Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rusty, Crusty, Salvaged Hardware

A couple of weeks back, I lassoed a friend and dragged her along with me to an estate sale advertised in our newspaper with two words that firmly caught my attention: "eclectic" and "wimsy" [sic]. Despite some spelling difficulties, I still thought the owner of said estate might have some treasures worth the finding.
 Oh yes. More than I expected. I've been salivating over jewelry artists who use bits of old, salvaged junk and hardware to make beauteous creations, and I so wanted to try my hand at it. Only problem was, I didn't have any junk. Oh, say no more.
 Voila! The rustiest, crustiest buncha lovely, super-old hardware one could hope to find. I keep trying not to think about what the owner said to me, "If only you had been here this morning, there was a lot more great stuff." Curse my morning classes!
This funny lady kept coming up to me as I squatted on my heels in the dust of a very old shed, organizing my finds, and slipping other things into the basket I used to place my Keep pile. A heavy, rough cast brass bell with indistinct carvings of what look like tribal gods (or monsters). Two lengths of corroding chain. A large gourd-like whistle strung on a fraying strand of rope with owl eyes carved into it.

I would LOVE to know how old these are. I feel that the term "vintage" (20 years or older) applies without question. I would feel rather strongly, as well, that "antique" is also appropriate. But how old? 60 years? 100 years? More than that? How does one go about finding out about the approximate age of old key plates and door locks?
The patina on these just makes me squirm with happiness. I love them so much in their untouched glory that it's painful to think about hammering, cutting, or soldering them, as this would marr the perfection.

Some of them, I have NO idea what I can do with them. I'm a little afraid that I'll let them sit in the ornate woven basket that I ended up purchasing as well, gathering more dust and time and not being displayed like they deserve.
My thought is that if I ruin them, there are no more to be had. This was a serendipitous find that will likely never be repeated, and as a somewhat young designer, I don't have the experience to be able to tell myself soothingly, "Nevermind, you'll find something else amazing soon. After all, you've got 20 years of incredible supplies for your finds in the past." What if this was my only good find . . . ever?

Have an idea for me to use with my new playthings? Think I'm insane for waxing poetical about junky old metal? Leave me a comment!


  1. I just wanna know--how much were they?! That's a lot of awesome old stuff. What other kinds of things did they have? Man, estate sales. . . Those must be awesome.

    On a more helpful note--you could try branching out from jewelry if some o' those things are too big to hang around your neck. Maybe decorations or, erm. . . other skilled metal-worker crafts.

  2. That's where I found your mortar and pestle!

    There was a lamp shaped like a flamingo's head with the bulb protruding from its beak, and a buncha silk and woven table runners, and cool artwork (wooden giraffe with a bird on its head), and an antique lamp with brass elephants in a circle around the base, and records and a bright red table set from Sweden . . . I wish I had gotten there in the morning. :(

    All in all, I spent I think $25 there. ;D