Monday, March 31, 2008

Ready for the April Sale

The entrance to the Porch

My neighbors Annemarie & Lisa

I finally finished setting up my space at the Porch. Now I just hope someone likes it, 'cause I'm not bringing it back to my house.

Mr. Flannery

Victorian Iron & Brass Bed Bench

Another View of the Bench

Newel Post Lamp

1950's Pressed Steel Lawn Chairs

Silver Plate Servers & Italian Accordion

Turquoise Cabinet
& Jenny Lind Bed

Oil on Board Paintings

Snow on the Tundra

Here it is, March 31, 2008 and we, on the tundra, are being hit by another snowstorm. I know that some parts of the country worry of hurricanes or earthquakes, but here I am sure that the next big threat is glaciers. Damn I think I hear them rumbling this way already.

Mr. Flannery

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On Decorating My Space - 3 Days Before the Sale

I hate my space at the Porch. It has no cohesion or sense of direction. It looks like I filled the trailer from the garage and dumped it in a heap at the shop. The Shabbies are there wonderfully decorating and tieing their spaces together. Their merchandise is all coordinated in the color du jour and the presentation is spectacular. (Damn I must have missed the meeting where they decided that aquas, teals and turquoise were in and old car rusty primer was out).

They are merchandisers with a flair for decorating. I am a stacker piling the boxes of Wheaties on the metal shelves. They are presenters offering the customers a cozy pink nest. I am the junk man wondering if I should have washed that mirror after only 20 years in the garage.

Mr. Flannery

The Honda Elephant

Honda is developing a variant of the Honda Element. It is called the Honda Elephant. The big difference is that the trunk is in the front.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Herding the Hogs

I attended a nice general auction in St. Cloud on Friday evening. I bought an interesting mix of junk to shabotage, junk to sell as is and junk for me to keep. I filled most of the pick-up truck and was able to bring 90% of it right into the Buffalo shop this morning.

The most interesting item is a large Victorian bench made from a wonderful cast iron and brass bed. It must weigh 150 pounds. It is already at the Porch for the April sale. I found a very nice Jenny Lind single bed, a beautiful oak door with a center window, mouldings and a crackly white paint. The antique Italian accordion looks nice situated half way under one of the stacks of tables.

I am about 3/4th set-up at the Porch. When I have that finished I get to do my favorite thing; price my items. It seems to take me forever to get everything marked and ready to go. My items there range for a huge 1950's greens-to-blue glazed pottery lamp, to a rusty red shabotaged coffee table, to a 1950's back lighted farm scene picture and a 1890's greenish white stained glass window.

I've been finishing my painting on the driveway this afternoon. Walmart had their cheapest spray paint on sale for less than $1 per can. I painted a bunch of broken up gesso frames flat white and a 1940's maple file cubby cabinet primer red. It worked great as long as I remembered to stay upwind of the 20 mph gusts.

Mr. Flannery

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shabotaging on the Driveway

The sun is shining on the tundra today. Just in time for me to get a few more items ready for the monthly sale in Buffalo. Babe and I spent the morning sanding a washstand and an old oak lamp table. I painted the washstand a rusty red. I'm waiting for it to dry as I write this blog.

The oak table is another matter. It is a tall oak Victorian fern stand type table with barley twist legs. During it's lifetime it has been painted bright enamel yellow and 2 different linoleum pieces have been added to the top. The bright yellow legs have long since cracked and peeled to a good old shabby look. The linoleum top, bonded to the oak by a tarry mass of hazardous waste, put up a memorable fight.

Someone made the table more stylish and modern by putting a blue and red floral piece of linoleum on the top. The thick black goo has held the linoleum in place since then. Later this linoleum was no longer stylish so a second layer of goo was applied to hold a horrible black and shades of gray piece of linoleum on top.

A corner of the linoleum had broken off, so there was no way to retain the linoleum top. After working to remove the rest of the linoleum, I am certain that the corner was broken off by an asteroid strike or 10 kiloton bomb. I tried sanding, chiseling, scraping and even a little cussing to no great effect. Ultimately I took a propane torch and a broad knife to the mess. This worked quite well, if you ignore the choking black fumes, until the oak started to burn. Anyway the top is cleared and the hard oak is sanded. Tomorrow I will stain the top with gel stain and add a coat of lacquer. Another shabby piece for the April sale.

Mr. Flannery

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scrapbooking on Wheels

I have been contemplating the use of oil paintings to decorate some of my projects. Mainly because I cannot paint worth a damn, so using someone else's artistic endeavors is a good cheat around my lack of talent.

