The Old, the Bold and the Wabi-Sabi

I’m not buying a lot these days (don’t I always say that!) but I have found a few out-of-the-ordinary things for my store which pleased me. That’s what I’m trying for these days–unique things for unique people.

I don’t normally buy teak serving pieces. I see a lot of them in thrift stores and they are not particularly valuable. But this piece on a bottom shelf called to me. It was chunkier than most pieces I’ve seen and had beautiful wood grain. I picked it up. (Dang it was heavy.) Hmmm… I wasn’t sure. I put it down. Then I picked it up right up again. No, this was good!

I gave it a quick clean and conditioning with Boos Mystery Cream-a wonderful food-safe product.

Back at home I started researching similar pieces and couldn’t find anything like it. The only spade-shaped trays were small individual ones that were part of a set. And the chunkiness of it was also atypical. This is a manly, mid-century-modern, let’s-play-poker snack tray.

Nowadays I think this would be fun on a dresser corralling cufflinks, rings or other fancy bits. Or by a front door for keys and coins. Or to display a collection of marbles, matchbooks, toy soldiers…you name it!

Listed for $48, plus shipping. My favorite matches are not included!

Found this old stone (likely alabaster) urn/vase at a boutique thrift store. It’s unpolished, asymmetrical and utterly appealing, but it’s also a conundrum!

How old is it?

I’ve been doing a bit of research and have found museum reproduction alabaster pieces by Kemet Art of Egypt that have a similar look (they sell in the $100-$300 range). But I have also found ancient pieces that sell for much more. This bowl from the Egyptian New Kingdom period (1550 – c. 1352 BC) sold for $1000 and was projected to go much higher.

Could mine be ancient too?? It’s obviously hand carved rather than made by machine.

There is translucency when you place it in the light which I have not captured very well here.

So…do I put this vessel in my store for $200-$300 or do I see if I can get an expert to look at it to determine if it is indeed much, much, much older and perhaps more valuable? Hmmmm…a conundrum! Though I am leaning towards the former.

And I found a ceramic blue and white dish that is hand pained in a most charming naive style. I don’t think it has any great age (no crazing, wear or damage), but I couldn’t put it in my basket quick enough! I’ll be keeping this for myself. That’s the danger of thrifting…finding things that make your heart sing! (Still for $5.19 I didn’t break the bank.)

I don’t know what to make of the mark on the back. Possibly Chinese? Or? Anyone know?

And this little lump of clay is a hand-formed pot. I can’t decide if it was made by a kid in elementary school or a visionary ceramicist. My husband looked at it with a raised eyebrow and the unspoken words “What were you thinking?!” Honestly something about it drew me like a moth to a flame!

I’ve grouped it here with a few other small, interesting pottery pieces that I’m calling the “Wabi-Sabi Collection.”

I’ll list the “Wabi-Sabi Collection” for $50.

These speak to me in a way that mass-produced ceramics and china rarely do. I love things that are hand made and slightly askew and totally unique.

I’ll close for now wishing you happy hunting.


P.S. And the photo at the top of the post? That’s a neat 1970s-era ceramic ashtray, likely from Japan, with a fun hand-painted tribal mask image. Couldn’t leave that behind even though profit will be minimal!


  1. I would contact an appraiser on the alabaster vase. If for no other reason, the info you receive will further your education!
    Love you treasures!


    1. Hi Shari. I’m tempted to, though the price is somewhat prohibitive (locally around $300+ just to get your foot in the door, extra if you want documentation). Still I’ve sent an email to a local museum to see if they can offer any help and I may contact Stanford University’s archeology dept.
      All the best, Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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