having worked in a flea market since last april on the streets of
downtown new york city (Broadway), I will tell you that if the newest
flea-market-trash turquoise phase hasn’t hit your area yet, it’s
probably coming. Brace yourself, because I feel like all I ever do
is sell cheap turquoise pieces to NYU students and jersey girls.
Also, the young Japanese are really getting into it, as there is a
current seventies fashion phase going on with them right now. I have
hordes of young Japanese tourists clearing out my cheap turquoise
(On the other hand, I notice that a lot of other Asian girls usually
go straight for the pearls - I hope this doesn’t sound like racial
profiling, but when you’re sitting there all day, you tend to notice
this kind of thing. Garnets are also popular with them.)
Crap turquoise kept a lot of vendors in business this summer, as did
godawful hideous synthetic amber. I was almost scared away from
turquoise myself by the amount of people coming by and buying ‘crap’,
and I doubt very seriously I’ll ever have a piece of amber on my
body, ever… Thankfully, we never sold any amber, synthetic or
otherwise, but unfortunately we have piles of cheap turquoise - some
of it, my boss has had since ahem the seventies.
Lest anyone think less of me for working and selling in a flea
market, know this - the job chanced itself on me, and I thought it
might be an interesting cultural experiment to work as a street
vendor in new york city (especially after having spent five years as
a pretty successful young enterpreneur in the computer business).
the results of this experiment are going to be turned into a photo
essay for a magazine, which will appear in the spring of 2002. I
also felt like if I should be schlepping crap, it should at least be
crap I’m interested in, in some aspect. That meant fake chanel
sunglasses and gucci purses were out.
That, and only working three days a week has given me the
opportunity to take metalsmithing classes and sit home making my own
It’s also provided me with some really interesting experiences -
Francis Ford Coppola came and filmed me while I hawked my wares for
some feature film he’s attempting, and I’ve seen more crazy things in
six months than I think I’ve seen in 9 years of living here,
excepting the obvious and most recent occurrences.
Unfortunately, especially in new york city, any kind of trend
suffers first through an incredibly huge fervor - starting on the
streets, and then hitting upscale design houses as they take street
style and put their spin on it - so maybe there’s hope for turquoise
yet, when the street trends die down and the upscale ones take over
and make some quality things for the upscale market.
However, a few months ago when I was in Taj buying semi-precious
beads, Donna Karen came in and bought sixty pounds of what looked to
me like cheap turquoise… Intrigued anyway, I brought a strand of
it home myself, thinking maybe I’d whip out some ‘quick cash pieces’,
and it crumbled like a brownie when I tried to ream a few of the more
And about a month after that, I saw some of Donna Karen’s results in
stores (I am a trend follower but only an observant one - I rarely
buy jewelry as I make most of mine myself)… Not THAT bad for
mainstream design house work, but the prices made me laugh,
obviously, since I know how much she paid for those cheap beads.