Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Junk Lifestyle: Lighting Up My Life

I have always had an artistic/creative "bend."

No, I am not totally bent totally out of shape...

 That is, I am no where near to the point of cutting my ear off like Vinny.

I've always enjoyed creating things from nothing. Not sure if that makes me an "ar-teest"?   A picker friend recently said that he considered my works to be in the line of "folk art."

So I am a Folk Artist

Maybe an Outsider Artist?

Years ago I had a girlfriend who had her Masters in Fine Arts. She had been told by one of her (respected) Profs that she was one of the few truly talented young artists in the program at the time.   I respected my girlfriend's opinion, and I remember her stating that she felt I was "very creative", but not an "artist."

Ok, that was a little disappointing, but not real bothersome.

However, after having spent time over the years thinking about, and eventually creating some of my "functional sculptures", I do feel somewhat entitled to call myself "an artist".

I say "functional sculptures" because I like the objects I create to do things beyond just "sit there."

Lamps, clocks, and other things that we use daily fall into that category.  If I were to build an "art car", for example, I want it to be truly functional....I don't want bits of it flying off when I hit highway speed....and not just because I can't afford a RCMP issued ticket for littering.

How else can you describe what I do with materials that were not found together, nor put together by someone else,  nor ever envisioned to be put together in that way, other than "art"?

Hey, I heard that! SOMEONE said "I call it junk!" 

Well, maybe to some it is "junk". 

I try to remember that I am in a business where SO many things are considered junk by someone....sometimes even the owner of that junk.  So, even if someone calls my creation "junk", though I might be offended a little, maybe very offended, even, I know that really is not the case in the big picture. It is "junk" in their eyes, sure. That is, IF that is why they have called it that in the first place. The statement may be based in something other than their actual thoughts of the item. So many other factors can be involved; like jealousy, mood, intelligence, narrow mindedness, and a million more possibilities and combinations of possibilities.

Sometimes it may be tough to locate that person, people, or crowd, who views those finds, creations, etc as "treasures" or "art", but they are out there.

Anyway, here is one of my recent creations, a desk lamp made from 100% reclaimed, repurposed, recycled components.

I realize that "upcycling" is all the rage these days, with various people undertaking this sort of work.  The thing is, it is far, far, far from being a new concept...not since human kind appeared on earth, really.

Pickers, antiques dealers, second hand dealers, and other folks in this business have been doing similar things for years, also.  

The fact is, sometimes you need to be creative to make a buck.  

Creativity in this business sometimes equals survival. 

That buck is what helps to pay the bills, after all.

Sometimes, though, that creativity goes beyond the call of duty. The lamps I have been creating of late tend to take more time than I can be paid for, really. If I were to consider all the time spent on the lamp above, for example, I'd have to charge $20000 for it.

It is one of a kind, a work of art, no?   

How do you place a dollar value on art?
Paying for "time" is what many people will try to take into consideration. When you tally up the true amount of "time" spent on this piece, it adds up fast. The minutes turn to hours, and the hours stack up rapidly when you consider the amount of thinking spent on the concept, finding each piece, storing those pieces, putting them together, taking them apart, modifying them, waiting for a certain piece to pop up that ties 2 pieces together, and on and on and on.

And what is my time truly worth? 

And does my "talent" for seeing something in a piece of  "junk" and bringing that "thing" out of the piece of junk worth anything?  

Who knows. I just want to enjoy making the things.  

But that does not pay the bills now, does it?

I probably could have simply slapped something together, and it might look darn similar to the lamp pictured above....and then even ask $150, $250, maybe $300 for it....and maybe even get it. 

"Upcycled" pieces, be it would.

(Hmmmmm. I seem to be channeling Yoda.....)

But is it art if there is no "soul" put into it? 

Philosophy....that is about all the debate is, really. 

Who knows where the line should be drawn, if it should be drawn at all.

Who knows what is "art" and what is not. 

Guess it is not for me to decide.  I shouldn't really care, when it comes down to it. 

We all should just enjoy creating.

Once it becomes "work", I think the "art" part falls by the wayside. If something becomes "work" (in my experience) then there is far, far, far less soul put into it.

Perhaps, without an artist putting a bit of their soul into a piece,  the less the piece can be truly considered art?



Egged On

Seeing as it IS Easter and all, I thought an EGG-cellent story was in order. Yeah there was a little bit of CORN thrown in for good measure there...(get it? Chickens lay eggs and CORN = chicken feed?)

Ok, I admit, that last one really was a heck of a stretch....

Even though I have no funny, unusual, gross, (etc) picking stories that involve eggs (that I can recall) t hat makes it more difficult to do a post about eggs....but I am still managing to do a posting talking about eggs...and Easter.

You still with me?

