Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Two Years with the Roses

I published my first blog two years ago this week. And I'm still the guy with the hogs hidden amongst the roses. In honor of this anniversary I decided that I would repost my first entry, explaining: "Why Hogs and Roses".

Many of the shops around here use rose in their names. Rose Cottage, Second Hand Rose 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, painted furniture, chippy paint and rusted gussets. 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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What a Workshop I Have

I have been violating one of my cardinal rules of junking. I have always stressed that I will not do anything more than Old English to any piece I have. No rebuilding, painting or otherwise shabotaging for me. But today it is so nice here on the tundra I was out on the driveway sanding and painting a dresser.
This is a circa 1890's faux oak grain painted dresser that has seen its better days. I would have liked to slap a coat of Old English with scratch cover on it and sell it on. But Gypsy was certain that it would not sell and encouraged me, her term for her persuasion, not mine, to paint it up and then do some scuffing to the edges. I sanded the top to get the gummy varnish and paint off it. It has a very nice, straight grained maple (or maybe birch) top. And now I have started to painted it. I used my favorite, bright red spray paint. It is drying right now. If that doesn't work, I'll cover it all with a nice satin black.

The sanding and painting is all good, but it struck me while I was working there, Damn, I have the $1 million view and one hellva workshop. There are eagles, swans, hawks and geese overhead, just waiting for the lake to open. Life is pretty good after all.

Mr. Flannery

UPDATE: So I got the dresser painted. The hardware still needs to be returned and the mirror has to be reassembled. What do you think of the color? Will it sell in central Minnesota?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Its Going to Be Fun at Gypsy Lea's

We always have fun at Gypsy Lea's, but this April will be even more fun than usual. We have new items (that's new to us, not new to the world), some new dealers and our usual wonderful set up. Spring is here, even on the tundra, and we hope to do our first real sidewalk set-up of the season. We'll have lots of garden and yard stuff and even 11 sections of cast iron fence in chippy green paint.

Kris, Gypsy, Donna, Leslie, Kim, Bret and others have already started some of the inside set up. It looks great, but there's a lot more to do and a lot more merchandise to be brought in. I took some photos of the preliminary set up. Knowing these people I have learned that all set up is tentative and subject to change.

Mr. Flannery

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Auctions and a Funeral

So the weather has taken a decidedly nice turn towards Spring here on the tundra. The snow is 99% gone and the mud is even drying out. Of course this brings on one of my favorite rites of Spring involving icy water and wet dogs. The ice will be out on the Lake in about 3 weeks but it is already starting to recede from the shore. There is now about a 5 foot space of open water at the shoreline. And then there's my boy, Babe. He has decided that slopping around in the mud is not enough, he also needs that open water for a little swim. The water temperature has to be about 33*, but there he is paddling away having a little swim. I now have a wet dog smelling friend sitting on my feet just enjoying his little Labrador world.

I have been busy with other events too. I attended two auctions this weekend. Got a few interesting things, but nothing to write here about. Also the father of a good friend was buried this weekend. I had a funeral to attend. Thus the title.

I have been working outside the past few days. That is one of those great rites of Spring. I even prepared a couple of small pieces for the shop, a freshly painted bright red Ethan Allen Early American stool and nice red wooden garden tote. Of course, I had to relearn a couple of the spray painting rules. First, make sure that the nozzle is pointing away from your palm. My bright red palm and fingers will attest to my slow learning on that point. And second, spray with the wind. Spraying into the wind causes a red cloud to envelope your face. Only took two upwind blasts to remind me of that rule.

Tomorrow I get to haul a cupboard to Maple Lake Antiques, load a cabinet for Gypsy Lea's, buy some more wonderful bright red spray paint at the surplus store in St. Cloud, unload the cabinet in Sauk Rapids and then attend an auction at Dave Miller's. It will be a good day here on the tundra.

Mr. Flannery

P.S. I have another locker unit for Gypsy Lea's April sale.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Celebration of St. Urho

Today, March 16th, is Saint Urho's Day. Urho, so the story goes, drove the grasshoppers out of Finland. Celebration of his day mysteriously commenced on the day before St. Patrick's Day in Virginia, Minnesota in 1956. While many of the celebrants claim Urho's miraculous conduct saved the crops in Finland some of the more cynical (and more Irish) neighbors regard Urho as a Finlander's ploy to get to the beer a day earlier.

I've known about this Finnish pretender most of my life. Virginia being another 200 miles north of my place on the tundra, just south of the face of the descending glaciers. Virginia, Minnesota is smack dab in the center of the Range. The great open pit iron mines that steeled World War II and the huge steel cars of the 1950's. The Range is a hodgepodge of ethnic enclaves. Serbs here, Italians there, a smattering of Irish and Finns everywhere. These are hard working, blue collar, union member Americans of the Cold War. There was a bar on every corner and a different variety of church on every block. They knew the difference between the Serbian Orthodox and a Croatian Catholic. The Finnish Lutheran Church was different from the Swedish Lutheran Church. And every little town could engage in a blood feud with their neighbors similar to the rage caused by the 1046 occupation of a town in Montenegro.

The Irish, always ready for ethnic bating and a drink or two, celebrated St. Patrick's Day with great gusto. The Finn's not to be outboasted by a few Micks decided to one up the green by finding St. Urho on March 16th. It seems that a few Finns, most likely congregating at a bar, decided that miracles were needed and miracles would be had. One of the Finns, with an oddly Swedish name of Mattson, conjured up the spirit of Urho. And lo his day was one day before Patty's.

The result of this ethnic one-up-manship has not been war. It has been a blending. The Rangers of all breeds start with St. Urho, move on to St. Patrick and are probably looking for an Italian for the 18th to keep the party moving.

Here's to St. Urho and his miraculous saving of Finland from the grasshoppers. Green beer and snake herding tomorrow.

Mr. Flannery

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do You Wanna Buy a Duck?

The title is the punchline from an old joke. It is responded very loudly to the question: How do you sell a duck to a deaf man? (Ta-dum, thank-you to Mr. L)

I went to an auction on Saturday. It was at Dave Miller's in St. Cloud. And low and behold, I bought a duck.

Dave sold it as "some kind of metal decoy". And noted that it had a ruptured butt.

Well I just needed to have this duck. And it ain't no decoy.

It is a lawn sprinkler. The hose connects at the base and without the blowout, the water squirts out the bill.

It is a wonderful addition to my sprinkler collection. So the answer is: Yes, I wanna buy a duck.

Mr. Flannery

Can She Be Any Cuter?

I worked at Gypsy Lea's on Sunday. The merchandise was almost flying out the door. But one of my favorites came in the door. She made the whole set-up look even cuter.

Mr. Flannery

Saturday, March 13, 2010

With the MAGIC!!!

Gypsy and the other dealers had the shop looking great for the sale on Thursday. The mayhem was contained. And the MAGIC was applied. The shop looks inviting and has been restocked and reshuffled numerous times since opening.

I like the way that the fireman's hat looks on the side of the locker unit. The lockers sold in the first hour on Thursday.

A real pink foot stool. (Or maybe a feet stool).

I like the red legged foot stool too.

Here is a real 70's game table.

A cigar box selling defective cigars. Yummmmm!

Gypsy's very fancy candlier.

Mr. Flannery.