Tag Archives: antiques

A Lazy Day in my Steampunk Studio

First off, I would like to say thanks for reading my blog! I’ve noticed that there are a number of you reading in other parts of the world–so hi to my neighbors in Canada, Bonjour France, Cheerio England, How are things Australia? Ciao Italy, Hei Finland, Guten Tag Germany, and Cześć Poland!

It’s a lazy day here in my little steampunk studio. I received a care package of flea market treasures from my family yesterday and today I have set down to research some of the oddities they sent.

Pictured below is a tiny toy bust of a woman, an early 19th century Fireman’s medal (marked Station no. 2), and transistors (which are so breathtakingly intricate & add pops of color to the monotone metal that they are a frequent staple in my jewelry).

Thirft Treasures Collage 1Among the many neat bits & bobs sent were 2 medals. The first is for Second Prize in the All Round Contest of the Outing Club, located in Hartford, Connecticut. It was issued and engraved with the year, 1891. The Outing Club was one of many gentleman’s clubs in America. Men would gather for excursions outdoors, namely hiking, fishing, hunting, and swimming. On the back of the pin the name of the medal-maker is imprinted: a Mr. John Harriott of Boston, Massachusetts (located at 3 Winter Street). Mr. Harriott was a silversmith, enameler,  engraver and jeweler who even made 2 medals for J.P. Morgan’s son, Evan on behalf of the Loon Lake Historical Society.

Thirft Treasures Collage 2The other medal, made to mark someone’s membership to the Woodstock Council No. 147, was made by The M.C. Lilley & Co. who operated out of Columbus, Ohio. According to the Columbus Metropolitan Library, M.C. Lilley & Co. was “[f]ounded in the mid-1860s, the M. C. Lilley Company was world renowned as manufacturers of regalia.” They made a number of items: swords, flags, emblems, uniforms, and of course, medals. Among their many customers were the Freemasons, Knights of Pythias, West Point & Annapolis, and a number of fraternities. The company was founded by 4 veterans of the Civil War: Mitchell Campbell Lilley, John Siebert, and Charles & Henry Lindenberg.

Thirft Treasures Collage 4The greatest surprise of all was the 9 tintype photos that I found wrapped up in a piece of crinkly tissue paper. I have no clues as to who these souls were, where they came from (except to hazard a guess that  they were from Connecticut or New York), or what their names were. I love old photographs just the same–despite their endless mystery.

Thirft Treasures Collage 5Last but certainly not least, out of this marvelous box I pulled out a pair of children’s goggles. My favorite part of these goggles is that they were marked by the little adventurer–Billy–who wrote his name on one of the flaps. These motorcycle/automobile goggles were made in France, marked on the metal rim as “L’express Brevet L.C.B.F. 433606.”

Thirft Treasures Collage 6I am lucky that I have such a supportive family–who are also avid flea marketers & junk-lovers themselves! Who are your partners in crime when it comes to thrifting, flea markets, & antiquing?


Filed under Flea Market Finds

Inspiration Begins at Home

Happy New Year everyone! I would like to share a bit of my childhood home with you which I realized (over the holidays) is such a source of inspiration for my steampunk creations. So, welcome!

One of the things everyone notices immediately is the vast number of antique sewing machines stashed in every corner of the house. I have never counted them, it would take a while, but my grams collects them. Some are encased in large, ornate wooden desks and others are tiny and fit on the fireplace mantle! Here is one of my favorite sewing machines–an 1882 Singer with gold embellishments. I grew up with the whirr of sewing machines and have (as some of you know from seeing it at Indie Emporium 2 years ago) an old Singer sewing machine of my own! Other antique sewing ephemera litter the house and among the most treasured are these crazy quilted pincushions (made by my mom).

In the living room hangs my mother’s family crest (carved by my Uncle Jeff). The crest of the Crawfords–a shield with small trees (my family resided in Scotland and lived near the species of tree etched into the shield), a helmet, and adorned with looping scrolls. Below reads “Stant Innixa Deo,” Latin for “They Stand Supported By God.”

