Monday, April 30, 2012

Playing Dress-Up

What little girl doesn't get into her mother's closet to abscond with her high heels and walk around the house?  Little girls love to play dress-up.  I was no exception (and my mother has the photos to prove it). Not only did I have my mother's closet to raid, but Grandma Mizell (who watched me while my parents worked) also had tons of fun things to dress up in.  I particularly remember the pioneer style costumes she had that she and my mother had worn for Nebraska's Centennial celebration.  The costumes were complete with bonnets and reticules!

Recently I have begun to dress up again.  I love antiques and for reasons I can't quite explain, I have recently purchased a few historical costumes to go with them.  I have been using these costumes to create fun profile pictures for my Facebook profile.  Recently, I was asked by a couple of friends to do a blog about what I do to get dressed up (thank you Lizzi and Inge for the idea!).

First, I research the period that I'm going to try to recreate.  I have done Victorian, Edwardian, and most recently, the 1940's.  The internet is full of great period information.  Most of the time, you can even find YouTube videos on how to do the hair.  I am a visual learner.  If I can see someone do a task, I can copy it.

For my latest dress up session, I researched how to achieve the 1940's look.  Even though the 1940's are not technically "antique", I have always been drawn to that time period as well.  I believe it is in part because my grandparents were part of the greatest generation (three out of four of my grandparents were in the armed forces).  First place to start my research: Look at old family photos.
Here is one of my Grandma Mizell in her WAVE (women's Navy) uniform.  As a side note, I am on the hunt for a sewing pattern for a 1940's WAVE if any of my readers can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.
Here is a picture of my Grandma Creamer.  Isn't she a cutie?  How did I get so lucky to have two lookers as grandmothers?  Look at the full lips on Grandma Creamer!  Thank you Granny C for your beautiful lip genes (not to mention the cooking genes and the smart genes).
Here is one of my favorite pictures of Grandma Mizell.  I really didn't get much research from this picture.  I just think it is cute and had to share.

Okay, so after going through my archive of family photos, it was time to go to Youtube.  All I did was Google 1940's hairstyles and came up with a few winners.  My personal favorite can be found here

To the bathroom I go!  My bathroom is kind of like the Batcave.  It is stocked with all the items I need to go from ordinary citizen to bombshell.  I plugged in my hot rollers and started on my makeup.  One thing I noticed in my research is that women really didn't use eyeliner on their bottom lid.  So, for my 40's look, I skipped the lower lid.

Using the largest hot rollers, I curled most of my hair under.  For this episode of dress up, I only wanted one reverse victory roll.  I knew I was going to use a fascinator for the other side. I sectioned off the hair I knew I wanted to go into the victory roll and did not put it in the hot rollers.  It took a few tries and a number of bobby pins to successfully achieve the reverse victory roll.  One should also note that hairspray is our friend.

Now, for the results!
Did I achieve my goal of looking like my grandmothers? You be the judge.
I know I've used this picture of Grandma Mizell before, but I think this is one of the prettiest pictures I've ever seen so I share it again.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Friday, April 20, 2012

Repurposing: Your Turn - "The Results Edition"

Welcome to the "Results Edition" of Repurposing: Your Turn.  On Monday I lobbed out a reader challenge into cyberspace for help with a repurposing project (Oh, you don't know what I'm talking about? Catch up at  I had some awesome suggestions from readers.  One reader (wink to Genny) suggested I get some vintage shoes.  Genny knows how much I like shoes.  Another reader (and my sister from another mother, Lizzi) suggested wooden spools.

