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American Picking with Paul Michael

On Saturday I paid a visit to a big antique antique market in Warrenton, Texas with my friends the Michael’s. They spend a lot of time every year traveling the country  buying interesting things, which they turn into even more interesting things for their store Paul Michael Company.

If you want to see what I mean about all of the interesting things they create, take a look at this post I did a few weeks ago, it’s an inside peek into Paul Michael’s Workshop.

Paul is the original American picker. There should be a show about him, it would knock the other American picker shows out of the park. What makes him so good at it is that it energizes him to meet all of the people from various parts of the country who have brought their goods. He has lifelong friendships with many of them by now and it isn’t uncommon to find Paul sitting at someone’s booth, smoking a cigar and catching up for a while.

That is the art of picking I think… getting to know the people you are making deals with on a human level. And although Paul makes negotiating into an art form, he always seems to put the human component first.

Seeing as I was bone tired by the end of the day, I’m not sure I have a future as a picker. But I learned a lot about a world that is brand new to me and saw some amazing things in the process.

Want to see some of the jewels in the world? Take a seat…

I’m not sure what to call this shelving piece but it’s beautiful and old school. I love the lamp shade too. The dealer had all kinds of quirky things here that you’ll often see in Ralph Lauren stores as display pieces.

Wooden doors in all shapes and sizes. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to buy a nice classic door from the store anymore.

A lot of large mirrors too. Paul is making a really really interesting mirror in his shop right now that involves embossed tin and a wooden frame. It’s wonderful, I can’t wait until it’s for sale.

Just in case you need a gas pump…

Signs! There are so many signs at this market, I was having trouble narrowing down which one I wanted. Then I was having trouble imagining what size my walls were and then I got cold feet. I blame it on the 106 degree temperature and now that my brain is no longer melting, I think I’m going to go for one. But which one?

I’m not sure what to even call these… stick balls?

I almost bought a Native American for my living room. I was feeling cheeky.

Twisted stumps. I wanted these for my deck but… sold.

Taller ones too! Sold.

Nancy Drew! Can I just tell you how many hours I spent reading Nancy Drew as a child? I would lock myself in my room and skip dinner just to read Nancy Drew for 8 hours at a time. I just had to know who did it and if Nancy escaped danger this time. I also love that Nancy always wore skirts and that her outfits were described in such nice detail. And her dad seemed like such a nice man. Oh Nancy…

I have since emailed my mom to see if she still has all of my Nancy Drews in her attic. I believe I owned all of them. But I may just buy a new set for Texas. After all, you can never have too many Nancy Drews.

Fun letters! This store is also in Austin, it’s called “Uncommon Objects” and they have all kinds of fun…uncommon… things. We bought a smaller sign here.

Ah, old china. The kind that reminds me of my great-grandmother’s kitchen.

Can you read this guy’s t-shirt? “Born to Pick.” He’s in the right place.


A little something to hang your hat on.

Old boxes and nicknacks.

More Nancy Drews!

This important American classic. Do you know my mom was on this show back in the day? Now that I think about it… I wonder if she was in this book…

I’ve been wanting to buy a typewriter for a while, but then I heard that the last typewriter company in the world finally closed its doors this year… so what’s a girl to do when her typewriter is on the fritz? It would definitely help me with that problem I have procrastinating on the internet when I should be doing work…

Fun set of drawers. Since it has a metal top, it would be a great as a kitchen counter don’t you think? You could store all kinds of fun ingredients in the drawers.

A seesaw. I really want one. I was contemplating whether it would look good in the living room as a functional art piece?

Beads! Beads! I used to have a bead collection. Another obsession of my youth. I would trade my friends for their beads and we’d make all kinds of jewels with some wire and a pair of needle nose pliers.

This is what the first mixer looked like, can you believe it? A little different from my Kitchen aid… though I bet my arm muscles would be nicer looking with this one.

Since my visit to Portland a few weeks ago, I’ve developed a need for colorful bar ware. This one particular Portland bar we went to had an eclectic mix from various estate sales that I’m determined to duplicate in my kitchen.

Another fun kitchen counter option. Or for a workspace perhaps…

Extra refrigeration anyone?

Look what Paul bought! Doors from an original hippie era bug.

Another really neat set of drawers.

Copper pots! I really love cooking in copper pots. They conduct heat perfectly.

I don’t know what this is but I dig it.

That’s the thing… each piece has a story, and so what you’re looking at in 10 miles of antique booths are 10 miles of stories. It is overwhelming to learn all of them but you kind of want to. Maybe that is what makes it so exhilarating.

I was thinking of using that wooden container as a planter. What do you think?

I love this on so many levels. I would still pay 25 cents for a hot bath too.

Really loved these chairs… super classic, don’t you think?

I wish I could transport this to Tulipwood.

Okay, now hold on to your seats for a minute. This bike wasn’t for sale but this is about the people remember, and Paul wanted to meet the person that owned a bike like this.

