gold_02 illustration by Teri Chung

We admit it. We are competitive people. We get aggressive at estate sales. (We submit that a vintage Platner table will do that to anyone.) We’ve scaled walls to get into abandoned storage units to find the good stuff before our “friends” get the chance. We’ve out-bargained, out-haggled, and out-bartered even the most skilled shoppers. So when the two of us join forces, expect good things at dirt-cheap prices.

Our most recent adventure took us to Gold Metal Recyclers, a metal recycling facility in South Dallas where individuals and businesses trade in various metal objects for cash. The result: piles and piles of discarded metal—including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and more—just begging for exploration. On three separate trips, we focused our efforts on a gigantic mound of glorious brass. We struck gold (or brass, anyway) all three times.

But there’s way too much good stuff for just two people, so go. Here’s what you need to know: wear closed-toe shoes. Tennis shoes are fine; boots are better. Once you arrive, tell the good people there what you’re looking for. They will point you in the right direction and arm you with the necessary hard hat. Everything is sold by the pound for cash. One last thing—expect to get dirty. You’re digging around in a scrap yard, after all. But a little grime is a small price to pay on your quest for the brass ring. 

1   Approximate Weight: 3 lbs x $4lb = $12   Plastic Base: $25   Total Cost: $37
2   Approximate Weight: 5 lbs x $4lb = $20   Plastic: $45   Total Cost: $65
3   Approximate Weight: 6.5 lbs x $4lb = $26   Plastic Bases: $40   Total Cost: $66
4   Approximate Weight: 9 lbs x $4lb = $36   Plastic Base: $55   Lampshade and wiring: $260   Total Cost: $351
5   Approximate Weight: 1 lbs x $4lb = $4   Plastic Base: $10   Total Cost: $14
6   Approximate Weight: 10 lbs x $4lb = $40   Upholstery: $50   Total Cost: $90

The Sources:
Brass: Gold Metal Recyclers, 4305 S. Lamar St., 214-421-0247
Lamp: Yang’s Double Happiness Inc., 1633 Dragon St., 214-747-8606
Lucite Bases: Design Plastics Company, 2623 Parvia Ave., 214-747-2863
Upholstery: Juanita’s Drapery & Upholstery, 213 S. Merrifield Rd., 214-467-2618
Wallpaper: Cole & Son Feather Fan available at ID Collection
Fabric: Osborne & Little, Ravenna Chenille, Lee Jofa

* all prices are approximate and may vary by case.