The reason we go to events like the Antiques & Garden Fair at the Chicago Botanic Garden is to look rather than buy. This is a rather rarefied level of selling and shopping and for us it's a chance to see unusual things up close and personal. So here are some objects that caught our attention.
This pair of bedsteads were metal so the dealer took advantage of that to have a little fun.
We are always drawn to faces whether in paintings or sculpture and the Fair was filled with wonderful images.
This is the outside of the booth of Thistle, an Illinois dealer who is one of our favorites. We fell in love with this huge piece of African currency with its sculptural appearance. It contrasted nicely with the industrial strainer above it on the wall.
Thistle's space is always filled with lots of objects made of metal and stone and limited in color. They have patina and are never perfect but always catch our attention. Over the years we've bought a few small items from this dealer.
I was in heaven with the number of dealers who were offering china and silver of all kinds. There were a number of folks who specialized in Majolica (below) and Palissy ware.
Another fascinating face.
This one belonged to a large Santos figure, a religious icon identified with Spain and the regions that country colonized. The cage would have supported a garment. I was taken with the metal bamboo stalk that held little lanterns with votive candles as well as the Chinese pot filled with ceramic flowers.
There was oodles of glitzy jewelry gleaming on glass shelves behind closed doors. It was too over the top for me and I could not figure out its appeal until I saw the signs indicating the pieces were from big name designers like Chanel and Oscar de la Renta.
Like many shoppers we were dressed for the weather in sturdy boots, jeans, sweaters and rain jackets. But there were plenty of Chicago shoppers who dressed for the event and to be able to match potential purchases to their outfits.
I was smitten with things like a Gorham silver watering can, a big strand of water buffalo bone beads and these chunky ropes of African amber.
There were lots of antique textiles as well as newer treats like this floral necklet of felt. I almost fell prey to temptation on this one but decided to save my money just in case.
Mark was taken with this giant shop sign of a wooden jackknife.
Partly it was the scale of the item but what really caught his eye was the name — O'Brien — which is a family name.
We ended the afternoon with coffee, a piece of poppyseed cake and a peek at the CBG gift shop. Decorator Michael Smith spoke as part of the special events offered all weekend in conjunction with the Fair. I like a lot of his work but not enough to shell out the money for his lecture or his books.
I came home with a small religious medal with St. Christopher on one side and Pope John XXIII on the other. I bought it because it was round in shape, appears to be silver and only cost $6, which is the perfect price for something that I plan to add to my charm bracelent. And also because the last time I was a practicing Catholic, John XXIII was on the throne. We thought of him as the "Pope of hope," and indeed the world seemed more hopeful in those youthful days.
We spent the rest of our time in Chicago with friends old and new, eating and drinking, listening to music and talking art, books, movies, politics and, of course, gardening — the kind of personal interactions that help to keep us hopeful these days.