Repurposing Flea Market Finds

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Flea marketing is a European past-time that locals and tourists indulge in alike.  At The Antiques Diva & Co we are constantly taking clients to flea markets in all of our 8 tour countries, which means we see a lot of inventory! Flea markets can be overwhelming, but if you know what to look for – and what to do with those things you find –  bargains can abound.  Today I want to share with you some of my favorite ways you can repurpose items found at the flea market.  Hmmm… now that I think about it, I should have titled this blog “Flea Market Finds and How They Get Their Groove Back”.

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1.  I think one of the biggest bargains at a flea market is on lighting.  Whether you’re buying traditional crystal laden chandeliers, funky vintage fixtures from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s or table top lamps, prices at the puce in Paris can be up to 10x cheaper than in a retail shop.  But you don’t just have to buy ready-made lamps – the flea market is a virtual lamp supply store for people with an eye for repurposing.  All you need to do is go to your local hardware store, pick up a lamp kit and then scan the market for something you can use for a base.  It needs to be sturdy enough to stand on its own after you add the lamp apparatus and shade on top.  Bottles and vases make obvious choices, but think outside the box. You can make a lamp base out of anything: a stack of antique books, an old type writer, a vintage camera, a teapot, a stack of mixing bowls or even stacked pasta strainers.  Any old bucket will do. What about a tripod or a mannequin, statues or even old dolls?  Ideas for repurposed lighting are endless.  And we haven’t even started talking about what you could do with the shades!  Rip the fabric off a lamp shade and string the frame with vintage crystal for a shabby chateau look.  Drill holes through the end of vintage cutlery and string them on a lamp frame to put in on a dining room lamp.   Sconces are a breeze to make from old plates or hand held mirrors.

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2.  Vintage scarves are not only chic but also cheap.  And while they can update your wardrobe in a flash, they are positively perfect for home décor.  Frame brightly colored scarves for instant artwork.  Sew on backing – et voila – you’ve got throw pillows.  Patchwork scarves together for Bohemian draperies or for a no-sew-solution simply tie or drape a scarf across a window for a burst of color.  Hint: if you’re a hopeless seamstress you can buy iron-on tape to use in lieu of a needle and threat.   When shopping for scarves look for quality.  And while silk is always gorgeous don’t turn your nose up at a vintage rayon blend – this artificial fabric actually adds to their durability.  The stiffer the scarf the easier it can be converted into purses and bags, slinky summer tops or even skirts.  And the next time you need to give a gift, why buy wrapping paper when you can wrap the present with – what else? – a vintage scarf!

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3.  You would never believe it – but the flea market is the perfect place to purchase presents. Forget going to a registry next time someone is getting married – go to the flea market and buy crystal wine glasses and a decanter.  Add a bottle of wine and an antique cork screw and you’ve got a perfect present for honeymooners (or any oenophile for that matter).  Put together a Mad Men basket for a university graduate – source martini shakers and vintage cocktail napkins, cocktail forks and little hors d’oeuvre plates. You can often find leather boxes or small trunks – pack it all away and tie the box with an old tie to make your bow.  Know someone having a baby? What about an antique silver baby rattle?  Buy antique linens and sew up gorgeous burp clothes.  Tuck into the package a bottle of The Laundress All Purpose Bleach Alternative so the young mum can safely whiten, brighten and disinfect.  Frame antique children’s clothes – bonnets, christening gowns and shoes to decorate a baby’s room. For the teenage girl, glue old jewelry onto a headband or a picture frame.  Bridal magazines are filled with images of antique broaches being used in lieu of flowers in wedding floral arrangements.  Keep your eyes out for unique cutlery and serving platters – and stock up.  Next time you’re invited to attend a party pull out a vintage platter and tell the hostess “Keep the Edwardian serving tray! I bought it just for you!”  Go a step further and stock up on antique silver accessories and get them monogrammed with your hosts initials or seeking out silver already monogrammed with your friends initials!

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4.  Using architectural salvage in home renovations is all the rage at the moment – but even if you’re not doing a home renovation these items can be great used as decoration.  The impromptu headboard is perhaps the most classic use for architectural salvage – doors, shutters, garden gates all make gorgeous backdrops.  If you’re not handy find a good upholsterer and ask them to help you convert fireplace mantle into a padded headboard.

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5.  China and Porcelain are available by the car load at the markets.  Whether buying one offs that you mix and match or entire sets, get out your hammer and start breaking these plates and saucers into teeny tiny bits and bobs.  Voila – you have mosaic material.  Now find something you want to mosaic.  You can mosaic anything from the side table to a tea pot to a broken violin and create your own unique art (and get rid of a lot of pent up aggression).  If a full-on craft project is more than you bargained for, add magnets to the back – et voila – refrigerator art.  Mix and match various patterns of plates and saucers. Put the biggest plate on bottom, glue a wine glass to the center of the plate then stack another plate, creating your own multi-tier serving tray.  Pretty floral china tea cup can be converted into clusters of tea cup hanging lights – wouldn’t that be adorable in a little girl’s room for throwing tea parties?  Or glue a tea cup to a garden stake and fill it with bird seed.