This evening, after taking in your suggestions and letting the plan stew in my brain for a few days (my brain is a DANGEROUS place for ideas to stew), I came up with my plan of attack.  I drove to Hobby Lobby to obtain a couple of supplies and I was ready to go. 
Using my trusty glue gun (I've had her since college, 1999 I believe) I glued some scrap ribbon to the craft spools obtained at Hobby Lobby.  The spools were the only thing I had to purchase for this project.  I'm not sure if that means I'm super resourceful or if that means I spend WAY too much time at Hobby Lobby and bring too much of the store home with me. I personally think it's the latter, but I digress...
After the ribbon was glued on, I measured a dowel rod and cut it to the right length.  The dowel will serve as the stand for the spool and shoe form.
I then got out some letter charms and created a message for each shoe form.  I found these cute charms in the scrap booking section guessed it...Hobby Lobby last week. I had picked these up for another project.  I can get more tomorrow.
Using blue ribbon I had on hand, I tied the charms to the shoe forms.  The ribbon also gives the forms an "artistic" interpretation of a shoe strap (like a Mary Jane).
I then attached the spool to the shoe form by running the dowel up through the hole in the shoe form.  Since the dowel rod acts as a pin, the original antique is unmodified (just the way I like them).
Ta-Da!  This is your first glimpse of the completed project!  It looks like a shoe (once again, winks to Genny)!
Here is the "shoe" back in its spot as a bookend.  Is this cute or what?  But what is the message on these bookends?
The left side says "READ"...

while the right side says "ME"!

Read me!  I think that is a great message for a bookend to have.  Here is a picture of the finished project.  I could not be more pleased with how these antique shoe forms have been upcycled into bookends.  Its the exact touch I was looking for.

Once again, I thank my readers who submitted suggestions.  You guys were a big help.  I hope you have enjoyed this project as much as I have.  If you decide to take on an upcycling project yourself, please send me some pictures so I can feature them in my blog.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You too can help send Brenda Shaw to Zambia!

My dear readers, we are going to take a break from the antique series. My close friend, Brenda Shaw, is trying to raise some funds to do some very important work in Zambia this summer.  Below is my interview with her.  Please take a moment to learn about Brenda and why she desires to go to Zambia.

Brenda, please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.
-Welp {Editor’s note – I had to leave the “welp” in because it is so Brenda}, I am ending the second semester of my Master’s in Speech Language Pathology. I work right now at a small company shredding papers, scanning, and filing. I also do some babysitting on the side. I am currently working with adults who have had strokes and other sorts of brain injuries. In the past, though, I have worked with children with moderate to severe autism in their homes and at school working on their communication since most did not speak at all.

What attracted you to speech pathology?
-I am such a talker. I might even talk to walls. However, when I saw how not being able to speak affects a person, especially when they have the intent and the intelligence to do so, it just broke my heart. Many of my kids with autism have such great personalities - you can just see it shining in their eyes; I know they would have so much to say if they could get it out. And that's what drew me to be a Speech Therapist; I knew I had the patience and personality that I could help draw them out to reach their communication goals.

You will be going to Zambia with a group called CLASP.  What is CLASP and where can my readers find more information?
- CLASP stands for “Communicative Link for Special Needs Program". CLASP is a non-profit organization that promotes self-sustainable special needs programs for children and adults in Zambia where their current social norms have taught them to believe that special needs individuals are curses to be killed or abandoned. Because of the social outlook on special needs, things like hydrocephaly and cleft palate that can be treated with medical treatments are ignored because the parents do not want to bring shame into their house. For more info you can look at . There are some video clips on the website that will give you an idea of the poverty level in Zambia. Our hope is to be able to leave Zambia with clinicians and education that they are able to sustain the program themselves so that they feel the ownership of it.

