Given the current situation, the dreaded coronavirus, we’ve seen an explosion in DIY and crafting — including a throw-back to Victorian hobbies, such as scrapbooking.

We’re no different; we’ve been putting in a lot more hours in the studio – and not just for custom pieces, but been listing items in our handmade Etsy shop, LunaTiqueBazaar, too.

And we’ve been keeping busy with our crafty-DIY supply shop, KindnessOfStrangers, including restocking with new old stock embroidery kits featuring kitsch-tastic wishing-wells, owls, & mushroom designs!

NOS retro vintage embroidery craft kits

But I, the wifey, came here to blog today to share some images of a sweet old scrapbook we once had in our possession. It was a book compiled by a woman who clearly had spent a long time in 1955 recovering from a hip injury.

vintage greeting cards in old scrapbook

Along with the kitschy old “get well” greeting cards, and an odd note from well-wisher about her icky toe (see below – if you wish!!), the maker of the book had created delightful drawings, including this “stepping stones to recovery” one.

Stepping Stones Leading To Recovery old scrapbook art

Note that this vintage scrapbook page below combines drawing or coloring with glued in images – charming & so much like today’s junk journals, right?!

It’s no wonder so many people today have joined in the junk journal craze!

For those who are not familiar with the phrase “junk journal” – it’s a handmade book, usually made & embellished with found & vintage items, the pages of which you fill with writings, artworks, clippings, doodles, stickers – whatever you wish! Rather combining the best of scrapbooks, diaries, & art journals. So many creative options!

red velvet junk journal
handmade vintage junk journal

(I’ve also written a bit more about junk journals over at The FARM’s blog – there’s a video too!)

The junk journals I sell are often called “naked” because they are created with plenty of blank pages to fill in. As you can see in this video I made. (I am so much better at making journals than videos lol)

Because so many of my extended family members are unable to see one another now (unless it’s on Zoom or something), I have spent most of April making nearly a dozen junk journals & mailing them out as gifts. In fact, we’ve often shown-off some of our junk journal pages in Zoom chats!

The journals were so well received, that I’ve spent the past few weeks taking custom orders for handmade junk journals their friends! Proof that everyone loves – & needs – a creative outlet.

Art is good for the soul.

Like Kevin Smith says,

Only someone who doesn’t understand art tells an artist their art somehow failed. How the fuck can art fail? Art can’t be graded, because it’s going to mean something different to everyone. You can’t apply a mathematical absolute to art because there is no one formula for self-expression.

It’s a quote I put into each one of the handmade junk journals I made for family & friends the past few weeks – hopefully, they find it as inspiring as I do!

For those interested… The icky toe news!

Dear Cousins - icky toe letter
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In case you missed our social media posts, Fair Oaks Antiques (that’s us!) has had a busy day in the media today!

First, the wifey was quoted in an Inforum story about Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market, aka “The FARM,” entering its fifth year of business and branching out with events.

Deanna Dahlsad, a vendor who also co-hosts the Trash Or Treasure appraisal events, is excited by the expansion of events calendar.

“After 30-plus years in this business, it’s refreshing to find an antique mall that really gets what it’s all about,” Dahlsad said. “Antiquing or junking is more than a pure materialistic act; it’s about more than the objects themselves. This is about the creativity of self-expression, the preservation of history, the passion of collecting, green living, and so much more. These events are very exciting to me because they bring more opportunities to connect with our “FARM” friends, with like-minded folks.”

Then, at 8pm in the evening, the wifey was live on Night Time Live with Bob Harris (on The Mighty KFGO). She and local North Dakota author Alicia Underlee Nelson, of Prairie Style File, were talking with Bob about the New Year’s Old Beers event at the Farm -check it out!

Oh, yeah, and the aforementioned Trash Or Treasure appraisal fair events are back! Details on the latest one can be found here & you can secure your spot here.

See you at the Farm!

New Year's Old Beers Fargo Event

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If you’ve been keeping up with us at Facebook, you may have noticed that we’ve been quite busy.

One highlight, hubby Derek has written for Prairie Public’s Dakota Datebook radio show – & five of his stories have been selected for the newly released book, Dakota Datebook: North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public. If you love North Dakota history, you should grab a copy!

However, our biggest & busiest news is that we’ve consolidated all our real-world shopping centers into one location: a trio of booth spaces at Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market, aka The Farm. We still have our Etsy shops, and occasionally offer items on eBay too. But by focusing on one physical shop location in the Fargo-Moorhead area, we are best able to maintain it with fresh vintage, repurposed, collectible, and antique items thereby better serving our customer & client needs.

