Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass
A bit of William Wordsworth in Vermont
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass
A bit of William Wordsworth in Vermont
This 10′ work table (below) is among my top ten favorite factory pieces of all time. It once
had straight legs. Someone didn’t like it that way and cut them off. I love the odd
arangement of criss-cross legs and supports and the curved drawer fronts.
Mountains of old string-tied book remnants grace an otherwise-empty spot.
An 1800s French horse stall window hangs (crookedly, I see) over a counry store counter.
As usual, grain sacks and grain sack upholstered furniture take pride of place. The old
rippled glass of the display case is so pretty that anything looks good inside it.
Jennifer Lanne’s paintings make everything look better, too! See more of her paintings at
Is it a cupboard or a big easel ?
So much stuff, so little room.
Walking sideways is always a must.
Visit Bournebrook in Troy, New York or at www.bournebrook.com .
Last week, while Ken and Ned tore apart my space in the Hudson Supermarket
(www.hudsonsupermarket.com), I, who am so easily bored, wished for something
interesting to do while I waited for my turn : to put it all back together again.
I looked around, sighing, till I spied patina. I love patina. Endlessly fascinating,
patina, with its layers, textures and colors, never lets me down. Here are some of the
patina-rich objects which were moving this way and that in my booth….
Above, a rusting farm thing, posing as a sunflower and an appealing tear in a canvas-
covered trunk. I guess this kind of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And since, in this
instance, I am the beholder and I am alone, no one can dispute my claim.
Layers of paint on a diminutive (6″ x 6″) radiator cover and more farm things. Sometimes
I wonder what I would sell if it weren’t for farms and factories.
Above, left, is my favorite thing from July Brimfield, a zinc cupboard (no, not a fridge!)
from a defunct silver manufacturing company in Pittsburgh. The photo (below, left) is a
close up of the round industrial table in the photo (above, right). Hard-packed sludge…
ya gotta love it. (I am alone, no one can dispute me!)
I have a passion for these roof drain caps (above, right). The shape, the color, the wire.
Apparently, not everyone shares my enjoyment, as these sturdy little gems were usually
tossed in the garbage, making them difficult to find. My pickers in Pennsylvania, who have
the most discerning taste, had this nice bunch of 15 in their barn.
Linen-covered French books (above) all in a row. Pretty toppers for a rustic work table.
I used them in my last blog to display my Vichy baskets. Today, when I was taking more
Vichy photos, I wished the books had been safe at home, instead of in Hudson where they
were at risk of being sold! I know that I have to let people buy my stuff. But, I don’t have
to like it.
Big cabana pins and a vane with peeling layers of old paint. I have hundreds of pins in both
Hudson and Bournebrook. The staff in both centers say that all day long they hear the
swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of the pins being pushed back and forth as customers look for the
one with a favorite number. Grain sacks, of course, are central to any discussion (of mine!)
about patina with their many weaves and beautiful old repairs.
Time spent admiring patina is never wasted.
One of the things that I love about Brimfield is seeing old friends, many of whom started out
as, and remain, favorite dealers. A Wednesday treat is seeing Jackie Lantry of Bliss Farm
Antiques who sets up in the third pavilion in the New England Motel field. Although mainly
a purveyor of wonderful French antiques, which she shops for right at the source, it was the
German grain sacks that pulled me into her booth the very first time.
This time, she brought a fabulous collection of diminutive straw baskets (above), each
containing a glass to hold the health-giving Vichy water that, since 50BC has been luring
those seeking to “take the cure” to Vichy, France. The backdrop in these photos is of old
French linen-bound books and French linen cloches, more of the treasures that went
straight from Jackie’s booth to my truck. Not shown here is the lovely daybed, one of many
special pieces of furniture I have been lucky enough to snag from this friendly and fun
dealer over the years.
I had a few little straw things of my own (above), the Vichy basket on the right a previous
purchase from Jackie.
Because she loves history and loves what she sells, Jackie is among that vanishing breed
of dealers who really knows what she sells and, even better, has the gift of telling the
stories in such a compelling manner that, in spite of heat and other many distractions, I
remember them later! The baskets (above) in the photo on the left, with the tops that
slide open on their leather straps, are better, have more value, than the ones on the right
with the hooks. But, in the photo on the right, the cork lining in the open basket on the
left, makes it the best of that bunch.
Blown glasses are best. Colored glass is better than clear. An etched Vichy label (above)
is better than one painted on (below). The numbers on the back side (photo above, on
the left) would allow just the right amount of water to be consumed according to a
Victorian doctor’s orders.
I am certainly willing to overlook this clear, painted-labelled glasses’ lesser value in favor
of the charm of its cute little handle!
My collection is beginning to be quite abundant, thanks to Jackie’s French sojourns. But,
maybe just sitting here looking isn’t enough. Maybe I should be asking Jackie to bring back
a case of that Vichy Water on her next trip to France. Taking the cure might be just the
thing for breezing through the crazy heat and humidity of Brimfield in July.
–If you feel the need to take the cure, the antique cure that is, it won’t be necessary to
go all the way to France. Take a quick, easy trip to www.blissfarmantiques.com instead.
–If I were the betting kind, and someone asked what one word described July Brimfield
to most people, I would have to put my money on “hot.” Or maybe “humid.”
–But, I am going to take the high road. I won’t complain, at least not now that I am
luxuriating in my air-conditioned house. Besides, I came home with two truck and trailer
loads of exceptionally fabulous stuff, saw old friends, made some new ones and was so
impressed, once again, with the good humor and kind hospitality of the dealers.
–In addition to the things that they brought to sell, bottles of water, sandwiches, ice-
soaked towels, a chair in front of the fan were proffered. These offerings, many times made
by dealers I had never before met, were gratefully accepted… and not only refreshed my
body and spirit but added to my store of experiences that reinforce my belief that
people are good.
