Sunday, March 06, 2011

The DC Big Flea -- Vintage Finds, Friendship, and the Joy of Blaring Music

This weekend I had the incredible joy of heading down the road on Friday to meet with Cindy Wimmer for a much-needed Girl's Weekend Out.  Our goal -- have a fantastic dinner on Friday night, talk beads, kids, a few dreams, and some general goofiness, and then spend the night at a hotel, all in preparation for spending an entire day at the DC Big Flea.

I have been DYING to go to this huge antique show for ages but have always missed it.  Cindy and I both have a thing for vintage so shod with more-or-less comfortable shoes, we set off to spend five hours trekking through booth after booth after booth.

This booth, The Rose Arbor, really appealed to us both:

For one, it was just beautiful.  A lot of times, the booths at antique/vintage/flea markets are just a hodge/podge mish-mash of Stuff Thrown On a Table.  And don't get me wrong -- I love me some STUFF.  I love to dig through boxes and pick through randomness.  But this booth was just a breath of fresh air.   It had a millinery feel, with antique buttons and lace, Victorian handkerchiefs, and the like.

This display had bits of fabric, flowers for dressing hats -- and see that wooden bobbin of lace in the far left bottom corner?  I brought that home with me. 

As you know from my first Bead Soup creation, I love buttons, and I was enamored with these buttons, still on their cards.  But not just cards, pretty cards.  If you happen to find buttons like these -- keep them on their cards and display them.  Think of the history!

One of the first things I purchased was a tin.  I had tins on the brain and was searching like mad for them.  This one is an old Band-Aid tin, and I was alternately fascinated and horrified that it stated it used Mercurochrome.  I remember that stuff.  Holy heck did it sting! But it also contained mercury.  Tiny amounts, but still.  Bad bad no thanks.

When I opened it, more coolness -- it showed me how to apply the bandage, because this was before the time of the convenience of pre-cut, Dora-the-Explorer-adorned Band-Aids.  No, you had to take it out and cut them to size.  All in all, though, WAY better than wrapping a wound up in gauze and plaster.

Next, I went digging through some dilapidated boxes, searching for treasures.  Dirty work, with some crusty "what the hell is THAT?!?" asked of Cindy, but a few cool things.  I found a milk-glass piece of a chandelier, for example.

It's way too big and heavy for jewelry, so I'm envisioning attaching a special lampwork bead on one end, and attaching the other end to a ball chain and dangling it from my ceiling fan.  What do you think?

We also found a vendor with keys.  I already have a huge box of keys from my trip to Mercersburg, PA, in October, but what the heck, right?  So I bought these.  I can't help but wonder what they opened, and wonder when making pretty keys became passe? 

And I did a pretty good job of passing up the buttons.  And they were everywhere. Button jars.  Button cards.  An AMAZING mother-of-pearl button shaped like a huge seahorse that I'm actually really kicking myself for not buying.  But I did dig through a box and choose these.  Expect to see them made into earrings soon.

My favorite purchase of the entire show?  Oh, this is too, too much.

One of the first booths we walked into had something I'd never seen before -- metal typewriter ribbon boxes.  Well being a collector of typewriters, I went mildly crazy.  Cindy gently held my arm and said, "Wait.  We just got here," and I put it down and decided to keep looking.

Let me insert here that if you ever go shopping with me, I am NOT the sort of buyer who makes a list and then goes back to purchase.  Oh no.  I pounce.  I exclaim.  I don't knock people over, but I do say a breathless, "Excuse me," and reach as far as my short arms will reach.

But Cindy did me a solid this time.

Because as we walked around, LOOK what I found.

A PINK typewriter ribbon box.  To match my PINK typewriter Rick just got me.

(Are you jumping up and down with me now, holding my hands and squealing like silly little girls?  No?  Have a scotch.  You'll catch up.)

Now we get to the present-giving part. 

Cindy and I haven't seen each other in person since before Christmas (yet this month, we'll see each other three times -- go figure).  Neither of us wanted to mail our presents, so I got to open mine this weekend.  And lucky me, it's an antique, and not only that, something new for me to look around for.

When you pick up the lid, it's a music box -- but a lady would keep her powder puff in it.  How sweet is that?  When I opened it, Cindy had already wound it so the music would immediately begin playing, and I found a bonus -- an old makeup tin.

