Of all the flea markets I've been to over the years, the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta is definitely one of my favorites. With a fantastic mix of traditional and modern items from all over the world, Scott's is so eclectic, there really is something for everyone!
Back in January, while Jaithan and I were down in Atlanta for a super fun shopping trip with our readers, we teamed up with my good friend Steve McKenzie of Larson-Juhl Frames for a mini flea market expedition of our own.
As an artist himself, Steve knows the beauty (and longevity) that a
well-chosen frame can bring to a piece of art. Shadowboxing,
especially, is such a cool way of displaying and preserving the things you love.
Problem is, first you have to figure out what objects you want to
frame, how you want to display them, and finally a frame that fits the look you want! It
can all get a little overwhelming, I know. So we thought, why not do a post encouraging folks to think…well… inside the box. These days, with so many of our friends having babies, I couldn't help but feel the love when at Scott's, we stumbled upon a booth with these beautiful, old baby clothes.
Steve and I both agreed there was something so charming about them that if we could somehow frame these clothes in a way that was fresh and modern, they could definitely make for some unexpectedly chic works of art. Well, that was all the inspiration we needed to dig deeper at the flea market, combing the aisles for all things baby! A couple of booths down, one dealer had a gorgeous collection of silver, including several pieces of beautiful antique baby silverware.
Check out what we found! It's a sterling silver baby fork and spoon. Now—if I'd only been so lucky 30 years ago…
A couple of aisles over, from a book dealer out of Birmingham, we found this old scrapbook from the 20s, lovingly titled Baby's History.
It was so beautiful and personal inside, a heart-melting mix of diary entries and drawings, we knew we had to have it! Here was art of a new kind, a spontaneous narrative of our own, unfolding before us.
Next, we headed outside, where Jaithan found two pairs of vintage baby shoes.
How cute are they?
With our shopping done, it was time to head back to the Larson-Juhl showroom, roll up our sleeves, and get to work. But this, I assure you, was more play time than work! Sure, picking frames and mats can be a little scary, but working with Steve (or any of the other skilled folks at Larson-Juhl) makes it a lot easier! Here I am with Steve, our good friend Elizabeth Blitzer (remember her?), and Anne Katz, Art Manager for Artaissance.
Now in choosing frames and mats for these items, I really wanted to have fun with it! Vintage baby can go vintage stodgy real fast. Picture all white mats and ornate gold frames. Boring! Instead, I wanted to take these old, timeworn objects—dresses, shoes, a scrapbook, and silverware—and update them with in a way that's modern, youthful, and surprising. Here I am with Steve, experimenting with layout and color.
For the scrapbook piece, we took our cues from the opening page, narrowing our choices down to a pale yellow, a fresh, spring green and a sophisticated gray, all paired with a modern metal frame.
Next, we went with araucana egg colors—a pretty pale green and two shades of blue—paired with a modern birch frame.
Finally, for the third piece, a coat whose collar we all agreed was nothing short of diva, we picked a punchy palette of hot pink, turquoise, and Dorothy Draper black, framed in minimal white wood.
Check out the final result! No stodgy baby clothes here! The hot pink I think is graphic and chic, especially in our friend Robert's country house, whose city apartment is itself an inspiring lesson in ritzy rentals. With the punchy fabric wall in his daughter's room, modern furnishings like a West Elm desk and Ghost Chair, and one of these retro cool soy candles from Seda France, I think this scenario is as stylish as it is sentimental. Thank you to Addie Juell for her pictures and to Jordan Perry for helping me style!
For the dress and shoes, we chose the darker blue mat in a birch frame, then hung the piece above a dresser flanked by gourd lamps and curtains in an overscale caining pattern. I love the pop of color in this scenario! The piece feels sentimental but beautiful, a work of art all its own. Creating a one-of-a-kind shadowbox like this with objects you love is an investment but then again, here's an antique of the future, to be passed on, no doubt, for generations.
This piece, with gray matting and a modern metal frame, is subtle and sophisticated. It's a collage of sorts that's baby without being babyish; sentimental without being sappy.
Here's a detail of the work, hung on a pretty grasscloth wall.
And finally, for an added surprise, here are two teddy bear baby rattles we also found at the flea market that day. Steve chose gray ultrasuede matting and a black wood frame, which, when mixed with other pieces on a wall, feels spontaneous and modern.