For the Love of Antiques
I would like to come clean and confess that I belong to AA. No, not Alcoholics Anonymous but Antiques Anonymous. My vehicle makes frequent stops at antique shops and markets. I like the history that is associated with these treasures, including their era, purpose and use.
My good friend Jean got me started with antique collecting more than 25 years ago. On visits to her family’s cottage in Miners Bay, Ont., our entertainment would be frequenting antique shops and sales to barter for our purchases. We had lots of fun with this.
Jean and her husband, Jeff, also enjoyed stripping—antique furniture stripping, that is. They would purchase antique dressers and chairs and strip the paint off them using tools, sanders and chemicals. Steel wool, sandpaper and toothbrushes would help get down to the fine detail in the antique stripping. One year on a visit to their family cottage, I got a chair to refinish from a local antique shop for free, as it was closing for the season. I stripped the chair and was happy with the results. I became addicted, and over the years I have refinished many items: antique chairs, trunks, a medicine cabinet, a dresser, school desks, a telephone table and smoker’s cabinet. The first house we owned was an older home; my husband and I stripped the hardwood floors and painted doors and wood frames. It was very labour-intensive, but the results were worth the effort.
I developed an interest in folk art in 2006 and took weekly painting classes. I started painting on antique oil cans, saws, teapots, irons and chairs. I entered a few of my creations into the Grimsby Heritage Arts competitions and placed first for the fall barn scene I painted on an antique saw. This past year, my painting of a steam locomotive on a rustic railroad oil can placed second in the adult category.
I used to take my children to local antique auctions and enjoyed watching the auction process. One of the most embarrassing and funniest things that happened to me was at an auction. My daughter wanted to hold the bidder’s card. She was getting a little restless and did a stretch, revealing the card. The auctioneer thought we were interested in this unusual antique animal-skin drum that people were bidding on. I kept shaking my head that we weren’t interested. The next thing the auctioneer said was, “And almost sold for $200 to the cute little fair-haired girl.”