Please tell us about what you will be doing with CLASP in Zambia this summer.
-So, in Zambia I will be doing a bunch of things. CLASP has been working with the University of Zambia to start a graduate program for speech language pathologists (the first on the continent of Africa) and this summer will be their first semester. There will be twenty Zambian graduate students and six American graduate students. Together we are going to have a hearing screening/hearing aid camp called Ears to Hear, as well as a craniofacial camp for kids with cleft lip and palate, and facial abnormalities. We will have community outreach groups passing out information about special needs. We have a group of people going to a local NICU as well as a lecture series for health professionals. My supervisors are going to be speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, audiologists, and NICU nurses, so this is definitely a great learning experience. The group I am working with is the Autism Group. We will be screening children for Autism, as well as showing parents how to interact with their children with toys, because in Zambia children with Autism are often locked in cages.  The Autism team will be making communication boards for each child to take home if they need it. These boards will allow the children and parents to communicate with pictures and words in addition to speaking. The boards will also include a schedule and a list of basic wants and needs.  In our sessions we will show the parents how to use it so that they can use it at home as well as giving them information resources if they have questions or concerns.

(Cool fact: CLASP currently holds a patent for a solar charged hearing aid because while it’s awesome to have a hearing aid, they take obscure batteries that traditionally only last a week!)

When will you be going?
- I will be leaving on July 28th and will return on August 10th. Both ways we'll have layovers in London because the flight is so long! I believe Zambia is 7 hours ahead of us in Texas.

Going to Zambia must be expensive for a student.  I know you have been doing some fund raising; how much more do you need?
- You're right. I have to raise a little over $700. But that does not include my $50 visa when I get in Zambia. It also does not include the groceries, internet time, or any other purchases I'll make while I am there. There's also optional recreation we can do on down time like a bike tour while we have an eight hour layover in London. So yeah- there's definitely a lot of money that's behind the scenes. Thankfully I have been able to fund the passport and TB tests and my parents have paid for the five vaccinations I had to get. :(

If my readers would like to donate to help you go to Zambia, where can they go to do so?
-If your readers want to help me out they can go to this website to help.  Their assistance would be very much appreciated!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
- I guess the biggest question I get is "Aren't you scared to go?" With people like Joseph Kony in the media I can definitely understand why people would wonder this. However, we'll be staying in the capital city and we will always be in groups. Truthfully though, I am perhaps a little bit nervous. At the same time, when I hear stories about people who don't provide care for their children, not because they don't want to, but because they don't even know it exists, I can feel my chest puff up. I know that no matter what, because I have the capability and background to do this, I can do this. I feel it is my responsibility and calling- I am just the steward of my knowledge.

WOW Brenda!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy grad student schedule to tell my readers more about you and your humanitarian trip to Zambia.  I hope you will stop back by Random Thoughts and share your trip with my readers when you return!

Dearest reader, I have known Brenda for over two years and she is one of the most caring and talented people I know.  She has an amazing work ethic (I know - I used to be her boss) and has the patience of a saint.  If you can, please donate at the link above.  I would greatly appreciate it and so will many families in Zambia.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let’s Talk About Antiques – Primitives

Let us continue to talk about one of my favorite things…Antiques (you thought I was going to say shoes – had ya fooled).  If you are just joining the conversation, be sure to get caught up by reading previous blogs.  For the last three posts, we talked about repurposing, which I believe goes hand in hand with antiques.  I love being able to reuse an antique and give it a new purpose.

If you follow my blog, you know even though I grew up in upstate NY, I come from Midwestern stock (namely Nebraska).  My ancestors who pioneered and settled the Midwest had to use and reuse items until they could be used no more.  There was no Wal-Mart or Target to run to in pioneer days.  I am proud of my Midwest pioneer heritage.  I am also fascinated by how my ancestors were able to settle the plains with such limited resources.

I think it is this fascination that makes “Primitives” so appealing to me.  You may be scratching your head and asking “what is a primitive”?  Well dear reader, I am about to tell you.  As a blogger, I feel it is my responsibility to bring you the most accurate information I can (this may be due to my broadcast journalism minor I had in college).  I know what I believe a primitive is, but I also research the topic before I blog.  In the case of primitives there isn’t a clear definition.  Some people define it as early American farm house items (I agree).  Others include more recent farm crafts in this definition (they lost me there).  For the purpose of my blog (and it is mine so I get to make the rules,  hehe) I am going to define primitives as early American farm house items.  I see them as items my great grandparents would recognize if they were to walk into the house.

