Flea markets season is almost upon us and I can’t wait!!! So today’s post is dedicated to those of us who have experienced falling passionately in love from afar with the most amazing treasure only to realize upon approaching the object of our wonder and awe that it is actually not in such perfect condition. Many would turn and walk away with a sigh, thinking “if only”. And there are surely times when we all must accept that we are not the person to save an object. But the next time you find yourself lingering, unable to put down the object of your dreams, lovingly admiring it while the wheels start spinning in your head contemplating all of the lovely possibilities . . . take a breath, an emotional step back, and really examine the item closely. Many times all that is needed in this situation is a little imagination and a little bit of glue. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite flea market finds that just needed a little love and a bit of the proper glue to make them beautiful and useful additions to our home.
Exhibit A–Vintage Silver From The Flea Market
I found this coffee urn a couple of years ago while I was visiting my daughter in Austin, Texas. It was shoved to the back on a high shelf in a booth where everything else was in pristine condition. This scrumptious piece of loveliness, however, was far from pristine. It was missing its lid, was pretty tarnished, and both of its arms where broken off and residing inside the urn.
While we all know the wonders that a glue gun can perform, gluing metal is not one of them. In fact, gluing metal was out of my wheelhouse, but since I thought the urn was perfectly lovable even without the handles, and given that it was a steal of a price, I decided to take it home with me. After doing a little research I decided to use Gorilla Glue Epoxy to try to put the handles back on. One of the things that I really like about this product is that it has a double plunger on one dual tube so that when you press down, equal parts of the two formulas come out. (No guess work trying to decide if you are mixing equal parts from two different tubes as many epoxy products are packaged.) I mixed the epoxy on a paper plate, applied it to one handle with a toothpick and used a giant rubber band to hold the handle in position. Using a towel to cradle it, I propped the urn on its side with the glued handle in the air to let it dry overnight. (Sorry for the lack of pictures. This was in pre-blogging days.) The second handle was attached in the same manner, but I had to nestle the urn on its side between my washer and dryer so that the recently dried handle hung down between the two machines and the newly glued handle was up in the air. Again, it was allowed to dry overnight.
I only cleaned the urn a bit without trying to truly polish it. I really love the patina of aged silver. Typically, this piece gets used as a container for flower arrangements, but I could see long wooden spoons in it if you didn’t have upper cabinets to contend with. I also really want to try to put a rosemary tree in it, but haven’t quite found the right container to fit down inside to house the plant. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if arms would be able to withstand being handled, but, though I try to remember to grab it by the body if I am going to pick the entire urn up, I am not timid with it. I have grabbed the arms a couple of times to turn it or push it into place and they are holding up perfectly.
Exhibit B–Flea Market Vintage Crystal
Flea Markets are a great place to pick up inexpensive vintage crystal. My family really did not have that type of thing to hand down, so most of what I have is from antique stores and flea markets. Mine is not of the “fine” crystal variety since that is way above my budget. I simply pick up pieces that are sizes and shapes that appeal to me. Our entertaining lifestyle does not lend itself to using crystal serving pieces, so I started stacking them in vignettes which later lead to actually gluing pieces together in ways that I loved and made them serviceable for me. (I used E6000 glue for this.) These pieces move around the house on a regular basis. Now and then I even use the pedestal plate to serve from.
Be sure to look at flea market pieces with an open mind. Not everything has to be used in its entirety or for its intended purpose. For instance the taller of these candle holders is constructed with a piece in the middle that my neighbor dubbed the “nut cup”. (She owns one exactly like it that she uses to serve nuts.) It fits together securely, is egg shaped when together but can be separated so that this one piece can become two as you can see below.
The pedestal server was also put together with three different pieces that, by themselves, were less than desirable. Together the are perfection!
The shorter “candle holder” in front in the picture below is actually a vintage crystal compote that is simply flipped upside down and, voila, no glue needed!
Add more pieces and a different tray for a larger centerpiece on a bigger table. (You can take a peek at how these pieces were styled for the winter season here.)
Mix and match and have fun!
Collecting small pieces that are interesting shapes really helps when trying to figure out how to connect larger pieces together in a manner that is still in proportion. These pieces may also rescue a favorite piece of your own that may need repair.
Enter Frank and Samm.
Do not be fooled by their innocent appearance !!! Although the boys are usually well behaved and quite adept at dodging my decorative pieces when playing, they have definitely had moments of non cat-like reflexes including two major misbehaving moments that almost got them banished! (Okay, not really, but I was really, really, really not happy with them on those two occasions.)
One particular chase ended with one of the floor lamps on the ground and the middle torchiere light beyond repair. (You can see how we salvaged that lamp here.)
The other well loved item that almost bit the dust during one of their escapades was a very large apothecary jar. I came home from school one day to find it laying on the floor with the pedestal broken off and beyond repair. The Wildman is the one who actually suggested that I search my hoard of small crystal connecting pieces to see if I could build a new pedestal. (It seems this was one of his favorite pieces also.) Unfortunately, I did not have exactly the right pieces in my possession, but spent the next six months searching for the perfect solution whenever we would be on a flea market adventure. All of the searching finally paid off in the form of a globe shaped piece that I removed from its original pedestal. It has an opening at the top and bottom which made it perfect as the connecting place between a flatish-shaped candy dish that I found and the apothecary. You can see the original pedestal below along with the repaired version.
A couple of tips for gluing crystal. Try to choose pieces that have flat edges or rims. I have made pieces with irregular surfaces, but they are harder to work with. Also be prepared to let the pieces sit for quite a while. I find that the weather has a big impact on drying times for the E6000 when used on glass. Some of my projects have dried very quickly (overnight) while others actually took several days to completely cure during a particularly humid Missouri summer. Other than that the glue dries clear and holds strong.
So get those creative juices flowing and keep an eye out for great flea markets in your area this spring! Go forth and shop! I can’t wait to see what you find!!!!
Coming soon Volume 2 of Flea Market Finds and much more!