I bought a strange little cabinet at an auction. It appears to be a portion of an old music cabinet that has had the legs removed and a new plywood top added. The piece has been mounted on casters and stands about the height of an end table. I painted the cabinet black. I removed the edging from the plywood and glued an old oil canvas to the top. The edges of the canvas have been trimmed and the black painted molding reapplied. It is now a shabotaged, rolling, scrapbooking cabinet. Oh well - it may even sell from amongst the roses.

Mr. Flannery

Hunting Ducks

I have spent most of the day excavating inventory in my garage. I have piles of items spread out across the driveway and have not made much more than a little dent on the accumulated mass. Now I am in the house writing this blog mostly as an effort to avoid going back outside and putting the pieces back into the garage. They are predicting snow again tomorrow so leaving the stuff in place is really not an option.

I have been attempting to clear my garage and other accumulation points for more than a year now. But it seems that more stuff flows in as soon as any spot is cleared. How does this happen?

Collecting antiques, or the junk that I have that sometimes passes for antiques, is more like hunting than any other activity. There is the thrill of the chase. I love to attend auctions. It is a social event, a treasure hunt and a competitive opportunity. As in hunting, knowledge and experience can give you a significant edge over the competition. And as in hunting sometimes you get nothing and other times you can't believe your good luck. But the greatest similarity with hunting is the simple fact that the shooting is much more fun than the cleaning and cooking.

The spoilage rate on the garnered antiques is considerably lower than that of ducks. I suppose that there are hunters with a freezer full of ducks, but almost every collector has an overflow of inventory. That's because the ducks go bad and have to be tossed while the stuff can just pile up forever.

I am stuck in the perfect storm of accumulation. I have been collecting for years. I have no wife to put the brakes on my accumulation. I have sufficient capital to buy what I want. And I have no real social life outside of the auctions. The thrill of the hunt has brought me to the point of drowning in the spoils. So what do I do? I clear a small space in the garage and then attend 3 auctions and fill the space up and more.

Now I have entered into the the shabby business. Will this new endeavor help me clear my inventory? Or will the answer to the oft asked question "what are you going to do with all this stuff?" remain the same? That's an estate problem and I'll still be dead.

Mr. Flannery

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shabby in Sauk Rapids

There soon will be a new shop in Sauk Rapids, just across the Mississippi River from St. Cloud, in a great old store front. It is called Gypsy Lea's and will feature the same kind of shabby but chic furniture and accouterments that are in the Buffalo shops with its own distinctive features and flair. Gypsy Lea's will also operate on the occasional sale schedule that has been successful in Buffalo. The first sale is planned for the 2nd Thursday-Sunday in May. I had an opportunity to tour the space with the owner today. It looks great.

The carpenters were installing drywall, concrete ledges (like the popular concrete kitchen counters) were being formed, electrical boxes in the open ceiling girders were being laid out and rustic door casings were being planned for the ancient wood interior wall. The wood wall was an outside wall before a 1950's addition. It will be a beautiful feature stretching almost 50 feet across the back of the retail space. The total floor space, approximately 1700 square feet, is going to offer solid, but nailable, walls, high ceilings (with open girders for lots of hanging) and plenty of electric outlets for all those lamps that the shabbies love to use for accent.

I purchased 6 gigantic hanging church ceiling fixtures at a recent auction. They are going to be part of my contribution to the Grand Opening Sale. They will look fantastic hung from the girders.

I am certain that Gypsy Lea's is going to provide a great new shopping destination for Central Minnesota.

Mr. Flannery

Shuffling Off to Buffalo

The occasional sales in Buffalo will start on April 3rd so it is time to decide which hogs to herd in and how to set up my space. It is part of the never ending "Dancing with Furniture" that seems to occur everyday in this business.

Buffalo Minnesota has developed an interesting niche in the antiques and shabby chic sale market. The 8-9 shops located there are open one four-day weekend each month. The shops each have their own sense and style but as a group they are the shabby roses that I so often watch. There are two rules that seem to keep interest and sales up. The limited open time means that if you want the stuff you have to come now or forget it for a month. The second requires the dealers to remove their stock if it doesn’t sell in two months. The excitement created by limited opportunity and guaranteed fresh stock gets the shoppers to Buffalo for the Sales. And of course the stock is innovative, stylish, quirky and just plain fun.