A couple of years ago my husband and I gave out kitchen a face lift.  The kitchen received new paint, a new counter (tile) and a beautiful tile backsplash.  After this was done, it was time to decorate.  I took my kitchen in a primitive direction.  My kitchen has a ceiling, so I had lots of space to decorate on top of the cabinets and in an inset.  Here are some pictures for a visual aid
Here I used a mix of new items (the cow pattern cappuccino maker) with primitives. I have the cappuccino maker in an old crate with a tobacco tin on top.  To the right I have a kitchen scale with a reproduction soap box on top (orange is a great contrasting color with blue).
Here we have an a child's cast iron toy stove with a kraut cutter.  What is a kraut cutter?  I am SO glad you asked (this is where I can get my German pride on).  These boards have blades in the middle to slice up cabbage.  The cabbage would sit in a frame that was run back and forth over these blades.  The cut cabbage would then be turned into sauerkraut. This one here is a more "industrial" size one.  I also have a smaller hand held one.
Here is my inset that sits high above the kitchen.  I have decorated it with an old tool box (clearly made by hand), an old step ladder (give great visual interest and "shelves" to display more primitives) with old flour sifters and a lard tin sitting on the steps, an old mop bucket and a rug beater.  I've also included some greenery for color.
Also in my inset I have an old screen window and an old milk crate with some milk jugs.  The milk jugs that are "white" are filled with old bean bag styrofoam beads to give them the appearance of being full.  I'd like to take credit for this neat trick, but I in fact learned it from my friend Karen.

So there you have it.  Today you learned what primitives are.  I hope I have given you some ideas on how to decorate with them.  I think they are a great way to get a touch of history into your house. Happy decorating!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Repurposing - More Grand Ideas!

Y'all seem to be enjoying my ideas on repurposing.  I am enjoying blogging about it, so why stop the fun?  I am totally addicted to Pinterest (feel free to follow me at )  What does Pinterest have to do with repurposing?  There are tons of very creative people in this world and some of them are kind enough to share their repurposing ideas there.  I'd like to share a few of my favorites.  Here we go!
Here is a great idea for repurposing wooden pallets.  I think these shelves add a great primitive look to the wall (I love primitives, which is going to be a future blog).  What a great way to give a pallet new life.  The tree has already been cut down, why not reuse the wood?

Another pallet idea, turn them into shelves! I wish I had the space to do this.  This would be great for a craft room!  Think of all the supplies that could be stored in these.
Want to give your bathroom an update but have a tight budget?  What a cute medicine cabinet this vintage bag makes!  I can see this in a guest bath or half bath!

These vintage suitcases make an adorable nightstand.  This also doubles as great storage.  What a great way to get items out of sight.  I can even see a vintage trunk as the base.

LOVE this idea!  Turn an old door into a full length mirror.  What a great way to transform what would normally be a plain mirror into a conversation piece.

Another door repurposing idea.  Turn a vintage or antique door into a coffee table.  Spice this idea up with a couple of vintage suitecases under the table for additional storage!
Who doesn't need a cork board?  Why settle for an ordinary one when you can make on out of wine corks.  If you don't drink but still think this idea is cute, I suggest you ask your wine drinking friends to save corks for you.  You may even approach your favorite mom and pop restaurant to save corks for you as well (remember - help your neighbors out by shopping and eating at small businesses!)
Wine cork wreath.  Yet another way to reuse wine corks.
Repurpose an old or broke rake into a glass holder! I've also see old racks used as a hat rack.  
Last but not least, an idea to repurpose vintage door locks.  Turn them into a design element or hooks.  I love the bold colors on these.  Designer hint: if you do this, be sure to do this in odds (as demonstrated with three). I don't know why, but groups of odds typically look better.