Isn't that darling?  But wait until you see the back.

Color?  "Flesh".  Ah, the choices they had then!  The M.A.C counter would guffaw.  Me, I'm just darned enchanted.  I love these tins.  (Speaking of tins, I fell in LOOOOVE with one vendor's booth of tins, until I found her prices.  Um.  $125 was the least expensive.  I looked fondly and waved buh bye.)

But wait!  There's more!

Cindy had the sweetest.  The most thoughtful.  The most heartfelt present for me for doing the Bead Soup Blog Party.  First, a beautiful box, wrapped in lovely ribbon.  I opened it to this card....

I pulled back some  pretty pink and white tissue....

to an embellished Victorian photo.

Then another card under the tissue.

Carefully pulling back more tissue, I found the ultimate prize.

A vintage tiara.

What a lovely end to the party.  I love it.

On the two-hour drive home, I didn't want to think.  I didn't want to do anything but empty my mind and just BE.  You know what I mean?  So I slapped in some of my favorite compilation CDs and rocked out.  Sang my heart out, totally off key.  I can't carry a tune with a bucket and both hands, but it didn't matter that evening. I sang so hard I could feel all the air just leave my lungs and float freely out into the night and with it, so much tension and stress.  

I highly recommend it.  Who cares if you're driving a mom-van and your windows are down and your music of choice is Marilyn Manson covering Depeche Mode and that total combination freaks out the teenager passing you so badly he does a double-take that takes him nearly into the next lane?  (What?  Did *I* do that?).

Sing.  Sing your heart out.  Belt it out.  Belt out the wrong words (get the words wrong a lot?  Check this site, then, and giggle 'til you cry.)

I got so much out of my weekend.  I learned a lot about friendship and the ties that bind.  I spent a lot of time in my head, wondering about the people who had touched these old things before me, the people who had used that typewriter ribbon or saved those keys.  And I learned that long drives don't always have to be about thinking and planning and mind-scheduling but can be be mind-freeing.  

So many of us don't have time for a proper vacation -- we at least owe ourselves a little out-of-tune cruising with the windows down.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.


  1. Anonymous8:55 PM

    What a beautiful experience. I'm glad I could enjoy part of the ride with you. Girls just want to have fun! ♡

  2. Beautiful adventure. So, did you wear the tiara on your 2 hr trip back while singing? That would've been so funny! Nice presentation for the gift!

  3. Lori, that sounds like you had a wonderful mini vacation! Glad you enjoyed yourselves and relaxed!

  4. **Squeeeee***
    I got chills when I scrolled down and saw the tiara. I love tiaras and buttons and tins and all things vintage.
    I am so excited for you!
    Shannon C

  5. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience with us! I love getting to see some of those tins!

  6. Glad you had such a wonderful time! you deserved a little girls day out time! you truely are gueen of the bead soup blog party, what cool gifts you got!

  7. This sounds so exciting! Good job on all your wonderful finds. I'm totally jealous of that tiara! It's absolutely stunning!

  8. It sounds like you and Lit'l Mama had a most awesome weekend that both of you more then earned!!! There is nothing more soul healing then a weekend spent with a blessed Art Sister. Wow and all your treasures and gifts!! I'd say you are a very lucky lit'l art sister indeed!!!

    Pattie ;)
    Mazatlan Mx.

    PS. Woo do you remember (oye you might be to young come to think of it) when the Crayola Crayon box called peach "flesh"?? Course there were a number of colors given ethnic (human) skin tones. A number of years ago I had a little person ask me what in the heck kinda color was flesh when they read it on a vintage Crayola paint book. Yea I thought, we might just be evolving into a rather intelligent life form! :)

  9. You found some wonderful treasures, especially love the pink ribbon tin. So glad you had an amazing time, sometimes a day out with the girls is as good as holiday.

  10. What a wonderful time you had! I love the photo of the girl at the end :D And the image of you singing in the van with that teenager driving by is priceless!!!

  11. Looks like a great time, Lori! And you deserved it after all your work on the Bead Soup!

  12. Oh my goodness, Lori, we really did have fun! Now that we're back home and back to our routines, it sure seems like a long time ago already! Thank you for recording it all in such an entertaining way - you have me laughing out loud reading this! I'm glad to hear your ride home was such a relaxing experience, even in a Mom-van! :-) Can't wait to do it again. I'll post a few pics on my blog soon.