–As I sit here now, thinking and writing , I realize that I’ve changed my mind. The only
word that I could put my money on to describe Brimfield would be “gracious.”
In all my years of selling antiques, I have only known one dealer who didn’t have
a house full of favorite things. She is a smart woman who knows her product. And
that is all it is to her…a product. She can admire it and place it in her inventory,
but keep it? Not her!
Me, on the other hand? I love everything way too much to sell! The grain sack
(above) is my oldest. I certainly can’t be expected to sell that!
This grain sack (above) ? Please! It’s one of my favorites. I can’t sell that one
either. I loved the one (below) so much that I hid it so no customer would see
it in the grain sack room. I have some large piles of “Private Stock” (all too
wonderful to sell) which I occasionally delve into when someone needs
something special, like a ram or a bee skep. I got so anxious about this sack,
that I made it into a purse so no one could talk me out of it! Not that I ever carry
a purse. But, still.
All antique dealers have their lists of the things they should have bought and
the things they wish they had not sold. Most have houses full of their favorites.
Many keep only the best of the best. I only keep what makes my heart sing.
That makes it the best of the best for me.
A customer came here the other day, a set decorator I’ll call D, who I really like
a lot. She was looking for mostly workbenches and industrial pieces for an up-
coming movie she is designing. She brought her friend along, another set designer
from California, who I will call S. After my house, they were continuing on to the
Finger Lakes where they both have family.
As we wandered through the house, on the off-chance that something for the movie
was lurking around inside, S asked “what are all those things you have everywhere?
I love them!”
They were, of course, grain sacks.
But why had she never seen grain sacks before? A set designer! From California!
Well, she just hadn’t! But, now that she had made this miraculous discovery, she
wanted two for some chairs. So, while D and Ken went out to the barns to check
out the big stuff, S and I went to work picking out the two very best sacks in the
This was no easy task given the hundreds of choices and, at some point, S said “I
wish you only had two!” We started with the new-old stock (like the ones above),
which most people who are new to grain sacks prefer for its less well-worn presence.
And, graduated quickly to the old-old sacks. S is a set decorator, from California,
after all, and was thrilled with the old hand-worked repairs, the darnings and
patches that I love.
We tried different ones on the back a chair, made piles on the floor and, in what
felt like no time ’cause I was having such fun, found the perfect two.
Customers always offer to help put the grain sacks back on the shelves and I always
decline. There’s nothing more relaxing than being alone with my grain sacks, folding,
stacking on the correct shelves : wreathes with wreathes, plows with plows. A bonus
that day was finding Mitten, sound asleep and not even pretending to help. I guess I’m
not the only one who relaxes around grain sacks.
Driving through Vermont, we passed what looked like just a wetland, pretty with the
Green Mountains majestic behind it. However, many of the marsh’s trees were topped
with weird blobs, looking like fantastical tall, skinny cartoon people with funky big hair.
Of course, we had to go back to check this situation out. In spite of being on a highway
with not much of a shoulder for leisurely parking and photo-taking.
Nests full of herons. And babies! The parents took turns guarding, flying off to eat and
returning with a meal for a baby.
The tiny black question mark-shaped thing in the nest is a baby’s neck and head. Even with
my stabilized telephoto lens, the distance and the shake of the truck make these birds hard
to see. I wish the photos were better. But, the thrill of this siting made me want to have them
here anyway. I’ll try to do better next time.
Figuring that I still had two days till the 4th of July and plenty of time to do more
flag things, I asked Ken and our worker, Aiden, to get out the big flag to hang on the
By the time I got outside with my camera, I saw that the big flag that they had out was the
not the big flag that I meant, but, instead, The Really Big Flag which I knew would be way
too long for the barn. Or anywhere else around our property.
We tried the barns and the house. In the end, Ken and Aiden, sports that they are, folded
the flag to go back inside with the others in my huge collection of stars and stripes.
Meanwhile, I came in to look around at some of my other flag stuff, like the light box (below).
My parents were people from what is now known, rightfully, as the Great Generation. They
were patriotic Americans and, in spite of my hippie years, I have reverted to character
and am as patriotic as they come. Family daguerreotypes rest on the flag presented
to one of our fallen heroes (below).
A bunch of vintage parade flags and a trio of Terry John Wood’s handmade santas.
A 50s license plate attachment (below) let the residents of Wooster know exactly where
the driver’s loyalty lay.
And, this one (above, right), a reminder of some of the crazy coincidences in gift giving
that occurred regularly between my father and me. Both of us pored over the pages of
Country Living magazine back in the 80s. One year, we each saw a handmade wooden
flag with lattice stripes and painted stars. I made one for my father for Christmas with
hand-dyed wood and stars. My father made the one in the photo for me using stain for
the wood and stars. What a happy surprise on Christmas morning when we each opened
the same gift ! There were other twin gifts made and exchanged over the years and it’s fun
to remember those days.
A banner (above, left) that I purchased for Ken ’cause he loves Buddy Holly. And,
Blow Oskar, a painted tin man, the only piece I saved for myself from a collection I
purchased from a folk artist in rural Georgia. He told me that his neighbor, Oskar,
passed his house every day and blew his car horn. This inspired the little 3′ portrait
of Oskar and the command to Blow! We made many trips through the back roads
of the south in the 80s and 90s, looking for face jugs and folk art and interesting
folks, as well.
This painting (above), from South Carolina, is another treasured reminder of our
southern exposure. The banner above it says it all for a patriot like me : AMERICA
FOREVER. And, the flag? Long may she wave.
Happy 4th of July.
From all 29 of us.