What Do You Collect? And Why?

We all know someone who is A Serious Collector. You know–the kind of person who plans trips and vacations around places where they can hunt for another Whatever-It-Is: beer steins, cat plates, sock monkeys, 1963 Wisconsin license plates. Those are the serious collectors, but they’re not the only ones. There are also the Accidental Collectors, people who got a ceramic Elvis as a joke gift and then, foolishly, blogged it and then ended up with an entire shelf full of ceramic Elvises in every size and shape, from Young Elvis to Enlarged Elvis.

Then there are the the people who aren’t collectors but have a lot of stuff. I, for instance, have a lot of beads and embroidery floss and fabric. A lot. But I don’t think of it as a collection because I don’t go out hunting for it–there’s no thrill of the hunt–and I don’t keep it. I use it. I keep a lot on hand because I use some of it every single day. It *looks* like a collection, though:

Then there are mixed media artist collectors, and that’s where it gets interesting. There are those who have actual collections, things for which they hunt and scour eBay. Rusty keys, paper ephemera, old doll parts, vintage jewelry. There are those who collect anything they think they may someday use in their work. Whether it’s collage or assemblage, there’s always the chance it might require a dozen postage stamps from post-war Germany or joss paper or a corner from an old love letter. And then there are those people who blend the two–they collect things they love, sometimes thinking they’re going to use those things and–more often–knowing that’s just an excuse to buy them. We all know people who have fabulous things that would fit perfectly into the work they do, yet they never use the actual piece and rely, instead, on photocopies and castings.

Where do you fit in? Do you collect stuff? Do you use what you collect, or do you (ahem) hoard it? Not to imply you qualify for the tv show! Not at all! Can you envision a day when you’d get rid of it all–use it up, pass it on, sell it? How do you feel about the things you collect? We’d love to hear about it–


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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8 Responses to What Do You Collect? And Why?

  1. Caatje says:

    Paper is my first love or should I say obsession? I use it a lot, but I also just love looking at it, feeling it, having a big diverse assortment of it. Beautiful patterned scrapbookpapers, lovely structured handmade papers, smooth thin papers, tissue papers, watercolor papers. My dream is to come across one of those wallpaper books and have someone say “here, take it”. That hasn’t happened so far, haha. I use papers for collage, as a substrate to work on, to print on, to make books from, to draw and paint on and to stitch together.
    The horrible truth: I’ve now added fabric to my material and I feel the same obsession coming on. There’s just somethingabout having all those patterns and structures on hand. The possibilities, the options. Yes, I have more than I use (although sooner or later it does get used, but sometimes this can take years), but on the other hand that’s what works for me. I’m not a person who thinks out her projects up front and then gets the parts together, they kind of come in to being as I go and then it’s nice to have a stash from which you can choose.
    I do think you should use originals and not copies as much as possible. It’s more authentic somehow and there’s so much stuff in the world, whatever you use will sooner or later be replaced by something new. This to me is one of the best reasons to use my papers and fabric and other materials, it gives me an excuse to go out and find new ones. 😉

  2. Jinx says:

    I have collections and then i have COLLECTIONS……lol……..first there are collections i display……like eggs….i have a shelf full of them made out of alabaster and quartz and onyx and amber…….I collect Swarski crystal animals……i collect hard cover books, i never buy a paperback and i only keep the ones i really, really love……okaaay i love alot of them…..lol…..I collect beaded snowflakes to hang in my windows for Christmas…..I collect snowmen to display on my coffee table at Chrismas……And then on the other hand i collect projects , art and craft projects and the material to do them with. It usually takes me a long while to finish a project but that doesn’t stop other ideas from popping in my head. I have shelves full of projects awaiting my attention…..I collect what i love.

  3. Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

    The last lines of both of your posts, Caatje and Jinx–those say it all, and both make perfect sense to me. I think I have to admit I collect other people’s cast-off clothes, dreaming of making them into something fabulous.

  4. thecreativebeast says:

    OH! Those pictures of your bead and floss collections are so pretty!! I can imagine that it always looks different since you use those materials on a daily basis…

    I think my biggest collection going right now is BOOKS! There are the many books I love to read and re-read and there are the books I use the pages or covers in mixed media works. I’m working on a way to store/display this ever growing collection since many of the books are beautiful vintage hardbacks worthy of display. Thanks for sharing your collections with us and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Well, I think books get a pass–they just count as part of life, you know? I have, um, kind of a lot of books, but I think of them as like the oxygen in any room.

  5. jcanyon says:

    I did not realize how many books I had until we moved and they were all boxed up in one room. I noticed the floor was sagging and discovered all those books had caused the floor to collapse! I have decided I am not a library and now only keep my art related books and pass the novels on after reading. Having an ereader has helped immensely although I did not think I would like using one at first – now I love it! I have a huge stash of fabric, threads, and when it comes to mixed media, a big stash of bits and pieces that would look like trash to the casual observer. A hoarder – no, but a collector yes! I use my collections, then find more as the creative urge strikes. I love every bit of it. And yes, I have collected too many cats, but love each of them too. Artists are entitled to their “stuff” I do believe.

  6. jane101757 says:

    I collect buttons because i’m a total color/shape kinda girl. I also collect beads for the same reason. Anything out of the ordinary is my passion. I’m working on getting all the equipment to make my own button designs. Wish me luck!!