FREE shipping on all U.S. orders over $200!

The Secret to a Good Flea (Market) Day is a Good Friend!

Photographs by Claire Rosen

The secret to a good Flea Day is a good friend.

     This past weekend's Flea Day was with Claire Rosen, one of the sisters behind the Warwick Furnace Farm – down the road a piece in Chester County. Claire days arrive with neither responsibility, nor sense of time. I abandon my life, my family, my Pearl, the dishes and laundry. I abandon the gardening and the weeding. (I don’t abandon Peg and Awl, as it goes). On these days hearts beat in old things, through camera lenses, dress-up, abandoned houses, time behind us and time in front of us, and somehow also, extra now, ever-present. Claire days are all story, all art, all magic.

     I awoke early, scribbled small nothings into my journal, then headed out to The Farm to fetch Claire on one of the hottest stickiest summer days. We planned to get there early, while the air was breath-inable. My music is loud for the time of day, but the space betwixt houses, betwixt farms, vibrating with bird and insect chatter, welcomed the intrusion.

     When I arrive I step back in time. And here comes Claire in her long flowing dress, with a gigantic woven basket in one hand, wearing the enthusiastic grin of an adventurer. 

     We drive into excess, into time travel, into a dreamland. We are new friends, but I imagine we will never run out of things to talk about. Everything we find is to become something else. A part of a photograph, a part of our homes, or transformed into a usable entirely other, treasure. We lingered at Leonard's table first, unfolding and refolding seed bags used over and over until disposable bags replaced them in the 1960s. Leonard's were washed and faded and soft. He couldn't hear very well so we had to get extra close or raise our voices to communicate. He smiled a gentle smile with each shout. Claire found some miniature antique frames for an upcoming project. We found dip pens and nibs and new old clothes that fit! Somedays yield no treasures, but I think the company, and the lingering, and the longer looks are what lead to magic.

     Each time our bags grew too heavy to hold, we emptied their contents into the truck and went to another place, and another. By the time we returned to The Farm, the truck was full inside and out with tiny treasures to large pieces of furniture and all of the in-betweens. We emptied truck and cleared an antique table of its nests and taxidermy, books — a multitude of treasures. We swiped bits of the long abandoned bird homes and other debris onto the floor in a frenzy, and set out the day's abundance.

     We photographed and dreamed of the next adventure before this one was even over. It was dark out before we realised how little we'd eaten all day. Another joy is being so absorbed in a thing, that nourishment is forgotten. We went into Claire's house (a story for another time), into her cozy kitchen and she made Kite Hill tortellinis to which we added a fancy olive oil (Dolly's) and black smoked salt. As Claire melted into her kitchen table, I got my second wind. The nighttime air was cool again, it was nearly tomorrow. I took off playing Asaf Avidam, and drove home amongst lightening bugs, passed a nighttime fox, and returned home to my family playing a late night game of Querkel. 

     I emptied the day's finds into the already overflowing kitchen, along with my stories from the day...

A rainbow of antique Dip Pens, and this fox embroidery which I will hang up in our house. 
I have to replace the nibs and clean the pens. Leonard tagged them in 1993! So the stickers are gooey. Next time I may invite myself into the massive warehouse he described with wide but tired eyes. He has been collecting things for 60 years 
Finding Antique Clothing that fits me is rare! This mother of pearl pen writes like a dream and the other niblets will make their way into something or other. 
This little kitty detail from a feedsack is SO good. I think I will find a way to incorporate it into a bag! 
These bundle scraps are always a favourite – we use them to line our journals! These are from the early 1900s.
This is some of Claire's loot. The pen nibs and seed bags are scrumptious! and the other morsels will be part of some new photographs!
If the old thread is strong enough, it may find its way into projects. The pen nibs were abundant!
I contemplated this 1950s or 60s bear pencil holder for a while — so happy I got 'er! 
Stacks of Feedsacks and Bags that once held Seeds, Sugar, and Salt. These blues will be saved for our Winter Of A Kind collection. 
Mostly from the 1930s! Working these into our Autumn collection. Any specific dreams? Let us know in the comments!




Leave a Comment
Add A Comments Cancel Comment
Leave a Comment

Love your finds! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful adventure with us!

Can’t wait to see what the seed sacks become. Hope I’m lucky enough to snatch one up whatever they will be.

Hello hello!
I adore this post! Your words makes me fell like I am there with you ladies. What wonderful treasures you found. :) Thank you for sharing it with us all!
- Jaclyn

You have no idea how inspireing your aestethics and words are. I live in the north of Argentina and been following you for ages. I can only wish to live in a place like yours and see life through your eyes.

Thank you for sharing! Wish I could have been there too. Can’t wait to see what your treasures become!!

I live in Chester County and always on the look out for this kind of adventure. Can you any location details. Thanks for a wonderful story and sharing your treasures

Hi Margaux,
Wonderful post.wish it could go on and with more photos. I hope you found a lovely vintage dress.
Thank you.