I've been wanting to post about my first Estate Sale adventure for a couple of weeks now! But darn it all, between sleeping, creating, visiting with friends, and the occasional cleaning (and I use the term "cleaning" lightly), I just haven't had a chance!
Being so excited about this new-found passion for altered art, I decided that I needed to accumulate some vintage items to work with (Yeah, I need to "acquire" more stuff like a fat kid needs more cake!) And then it hit me: Estate Sales! Yippee!
I went to my trusty friend Google and within minutes had discovered 2 Estate Sales happening the next day in Dallas! While one promised to be "The Big One" and was my first stop, the second was WAY more intriguing.
The first house was just your normal everyday 2 story brick suburban home in Plano. I wondered "who had died"? Interestingly enough, I discovered that the lady who owned the home (and all it's overflowing contents within) had not passed away at all. According to the estate seller, she was just tired of this home and all her stuff. Decided she wanted to move and "start over again". She couldn't be bothered with selling all her stuff so had hired the Estate Sellers. The closets were full with brand new clothes with tags; there was even a bedroom upstairs where one whole wall was covered floor to ceiling with shoe boxes full of never worn or hardly worn pairs of shoes; the garage was packed with Christmas decor that had never been opened! There were 4 bedrooms, two living areas, 3 baths, a dining room, study, and garage full to the hilt with "stuff" that one single woman had accumulated. It was sensory overload! I had difficulty wrapping my head around the life this woman had lead. I can only imagine that she must have felt lonely and buying all these "things" helped stave off the emptiness.
Because most of the items at this home were not "vintage" or "antique", I only found a few pieces of "junk" jewelry that I could use for altered artwork.
Here are the pieces I found tucked away in an old drawer at the back.
I am most excited about this little "spoon ring" above! I've wanted one of these for a long time. I remember, as a little girl, always looking at the one my Grandma Carey wore and thinking how cool it was! Getting this whole little bag of goodies was great fun. Other than that, though, the only other thing I picked up was a gold-plated serving set from Sheffield (which needs major polish work!)
After this Estate Sale (which was my very first ever), I was kind of bummed. I had envisioned it to be different, somehow. The other sale I had mapped out was much further down in Dallas. Because of this first experience, I was talking myself out of venturing down to the other sale. But then, I thought, "No. I've made a plan to go to these two sales today, and that's what I'm going to do. Just because this one was a bust doesn't mean the other will be!" Boy, am I glad that I talked myself into going! I found many, many cherished treasures!
Gorgeous Hand-Embroidered Vintage Linens!
A Lovely Yellow Hand-Embroidered Vintage Pillowcase
Look! A Hand-Embroidered Napkin with my first initial!
Vintage Creme Tablecloth in Beautiful Condition
Vintage White Tablecloth in Pristine Condition
Sheer Vintage Scarves!
What a Find! This Vintage Geoffrey Beene COLLECTORS scarf!
More Vintage Linens, Pillowcases, and Doilies!
Love This Precious Little Children's Pillowcase
Look at the Little Angel Cherub Print! Soooo Sweet!
Speaking of things for little children...I found this tiny little infant dress at the back of the closet! It was handmade and was likely the baby dress of the deceased.
This pintucking in front is all hand-stitched! What patience and precision!
More hand-gathering at the arms.
Notice even the tiniest detail--the pleating under the arm to allow full movement.
I also found not just one....but count 'em....FIVE adorable vintage hand-sewn aprons!
Red and White Gingham Check with Ric-a-rac edging!
Cute "V" Apron with pockets!
Loving this sheer white with blue flowers one!
Pocket in contrasting blue floral pattern.
Sheer makes it dainty!
There's always room for a pretty RED apron!
Welcome SPRING with this wonderful edging done around the flowers!
And this....this hostessing apron. Perfect for a dinner party!
When showing my Mom, can you believe what she said? *BLUSH* "Yes. I remember these! Can't you just see a young bride serving dinner to her new husband wearing this and nothing else?!" Oh my goodness, Mom! Please tell me that was just an IDEA...not an actual "memory" you just shared! :)
I found these tiny little ceramic birds. They were mixed in with a few other tiny little HOLLAND MOLD pieces (collectors items) so I snatched them up. For those of you who know me, I love miniature things, and these are just so adorable!
