Thursday, November 29, 2012


Way before the mega-story apartment rental units went up on Sixth Avenue, the weekend flea markets stretched out into the open lots that ran from 25th Street to 27th Street. The four seasons of New York had this part of the flea market expanding and contracting depending on the weather. Winter would see them disappear as the snow piled up in big black sooty hills where the vendors stalls had been. During the summer a Saturday and Sunday with a forecast of storms would only see the hardiest of vendors under white vinyl tents and buyers holding black umbrellas against a horizontal rain, but when Willard was forecasting nothing but sun the lots would be filled with a packed crowd some showing up with flashlights well before the sun even began to think about rising.
We never considered flashlight hunting but we knew on a good day you had to get there early to see the full magnitude of vintage and antique goods for sale. Each vendor had an assigned space making it easier to find certain sellers selling the specific pieces we sought out. It was our house in Andes that inspired most of our shopping and this led us to a wonderful black woman selling vintage barkcloth and French ticking. She wore the garb of a Harlem woman in touch with her African roots. Her hair was wrapped in a fabric turban and she wore multiple layers of long skirts and colorful tops. She always had a smile when we showed up. She told us she had a storage unit filled with fabric she had pulled from an abandoned department store that had been closed for over forty years. She had pre-made drapes and bolts of uncut yardage that even back in the late-eighties and early-nineties was a rare find.
Every week she pulled out another cache of fabrics, enough to fill her booth and our eyes with averice and greed. We started hording fabric, much of which we still have: sets of barkcloth drapes, bolts of 40's damask and yards of beautiful antique ticking.
Ticking began showing up in our own design work rather rapidly. We used it foe pieces we designed like the set of stools surrounding our kitchen island which were a combination of our scavanged vintage French ticking we used on the top cushions and linen napkins we bought through William-Sonoma for the pleated skirts.
On a journey with a client through one of the most famous flea markets in the south of France, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we picked up this bolster made of blue and white ticking with red fabric buttons.
The marche aux puces is held every Sunday with vendor's boothes wondering along the canals and in front of the many antique shops that have made L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue a mecca for ephemera hunters like us.
The British are not ones to be left out of the discussion on ticking. One of our most recent finds is the shop of Ian Mankin in London whose use of ticking makes my heart puump indigo tainted blood. He offers a wide range of ticking and denim fabric, enough to make anyone's imagination explode with possibilities.
The origins of ticking have a very utilitarian past. The cotton fabric usually identified by its contrasting stripping was first mentioned as the material used by brewers and waiters as their apron material. From there it became the material used for mattress and pillow covering because of the denseness of the material. Since pillows were made of feathers and many mattresses were straw filled the material was perfect for keeping the feather points and straw spears contained and away from poking mid-eighteenth century sleepers.
It wasn't until the mid-twentieth century that the designer, Sister Parish, brought ticking out of the bedroom and started using it as a shabby chic upholstery fabric in the high-end homes of the rich and famous.
Today the beauty of ticking is duplicated by many of the finest fabric houses around the world and used by designers like us who want the casualness and simplicity of this durable, beautiful fabric.

Save the date and come and join Rick, myself and as many of our friends and customers as we can squeeze into 1227 for some holiday cheer.

We were lucky enough to have one our designs highlighted in a before and after posting on ivillage. Click on the following link to have a look. Getting published in the midwest is not an easy task so you'll have to excuse us if we do a little back patting.

John and Yoko, Bed Peac/Hair Peace
Room 902, Amsterdam Hilton, 1969
Nico Koster, photographer
Represented by Nico Koster/Galerie Moderne, Amsterdam

1 comment:

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