Sunday, May 20, 2012

TRASH TO CASH - Upcycle Your Dogs!

Ever since I started this blog, I have been meaning to write on "upcycling"  vintage (and not-so-vintage)"junk."  I have been doing this sort of thing for YEARS.

Long, long, long before the "Picker Chicks" even existed (or even thought about doing the things they do) I was creating many things from "junk".  As early as I can remember I was creating things from "trash".  Craft and art supplies are expensive. Why go out and buy them when you can get them for free or near free?

This carries over into the world of antiques, collectibles and vintage items...and the business of selling those items.

One of the things a hardcore picker and a newbie picker have in common is:

Needing to sell that low-end merchandise....and in the process end up making some real money from it.

The newbie may have bought the items in error, and needs to re-coup some of their investment. The hardcore vet likely has accumulated the items as parts of bulk purchases, auction box lots, house clean-up contents, etc, etc, etc.

Hardcore vets, like myself, like to maximize our money. Combine that with the fact that this sort of low end, common stuff is impossible to sell to bulk to our regular dealer and decorator customers.  Plus, we are not afraid of doing work.

You CAN make lemonade out of those boxes and boxes (and boxes, etc....) of lemons.

 All you need is IMAGINATION...and a little hands-on effort.   "Upcycling" is a recent term, but antiques dealers have been doing it for YEARS. Human kind has been doing it for centuries, actually.

The concept is darn simple....taking low and/or "no value" junk and creating something of value by reworking it and/or combining it with other low/no-value items.

Here is a simple thing, that takes items with low and no value, all items you have lying around, or ready to go to the trash, recycling or thrift store, and makes something you can sell at a flea market, craft sale, and even in your antiques store.

Grab that box of round cookie tins you have been hesitating putting in the recycle bin. Dig in the boxes of old hardware you have in the back rooms, the ones you bought at the auction so you could get the antique door knobs and Eastlake drawer pulls from...oh, and snag that busted 1980s table lamp you scavenged a socket can use some of the parts from it, too.

You can create an item that you can retail for $15 - $45...just from some of these tins, some short lengths of copper, brass, or chrome tubing, (or even rusty pipe!), maybe an old lamp part or 2 some washers,   and some elbow grease!

Below you will find a link to the article describing how to do it. With a little imagination and your own pile of "junk", you can now create some salable inventory from that trash you have been hoarding....!

----- Click here to go to what I call the Vintage Tin Tree Storage/Organizer article -----

After you sell a bunch of these creations, you can get back to pickin'!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Ok, point #15 in my last post was that:  Our clothing is more than likely mostly second hand, or in the least, bought at a discount type of outlet for drastically lower than retail prices. 

Well, here is the long winded explanation:

 Why second hand and/or discount outlet sourced? It is partly because we are, frankly, a thrifty bunch. Plus, our time is limited and our work days are long, thus we may well buy some of our wardrobe at the assorted thrift shops, garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales (etc) that make up parts of some of our picking day to day travels.

 Plus, frankly, we really get annoyed with all that new, boring, cheaply made crap in shopping malls. If we want or need to buy cheap crap why pay more than a couple bucks?

 Also, we tend to destroy our clothing while on many of our picking adventures.

Now, you really don't want to spill oil, smear rancid lard, 70 year old grease with encased insect carcasses, and assorted other substances on a designer T-shirt...that is, if you actually paid more than a $1 for it....I have ripped, torn, stained and shredded more Tommy Hilfiger brand shirts than I can count. Not one cost me more than $2.  I realize they are far from a super high end designer brand, but they are not exactly low end, Dollar Store type quality T-shirts, either.

 We also simply do not tend to wear high end, collectible, nor expensive vintage clothing on picks.

 That is correct, when we knock on your door, you will not open it to see us in some vintage Armani suit, nor will be wearing a valuable, historic, vintage hand painted pin-up emblazoned, horsehide leather, WW2 pilot's jacket worth $2000.

You'll be lucky if see us in an unstained denim work jacket. But you can bet the wear on it is actually from real work, and the stains legitimately obtained during said work.

We don't pay 3 figure sums for "designer" blue jeans that have been "given character" in a factory's production line by workers armed with sandpaper, razor blades, bleach while in the background the din of washers and dryers loaded with jeans and chunks of limestone bang about, quickly achieving a "fade" and "wear" effect.

  OUR jeans are made that way from our work.  They are torn, sliced and shredded by shards of tin, rusty steel, crooked nails. They are smeared and streaked by leaning and brushing against powdery house paint; 90 years oxidized in the sun on a lonely farmhouse's clapboards.

Our jeans sport spots and elliptical dots of varying shades of grey/black, painted with oily residue of unknown origins, possibly acquired from shifting & carrying pails. buckets, tins, crates and other assorted containers languishing for years in maintenance rooms of old warehouses and farm sheds.

They are whitened in polka-dot fashion by the hydrogen peroxide that we had splashed on them when our hand jerked a bit, and gritted teeth together,as a knee jerk reaction to the bubbling disinfectant's action in the fresh and thankfully-not-as-deep-as-we-initially-thought slice in our flesh from that damn, fly-speck covered, jagged piece of glass remaining in the dry rotted window pane.

 Our pants may also be white streaked, and rotted through in spots, by diluted battery acid, bleach, and other substances spilled from unstable containers, many of which we tried to carefully move to gain access to other items on the shelves of the musty basement storage room.  Other containers no longer had any notation of their hazardous nature, having likely given up any paper or written note of their contents to the team of time, humidity & gravity.

