Thursday, February 18, 2010

Apt528 Reads: Flea Market Finds and How to Restore Them

Flea Market Finds & How to Restore Them
By Caroline Atkins
Price: about $20 (varies by seller)
Apt528 Rating: 5/10

The reason I gave this book only five stars is because I found the title misleading.  Judging from the "How to Restore Them" portion of the title, I assumed there would be how-to's on restoring different types of vintage pieces.  There weren't.  Instead, the book is written in Q&A form with different sections for each material - wood, glass, ceramic, etc. 

The questions seem less informative and more subjective to me.  Most of them are people asking if they should restore a piece or leave it as is.  For example: "Ive found an old mirror that has a very beautiful frame but badly damaged glass.  Is there any point in repairing or replacing it?" 

The book's answer: "Whether you do anything to repair your mirror depends really on whether it's more important to you as a practical looking glass or as a beautiful object."  The rest of the answer goes on for half a page.  There's no picture of the mirror in question or of the person's house, nor do you know their style so how can the book really answer them?  The same type of question is in each section.

Other questions ask how to use items that people bought at flea markets.  For example, "I couldn't resist a job lot of old bricks that were going cheap - but what's the best way to use them in my garden?"  My answer: what do you NEED in your garden?  A fireplace, a brick patio, a walkway?  Again, it takes half a page for the book to respond to this question with an answer as vague as the one above and again, these types of questions are throughout the book.

There are a few DIY tips that I found useful like using candle wax to un-stick drawers or using a raw potato and newspaper to clean a mirror, however these tips are far and few between.  Most of the advice in the book tells you to take the piece to a professional for help.  Other times they may tell you the method for fixing an item but not explain the steps involved which means you'll have to grab another book or go online to learn the actual process...why not just skip a step (and save $20) by doing all your research online or buying a DIY book that has detailed step-by-step guides?

My advice, take a minute to browse through any how-to book before purchasing to make sure it meets your needs.  And try one of Caroline Atkins other books like Small Spaces for Modern of the next books on my list!

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