Happy repurposing!  I hope today's blog gives you some ideas on how to add a few repurpose touches to your humble abode.  When you do, I'd love to see some pictures of your masterpieces.

Until Tomorrow - melissa

Monday, April 16, 2012

Repurposing – Your Turn

In my last blog, I talked about repurposing, taking something and using it for another purpose than originally intended.  Specifically I talked about taking antique and vintage items and giving them a new life and purpose

Sometimes I will find an item, know it’s super cool and want to repurpose it, but occasionally it takes me a while to figure out exactly what to do with it.  Case in point: Last year I found an awesome salvaged window.  It was octagonal in shape with the original frosted glass in a stained glass style (but it was all clear glass).  It was one of those items that spoke to me and I couldn’t leave it in the antique store.  

I got the window home and it sat in a corner for months. I knew that I wanted to hang it on the wall and I knew I wanted to put a light or lights behind it.  What I could not figure out was how to do what I wanted to do without adding or subtracting from the original antique.

When it comes to antiques, I HATE to do anything that I feel destroys or damages the antique.  Sometimes antiques are too far gone and can only be used for the parts.  I’m okay with that.  I didn’t damage it, but I can still give what exists a second life. But if it’s in my power to keep the antique original and whole, that is what I do.  I stewed over my window solution for months.

Then, early one morning the solution came to me.  Cut a piece of wood to fit just inside the window.  On the top of this “inside” octagon make a shelf for the window to hang on (think floating shelves).  Then I could attach colored Christmas lights to this inside piece of wood.  I was so excited about finally solving my puzzle I went running into my husband’s room to tell him.  I can tell you he was not nearly as excited as I was at that particular moment, but he came around as he always does.
 The window

With the lights on. This picture does not do it justice!

So my octagonal window problem is solved, but Dear Reader, I have another problem.  I was starting to puzzle over it tonight when I decided that it would be fun to get your input.  Here’s my problem:  I have some old shoe forms that I want to use as book ends.  The shoe forms are for women’s heels, so the heel part of the form is not level with the ball part.

I would like to have the forms positioned as they would be if they were inserted in a pair of shoes, so I need to figure out a visually interesting object that is about 3.5 inches tall to put under them.

Here’s my challenge:  If these were your shoe forms, what would you put under them?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  They say two minds are better than one.  I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with!

Until tomorrow - Melissa 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let’s Talk About Antiques – Part the Third – Repurposing

In part one of our antique talk, we talked about how old an item needs to be an antique (100 years) and where to find them.  In part two, we talked about country of origin and various time periods that influenced the style of an antique.  Part one and two were rather academic (for which I apologize), so for part three, I decided we needed to have a little fun.  Drum roll please…today we are going to talk about repurposing.

What is repurposing? It is taking an existing item and using it in a different way than originally intended.  Does an item need to be an antique to repurposed? Absolutely not.  I’ve seen old t-shirts turned into shopping bags (awesome idea) and I have a friend who upcycles (fancy work for repurposes) jersey material into headbands and infinity scarves (and I totally recommend you check her out at

I think it can be a lot of fun to take an item that may be seen by some as junk and give it new life.  I personally find joy in preserving pieces of history and making the item usable at the same time.  Additionally, I come from sensible Midwestern stock.  We learn early on that you use and reuse items until they’re no longer useable.  My great grandmother crocheted various items for me as a child out of plastic bread bags. I have a hat, a purse, and a small rug.  Great Granny Creamer knew how to recycle before it was cool to do so.

You may be reading this and saying “Melissa, this is great, but I don’t have a creative bone in my body.  I need some visual aids to see what you are talking about!”  Never fear my friend, I’m getting to that.

