Dreamweavers – Junking: It’s All About The Story…

18 May

For some time now, I’ve been fascinated with the stories of people who decide to craft a new life for themselves and simply follow their dream. Of course, once I finally took the plunge myself, these stories became my lifeline; they have kept me afloat. So this new segment on the blog titled, ‘Dreamweavers’ will document some of the wonderful stories I have collected along the way and the inspiring people who bring them to life!

I first heard of Tamarah Charter last year, when my sister sent me a link to her blog, ‘Shabby Vintage Junk’. Then soon after, I met her at the inaugural 2010 Shabby Vintage Junk Extravaganza (which I might add, she organised while working full time!!) I was totally inspired and came home that day, laden with treasures for my new office. Luckily for all of us ‘thrifters’, the event was such a success that the Shabby Vintage Junk Extravaganza 2011 returns to Melbourne on the 3rd and 4th of June at the Ashburton Scout Hall. If you are a lover of all things vintage, this event is not to be missed! Tamarah’s website can provide you with a taste of what will be on offer. So let’s meet the woman herself, who proves that ‘junking’ is yet another form of storytelling!

What is it about finding and selling ‘junk’ that you find so inspiring?

Oh this is a COMPLEX one Beth….hahahahaha….Let’s see….Each time I ‘rescue’ a piece of junk, I feel I’m preserving a fragment of history and the memories of the person the item once belonged to. I imagine the treasure whispering its story to me and I hope the person who buys it, hears this too! The items I gravitate towards, are often utilitarian in nature, showing signs of continual use. I’m very accepting of this wear – the chips, dents, peeling paint and scratches are to me, proof of the treasure’s ‘worth’. I think these treasures link us all to simpler times when goods were proudly manufactured here in Australia with quality materials. Way back in the good old days before ‘planned obselesence’ was a term used to describe the ‘shelf life’ of an item and manufacturing was largely undertaken ‘off shore’.

I know I have many memories of junk collecting with my Dad. Do you have any memories like these?

I grew up in a small country town where there was no council rubbish collection. Once a week, Dad would load us all in the car, rubbish in the boot and we’d head off to the tip. While he unloaded the car, my brother and I would look for treasures in the rubbish mounds. I ALWAYS came home with something – a pretty tin, an abandoned toy. I LOVED those tip trips!

How did you make the transition from full time work to full time junker? What were some of the challenges?

Very easily! Matt and I discussed my leaving work in January during the Christmas holidays. I’d been unhappy in my workplace for some time and felt the need to nurture my creative side. I didn’t want to be one of those people who ‘settled’ and looked back at retirement, regretting never having done what I truly wanted.
Matt was very understanding of this, asking simply that I take the time to write a business plan. Writing my business plan was an eye opener! I had to consider the financial consequences of giving up a well paid job for a role, that when you factored in all the unavoidable expenses, would see me working much harder (physically) and longer hours, for a much smaller return.
One of the greatest challenges has been maintaining my energy levels.The majority of my time is spent sourcing my items and when I get home around 6pm (after leaving the house at 7am), I still need to unload my van, take pictures for future blog posts and keep track of my inventory. Then I sort items into clean and repair piles and wash the dirty items before repacking the van so I can put it all into storage the next morning before I head out again! I then spend several hours after dinner, editing my pictures and writing posts for my blogs. I also answer emails and do some blog reading to keep up with what everyone has been up to. By the time I fall into bed around midnight, I’m pretty pooped and if I’ve spent the day lugging heavy pieces about, it’s sometimes hard to get going the next morning.

How has blogging promoted and developed your business?

I LOVE blogging. It’s put me in touch with like minded people who constantly inspire and motivate me. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a wonderfully giving community. I have an Etsy Shop attached to my blog page and although I’ve only sold a few items so far, I’m confident it will provide a much needed revenue stream down the track. I’ve found I have quite a few people reading my blog who don’t have blogs of their own. It gives me a great deal of pleasure when I meet someone who says they love reading my blog and that I’ve inspired them to pick up that piece in the hard rubbish, when they may have been to shy to stop in the past. I’ve also been fortunate to meet a number of my international blog friends during my recent visits to the U.S, who have made me feel very welcome and continue to inspire me from afar.

Any particular junking stories that are close to your heart? (I so loved the post about the wedding dress)

Oh Beth, I have THOUSANDS….hmmmmmm….Let’s see…One of my FAVOURITE treasures is a pink and cream fibreglass horse that was once part of a child’s spring loaded ride on toy. I found it late one Sunday in the hard rubbish about nine years ago. Buried under a HUGE pile of building materials, all I could see was its pretty pink and cream muzzle as I drove by. I pulled up and went and knocked on the door to ask the homeowners if it was okay for me to get the horse out. It took me almost two hours to get it out and put the pile back where it was originally. I ADORE that horse and all its peely pink creaminess and I’ll never part with it. It sits on the hall cupboard and I SMILE OUT LOUD every time I see him!
The wedding dress I found last summer was a MIRACLE find. I hadn’t planned on going out the evening but ‘something’ was telling me I SHOULD. Not long after I left the house though, it started to rain. I was thinking of turning back when I spied an interesting looking ‘shape’ in the dark. I pulled over to look at what I thought was an intricate wrought iron piece, only to find the piece was so badly decayed it was unsalvageable. It was, however, sitting on top of an old brown Globite style suitcase. When I lifted the lid and saw the tulle, I couldn’t get it in my van fast enough. This 1950’s beauty still has confetti in the bodice and is waiting patiently in my office (on a mannequin) for its makeover, before it will be passed on again.

Dreams for the future?

Growing the Shabby Vintage Junk Extravaganza into the ‘go to’ vintage event is my number one priority. This goes hand in hand with spreading the word of my four favourite R’s – Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine & Repurpose! I’d also like to arrange annual vintage tours to the U.S to showcase some of the AWESOME vintage shows they have over in Minnesota & Texas. And then there’s the idea I have for a Blog Conference – Vintage B&B…. :o)

Thank you so much Tamarah for sharing your story. I always look forward to your blog posts and gave a big cheer when you announced that you’d left your job and were finally partnering up with hard rubbish. It’s a match made in shabby vintage junk heaven!

  1. Veronica Moran commented 10 years ago

    Thanks Tamarah for sharing your story. and your passion for junking and thrifting. Many people think its a hobby but some of us know its a lovely addiction! Good luck with your Extavaganza and business plans for the future!

  2. mollie commented 7 years ago

    I simply love the idea crafting your own life. I personally love vintage items as they are always pleasant to see.

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