One of the benefits of this streamlining move, is that we will now be offering our appraisal services, live, in “Trash Or Treasure” events at The Farm.

Typically, our rate is $10 per item; but for these in-store events, the fee will only be $5 per item. Due to public interest, there will be a limit of three items per person, per event.

These verbal appraisals are rather like those seen on Antiques Roadshow in that no written paperwork will be provided and, for ethical reasons, we will not be purchasing your items. (However, if you are interested in selling your item(s), here are the details on The Farm’s free service.)

These quick little appraisals are ideal for discovering the current market value of your item(s) and may be particularly helpful in determining whether or not to keep, donate, or sell. Also, the information will assist in deciding if it makes financial sense to invest in the several hundred dollars that a more in-depth appraisal (for insurance or other contractual purposes) would cost.

We will be available for Trash Or Treasure events at The Farm – and by appointment. If the listed schedule of dates is not ideal for you, or you have more than three items, please contact us to arrange another date and time.

For futher details on, or directions to, Trash Or Treasure appraisal events at The Farm, please visit The Farm’s website &/or Facebook Page.

Thank you – and we’ll see you at The Farm!

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‘Tis the season for spirit bottles!

spirit-bottles-halloween-fargo-antiques

Our spirit bottles are made from old glass bottles dug up from the ground. As such, these vintage & antique bottles have imperfections. We’ve added some magic to them, and used them to entrap evil spirits — then sealed them in with wax. Each bottle has its own spirit, complete with paper label. Artful creepy fun to display, excellent conversation pieces, and worthy of storytelling…

We’ve brought some into our spaces at the Southwest Fargo location of Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market (F.A.R.M.), but if you can’t stop by that shop, we have some spirit bottles in our repurposed Etsy shop!

We’ve sold some already at Etsy this season, and the buyer, Pete, actually tested them with an EMF reader, just like they do on Ghost Hunters! The results may surprise you… They sure surprised us! We’re sharing Pete’s story and photos with his permission:

Wanted to show you something.
I placed an EMF meter against bottle. Nothing at first, then meter goes crazy — then back to normal. Its done it again since typing this.
Sometimes a idea or thought or meme becomes real.
That’s cool with me lol.

spirit-bottle-emf-pete

emf-spirit-bottles

Naturally, we can’t guarantee such super — or, should we say supernatural — results. But it is a spooky possibility!

More vintage & antique Halloween decorating ideas from our space at F.A.R.M.

fairoaksantique-halloween

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Sometimes I don’t think we talk enough about the cool things we have in our Etsy shop… So it’s time to highlight some of the items recently listed in our Etsy shop, including additional information about them.

We have a fabulous retro mod Sculptura telephone (aka the “doughnut phone”) listed for sale — just like the one you can see on FX’s The Americans!

Also listed is a vintage Marx Midget Climbing Fighting Tank with original box — which appears to be an uncommon variation of the toy. Note how the one we are offering has the gun turret done in camouflage.

We’re offering a complete st of 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Transit Tokens — something hubby wrote about a few years ago.

Last, but not least, I learned some interesting things about vintage greeting cards with teeny-tiny Bibles on them.

we have your collectibles fair oaks antiques

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As noted before, “farm fresh” is often an oxymoron. Things found in barns are usually anything but fresh. Today’s example, a number of old feed sacks — burlap feed sacks, to be precise.

spencer kellogg burlap feed sack

While our dog, Sir Oliver T. Puddington, really loves how dirty and smelly farm fresh finds are, I prefer to clean them!
While our dog, Sir Oliver T. Puddington, really loves how dirty and smelly farm fresh finds are, I prefer to clean them!

While the graphics can be real beauties, they lie beneath layers & clumps of stuff that is not so beautiful and smells — like dirt and, yes, manure.

In order to be of any real value, the vintage and antique feed sacks must be cleaned.

But it is neither safe nor advisable to throw them into the wash machine. (Since the weave of burlap sacks is so wide, I rarely ever trust my washing machine with them. Even the gentle or hand-wash settings always seems to create pulls or holes, often starting at the threads at the seams. I just don’t like to risk it.)

Instead, you must hand wash them — and, due to their size, one at a time at that.

While the old feed sacks I cleaned today are made of burlap, you can clean other feed, seed, flour, sugar sacks etc. in the same way.

