By now you know that, with my adult-sized children Agamemnon and the Baron Lucy-Lee at home, I’ve been managing my encaustic habit on the cheap. During the winter months, The Theory and I visit Goodwill and Value Village once a month or so, but the real joy and pleasure of the year starts after Memorial Day.
Estate sales, yard sales, neighborhood sales
Estate sales are the sleek, fast cars of the DIY sales, and there are two kinds: sales run by the overworked and desperate families who just want to get rid of grandma’s junk, and sales run by professionals hired by the desperate families. You want to visit the first kind. Where else can you fill your car with really good stuff for a dollar?
Yard sales are as various and wonderful as humanity itself. Eighty percent of them are kids’ clothing and broken toy sales, but there are a fair number of “I can’t live with all this crap anymore” sales. The best sales of all are “Dead Husband” sales. Here’s where the widow of the dead husband, now several years past her loss, goes out to the garage (or basement) one day and says, “Why did he need all this stuff? And why couldn’t he have cleaned this place up before he died?”
I like to hear the widow’s side of the story which almost always involves her shock at opening a cabinet door and discovering that poor dead hubby spent ten thousand dollars on fishing lures. (That’s a true story) At these sales you can find hand tools, lumber and various weird contraptions from the 1950’s and 60s.
I can’t say I’ve outfitted my studio for $20 or less at yard sales (that would be a lie) but I’ve managed to stumble across a few cool things while spying on my neighbors.
Here’s a list of things I’ve found, divided into three categories:
Buy it when you see it
Electric griddle (AKA palette)
Portable burner (if you swing that way)
Supports (such as your neighbors’ old craft projects or lumber)
Teflon sauce pans
Craft sticks, craft widgets, old canvases
Cool things you may need some time
Pigment storage bottles (spice racks are great)
Old cotton sheets if they are really old and really cheap
Hand tools such as metal files, wood carving tools
Things The Theory finds just by putting it out there
A tripod (this find was a miracle)
Office supplies of all sorts
Non-mechanical sprinkler head (he’s hella lucky that way)
We found all of the above and many more useful and useless things. Outside the studio I am aggressive about purging stupid things I paid real money for, but inside the studio I tend to covet shiny objects. I think it’s because I’m still new to the wax trade and I don’t know if a tool might be useful in the future. I picture Agamemnon and the Baron Lucy-Lee having a “dead parent” sale one day and not believing what a lot of crap I managed to shove into the studio. Fair warning, kids: I’m taking the good stuff with me.