$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Handcrafted and Heavenly

Handmade covered bowl

Handmade covered bowl, signed on the bottom

‘Tis the season for craft shows, with booth after booth of the creative and clever. But handcrafted items such as walnut candle holders or carved Santas aren’t just at craft shows. People buy a handmade vase, use it for a while, then donate it. Or they receive a ceramic bowl as a gift, decide it’s not right for their decor, and into the giveaway pile it goes.

That’s where you come in. If you want to fill your home with beautiful handmade collectibles, bargains await at your larger local thrift stores. Crafted items tend to be regional so you may not find baskets but see pottery aplenty in your area.

Here are a few tips to help you cull the handcrafted from the mass produced:

  • Signatures and dates. These are usually on the bottom or the back of a piece. Artists mark baskets on the underside of the handle or the base.
  • Uneven edges or rims. You’ll see this on handmade glass and pottery pieces especially. This imperfection is part of the appeal—the handmade quality. If a vase was thrown on a pottery wheel, you may see faint rings on the base or body of the item. Warning: if a piece has a faint ridge running from top to bottom that looks as if two pieces were joined together, it is not handmade, even if it has a signature.
  • Weight. Handcrafted items, such as baskets, glass, or pottery, are usually heavier than molded or manufactured pieces. For example, basket makers and potters use better quality materials in their handmade items.
  • Finish. You can often feel the layers of glaze on a handmade piece of pottery or the dashes of colored glass applied to a vase.

When you find that special item, eye the piece for cracks and missing parts. Run your fingertip around the edges to feel for chips. Make sure that handmade goblet is worth pride of place in your home.

Happy thrifting!

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