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Paris flea market
Looking for Lighting!


top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>My younger brother, Nathan – upon hearing of the scads of antiques scored for both clients and myself on my recent Antiques Diva Fall Flea Market Extravaganza – sent me a hand-written note, congratulating me on my recent success along with this clipping from his local newspaper.

The little clipped comic revealed that he knew me and my penchant for scouring the flea markets across Europe a little too well…

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 163px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />On that note, dear Diva Readers, Happy Plundering!

The Antiques Diva™

Paris Brocante Calendar – May and June 2009

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I love Paris in the spring time! The cherry blossoms are in bloom, the birds are singing and Parisians let uncharacteristic smiles slip to strangers on street corners when the sun kisses their noses once again. Girls and boys can be found kissing in the parks and the outdoor cafes are serenaded with musicians once again. Most importantly, “brocante season” is in full bloom! If you’re wanting to hit these roving flea markets, May and June are excellent months to visit Paris.

Diva Tip!
In Paris during May & June, brocantes (roving flea markets) are held almost EVERY weekend!!

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />In a recent blog I gave a web source for finding out the dates and locations of upcoming brocantes, but one of the ways I find the dates and locations of roving flea markets in France is by picking up brochures for other brocantes while attending another. Often flyers advertising lists of flea market dates will be stacked on tables in miscellaneous booths around the brocante as vendors like to let you know where else their shoppers can find them later in the season!

Recently, while in Paris collaborating with the sensational Claudia Strasser of Paris Apartments on a behind-the-scenes Paris flea market tour for an upcoming Travel+Leisure article this Fall 2009, I picked up a flyer at the Eglise d’Auteuil Brocante advertising the following upcoming Paris brocante dates!

May & June, 2009 Paris Brocante Calendar

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />May 9 – 10 Saturday – Sunday
Avenue Secretan Paris XIX
Metro Stop: Bolivar anticipated 100 vendors

May 15 – 17 Friday – Sunday
Rue de Courcelles Paris XVII
Metro Stop: Courcelles/Perreire anticipated 150 vendors

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />May 21 – 22 Thursday-Friday
Boulevard Edgar Quinet, Paris XIV
Metro Stop: Edgar Quinet anticipated 120 vendors

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May 23 – 24 Saturday – Sunday
Avenue de la Republique, Paris XI
Metro Stop: Parmentier anticipated 100 vendors

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May 30 – 31 Saturday – Sunday
Rue Lecourbe, Paris XV
Metro Stop: Sevre Lecourbe anticipated 120 vendors

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June 6 – 7 Saturday – Sunday
Rue Cler, Paris VII
Metro: Ecole Militaire anticipated 120 vendors
Note: This market is an Antiques Diva™ favorite as is the charming Rue Cler! Stop for lunch at Café du Marché.

June 13 – 14 Saturday – Sunday
Avenue des Gobelins, Paris V
Metro: Les Gobelins anticipated 120 vendors
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June 20 – 21 Saturday – Sunday
Boulevard Voltaire, Paris XI
Metro: Charonne anticipated 100 vendors

June 27 – 28 Saturday – Sunday
Rue d’Alesia, Paris XIV
Metro: Alesia anticipated 50 vendors
Note: Depot Vente d’Alesia, a favorite Antiques Diva resource for dirt cheap and dusty bargains, is in the area!
to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />June 27 – 28 Saturday – Sunday
Village St Paul, Paris IV
Metro: Saint Paul anticipated 50 vendors
Note: Check out the antique vendors of the Village St Paul while there!

July 2 – 5 Thursday – Sunday
Quai de la Tournelle, Paris V
Metro: Maubert-Mutualité anticipated 90 vendors

MARKET HOURS: Most flea markets listed run from 7am – 7pm.

All these spring flea markets are coordinated by SPAM – Société Parisienne d’Animation et de Manifestation. To check dates for SPAM’s upcoming flea markets, visit the SPAM website. Sadly the site is only in French but is easy to navigate. The home page lists “prochain brocantes” (or next flea markets) on the right hand column giving dates and addresses – remember French dates are done Day/Month and not Month/Day – so May 7 becomes 07/05 in French – in other words 07/05 DOES NOT MEAN JULY 5th! To go further into the site, click the second tab on the top marked “Brocantes” and a list of upcoming dates and addresses will appear!