Anyway, an Easter egg hunt is sort of like picking, right?

So, let's just go looking for some VALUABLE eggs, and other Easter related things of value we can add to our scope of knowledge...adding more to that long list of weird things we can pick, and maybe create a nest egg after the items are sold......!

Odds are most of us will never come across a REAL, antique Fabergé Easter egg....But, you never know, and if you at least know what to look for, maybe you WILL be one of the few who discover one of these beauties. Just remember I set ya on that when you do find one....Maybe drop a few hundred thousand of that profit into my "Tip Jar" on the blog here when you do find and sell one, ok?

I could also do a post about egg, rabbit, chick (etc) shaped paper mache candy containers, but I suspect there are already a million blog postings out there that have already done postings on those, especially at this time of year!

Let's stick the the unique, rare and extremely valuable, shall we?

There are all sorts of "collectible" Easter related items out there, from candy containers in all sorts of forms, from paper mache, to glass, to plastic, to cardboard, and on and on.

Yes, there are some rare ones that may command some extreme dollar figures. Pre WW1 German made, Paper Mache, highly detailed, finely made, antique, and mint condition pieces tend to be the ones that generally command high hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in collector circles.  But, take note that like with most other items in the collecting community, damage, missing pieces, discoloration, repairs, etc, etc all have negative effects on values....some more negative than others.

I try to be realistic in this blog, in that I don't spout how every "X" is worth big money.

Rarely is any "X" worth big money.

Only certain "Xs" are worth big money...and then only if you can get them to the right market, during the right time.

However, thinking back to being a kid, I know that finding "lesser" eggs during Easter morning was still a thrill.

The thrill is in the hunt, after all....just like picking.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Hardcore Picker's Thrift Shop Comedy Moment!

 I have found and spotted all sorts of bizarre things in thrift shops. People will donate all sorts of crap, and the things that pop up in some of the stores make you wonder about the world.

 I am sure there are tons of things that hit the trash in the sorting rooms, but the "censorship" of the sorters is only as good as their own personal knowledge....
About 10 years ago, a fellow dealer friend and I would do runs down south of Winnipeg to various thrift stores, second hand shops, and other places we knew about. eBay was rocking then, and we did very well, getting loads of stuff. We bought all sorts of stuff I would not give a second glance to now. 

I got addicted to cheese curds on those trips. Sounds like they are disgusting, but they are delicious....!!!   On many of the trips, we'd make sure we would come back via a route that would pass New Bothwell, Manitoba.

 Bothwell Cheese's plant is there, and they have a little storefront in it. It looks very different from when we went there, more upscale, but still is packed with their quality products. I love their Mild Cheddar Cheese...none better anywhere, in my honest opinion. Bothwell Cheese is where my friend introduced me to those damn, squeaky, addictive chunks of goodness....

Mmmmmmm....Bothwell Cheese's cheese curds....

Oh geeze, hang on, I need to go get a towel...I have a pool of drool forming on my desk.

They used to be super cheap, and you could buy a HUGE bag of them for under $10...I am talking what seemed to be thee equivalent almost a bread bag's worth! But, supply and demand has taken over, and ever since "poutine" has taken off in restaurants, etc, cheese curds have gotten much more expensive....and they now sell them as a packaged snack product.

No, I am not getting paid, receiving a kickback, or any sort of revenues from this plug. They are a Manitoba company who make a superior product, and they deserve the attention! 

And who knows, maybe I will get a huge case of cheese curds appear on my doorstep! 

If that happens, you will know it, as I will be blogging every day...because  I won't be able to go pickin' at all....I'll have gained 200lbs and won't be able to move.

Anyway, back to the story.....

We went into one MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) thrift shop in a little conservative town.  

There on a shelf, right at eye level, was a 1960s/70s vibrator in its original box, sitting nonchalantly beside the other donated used goods.

I pointed it out to my buddy, with a smirk.

He bought it as a lark, and was not unfamiliar with selling that sort of stuff in his shop....I remember him bringing in a load of dildos into a shared shop space he, myself and 2 other junker guys were sharing, and putting them all out for sale. He had snagged then in a clean-out job he got...some stripper's apartment he had hauled stuff out of.
Anyway, this little gizmo on the MCC Store's shelf was tagged at a   $1.00 or something like that, and it was a deal, after all....

The little old ladies running the store obviously hadn't a clue what it was. They were talking about using it for relaxing neck massages,  and that sort of thing, while he was paying for it and his other purchases.

I was having trouble keeping a straight face all the while....I had to go outside to compose myself...

Of course once we got back to the vehicle, we went into hysterical laughter...

Ya gotta have some laughs when you are on the road! 

And, as a bonus, here is another bit of Thrift Shop tune-age/comedy for you....

Here is
 performing their tune