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Looking for Something to do Saturday? Come to Aurora Colony Days

This Saturday,  August 14th,  Aurora has their annual Aurora Colony Days. Come celebrate Aurora’s history! There is a large outdoor antiques fair with antique dealers from around the Northwest from 9 am- 5 pm, a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 am, an art show and sale from 10 -5, children activities, a living history demonstration, live music and so much more! Admission is free!

ReadyMade Magazine – New Ideas for Old or Normally Wasted Things

As someone who works with architectural salvage, I am always looking for new ways to reuse items.  Some ideas come readily such as the tall, sleek and beautiful pharmaceutical measuring beaker I use as a vase (I love antique lab equipment!) but what to do with a light bulb, that UGLY 1970’s dresser or worn out wool t-shirts or blankets. I discovered a magazine at my library called READYMADE – Instructions for Everyday Life. This isn’t just about reusing that cool vintage piece but using all those scrappy, banal items that, well, we normally just sadly toss.  There are also great articles about what designers and artist are doing in the world of reuse and actually some pretty tasty recipes.  Their look is edgy, modern…

The Lumber Yard at Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage

Something I realized recently is that many people don’t know the scope of the lumber yard we have at Aurora Mills.  It’s huge!  A number of customers have commented that it is one of the largest of its kind around here. We specialize in only reclaimed timbers, beams and barnwood and all of the wood in our lumber yard is salvaged locally. This material comes from barns, warehouses and homes that are being torn down.   We also get a fair amount of corrugated tin from the roofs of barns we salvage. Our barnwood is all old growth Douglas fir that is approximately 80 years old or older.  We have hand hewn beams that were salvaged from an 1860s barn and rough sawn beams and timbers…

Making Corrugated Tin Planter Boxes

My grandmother was a very exact woman when it came to her crafts.  As a young child I was aware of this and should have known better when she decided it was time for me to learn how to sew.  Her favorite phrase was, “your front is only as good as your back.” and I fully  knew this phrase long before I ever sat at her sewing machine. It was her mantra.  So at eight years old I sat at that sewing machine trying to make a skirt whose pattern I got from a show called Zoom. I sat  trying to make my lines perfectly straight. My focus so intense the bobbing thread arm would smack my forehead because I leaned in so close.  When completed I was…

Claire & Bryan of ¿Por Que No?

Many of us have had that one item of clothing we wore until it was completely thread-bare. That one item that made us feel comfortable, soothed and warm. Mine was a UCLA sweatshirt that my Aunt Beckie gave me when I was around 13 years old. Originally it hung well past my fingertips but by the end of my freshman year in college it was the perfect size, the perfect thinness from years of wear and wash and the perfect go to item in my meager wardrobe. That sweatshirt was there with me in my giggly, silly times and my stressed-out, ugly final times. It gave me that sense of comfort, contentment and memory. Walking into the home of Bryan and Claire, owners of ¿Por Que No?…

New Items Are Here and The Yellow Kid

Pick any movie about hidden treasure and the build-up of suspense is all the same – Indie had it in Raiders. Most of us as kids even had it digging in our back yards. The feeling that you want to know, down to your bones – what is behind the wall or below the ground.  You want to know what treasure is out there only for you…. Okay, maybe that’s a little on the dramatic side but that’s how we all feel here when a new container comes in from one of our buying trips.  We just finished unloading the 53 foot long container yesterday. It was completely full with great architectural materials including a BIG assortment of industrial items. We have a very large selection…

“Oh, Give Me a Home…”

We met Tasha, Shelter Director for Family Dogs New Life,  when she came to Aurora Mills looking for materials to create a set for photographing homeless dogs. Family Dogs New Life is a non profit, no kill, dog shelter dedicated to rescuing and re-homing needy dogs regardless of age, breed or history. They have found homes for over 6000 dogs since their beginning in 2004. Ira, the cute little guy in the wagon, is just one of the adorable furry friends they have up for adoption. The people at Family Dogs New Life created a set using all reclaimed, recycled materials – even the wagon.  Please check out their website. The photographs (by local Portland photographer Bob Libby) are captivating, but those big puppy dog…

May is National Historic Preservation Month!

What comes to mind when you think of preservation?  Is it that grand old building in town?  Grandma’s House?  Lotions and creams to help keep wrinkles at bay? May is National Preservation Month and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s theme for 2010 is “Old is the New Green.”  We hear daily the latest environmental issues facing us and the planet and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Yet, as individuals there are many choices me make daily that effect our interactions with our planet. Remembering to carry out our groceries in our own bags is just a start – but we do need to consciously choose to start somewhere. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website if full of great ideas – from teaching…

Irving Street Kitchen

One of the things I love about my job is the ability to meet with people who use architectural salvage in a vast array of projects.  Seeing the end-product of someone’s dreams and ideas is a huge honor because people open up their homes and businesses, gardens and studios for me to come and photograph their creations.  I get to hear detailed stories about what lead to their project and the steps to make their ideas happen. A few days ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to the practice opening of a new restaurant opening in the Pearl District.  Irving Street Kitchen is entering Portland’s playing field of great restaurants.  What they bring is an upscale twist on Southern comfort food – and…

On The Road Again

Just like the Willy Nelson song, Mike Byrnes, owner of Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage, ‘just can’t wait to be on the road again.’ He recently left for a cross-country buying trip looking for the best in architectural building salvage and decor. I have known Mike for almost 14 years and if it is one thing I know is he loves to shop for architectural elements. I spoke with him today about some of the items he has found. So far he is bringing back a beautiful, tall, metal doctor’s medicine cabinet with long legs and glass cabinet doors and shelves. He found two large gable ends that have hand-carved apples and apple blossoms – very unique and incredible works of art. He has a couple…

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