by tracy eickelberg
We set out for Brimfield at 5:00am from our studio in Boston. Chilly and drizzling, the weather proved inopportune for a day we planned to spend outside and on our feet. As we pressed westward, both the clouds and our spirits lifted, and visions of weaving through miles of treasures yet to be discovered would soon become our realities.
Three times a year, the Brimfield Antique Show abruptly shakes a quiet Massachusetts town from its slumber, as nearly 30,000 attendees flood the fields on an exploratory quest to discover antique furniture, glass, clothing, memorabilia, and out-there oddities (see images 4 + 5 below). Booths range from highly curated, showroom quality displays to yard-sale lookalikes with items from by-gone eras mounted in haphazard heaps. We were on the hunt for particularly interesting vessels, planters and garden ornamentation.
Of course, the people you meet are just as much a part of the experience as the collections themselves. Quickly you realize just how diverse this strange sub-culture is; everyone seems to know each other, complimenting one another’s recent estate sale acquisitions and the next minute, jumping in mid-haggle to entice you with a better deal.
The fields were bustling with buyers, dealers, artists, hobbyists–a feast of oddballs that would satisfy any people-watcher. Purveyors were curiously laid back and approachable, yet the crowd was brimming with an overwhelming sense of urgency, waiting in lines for first access to the best goods. It would be difficult to categorize the assortment of items hauled in and out of these fields each season, but one thing is absolute: If you can’t seem to find that certain something at Brimfield, good luck finding it anywhere else.
We made some great finds: Trunk bases of a cedar tree with roots intact will become a fabulous table. The rusted steel skeleton of a light fixture that will one day become a foyer stunner. An eight foot armillary that will grace some lucky client’s garden. Cozy coils of hand-spun wool just waiting to become a favorite scarf. There is something profound about the process of upcycling, collecting, and preserving. Each piece has a history, a story, and we want to give each piece a future. As one woman from Charleston said as we pulled away with our truck, ‘who knows, maybe I’ll see this piece again one day!’