The Chelsea Flea Market wasn't where I expected it to be (I was looking for a big garage), but that’s usually when the most charming moments happen.
The annex on West 25th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway offered a smattering of objects heavily used in someone’s former city life, from a perfume bottle decorated with a metal dancing woman in the art nouveau style to peculiar flat keys from the 1940-1950s. All together, what I found gives me a small window into New York City from roughly 1890-1950, an historic time span that made New York the epicenter of art and culture.
Of course the place was combing with people who had that palpable air of, “I’ve never left the city and I’m totally fine with that,” which gives The City a certain energy not found elsewhere. I also may have discovered the hipster precursor (see photo) who started the beard trend way back when. A few creepy portraits of non-famous people and random ceramic pig statues indicated that this market wasn't too highbrow to price normal people out, but quirky enough to hide curious finds.
And there turned out to be plenty to choose from. I sifted through the standard rusty key bins and grabbed the most interesting ones, as well as initial stamps and even a can opener because it had the words "quick and easy" engraved on the front. The art nouveau perfume bottle will yield the most attractive pieces once it is transformed into a travel bead or a cuff ring. Now, the process begins.
As I write this, molds are being made of the perfume bottle and keys which will produce waxes that I then sculpt and form. Eventually, jewelry will be created through the lost wax process.
It’s fun to imagine who may have sprinkled themselves with aromas or whose hands could have turned the keys to open doors to rooms where historic moments may or may not have happened. In the very least, a little piece of Americana has been saved and is safe and sound in Rhode Island where it gets another life.