Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flea Marketing...French Style

As promised, here is my take on French flea marketing in several installments....

Check out for the best shopping in all of France...brocantes (high end antiques), marches aux puces (flea markets), and, my favorites, vide greniers ("attic emptying"...the French equivalent to garage sales).

The French cannot have individual garage sales as we do but the whole town has an "attic emptying" sale once a year.  Our eyes popped when we would come across one of them.  They had everything from dealers with fine antiques to moms with lots of kid's toys and clothes.  Incidentally, French children's clothes are so nice and at a dollar or two apiece, they were a steal!

And then we'd return to our home base and spread it all out to ooh and ahh and share.  What fun we had!

Then there were the brocantes.  These ranged from fine antiques at high prices to ancient barns filled to the rafters with stuff....wonderful stuff!

Plan your route based on the sites you want to see and the vide greniers that are going on while there.  Be aware that vide greniers are canceled if it is raining too hard but brocantes are always open...well, almost...most shops (not just antiques) are closed Sundays through Monday late afternoon and during the lunch time from about noon to four.  Flea markets are usually on Saturdays and Sundays.  Watch out for holidays!  Who knew that the Feast of the Assumption would entail almost a whole week of shops being closed!!  The French (as most Europeans) take any religious or civic holiday very seriously and combine days to make a long weekend.

In future posts I'll give you advice on how to manage your loot.  So for now you can start dreaming about your shopping trip.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cottage Chic-ing It Up

Sonya is the queen of shabby chic in my book.  She does such a good job of it and has made a little set of instructions to share her knowledge.  Hope you all enjoy!

My shabby chic methods are pretty simple and basic.  There are so many good books out there with great techniques, but I just wanted to share with you how I do mine -- quick and easy.  The first step is to determine if the piece should be painted or left as is with just some sanding and clean-up.  I prepare the piece for painting by using a strong mix of TSP (wear gloves) which cleans and also gives it a good surface for painting.  It may also need a little sanding before painting.

I am painting this piece with two layers of paint starting with a light blue, let dry and then paint a white top coat.  This is so the blue will show through when I sand the piece.  Lots of old furniture already has  more than one layer of paint which often can be top sanded and other layers will show through the sanding.

Painting the top...

The paint is dry and ready for the second coat. If you want, you can now add a "resist" in spots you would like the blue to show through before painting the second coat. You can use something like wax crayons, oil pastels, or an artists resist which will keep the second coat from sticking in these spots. I don't do this very often but it's easy and can have a nice effect. Next is painting the white or second coat.

I'm kind of new at doing this part but think it's fun and like the effect. I use a heat gun (which is also great for stripping paint) to heat and bubble the paint.

More heat gun fun.

I have used this type of sander for 20 years. It has a kind of swirling/vibrating motion that is easily controllable. The sandpaper is also velcro which is nice. I use 100 grit but always sand a little on an old piece of wood when using new piece of sandpaper. It knocks off the heavier grit so you don't have swirl marks on your paint. Also, start sanding before your sander gets too cranked up to prevent swirl marks. Now, start sanding the flat areas and edges and the bubbles from heat gun. The wood and the blue paint will start to show through. I just do it until I like the look and concentrate on areas where normal wear would occur -- edges, around knobs, table legs, etc.

I have always used a "mouse" sander or a hand sanding block to sand ornate or carved areas. You can control the sanding this way so it looks natural. Now, when you are sanding the bubbles from the heat gun you are getting an effect you can't get from just sanding. Also, if you used a resist, you will get other areas where the blue will show through. You can now always go back and add a little more paint and/or take some more off. The last step I do is wipe it off and wax it. I like a wax that I have only found at Woodcrafters in Portland. It is just called "Paste Wax" and comes in a can in clear and brown. Pretty inexpensive, doesn't get sticky, spreads like a dream even when it's cold.

And you're done! A pretty little shabby chic table!

Hope you find this info interesting and helpful!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things Look Great

Okay, so I'm back from France...What a great trip!! I'll post those pictures later and give you my take (and advice for what it's worth) on flea marketing in France. But now for what's in the shop and what was going on while I was gone.

The lilacs hoo...they came and went and I didn't get a sniff...

The girls of summer are still waiting for summer....It was in southern just hasn't made it to Gresham, Oregon yet......

Sonya hit a great sale and brought in a wonderful industrial work bench......

The bird canvases arrived.  We also have an apple one (you can see it in the picture below).  They look great and are very inexpensive (under $25)!

There's a wonderful new place to sit and enjoy the scenery indoors.....

I saw one of these bottle drying racks at a flea market in France.  I just couldn't figure out how to get it into my suitcase!!!  As it was, I had 5 suitcases, 2 boxes, and my carry-ons to bring home!!  That's a whole "nother" story!

The sweet angel lamp we have been waiting months for, finally arrived too!

Hope to see you all real soon.