Upstairs you can find just as many old-world marvels, wooden ships, medicine jars, and water basins.

Scattered about the house are old clocks–ones whose chimes I can still hear if I close my eyes at the start of a new hour. Pictured left is a doll hand sewn by my mom. Her name is Cordelia, the Victorian Lady. She has a high collar and lace embellishments on her dress and a marvelous green sash. Her jet beads set of her jet hair amassed in a Gibson Girl bun atop her head.

The last treasure I will share with you is a painted picture of a ball. It rests in our living room. I can almost hear the rustling of the ladies’ dresses as they are sashayed past by their beaus and the merry music of the orchestra.

These are just a few of the inspirations I have found around home. What are yours?

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Saturday in New York City


My mom and I, fabric shopping in Mood. I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s sincere friendliness and helpfulness. I expected a cold shoulder since I am not a wholesale buyer or a designer, but was happily mistaken. I found exactly what I was looking for—a pale gray patterned cotton for a pair of Edwardian bloomers I am making from a Folkwear Pattern (the pattern is called Edwardian Underthings).

We also happened upon this stunning brocade fabric which we had to buy to fashion a Victorian style skirt. I am so excited! The fabric is stunning—the other side of it is completely covered with netting which ages the fabric’s look by 100 years

Our next stop was the Antique Garage Flea Market (on 24th Street by the Tish Building). We saw everything from antique writing desks, pornography from 1911-1941, vintage & junk jewelry, old books & vintage apparel, to WWII death announcement cards.



Here are my finds:

Three antique hat pins—so dainty & dangly!

Vintage chains—one with pearls! So delicate & feminine!

A child’s silver identification bracelet, engraved: “H.A. [worn too much o discern] Pinehurst Ave., Troy, NY”

Three vintage cuff links—can’t wait to Steampunk these!

A metal pill box, not vintage but beautiful. I am going to gut the plastic out of the inside and replace it with a very soft velvet.


Two silver lockets—I have already begun collecting lockets for a collaborative project with Tara @ Plume Perfumery. We are going to make a line of Steampunk perfume lockets filled with Victorian scents!

I wish that every Saturday were filled with flea markets & fabric shopping!

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Today’s History Lesson

In the spirit of Labor Day I would like to share a story. Doing what I do–scouring flea markets to find things to upcycle into Steampunk jewelry, I wind up with roundabout history lessons. Today’s lesson is courtesy of one of my patrons, Casey. A year ago Casey purchased a necklace from me, it was made with cute pink glass beads and a tiny silver metal bow and a bronze metal tag that I had purchased at the Stormville Flea Market.

While Casey and her husband were grocery shopping, the gentleman who checked them out was astonished by the bronze metal tag on Casey’s necklace. He asked her excitedly where he could find one and told her of their rarity. As it turns out, the bronze metal tag (which I took to be an old hotel room key tag) was in fact a coal miner’s tag! Coal miner’s tags are rare because they are often kept within families as an heirloom and passed down from generation to generation. Coal miner’s tags are unique to American history and cannot be found elsewhere.

Miner's Board where miners would hang their tags

Miners' tags

I was eager to know more–and so, like most people, I googled “coal miner’s tag” and a very interesting interview popped up which I urge you to read if you’re at all interested. Carol Malcolm-Parsons, daughter of a coal miner, provides us with a definition & description of what coal miner’s tags are and what function they serve: These tags are a “symbol of a career”–the career of a miner. Each miner has a tag and, in her words,  “each mine, I guess, can do it different. Some of [the tags] just have their Social Security number. Some of them have the miner’s last name and first initial or something. So before you go underground, you have to move your tag to the section of the board that shows that you’re underground.” These tags were a safety measure–though not as famous as a  canary in a birdcage.

I bought three tags at the flea market that day. I only have one coal miner’s tag left and I wish I could discover who it belonged to because it is more than a “symbol of a career” but a life lived–so whoever you were, Coal Miner no. 38, Happy Labor Day.

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