A few weeks ago, I assisted my antique dealer with an estate sale.  One of the items at this sale was the top part of what used to be a drop front desk.  The bottom part of the desk had been removed a long time ago.  It had been painted or distressed at some point as well.  This desk top was super cute and unique.  I wanted to figure out a reason to bring it home with me.  However, I already had two drop front desks in my house.  How could I justify bringing another one home?  This is where my repurposing hamster got on her wheel and started to formulate a plan.  I may not have room for another desk, but I needed a new over-the-toilet storage item.  The “current” one I had was purchased when I got married in 1999 from Target. It was time to update!  And with that, I knew where this desk top would go.

Isn’t this super cute?  My repurposing didn’t end there!  You can’t just stick an old desk top on the wall and call it good.  You have to decorate it. In the spirit of repurposed decorating, it must be eye-catching and functional.  Enter an old milk bottle crate I had purchased a few months ago.  The crate was a nice little piece when I bought it; I just didn’t know exactly how I would use it.  Light bulb!  Roll up various colored wash cloths and use it to store them.  It’s beautiful and functional!

Another thing I love to do with repurposing is using salvaged moldings from older homes.  First, I have used one as a cornice (think old valance).

The next one I used as a shelf.  It makes an adorable shelf to display some family pictures and some old boots.

I hope today’s blog has inspired you to repurpose items.  Maybe you even have something lying around your house you are thinking about getting rid of (which would be doubly awesome since you already own it) that could be repurposed.  You just need to think outside the box and visualize all the possibilities for an item, not just the purpose it was intended for.  Happy repurposing!

Until tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let’s Talk About Antiques – Part Deux

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed what antiques are (over 100 years old) and some possible places to find them.  Today I’d like to expand on this by talking about a couple of considerations that will impact the look of your antiques. These are country of origin and the time period in which the antique was produced.  I will beg for your forgiveness upfront if today’s blog gets a little academic.

For full disclosure I‘d like to state a few things at the outset:  One - I am by no means an expert on antiques, I just happen to be a serious collector.  That being said there are so many facets of antiques, I think it would be nearly impossible to be an expert on all of them.  I recently helped two antique dealers with an estate sale.  It took all three of us and our combined knowledge to be able to properly price all the items in the estate.  Even with all of our collective knowledge, there were still a handful of items that required further research to be done. Two – I collect mainly primitives, books, and Victorian furniture.  I am most knowledgeable about these items.  Three – I mainly collect American antiques (as a person living in the United States, they are the most available) but I do have a few French pieces.  Now that I have properly warned you about my limited knowledge base, here we go.

I know it must seem pretty obvious, but the country of origin will influence the look of the antique. American antiques are very different in appearance than a Chinese or Japanese antique, but may appear quite similar to a British one (depending on time period of course).  Determining the country of origin can sometimes be very simple (if you get lucky and it’s marked on the bottom) or may require a bit of detective work.  Sometimes you will have to rely on a symbol or maker’s mark and sometimes you just have to take a guess based on style.

This brings us to time periods.  Since this a blog (not a class), I am going to focus on American styles and briefly list them.  Since my antique talk is going to be a series, I will expand on the time periods in greater detail in later blogs.

Georgian refers to the style used in Britain and the British colonies during the reigns of George I-George IV (1720-1840).

Federal refers to American furniture produced in the Federal style, which lasted from approximately 1789 to 1823.  I would like to point out that the Federal period starts with the end of the Revolutionary War.

American Empire is a French-inspired neoclassical style (think Napoleon).  It was popular from about 1810-1825.  A simplified version of American Empire is referred to as Grecian style.  

Victorian refers to the period when Queen Victoria reigned in Britain (1837-1901).  This era is known for its ornate decoration.  Beauty was greatly appreciated by the Victorians and this attention to detail can be seen in the most trivial item all the way up to the grandest houses built during this period. The Victorian era is interesting in that it was also a period of technological advances (telephone, electricity).  One can find a variety of interesting gadgets from this period.

