I have a friend, we’ll call her Paula, who operates a booth at an antique mall. She maintains it with apparent ease, and she says she LOVES doing so. She’s like me, a thrift-shop hound. But instead of filling up her attic (like I do) she fills up her booth and makes money. She has a good eye. I have a good eye. She’s very energetic. I’m very energetic. She has design acumen and reads all the right books. Well, I read all the right books.
I have been watching her closely, and asking other friends about the business while regularly scoping out shops for ideas. This has motivated me to take the leap and sign a contract with Avonlea Antique Mall. I know. Ostensibly my Whimseytopia.com website is for “selling,” especially my watercolors. And in fact I’m not going to be selling my watercolors in my shop unless I’m falling short of the rent. But rather, this will be a different genre of Whimseytopia, not virtual but more touchy-feely. I think all good shops should have a theme, and mine will be “Pastimes,” coincidentally the name of the weekly newspaper column I wrote for a few years which was based on crafting.
My radar will stay the same since this is just the type of antique I’ve always hunted: books; needlework; sewing tools and ephemera; vintage fabrics; unique jewelry; old cloths, scarves, hats, handbags and costumes; whimsical arts and crafts, antique, vintage, and some of my own creations; and of course peculiarities and all things avant-garde. Designing the booth will be my focus for the next six weeks, and I open April 1st. I think the design work will be the most difficult and most rewarding. Finding display pieces and deciding how to stage my oddly-shaped booth will be a challenge.
But I’m already loving it. Like Paula, this is an amazing step; a real commitment to my goal to get my art, my ideas, and my particular whimsical identity out there. I am encouraged by my husband and several of my friends who see this as a second career for me. I see it as a step toward getting “Whimseytopia” off the computer screen and into people’s lives. I see it as a leap that will bring me closer to publishing my crafting book.
Today I found this curious dress form that I’m guessing is from the turn of the century, and may be from Europe. What is so unique is that you unsnap it in the front and back, place it over someone’s body and resnap, then press the malleable metal so that it conforms to the body’s shape. Then unsnap, slip out, resnap, and you’ve got your model. It’s heavy, and shows some light rust, but I can’t find anything broken on it. It is just the type of oddity that I’m looking for to showcase something in my little shop. My plan is to top it with a papier mache crow’s head.
I have my husband in front of the television cutting out cardboard stars that I will cover in wool and string into a banner (a subject for another post). He seems eager to help me, and I am grateful beyond measure. Am I fearless about all this? No. But like anything else, once I’m over the hump in the learning curve, I think the whole venture will be even more fun.