I spy a Half Thriftmas Vintage Market

Carrie Sweeney standing to the right behind a table of her creations. There are butterflies encased in intricate wooden frames; a fox skull surrounded by orange, brown, and beige flowers typically found in a meadow encased in a glass dome; another glass dome with a butterfly on a mushroom; a lichen-covered fox skull; The Moon tarot card; and glass vials of butterfly wings with moss. There is also a magnifying glass, a small rabbit figurine, and a circle of wood also on display.
There is much that could be said about the beauty of life and death represented here. Holly Funk

Pop-up markets are great chances for lesser-known artists and vendors to sell their creations

A vintage market graced the Regina area in December, drawing together a handful of thrift vendors from in and around the city. This summer, they decided to try a new iteration and make the event biannual with the Half Thriftmas Vintage Market. Over a dozen vendors filled the space in the Docks Room at Local Market YQR on Saturday, June 10. Doors opened at 11 a.m. and I arrived about 15 minutes afterward, and already the room was buzzing with activity, shoppers standing elbow-to-elbow while viewing the curated spreads. 

Most of the vendors were the types to buy and sell clothing, shoes, and accessories, though even within that category there was incredible variety. Some shops had sturdy, dependable Carhartt pants, others had beaded dresses harkening back to a 1920s style, and others still had dress shirts of (seemingly) every pattern and style – a visual smorgasbord. There were enough earrings, boots, bags, and belts that it would’ve taken me hours to look at every piece, but there was one table in the north-west corner of the room that particularly caught my attention. 

Standing behind this table (and pictured in this article’s photo) was Carrie Sweeney, owner of – and creative artist for – Eye Spy Curio. Her handmade creations stole my breath for a minute – I actually had to circle around the room to de-fluster before stopping to speak with her. Sweeney specializes in insect and bone art, thrifting the glass domes and frames that her custom creations rest in to ensure that Eye Spy Curio maintains an approach of sustainability. 

While Sweeney purchases some of the animal bones from farmers, others are foraged as she spends time in nature. “A lot of the plant material I collect myself when I’m out for walks, on hikes – stuff I find on the ground. Obviously, I make sure that I’m respectfully foraging and not taking too much from one place. A lot of the stuff is already dead and off of the plant and then, for the bones and butterflies, I source from a shop in Montreal who sustainably sources their materials.” 

Moss seemed to be used as a base-type plant in much of the work, with pressed reindeer lichen and other accent plants wound about to emphasize the natural curves and lines of the animal bones and insects. Each frame or dome Sweeney puts together is like a snapshot in time, a small ecosystem on display that combines the intensity of bone and decomposition with the brightness and promise of plant life. 

“It’s kind of like creating a mini world,” Sweeney commented, “especially in our harsh winters. It’s almost like taking a tiny piece of a meadow – like a magical meadow – and it’s some way that you can connect with nature from your shelf.” In a province like Saskatchewan – with a dark, grey winter that freezes most outdoor life for months on end – having a sustainably-sourced, tangible snapshot of the earth to hold dear sounds like a very smart plan. 

Sweeney said that she adheres to some “traditional Indigenous views on foraging” to support her sustainability approach. She outlined three steps, the first of which is to wait until you’ve spotted four of the same plant to pick anything from any of them. You shouldn’t pick from the first three you see in one area, but you may pick from the fourth – to ensure you disturb as little plant life as possible. “Only take what you need” is how Sweeney phrased the second step that applies directly to the forager, and she explained the third step as “not taking too much from one individual plant.” 

To view more of Sweeney’s work, you can find her on Instagram and TikTok (@eyespy_curio), or keep your eyes open for the next thrift or vintage market she will (very carefully, I’d imagine) cart her wares to. 


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