Word to the Wise: From time to time, the roving flea markets simply don’t rove – in other words, brocantes are always subject to cancellation if they don’t get enough vendors, the rain is torrential or the mayor has a hidden agenda and needs the boulevard kept open on a particular day. While brocantes are not cancelled often, it’s good to be aware that cancellation is always possible.

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva™
(seen right enjoying the blooms with The English Rose)

Taking a Page Out of the Dutch Book of Organizational Design!

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>As a collector, I find myself on a continual quest to keep my home tidy while using, in a creative or decorative way, all the items I lug home from vacations, antique fairs and flea markets. It’s a constant battle between my inner creative diva and my anal-retentive side that insists everything in my home must have a place and be kept in perfect order.

While visiting a clog factory north of Amsterdam, I found the perfect way to display my tourist clogs while at the same time solving a necessary organizational problem in my home.

Clogs (antique, new, vintage or used) are the perfect accessory for decorating the walls of your work room. Simply store your tools, paint brushes, art supplies or gardening accessories inside the wooden clogs. Attach a wall-hanging hook to the back of a pair (or two or three) of clogs toma+clogs.jpg”>toma+clogs.jpg” border=”0″ />and hang them from a nail in your office or atelier for an inventive and creative home storage solution! This kills the proverbial two birds with one stone by giving you reason to display your holiday souvenir while finding a much needed decorative storage space for utilitarian items.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to work I go….

The Antiques Diva™

Q&A – Are there any Flea Markets in or near Amsterdam?

While the French Flea Market suggestions were all fine and dandy, the Charming Emily from Singapore, who has married a dashing Dutchman and is making a new home in Holland, emailed to inquire:

“Do you have any suggestions for a flea market nearby or in Amsterdam? After reading your blog I’m in the mood to go shopping this weekend!”


eed I say, “Naturlijk”!? You shouldn’t expect anything less than a bundle of shopping suggestions from The Antiques Diva ™!

In Amsterdam alone there are bevy of flea markets, although in my opinion these tend to be heavy on the fleas and light on the antiques and actual treasures! You can visit the Albert Cuypmarkt or Waterlooplein markets any day of the week except for Sunday. On Sunday mornings after church, I like to visit the antique market in the Nieuwmarkt and if I haven’t made other plans on Monday mornings, you can find me at the Noordermarkt where I’ve picked up a few art deco treasures. Don’t forget that the antique center De Looier sets up an indoor table market each Saturday and Sunday, adding to their already good week-day selection of antiques.

If you promise not to tell anyone, The Hague suits my tastes a tad better than Amsterdam as it is positively posh and has a very international and cosmopolitan feeling that translates well into good shopping (antiques and otherwise). Every Thursday and Sunday from May to September you’ll find the Lange Voorhout Antiek Markt in front of the gorgeous Hotel des Indes, where you can stop later in the day for their multi-coursed “High Tea des Indes” – an afternoon tea experience that rivals The Ritz in Paris. The Hague is great for antique shopping and, while there, make sure you stop by the “VVV” (Tourist Center) to pick up the brochure for the Art & Antiques Walk which shows the best walking route to see the sights while antique shopping. By the way, you couldn’t have posed this question at a better time… Next weekend, August 25 & 26, 2007 is the “The Hague Art & Antique Days” and I am devastated to miss it as I’ll be away doing research on antique shopping in Eastern Europe for my dear readers. A diva’s work is never done.

Should the weather be nice this Sunday, August 19 (which in Holland is never a guarantee, even in August) and should you be satisfied with substituting an art market for a flea market, then head to Bergen aan Zee where you can take in some sun, sea and sand before shopping the Boulevard Kunstmarkt, a fair that is held only certain days throughout the year.

Just a few weeks later on September 1 & 2, consider going to the Almere Haven Festival. While you’re marking dates in your agenda, perhaps you should also flip to October and add 13 & 14 for the “Grote International Verzamelmarkt” (Large Collectors Market) at the Veemarkthal in Utrecht. While this isn’t the type of charming, outdoor market I usually like, it is so jam-packed with potential purchases for every taste and style that it makes it worth every cent of the 4 Euro entrance fee.

As I close, it seems I might have forgotten to mention the flea market in the Dutch town of Delft (à la porcelain fame), where each Saturday from April 21 – Sept 29 you’ll find a bric-a-brac, antiques and book market. And should that still not be enough, consider taking a whole weekend to do The Antique Route through Zeeland (whose website is unfortunately only available in Dutch but never mind, just use Babel Fish to translate it for you). In Zeeland, you’ll find quaint, Dutch, seaside life away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.

These dates are certain to keep you busy for the coming months! Happy Shopping and should you find something divine, please share your stories and photos!

Tot Ziens!

The Antiques Diva

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