How To Clean Old Feed, Flour, Seed Sacks Found In Barns

Step One: Remove Stuff From The Inside

As these old seed and feed sacks once held product (and also may have been used for lots of other purposes) there’s always some icky stuff left inside the sack. Stick your hand into the bottom of the sack and turn it inside-out. Shake it gently to remove any leftover contents. And then follow-up by using your hand (preferably gloved!) to wipe away anything hiding along the seams of the sack.

Once satisfied that you’ve removed everything, stick your hand in again and pull upwards to return the sack right-side-out, so that the graphics are again on the outside.

Step Two: Remove The Clumps Of Dirt & Animal Poo

I prefer to begin by hanging the sacks on the clothing line outside and using the hose to spray off the clumps and first layer or two of dirt; however, as it is below zero today (and not likely to change any time soon!), I begin with the bathtub. So gather your plastic cleaning gloves and follow me into the bathroom…

As soon as I start the warm water running in the bathtub, I take a single feed sack out and begin by holding in beneath the running water. I do not plug the tub yet as because many of the clods of dirt an manure will require pressure to come off. Since we are without the pressure of our handy lawn hose today, the pressure of the running water from the tap will have to do. Once the majority of the big pieces are off, I set the wet feed sack on an old towel while I wash the mud and farm fresh dirty pieces down the drain — being careful to catch any twigs, rocks, or other large pieces I do not want to pass into the drain and clog it. I toss the twigs and other pieces in the trash and rinse the tub a bit so that it is clean enough not to turn the running water brown right away.

Step Three: Soak & Rinse

Next, I put the stopper in the bathtub and begin filling the tub with warm water. As these sacks are pretty dirty, I only use warm water at this point.

Since old feed & seed sacks are quite large, you’ll need to fill the entire bottom of the tub with at least 2 inches of warm water. I lay the feed sack onto the water & push to submerge it. (Despite the earlier soaking, you’ll often find large sections of the sack are not wet. Sometimes this is where large pieces of dirt were; other times, it’s from the graphics themselves or other chemicals preventing the water from penetrating the textile fibers.)

Usually the water turns instantly brown again, but I continue to swish the sack gently around in the water to dislodge more dirt.

I don’t use any brushes or tools. Just my hands, the water, and, as necessary, gently rub the fabric against itself to dislodge things I can see and feel through the gloves. Remember, burlap is an especially rough textile and may contain “knots” and other natural bumps, so look before you spend time rubbing something that won’t come out. (Or at least won’t be removed without ruining the piece!)

As you swish and rub, look for holes, spots, etc. Avoid unnecessarily pulling on the holes and tears while working to remove the spots.

Typically, I repeat this step at least two more times so that the water bears just a slight tint of brown and few, if any, clumps of stuff. Then I proceed to flip the sack inside-out again, and give the inside a rinse.You’d be surprised how much remains on the inside, even after three rinsings!

washing cleaning antique feed seed sacks

If that is clean enough to not require repeating, I flip the sack back so that the graphics are outside and give it one final rinse.

Now, finally, it is time to proceed to washing with soap. This sack is on it’s fourth rinsing and just about ready for Step Four.

(This is the only use I have for red Solo cups these days! lol)
(This is the only use I have for red Solo cups these days — rinsing out dirty bathtubs! lol)

Step Four: Wash With Soap

With more warm water running into your clean enough for this (but not clean enough for your family) bathtub, plug the bathtub drain and add some gentle cleaner. I prefer to use, again, Murphy’s Oil Soap. I find it strong enough to clean, but not too drying for such old fabrics. (Old textiles left in barns like this can be more brittle than you imagine!) Also, since Murphy’s doesn’t make a lot of bubbles, you can see what you are doing. And you’ll want to see what you are doing so you can address spots. (I know a lot of you are thinking you need bleach to clean something this filthy, but scrubbing and rubbing does more to really clean than soaking in bleach or other chemicals — and I do not want to discolor or otherwise damage such old fabrics!)

Bonus: Murphy’s Oil leaves a more natural and non-offensive scent, which means the cleaned primitive farm advertising piece is much more like it should be — and isn’t now a perfumed piece that annoys those looking for primitive items or mantiques.

Once you add your previously-rinsed old seed or feed sack to the soapy water, you’re likely to see much more of the brown than you’d imagined could possibly be left. You can let the submerged textile soak a bit in the soapy water, if you’d like. And then come back and gently swish it around and rub spots as necessary.

Step Five: Rinse

As the tub drains its filthy water, I run the tap with warm water again and rinse out the sack.