If you look closely, you can see it was modeled after the skeleton of a horse. The saddle alone was hand carved by a man for 40 hours. He would obsess about it and wake up at 3am and start carving. The back of this motorcycle even has horse hair dangling from it.

This is the owner of the bike, he was such a nice man. He told us all about how this bike was a labor of love for him.

Paul tried it on for size.

He thinks he’s too old for a bike like this but we told him it may be just the right thing actually.

These made me nostalgic. My Australian grandmother who we called “nanny” used to have all of these old fashioned ornaments. They are so delicate and detailed. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

Stools… I need stools for the counter. What do you think of these?

I’m not sure what this is meant for but I like how the drawer dips down in a big basin shape.

Wooden chopping blocks. Paul makes a lot of beautiful ones in his workshop based on this style.

Just a folding chair… an awesome one.

What do you think, is it me?

I want. I need.

Another side table idea.

For the center of the kitchen table perhaps?

If you like old fashioned kitchenware, this was a wonderland. In every color!



For that perfect whiskey sour!


And oh the jadeite…

I loved these chairs. Can you see the little baker boy faintly stenciled on the back?

These were gorgeous too. In such perfect condition!

Another gas pump, if the first one didn’t suit your fancy.

And a slot machine to fulfill your gambling needs right from the comfort of your home.

He’s purty. I’d like him on my wall.

There was this area called excess which was thrilling. It was more small scale home ware types of things.

This mirror there came from a carnival.

This is hands down the prettiest rowboat I’ve ever seen.

Loved this multi-layered set of display tables. Sold.

Stoneware for the garden.

Really cool light fixtures. Kind of an industrial look.

An old school stove that apparently still works.

Wouldn’t you love to go for a picnic with this basket? We may need a mule to pull it but it would be worth it.

One of the last stops before dinner was at the Junk Gypsy’s booth. They are super fun people and have a show coming out in January on HGTV, so be sure to look out for it!


So do you want to see what I got after all of that?

1. These glasses. From the man with the cool motorcycle.

It can be a wine glass, or a juice glass. And the cozy is all built in. I love them.

2. I loved the images…

On both sides… but do you know what they are?

Matches. Ha. But I love nice matchboxes.

3. And these. Because I want to have the same ornaments that my nanny had. I’ll think of her every time I look at my Christmas tree.

You would think I would have come home with more after all that, but I consider that my practice run. Plus I didn’t have the right vehicle to haul away the heavy stuff. And the good news is that I’m going back today! Tomorrow is the opening of this special part of the market which is apparently completely off limits until a certain moment. Then once it opens everyone goes wild. I figure I have to see that. And maybe I’ll pick up a few more things that I was eying. If they are still there, then I’ll assume it was meant to be.


  • Georgie
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:44 am

    We spent a weekend at the Brimfield Antique Show in Mass. I had the pleasure of visiting many of the vendors you’re featuring in your post. We left with HUGE steel letters, a antique mandolin, props for my blog – napkins, spoons and dishes. We do this every years – it’s so much fun!

  • aida mollenkamp
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:46 am

    What a fabulous adventure! I too had a serious obsession with Nancy Drew and have my mother’s books from the 1950s on my bookshelf on full display.

  • Miss
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:58 am

    That looks like the most fun ever! So many neat things. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

  • Cookbook Queen
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:30 am

    SO many cool treasures! I want them all.

  • Maria
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Wow, so many fun treasures!

  • susan
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I miss scavengering around the local flea markets. before kids, I spent my Sunday a.m.’s(5:30am) searching for the perfect piece of inspiration. What a great day you had! Enjoy these moments!

  • Amanda
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I think I want everything you saw!! WOW!! I need to go there!

  • Kristen
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Wow – look at all the stuff! I would have had a blast shopping there!

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    What fun! I love all the crazy flea market finds. 🙂

  • Amy | She Wears Many Hats
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I wanna go!

    I wanna go real bad.


    For real.

  • bridget {bake at 350}
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I want to go there!!! I love all of that stuff! It really makes me sad that I missed all of that! Every time we’re in Austin, we try to stop in Uncommon Objects. 😉

    Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:53 am

    the glassware Georgia!!! since Portland, i am on the hunt for vintage glassware – just. so. coolio. am afraid i’d be flat broke after spending time there . . .

    • Georgia Pellegrini
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:03 am

      Oh my gosh me too! I’m still thinking about that vintage glass ware…

  • CheekyChic
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Such a cool place. I’ll have to research…Warrenton is not far from me. I’m a sucker for vintage sheet music, instruments, and dishes. I’ll have to make the effort to go to this antique market (when it’s not 106.)

  • Marla
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Field trip there now!!! G this is my dream come true. Really, I have cold chills of excitement gazing upon all of these amazing props/antiques. the colored themed rooms would put me to the moon. Can we plan for next year together please. I will need to bring a big rig.

    • Georgia Pellegrini
      Posted September 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Yes, come on down and let’s go! It is every 6 months for 10 days. I think, the next one is March!

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