  13. sounds like a wonderful weekend full of great treasures. Now you make me want to hurry up and get away. Glad you had some "you" time, you definitely deserved it!

  14. Anonymous11:42 PM

    Sounds like an awesome weekend. I can just see you and Cindy together, you two rock. Have a great week.

  15. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. It is nice doing things like that with good friends.
    Sure wish we had some great antique/flea market events like that here.

  16. Thanks for taking us with you, it sounds like a dream come true trip, at least by my standards! Here is to friendship and kindness and love

  17. What a freakin fantastic weekend!
    Thanks for sharing - this was a miniature-miniature vacation for me...

  18. Hi Lori, thanks for visiting my blog. I made the button necklace. Let me know what you think.

  19. Absolute heaven, all that wonderful stuff sounds like you had an very special days outing. I am so looking forward to visiting the Vintage Fashion and Accessories Fair in London this coming weekend with my special daughters! Hoping to find treasures!

  20. Singing is SO good for the soul....I'm glad you had a proper weekend trip away - sounds like you two had an awesome time. Beautiful finds!

  21. Lori, What great finds and that you could spend it with a special friend! Cindy is a real sweetheart ... how big was that box?!!!

  22. Lori, it sounds like you had a wonderful time and you guys sure rocked that flea market! Love the buttons, the keys and the pink ribbon tin and the band-aid tin is awesome. The chandelier piece would be awesome at the end of a ball chain, I was thinking that before I scrolled down and saw what you had written. You guys made off like bandits!
    Girl, you deserve that tiara! You did an amazing job with the Bead Soup Party and it just keeps getting better each time.
    You have a wonderful week!

  23. An extraordinary heart warming experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    And a superb loot, it's like an Aladdin cave of treasures!
    As for the chandelier piece, how about attaching slik twill tassel on one end and use it as a key chain for your favourite chest or closet?

  24. Lori, sounds like you guys had a wonderful time! I'm so glad!

  25. I saw that big blue cabinet and the first thought was: how pretty; the second thought was: wow that must be a job hulling in and out of shows!

    Then I got down to the music box. I have a very similar music box- it belonged to my great grandmother and passed through my Great Aunt and grandmother. I loved that thing as a kid and still do as an adult.

    Sounds like a good time was had by all and a much needed vacation for you.

  26. What a great, happy post. I feel like I went along with you on this marvelous adventure. TFS.

  27. what a lovely weekend you had,i'm laughing at the image you painted of you going down the road singing..i understand the comment about not being able to carry a tune ..but it's wonderful to sing anyway..lifts the heart.
    cindy's present was so sweet and funny.

  28. How fun! I felt like I got to tag along...I'm so glad you posted these lovely pics.

  29. Sounds like the perfect weekend! Such great finds - I am jealous! I used to flea a lot until the boys came along ( shockingly not so easy to find a babysitter for 4 small kids) and now it's usually a lack of funds so it's nice to live vicariously through others!

  30. Lori, I have tears of happiness in the corners of my eyes right now. How very, very special the weekend you and Cindy had. I look at all the vintage pieces you found at the big flea and it does take my mind back to a bygone era. Just thinking about simpler times makes me feel all happy inside... more family time, less technology interruptions, more time to BE. I just love that!

    I have to say, Cindy's gift was more than a gift. It was a true treasure... I love how you photoed the opening and told the story! I feel like I was there squealing with you! :o)

    I hope your week is full of rainbows and butterflies my dear! Enjoy the memory you ladies made!


  31. Okay I am just plain jealous! Yes I am jumping up and down holding your hand and squeeling too! What a great day and yes we need to rock out too!

  32. Homonyms are a test... I meant hauling, not hulling. Unfortunately for me my brain is a bit slow in reacting to those tests. I did the same thing yesterday with isle and aisle.