I also discovered two mini tea sets! Oh, how lovely! The first is a light robin's egg blue color with a white cameo on the tea pot and tiny white roses as the lid handles.
The second may very well be my FAVORITE find all day! It's an actual Blue Willow collectors tea set that is as tiny as can be! So dainty and devine!
I also found this little silver plated coaster set with filigree-style etching!
Some sweet vintage stationery still in the robin's egg blue box!
And here are the beautiful and authentic vintage pieces of jewelry I grabbed up before anyone else could! I won't even tell you the price I paid for them! I will treasure them!
And I hit the motherlode with one of the items I went out seeking: Vintage Lace! I got unbelievable yards and yards of these pretties!
As I continued to gather up these mulitple treasures, the ladies administering the estate sale started a "stack" for me at the front. One very helpful lady asked me, "Oh. You must be a dealer?!" It gave me pause. It was with a mix of both pride and new-found certainty that I responded, "Oh, no. I'm an artist!" This singular moment was a turning point in my life. It is the first time I have ever verbally referred to myself as an "artist". Though I've done artistic things my whole life, I never felt that I was actually worthy, if you will, of the title "artist". I'm coming to understand, however, that art is not something that can be categorized very simply into titles such as painter, sculptor, musician, etc. Artists are those who are attempting to live life through an everyday expression of creativity. I am doing that, and thereby qualify as an ARTIST.
THOUGHTS ON THIS ESTATE SALE
The listing for this sale had advertised, "Couple lived in this home for over 40 years..." I figured if they'd lived there over 40 years, SURELY I'd find SOMETHING worthwhile. I couldn't have been more pleased! Walking into that home was like walking back 30 years. From the decor to the "old people" smell that permeated, every one of my senses was carried into a past era. I spent 3 hours looking in every nook and cranny of that home for some unseen treasure. I was rewarded again and again for my diligence. Where others idly rummaged and passed by with a cursory glance, I spent time to "feel" what was there. It was a life-changing experience for me.
Where I had been looking for items, I found feelings. As I pulled out pair after pair of white long and short-sleeved gloves, I envisioned a woman in the 60's attending the infamous Dallas parade where Kennedy was shot. Finding a small pill-box hat with netting and flowers only further confirmed my vision. As I stood in this woman's room, amongst all her jewelry, handkerchiefs, and even underclothes, I couldn't process all the emotions that were stirring within. It took me days to process what I was feeling! I can't even now adequately describe everything I felt. But I do know this: I felt like I was intruding. I felt somewhat ashamed. Here I was, (amongst many others), sifting through this woman's belongings, casually discarding whatever I didn't "want". How callous! This poor lady hadn't even been deceased more than a few days and already we were rifling through her slips and underthings laid out on a makeshift plywoodboard table. A woman of such decorum would be mortified to have such a thing happen!
It's different when you go to an antique shop. Everything has been taken from the owner's home and put into a nice, neutral spot. Going to an estate sale of the recently departed is not at all what I had expected. The very ESSENCE of the deceased lingers pervasively. Though her body is gone, her spirit is still very much attached to those items and the home she dwelt in for over 40 years.
The scents and tactile objects reminded me SO much of my granmother who passed away just a few years ago. These are REAL people...who lived a REAL life. These are their THINGS. But, at the same time, I feel the odd paradox there: they are just THINGS. The person is gone, and these things that she spent her whole life accumulating mean nothing. In fact, they mean so little to even her children, that they have opted to sell them to the general public. It feels simultaneously tragic and sobering, nonetheless.
I spend too much time collecting "things": nice furniture, pretty dishes, special clothing. In the end, my things will end up on a makeshift plywood table in the garage, too, won't they? The general public will rifle through my slips and underclothing and discard them as things of naught. And, rightfully so. For after all, they are just things. Things don't matter. It's the people we've loved and the memories we've created that matter.
That's why we, as artists, work so hard to preserve these memories. We speak for those who have passed. Our voices mingle with theirs crying out from the dust, speaking what their voices have left unsaid through our work. Our art is more than just a bunch of pretty little objects put together. Through it, we seek to give tangibility to the nuances that are so difficult to capture and convey. It's a legacy of those who have gone before to remind those in the present and those to come of the intimacy of life lived: feelings and emotions and relationships, which mean everything.