So, Fashion TV, when will you feature REAL picker clothing on YOUR runways?


Some of you may be aware of our HARDCORE PICKERS page on Facebook.

I have been asked a few times by non-antiques/junkers, as well as by some of my own peers as to what the definition of a Hardcore Picker really is.

SO, in preparation for a submission to Wikipedia (joking about Wikipedia...for now!) I will attempt to describe what I mean by the term.

I jotted down a bunch of one line aspects of what a Hardcore Picker is.....while driving to a show in Regina.  Saskatchewan is flat...well, not entirely, but on that route it is mighty flat. Plus, The Saskatchewan portion of the Trans Canada Highway on the route from our place to Regina is, no oncoming traffic to worry about...except for maybe the odd blind Baba driving some old grain truck who hasn't been behind the road since 1952....

(What is a Baba, you ask? Well, in my neck of the woods, it has always meant a grandmotherly sort of woman...imagine a kerchiefed, wrinkled, elderly lady...of eastern European descent, popularly Ukrainian, Polish, etc. Apparently Wikipedia has never heard of that definition...!)

Now back to the definition at hand....

So, this is a rough draft of sorts...and a short list.

HEY, I heard that...! Yes, I know I am, um, well, I guess you could say "long winded".... and rarely can my writings be defined as "short".

Not to mention "sweet" ..well, ok, sometimes they are bitter....I AM a antiques dealer after all...we like to bitch a bit!

Here we go...and, by the way, these are not in any particular order, other than how I have them scrawled in barely legible form on that antique and obsolete stuff called "paper" know, they stuff they used in BOOKS?  And I mean REAL books...not "E-Books"....

Ahem...and off we go...Yes, REALLY!

(1) We blend among the every person...and sometimes we really stand out amongst them, too.

(2) We are not born into wealth, nor where we wealthy when we started picking for a living.  For the few among us who are wealthy, they did not start out that way.  Plus, it is highly likely that every penny that wealth is built upon has been hard earned.

(3) Our supper is likely to be along the lines of a sandwich of bologna, with a side of beans and a beer as the beverage. No lobster for us...except maybe for our east coast brethren, who buy their lobster direct from the fishermen at a "on the dock" price.  It will be a fisherman who, with a calloused, salt spray soaked hand will shake the picker's own calloused, scarred, dirt etched hand after the transaction is finalized.

(4) Our vehicles are at least 5 years old...if not older!

(5) Our vehicles are rarely clean, neat and organized....inside or out.

(6) We are usually the last owner of the vehicle...not counting the auto wrecker or scrap yard.

(7)  The males in our group  are not "pretty boys." We may well be handsome, attractive, etc, in our own ways, though. We blend well when we need to. Adapting, blending in, relating, making most people comfortable with us is what we have all developed a talent for.

(8) The picker chicks among us are not cobweb fearing, "AHMIGAWD, it's a mouse!!!" squeallin' "girly girls". They can be and are sexy, cute, attractive, hot, smokin', etc. Sure, they can act and seem like girly-girls sometimes, after all, they have learned to be chameleons, also!

(9) We pick to pay the rent or the mortgage, to pay the bills. We may collect some things, but it is more of a rainy day savings account, health plan, or retirement plan than a collection that our spouse, children and/or relatives will be stuck disposing of when we go to where ever you think a picker goes when he/she dies.

(10) We have record of our picks tattooed on and in our bodies. These tattoos are in the form of bruises, scars, aches, pains, and backs stretched past the limit of reason.  They also manifest themselves in the form of stories we tell, describing our adventures, scares, close-calls, near-misses, complete misses, and life experiences.

(11) We can tell you hours and hours worth of true stories of our experiences that will make you laugh out loud, cringe in visualized  pain, gasp in amazement, and shake your head in disbelief.

(12) Our minds consist of characteristics such as being keen, imaginative, creative, open, curious, and we harbor a thick, strong streak of tenacity.

(13) We are the pickers that other sorts of amateur pickers, hobbyist pickers and pseudo-pickers strive to emulate, and rarely are able to truly imitate. You need to go only as far as watching some of the "picking" based "reality" shows for proof. I won't name names.

(14)  We are the pickers that dealers and other pickers hover around, sometimes crowd and jostle for position around during set-up times at antique shows, flea markets, swap meets. All while, bleary eyed, coffee at hand, hacking up mud balls from attic dust inhaled the day previous, we unpack our dusty, freshly found treasures.

(15) Fashionista's, pay attention.....!  Our clothing is more than likely mostly second hand, or in the least, bought at a discount type of outlet for drastically lower than retail prices. Why? See my next blog for a detailed, and yes, a long winded, explanation.

(16) Some of us do actually retain part time or even full time jobs to make ends meet, pay the bills, help save for our kid's university education. Then we work 10 times as hard after our jobs end for the day/week, picking to keep a grip on our hard fought for rung on the ladder of life.

(17) We are truly among the adventurers of today.

(18) We see treasure where others see only trash.

(19) We see potential in places that others pass.

(20) Our early backgrounds vary. We are former truckers, professors, teachers, laborers, clerks, secretaries, miners, postal workers,  students, artists, fishermen, bar tenders, waters, waitresses, and nearly any occupation you can imagine, as well as some you can not.... 

But, we are ALL: