Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old to you, new to me

There are a lot of things about the past that inspire me to live life differently than the average life-liver. Antiques happened to me as a teenager, and I was bored and annoyed by them.

Since then, a series of events has opened my eyes to the endless variation of what I call “living material.” 

It started when a friend of mine got engaged and insisted on French netting for her veil, complete with a pearl-studded antique hair comb. We decided to excurse ourselves to the largest antique mall in town - about the size of a football field, not even kidding - and look for this elusive netting, which she couldn’t find at a fabric store.
As we wound our way down aisles named “Vienna,” “London,” and “Paris,” we found a plethora of headgear in the same family as my dear friend’s dream veil. Hats were abundant in that store, and the more we looked, the more we gawked. Hats with feathers, hats of felt, fascinators of all kinds began to garner our attention. Soon, we couldn’t help but take photos of ourselves in said hats. They were wild to us, but once on, you had to admit that they gave you a look, and it wasn’t altogether bad.
I don’t know if she ever found the French netting she was looking for (honestly, she should have just tried the internet first), but it was the beginning of a new phase of life for me. She and I spent nearly a year going to the antique mall every few weeks, and the more I saw, the more I learned. What’s valuable to collectors, what people bring in that’s really junk, and how obscenely small women were half a century ago. I’ve acquired several articles of clothing that are worth their weight in gold for the compliments I receive, and I always find something new, no matter how many times I go a-hunting.
Lesson for the day: When shopping antique, have an item (or a few) in mind that you’re looking for. Your brain will punch in the code and your eyes will almost automatically be drawn to that item in a sea of various whosits and whatsits. Case in point: my mother and I once went antiquing, and she mentioned it would be nice to have a perch for our miserably noisy and kermudgeonly cockatiel. After that, all I could see in the antique mall were birdcages, and no matter how hidden, every single one caught my eye. Let that be a lesson to you!

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