textiles · exploration · misadventure


Atavistic Assemblage

San Pablo Flea Market

San Pablo Flea Market

Oakland is an excellent place to scavenge.

As previously, I went to the San Pablo Flea Market and Urban Ore, and to the Depot for Creative Reuse twice, once on arrival and again on departure, because their goods turn quickly and they are right down the block.

I assembled so many treasures that I had to bring a sackful to Matt to bring home (he works in Berkeley) AND made an extra trip home to drop some off. I still had to sit on my suitcase to get it zipped.

As usual, the SPFM, pictured above, was a flea market on LSD, and they do get first prize for Weirdest Shit for this:
First Prize for Weird Shit What the hell is that, you ask? THAT, my friends, is a jar of prunes.


I know. There were several.

Though tempted, I did leave the prunes alone. Instead I came home with the most spectacular set of rust dyeing equipment I could get onto the bus. Here’s some of it:

Rust Dyeing Paraphernalia

PicMonkey Collage

It’s already hit the back porch, and is happily stewing away in the unseasonable sunshine.

Field of treasure

Over the week, at my various locals, I found: rusty iron in various shapes, lengths, sizes; mini cast-iron pan; copper pipe; copper wire; iron wire; steel wool; an old bin lid to rust dye in; foam and wood blocks for stamp bases; rubber cement; a variety of resists to make into stamps to use on paper and fabric; a variety of watercolor and sketching paper to try out stamping and leaf printing; enamel, acrylic, and fabric paints; paint thinners, extenders, and brushes; a plexiglass fragment and a brayer to spread paint on it; yards and yards of linen, cotton canvas, and silk noil fabrics, and cotton crochet thread….


I played with paint and stamping supplies before I even came home. I mordanted some of the drawing papers in alum, layered them with these fantastical leaves I found in the compost heap and some other leaves I’d brought from home, tied them in a bundle to be brought home and steamed. I stamped and painted some of the papers, and let me tell you, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I used to fingerpaint when I was a kid, and that’s about my current skill level. However. It was all in the name of experimentation and answering the question hey, what happens when I do this or that? Some results I’m kind of “Meh!” about, other things I did intrigue me and ask for more attention.

I find it so pleasant to scavenge in this way. It feels right, kind of hunter-gatherer maybe, a massage of genes we don’t use much of in our technological lives. The knowledge in my head of what I need and want, the slow picking my way forward in the sunshine, over piles of chaff, seeking the nutrient bits in the salvage yard mulch. Spotting of treasure, assembling a hoard to bring home, to keep my heart warm for the rest of the winter.