I have been selling in this woman’s world for about 3 years. Among the roses of frilly pillows, rustic furniture, fabulous fabrics and cabin accessories I try to sell my hogs sprinkled with some real antiques. I am one of the 7-8 dealers who sell in a shop named the Porch and Atelier. The shop is housed in the historic 1905 brick post office in downtown Buffalo. The 2 storeys of the shop have sloping floors, field stone and brick walls, high ceilings, large windows, pressed tin and character to die for. (Of course, hanging frames on granite or brick walls is often problematic).

The limited opening time also means a limited time to stock and set up my space. And the limited space available to me means a puzzle dance to get the pieces to fit. I have started making my list of items and dancing my furniture into the space. I have the top half of a 1870's Victorian desk and bookcase that was painted turquoise 50-60 years ago, a rewired pierced tin hanging lamp, an oil painting of a sailing ship in an old paint maroon wood frame, a large round leather top coffee table with faux bamboo legs, a 6 pane window with wonderful greenish-white stained glass, fancy gesso frames some in gold and one in a sloppy old teal colored paint and multitude of tin boxes and other smalls. This is just my initial inventory. Other items will be added as they are painted, cleaned, pounded together and otherwise shabotaged for sale in the shop.

Mr. Flannery

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Night Hunter

From my office window. The owls are getting ready for their night out.

Mr. Flannery

Bookends into Brackets

I bought a pair of brass colored spelter metal bookends at an auction on Saturday ($1). I am going to turn them upside down and attach them to a hall tree door project. They will be fancy shelf brackets. I'll decide whether to paint them when I get further into the project. This is an easy way to fancy up a project. It is much cheaper than buying a standard shelf bracket and it will add a ton of style.

The bookends are in a stylized ostrich plume design that is one of the symbols of the Prince of Wales. I guess after they are mounted the ostrich will be putting its head in the ground.

Mr. Flannery

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Furniture from a Box

Here are photos of an occasional table that I assembled last year. I laminated the well lettered side of a shipping crate to the top of a small pine table. I used a router to round over and even out the edges. It was finished with a washed out stain and a coat of lacquer. I like the final product. The total cost for materials was less than $5. And I still have another side of the crate to use somewhere else.

Mr. Flannery

Why Hogs and Roses?

Many of the shops around here use rose in their names. Rose Cottage, Second Hand Rose, Rose Trellis and even Rusty Rose. These are the shops that emphasize shabby chic, cottage or some other similar fussy and girly style of furnishings. They are the shabbies. Flowers and frills and lacy type things. I’m a guy who has somehow fallen into this shabby world. No wife or girlfriend pushing me for help and certainly no partner expressing the need to decorate. My stuff tends to be outside of the cottage and you will not find a piece of foo foo anywhere. My things are the hogs in this world of roses. Thus the title: Hogs and Roses.

I have been collecting, buying and selling antiques and objets d’interest for many years. At 8 years old my best friend and I took our coaster wagons on a scavenger hunt through the alleys of St. Paul. We returned with a full load of great stuff that others were tossing out. I’ve been hunting ever since.

I ran into the earliest shabbies about ten years ago. What I saw was a bad coat of paint on a piece of 1970's press board junk. And it was selling. I declared that I would shabotage furniture when pigs fly. Thus the title: Hogs and Roses.

Fortunately the shabbies have changed greatly from my first exposure. The pieces are much better in design and execution. Creativity and style exude from the items that many of the shabby ladies now produce. The creative opportunities presented by recycling, reconstructing and redesigning are exhilarating, inventive and often very clever.

My house was gut remodeled about 12 years ago. The design incorporates 17 antique stained glass windows and many other architectural antiques. This design process was the one great artistic expression in my life. The reuse and incorporation of similar architectural elements into my hogs now offers a similar, but smaller scale, opportunity to make further artistic expression. I started to sell some of my pieces in one of the girly rose type shops. I was "the man" when women were in the shop for our monthly sales. They are presenters offering the customers a cozy pink nest. I am the junk man wondering if I should have washed that mirror after only 20 years in the garage. Thus the title: Hogs and Roses.

I will be writing an occasional blog at this site. I will give you some of my ideas, share some of my treasures and seek your counsel in dealing with the thorns that sometimes appear among the roses.

Right now I am contemplating the use of old doors in shabotage projects. Contemplation is about as far as I have gotten because I have no suitable place to work. The garage is filled with inventory (which may be psycho-babble for the good junk that I don't want to part with right now). The weather on the tundra is still too cold to work outside. I have started excavating my garage. I even found proof that the cement floor still exists under the pile. Excavating has produced a number of treasures and the contemplation of new hogs to assemble.

I hope that you comment on this blog and return again to see what we are doing. I’ll be the guy in the corner trying to hide his hogs among the roses.

Mr. Flannery