Fairmount Flea Market is Back

It was good to get outside last week, stretch my legs and attend the Fairmount Flea Market. Fairmount is a Philadelphia Neighborhood north of the Art Museum district. Fairmount’s distinctive landmark is Eastern State Penitentiary which sits on the neighborhood’s southern border. I used to live in Fairmount on a street right behind the prison. Of course, the prison was no longer operating by this time and the prison grounds were home to bands of feral cats who roamed the large expanse.

When they built the prison, it was located far outside the city in a cornfield. Now, it’s surrounded by busy streets and row houses. The prison was considered an improvement on crowded, violent penal conditions of the day. It was felt that giving an inmate solitude and opportunity to reflect would help rehabilitation. But the road to hell, so the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. And so it was with Eastern State. Solitary confinement proved to have a disastrous effect on inmates who it destroyed psychologically. Charles Dickens witnessed this when he visited Eastern State in 1842 and later wrote about it.

Fast forward 160 years and the inmates are gone. Eastern State has been cleaned up, is open for tours, and beautiful playgrounds and gardens cover the grounds where the feral cats roamed. Funny how these things work. Here are some pictures.

Speaking of cats, I met two of them on the way home and they graciously let me take their pictures.

Looking for Inspiration? Try a Flea Market

Spring is when the outdoor flea markets spring up in Philadelphia.  My favorite Saturday activity is to take long walks through the neighborhoods and hit house sales, sidewalk sales, and flea markets on my way.  I usually look for household items I might need at sidewalk sales.  Estate sales are especially interesting because they are usually held in affluent neighborhoods and you get to see some pretty impressive homes from the inside as well as antiques and art.  You also learn that money does not always equal taste, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

Flea markets are fun because the sellers are generally pretty friendly in my experience and some are eager to talk about their wares even if you don’t buy.  They’re a place to learn, meet people, and relax.

WalkLikeAnEgyptian

John S. Whitney, Jr. has a clever way of attracting buyers to his table filled with antique art and jewelry.  He also sells from his store, the Nue Gallery, in Lansdown, PA.

While I don’t collect antiques or vintage items, and rarely buy jewelry,  I find plenty of inspiration at flea markets.  You will find plenty of shapes and color at flea markets, in the form of old pottery vintage clothing, brightly colored cloth, old appliances, or just plain rusty stuff.  I have found some great old tools at flea markets, but I also look for things I can incorporate into my art, like old jewelry, metal objects I can cut up and repurpose, ephemera,  or anything that I can fit into a bezel.

Here are some pictures from my last flea market foray

 

And here’s what I bought: two cheap copper cuff bracelets and two cheap brass ones.  Total, $5.00.  I plan to reuse the metal to make something new.  I also found a vendor selling cabochons and treated myself to some lovely striped jasper for another $10.00.

My Haul

A Box of Hammers

I love going to flea markets to shop for old tools to use for jewelry making. I love unusual hammers most of all. I picked up an old cobbler’s hammer at a sale a little while ago (just because it looked interesting) along with a nifty tack hammer that will be just perfect​ for texturing and maybe riveting.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “dumber than a box of hammmers.” I suppose a box of hammers would not have the collective intelligence of a box of beetles for instance or a box of bicycle messengers. On the other hand, a bag full of hammers is not likely to be more intelligent because said hammers are not in a box.

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A Box of Hammers!

That being said, I initiated the conversation that led to the sale with the question, “Have you ever heard the expression ‘dumber than a box full of hammers?'” The person selling the hammers told me he was familiar with the expression and then gave me a very smart price on my selections from his box of hammers.

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