  33. Lori it just thrills my heart to hear of your giggle time. I could invision you and Cindy digging and clawing thru all thos and boxes and baskets. It made me laugh out loud when you got to the pink typewritter box and how tender for cindy to convey all our feelings of graditude with her soooo thoughtful gifts and mrsseges Be Blessed

  34. I am so glad you had a wonderful weekend! You really got a lot of wonderful treasures. I love old keys and buttons. As for singing in the car..I do it all the time. Whether it is contemporary christian music or 80's metal and everything in between. I'm sure I get looks but I don't care! : )

  35. Oh man, sounds like a trip to paradise. Love the pictures of your "stuff". Thanks for sharing.

  36. You are the queen, with class and determination and now a sparkly tiara to boot! That Cindy is one wonderful friend! So glad you had a good time flea-ing with her.
    I am looking forward to this same experience of having a break for me this coming weekend. SQUEE!
    Enjoy the day!

  37. You two looked like you had a ton of fun! YAY flea markets!

  38. Hi Lori, I am so glad u had a wonderful time with your friend Cindy you truly derserve it, and the beautiful tiara,i missed blog yesterday i'ts been raining like crazy here woke up to a flooded bacement on Sunday,,, dang sump pumps...ttfn :)

  39. What a great weekend! I adore the tiara, it is beautiful!

    Deb x

  40. What fun! I squealed, too (thankfully, my coworkers no longer find this odd behavior on my part - though I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not...) Love that you got to get away, got to dig through and find lots of treasures, and that you got to do it all with a good friend.

  41. Lori, what a wonderful story. Love all your finds, especially the tin. And the tiara, what a most thoughtful friend Cindy is.
    But I smiled about your singing. PBS played the 4 hour Les Miserables show last night. It was mesmerizing - I was singing along and felt in a trance like I was sitting back in the London theatre where I saw the play 20 years ago. And I woke up this morning with those songs still singing in my head! Yes, it is relaxing if even only for a few hours.
    Glad you had that time for yourself.

  42. Anonymous3:51 PM

    How positively lovely!! Sounds like you too had a wonderful time, and Cindy's gifts were incredible. Especially the photo and tiara!! I wish I had known about the DC flea market! I'm about 30 minutes from there and would love to have gone. Let us know if there are more in the area!! Namaste!

  43. What a great weekend!

    I would wear that tiara every day while watching reality tv and eating ice cream. :)

  44. Yay! Glad you had such a good time with Cindy. Those are some fantastic little finds you discovered or were gifted! I hope your week goes as well as the weekend ;)

  45. Oh Lord!! Thank you for sharing ... I've been wanting to get to this flea for a while now ... just never seems to work out! I'm in NJ, my sister-in-law is in Maryland and my in-laws are in Virginia ... do you think I can ever plan a trip accordingly!? ... Looks like you had a great time and found some great finds .... maybe I'll see ya next time ; )

    Thanks for sharing!


  46. What a wonderful weekend. You truly deserve it. Each time I read your blog, I am totally in awe of what you do, how you do it, and I want to know where you get those extra hours everyday to do it in. (Have to say, the Mercurochrome broght back memories of being a kid and having that red bottle of stuff around. To think I used to think it was fun to put that red stuff on.) Hope that the good feelings from the weekend last a good long time.

  47. Hey Lori, loved so many of your great finds ... the old buttons & lace, especially. But the most beautiful and special is, of course, the gift from your friend. Sounds like an awesome trip!

  48. Oh, the pink typewriter, the pink tin, the spool -- and the amazingly beautiful and thoughtful gifts! You are a lucky girl!

  49. I'm always entertained when I read your blog. Thank you.

  50. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! :)

  51. So wonderful to have a friend like that, you are a lucky lucky girl!

  52. What a wonderful time you had!
    I can feel the joy seeping through :)

  53. love it! what beautiful treasures! I love those kinds of road trips :) and what a beautiful gift and well deserving too, you most definitly are the bsbp QUEEN! yay!!!!!

  54. Lori - I'm coming into this way late, but I have two words for you.

    Brimfield Fair.

    And maybe some more...

    It's sooooo worth the trip!

  55. Wow - that sounds like so much fun! So many wonderful things I can't even think of wear to comment :P

  56. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Wow my home town sounds like fun!!! And I love your blog I am so excited to be your 1001 follower this feels much better then when I turned 51 shhhhhh XOXO Sue

  57. Well I wasn't jumping up & down, but when I saw the pink typewriter &the pink ribbon, I did bounce up and down in my chair! I loved all of your finds! And now I just have to find a tiara!


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