankruptcy empty big box stores repurposed into a series of 10-foot stalls staffed by vendors who look as if they never inhale fresh air unless forced to do so on the way to their vans — it’s probably been a while since you’ve had a chance to take a stroll through a flea market. For myself, I don’t consider an indoor flea market a real flea market, so the opening of New England’s outdoor markets is a sign of Spring indeed. Lo! The rains are over and gone, the old is new again — or at least new-ish — and we can begin the cycle of purchase, reject, purchase once more.

As if the opening of Todd Farm wasn’t enough, Brimfield is taking place later this week. I don’t usually go to Brimfield. It seems like a major commitment, even though I live in Massachusetts and could be there and back again in a day. Which I did once and don’t really recommend. I considered going to Brimfield this round, as there is a Social Media event planned by a few enterprising bloggers to coordinate with all the designers heading there and I thought witnessing the mash-up of old junk and new twitter accounts might inspire me in my own attempt to blend old and new. But I decided to stay home and prepare for Blogfest 2011, taking place next week in New York. And by prepare I mean going on a juice fast and a wardrobe makeover, neither of which will actually happen but could, theoretically, if I don’t go to Brimfield.

Speaking of wardrobes, it’s that time again, where we peruse the best of Todd Farm fashion. This past market was subject to some dicey weather, best summed in the following photo:

Flea Market weather forecast

As a result, most of the crowd was made up of diehards: no-joke utilitarian flea marketers that are of the Mary Randolph Carter persuasion, alluded to in my last fashion post. But as the day wore on the hipsters rolled out of bed, and the scenery began to change, with cargo jackets giving way to whimsy and riot grrrls. Appropriately enough, this progression pretty much describes Spring itself, as the leaves unfurl a little more each day and New England wakes up and puts on a show, after what is the fashion equivalent of a long slow winter wrapped in an army-issue wool blanket.

Oliver. Who, I was told, doesn't like dogs or people. Maybe he's onto something.

She bought her vintage boots five years ago at a thrift store. Score one for vintage value. Click the photo to check out her atmospheric blog, Demure Folk, the name of which sums up her look nicely actually, heidi braids and all.

Very on trend with the red pants and black tights under open toe shoes yet completely classic New England. (With a hit of Midwestern via the giant serving of coffee for good measure.) Companion looks smashing too of course - the second week I've spotted an example of successful double denim!

The next two photos honor the fact that it was Mother's Day that day and that some mothers have a certain fearlessness when it comes to color.

She even color-blocked her fingernails with coral polish. And she styled her child to maximum effect. Happy Mother's Day to her.

And the Mary Randolph Carter award goes to...this one, with her comfortable suede boots from Goodwill and her functional army jacket. This lady is a serious flea marketer who still managed to inject some style into the process. She sources her chunky jewelry (an elephant necklace in this case) from online vintage stores. Not afraid of new ways to find old things.

Let’s Talk Fashion

And by fashion we mean the only category of fashion on which The Roving Home considers itself an authority: dressing for the flea market.

I know. You’re thinking: why bother? Who wants to consider their clothes at 6 (or 5, or whatever crazy in-the-o’clock-you-are) in the morning just before heading out to a dusty field to peruse the detritus of a bunch of other people? It might seem as though, of all places, the flea market is the one destination where you can arrive approximately five minutes after waking up and donning a pair of sweat pants or too-small shorts. But just because something seems true doesn’t make it so. In fact, for the flea market aficionado, clothing is a carefully considered part of the equation.

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