I am a big fan of flea markets. What red-blooded craft junkie isn’t?! I am a pretty lucky duck in that I live in the same town as a very neat flea market. Each Saturday and Sunday the flea market is buzzing with shoppers and vendors. Some vendors sell mass-produced low quality clothing or questionable electronics. Other vendors are people who have cleaned out their basement and are looking to get rid of a bit of what they consider to be trash. This is where the treasure is…
A few weeks ago, I walked the flea market with my mom with a goal in mind. I wanted to find some keys. I’ve been seeing skeleton keys all over Etsy and Pinterest – but most of them were replicas made in some far off nation looking to recapture the elegance that once was function. When I see a skeleton key, I think of the ring of keys my Grandma has in her Victorian home. For her, these keys have been collected over years of garage sale hunting and antique shop adventuring. Her keys are used to open doors and curio cabinets that were locked for decades. If a key didn’t fit, it would be added to the key ring and filed away and the hunt for the right key would continue. Now it’s my turn to start collecting.
Mom and I walked up and down the aisles at the flea market; it was a beautiful day and I knew I’d find at least one vendor would have a couple loose keys to sell. I found some other neat things along the way, but keys were hard to find. Finally, we happened upon an older gentleman with a table filled with old bits and pieces. A small plastic bowl held what I had been searching for – KEYS!
There were big keys, small keys, rusted keys, keys that still held a little shine, keys that were ornate, and keys that looked like they came right out of a dungeon. I talked to him for a little while and he told me that he had collected the keys over the years and most of them were probably older than he was. He even had one key – a large, rusted, utilitarian style key – that had come from an old jail cell. Made in America, he said! The real deal! Just what I had been looking for. He told me the smaller keys were usually from cabinets, desks, and other pieces of furniture, while the larger keys were to doors. Good to know! I fished through the dish and picked out about a dozen keys to take home.
What a score! I am so happy with my find! Fiddling with these keys, examining their unique bits of rust and wear, you can really appreciate how old they are and it’s hard not to wonder what doors and locked drawers they’ve been separated from for so long. A few keys will make their way into some crafty projects – but I feel that some will end up on my own key ring – you never know when there will be a door that needs opening!