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Flea Day: Irvine

December 7, 2009

Cheeky, chalky and stylish

We decided to take in the Irvine City College Flea Market, this being the first Sunday of the month. Having heard a lot about this show of late, we thought we’d see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. We’d heard it was smaller than most of the other local flea markets (it was); that it’s prices were lower than most (not really); that the range of goods on offer was pretty good (yes and no); that dogs were allowed (they were, and how!). We got to the market an hour after opening and it was in full swing, well-populated with shoppers and spread over 3 small lots. Pictured above is a pair of large chalkware figures, of uncertain vintage and origin, that were my favorites at the show. Unfortunately, by the time I got to them they were hanging back, having already sold. Sigh. Thankfully, there were quite a few things of interest on display, and they follow. (Note: I had decided beforehand to limit myself to a $100 budget and I found two items to purchase; they are at the end of this post.)

An exuberant character; puzzling wood

First up was a booth full of interesting western-style items, including the jaunty carved figure in the top photo. Despite his missing arms, his face and body really spoke to me (that bellybutton!). The dealer was asking $100 for him, and that being my whole budget, I decided to wait. Also for sale were these hand-carved puzzles … a large eagle and smaller camel, in cages, that were interesting, but I decided not to ask what they cost.

Latin flavor to catch the eye

Along with western-themed wares, there were also a few dealers with Mexican and other Latin-style items. I particularly liked the carved wood Sol, above, but there was a lot that would appeal to the latinophile: retablos, mascaras, rugs, furniture, paintings and more.

White hands, sparkly fruit and the schnoz

Some dealers’ displays were interesting mixes of color and texture. Above, bright white glove forms and other small figurines, play off flashier sequinned fruits in a vintage wire tray. Playing referee is a funny red pot-bellied and bewigged gentleman made of lobster parts.

Tibetan, Indian, Asian color

The friendly dealer manning this booth had quite an assortment of colorful items from Asia. A fave was the green circular metal light fixture with blue bulbs in the top picture. It was going for $400 and actually worked, even though its cloth cord looked ancient. I loved it  but it was way out of my budget. Much more affordable were the papier mache vessels in various sizes sitting on the wooden table in the lower picture. Only $35, they were beautifully made of colorful papers, and from Tibet. Behind the table were similar vessels for the same price and lidded. Great deals but I still wasn’t ready to commit to any one thing yet. Moving on …

Baby heads, ephemera and bell jars

This booth’s wares were wittily well-displayed. Numerous dollies’ heads were caged under various crown-like things, creating a macabre/goth-y vibe. Also on sale was lots of ephemera and other items that had a shabby/french-y/rustic feel. I loved the large glass bell jar with saint cards displayed inside. I bought an item from this booth, after negotiating a $15 drop: a small church marquee with plastic letters for creating my own inspirational message!

Star light, star bright

Winner of the “might induce a seizure” award, the booth above was one of the few in attendance that featured mid-century goods. The starburst pendants on display had some of its bits painted in various colors that were jarring and unexpected … not a match for me. Shown in the company of other dissonant items (rag rugs? early American quilts?) my eyes needed a rest.

Rustic succulence

Just when I was beginning to despair the lack of succulents for sale at this flea market, we came upon this dealer who had an amazing collection of garden items. We were very attracted to the large concrete shell planter, as well as the tall wood fragment with real sculptural sculptural presence. He had other planter pots in metal, some industrial metal furniture, framed pieces and a small selection of nice succulents. Of particular interest were the ‘chalk fingers’ senecio, in the pot at the top of the picture. The foliage really did look like the more well-known blue senecio that had had chalk rubbed on each plump finger. Due to my earlier purchase I had only $20 left in my pocket and decided not to ask how much anything was. Maybe next time …

Skulls, skulls, skulls

This dealer had skulls from various countries and in lots of different materials. Everything from resin, to amber, to glass, and what I thought was bone and horn. Death never smiled so cheerfully as these tiny grinners … I’m looking forward to visiting this flea market again soon. Hopefully, on that day, the weather will be warmer, my budget will not be as limited and we’ll bring Pucci with us. There were dogs of every variety puttering around the market and Pucci could really use the exercise and socialization. OH! — my purchases?! Here they are …

Two purchases, conflicting messages

The small church marquee is about 12 x 16 inches, metal with cool transparent plastic flexible letters that fit into grooves. I love the typo in the message  and the color and wear on the piece. Originally the dealer wanted $95 for this, but I offered her $60. We eventually settled on $80 and I think it was worth it. The other, much less peaceful, piece is a chalkware monkey pile-up  and is something I’ve never seen before. When I first saw it I thought it was a disturbing scene of monkey cannibalism, but now I think it’s an older, parental monkey trying to break up some kind of childish monkey melée. I knew immediately I would have this. I asked the dealer how much and he said it was $35. Drat! I only had $20 in my pocket! I told him this and handed the piece back and started to walk away. I had gone a few steps when he sighed behind me and said he was tired of dragging it around,  and he’d take my $20 for it. I got it —  isn’t it great?! The old plastic googly-eyes really make me happy and I’m looking for just the right spot to display it.

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