Step Six: Drying

Once you are satisfied with how clean it is, you can remove the old farm advertising sack from the water and gently wring it to remove the excess water. Once you’ve got as much water out as you can from wringing it, lay it flat on a large beach or bath towel and roll it up so that the towel can absorb more of the water. You may have to do this more than once, with a new clean & dry towel each time, as these large old feed and seed sacks can hold a lot of water.

old purina burlap feed seed sackThen hang the old seed sacks to dry. (Antique & vintage textiles are never a good mix with dryers.) Again, this is great to do out on the clothesline, but the season prevents that. So I hang them to dry on clothes hangers with clips (with plastic, vinyl, or rubber tips to avoid rusting!) over the bathtub. It is best to hang the seed sacks from the bottoms, where they are stitched, so that the heaviest part of the bags are at the top and not pulling so much on the rest of the fabric. I like to use the tired hangers for this, so that I have more room to work on cleaning up the bathtub (again!) while things dry. However, if you have different fabrics and colors involved, you may wish to hang each piece separately so that there is no color transfer, bleeding, or discoloration. (This set lets you have the option to hang tiered or use the hangers individually.)

Step Seven: Inspection

Once the feed sacks are dry, inspect them again for holes, spots, and other imperfections

Sadly, after all this work, there sometimes are spots left. You can wash them again, as needed.

Sometimes I still find a few seeds that have worked their way into the seams and fabric weave as well.

As a buyer or collector, you likely will need to wash your new acquisition again. Even when dealers like myself clean the items, it’s more for presentation than the final act; we know items will be handled in the shop and we remove the “ick factor” but other shoppers do handle the items, including laying them on the floor to inspect them and the like. So whatever textile you buy, you ought to be prepared to launder it yourself for use or display in your own home.

It is especially important to note any holes, tears, or weak spots before you ever even consider using the washing machine.

Final Notes

As a dealer, I never mend any sacks as that would mean the piece is not in original or as found conditions. Other than filth, I leave them as original as I can and instead price accordingly. I leave it for the buyer to decide what, if anything, they want to fix. (Sometimes, they like the authentic nature of the sacks as they are. Sometimes they prefer to stitch them up a bit before displaying them or using them for pillow cases, foot stool coverings, etc. But that is up to the buyer.)

With finer gunny sacks, or sacks with lighter colors and finer weaves, you may need to do some additional cleaning on spots. More on that at a later date as my back is sore from all that time bent over the tub!

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I’ve been busy writing a lot of eBay Guidesmy most recent one was inspired by this vintage Christmas tree stand my folks have for sale. I just knew it should be reborn and repurposed as a decorative piece! Other cool ideas and inspiration in that post comes from Laurel of Chipping With Charm. Her site is a real treat to visit!

ebaystandout

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A few weeks ago, my husband & I attended an auction at the Cass Country Historical Society. The museum was deaccessioning hundreds of items in order to raise funds to replace the historic St. John’s Lutheran Church which had suffered too much damage from a fire. On one trailer full of guns & ammo, I spotted this beauty:

showofftintypetree

It’s a folk art family tree of tintypes! (At least we believe they are tintypes; without prying the frames off, we can’t fully inspect them to say for sure.) The “tree” is made from a six-sided wooden base pyramid, covered with plaster used to hold the shells, photos in frames, mirror etc. in place. There once was a ring of old tokens at the top as well, though those were apparently removed awhile ago (you can still see the impressions of them in the plaster). The bottom has four metal caster wheels. Measures 27 inches tall; 18 inches along the widest part of the base.

This unique piece still bears the museum’s original paper label which reads “Pyramid Showing Family History Of The Charles Pollocks; Gift of Mrs. Charles Pollock, Fargo, N.D.”. (We prefer to call it what it is – a family tree!)

I’m amazed by it. It’s not like Godey’s Lady’s Book had their own Martha Stewart columnist suggesting a “how to” for such things. (If they did, I would think these folk art family trees would have become as popular as the Christmas tree the magazine made de rigueur.) At the time this was likely made, circa 1880s (1910s at the latest), North Dakota may not even have been a state yet, and Fargo may have only had a population of less than 6,000!

As promised on our Facebook page, I’ve posted more detailed images of this true piece of Americana. Among the notable antique photographs shown below: A gentleman who appears to be in a Civil War uniform, with a colorized stars and stripes flag, and a woman who looks to be Native American.

This is what it looks like in our little “nook” space at Exit 55 Antiques (Fergus Falls, MN) with the antique French candelabra. We also have it listed for sale in our Etsy shop. I believe the photos here and in the listing should answer all your questions, but feel free to contact us if you’d like.

victorian folk art tintype family tree antique americana

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