It's Tuesday, and I am still recovering from the big Eddie Ross weekend! Between the blogger party on Friday night in honor of Eddie and Jaithan, attending Eddie's tour of the D.C. Big Flea on Saturday (and spending an extra 5 hours there shopping on my own!), and Sunday night spent polishing the silver purchased at the D.C. Big Flea, it was quite a full weekend. I'd been looking forward to these events for quite a while, and am so thrilled with the way the weekend unfolded. I loved meeting other bloggers and design enthusiasts, not to mention having the opportunity to peruse the biggest antique fair I have ever seen!
Eddie's tour began at 11:00 a.m., and I arrived at the site of the Big Flea about an hour early in order to scout things a bit. The event was held at the Dulles Expo Center out in Chantilly, VA, and was dumbfounded when I walked in- the space was as big, if not bigger, than a football field, and filled to the brim with vendors. Picture this...times 20!
I started out slow and made one purchase before the tour started- a couple of vintage postcards. Boca Grande, Florida is very near and dear to my family, and my dad has taken to collecting vintage BG postcards. We both love how vintage postcards give an interesting glimpse into the history of a place- what it looked like back in the day, even what people wore (for example, notice the women wearing dresses while golfing in the bottom right card!). The alligator postcard isn't specific to Boca Grande, but I couldn't resist his dapper appearance and the slogan "All dressed up and ready to meet you in Florida." He might have to get framed!
After browsing alone for about an hour (and only covering 2 of the 8 isles), I went back out front to meet up with Eddie, Jaithan, and the rest of the group. It was wonderful to recognize some of the bloggers I'd met the night before, including Michele from My Notting Hill, Leila from In the Tweeds, and Meg Fairfax Fielding from Pigtown Designs, along with decorator Anne Hardock of Dwellings by Design.
Eddie gave a quick welcome and intro, telling us about some of the projects he's working on- he just finished taping a Halloween special for HGTV, and he's even working on a book! We cannot wait to see both.
Then it was time to get down to business- the shopping! I was a bit curious as to how the tour would go- would Eddie hold up an item, proclaim it fabulous, and then have 30 women claw their way forward to claim it? Happily the tour was not anything like that! Eddie did single out certain items and discuss his ideas for using them, but the purchasing for the most part took part on our own time.
At the first stop, Eddie honed in on some vintage coats and apparel- a topic I know embarrassingly little about. However, his idea was definitely out of the box- take a vintage coat with a unique pattern and use the fabric to cover a chair cushion, or make a pillow out of it and adorn it with a vintage broach. Fabulous!
Here, Eddie talks about one of his favorite types of items- vintage silver!
And more vintage silver here. Eddie is always on the lookout for pieces that he puts away and then gives as gifts- for example, a couple of sterling spreaders (which were being sold for $10 apiece) tied with a bow would make a fabulous hostess gift. Also, I tend to shy away from silver plated items, but Eddie scoops these up too- again, a big silver serving spoon would make a fabulous gift when paired with some lovely vintage cocktail napkins or hand towels. He recommends looking for brands such as Gorham and Reed & Barton, but shying away from Oneida, which was more mass-produced.
I have long believed that you don't have to be tied to your own monogram when it comes to buying old silver pieces, and Eddie definitely agrees. "I mean, who's to say it's not your your great aunt's silver, right?" he jokingly remarked. Of course, he really made my day when he confirmed something that MoS Charlotte has been telling me all along (but that I was reluctant to believe)- you can put silver in the dishwasher! Just make sure that it doesn't come in contact with anything stainless. Hooray!
Of course, I couldn't help doing a teensy bit of shopping during the tour and snapped up this silver plate toast rack ($20!) from the stand above.
If you read Eddie's blog, you know that he is particularly great at converting ho-hum furniture into amazing custom-looking pieces; his work on this old secretary is pure genius. I enjoyed hearing his comments about what furniture is paint-able versus what you should keep as-is. For example, in the 1930's furniture makers produced a large number of copies of chippendale looking armoires and secretarites; though nowadays such pieces are "antiques" because they are old, they are not valuable like the original pieces that they were meant to look like. Meaning- paint away!
He also had a fabulous idea for a marble-topped chest he spotted- getting a hole cut in the top for a sink and using it as a bathroom vanity. Much, much more unique than any mass-produced vanities you'd find at Home Depot, and a fraction of the cost of higher end vanities.
On a side note, I think the name "DC Big Flea" is a little misleading- there were certainly some very upscale vendors, like this one selling a case full of Herend.
I also loved these lucite salad hands (in the shape of actual hands), since both of the MoS girls cannot resist anything lucite/acrylic. I probably should have bought them...but then again I don't use salad hands quite enough to warrant another set.
Eddie also loves vintage linens- not only does he love to use them, but he also suggest framing particularly fun pieces to use as art. I have to admit I am much more enthused about vintage silver than about vintage linens, but only because I know very little about the latter and what to look for. In his opinion the quality is heads and shoulders above what you can find in the marketplace today, which I believe.
There was a seller offering hundreds and hundreds of amazing hand-colored, woodblock prints that I positively swooned over. They were not as inexpensive as the prints you can find at tag sales and on ebay (they ranged from $30 for something teeny to $360 for larger prints), but their quality was just amazing.
Below, one of my favorite prints (but alas, one that was on the $360 side of the spectrum). Eddie had a fabulous idea for really making artwork pop- he suggested covering a mat in metallic linen fabric for a very in-the-moment sparkle, which would have looked particularly stunning with the sophisticated print of jewelry that he found.
Another Eddie tip- take inexpensive costume jewelry (this would work particularly well with earrings) and glue it on magnets and pins to add chic flair to otherwise boring household items. Also makes a thoughtful gift!
More vintage linens. Those pillows were lovely. Eddie says that he loves ironing and polishing silver, so he is welcome at my apartment any time!
Had to get a snap of this amazing coral specimen.
Our last stop on the tour was in front of a pair of vintage slipper chairs- I believe the pair was about $350. Eddie considered them a prime candidate for recovering- even with the price of getting them reupholstered, it would still be a less expensive undertaking than buying two brand new slipper chairs of comparable quality. Very true!
If I had to sum up Eddie's message, it's that with a little hunting around, you can find vintage items that have more character, and are of higher quality, than what you'd find at the mall for the same (if not higher) price. Eddie has a wealth of knowledge about hand-blown glass, crystal, silver, linens, and china, and it is interesting to hear him tell the back story and production process for an item that I otherwise might just walk by. It's clear that the more you know about antique and vintage items, the more your appreciation grows for things with a history that were lovingly made rather than mass-produced in a factory (of course, lest you think I am getting high on my horse, I will point out that I am sitting here typing this from my Ikea kitchen table and drinking from a Williams-Sonoma wine glass! Baby steps...).
Later this week I'll give you a peek at a few more items I purchased during the trip. In the meantime, head on over to Eddie's blog, and if he is coming to a city near you I highly suggest signing up for the tour. And if he's not...well, instead of heading to the mall this weekend, pop into your favorite antique store or flea market and see if you can unearth some treasures on your own!