Recently at the Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market Blog, we discussed the antiques part of the shop's name. Today, we're going to explore the second part, the repurposed part!
Repurposed items are those which are now used in a manner unintended by the original maker. It could be as simple as where you position an item. For example, place an antique iron at the door and now the iron serves as a doorstop. It could be as easy as a new way to use the item. An example of this sort of repurposing would be placing a vintage wooden ironing board behind the sofa and, voila! you now have a "new" console table.
Repurposing can also involve altering the item somehow. It could be as fun as painting and stenciling that old wooden ironing board to create a rustic sign for the family's laundry room. Or, a bit more complicated, turning that boring old cocktail table into clever, eye-catching seating.
When things are creatively repurposed or reused, the process is often called "upcycling." Upcycling is a bit like recycling -- only instead of melting down things like glass and plastic to reproduce more of the same (more or less), upcycling transforms undesired objects into desired ones.
It could be as traditional as dying and embellishing clothing and textiles to hide spots. It could be as practical as repainting and reupholstering to freshen up the furniture. It could be as simple as using mismatched china cups, glassware, and ceramic bowls as planters.
It could be as crafty as converting balls of thread and old glass cigar holders into little vases, turning an old sewing drawer into a decorative wall-mounted version, or stitching those fabric scraps into whimsical decor items.
Repurposing and upcycling can also be a bit more challenging...
Rescued, reclaimed, and found pieces can be combined to make new creations. Glass and crystal pieces are refashioned into solar lights. Cast iron sewing machine legs proudly carry new shimmering tabletops. Those unplayable vintage vinyl records play a new tune when turned into clocks & coasters.
And then there are times when repurposing is taken to new levels.
Such as when old film cameras become lamps -- complete with lampshades made with vintage film slides. When this is done, the items are often considered to be altered artworks. Like folk art, altered art pieces are works which have value far beyond their components.
Whether you call it repurposed, upcycled, or altered art, the reuse of "junk" is not only better for our environment in terms of lessening the loads taken to landfills, but also reduces the consumption of fresh raw materials and therefore means reductions in energy usage and pollution. Just as it is with buying vintage, buying repurposed items made from the normally discarded bits and bobs of this world is good for the planet.
If you're the crafty sort who is inspired by the ideas you see at Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market, in home decor magazines, on Pinterest, etc., F.A.R.M. has all sorts of supplies for you!
DIY fans will enjoy picking through salvaged architectural pieces, looking for just the right old door to turn into a headboard, the picture perfect window to frame family portraits, and the properly weathered boards and patina colored metal sheets to complete that project.
There are smaller finds too...
Vintage aprons and hankies just waiting to be sewn into sunny kitchen curtains. Vintage chenille bedspreads to turn into adorable stuffies and comfortable pillows. Vintage drawers and enamelware pieces for centerpieces and small garden planters. Old glass bottles ready to be vases... So many pieces to play with!
And, of course, F.A.R.M. carries Cottage Paint so you can refresh and rescue and refreshen your existing furniture, cabinets, frames, signs, and more!
Come on in F.A.R.M. -- find unique decor for you home and be inspired!
If you're new to shopping for antiques and vintage, you might be confused by some of the terms used. One of the most common confusion points is understanding the difference between what's antique and what's vintage.
In the strictest sense, the difference between an antique and a vintage item is its age.
Antiques are items which must be at least 100 years old. That means, as of the date of this posting, an antique item was made on or before April of 1918.
The 100-years-or-older rule applies to any of these items no matter what they are made of. So even though it may seem less likely for a book or glassware to survive 100 years than a piece of furniture, therefore making the fragile stuff seem like it should become an antique earlier; but it doesn't work that way. *wink*
Items over 300 years of age generally fall into one of two categories depending upon whether they are manmade creations or natural finds. If they are not manmade, if they are the remains or impressions of formerly living things, they are fossils. If the items are manmade, they are called antiquities or artifacts (also spelled artefacts).
Typically, items over 300 years are dug up either in the process of modern land development and construction, or by archaeological work. And they are also unearthed in attics, basements, and private collections too.
Given the relatively short history of writing systems in the United States of America, the word prehistoric is often attached to any unearthed items older than 300 years. Naturally, in our Fargo-Moorhead area, this includes a number of Native American artifacts. Though it should be noted that not all Native American artifacts are so old.
Vintage items are not as old as antiques. However, unlike the definition of an antique, labeling something vintage is far more subjective. The word vintage literally means "of age." With such an open meaning, there are many interpretations. Most antique dealers consider an item to be vintage if it is at least 40 years old. So, in the context of this blog date, a vintage item would be made between 1918 and 1978.
Even though many vintage items are nostalgic, they are sought after for many reasons besides their age. This includes decorating and collecting. And, because so many of these objects are still useable, they are often practical pieces with a unique flair.
In order to cover additional time periods, perhaps, many of those who buy and sell antique and vintage objects also use other words. Among them, the word "retro."
Retro is an affectionate shortening of the French word "retrograde." Like the word "retroactive," the original meaning references the past -- but is not from the past. Instead, retro goodies imitate the styles of the recent past. They are not copies or fakes; but items which give a nod to the past. Think of classics such as bowling shirts and letterman jackets.
However, over time, the definition of retro has also come to encompass things from the recent past -- things not old enough to be authentically vintage, but not merely "just used things" either. They are just old enough to be nostalgic. Many of these things still can be used -- or in the case of records, tapes, and CDs, played.
Typically, the term retro is given to items which are at least 20 years old (but not yet 40 years old). Again using today's posting date, retro items would be those made between 1979 and 1998.
Also found in antique malls like Fargo's F.A.R.M. are items which are not necessarily old at all, but still collectible. Among these things are what are called reproductions (sometimes called "repros" or "repops" in the antiques business). Reproductions are copies of older items. They are not "fakes" as they are not trying to pass themselves off as older or anything other than what they are: copies of, usually, much older things.
Some of these things, such as reproduction drawer pulls and hardware, allow for folks to more readily and affordably restore their old houses. And, in fact, many reproductions, including reproductions of antique Coke A Cola trays and old cast iron toys, have real value unto themselves.
Additionally, many antique malls -- the Fargo Antique & Repurposed Market included -- sell collectibles and curios. Collectibles and curios need not be old at all. They just have to be desired. Think of things like Breyer horses
Of course, often collecting new items leads to collecting the older variations... That's often how that collecting bug starts! You've been warned!