Arts and Crafts is an international design movement that flourished between 1860 and 1910, especially in the second half of that period, continuing its influence until the 1930s.  It first appeared in the British Isles, but spread to Europe and North America.  The movement incorporated traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic, or folk styles of decoration.

Edwardian is the period right after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901.  There is some debate as to when the period ends.  Some place it in 1910 with King Edward’s death; others place it with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 while still others extend it to the beginning of World War I in 1914.  The Edwardian period is a little more relaxed than the preceding Victorian period.

Whew!  So there you have it, a brief overview of country of origin and some of the American time periods.  I will expand on these in further blogs.  Hopefully this has served as a simple primer for your antiquing adventures this weekend!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

 Enjoying a cup of tea on my Eastlake style chair in my Edwardian suit (confussed yet?).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let’s Talk About Antiques

If you follow my blog, you know that I love collecting antiques.  They fascinate me.  I can lose all sense of time when I look at them. I love to talk to fellow collectors about them.  I love to find pieces that need a little love; a diamond in the rough if you will.  I love to take an antique others have written off and give it new life.  When I am able to rescue an antique, I have a great sense of joy that it will survive to be passed on to another generation.  I never see myself as an owner of antiques, simply a custodian until they can be passed to the next generation.

It has dawned on me that some of my readers might love antiques, if only they knew just a little bit more about them.  Since I love to talk about antiques, I decided to do a series to spread my knowledge.  I hope at minimum you will be entertained by my series.  I would be honored if it inspired you to start collecting antiques yourself.

So let’s start with a definition. What is an antique?  In simplest terms an antique is an item that is more than 100 years old.  If it is less than 100 years old, it is technically a collectible.  The only exception to this rule is a car, where it becomes antique at 75 and a classic at 25.

Now that we have the definition out of the way, the next question might be “Where can I find them?”  Antiques can be found in a variety of places.  A good place to start (I think) is with family.  I feel family antiques are the best. One, if the item is passed down from generation to generation, you will actually know the history of the item (which I think is super cool). Secondly, it’s a great way to learn anecdotal stories about your family.  Remember, once your older family members have passed, unless someone has taken time to learn your family’s oral history, it will be lost.

Another great place to find antiques is estate sales.  These are sales where the family has decided to sell items that belong or belonged to a family member.  I personally think anyone who would sell family antiques is crazy, but I am grateful that not everyone is into antiques.  If some people didn’t sell them, there would be none to collect.  The nice thing about estate sales is you are buying directly from the family.  You don’t have a dealer mark up to deal with.  The downsides to estate sales are that you have to have the time to travel around and attend them, and the family, while not wanting to keep the antiques, often feels they are priceless.

If you don’t have time to visit estate sales, you might want to look at buying antiques from a reputable dealer.  There are lots of people out there who are trying to make a few bucks off of antiques; not all of them are actually knowledgeable.  Over the years I’ve been to a number of “antique” shops where it was clear that the seller was not knowledgeable about the items.  The best story I have to illustrate this is the time I found an “antique” percolator for $19.99.  There were a few problems with this item.  One  - it was missing a few pieces (like the handle). Second – I knew it was not antique; it was in fact relatively new.  Third – this particular “percolator” was in fact a cappuccino machine that you could buy brand new at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $19.99, with all the parts AND a jar of coffee. The term caveat emptor definitely applies here.  The moral of this story:  Do your homework; make sure the item you are considering buying actually is what it is advertised as being.  Ask the dealer questions about the item if possible (where did you acquire it, how often do you come across an item like this, etc.). You may also want to check online auction sites to see if you can find a similar item. This might help you to gauge if the item is reasonably priced.

Of course there are many other ways to source antiques (auctions, Craigslist, word-of-mouth), but this blog is just an introduction, not a comprehensive instruction book.  I hope this introduction has at least given you a little of knowledge and maybe piqued your interest.

We shall talk more about antiques tomorrow. 

Until Then - Melissa
 Empire style cabinet I purchased from my favorite antique dealer