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Antique shop owners recane wicker

JACKSONVILLE -- Dwight Currie pulls the drawer from the chest and setsit on its side.

He points out the way the the rough wooden edges fit together unevenly,jaggedly.

The antique dealer runs his hand across the bottom of the drawer, feelingthe course grooves left from a hand plane.

This was made at home -- they call it a cottage piece, Curriesaid. Probably some farmer had a mama who needed a chest of drawersso he got out his tools and went to work.

Currie and his wife, Ilka, look for these clues to determine age andhow a piece was made. The clues help when searching for their merchandise,depression era furniture and older glassware, antiques and collectibles.

The couple own Trash Pile Antiques & Collectibles at 650 N. FifthSt.

They display their merchandise in the front part of their home. Theyalso rent 300 square feet at the Main Antique Mall at 33 N. Riverside Ave.

The couple were living in the Rogue Valley about 10 years ago when theystarted the business as a sideline to their day jobs.

I've always been more interested in things that happened a 100years ago than things that happened yesterday, Dwight Currie said.

They soon quit their jobs and took on the business full time.

Early on, they found many handmade wicker items -- from chairs to babycarriages -- that were worn through the years. Ilka Currie decided to learncaning to restore the wicker.

The couple bought books on the subject and she sat down and taught herselfto do the work, trying to learn how it was done 100 years ago.

I try to do everything the way it originally was done, saidIlka Currie, who is originally from Brazil.

The materials are fairly inexpensive and range from fiber rush, a brownpaper rolled tight, to cattails to rawhide. But it's a labor intensive process.

Soon, customers began asking who had made repairs on certain wicker items.Through word of mouth, the antique business spread into the restorationbusiness.

We only take things on a limited basis, Dwight Currie said.It's nice finding these older things, restoring them and, hopefully,adding another 150 years to the piece.

Although they spend most of their time doing restoration, the retailside still carries the business, Dwight Currie said.

And part of the retail side is finding the merchandise: An Easter egghunt through auctions, flea markets and yard sales 365 days a year.

After they find a chair or glassware or old poster, they head to thepublic library or get on the Internet researching the item, to find if it'svaluable.

Sometimes they get lucky, and sometimes they don't.

Any antique dealer who says he's never made a mistake is lying,Dwight Currie said. We all make mistakes. And sometimes you find somethingthat you think is junk and it turns out to be something really valuable.

They've obviously found enough gems to keep the business going. The couplecelebrated the 10th anniversary of the business in June.

Everybody asks us `Why don't you change the name,' Ilka Curriesaid. When we started out we wanted to have fun with it, IlkaCurrie said. Ten years later, why change the name of it.

The couple will be displaying their work at the Antiques & CollectiblesShow & Sale at the Medford Armory on Sept. 26, 27 and 28.

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