The smiling face you see is Michelle Threadgould and she’s the main woman by The Scorpion Sisters, the Bay Area’s answer to upcycled jewelry, furnishing and the most awesome terrariums. Check out their Krrb corner because you’ll probably want to outfit your whole place with their carefully designed, one-of-a-kind work. Read on for inspiration and find out where Michelle picks up some of her favorite materials.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’m from San Francisco, lived in Vermont, moonlighted in New York, and
I’m back on track in San Francisco. I live in Portola, an old
residential neighborhood near Bernal Heights.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
The Alemany Flea Market is hands-down the most awesome thing about
living in Portola. The Alemany Flea Market has a solid mix of
everything interesting: furniture, vintage paperbacks, imported
posters, inexpensive tools and supplies, and the vendors are the
greatest cast of characters whom I’ve ever met. The Scorpion Sisters
got their start at the Alemany Flea Market, we sold our hand-made
tables, terrariums, and jewelry there and at farmers markets before we
began selling at stores and on Etsy.
List the top 5 places you go locally to discover hidden treasures.
As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!
I was a big reader and lover of music growing up and I adored all
things that were punk related. When I was thirteen, I came across
boxes of old punk zines, underground comics, 45s, demos, and mix tapes
that my dad had collected and stored in my garage. I totally fell in
love, and to this day I pathologically cannot pass up looking through
boxes of old magazines, whether it’s at a flea market or garage sale,
I have to look!
Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What
is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
I go to flea markets, thrift stores, salvage yards, and estate sales
multiple times a week. I have my favorite spots, I know where to find
what it is I need, and I hit up those places regularly. At salvage
yards and at flea markets, my tip is to buy in bulk, you’ll save a lot
and those vendors will remember you in the future and be more willing
to cut you deals. As someone who has been a vendor, I know what it
feels like to be nickle and dimed, so I would recommend not trying to
haggle unless you are buying multiple items or you are a repeat
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
Neither, I’m a neatist. I don’t like the idea of wasting or
overconsuming, so I find a use for all of the things that I buy, and I
put everything in a place where each item is well displayed or easy to
What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled
object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
One time, a vendor gave us a taxidermy head of a baby alligator as a
present, and it became our mascot. We named it Coco and brought it
with us to all of the farmers and flea markets that we worked. Coco
gave us good luck. What makes Coco special is the good will with which
it was given, even though the gift was seemingly random, I appreciated
the gesture, and the idea that the guy who gave it to us really wanted
us to succeed. I never thought I’d use the word taxidermy and touching
in the same sentence, but yes, I was touched by Coco.
Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
All of the furniture, art, jewelry, and terrariums that the Scorpion
Sisters create are handmade. The majority of the supplies that we use
are made out of reclaimed and upcycled items. We’ve been focusing on
our jewelry these days, and each piece is hand-picked and selected
because it speaks to me and is related to the other piece. I might
find a broken piece of jewelry or a lost chain that was someone else’s
trash, but it still retains its beauty, and is still usable and needs
to be revisioned to make it beautiful again. I like finding unique
pieces that compliment each other and fit together, each necklace and
earring tells a story, and part of that story is how it was created.
By the way, what’s your day job?
I work at a restaurant and freelance as a writer and stylist.
The Short List
The ReUse People
Building REsources, 701 Amador St., San Francisco, CA
The Alemany Flea Market
Scrap, 801 Toland St. (entrance on Newcomb), San Francisco, CA
Bid Daddy’s Antiques, 1550 17th St., San Francisco, CA
Scorpion Sisters on Etsy