Stuff to Keep My Stuff In

A few nights ago I was laying on the loveseat, feet enshrouded in a luscious pair of creamy wool socks, reading some of my favorite creative blogs here on WordPress.

The one that really got me thinking was a recent post on Altered Bits about things one collects and what creative workspaces are like. Don’t you just love seeing where other people make things? I poured over some photos taken of gorgeous things, many of which I also collect. Then I started thinking of the little stuffandthings I have and love, most of which are currently packed away in our teenie-tiny apartment. Things like some metal bits that were pulled off a building by a rare tornado in Fort Worth (TX) several years ago that I found when I went out there a day or two later looking for “good stuff.” The skeleton of a baby vulture I found in an abandoned hotel. A cow’s tailbone still (but barely) held together by the drying discs, this was given to me about 20 years ago by my then-boss who brought it in from her ranch saying that she thought I’d like it because I “like weird stuff.” The tail vertebrae are only medium-interesting, I just like the memory attached to the piece. Also, a set of bone snips and an apparatus that used to pull out people’s tonsils, both gifts. Boxes of rocks from everywhere I’ve been in the least 15ish years.

Handy is a collection of ladies’ magazines from the late 18s that I adore. Some cicada wings I pulled off of shed husks this past summer. A super-heavy microscope & slides from the 1960s; that set was found in an attic at a nearby university. A bag of about 40 zippers in multiple colors and lengths that look as if they’d been pulled off of former garments and a bag of a hundred mostly-mismatched buttons, both from an old lady who saved them for emergencies, I s’pose. Feathers found in many places. Embroidery floss of nearly every color, and I don’t embroider. Nails, screws, nuts, bolts. Jewelry to cannibalize. Rusty railroad spikes. Bones from the last 5 Thanksgiving turkeys cleaned and dried and ready for use. Gobs of fabrics, and pieces of fabrics. Pharmacy bottles belonging to my great-grandfather. A large portion of the broken glass from a car that was broken into (and later declared “totalled”), I have a project in mind for those various pieces of safety glass if it will actually work. Exquisite markers in dozens of colors that *still* haven’t dried out since I bought them for art school in the ’80s. Paints of all varieties. Almost.

I think creative people generally have things like this, things they stockpile. When we moved here from a much-larger house we had to really pare down. And by “we” I of course mean “mostly me.”

I was able to give up old tables, a cool vanity chair, a washer and dryer – but went berzerk any time my honey said I had to pare down on my stuff that he calls “my crap.” Now, I don’t think he ever really got mad about it, but I became obstinate and found it nearly unendurable to go through my (very well organized and labeled) containers of random stuffandthings that I generally just call “supplies” to make it easy.

Back to that idea of creative people and their stuff, don’t you love having something for years and you don’t use it or even know why you have it, you just do, then years go by and as an idea is born in your mind, and that thing you kept for so long turns out exactly perfect for the newly hatched project? Or, pulling out a box of random things, sifting through them, and envisioning project after project using each of those little pieces of broken bits and cherished treasures? That happens to me All The Time. Especially during this past year when my creativity has burst forth bigger than it ever was, released from the bindings that kept it dormant the last few years. I’d absolutely freak if all those tidy boxes with random ephemera up and walked away. Those stuffandthings are some of the best inspiration one can hope for, and are all treasures patiently waiting until their own projects are conceived.

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2 thoughts on “Stuff to Keep My Stuff In

  1. that happens to me all the time too, and i love, love, love collecting stuff. thankfully my husband is the same, but his “stuff” is electronic components and instruments (he’s a musician). and thankfully too, he loves my bones, dead bugs, dolls and old medical apparatuses. 🙂 fantastic post!!

  2. Any reply that has the words, “bones, dead bugs, dolls and old medical apparatuses” is a winner of a reply. 🙂

    I live with a near-minimalist who gets twitchy when I leave projects out (I don’t have a studio anymore). And as another creative soul, you know that one simply cannot work on only one project at a time, that’s crazy talk! So all those tidy plastic boxes of supplies coupled with a few divided piles of projects and this tiny apartment “temporary home” means that it looks like I have a LOT of stuff, when really, for an artist I think it’s rather a normal amount. Especially considering the multitude of things I love to do! When I get moved back into a larger place there will be room for displaying things again – including groovy supplies – and by then unpacking all those boxes will feel like I’m opening presents!

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