Mr. A. and I went off this weekend to do some adventurin’. We ended up a way up the Scottish East Coast, in St. Cyrus, at an Aladdin’s cave of second hand shop. Actually, to call it a shop is to be very, very kind. It’s really a yard and some sheds. The majority of the stuff is outside, year round, marinating in the Scottish weather. And there is everything out there; from rusty old lawnmowers and garden seats, to hundreds of hand-painted dainty looking teacups and crockery to commodes and electric wheelchairs. On a bad day, you’d say this place was a tip, on a good, you’d try and convince yourself that there are treasures to be hunted out. An by god was there hunting to do.
The place was really quite busy with people rooting around and there was very little idea of anyone being in charge. I found this lovely old rusty tray which I though would be goregous with teracotta plant pots on. This is where my enthusiasm starts to wain. There are no prices on anything. So you have to go up and ask. Ok, fine, haggling time right? £15 for a really sad looking tray. What??!! I have a real problem with these places sometimes. You get judged by what you’re dressed like and what your accent is and what kind of car you drive up in and thats how they come to the price. Ok, I can understand that, but haggling comes in at this point right? Nope, I’ve never come across a more sour faced salesperson. I managed to get here down to £10 with the bonus of a lovely loaf plate thrown in (she did not like that…) but even still I feel that the whole experience has tainted my enthusiasm for searching out neglected lovelies like these. Hmm, hopefully it will pass.
But otherwise what do you think? Out of curiousity I got out some silver polish and had a go to see if I could buff up the tray. I experiemented with the base and a section of the side, and guess what, after alot of elbow grease it did! But now I’m not sure I like it. In ‘In Praise of Shadows,’ Junichiro Tanizaki talks about the ‘sheen of antiquity.’
“We (the Japanese) do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive lustre to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artefact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity. Of course this ‘sheen of antiquity’ of which we hear so much is in fact the glow of grime. In both Chinese and Japanese the words denoting this glow describes a polish that comes of being touched over and over again, a sheen produced by the oils that naturally permeate an object over long years of handling – which is to say grime. If indeed ‘elegance is frigid’, it can as well be described as filthy. There is no denying, at any rate, that among the elements of the elegance in which we take such delight is a measure of the unclean, the insanity.”
This tray has the ‘sheen of antiquity’ and thats why I fell in love with it. I’m in a muddle, should I continue to polish or not?
This is my lovely new loaf plate. Impossible to find them in stores these days. Lets try and revive the loaf plate.
Meanwhile, I was also drooling over vintage storage crates at ‘The Stitchin’ Chicken‘ this weekend and the very helpful Cheryl sent me to see ‘Funky Junk Interiors‘ which has an amazing post on vintage crates, how to use them and how to make them. Let the search begin!